December 3, 2009

Another cool thing...

...about the new Market District, that I spotted tonight.

Giant Eagle has experimented with self-service deli counter kiosks. Select your items on the touchscreen, and pick them up later. The new Market District in Robinson took that idea one step further -- the new deli kiosks are at the ENTRANCE, not by the deli counter. Make your selections and you get a little receipt to pick them up, and even optionally you can give it your cellphone number and receive a text message when it's ready.

I tried it tonight, and it worked great. No waiting in line, no need to go to the counter first. Ah, progress...

November 26, 2009

Goodbye, Hermes

This is still difficult for me to type, but I feel like I have to say something to honor him.

Hermes, my 10 year old cat, passed away sometime early Monday morning. It was sudden, and hopefully not painful for him (although I fear it may have been).

This cat literally came up to me in a rather busy area (one of the side streets off Craig St) as a kitten. He followed me as I walked into a store, then was sitting there as I came out. One of my best friends is a vet, so I picked him up and took him to the office she was working at. After a few days there, she called me and said "you picked him up, he's yours..."

So I had a kitten.

Hermes was a bit of a brat right from the start. He was willful and could be aloof (sounds like most cats, right?) He could also be very affectionate, friendly, and down right adorable at times, even when getting himself in trouble.

Hermes was joined less than a year later by another cat, Loki. The same friend called me, and told me they had an orphaned kitten that needed a home, and I was it. This little guy was so young he was still being fed kitten chow mixed with kitten formula, and using the plastic tray from a Lean Cuisine as his litter box.

Loki is a very different cat than his older "brother" Hermes. Hermes loved being with people, and would always come over to see what was going on, but still maintained his distance and, dare I say, a form of dignity. Loki is very skittish around strangers, and jumps at the slightest sudden movement, but when you're in the couch watching TV or napping it's almost certain he'll cuddle up with you.

So, these guys have been my buddies for going on 10 years now. I've been through a lot, good and bad, and they've always been there for me (ok, non-animal people will say "that's because you own them", but pet lovers know what I mean...)

When I bought a house and moved in with my fiance, who has much nicer furniture than I ever did in my bachelor pads, we agreed to keep the cats downstairs.

So, this goes. Hermes has always been one to wolf down his food, and then take some of Loki's for good measure. Sometimes he'd eat so fast he'd throw some of it back up. He's also always had hairball issues. Now, I don't know what actually happened, but...Sunday morning he woke us up, meowing for his food as usual. I went downstairs and fed them. After breakfast I went downstairs to get ready to go out, and one of them had thrown up breakfast. I figured it was probably Hermes, and didn't think much more of it at the time, but told myself to make sure to check in on him later. I went grocery shopping, came home, and he was fine, running over to see what I'd gotten.

After the Steelers game (so around 4:30) I went downstairs again, and found a very different story. Hermes was sitting on the rug in the laundry room, looking, well, scared. He was drooling, and looked at me and let out a weak little "meow". I immediately grabbed my phone and called my friend the vet (the same one, now with her own practice). I didn't get her right away, so I left her a voicemail and told myself if I couldn't get hold of her I'd call one of the emergency clinics. We ate dinner, and just as we were finishing the friend called me. She offered to meet me at her clinic (which was of course normally closed -- can you tell we're friends?) so I ran off with Hermes.

She said he was dehydrated and his temperature was low, and gave him some intravenous fluids. She wanted to draw blood and do X-Rays, but without a tech to help her couldn't do much more. She felt his stomach, and he meowed, but she didn't think she felt any actual blockages (my fear given his hairball issues in the past). Her big fear was that he'd eaten something he shouldn't have, but there wasn't much else she could do at the time without help. We agreed that he'd be more comfortable at home rather than alone in a clinic cage, so I took him home, to bring him back first thing in the morning. I set him up on some blankets and gave him a kiss (yeah, I know -- I'm a softie, and this was my pal we're walking about). Around 3am I went down to check on him, and he was sleeping, but opened his eyes and stretched when I petted him.

