Sassyhacksaws http://sassyhacksaws.com Musings on an English Degree Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:31:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Marley After the Vethttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/11/25/marley-vet/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/11/25/marley-vet/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:28:58 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6464 Marley is all fixed up now. She recovered rather nicely and I’m making sizable dents in the amount I owe for the procedure. Fun fact, I was quote anywhere from $450-$950 for her procedure depending on how many teeth were pulled and other work that might need to be done. I feared the worst. The actual cost was $510 and I was more than relieved at the time of checkout. The procedure took out 14 of her teeth and they cleaned the remaining 10. Her Continue reading →

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Marley is all fixed up now. She recovered rather nicely and I’m making sizable dents in the amount I owe for the procedure. Fun fact, I was quote anywhere from $450-$950 for her procedure depending on how many teeth were pulled and other work that might need to be done. I feared the worst. The actual cost was $510 and I was more than relieved at the time of checkout.

The procedure took out 14 of her teeth and they cleaned the remaining 10. Her breath smells a far sight better than it did before. This is good because she has this habit of licking my face. Sometimes I wonder if she’s a dog. A small dog, but she still seems like one.

The vet tech warned me that she might be a little loopy from the drugs when I got her home. She warned me to keep an eye on her so she didn’t accidentally fall off of anything. I couldn’t help but burst out into laughter when I imagined a drugged up Marley just falling off the back of the couch. It’s the kind of thing she does when she’s not on drugs but it’s still funny to think that it might be more likely to happen.

Marley After the Vet

Marley After the Vet

The vet also had to shave her paw, as seen above, so they could give her the IV. It was weird seeing her with no fur and it made me wonder what she’d look like if she was entirely shaved, or had a lion’s cut. Maybe someday I’ll have a need to get her fur shaved off (maybe she’ll roll around in a lot of gum, or poo, or skunk), but I’m not going to go out and shave her just to see what she looks like.

Most importantly, she’s eating better now that she’s feeling better. There are days now that I’ll come home from work and her bowl will be empty. This is great since I learned she needed the surgery after taking her in because she wasn’t eating. She still stinks, and I think this might have to do with the food I’m feeding her, but it’s progress. She eats now so I can switch her to better food and hopefully take care of that classic Marley stank.

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Cat Dental Procedure for Marleyhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/16/cat-dental-procedure-marley/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/16/cat-dental-procedure-marley/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:47:12 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6459 Marley is currently under the knife!  After I had taken Marley in to get checked up after she pooped some blood, the vet was harassing me for not getting her mouth fixed up sooner. I told her that it was too expensive for me to pay all at once (they don’t offer payment plans). She suggested that I look into getting a Care Credit card. Care Credit is a card that can be used for medical, health, beauty, and veterinary charges as long as the Continue reading →

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Marley is currently under the knife! 

After I had taken Marley in to get checked up after she pooped some blood, the vet was harassing me for not getting her mouth fixed up sooner. I told her that it was too expensive for me to pay all at once (they don’t offer payment plans). She suggested that I look into getting a Care Credit card. Care Credit is a card that can be used for medical, health, beauty, and veterinary charges as long as the care provider accepts it. Why this wasn’t suggested before is beyond me (the cat dental extraction procedure was estimated around $750 and that’s a lot for most people to have to pay all at once). 

Anyway, I paid off my bills and I signed up for Care Credit and Marley was scheduled for her work. 

I just got a call from the vet telling me she is in recovery now so she should be good to pick up after work.

The nice thing about Care Credit is that for certain amounts of charges, I can choose to pay them off in 6 or 12 months and there is no interest. A coworker told me today that she used it when she had her Lasik surgery and it worked well for her.

I hope this procedure helps her feel better and gets her back to her old strength. I’ll keep you updated if anything comes up.

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Pick Apples from the Binhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/06/pick-apples-bin/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/06/pick-apples-bin/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:33:23 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6456 I was going to write something different this week, but circumstances changed. Earlier this year, I perfected my applesauce recipe that’s the right amount of sweetness and spice and consistency. It tastes like candy, without being over sweet. It tastes like Fall, but also Spring, Summer, and Winter. It’s the right amount of everything and I wanted to share it with you, after I when to the orchard to pick apples to make it. The problem is, I don’t have any apples to make it. Continue reading →

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I was going to write something different this week, but circumstances changed. Earlier this year, I perfected my applesauce recipe that’s the right amount of sweetness and spice and consistency. It tastes like candy, without being over sweet. It tastes like Fall, but also Spring, Summer, and Winter. It’s the right amount of everything and I wanted to share it with you, after I when to the orchard to pick apples to make it.

The problem is, I don’t have any apples to make it. I’ve already picked 10 pounds of apples this year and made them into sauce, but I wanted to make more to last me through the year with a little more comfort. I wanted to pick another bushel of apples this year and turn them all into applesauce. When we got to the orchard yesterday, however, things changed.

Right around the same time of year last year (a week or two later if I remember correctly), Ellie and I went to the Elegant Farmer Apple Orchard in Mukwonago, WI. They have a very large orchard and sell their apples at a reasonable rate. You can climb the trees and pull only the best of apples for your stash. When we went last year, we did just that and sampled a few before filling our baskets. The apples I got were mostly on the smaller end of the spectrum, and I hoped by going earlier this year I’d have a chance at some bigger apples because bigger apples means you peel less when making applesauce. It didn’t work out because when we got to the orchard, we were greeted with this sign:

There were no apples to pick at the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago this year.

There were no apples to pick at the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago this year.

It appears they went through and picked all the apples off the trees and dumped them into bins that you could pick apples out of, like at the supermarket. They were like larger versions of this bin:

Apple Bins with pre-picked apples

Apple Bins with pre-picked apples

Sure, apples but there’s no fun in pulling bruised pre-picked apples out of a bin. You don’t get to wander and comb the trees for the perfect hoard of perfectly red and round apples. You only get to dig to the bottom to find out that the apples get worse as you go down. Much worse. More bruised and more tossed aside.

So I didn’t get apples this weekend, and I don’t have pictures to share with my recipe.

It bothers me though that something so traditional can get so commercialized the point that it takes all the possible magic away from it. I’m sure they didn’t mean to do it, and placing bins of apples out to dig through was done for convenience and speed (which just means they can cycle you out faster so new buyers can come in and pick through them). It’s just not fair that people can’t treat a business as a means to help people remember how things used to be done instead of treating it as a bigger dollar sign every year.

Where can you go these days to buy a decent pair of shoes, for example, that you know are going to feel like quality and last and last? And, in the event that something goes wrong, where are you to go to get them repaired? Every place I can think of would rather up-sell to a new pair of shoes than help you fix the old. It’s another industry that’s taking the quality and magic out of itself for the sake of a few more sales and a few more dollars. I just wanted to pick apples, but instead, I was shown where I could buy the apple pie.

What else in this newfangled world bothers you to the point that you ask yourself, is this better? Leave a comment below and we can discuss.

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Love Shack Photoshttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/03/love-shack-photos/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/03/love-shack-photos/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 18:26:02 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6421 I thought about it this morning, I should have posted some photos of the Love Shack. These photos are from earlier this summer, before we took the wall out and put up a new one. The Love Shack is where the magic happened back in the day. If I grew up in the 70s in this house, I’m unsure I would have loved the Love Shack like its original tenants did. Take a look at these photos and decide for yourself. We used to store Continue reading →

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I thought about it this morning, I should have posted some photos of the Love Shack. These photos are from earlier this summer, before we took the wall out and put up a new one. The Love Shack is where the magic happened back in the day.

If I grew up in the 70s in this house, I’m unsure I would have loved the Love Shack like its original tenants did. Take a look at these photos and decide for yourself.

Love Shack carpet wall

We used to store more things up here, and this Love Shack used to be a lot dirtier and less appealing. To me at least. The carpet you see on the walls in places used to cover the floor and the “bench” and up the walls. We pulled it out, covered in dirt, bug carcasses, and mold. So much mold. But we didn’t do much more to alter it from its preserved state. Please let that sink in.

Love Shack Bed

One thing the picture can’t really show is how hot it gets up in this space. There are windows on either end of the building, but the air just doesn’t circulate. It’s stifling, the humidity and the heat makes the air feel thick. I can only imagine that it was the same back in its hey day when reckless youths would spend their nights, possibly days, up here.

My neighbor told me a story about the Love Shack recently, back when the previous owners lived in our house. He said he and his wife had come out early in the morning, maybe 6:00 or 6:30, and saw a small stream of kids coming down from the Love Shack. Him, being an old man even then, asked them if they remembered to use protection. He said they just drooped their heads and walked off without saying a word.

Love Shack

 

All that being said, does anyone want to come hang out at my parents’ house and turn the Love Shack into a clubhouse? It has a lot of potential. It even is wired for electricity (there is an outlet on one of the walls). If we’re lucky, we could leech internet from my parents’ house, though it might be on the edge of the range. I really think the Love Shack could be something great, after a good scrub-down.

Does your parents’ place have some relic from the old days that’s always made you wonder what it was like before your family showed up? I want to hear about it and I want to know if we can hold some clubhouse meetings there (assuming it is a space we could occupy).

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Weekend building is done for the yearhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/01/weekend-building-done-year/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/10/01/weekend-building-done-year/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:20:23 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6414 Helped my dad this weekend for what is probably the last time this year. Outside at least. There will probably be smaller projects here and there but no more big ones are planned, like building the new deck. This weekend, we tore off one side of the garage because the boards were rotting out. After that we put up some new ones and the whole aide looks better for it. It was a lot of fun, actually. You see, there’s an attic to our garage Continue reading →

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Helped my dad this weekend for what is probably the last time this year. Outside at least. There will probably be smaller projects here and there but no more big ones are planned, like building the new deck.

This weekend, we tore off one side of the garage because the boards were rotting out. After that we put up some new ones and the whole aide looks better for it.

It was a lot of fun, actually. You see, there’s an attic to our garage that I call the Love Shack. It was used by the kids of the previous owners for…reasons. The walls and floor were carpeted in a mustard and green and orange shag carpet. There was a built-in platform…for lying on. It had an outlet and a lamp. There was also a whole lot of dirt covering the place (I don’t think this was there when the place was in use, it most likely came in the past few decades since there hasn’t been much more than a screen on the window).

Anyway, we used the room to our advantage. My dad had removed the lower half of the boards by the time I showed up, and all was left was the upper half. After fiddling about with rotten wood and rusty nails for twenty minutes, I decided it might be easier to knock the boards out from above. This was in part because my dad was trying to rock a piece of wood out from beneath another piece of wood without pulling it all apart. I offered to climb up to the Love Shack to see what I could do.

In the Love Shack I decided it might be easiest to try a new method to loosen the boards and just started kicking the wall. You know what, it worked. It worked really well. What would have taken us a couple of hours of fiddling around with, ended up taking somewhere between a half hour and an hour. After that, it was a simple process of nailing up the boards and cutting them to fit. In the end, I think it took us about 4.5 – 5 hours to complete the job. By complete, I mean we ran out of boards with four rows left to go.

Surprisingly, we didn't drop a single board. We used a nail gun to speed up the process of hanging the siding. This was fairly early on in the board hanging phase.

Sounds like we’re doing the back of the garage in the Spring once it thaws. I can’t wait.

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Social Media Pokémon Exchangehttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/09/24/social-media-pokemon-exchange/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/09/24/social-media-pokemon-exchange/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 19:01:39 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6396 This might be the best exchange I’ve had on social media to date. Sometimes, my mom is just hip to the references. Or rather she’s quick to jump on the Pokémon references.   For what it’s worth, I’ve been on a Pokémon playing binge lately. A friend of mine and I are training teams so we can battle each other. This is adulthood, by the way.

