Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Big Day

I hope everyone had a great time going door to door in their gorilla suits. My pelt came in particularly handy as I tried once again to clear the driveway. We're at that stage where the driveway has developed what the ski resorts like to call a "base." The bottom half inch or so is not going anywhere without a thaw, meaning it is time to break out the kitty litter and put a temporary layer of traction on top. According to the weather folks, this week should be the end of new accumulation for a bit, and next week we get into a period of winter I like to call Nature's Meat Locker. It's real penguin weather. Forecast high one day next week is 5F. That's the high. As long as the snow cover stays, the plants should be OK.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Snow What

Ah, the constant joys of home ownership. The Rookery finally gets enough snow for the snowblower to be effective, and the blasted thing won't start. The storm brought a powdery, blowing snow, so all the shoveling and spreading of kitty litter over the pack ice will be for naught by morning. Future landscaping of the driveway border will include a snowbreak hedge on the windward side of the driveway.

Happy NGSD Eve

Today is, of course, National Gorilla Suit Eve. National Gorilla Suit Day is not, as some might suspect, the warmup for National Penguin Suit Day in two weeks. National Penguin Suit Day has been co-opted by the Valentine's Day crowd, although the spirit of getting dressed in penguin suits and offering rocks in hopes of getting some tailfeathers remains mostly intact. National Gorilla Suit Day has not (yet) been appropriated by Hallmark, and still retains the wholesome goodness of going door-to-door in a gorilla suit remains unsullied. ME has the entire story of National Gorilla Suit Day here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

So Much for Being Top Mammal

I mentioned earlier that the Rookery is facing a potential feline intelligence issue: Sonja seems to be figuring out the doorknob principle. She has had a breakthrough. Owing to a recent spate of issues with making it to the litterbox, she was confined to the spare room last night while the humans slept. This morning, I woke up to a little black and white kitty face staring at me from a partially open door. Emp. Peng. had not opened it for her, and I made sure that the door was latched when I put her in so the other cats couldn't push it open from the hallway side. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that she finally figured out how to turn the knob and pull at the same time. She only had it open about an inch and a half, but it can't be long now until she figures out how to nudge the door open enough to let herself out.

Since I know some of you will worry, I should mention that the exterior doors do not have the lever-style knobs she can grab, and are heavier than the bedroom door. Even if Sonja had the inclination to leave the house, which she certainly does not, she would not be able to use this trick on any of the doors leading to the Great Outdoors.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gotta Love Scientific Achievement

We have phones that take pictures, MP3 players that record all of our notes to self, and that wonderful 5-in-1 tool that combines a putty knife, paint scraper, caulk remover, nail puller and hammer. All this multipurposing, yet our pastries have remained curiously mono-functional--until now. Scientists have taken all the goodness of two cups of coffee and a doughnut and eliminated the messy liquid component to arrive at the Swiss Army Knife of nutritionally negligible breakfast foods: the caffeinated doughnut.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cancel the Intervention

We retrofitted the Rookery with compact fluorescent lightbulbs. There was only one minor problem. Unlike incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs' external dimensions vary according to the wattage. Up to about 75W equivalent, that isn't much of an issue, but it turns out that 26W compact bulbs, which we use to replace 100W incandescents, are slightly longer than a standard incandescent bulb. In fact, they are just enough larger that no diffuser will fit on the overhead light fixtures.

No, I didn't go for the duct tape. This was a job for 638 #1 no-slip paperclips, which can be arrayed into a pretty nifty chandelier.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is is possible to have too much duct tape?

I'm working out the details of making blackout curtains out of duct tape. So far, the main problem seems to be finding a method that allows the window coverings to be retracted.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Winter is A-Comin'

Three weeks until Groundhog Day, and the Rookery is finally about to get socked with a real winter for Punxsutawney to predict six more weeks of, which would bring is to a grand total of nine weeks of potential winter. It's January 12, and I haven't had to salt, sand or snowblow yet this season. I've barely had to break out my heavy coat. All that is about to come to a screeching, icy, possibly sleety halt, though. According to the weather sites, which are marginally more reliable than the marmota method of weather forecast, today's 52F is going to be about the last time for the forecastable future that the Rookery is going to see the plus side of freezing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Penguin News Roundup

ME beat me to posting the New York Times' discussion on penguins' prospects in advertising and media this year. I maintain that any penguin is good penguin, unless it is a bi-polar and geographically incorrect penguin/polar bear combo.

I was NOT involved in the theft of a six-foot-six-inch plush penguin from a supermarket in Blackburn, UK. Strangely, no one noticed a 6-foot-6 penguin being dragged out the door and shoved into a van at about 3 p.m. Saturday. Some time Monday, store employees finally noticed a gap where a 6-foot-6 stuffed penguin had been.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Zero Trans Fats and Plenty of Fiber

Some genius over at Orville Redenbacher's noticed that, technically, extra-extra-butter microwave popcorn qualifies as a whole-grain product. Gotta love marketing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Peripherally Penguin News

Something to think about next time you order a caesar salad:

Anchovy Fishing May Harm Penguins

A new plan for anchovy fishing off Patagonia may put human anchovy fisherman in competition with the local anchovy fisherpenguins, a colony of Magellanics.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Doing the Happy Dance...

...because I can stop doing the potty dance. The plumbers just left, and the Rookery is back to a 1:1 ratio of permanent human residents to functional toilets. A couple of weeks back, the downstairs commode decided to stop accepting delivery of water to the tank, thus becoming little more than a not-very-comfy chair in a room where we have no need to sit. Of course, like all good fixtures, it did this right as Emp. Peng. was segueing between employment situations and the house was under a state of "No Unnecessary Spending." Houses just know.