That was the last time I saw him alive. I got up at 6 and went downstairs to check on him, and he wasn't breathing. I wrapped him up in some blankets and took him to my friend's practice. Carrying him in was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done so far in my life. We don't know what happened, and I chose to not have her autopsy him -- we may not have learned anything, and it seemed more respectful to let my little friend rest in peace.

Loki may not fully understand what's happened, but he misses his "brother". I found him sleeping in Hermes' favorite chair, but leaning AWAY from the spot Hermes would actually have been sleeping in. He's been carrying around one of Hermes' favorite toys. And, of course, he's been all over me everytime I'm down there.

I took Loki in for a checkup yesterday, just in case. He's gotten a clean bill of health so far, so that's good at least.

Goodbye, Hermes. We miss you.

November 15, 2009


I raked leaves; made a batch of homemade veggie soup (dinner during the week), a crab-artichoke-orzo salad (dinner tonight and during the week), a batch of homemade yogurt (breakfast during the week), AND a pitcher of iced tea for good measure; did 5 loads of laundry; AND managed to watch (most) of the Steelers game . I had help where possible, of course, but still a tiring, productive day...

November 8, 2009

Ye Gods!

So this morning was the first real run to the Market District for grocery shopping.

I had to park down by Panera Bread (for those of you who aren't local or haven't checked out the Settler's Ridge plaza yet, that's far...)

The place was PACKED. Fortunately, since we'd already done a "scouting trip" and I grabbed one of the cool little 2-tier carts (they're REALLY zippy and maneuverable compared to a "regular" cart, while having more space than a basket), I was in and out pretty quickly since I knew exactly what I needed and where I was headed.

One thing I spotted that we'd missed on Friday night, while I was grabbing mushrooms, was truffles! I don't know how often we'd be getting something like that, but it was neat to see. We stocked up on canned crab meat, frozen crab legs and lobster tails (mmmm!), and dry pasta since we have an insane number of great coupons ($5 off a $10 seafood purchase? Sure, thanks!) and their prices are really good to drum up interest ($7 off each said can of crab, for example).

Not that they really need the sale to get bodies in the store right now. Sheesh...

November 6, 2009

About damn time!

So we braved the crowds to check out our new Giant Eagle Market District tonight. Once the stupid crowds die down (if ever), it's going to be really cool having such a nice grocery store so close to home (we timed it -- literally 2 minutes 30 seconds from their parking lot to our driveway (but then when we went it took about 10 just to find a parking spot!))

I'll let my lovely fiance go into more detail, but I wanted to comment quickly on the beer sales. Yes, 6-packs of beer for sale in a supermarket in Pennsylvania. Welcome to the post-Prohibition era, PA!

Prices and selection aren't bad, either. It's not as cheap as by the case at a distributor, but it's less than the typical mix-n-match stores. For someone like me who only drinks occasionally and gets tired of drinking the same thing over and over, it's great.

October 31, 2009

Proof that Wal-Mart = Hell

'Nuff said!
I couldn't have managed that if I'd WANTED to...

September 28, 2009

Respect the message, shoot the messenger

Ok, not LITERALLY, but still...

So the G20 came and went here in Pittsburgh. And with it came the protesters. Fortunately for us, it wasn't a major "Battle In Seattle"-type of situation, but there were still moments.

Let's see, we had Greenpeace hanging from one bridge and trying to hang from another. Way to tie up traffic, morons! (Greenpeace definitely falls into the category where I DO respect their message, but they're over-the-top to the point of looking stupid in their delivery)

And then we had the "peaceful" marches that resulted in property damage. I don't agree with, but can see, the attacks on "evil national chains". But a Pamela's Diner? Seriously? It's not like they're some huge money-sucking organization. Was it because the Obama's really like them? Or was it because the dumbass who did it wasn't protesting, just being an idiot causing damage for the hell of it? Way to dilute the message there, buddy.