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This might be the best exchange I’ve had on social media to date. Sometimes, my mom is just hip to the references. Or rather she’s quick to jump on the Pokémon references.


 

For what it’s worth, I’ve been on a Pokémon playing binge lately. A friend of mine and I are training teams so we can battle each other. This is adulthood, by the way.

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Back from MIAhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/09/16/back-mia/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/09/16/back-mia/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:37:57 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6378 My Apologies I get it, I know that I went MIA for a while. To be honest, I kept wanting to come back and write and update about the things going on. For some reason though, I never was able to bring myself to do it (this post even took a week from when I first started writing it to the time I posted it). I lacked the drive I kept up for so long. Writing became a chore for a while. Even thinking of something Continue reading →

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My Apologies

I get it, I know that I went MIA for a while. To be honest, I kept wanting to come back and write and update about the things going on. For some reason though, I never was able to bring myself to do it (this post even took a week from when I first started writing it to the time I posted it). I lacked the drive I kept up for so long. Writing became a chore for a while. Even thinking of something to write about became a chore and I didn’t like it. I’m sorry. I’ll try not to go MIA again, at least for a long time.

Things Done While MIA

It’s been a month since I last checked in, so things must have happened in that time, right? Well, to start off, I helped my dad once again build their new deck. They’ve since made more progress on it and it should be nearly done in the coming week or two. After that’s finished, I’m helping my dad re-side the garage, maybe some painting too.

The deck after the second day I helped build it.

The deck after the second day I helped build it.

Ellie and I also took a small trip to celebrate the end of her temporary job and the beginning of her new job. Also, it’s nice to just take a trip from time to time to get away from work and obligations. We ended up in the Lake Geneva area for a few days. The weather wasn’t the greatest one of the days but we made the best of it. We still went kayaking and were touristy and ate a bunch of good food. The place we stayed in was less than great, but it came with added amusement. From the looks of it, it’s some sort of retreat for finding peace. It had a lot of Buddhist and zen things all around. We played with the chimes and the thunder stick thing and the drums. We also burned a patchouli incense because it was there. Never again.

On the Lake Geneva boat tour

On the Lake Geneva boat tour

Later that same weekend, we moved Ellie out of her old apartment, and into her new. Moving is was exciting as it ever is. I did get to drive the Uhaul through the city, that’s never fun.

Marley had to be taken to the vet again, she was pooping blood. The vet wasn’t concerned other than why I didn’t get her teeth pulled already. I explained it’s a money issue and she suggested I try Care Credit (a credit card that can be used for health and pets). So I signed up for that and I’m waiting for it to arrive so I can get her appointment made. With the Care Credit, I can pay her vet bills, interest free, in payments instead of the lump sum that the vet wanted.

Finally, the magazine, Rust, has been keeping me busier than usual. I’m finally starting to get into the fun parts of it. Article ideas are coming in and I’m working with writers to get pieces for the website to supplement their print pieces. It’s a bit more than I expected but it’s great experience and I really enjoy it. It’s a far better version of the kind of work I do at my day job, mostly because the content is more interesting (technical manuals in foreign languages aren’t really stimulating).

Future Things to Look Forward For

In the future, I’m going to try to refrain from being MIA. I swear. Look for an update on Marley’s health. I really love that cat a lot, and I want her to be healthy. I’m glad I have a way to pay for her procedure.

I have also started working on the moped again. Yellow Thunder is the working code name. I plan on adding some updates here and there, if anything noteworthy comes along. I could have posted last night, but cleaning handlebars and replacing them isn’t really noteworthy. Not yet at least. Maybe it is, since I’m talking about it now. I don’t know. You’ll get moped updates.

Also, I decided that in November, I’m going to try to win NaNoWriMo again. I’m going to do it right this time too. Last time, 2011 I believe, I didn’t have a plan for how the story was going to go and it shows in the writing. This time around, I’m basing it off of my experience in the Peace Corps. Loosely basing it off my experience. That outline is a lot more than I had last time. I also plan on outlining ahead of November. I even have a cork-board to tack it all up to. Updates for NaNoWriMo probably won’t start coming until late October or into November.

What did you do while I was MIA? Anything noteworthy, or were you MIA as well?

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Weekend Warrior Demolition and Constructionhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/12/weekend-warrior-demolition-construction/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/12/weekend-warrior-demolition-construction/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:53:07 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6365 It’s not that often that I get to do something that really makes me sweat on the weekends. It’s not that often that I want to, but now and then I get to and I want to and it just makes for a really good day. This past weekend, I had one of those opportunities. I got to be a weekend warrior. (Did I use that term correctly? Read on and then let me know in the comments. I don’t know something about it makes Continue reading →

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It’s not that often that I get to do something that really makes me sweat on the weekends. It’s not that often that I want to, but now and then I get to and I want to and it just makes for a really good day. This past weekend, I had one of those opportunities. I got to be a weekend warrior. (Did I use that term correctly? Read on and then let me know in the comments. I don’t know something about it makes me think I need to be running, maybe it’s all those warrior/color/mud runs on the weekends that makes me associate it with ‘weekend warrior’. Hell, I’m not even sure warrior run is a thing. Let me know all this in the comments.)

My parents’ house is old. We estimate it was built somewhere around 125 years ago. It’s old and it is big and sometimes you’re awed by it and sometimes you see its age. Over the past years my parents have worked to update it as much as they can as time and money can be afforded. Sometimes I get a chance to help, I try to when I can because I enjoy that kind of thing. For me, it’s learning experience for when I have a house of my own. The entire time we’ve lived in the house, we not really touched the deck much. It’s always been old and wooden and ridden with nails and splinters. My parents decided this was the year that we redo the deck.

Tearing down the old deck

Tearing down the old deck

Saturday I joined my father on a near perfect day for outdoor work and we set to tearing down the old deck. It was easy and simple work, just tedious. We needed to knock the nails loose by hitting the boards from the bottom and then back down from the top. From there we’d yank the nails. The nails were old, rusted, and long. Not all of them were nicely seated in the wood either and it make them harder to pull. After a few hours of work, we had removed all the old wood. We left the foundation in place because this was still in decent enough condition to hold the new flooring. The picture above reflects this stage of the process.

After the nails were out, we put on a new front skirt for appearance’s sake. We nailed these boards on and I’ll admit, I’m terrible at hammering. I just missed the mark way too many times. And my wrist was tired and sore and the hammer got heavy towards the end. Fortunately, we didn’t plan on nailing all the new boards in place, only the skirt. My father didn’t want to be hammering down nails for the next twenty years as they loosened up due to time and weather.

Finally we made it to the point where we could start screwing down the new floor boards. I was on the power drill, and my dad was on cutting the boards and spacing them. It took a few rows but we finally got a system down. For anyone considering doing a project with a lot of drilling, I highly recommend a drill with a cord. Had we done the same project with a battery, it would not have come anywhere near our level of completeness in a day. The batteries lose juice too fast and there were too many screws to put in.

Here’s where we ended after my six hours of work and my dad’s 8-9 hours:

The foundation of the new deck

The foundation of the new deck

Now don’t get a crazy idea that I want to be asked every weekend for demolition and construction projects. I’m not that kind of weekend warrior. I won’t drop everything to help you remodel your bathroom one weekend, re-side your house the next, and maybe pour a new concrete driveway the following week. I like the projects here and there but boy do they drain me. I spent most of Sunday lying down due to soreness (and a healthy dose of laziness). Before you mention it, I know that if I did these things more often I’d be less sore afterwards. It might not make sense but that is what it is.

Are you a weekend warrior? (Again, no idea if I’m using this term correctly, please educate me.)

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Taxes Have Been Paid Offhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/07/taxes-paid/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/07/taxes-paid/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 20:20:05 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6359 Yesterday was a big day for me. Yesterday, I paid off the government. You might recall, I had a bit of an issue with taxes earlier this year. Due to my correctly filling out a tax form, my paycheck did not have any taxes taken out of it. It resulted in me owing more than $4200 to the government (split between state and US governments). That’s not a fun tax day when you’re expecting a nice return for the first time in your life. I Continue reading →

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Yesterday was a big day for me. Yesterday, I paid off the government.

You might recall, I had a bit of an issue with taxes earlier this year. Due to my correctly filling out a tax form, my paycheck did not have any taxes taken out of it. It resulted in me owing more than $4200 to the government (split between state and US governments). That’s not a fun tax day when you’re expecting a nice return for the first time in your life.

I want to stress something here: saving that kind of dough is really hard. I barely made it before the deadline. My paychecks are nothing to scoff at, I do pretty well for my age, location, and job. But the amount of money I need to spend on various bills a month is downright oppressive. More than an entire paycheck goes into paying my monthly bills. On top of that, I have student loan debt I need to pay off. I was somewhat lucky in that nearly all my loans are paid ahead for a couple of years so I could neglect those while I tried to fill my pockets to pay Uncle Sam. I guess you could call that luck.

What I wouldn’t call luck are the things that went wrong during the time I needed to save every penny. There was the incident with Marley being very, very underweight. I found out her surgery would be $500-700 to get her fixed up. I had to forego that for the time being but the two checkups and meds added up quickly. Then there was the rock that cracked my windshield. Fortunately, it was small and harmless for now so I didn’t need to spend the $100 to get it filled. Then there was the weekend that my motorcycle nearly destroyed itself by dumping all its oil while I was riding it and the same weekend my car decided that one of the cylinders needed to quit running (somewhere around another $100 to get that fixed). I’m sure there were others too, big and small, but the all seemed like bad timing because of the overlapping situation.

Saving that kind of dough is really hard.

Yesterday, Uncle Sam withdrew that money from my account, and I can tell you that it was a big blow. More than $3100 was still owed (I had paid State tax right away with the money I had). I had finally saved that up and called to confirm the amount I needed to pay with the interest (I sat on hold for over an hour). I did some quick estimates on what that would do to my bank account, and I didn’t like it. From now until my paycheck gets cashed next week, I have just under $75 between my checking and savings accounts. I have some cash in my wallet too. It’s not going to be an easy week but I’ll make it. Groceries will be a must have basis. Extra driving is limited. I’ll probably use the week to clean out the old food in my freezer, something I like to do from time to time. What better time than now?

The whole experience taught me something about how I handle my money. I’m no longer a kid who can fall back on his parents. Not when big-ticket items come up either. Right before I found out about my taxes, I had resolved to start putting money away so I had some backup cash in the event of emergencies. I wish I would have started that a year ago. Now the plan is to dump at least $500 a month into the back up cash. The rest of the paycheck that $500 comes out of will go to paying off student loans. The other paycheck will go towards all the recurring monthly bills. I’m sure I’m forgetting something in there, but it’s a rough outline of how I plan to get financially sound again.

Moral of the story, don’t fill out your tax form correctly because you’ll end up owing a lot of money to the government and that’s not something you planned for, financially. I doubt you’ll have that problem though because for me, it was a really, really special case.

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Worst Fans in the World Come from Wisconsinhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/01/wisconsin-sports-fans-worst-fans-world/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/08/01/wisconsin-sports-fans-worst-fans-world/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:57:38 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6339 When you think of Wisconsin, what do you think of? Cheese? Cows? Beer? Lake Michigan? Maybe the yooper accent which is quaint sounding but really limited to a small part of the population? What about the Green Bay Packers? I bet a lot of people have this idea that people from Wisconsin are really nice and no one really has much of a problem with them. And that we love cheese (we do). And beer (we do). For the most part, I think that’s true. Continue reading →

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When you think of Wisconsin, what do you think of? Cheese? Cows? Beer? Lake Michigan? Maybe the yooper accent which is quaint sounding but really limited to a small part of the population? What about the Green Bay Packers? I bet a lot of people have this idea that people from Wisconsin are really nice and no one really has much of a problem with them. And that we love cheese (we do). And beer (we do). For the most part, I think that’s true. I doubt, however, that you think about Wisconsin having the worst fans in the world.

