March 7, 2017: Dangerous Cats, Biking in Wind, Broken Glass, Muffin Bread, Spring, Carrion

March 7, 2017:  Dangerous Cats, Biking in Wind, Broken Glass, Muffin Bread, Spring, Carrion

Cats are a danger to humans: tripping and diseases are hazards.

Cats serve humans as surrogate non-needy friends, or as substitute children.  Setting aside the disagreeable task of cleaning their litter boxes, they do pose significant actual dangers to humans.  They get underfoot and can trip the unsuspecting and cause broken wrists, broken hips, and brain-threatening concussions.  Even when falling is avoided, they trigger emotional distress when humans step on them and make them yowl.

“Gawdamit!  Sorry, cat!  I did not mean to step on you.  Stoopid cat.  Get out from under my frisking feet.”

Some seconds later, when panic begins to fade, to self, muttering, “Geezus I hope I did not break that cat’s leg.  Crimony.  Not my fault.  Fricking cat.”

Most concerning are the cat-born diseases.  Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted by felines and is a parasite that may negatively impact risk assessment.  No human needs to be worse at risk assessment: their skill level is horrible in the modern world.  Infection rates among adult humans in the USA are about 19%.  Look it up.  Approximately 60 million adults in the USA are/have been infected with Toxoplasmosis.  This figure roughly corresponds with the number of humans who voted for he who must not be named.  Coincidence?

Wind is the biker’s enemy

Androp went biking in winds that hovered near 12 mph on an overcast, 50 F morning.  Riding out into the wind was brutal.  Riding back was a breeze (pun intended).  Hint: ride out into the wind, and back with the wind.  Pay attention.  Also, when a rider reaches 8 to 10 mph on a bike, nearly all of the riding resistance comes from wind.  The weight of the bike matters little: given a human weighting 200 lbs, pedaling a bike that weights 35 lbs versus 25 lbs only add 4.4% to the load.  Riding resistance is impacted even less.  Likewise, tire tread and tire circumference add little riding resistance.  Google Sheldon Brown (insert biking subject) for more information.

Puddles of crushed glass are hard in bicycle tires.  Garbage trucks have been leaking.

Speaking of biking and broken glass: the wife successfully sleuthed the source of puddles of broken glass that appear on the street in our cul-de-sac: garbage trucks.  This is bad news for biking, especially for non-puncture-resistant youth bike tires.  Bummer.

The culinary notes are sparse: Androp made pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, green beans, and fresh English muffin bread this week for the family Sunday meal.  Pulled pork and coleslaw on buns is yummy.  Cook the pork slowly for tenderness: in the oven at about 310 for 4 hours.  Use a fatty roast, such as “butt roast” or “Boston Butt” or “shoulder roast.”  These are all from the shoulder area.  Pork loin sucks for pulled pork: too lean.  English muffin bread (also called toasting bread) is probably the easiest yeast loaf to make for the first-time baker.  No kneading, no stand or hand mixer needed, and only one rise required.  The loaves are firm and can be sliced thin for toasting.  All recipes for this loaf are similar.  Pleasing, bigger loaves will result if the baker adds about 25% to all ingredients from most recipes.

English muffin bread (one loaf partially consumed, above) is easy for first-time bakers.  Pulled pork requires a fatty roast, slow cooked.


Signs of spring are abundant in Androp’s home town: decorative magnolia trees and Bradford pears are in bloom.  Generally, this means one more freeze on the year.

Finally, Androp has a friend who feeds carrion to Turkey Vultures in his back year.  They need to eat, too.  An interesting note: no wintering Turkey Vultures were recorded in Androp’s home town during the Christmas bird counts until the 1990’s.  More than a dozen were observed along Missouri River bluffs during Saturday’s bike ride.  The reason is unknown, but the appearance of vultures does correspond with the building of sewage ponds, and of wildlife conservation ponds, in the area.  Could dead ducks have attracted the wintering vultures?  The curious await a better explanation.

Photodocumentation of carrion being fed to a Turkey Vulture in a suburban back yard.  All birds have to eat.  Vultures were going to get this dead animal anyway.



