General Ramblings comments edit

Semper, the Tub
CatThis year the holidays have had an unfortunate shadow cast on them as, on December 21, we had to put down Jenn’s nine-year-old cat, Semper. She was losing a battle with fatty liver disease and pancreatitis, and there was nothing we could do to save her. It came on very suddenly, especially considering just two weeks before that we had taken her in for a routine check-up and her blood work came back fine. She was a bit overweight (20 pounds!) so we were in the process of transitioning her to a prescription diet food when this happened.

She didn’t do much. She’d sleep most of the day away, rarely venturing out of one of her three or four known “spots” around the house. She didn’t like people much and she was scared of everything. If you were in eyesight, she wouldn’t eat, drink, or go to the bathroom - she’d hide. She liked to destroy anything she could get her gigantic claws into and she’d bite you for no particular reason. She liked tools, particularly the hammer, which she’d roll around on and sleep next to. She was dirty and oily because she had medium-long hair and was too fat to clean herself. She breathed really loud like she had respiratory issues even though she was just fine. Her skin was so pink you could almost see through it, particularly in her ears. We called her “The Tub” because she was so huge.

She was fat, she was mean, and she was a good cat. She left us unexpectedly, and our other cat has been wandering around looking for her friend, a friend that won’t be coming home. She was a total piece of crap and we miss her very much.

General Ramblings comments edit

Christmas this year was reasonably good, all things considered.

We opened the season up with the 24: Season 5 marathon at our house on the 23rd. From 8:00a to 1:00a the next morning, Jack Bauer fought terrorism in my living room while Stu, Meaghan, Jenn, my dad, and I sat entranced by the action. Watching it marathon-style really is the only way to go.

Christmas Eve being the next day, we slept in a bit (watching TV that long is actually pretty wearing… sort of counter-intuitive, I know) and finished the last of the package wrapping. That afternoon we headed over to Jenn’s parents’ house to do some gift exchange and chat for a while with them. Jenn brought her Nintendo DS because her mom and niece both got them for Christmas and it was the first time we were able to play with some of the networking abilities. It’s actually a pretty slick deal and we had a lot of fun with it.

After that, we went over to Jenn’s mom’s cousin’s house and visited with some of her extended family. I’d been there once before, several years ago, but while I recognized faces, I’m horrible with names and had to be re-introduced to folks. I’m introduced as “my husband, Travis” now, which is still weird for me to hear.

Christmas Day I had expected to be at my parents’ house early, but they had things to do, so Jenn and I exchanged gifts to each other in the morning and it ended up being a little after noon before we got to my parents’ house. We talked for a bit and I showed my parents some of the gifts Jenn and I had gotten each other, then my grandparents showed up and we ate dinner… at 2:00p… which I guess is what elderly folks expect, but is still something I don’t understand.

We exchanged gifts with folks, Jenn and I cheaping out taking advantage of the wedding this year and giving a lot of wedding photos. I got a few very cool things that I’m enjoying on my vacation, including The Unit: Season 1, Gears of War (and the strategy guide), The Beatles’ Love album, and more energy drinks than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.

All in all, a good Christmas, but nothing screamingly outstanding or exceptionally notable. Jenn and I have been talking about the fact that Christmas sort of loses its magic more and more the older you get. It becomes less about the wonder of the season and more about trying to arrange schedules, make sure everyone has a gift, get everyone together come-hell-or-high-water… it’s not at all like it was when we were kids, and it’s not like you see in the movies. It used to be, and neither of us are really sure where things went wrong. Maybe it’s the age difference, maybe it’s the turmoil of the year catching up to us, maybe it’s something else, but it’s not the way it used to be - the way it should be. We’re going to have to look at how to change that for next year.

General Ramblings comments edit

My mom just called me (she works for the Fred Meyer book buyer) and let me know that the new Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No release date yet, but it’s kind of cool to get information on the inside track.

personal, home comments edit

I’m always on the lookout for tools, tips, and tricks to make my life easier. I read Life Hacker. I follow Hanselman’s Ultimate Tools List (I think I’m on the list). The thing is, I hate cleaning but I haven’t seen anyone provide a list of ways to help me so I don’t have to clean my house. I’ve found a few things I use and like, so here’s my list of things I use to make it easier to keep a clean place.