I grew up mostly in Wisconsin, having moved here when I was two. My parents grew up in Chicago and they like their Chicago sports. As a result, I like my Chicago sports. I don’t root for the Packers even though they’ve had some good years because my Bears will forever be my favorite team. I don’t root for the Brewers because the Cubs always have next year to look forward to. Then there’s the Bulls and the Hawks. I’ll root for them if I’m watching basketball or, more often, hockey. It’s just how I was raised. You don’t switch teams because loyalty is important.

As you’d expect, living in Wisconsin but being a fan of Illinois sports teams causes a bit of trouble. People can’t seem to accept that there are other teams out there to root for. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again about this kind of thing, “Wisconsin sports fans are the worst fans in the world.” They’re downright nasty to anyone who isn’t a fan of their team. Growing up here, I experienced it more than once. I’ve been around family members as they experience it. It makes you feel downright disgusted by the state.

German Fest

This past weekend, for example, Ellie and I went to German Fest on the Summerfest Fairgrounds in Milwaukee. We had gotten some free tickets for the festival while buying some beer. Personally, I wouldn’t have gone otherwise because I can’t imagine spending $13 per ticket to get inside and pay more for overpriced food and beer or that I have no German heritage and therefore care little about German heritage but that isn’t the point of the story. In the morning, without really putting a lot of thought into it, I put on a Cubs shirt. I’m a Cubs fan and I have a few of them. Maybe I was in a blue shirt kind of mood. It doesn’t matter, really. 

“Wisconsin sports fans are the worst fans in the world.”

Twice, while at German Fest (though possibly more and I didn’t notice it), people walked past me and told me that, “The Cubs still suck.” Now, Ellie and I were just wandering along, looking for food. We weren’t shouting a rendition of “Go Cubs Go” nor was I even talking about the Cubs. I was walking along, minding my business and searching for German food.

The first time I heard it, it took my by surprise. I wasn’t expecting it. The second time I heard it, I turned to confront the guy. I asked him what his problem was. He told me the Cubs suck, that was his problem. Then he walked away.

I should point out that when writing this, the Cubs are 15.5 games back from first place which happens to be occupied by the Brewers. The Cubs are in last place in NL Central and 4th to last in the entire MLB. The past two games they played, they lost. In no way, shape, or form are the Cubs any threat to much of anyone now. There’s always next year though…

So when these two men assure me that the Cubs still suck, not only was I angry at their uncalled for taunting, I was also confused as to what they did to justifying a reminder they still suck. I know this, I know they’re not getting better. Hell, I would have been more justified saying that the Brewers still suck, even though they’re in first place. It makes more sense. Then I remembered, Wisconsin fans are the worst fans in the world.

There have been similar instances where people in Wisconsin need to assure me that my team isn’t good and that I should go home to Illinois. None of it is inviting. It’s a sport after all, one that neither of us actually play in professionally. It means nothing to hate my preferences.

You could argue that those men at German Fest were probably drunk. You know what, you might be right. Why does that matter? Because they’re drunk, I should just let it go? Drinking does not excuse your actions or words. You are the worst fans in the world, Wisconsin. 

You could also say that I should have thought about where I was going before I put on my shirt in the morning. I mean, downtown Milwaukee, the heart of Brewer country, it’s a big thing to wear a shirt from another team there. I argue that I shouldn’t be the one responsible for what other people say to me. My wardrobe isn’t an invitation for harassment.

Harassment is not a fair thing to do, no matter the circumstances. I paid for my ticket to watch a game just the same as you did so I’m allowed to sit in the stands and enjoy it, just the same as you. If you went to Wrigley or Soldier Field, I’d hold the Cubs and Bears fans there to the same standard. 

After all, we all go to games to enjoy them. We don’t have much invested in them other than mutually lifelong cheering and rooting for our players who, inevitably, will let us down in the end. Harassing people because they disagree with you is just wrong. If I’m visiting your team’s stadium for a game, and you’re an ass, I’ll be much less likely to come back because I’ll have had a poor experience. It’s simple and really not a lot to ask.

Wisconsin, please stop being home to the worst fans in the world. Send them to some country that cares about sports which I don’t, like rugby or cricket. 

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Becoming a Godfatherhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/28/becoming-godfather/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/28/becoming-godfather/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:42:56 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6330 When my first niece was born in March, I was more than delighted to learn that my sister intended to name me as her Godfather. I’ll admit, part of my delight came from taking up the mantle as head of the family just like Michael Corleone did in The Godfather. The other part of me was excited to have the title and responsibility and a niece I could claim to be more special than the others. Not once did I hesitate with the decision of becoming Continue reading →

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When my first niece was born in March, I was more than delighted to learn that my sister intended to name me as her Godfather. I’ll admit, part of my delight came from taking up the mantle as head of the family just like Michael Corleone did in The Godfather. The other part of me was excited to have the title and responsibility and a niece I could claim to be more special than the others. Not once did I hesitate with the decision of becoming a Godfather.

This past weekend, while Amelia was just hitting four and a half months of life, she was baptized.

Pouring the Holy Water

Photo Credit: Lauri Zawacki

The ceremony took place at St. Patrick’s Parish in Whitewater, WI. This was where my sister and I grew up and where we both were confirmed. It seemed right especially since my sister has yet to find a church she will attend closer to her home. It was nice having familiar faces in the crowd for Amelia’s big day, it made it feel less foreign and less like we were imposing on people’s days.

During the ceremony, the priest asked the standard questions of the parents and Godparents. When he turned to me and asked:

Do you reject Satan and all his works?

And all his empty promises?

Do you believe in the God the Father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

I could not help but imagine the scene from The Godfather and my mind kept flashing to murders taking place simultaneously. It made me smile. Not the murders, but the fact that my mind wouldn’t let the cinematic scenes be forgotten even in a serious setting.

Proud Parents and Godparents

Photo Credit: Lauri Zawacki

After the ceremony, we headed over to my parents’ house for a nice Sunday party. Food, family, and friends celebrated in Amelia’s honor. There also was a healthy photo-session, until the baby of honor started to get fussy.

Godfather & Goddaughter

Photo Credit: Lauri Zawacki

Maybe someday in the future, I’ll have the opportunity of becoming a Godfather again. I doubt I’ll object. Unless, of course, I get too many requests due to my local notoriety as an organized crime don.

Godfather, Amelia, and Ellie

Photo Credit: Lauri Zawacki

Is it true?
Don’t ask me about my business, Kay.
Is it true?
Don’t ask me about my business…
No…
ENOUGH!
All right. This one time I’ll let you ask me about my affairs.

Is it true? Is it?
No.

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Washing Dishes Might Have Just Gotten Easierhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/25/washing-dishes-might-just-gotten-easier/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/25/washing-dishes-might-just-gotten-easier/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:37:57 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6323 It’s no secret that I don’t like washing dishes. Ask my girlfriend. I think I’m great at washing dishes. I know this because I worked for a couple of years in a few different kitchens and I was really good at washing the industrial dishes, like really good. For one of the jobs, that’s all I did and I could run the dish room by myself during peak meal times if I needed to, but it wasn’t something I liked to do. I like being good at Continue reading →

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It’s no secret that I don’t like washing dishes. Ask my girlfriend. I think I’m great at washing dishes. I know this because I worked for a couple of years in a few different kitchens and I was really good at washing the industrial dishes, like really good. For one of the jobs, that’s all I did and I could run the dish room by myself during peak meal times if I needed to, but it wasn’t something I liked to do. I like being good at washing dishes more than I like washing dishes.

On any given day, I either have a sink full of dishes, or I’m spending an hour washing the dishes. Then, after they’re washed, I find more to wash but since I meticulously organize them, there’s no place to fit the newly found dirty dishes. It’s a mess.

In college there was one year that my apartment had a dishwasher, and it was glorious. Dishes were still procrastinated, but they were done simply. I should point out, before my mom chimes in, that we did have a dishwasher in the latter years of growing up and that, according to her, I never loaded it and only emptied it when I was told to, in my defense, that’s all true. But the one in the apartment. It was the most satisfying apartment year of my life, and I haven’t had that since. Not even in Ukraine!

Fast forward to two days ago. Wait a second, is if fast forwarding if we weren’t really moving through time already? I was just mentioning jobs in the past…so maybe? Anyway, yesterday. I drove into my apartment complex parking lot and saw this by the trash:

Dishwasher

Portable dishwasher in the trash?

Admittedly, this image wasn’t taken by the trash. This picture was taken in my apartment after I had single-handedly hauled the beast into my apartment. Pro tip: dishwashers are really heavy.

But I have a dishwasher now. Granted, I haven’t gotten it to work and I don’t know if I will, but I have a dishwasher. I plugged it in and tested it, the electrics work on it. I hooked it up to the bathroom faucet (because it didn’t fit nicely on the kitchen faucet) and I flooded my bathroom floor. It wasn’t because of the dishwasher, it flooded because the water was spraying on the bathroom countertop and there’s a poor seal between the countertop and the faucet.

I later looked up a manual on how to use it and it turns out I need a special adapter for my faucet. That’s why it never fit. So once I get that, I think I’ll be able to really test it. If it still doesn’t work after getting the adapter, there’s a maintenance number I can call. If maintenance is too expensive, maybe I’ll try selling it as-is on Craigslist. Maybe I’ll jump the gun on buying an adapter and getting it fixed (if it’s broken) and just sell it on Craigslist. That would make washing dishes more tedious but I’d reclaim the space in my apartment and have some extra spending money for just pulling a beast out of the trash.

Any way I break it down, it looks to be a win for me.

What would you do with a dishwasher from the trash?

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Featured Images at a Blog Near Youhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/23/featured-images-blog-near/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/23/featured-images-blog-near/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:40:11 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6316 You may not have noticed if you don’t read this website by visiting the site, but I have added featured images on the homepage. I’m here to tell you that it’s a rather large deal. In fact, I think I might have solved a greater issue I’ve had with images and this website. Way back when, in 2010 when I installed WordPress as my CMS, I was happy to have a better system than my home-brew chunk of code because it would be easier to Continue reading →

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You may not have noticed if you don’t read this website by visiting the site, but I have added featured images on the homepage. I’m here to tell you that it’s a rather large deal.

Featured Images

In fact, I think I might have solved a greater issue I’ve had with images and this website. Way back when, in 2010 when I installed WordPress as my CMS, I was happy to have a better system than my home-brew chunk of code because it would be easier to get tasks done. I didn’t mind that not all features worked, like image uploading. However, over time, this feature has been sorely needed by me. I think it really adds to the visual aspect of the homepage to have the featured images in place. Just a little something to break up the monotony.

The problem stemmed from my host, 1&1.com. I’m on a basic, grandfathered-in package because I didn’t want to pay more for features I didn’t need. Though, it came at a cost I learned when my memory, which was enough when I signed up in 2007, didn’t get the upgrade I needed. The memory limit needed to be increased to process images through WordPress (apparently there’s some heavy number crunching going on in WordPress’s background that needs a good amount of memory so there’s no error). I had searched for ways to up my memory, I even contacted 1&1 about buying an upgraded amount of memory only but was denied due to the grandfathered package.

Since then, I have resolved to work with the system I have in place and have the images hosted on Google servers and just link to them. It’s not the best process because Google can make a change to their code and I can end up with a couple thousand broken links. But now and then I like to search the web to see if someone can offer a solution. Today, I found one.

The solution I found is actually rather old, posted in 2012. It’s also really simple and a more specific version of things I had tried in the past.