Feburary 9, 2017: Jiffy Pop; Breakfast Tacos; Cortisone Shots

Feburary 8, 2017: Jiffy Pop; Breakfast Tacos; Cortisone Shots

Jiffy Pop: As much fun to make as it is to eat!

In culinary news, the grandchildren made Jiffy Pop.  Androp Gerard remembers when that was a new thing: “As much fun to make as it is to eat!”  None was ever popped at the boyhood home.  This was a first for both for the papa and the grandchildren.  For that reason, approximately a third of the kernels did not get popped.

In things you do when you are semi-awake when you should be totally asleep: in the wee hours Androp failed to properly identify which grandchild was talking, and therefore needed tending.  Since nobody was talking when he got up to check, he just went back to bed.  “That one talks in her sleep.”   Later:

Child, “Hello!  Bye bye!”

The wife gets up.  Me, “(Names a child) is talking in her sleep.”

The wife, “No. It is not that child.  There is a cat locked in the other kid’s room.”

Thump thump thump.  Meow. Upon extraction of the cat, the child apparently went back to sleep fairly quickly.  Not so much for Androp and the wife.

Breakfast tacos require modest culinary skill but require massive clean-up.

Breakfast tacos were made and consumed for brunch the next day.  These require a surprising number of bowls and prep time: eggs, bacon, refried beans, tomatoes, raw onions, cubed potatoes, salsa, cheese, plain yogurt, hot peppers, and tortillas.  Those containers plus plates added up to more than 20 dishes and two pans.  Probably more than 30 serving spoons and forks were used.  Buy stock in dishwasher makers.  When someone says breakfast tacos are simple, that means anyone can make them.  Prep time and clean-up can be somewhat daunting: they are hard in some regards.  One culinary hint: whip the eggs with a whisk and then salt them 15 minutes before they are cooked.  Add one tbs of cold butter for each 2 eggs when scrambling.  Do not over-cook: they should be a bit gooey when removed from the pan.

Trail use is amazingly high, even on cold days.  Four bike shops serve a town of only 120,000.

The weather was good enough to bike, although the wind in the face was stinging more than invigorating.  The Bald Eagles (one of them anyway) are supervising their nest site, although none was seen on the nest.  A surprising number of humans were out walking near trail heads, including many couples and families.  In Androp’s city of 120,000, four bike shops that carry four different flagship major bike maker brands occur.  A medical school and three major hospitals also occur.  So anyone who has a bike accident will likely be seen by a passing Doc.

Androp’s initial cortisone injection was given by a person who was later disqualified from cramming long needs deep into other people’s flesh.

Androp got a cortisone shot in the shoulder for adhesive capsulitis.  Recall that he had a terrifying experience the first time he got one (see December 8, 2016, journal entry).  This time, the Attend Physician (teacher who was supervising the Fellow or Resident Doc for the earlier injection) was in charge.  The procedure was fast and mostly painless.

Me, “That was fantastic, Doc.  You were supervising someone else, a Fellow or Resident Doc maybe, when I got my first injection.  That did not go so well.”

Her, “Really?”

The radiology waiting room was not very inviting.

Me, “Ya. (I provided some horrifying quotes similar to the ones I gave in the December 8 post).”

Her, “Oh I am sorry.  I usually try to be more discrete with the patient in the room.  Was it (insert description of Fellow or Resident student Doc).”

Me, “That was her.”

Her, “She never did get it.  I stopped letting her give injections.”

Me, to self, “Oh just gawdamned fine.  I was given an injection by a trainee who failed the course.   A proven failure at giving injections crammed a needle 6 inches into my body.  Possibly, her failure was in large part due to how much she screwed up on me.  There are two witnesses standing here.  Get their names.”

Hint: ask for the Attending Physician, not a Fellow or a Resident.

This dog will spook from nothing.

In nature news, coyotes were heard yipping from Androp’s cul du sac dog walking route.  The little dog was spooked.  But then, the little dog spooks from a leaf blowing across the sidewalk.  And often, she jumps due to nothing visible in the external environment (e.g. brain worms).  To anyone who has not heard coyotes: they make a lot of noise, but it is not howling, it is yipping and barking.  Probably at least two were yipping on Sunday evening.  The number is impossible to tell, since they can make a lot of noise.