I actually do feel bad for the protesters who really did keep it peaceful and believed in their reasons. A few idiots going overboard made the whole lot look bad, prompting a police response, and it went from there. Fortunately it didn't get as bad as it could have been, but there's a reason I was avoiding the area those two days...

September 8, 2009

When I tell someone to not erase my whiteboard notes, that's not an invitation to write OVER them instead!

August 27, 2009

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

In anticipation for a game night tomorrow night with friends, I decided to bake a goodie to bring along. After some debate (and baking a batch of madelienes for my sweetie, who doesn't game and so won't be joining us), I decide to concoct something quasi-healthy but still a treat. I created these cookies. They're loosely based on any number of peanut butter cookie recipes you'll find out there, but with whole wheat flour and oats. And they're made with the best darn mass-market peanut butter out there:

Costco Organic Peanut Butter!
The remaining ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened (I always use unsalted...)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp guar gum (I'll probably omit next time)
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Cream together butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Add egg and beat. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, combine. Gently fold in oats.
  3. Drop by spoonful onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Flatten with tines of a fork (wet the fork if the dough sticks, which it probably will). Bake for 14-16 minutes (in my oven, they took 14 minutes...)

This made a dozen big cookies (the only way to make peanut butter cookies, IMHO). So why the guar gum? Since I was taking a cookie style that's soft to begin with, and using whole wheat flour instead of white flour (less gluten), AND then adding oats to the mix, I was afraid they'd fall apart a bit easily, so I added the gum to help stabilize them (another egg might have worked too, but that would have added more moisture). The end result probably didn't need it, but it's an ingredient I have on hand from my gluten-free cooking days...

End result? Yummy, chewey peanut butter cookies with a crisp edge, just how I like them!

August 19, 2009

Shaq Vs.

Ok, I have to confess that we watched part of Shaq Vs. last night. (More precisely, we watched a few minutes out of morbid curiosity, got hooked because of the local Pittsburgh interest, hit "record" on the DVR, then went on to watch an episode of True Blood as originally planned for the evening... After that we skipped through Shaq Vs)

As it turns out, Shaq Vs is actually pretty entertaining dumb TV. The man IS a damn good athlete, after all. The rules are set so that his opponent is handicapped to compensate for Shaq playing outside his normal game, and he keeps it entertaining. The premier was against Ben Roethlisberger in a "quarterback" contest. Next week features volleyball Olympians Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh. I, um, might have to watch that one too, strictly out of the same morbid curiosity as this week, of course...

As for True Blood, that series is great, but I'll have to post about that some other time...

August 14, 2009

He's dead, Jim!

My XBox 360 died. Yup, the infamous miserable red ring of death. Now, I still had an original first-run system, the ones with the relatively high failure rate (of my circle of friends who got systems of that era, I was the last one who hadn't had to replace it). That's impressive in that it lasted a good long time, but it sucks in that now it's well out of warranty.

Sigh. There are definitely more important things to worry about, and I have other games I can play to occupy my time, but of course it's the 360 that I liked the best and had the most invested in, in terms of game library and peripherals. It'll have to be replaced at some point. Hmph...

August 11, 2009

What a load...

Stuff like this is completely unacceptable. Nine hours?!? The best bit was this, though:

Kristy Nicholas, a spokeswoman for ExpressJet Airlines, said passengers couldn't go to the Rochester terminal to wait out the storms because they would have needed to redo their security screening and screeners had gone home.
That's crap, and they know it -- as the airport manager even said, the passengers would have been waiting in the secured area, so screening wasn't the problem. Incompetence was.

I'm just glad I wasn't on that flight, and I feel sorry for the people who were.

August 9, 2009

Another year, another blog

This is at least the 3rd time I've started a blog (and that's not counting the dark ages of hand-edited html pages and, before that, .plan files).

We'll see how long this one lasts...