I kid you not, I was extremely elated when I got it to work. I set about adding featured images to all the posts on my homepage (the others I might get to later when I have some downtime at work). I might just start adding photos to new posts just because I can have them as featured images, is that excessive? For now though, I think where it’s at really spiffs up the homepage, what do you think?

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April Fools Prank with a Raspberry Pihttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/21/april-fools-prank-raspberry-pi/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/21/april-fools-prank-raspberry-pi/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:00:36 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6288 So I have this idea for a April Fool’s day prank using my Raspberry Pi and for the most part, it’s completely possible. Background I work in an open office space and everyone can see what everyone else is doing on their computers. Some people sit on Facebook in their downtime, others look at cars, and one uses Pinterist. But everyone, and I mean everyone, reads the news. For the most part, they use CNN as their goto news source. When a big story comes Continue reading →

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So I have this idea for a April Fool’s day prank using my Raspberry Pi and for the most part, it’s completely possible.

Background

I work in an open office space and everyone can see what everyone else is doing on their computers. Some people sit on Facebook in their downtime, others look at cars, and one uses Pinterist. But everyone, and I mean everyone, reads the news. For the most part, they use CNN as their goto news source. When a big story comes up, everyone will turn and face each other and discuss the event and try to decide, with only the information from the news, whether it could have happened. They particularly like stories where there are unknowns so they can tell you with finality what they think know happened. 

The Idea

I want to plug a Raspberry Pi into the network and have it direct all traffic to CNN to a locally hosted version of CNN which pulls in stories from The Onion’s RSS feed instead.

The How

In recent weeks, I’ve had a lot of downtime at work so I’ve researched things that I can do with my Raspberry Pi now that my Chromecast has made it obsolete as a home theater PC. I’ve decided on a network security device with built-in ad blocking. While reading the tutorials on how to do these things with the Pi, I made sure I understood all the concepts that they were having me do. Basically, you tell the router to look at the Pi before sending traffic out of the network.

Once I realized what I wanted to do, making the connection to using the Pi for this happened very quickly. I’d have to only do a basic setup on the Pi, to have it send all traffic to its normal sources unless it’s to CNN.com using the same principles of net nanny software, then it get’s sent to a locally hosted version of the website which pulls the articles in from The Onion’s RSS feed, making it dynamic throughout the day. It won’t be the easiest thing to spoof the CNN website, though I imagine the internet could help me do that. 

I am in a unique position for this prank. I work in an office that doesn’t know much about network security. I have easy access to the “network closet” which is really just a corner of the store-room across from my desk. So, plugging the Raspberry Pi into the network wouldn’t be a problem. Also, I checked this yesterday, but the administrative password for the network router hasn’t been changed to the default, so it would be really easy to alter the router’s DNS addresses to point to the Raspberry Pi.

Conclusion

So, given that I have as much time as I do, I see this being a project that I could actually undertake and would go down in the books as my best April Fool’s day prank. It’s already the best idea I’ve had for an April Fool’s day prank as well. If anyone out there wants to help me with this, please let me know as I’ll definitely need a bit of help setting up the spoof CNN website and a bit of help programming the Raspberry Pi. 

Also, if I do get this darned plan into action, I’ll try my best to post the code I use to get it all running, for when you want to mess with some friends or family (or a small business like me). 

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Rust Magazinehttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/18/rust-magazine/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/18/rust-magazine/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:20:59 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6282 I don’t think it’s much of a secret, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about the translation business. It’s not what I see myself doing for the rest of my life but for now it pays the bills. I’m okay with that. That being said, I’m constantly looking for ways for me to advance my career in a different direction. I think of hair brained schemes, I email strangers out of the blue, creep job boards, and even send résumés. More often than not, these actions don’t Continue reading →

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I don’t think it’s much of a secret, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about the translation business. It’s not what I see myself doing for the rest of my life but for now it pays the bills. I’m okay with that.

That being said, I’m constantly looking for ways for me to advance my career in a different direction. I think of hair brained schemes, I email strangers out of the blue, creep job boards, and even send résumés. More often than not, these actions don’t lead to anything. I had a three-hour long interview a couple of months back that led to nothing. I thought the job was perfect for me and me perfect for the job, but they thought otherwise. I’m not kidding, every bit of information about the job that I received seemed like it was made for me. It was even at the same place that Ellie is working at this summer (though that was just a perk on top of it being a great job for me). Ellie said they hired yet another white female for the position, I guess it’s a white female dominated workplace which is fine, except that I didn’t get the job.

Anyway, a few weeks back I responded to a Craigslist ad seeking a web editor for a startup Milwaukee magazine. I emailed and inquired about it because I saw that it was unpaid. If it’s unpaid, I’m not above doing the work in my free time assuming I have enough time for it and it can work around my hours. I did and it does. When I found that out, I submitted my résumé. A few days later they contacted me for an interview.

I met the founders, Alison and Andrea, downtown at a restaurant (not having an office yet as the magazine is still just getting started). We went through the motions of an interview and I heard about their mission to get this thing off the ground. They do seem to have their heads in the right place for it and their hearts fully into it. I really admire that. At the end of the interview, they offered me the position.

I heartily accepted.

As the web editor, my role is to manage all the content for the website. The content is “separate but supplemental” to the magazine content. I like that idea and I like that I am able to shape the site’s direction. I plan on doing a lot of work on it, mostly organizational at the beginning to get the processes down and then I’ll really start moving forward in getting the website to rival the magazine.

But all of this is future work as there hasn’t been much for me to do yet. It was the same day that I interviewed that the first prototype issue was sent to the printer. I have a copy of it and I think it turned out quite nicely (I did not have a hand in any part of this issue).

Rust Magazine: Issue 0

Rust Magazine: Issue 0

I got a copy at the launch party/fundraiser last week and I’ve only had time to page through it. It looks quite nice. I’ve read all the content on the magazine’s website, www.rustmil.com, where I’ll be managing content. For a start, I think the staff has done a fantastic job so far.

The content focuses on Milwaukee news told with a narrative. It’s a unique approach. While I’m not particularly fond of the city, I’m going to learn a lot about it in the coming months and maybe that will help change my opinion of the place. Time will tell.

I urge you to take a look at the website and spread the word to anyone you might know who has an interest in this kind of thing. If you’re interested in contributing, please let me know as well through email, danny@sassyhacksaws.com.

I’ll keep you updated on the happenings of the magazine, if anything interesting comes along. Just this week I started really understanding what I’ll be doing and how I’ll be doing it because we’re starting up the production cycle now that the launch has passed. Since I’m an editor, I feel like I’m in an elevated role even though everyone else has been around longer than me. It’s a weird feeling, but I’ll do my best to stay humble and benevolent. 

At the meeting this week, we had a guy come in and do a bit of consulting work at no cost. He used to run a magazine in Milwaukee as well, Two Cents Milwaukee. He gave a lot of great advice on how to market the magazine and attract investors. It isn’t really part of my job description (though you could make a case for the web but even then, I’m not the one out seeking investors) but I was really enthralled by what advice he had to offer. I even considered taking notes, but I think Taylor was on top of that as she’s the Marketing Manager. 

Seriously though, look forward to great things to come from me about Rust Magazine. For now, take a look at their Kickstarter campaign.

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The Weekend Ballad of the Oil Drain Plughttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/09/weekend-ballad-oil-drain-plug/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/07/09/weekend-ballad-oil-drain-plug/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:42:14 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6249 Nearly everything went well for my holiday weekend. Nearly everything with the exception of my automobiles. For the 4th, Ellie and I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine from college and then in the evening we had dinner at Ellie’s parents’ place. All was normal. On Saturday, we went to my parents for a family get-together. I had suggested that Ellie and I go for a motorcycle ride over the weekend while she was in town, she suggested that we ride it all the Continue reading →

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Nearly everything went well for my holiday weekend. Nearly everything with the exception of my automobiles. For the 4th, Ellie and I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine from college and then in the evening we had dinner at Ellie’s parents’ place. All was normal. On Saturday, we went to my parents for a family get-together. I had suggested that Ellie and I go for a motorcycle ride over the weekend while she was in town, she suggested that we ride it all the way to my parents. I was delighted. So we loaded it up with all of our gear and goodies to take to the barbecue and set off.

The Nighthawk

The Nighthawk

Ellie soon regretted her suggestion to ride it all the way to my parents (about 45 minutes). The bike vibrates a lot and it’s less comfortable in the passenger seat and she really had only ridden the bike once before and that was for a ten minute hop from her parents’ house to my apartment. So a trip of that length was rather ambitious. We made it, with a short break so Ellie could stretch, without a hitch.

On the way home, though, the hitch happened. It was bad too. Definitely in the top three of bad things that have happened while I was riding a motorcycle. We got about ten minutes from my parents’ house and we were just slowing into a small town when I looked in my rearview mirrors. I saw smoke. Smoke is bad on a bike that I baby. I instantly shut off the engine and coasted to a stop. I told Ellie to get off the bike right away. We both had the same thought and it was that the bottom of her footwear was melting on my exhaust pipes. They weren’t.

I bent down to investigate, and quickly found the culprit because bikes are small and easy to diagnose. The problem? My oil drain plug had fallen out with the rest of my oil. Instantly my mind shot back to my solo road trip to the east coast, just over four years earlier. This time, I kept myself calmer. I wanted to panic that I had burned through another engine, but I’ve grown and taught myself not to jump to conclusions. The oil was empty and I couldn’t fill it without an oil drain plug, so the bike was parked in a lot for at least the night. I had knocked on a door and asked if the people who lived there knew of a place I could store it and they seemed unwilling to help. They said the apartment lot across from their place, where I had the bike parked, should be fine. I had to trust them, even though they didn’t seem to trust me. My dad picked us up and drove us all the way to my place.

The next day, I dropped Ellie off at her parents to get her car and do her laundry and then drove over to the auto parts store to see if I could get something to get my bike running again. My friend Geoff has a truck and was willing to help, but it’d be best if I could ride the bike home. As I was driving to the auto parts store, I turned off a main road and then my car’s check engine light started flashing. Flashing. I’ve never seen it flash before. I didn’t know it could flash. At the same time, my engine got rough, shaky. I could tell something bad was wrong. My Dash app told me that my cylinder #2 wasn’t firing. Great, I thought. Just what I needed. When it rains, it pours. Fortunately, I was at the auto parts store and I could get parts for both while I was there. Dash told me some possible solutions to fix the car problem, one of which was to change the spark plugs. That was easy enough so I got a new set. I also grabbed a piece which may have plugged my bike, if the thread turned out to be correct (it’s really hard to determine bolt threading on parts sales websites).

When I got back to my apartment, a very rough and stutter filled drive of a couple of miles, I set about replacing the plugs. I’ve worked on cars before and motorcycles but for some reason, the old Kia Rio wasn’t like my ’88 Ford Ranger or my ’90 Mazda 626 and it wasn’t like the ’78 KZ650 or my ’07 Honda Nighthawk. It was nothing at all like the ’78 Honda Express moped sitting in my living room either. It was, well modern. The engine design was different from what I was used to. It had a cover. A COVER! FOR AN ENGINE! Under the cover, I had trouble knowing that I was looking at the spark plugs. I wasn’t I found. I was looking at tubes that connected to the spark plugs. I pulled those out and replaced the plugs, gapping them properly, and put it all back together. The plugs I pulled out were pretty clean for their age and consistently gapped higher than spec. Other than that, nothing seemed wrong with them. Lo and behold, when I turned on the car, the engine still sputtered and stumbled and that ominous flashing “Check Engine” light still taunted me. The plugs hadn’t done it.