  • Roomba is my #1 weapon in my passive-aggressive fight for a clean home. Roomba is an automatic vacuuming robot made by iRobot. It has a home base that it charges its battery on, and when you’re ready to vacuum, you pick it up and put it in the middle of the floor, turn it on, and away it goes. When it’s done, it parks back at the home base and recharges for the next time. All you have to do is empty the dust bin and periodically clean the brushes (which I find easier and, frankly, more novel than pushing a vacuum cleaner by hand). I have two of the Discovery SE models (so I can do two rooms at once) and I love them. They do a great job (and you won’t believe it until you empty the dustbin and see how much it picks up). Plus, if you ever have any issues, iRobot customer support is actually a great experience. I’ve called them twice (once I had a problem with one of the wheels and once I had a home base charger issue) and both times were hassle-free and satisfying. Any issues I had - resolved, no questions. If you have to choose just one of the things on this list to pick up, make it a Roomba.


  • Scooba is the cousin of Roomba. While Roomba vacuums, Scooba mops. Most of my downstairs is hardwood and it gets nasty. Scooba to the rescue! Technically Scooba does some vacuuming, too, but not as much as Roomba. I usually run Roomba over the hardwoods to pick up any debris and then follow up with a Scooba run. Again, you won’t believe how much gunk this thing picks up until you empty the dirty water tank and see it
  • it does an awesome job. The only thing I’ve run into is that on a large floor like mine you need to break it up and run in sections - something easy to do with the “virtual walls” both Scooba and Roomba have.

Kaboom! Never
ScrubKaboom! Never Scrub - I found this one by accident at the local supermarket and figured I’d give it a run. The idea is that you put this device in-line with the pipe that fills your toilet bowl and the water runs through a chlorine filter to kill any bacteria and add some bleach to the water to stop anything from growing. This thing is amazing. I have one of these in every toilet in the house. You still have to clean the outside of the toilet, but nothing grows under the rim or in the bowl. Note that if the toilet doesn’t get used (never gets flushed, or doesn’t get flushed often), then water won’t be running through the filter and stuff will eventually start to grow. We have one bathroom that rarely gets used; we flush the toilet once or twice a week to make sure it stays clean.

Caution: if you have pets that like to drink out of the toilet, this isn’t for you (or you’ll have to make sure you keep the lid closed).

Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower
CleanerScrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner

  • Hang this in the shower and, when you’re done, push the button. Fifteen seconds later, it sprays a cleaning solution around in the shower that gets rid of soap scum and mold. Do this daily and it’ll clean up a dirty shower or keep a clean shower clean.

Placement on this is key - if you put it somewhere so the spray head can’t shoot solution to one area of the shower, it won’t get clean; if you place it too low, it won’t reach everywhere because the spray head isn’t a fire hose. It generally is supposed to hang from your shower head, but we have one of those removable massage heads so I put a plastic hook in the shower.

I’ve found that, while it keeps the orange soap scum out, you do occasionally have to give the shower a good scrub to get rid of some of the more built-up scum. We have glass doors on the shower and still have to pay a little attention to them. Not as effective as the Kaboom! Never Scrub, but pretty darn good.


  • Less a cleaner and more of a freshener/deodorizer. Drop one of these in your garbage disposal and run it to get rid of the stink and give it a nice fresh lemon scent. You still will have to clean out your garbage disposal as usual (you do clean it out, right?), but in the interim you can get rid of the stench.

What gadgetry and doo-dads do you use to keep your house clean?

traffic comments edit

UPDATE: It appears that the “youparklikeanasshole” site I visitedis actually an infringment on an existing product that has been sold for a while. I’ve removed the link to the site out of respect to the original idea distributors, however my two cents:

First, when I was in grade school a friend of mine gave me a “leave-behind” that looked veeeery similar to this. It didn’t actually say “you park like an asshole” on it, but it did refer to the driver as an asshole and had a checklist of infringements on it. That was over 20 years ago, and somehow I’m in doubt that it was produced by Cold Cocked Cards. It looked like one of those jokes you see posted on the wall of your local auto body shop, photocopied to death. If I recall correctly, it had Mickey Mouse on it with his middle finger out.

Second, the addition that the youparklikeanasshole site provided that made it cool was the ability to upload and categorize photos of the asshole parkers. Connecting the real-world leave-behind to the online world is a great idea and is what pushed it over the top from an “interesting idea” to a “cool site.” It might be in Cold Cocked Cards best interest to either partner with youparklikeanasshole or settle or something because the photo upload thing is an idea that shouldn’t be missed.

Anyway, it sucks when someone steals your idea, so I hope things pan out for everyone involved.

Original entry…

My friend John just sent me to my new favorite site: Maybe I should submit some of my Traffic Assholes to this one.