Politics remain pretty much the same.  Those who think he is trying to discredit the press are incorrect: he has already successfully discredited the press.

January 26: Ready to Eat Again: The Strike is Over

January 26: Ready to Eat Again: The Strike is Over

Androp Gerard is ending his hunger/non-blogging strike that began in protest to the election of he who must not be named.  To blog followers: sorry for not announcing the beginning of the strike.  But this is the end of it.  Resistance will continue.  Life goes on.

The child does not care who is POTUS.  She wants more chocolate though.

The older child went on a cruise and the wife and Androp had three grandchildren and two extra dogs for 10 days.  The grandchildren were delightful.  The dogs were as much fun as a visit to the dentist.  (Androp despises dentists).

Here’s an interesting note: these grandchildren are all younger than 7.  Yet, they understood that they were to stay with us for an extended period.  Consequently, their behavior around the house as longer-term guests was immediately strikingly different versus their behavior during frequent visits.  Even young humans can be remarkably smart and perceptive.  Startling.slide2

Recall that the goat sacrifice worked, and days continue to lengthen.  In anticipation of warmer weather, serious research on youth bikes has ensued.  The two older grandchildren need bike up-grades: both learned to ride last fall.  They need lighter, youth-specific bikes:

Adult Weight (me):                     215 lbs

My Bike:                                   28 lbs

Percentage                               13.0%


Kid Weight (7 YO)                           55 lbs

Kid Bike (mainstream maker)      28 lbs

Percentage                                           50.9%


Woom and Islabikes are the two youth-specific bike makers that seem best based on review of web sites.  Spawn has mainly boys bikes.  Cleary will not publish the weight of their bikes.  Trek may have one model worth looking at, but Jamis, Specialized, Giant, Diamondback, Schwinn, and Kona have no reasonable youth bikes.slide3

In nature news, four white-tailed deer were attracted to a pile of corn the neighbors put out during a cold spell.  During a snap of colder weather, bird activity at the feeders and bird bath increased.  Eastern Bluebirds are seldom seen unless all water in the area is frozen, save what is in our bird hot tub.  The most abundant species this year has been Goldfinches; White-throated Sparrows seem down from last year.  A presumed nesting pair of Barred Owls have been heard hooting back and forth on several occasions these past 10 days.slide1

Finally, in politics: this blog will attempt to address this subject only on the rare occasion in the future.  Androp Gerard needs to practice better coping mechanisms to maintain personal resilience.  Avoidance of news is one strategy.  The most striking recent revelation seems to be increasing paranoia in he who must not be named.

“You’d be paranoid too, if everyone was out to get you.”  –  Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

Frank Burns: POTUS


January 3, 2017: Sickness, Hallucinations, Stand Mixers, Cats, Bike Rides, Northern Cardinals

January 3, 2017: Sickness, Hallucinations, Stand Mixers, Cats, Bike Rides, Northern Cardinals

Sleep disruptions from sickness can cause hallucinations.

Androp Gerard contracted a virus that caused a limited-time burst of gastrointestinal symptoms between Christmas and New Year’s.  Many members of the immediate family also had the illness, which probably was Norovirus.  Since about 2009, children have been vaccinated against Rotavirus, and all three (vaccinated) grandchildren were sick.

Interesting, spatially-dissociative hallucinations were one symptom of the illness.  These happened just as Androp was falling asleep (on the couch).  They were incongruously pleasant.  They involved a feeling of being suspended beneath large, heavy objects which were floating above.  Thoughts ran along the lines, “That is weird.  I am obviously dreaming.”  Possibly, this is how some drugs impact some people.  Being a redhead, drugs really do not impact Androp very much.  Possibly more details later.

slide4Androp got a book on the science of food, a wine glass labeled ‘Pa Pa’s Sippy Cup,’ a new stand mixer, and bike shorts for Christmas, among other things.  A book review will follow later.  Recall that the old stand mixer was wounded when the wife and daughter used it for making a volume of cream cheese frosting normally prepared only in commercial kitchens.