During the fiasco, I had talked to my dad for his advice, and he talked to the guys at work. They all seemed to have the same thought, if the plugs didn’t fix it, check the spark plug wires. Those are likely to go on an engine with 93,000 miles on it. Wires, got it, I thought. I’d have Ellie take me to the parts store when she came back over so I didn’t need to drive the car more than necessary.

The Kia Rio, AKA The Angry Bird

The Kia Rio, AKA The Angry Bird

At the auto parts store, they told me that my car didn’t have spark plug wires but instead, those tubes, had a coil for each plug. I made a split second decision to replace one of them (I would have replaced all four, but at $85 a pop, I didn’t really have the dough). Ellie made her first auto parts store buy. She got a bottle of RainX to coat her windows. I was so proud.

After getting back from the store, I ran inside quickly to check dinner and then Ellie and I set to work on our cars. Her job was easy, mine was a little more difficult than I expected. I know I needed to replace the coil in cylinder 2, I just didn’t know which cylinder that was. They weren’t labeled and I didn’t have a book to tell me. Hell, I couldn’t even find the information online. Logically, they should be in order left to right, or right to left but it doesn’t always work that way. I decided to gamble and replace the second from the left because if I was wrong, it was only a bit of work to try another cylinder. As luck would have it, the second from the left was the cylinder I needed and when I fired up the engine after putting it all back, she ran smooth once more.

That evening, after Ellie left, I decided to take the Kia for a thorough test drive to where my bike had been abandoned the previous night. I brought the oil drain plug I hoped would fit the oil drain pan so I could confirm the bike wasn’t seized. When I got there, the car still running smoothly, I bent down to fit the drain plug and found out I had bought the wrong threading. I packed up my tools and headed home. The next day, while at work (GASP!) I did all the research I could do to track down the correct thread for the oil drain plug for my Nighthawk. It wasn’t easy but in the end I did find one website which had a thread size but I still felt unsure about it.

After work, I went to the bike shop a block from my place to see if they had any on hand. They didn’t but suggested I try calling a few oil change places as they tend to have the bolts on hand. I did and they either denied having them, or didn’t sell them, or offered me one if I got an oil change. Instead of getting the oil change, I decided to scour the auto parts stores around. Where I live, there are many. Four or five within less than a mile of each other. At one, I managed to find the plug size with the thread that I needed, but I couldn’t tell if the plug would be too long. It didn’t say if it was meant for a bike or a car or anything at all. I took another gamble and bought it.

I picked up Geoff and we drove over to my bike, hoping I’d be able to plug it and fill it with oil so I could ride it home and he could drive my car. There were still a handful of things that could go wrong, like the oil drain plug not fitting or the engine having seized after all.

The drain plug fit. We filled the bike with oil. It wasn’t seized and I was the happiest man alive.

 

I very cautiously rode my bike back to my apartment. The whole thing seemed to have been dipped in oil and it had gotten on the rear tire so I was more than a little concerned about falling through a turn. I made it though and I’m looking forward to giving it a nice soapy bath and a wax. In short, it was not my weekend to own automobiles.

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Fighting off the Demon Spawnhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/25/fighting-demon-spawn/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/25/fighting-demon-spawn/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:29:00 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6245 In Peace Corps, I learned a valuable lesson during my run to Russia. Okay, well technically it was after we got stopped at the border we were trying to cross illegally wanted to visit and after the border guards told us to get into a van that had just crossed the border and dropped us off at the edge of town. Small details really. Since we were dropped off at the edge of town, we decided to run back to the Peace Corps Volunteer’s place Continue reading →

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In Peace Corps, I learned a valuable lesson during my run to Russia. Okay, well technically it was after we got stopped at the border we were trying to cross illegally wanted to visit and after the border guards told us to get into a van that had just crossed the border and dropped us off at the edge of town. Small details really. Since we were dropped off at the edge of town, we decided to run back to the Peace Corps Volunteer’s place where we were staying. We needed to finish the long run we had planned. In retrospect, it wasn’t a good idea for me as I had a torn IT band I didn’t know about other than the fact that it hurt a lot, but I powered on.

The run took us past some of the local “wildlife”, or rather peoples’ pets, street dogs and cats, and farm animals just roaming the dirt roads. One of the beasts we came across were geese. If you haven’t had a lot of interaction with geese, then you wouldn’t know that they are fierce birds who hiss and bite people. They’ll chase runners too. Well, Brian had run this route before and knew how to deal with them. You clap. It makes the damned birds freeze in place. I’m  not sure if it’s the noise in general or the specific sharp noise that bothers them, but it works.

You might remember that I’m being harassed by red-winged black birds, or demon spawn. They attack me at the farmer’s market and on my lunches and they haunt my dreams. I’ve started getting a very satisfactory vision of me bashing them out of the sky with a wiffle ball bat. It’s the kind of vision where everything slows down and I watch the bird’s whole body crush under the power of the swing. Sadistic? Maybe. Warranted? Yes.

Today, however, I decided that I had had enough. There is one particular demon spawn that guards our work parking lot and I have a scuffle with him daily. He chased me out of the parking lot today during my lunch, but on the way back. I walked tall and proudly through the drive. I saw him swoop into his tree, ready for the attack. Instead of my duck and run, I clapped. And I clapped. And I clapped. Three loud, sharp claps. They scared him. He stayed in his tree, only to chirp hellfire even louder.

As I walked away, he got up and followed. I turned and watched him as he began to swoop towards me. I clapped, he stuttered. I clapped again, and he flew higher. He still escorted and screeched me through his part of the parking lot, but I controlled the ground.

I may have found a way to save myself, and my sanity.

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Going to the Cabin Up Northhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/23/going-cabin-north/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/23/going-cabin-north/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 18:33:48 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6243 This past weekend, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but no one ever really invited me to do. I finally got to go spend a weekend at someone’s cabin up north. In Wisconsin, it seems like every other person either has a cabin up north or knows someone who does. They would then share that cabin with family and invite people up for long weekends to sit on a boat and just relax. I knew a few people who fell Continue reading →

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This past weekend, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but no one ever really invited me to do. I finally got to go spend a weekend at someone’s cabin up north.

In Wisconsin, it seems like every other person either has a cabin up north or knows someone who does. They would then share that cabin with family and invite people up for long weekends to sit on a boat and just relax. I knew a few people who fell into this category. None of them ever invited me and it kind of made me sad. I always wanted to stay in a cabin. I always wanted to spend a weekend on a boat, skiing and tubing and swimming. It just never happened.

This past weekend, also the Summer Solstice, I went with Ellie up to her friend’s cabin in Minnesota. It was pretty much everything I imagined it to be, expect for a couple of things out of my control. First, we weren’t allowed to do much boating, at least not the fun kind, because the water level on the lake was too high and there was a no-wake restriction. I guess it was to prevent the shoreline erosion or the flooding of houses which were built to close to the shore. The second thing was that I didn’t have much time to myself and that kind of thing really wears me out. I don’t mind spending time with a group of people for a while, I just need time to recharge. Since we all did things together and no one left the cabin, I didn’t really get that and by Sunday morning, I was worn out.

Mid-summer night at the cabin up north

Mid-summer night at the cabin up north

But we had some beers, grilled, sat on the boat and just generally enjoyed our Summer Solstice at the cabin up north. Saturday was a perfect day for it too. Some clouds scattered throughout the sky but more often than not, it was sunny and warm. So sunny, in fact, that I got a decent burn along my tan. I didn’t used to burn but I think all the recent years of sitting inside all summer and not really getting to run around in the sun causes my bare skin to cook a little faster. The worst of it is on my shoulders, but I also wasn’t wearing my watch on Saturday (which makes my arm notorious for its permanent watch tan) so the part of my wrist which hasn’t seen the light of day in nearly 20 years, burned. It burned in such an odd way too, where it’s red in the middle, untanned around the edges, and then tan where it’s usually tan. My watch tan doesn’t burn properly.

My terrible watch tan/burn

My terrible watch tan/burn

But whatever, I’m finally happy when it comes to spending a weekend at a cabin up north. How did you spend your mid-summer night?

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Red-Winged Blackbird Broke My Lunchtimehttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/12/red-winged-blackbird-broke-lunchtime/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/12/red-winged-blackbird-broke-lunchtime/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 18:42:05 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6235 I have been walking at lunch for the past few months. It’s a great way to get out of the office during the day. It brightens my day even. But today, I decided not to walk, for health reasons. I’ve also mentioned that I got attacked by a bird. A red-winged blackbird (scientific name: DEMON SPAWN) to be precise. Earlier this week, I also got chased twice by red-winged blackbirds. Once as I was leaving the work parking lot for my lunchtime walk, and once Continue reading →

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I have been walking at lunch for the past few months. It’s a great way to get out of the office during the day. It brightens my day even. But today, I decided not to walk, for health reasons.

I’ve also mentioned that I got attacked by a bird. A red-winged blackbird (scientific name: DEMON SPAWN) to be precise. Earlier this week, I also got chased twice by red-winged blackbirds. Once as I was leaving the work parking lot for my lunchtime walk, and once while coming back into it from the same walk. You can see the spikes in my pace at the beginning and end:

 

Then yesterday two cranes came to visit our office:

A majestic savior, the crane

A majestic savior, the crane

They were just chilling right outside the door, in the rain. Out of nowhere, a red-winged blackbird swooped in and started chirping at them. Then it started attacking them. I managed to get the tail end of the battle on my phone:

 

As I watched it, I could only think of the Red Viper from Game of Thrones, battling the Mountain. He kept swooping around, shouting, “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” Over and over he chanted. However, this time I wasn’t rooting for the Red Viper to get his vengeance, I wanted the Mountain to squeeze the innards out of the red-winged blackbird. It’s what he deserved.

It didn’t happen, unfortunately. It was yet another time the visual deviated from the book. I was disappointed.

Anyway, today I left for my lunch as usual but I was more cautious than I usually am. I’m paranoid. The birds seem to be stalking me. When I saw the red-winged blackbird up in the tree near the exit of the parking lot, I stopped and turned around. I didn’t feel like running today, I told myself. Not on my lunch hour.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to protect myself from the aviary dicks, please let me know. But for now, I’ll keep hoping I get my chance to play the mountain and squeeze the life out of the bird.

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Waukesha Stabbings – Questioning Americahttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/05/waukesha-stabbings-questioning-america/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/05/waukesha-stabbings-questioning-america/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 19:37:58 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6226 The weekend Waukesha stabbings, WI by two 12-year-old girls have me a bit more captivated than usual. As far as I can tell, I care more because I live in Waukesha. Yes, the stabbings were as tragic and unfortunate and “Why didn’t we see this coming” as all the other media storms where someone does something that seems off their rocker, but because I know the city and the people it just feels more real to me. Waukesha Stabbings For some reason I didn’t see Continue reading →

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The weekend Waukesha stabbings, WI by two 12-year-old girls have me a bit more captivated than usual. As far as I can tell, I care more because I live in Waukesha. Yes, the stabbings were as tragic and unfortunate and “Why didn’t we see this coming” as all the other media storms where someone does something that seems off their rocker, but because I know the city and the people it just feels more real to me.

Waukesha Stabbings

For some reason I didn’t see the news of the stabbings until yesterday, three days after they happened. Maybe the media didn’t see it either or it just was kept under wraps before it made it to the front page of CNN. Whatever the reason was, it gave me a bit of a shock when I found out. Initially, I thought about where I was on Saturday morning. I went to the farmer’s market and was attacked by a bird. Had Ellie not been around, I would have gone for a run. That run, while unlikely, might have taken me past the place where the victim was found. I could have been that guy. Realizing that, it really hit home.

All of the articles I read about the Waukesha stabbings said roughly the same thing. The two girls, 12-years-old, planned the murder of their friend for months. Finally, on Saturday, they carried out their plan in a local park by stabbing their friend 19 times with a 5-inch long kitchen knife, leaving her for dead, and then started their trek to meet Slender Man. The victim crawled her way to a path where she was found and helped.

It’s very cut and dry what happened. After being taken into custody, the girls seemed to confess everything. Their motives, their thought process, and how it all happened. Some say they’re children, living out a fantasy, others say they’re disturbed. I’m in the latter boat. I don’t care if they are children and they were living out a fantasy, they still attempted to murder someone. Name a place where some murders are less than other murders. One of the attorneys is pressing to have their client tried as a juvenile (while they’re only 12 and juvenile would apply, murder trials in the state of Wisconsin are tried as adults, so why make exceptions?).

While I think these children committed the crime of an adult and they should be tried as adults and punished as adults, I do not think that they are above counseling and rehabilitation. Those things are not and should not be mutually exclusive. They are young, which is all the better of a time to try to help them. You don’t help them by keeping them from punishment. To me, all that teaches is that you can attempt to kill someone and if you plea the right way, you don’t get punished. That’s counseling and that is not rehabilitating to its fullest.

Cultural Appeal of Going Out with a Bang

This isn’t the first case in recent years, or months, or even weeks it seems, where someone commits a terrible crime that we all see as terrible. Sadly, there have been many. Far too many if you ask me. So many, that more and more people are starting to question why and asking what we can and should do about it. That part of it is good, but the part where it continues to happen is rather bad.

Last week, we had Elliot Rodgers. He made it known that he had a lot of problems which people should be trying to help him with, and they were. But someone wasn’t keeping as good of tabs on him as they should have been. His public videos on YouTube are enough to seriously and deeply question him. Only when it’s determined he’s stable and not going to go out on his promised killing spree do you consider leaving him alone. Lives are on the line if you don’t.

The media, his videos, and personal manifesto told us that he was upset that he was a virgin and that he wasn’t invited to take part in the “college life”. The laid out his retribution plan, and would have followed it until the end had there not been a locked door. Unfortunately, he improvised and took 6 lives with his own.

Then there was Sandy Hook Elementary School in late 2012. A 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, went into an elementary school and killed 20 kids and 6 adults. His motives were unknown but because of him, new legislation has been proposed surrounding the sales of ammunition and firearms. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy where 20 children are shot to even propose the legislation. Even then, it’s a tragedy that there are still plenty of people who oppose it because they’re afraid they’ll lose their guns. Even if the legislation did make you lose your guns, it’s a small price to pay to keep our children and ourselves safe.

In 2012, James Eagan Holmes went into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado for a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and killed 12 and injuring 70.

I went through the end of elementary school all the way through graduation with the threat of another Columbine on my mind. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 and injured another 24. Because of them, schools got metal detectors and “Hold, Lock, Secure” plans and drills. I went to school always wondering whether my classmates decided that today was the day. Fortunately, it never was.

Part of the problem comes from the fact that I can mention Sandy Hook, Aurora, UCSB, Columbine, and Virginia Tech by name and you know what I’m talking about. It’s more than the guns alone, or the exposure to violence. It’s the access to information–everyone has it. It’s the media making them household names. Hated, yes, but everyone knows their names or at least what they did. I think these people got what they wanted. I think they wanted to be remembered and this was the best way to do it once they were fed up with it all.

So how will it play out for the girls responsible for the Waukesha stabbings? I can’t say. There’s a chance they might not be remembered. Partially because not all media sources are releasing their names because they are minors and partly since I started writing this and the time I published it, there has been another killer on the loose. A man up in Moncton, Canada has gone and killed three Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Maybe his story will overshadow these girls.

All that being said, I still think there’s too much violence in the world now. Too many people resort to the wrong actions to feel justified, glorified, whatever it may be. As a society, we are instilling this idea of going out with a bang. But even before that, we are pushing these individuals to the point where they think they need to. We need to be more aware of the people around us and we need to reach out to them and offer the help, comfort, or care they need before it’s too late.

I’m just one guy and these are just my own thoughts. I’m curious to hear what you think about the problems we seem to be having. It’s more than a phase the nation is going through and we better do something to alleviate the problems before they get worse. How would you do it?

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Weekend Activities Were Spot Onhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/03/weekend-activities-spot/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/06/03/weekend-activities-spot/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 18:57:11 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6224 This past weekend was notable in a couple of ways. Ellie came to visit and we got out and did some things we had wanted to do for a while. Since the weather was near perfect, we decided to take advantage of it so we could cross a bit off our list. Farmer’s Market and the Red-winged Blackbird Saturday morning, we moseyed down to the farmer’s market. While we couldn’t find much that we felt we needed or that we couldn’t get elsewhere for cheaper, Continue reading →

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This past weekend was notable in a couple of ways. Ellie came to visit and we got out and did some things we had wanted to do for a while. Since the weather was near perfect, we decided to take advantage of it so we could cross a bit off our list.

Farmer’s Market and the Red-winged Blackbird

Saturday morning, we moseyed down to the farmer’s market. While we couldn’t find much that we felt we needed or that we couldn’t get elsewhere for cheaper, it was still eventful. Eventful partly because there were a good handful of free samples.  Eventful because I got attacked by a bird. It was the worst kind of bird in the world, and the most likely to do such a thing. The satanic red-winged blackbird.

I’ve been harassed by one before too, they must be out to get me. The first time I was running on a country road during a high school summer, trying to stay in shape during the off-season. I had in my headphones and was listening to tunes on my first ever MP3 player. Since I had the same 20 songs on it all the time, the most it could hold, I knew every song intimately from my long runs. So when I heard the repeated chirping over the music, I knew something was up. I looked up and there was a red-winged blackbird hovering over me as I ran, chirping. Threatening. I sprinted the next half-mile to get away.

This time around, Ellie and I were just walking from the far end of the farmer’s market back towards where we came in. The farmer’s market runs along the river in town and I avoid walking there most of the time because it’s infested with Satan’s spawn. I figured that it can’t be a problem with so many people around during the market. I was wrong. As we passed under a tree, I heard a squawk and then felt the attack on my head. I ducked and dove and it was over in a matter of seconds, but it was still traumatizing. I survived. Barely.

Lunch and Dinner and Everything in-between

Later that day, we grabbed lunch at the local drive-up root-beer stand. The food was mediocre but the root-beer was great. It wasn’t syrupy or overly sweet or overly root-beer flavored. It was, more or less, just right and refreshing.

In the early afternoon, I got my Nighthawk running for the season. I had ridden it up from my parents’ house a couple of weeks back, but the battery was dead and wouldn’t charge–even after an hour-long ride. I had to pull the battery and put in a new one. I think leaving the battery in the bike during the extra cold winter was what killed it.

When I went to get a new battery, I brought the old one with me so I could get the core fee taken off the new one. Walmart had the best price on the battery I needed. I walked in with the battery, went to the service desk, set down the battery and said, “I would like to return this for the core charge.” I was then told I needed a receipt to get the money back. Flabbergasted, I told them in all my years of replacing batteries, that has never been the case. They tried convincing that it’s always been Walmart’s policy. Bull, I called.

Eventually, I managed to explain to them that I wasn’t just returning a battery and I wanted to get a new one–something they didn’t bother to ask before telling me I couldn’t return the battery without a receipt. Once they realized that I was dropping the old off so I could buy the new, they changed their tune. Rightly so.

After all that, the Nighthawk is running for the season.

2007 Honda Nighthawk

2007 Honda Nighthawk

We mini-golfed that evening. I’m the worst at mini-golf, always have been. So it was no surprise when Ellie beat me. It wasn’t my favorite moment when she snapped her friends the scorecard, but at least my hole-in-one on the ninth hole was there!

Sunday Booze-filled Fun-day

Sunday, Ellie and I went to the Great Lakes Distillery to use up some free tickets I had for their “tour”. I had done the tour once before and knew it was worth paying for so we should definitely take advantage of free tickets. We invited my brother and sister-in-law along and we had a good time learning about booze making in Wisconsin and sampling six of their liquors. Was fun, and a bit tipsy.

After the distillery, we headed a few blocks over to Sobelman’s for a Bloody Mary. It was pretty damn tasty, even without all the food piled on top.

Bloody Mary from Sobelman's in Milwaukee

Bloody Mary from Sobelman’s in Milwaukee

All-in-all, it was a really good and eventful weekend, in the right kind of ways.

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Keeping track of programming projects over the yearshttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/28/keeping-track-programming-projects-years/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/28/keeping-track-programming-projects-years/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 19:44:40 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6218 I know for years and years I’ve teased different programming projects, among others, I’m working on here (hell, this website was initially a programming project–I wrote an entire blogging platform from scratch as a proof of concept; it was primitive, but I loved the software and only switch to WordPress as it was easier to maintain). More often than not, they didn’t amount to much. Part of me thinks that my writing about them on here caused me to lose interest in them. That’s not Continue reading →

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I know for years and years I’ve teased different programming projects, among others, I’m working on here (hell, this website was initially a programming project–I wrote an entire blogging platform from scratch as a proof of concept; it was primitive, but I loved the software and only switch to WordPress as it was easier to maintain). More often than not, they didn’t amount to much. Part of me thinks that my writing about them on here caused me to lose interest in them. That’s not true. I may have stopped working on them temporarily indefinitely, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still interest me. More often than not, newer projects are just evolutions of old ones.

Previous Projects

Take, for example, the Self-Directed Learning programming project I started working on during Peace Corps training. I raved about it (password: whitewater) to anyone and everyone that I could in both person and print. I did so because I felt very proud of it. I also had plans for it. It was going to revolutionize my language learning. It was going to revolutionize all language learning. Then I lost steam. I still produced a product, but it’s far from where I imagined it going. I got caught up in Peace Corps life and projects and learning by interacting. The result is out there, you can take a look at my Russian SDL as long as I have it hosted, but I doubt I’ll improve on it.

Then there are the countless times I’ve teased new website designs. Those more often than not come to fruition in some way shape or form. Granted, my most recent design was much more radical when I started but that’s just how my design evolved.

And also the times that I’ve teased new image projects (I haven’t done one in a while). I like to change-up my social media icon from time to time (no more often than yearly) and I like to tell people about it because I’m excited about it. It’s another project that I get excited about.

For a while, I was really excited about another language programming project, but in English this time around. I teased it a few times on this blog and a few more times on Google+. The posts on this blog can be found here and here. While developing the project, I ran into a couple of roadblocks. One of these roadblocks was that one of the things I wanted the project to do was far beyond my programming capabilities and would need possibly years of dedicated study to get to a respectable level of knowledge. All that being said, I’m still immensely proud of the work I was able to get done on it. I never did get around to posting the project for general use, but it can be found here: http://sassyhacksaws.com/grammar/ The project is meant to analyze a text and point out areas where the text can be improved. I wish I could have gotten it to a point where it preserved the formatting, or at least line breaks, during the analysis but I didn’t see it as essential functionality during my first programming and have since stopped working on it. Feel free to play with it, I use it a lot when I need to proof documents as it points out a few things I’d overlook if I was just reading.

The Current Programming Project

My next and current programming project, the one I’m going to tease here and probably lose steam on shortly, is going to be a bit of a conglomerate of all the projects I’ve worked on over the years. I won’t go into full details on the project as I want it to be a surprise and I’d like to keep someone from reading this and thinking they can do it better and faster than me. Not that I don’t want them to, I just don’t want to stumble across the same idea executed by someone else and get discouraged with my slow progress. That being said, I’m working on a plugin for WordPress. I’ve already got the initial features sketched out and some of the initial framework in place. I’m starting from scratch when it comes to WordPress plugins. I know very little about integrating my code with the existing system, but I’m learning as I go and using things I’ve learned before to speed up the process.