Me, looking at the new mixer as I unwrapped it, somewhat dazed, “So.  The motor really was burned out on the old one, then.”

Her, “Well, no.  It is fine.  But the beaters keep coming out of their little holes.”

Me, “Oh. Right. **pause** Of course.  That is annoying.”  Confession: the beaters had never come loose on me.

Two birthdays were celebrated. Prune cake with brown sugar frosting was consumed in high volumes after some initial skepticism.

Birthdays for one child and one grandchild occurred between Christmas and New Year’s.  Grandma’s prune cake with brown sugar candy frosting was requested.  The cake recipe was executed via use of the new stand mixer.  Prune cake was viewed with skepticism by uninitiated neophytes among the dinner guests.  Squeamishness was overcome by flavor, and a large volume was consumed during the first sitting.

The New Year’s Day bike ride was cold.  Cats do not believe in regular exercise.

The weather allowed for a traditional New Year’s Day bike ride, this year with new bike shorts (worn basically over pantyhose, but for men these are called “base layers”).  Some cold-ish exercise resulted.  In contrast, cats for whom a ‘jungle gym’ was purchased just lounged.  Felines do not believe in exercise, so in that regard they are like Donald Trump.

Finally, in signs of spring, one Northern Cardinal was heard and observed singing a territorial song for the first time since last summer.  Recall that the sacrifice of the unblemished goat worked to ensure days are getting long.  Maybe the Cardinals have noticed.

Under New Year’s resolutions: Androp Gerard notes that change is constant, and will come at different rates across time.  No need to make sweeping, dramatic decrees on any given date.

A Northern Cardinal was heard signing an on-territory song for the first time since last summer.

November 29, 2016: A Note on Pets

November 29, 2016: A Note on Pets; and Androp Gerard is not quite an Idiot Savant

“Our house, is a very, very fine house with two cats and a dog….” exactly like the line in the Crosby, Stills & Nash song.  As an aside, regarding that quote, Androp Gerard has consumed precious little pop culture in his life, but he remembers more of what he has consumed than he wishes to.  This includes lyrics of songs and lines and scenes from movies.  He is somewhat of an idiot savant along these lines.  He fails to satisfy the definition by not being nearly enough of a savant and not being quite enough of an idiot.  Possibly, the vivid recall of movie scenes accounts for Androp’s aversion to violent movies: he relives every horrifying, emotionally distressing detail.  Disturbing images are being suppressed as this is written.

Our house has two cats & a dog.  People treat pets like children or friends.  Talking to them is like meditation.

Here is the question: why do so many humans keep and love pets?  In broad terms, it seems like this might be because (1) people imagine they have human to human relationships with their pets, and (2) pet care occupies a human’s mind, and provides purpose.

Pets can be imagined as children.  For example, a sibling of Androp Gerard named their dog “Baby.”  Or pets may serve as friends.  It seems easier to think of a dog as a child than a cat.  Cats serve the role of non-needy friendly acquaintances.  After all, cats can leave and go feral at any time but dogs need their human associates (“parents?”), at least in the USA.

Talking to a pet occupies a human mind, so is more or less like mindfulness, or medication.  And caring for a pet is a job, so provides purpose.

This dog will piddle on the carpet if Androp fails to take it for a walk early each morning.  Pets provide humans with a job.

Me, before light, early A.M., dog getting out from under covers, shaking, “It is too early.  Goddamit.  Go back under the covers.”

Dog, from my imagination, “Okay, I am going to jump down now and piddle on the carpet.”

Me, dog licking my hand, “Jesus H. Christ.  I am going to get up and pee myself now. Stay on the bed.”  I point a menacing finger at the dog and look it in the eye.

Dog, from my imagination, “You have 60 seconds.  Then I am going to jump down and piddle.  I will select as spot you will certainly step on.”

So that gets me out of bed every morning to walk the dog before it piddles on the rug.  Then I have to feed the two cats and the dog.  Then, lovely espresso/lattes.

It is never a problem of wondering why to get out of bed in the morning if you own a dog.  Dog pee cannot be effectively removed from carpet and the associated backing.