When I’m done with the initial release, I know it’s going to be something that I’m really proud of. It’s designed to fill a gap in the WordPress software and to fill a gap in my life. Hell, this plugin I’m working on might actually be efficient enough at what it does for me to switch my computer over to Linux full-time (one of the main things that keeps me from switching is that I can’t find all the software I need in Linux, and this would be one of the major ones crossed off).

Disclaimer

Before I sign off, I just want to say that I make no promises on when it will be done, if ever. It’s a slow process because I work on it when I have the free time and the free time isn’t always there. I might just get distracted and eventually it will turn into something else down the road. I’ll never know.

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Happy Memorial Dayhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/26/happy-memorial-day/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/26/happy-memorial-day/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6215 Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Kind thoughts to everyone who has served the country in some way, shape, or form. A handful of my family members (from earlier generations) served during the wars last century. A handful of my friends have also risked their lives to serve the country in more recent times. Thank you all!

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Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Kind thoughts to everyone who has served the country in some way, shape, or form. A handful of my family members (from earlier generations) served during the wars last century. A handful of my friends have also risked their lives to serve the country in more recent times.

Thank you all!

American Flags swamp the cemetery nearby

American Flags swamp the cemetery nearby

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Milwaukee Peace Corps Association: NAMI Charity Walkhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/21/milwaukee-peace-corps-association-nami-charity-walk/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/21/milwaukee-peace-corps-association-nami-charity-walk/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 20:47:10 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6213 Over this past weekend, I continued my quest to become more involved in the Returned Peace Corps community. The group gathered on the Milwaukee lakefront for a charity walk. The walk was to raise money for NAMI and one of the RPVC members won a grant to go towards the groups total. In all reality, I wanted Ellie to go with me but she wasn’t up for the charity walk. However, I didn’t want her not going to stop me. I really am trying to push myself Continue reading →

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Over this past weekend, I continued my quest to become more involved in the Returned Peace Corps community. The group gathered on the Milwaukee lakefront for a charity walk. The walk was to raise money for NAMI and one of the RPVC members won a grant to go towards the groups total.

In all reality, I wanted Ellie to go with me but she wasn’t up for the charity walk. However, I didn’t want her not going to stop me. I really am trying to push myself to do things even if I’m not fully comfortable. Since I’m still new to the group, I’m still not sure I’ll have someone to talk to if I go and I’m the kind of guy who can just be content and uncomfortable being quiet in the corner.

But I went, the weather couldn’t have been better either. I made my donation to the fund as I registered. Some things I create exceptions to my rule on limited spending so I can save money to pay off my IRS debt and charity is on that list (under the right circumstances).

Milwaukee Lakefront

Couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for a charity walk. Some sun, some clouds, and a bit of breeze.

The charity walk was only 5k (I say only as though I would want a 10k or a marathon to walk) and it was around the park on Lake Michigan. It wove its way out to a point on the shore and then back. At first, I was more than content watching the dogs people had brought. There was a St. Bernard in front of me that kind of just went where she wanted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a St. Bernard in person before. But eventually, I got pulled into the RPCV conversation which was also welcome. I mostly talked with Chris and Joe and a man leaving later this year for Lesotho but I didn’t catch his name.

Joe had served in Peru back in the mid-60s and had some really interesting stories to tell. He told me he almost didn’t get on the last plane out of the US to get to Peru but only went because his trunk had already been sent. He was glad he followed that trunk. Joe is also the only person I’ve met, thus far, who has walked El Camino de Santiago. He highly recommended it and was more than happy to offer his advice to anyone who wished to walk it as well (if you’re interested in hearing his advice, let me know and I can try to get you in contact with him).

While walking, we also met a man who was on the prowl for someone to talk at. He was one of those people you feel bad for while at the same time try to avoid eye contact with. A street person. It’s hard to tell how much of what he said was true and how much he had convinced himself of over the years, but I believed his self-proclamation as a Polack and I believe that he was in Vietnam. Joe was the unfortunate man who caught his eye and politely listened to him for a while before brushing him aside. There is only so much you can listen to before you want to get back to your own conversations.

When the charity walk was done, there were brats and hot dogs for all. We stood around, ate our food and just talked. We mostly prepared the man leaving for Lesotho. It was hard to tell if he had been a volunteer before but he seemed eager and very well knowledgable in his future home. I told he he would probably be replacing my friend Zoe, who is currently finishing up her service in Lesotho, because she’ll be done right at the time he’ll be swearing-in.

All in all, it was a nice morning spent in the company of some nice people. I’m glad that I went down to the lake for the charity walk.

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I’ve Been Asked to Report for Jury Dutyhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/16/ive-asked-report-jury-duty/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/16/ive-asked-report-jury-duty/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 20:29:44 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6210 For the first time in my life, I’ve been selected for civic duty. A month or so ago, I received a piece of mail asking me to go online and fill in my information as I was in a pool for jury duty. I filled it out and thought nothing of it. I don’t fear jury duty (though it may come from lack of experience with it). Many people seem to dread it as it is the worst thing in the world. I can only imagine Continue reading →

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For the first time in my life, I’ve been selected for civic duty. A month or so ago, I received a piece of mail asking me to go online and fill in my information as I was in a pool for jury duty. I filled it out and thought nothing of it. I don’t fear jury duty (though it may come from lack of experience with it). Many people seem to dread it as it is the worst thing in the world. I can only imagine how they would feel if they did not get a jury during their trials. What if they were flat-out denied their right to defend their case?

Last week, I received a second piece of mail stating that I must report for jury duty and I was given all my information on how to report and whatnot. I really thought little of it, as it’s a part of being an American citizen. In fact, I was a little excited by the thought of it. As a writer and a reader, I love collecting stories. A trial could be a good story. And when I double-checked the dates I needed to report, I saw I needed to report for up to three weeks. It really could be a good story. Someone must have done something bad to have a three-week trial scheduled. Oh the drama! The intrigue!

However, once I started announcing what I needed to do, the naysayers started pouring out of the woodwork. Everyone was offering me ways to get out of it. Get out of it? The thought never really crossed my mind, in all honesty. What I did think was, maybe I wouldn’t get picked. Then I’d only get to sit through a shorter trial that week. I wouldn’t need to dedicate three weeks of my time (a paltry sum, if you ask me) to civic duty. But get out of it all together, I don’t think that is really in my hands.

For me, this is a sense of duty (it’s in the name). It’s not something to avoid. Jury duty is something to be embraced because it screams nothing more to me than being American. I don’t think that people who avoid jury duty like the plague are less American, though, I just think they have a different meaning about what that means. Someday, I hope they learn my meaning of it.

The one qualm I have with jury duty are my wages. I get paid $20/day of duty along with $0.51/mile of travel. That’s what the county in Wisconsin where I must report pays. It’s not, by any means, a living wage. Nor is it anywhere near what I would make at work. The thought of it just makes me sad as I reflect on how terrible of a year this is turning out to be for me financially. There always seems to be something else around the corner, just waiting to loot my paychecks. All I really want, all I’ve really wanted since I started working in 2012, is to pay off all my loans as soon as I can so I can build a simpler and bill free life. 2014 is really testing my patience, financially.

When I alerted my bosses of my civic duty, they too offered me ideas to get out of it. Legally, they can’t prevent me from going but I can tell they’d prefer to have me here. What I haven’t had answered yet, however, is will I get paid while I’m obligated to be somewhere else? The state of Wisconsin does not require employers to pay their employees (even if they have a salary as I do). I understand both sides of the story–why should I be paid if I’m not working, but why should I lose wages when I have to do something I didn’t offer to do–but that doesn’t make the thought of three weeks of lost wages any better. And I know I haven’t been told one way or another if I’ll get paid or not, but my mind fears for the worst so I’m ready for it and it’s really eating away at me now.

Pay or no pay, a pain in the butt or an interesting story, I am really looking forward to jury duty. Like I said before, it makes me an American and I really don’t have any problem with that.

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Long-Distance Relationship Againhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/12/long-distance-relationship/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/12/long-distance-relationship/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 19:30:03 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6206 Yesterday, I helped Ellie move into her new apartment. Once again, after six months of living so close to one another, we are in a long-distance relationship. Now, the distance doesn’t worry me because that’s how we started. Then, the distance was greater than it is now and since it was the beginning of a relationship, things were more rocky. I know she’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away from me. I can drive over any time I’m free. Also, she has a car Continue reading →

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Yesterday, I helped Ellie move into her new apartment. Once again, after six months of living so close to one another, we are in a long-distance relationship.

Now, the distance doesn’t worry me because that’s how we started. Then, the distance was greater than it is now and since it was the beginning of a relationship, things were more rocky. I know she’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away from me. I can drive over any time I’m free. Also, she has a car now so she can drive over anytime she’s free. It’s a lot nicer than it was before. For that, I’m grateful.

What bothers me is that we have to go back to being long distance. It’s just the logical step for both of us. I’m not yet well enough established in my career that I can easily pick up to follow her and land a job without problem (though that would be nice). Nor should she be limited to jobs near me because I don’t want her to go away. That’s not fair to her and she might not get hired in this area doing what she wants in this area for a long time (and as of writing she hasn’t, but I doubt she’d want to stay in this area anyway).

We both wish there was a better solution.

We’re both in similar situations where we would have trouble finding jobs and neither of us is rolling in the dough so we couldn’t support ourselves for a long time. Because I know if we could, the two of us would seriously consider packing it all up and moving to Arizona just to try our luck out West. We loved it there and we agree that it would be a great place to live. It’s just too soon in our lives to be able to risk it all (though I have a handful of friends who have tried doing just that and have varied results).

I hope in the near future the two of us can be in the same place again. Her job is only temporary (four months) and her sublet is only for seven months. At that time, she can reassess where she wants to be. Maybe I’ll be less tied to a job and a paycheck and I’ll be more free to assess my situation. I think if that all happened at the same time, the stars must have aligned (or one of us decided to take that leap of faith).

I know this is not too common of a situation, but what would you do in this situation? Would you risk it all and get up and move to be together? Or would you play it safe (like I feel like I’m doing now) and wait for the right moment and the stars to align (if they ever do)? Or is there some other option I’m not seeing?

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My Marley is a Sick Cathttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/05/marley-sick-cat/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/05/05/marley-sick-cat/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 18:51:08 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6187 If you’ve read much of anything on this site, you know I have an overly healthy love for my cat. She has been in my care for the past six years (though for the time I was in Ukraine, friends and family looked after her). I like to think the two of us have been through a lot together and we are there for each other, more as equals and friends than the parent/child relationship most people seem to have with their loved pets. When Continue reading →

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If you’ve read much of anything on this site, you know I have an overly healthy love for my cat. She has been in my care for the past six years (though for the time I was in Ukraine, friends and family looked after her). I like to think the two of us have been through a lot together and we are there for each other, more as equals and friends than the parent/child relationship most people seem to have with their loved pets.

When I had Luna in my care, Marley didn’t speak to me as much. Only as formalities. I understood her tone. I was hers and she was mine and neither of us were to share. I also noticed that Marley ate as much of Luna’s food as she could (not good for Luna because she was bone thin already). She ate and she ate and it seemed like she was putting on a few pounds, quickly.

So when I noticed recently that she wasn’t eating, I quickly started to wonder if I had a sick cat on my hands. She would go a week at a time and she’d really only pick at the food. I’d top it off each day but it became less and less.

Then to see if she wasn’t the sick cat I thought she was, I tried changing her diet. I started mixing soft food in with her leftover food from breakfast and that did the trick. She’d eat it right up. But only for a week. She’s back to not eating now.

Marley, as adorable as ever, just smaller.

Marley, as adorable as ever, just smaller.

But I think Ellie and I figured out what the problem is. It’s not that Marley is a sick cat with a disease that upsets her appetite. We think she has a toothache.

By trial and error of giving her her normal food and then the food we knew she wouldn’t refuse, we determined this. The soft foods she ate, or tried to eat, and the hard foods she really only sniffed. When I offered her cheese, her favorite food, she took it greedily, tried eating it but couldn’t swallow it. That’s when I knew. That’s what confirmed she really was having problems.

So, after all our time together without needing to go, I broke down and decided to take her to the vet. To most, this might not seem like a big deal so much as a logical step but for me it was a big deal. For me, I wanted to think my cat was special and immune to being a sick cat who needed to be babied. But no cheese? It’s serious.

Hopefully, when I drop Marley off at the vet tomorrow I’ll find out that she can easily, painlessly, and not too hard on my wallet, be healed. Hopefully the vet can make her a happy cat once more who can eat all the cheese she wants and she can plump back up to her fighting weight (albeit a low weight because Marley has always been a smaller cat). Hopefully, the vet won’t return her still as a sick cat.

Stay tuned for the updates!

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Calvin Inspired Peanut Butter Dilemma Reduxhttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/30/calvin-inspired-peanut-butter-dilemma-redux/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/30/calvin-inspired-peanut-butter-dilemma-redux/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:51:04 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6184 A while back, I had a peanut butter dilemma. I couldn’t deal with it. I tried and tried to preserve the purity of the top of my peanut butter, and it sunk farther away each time I scooped some out. I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I tried again. And again and each time the same thing happened. Then I thought to myself, maybe I wasn’t thinking big enough. Maybe I needed a bigger jar. Maybe my peanut butter dilemma would be solved Continue reading →

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A while back, I had a peanut butter dilemma. I couldn’t deal with it. I tried and tried to preserve the purity of the top of my peanut butter, and it sunk farther away each time I scooped some out. I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I tried again. And again and each time the same thing happened.

Calvin and Hobbes Peanut Butter Dilemma

Copyright Bill Watterson 1993

Then I thought to myself, maybe I wasn’t thinking big enough. Maybe I needed a bigger jar. Maybe my peanut butter dilemma would be solved if there was more peanut butter to deal with. Maybe somehow having more peanut butter would create a better base to hold up the perfect top. Maybe a larger jar would give me more room to manage the peanut butter and my scooping and scraping could be more controlled. Maybe.

Maybe is only good until you know. I had to know. That’s why I bought a 6-pound tub of peanut butter. Peter Pan peanut butter, because it’s the best and it’s what I used last time I had my peanut butter dilemma. The 6-pound tub would be large enough for my large hands to get in and dissect the peanut butter. The 6-pound tub would be large enough to contain enough peanut butter to support the rest, for longer at least. I’ve had a 6-pounder before, in college, and I ate my way through it in a matter of months. Those were the days. But this time, I was a man on a mission. I needed the 6 pounds of peanut butter to solve my dilemma.

It didn’t work.

It slid.

I wasn’t able to scrape and scoop in a way to keep everything in my control. I could only control the appearance on the top. What happened beneath the surface was out of my control.

Here’s my proof:

My 6-pound peanut butter dilemma

My 6-pound peanut butter dilemma

I think somehow this is all a metaphor for life. I’m not completely sure what that metaphor is and maybe I never will know but each day, it seems like I understand it a bit better. Right now, I’m thinking that it means I can try to control as much of my life as possible, but there’s going to be a lot of it that I cannot control and gets out of my hands. And peanut butter care is a difficult thing to master. More the second one, I think.

But in the end, all I really want is to preserve the top of my peanut butter and not have it slide down the jar. Is that really so much to ask?

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Danny’s Wonut Recipehttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/26/dannys-wonut-recipe/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/26/dannys-wonut-recipe/#comments Sat, 26 Apr 2014 05:41:51 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6179 This past week, there have been a lot of articles going around talking about the newest rage in food. Where last year it was a cronut, a croissant donut hybrid, this year it’s the wonut. A wonut is a waffle and donut hybrid. When you think about it, and see pictures of it, you start to wonder why you’re only hearing about it now. I’ll be honest, I thought the cronut phase was dumb (though I never tried one and maybe my mind would change Continue reading →

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This past week, there have been a lot of articles going around talking about the newest rage in food. Where last year it was a cronut, a croissant donut hybrid, this year it’s the wonut. A wonut is a waffle and donut hybrid. When you think about it, and see pictures of it, you start to wonder why you’re only hearing about it now. I’ll be honest, I thought the cronut phase was dumb (though I never tried one and maybe my mind would change if I had one) but when I heard about the wonut, I wanted one (like, my mouth salivated all day long looking at the same press pictures pulled from a Twitter feed). Maybe it is because it comes from Chicago and I have a special place in my heart for all things Chicago. Or maybe it’s because my inner fat kid is trying to get out. Either way, I needed one.

Danny's homemade Wonut recipe

Danny’s homemade Wonut recipe, a beautiful result from a simple recipe

I scoured the internet for a wonut recipe and I couldn’t find one. I could only find the same limited information about Waffles Cafe describing how they make their wonut, but no wonut recipe. Waffles describes the batter as a thicker form of their famous waffle batter. Then it’s made into a waffle, the waffle is fried, and then the wonut is covered in donut toppings. The result is crispy like a waffle on the outside and soft like a donut on the inside. I decided if I needed to try a wonut, I’d need to make my own wonut recipe.  What I came up with is the essential ingredients and proportions from both waffles and donuts:

Danny’s Wonut Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1.5 cups Milk
  • 0.5 cups Butter, melted
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Vodka (optional)
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

Procedure:

Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and vodka and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly join the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until some lumps remain. Let stand while waffle iron heats up.

You can opt to leave the vodka out of the recipe if you want, but it helps while frying. As the vodka heats in the oil, it evaporates and forces its way out of the waffle and prevents the oil from seeping in. The vodka creates a less greasy donut.

Danny's Wonut batter

Danny’s Wonut batter

In waffle iron, pour enough batter to fill out iron (for two squares in my iron, it took about 3/4 C of the batter). Cook waffle but keep it on the lighter side, it will crisp up and darken during frying. Remove from iron and cut apart waffle squares. Drain the waffles on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Finish cooking the batter into waffles.

Waffles, ready to be fried

Waffles, ready to be fried

In a pot, heat two inches of oil for frying. I prefer using a small pot, large enough to fit only one waffle square at a time, to help save on oil. When the oil is hot, place waffle in the oil for one minute on each side. Remove and place on paper towel to drain oil. Dip in a glaze and sprinkle with your favorite toppings (sprinkles, nuts, coconut, etc.).

A wonut, ready for the icing

A wonut, ready for the icing

Danny's Wonut Recipe
Waffle? Donut? Or a healthy mix of the two? You decide.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Eggs
  2. 1.5 cups Milk
  3. 0.5 cups Butter, melted
  4. ½ cup Sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  6. 2 tablespoons Vodka (optional)
  7. 3 cups Flour
  8. 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  9. 1 teaspoon Salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and vodka and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly join the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until some lumps remain. Let stand while waffle iron heats up.
  2. You can opt to leave the vodka out of the recipe if you want, but it helps while frying. As the vodka heats in the oil, it evaporates and forces its way out of the waffle and prevents the oil from seeping in. The vodka creates a less greasy donut.
  3. In waffle iron, pour enough batter to fill out iron (for two squares in my iron, it took about 3/4 C of the batter). Cook waffle but keep it on the lighter side, it will crisp up and darken during frying. Remove from iron and cut apart waffle squares. Drain the waffles on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Finish cooking the batter into waffles.
  4. In a pot, heat two inches of oil for frying. I prefer using a small pot, large enough to fit only one waffle square at a time, to help save on oil. When the oil is hot, place waffle in the oil for one minute on each side. Remove and place on paper towel to drain oil. Dip in a glaze and sprinkle with your favorite toppings (sprinkles, nuts, coconut, etc.).
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If you’re in the need for a glaze, the following basic glazes are a good place to start:

Glaze
A simple glaze
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  3. 1/2 cup Milk
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together
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Chocolate Glaze
A simple chocolate glaze.
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Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  2. 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  3. 2 tablespoons milk
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
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You know, my wonut recipe turned out quite well for a first try. It is nice and fluffy, yet crispy. It’s enough like a waffle, yet sweet like a donut. If you’re feeling a bit of a sweet treat, I highly recommend trying out my wonut recipe, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Plus, my recipe is simple enough that you should have all the ingredients you need without having to run to the store.

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Walking the Cathttp://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/16/walking-cat/ http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/16/walking-cat/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:00:49 +0000 http://sassyhacksaws.com/?p=6084 Recently, Ellie and I have tried to get out of the apartment as much as possible because the weather has been nicer and we both have cabin fever from the longer Winter than usual in recent years. We try to walk for a bit before dinner when possible, just to stretch the legs. On the weekends, we search for geocaches. Any excuse to move is a good excuse. Marley, however, we neglected and is why we decided to start walking the cat. Now, I’ve heard about Continue reading →

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Recently, Ellie and I have tried to get out of the apartment as much as possible because the weather has been nicer and we both have cabin fever from the longer Winter than usual in recent years. We try to walk for a bit before dinner when possible, just to stretch the legs. On the weekends, we search for geocaches. Any excuse to move is a good excuse. Marley, however, we neglected and is why we decided to start walking the cat.

Now, I’ve heard about different ways to train your cats to make them a little more user-friendly and easier to take care of (read: less poop scooping and furniture destruction). In college, I knew a  girl who was working to potty train her cats because the effort needed to train them would pay off in the long run. I really see what she meant. Poop scooping is hardly fun and it’s a never-ending process. Other things I’ve read about include covering things in tinfoil so the cats will leave them alone. Apparently, cats do not like tinfoil. Rightly so? You can spray them with water bottles if they do something you want to train out of them (though a number of the articles on this topic said you should make sure the cat associates the water with doing the offending act and doesn’t associate it with the person spraying, any ideas on how to do this?). But of all the things I’ve read about thus far, the least common one is walking the cat.

How often do you think, I wish I had a cat to take for walks? How much more often do you substitute cat for dog? What would you do if you saw a full-grown man or woman walking a cat on a leash? Would you assume they’re doing it for the benefit of the cat? Or would you think they were crazy and trying to draw some attention to them and their beloved feline? Until recently, I thought the latter.

Back in college, I bought a leash and a harness for Marley so I could take her for walks. It didn’t work out. She would wrap the leash around me and end up on my shoulder. Walking the cat turned into becoming the cat’s chariot. Also, she didn’t like running into dogs and sometimes it was too hot for her to be out. I did it all wrong.

My problem was that I thought once I put the harness and leash on her, she’d be ready for a walk just like a dog. She hated the harness and I thrust her into a whole new world. What I failed to do was consider how Marley reacts to new places. Every time I move, she ends up under the bed for a couple of days before she decides to come out and investigate. Pulling her into walks where there was so much new to her and nowhere to hide but my shoulder was the wrong way to get her to walk.

Walking the cat on a leash

Walking the cat on a leash

So, in an effort to retry what I failed at in college and to include Marley in mine and Ellie’s outdoor activities, we decided to start walking the cat. This past Sunday, we strapped her into the harness and let her adjust. I gave her some treats to get her more comfortable. Then we scooped her up and took her out to the patch of grass behind my building. Naturally, she had a bushy tail and didn’t really want to be out there but we persisted and eventually got her moving around comfortably.

So we didn’t stress her out, we brought her in and gave her some treats as a reward. We’ll do this a couple more times before trying to get her to the corner of the block. Eventually, I’ll walk her just like I’d walk a dog. People will stare and assume I’m a crazy cat guy who has no friends, but the jokes on them because it’s true and I own it.

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