Classic Dishes...



That Darn Cat

I was never much of a pet person growing up due to a combination of factors, the primary two of which were that we didn’t have any sort of grass yard for a dog to run around in, and Mom (and, we would learn years later, me, to a lesser extent) is deathly allergic to cat hair.

As a result, the menagerie at Chateau Lemón during my formative years consisted of one tadpole (Spike, who shuffled off this mortal coil when he sprouted arms and legs and I didn’t realize this meant it was time to get him access to dry land and, more importantly, air), three basic goldfish (Pooka, Fygar, and Dig-Dug (you in the back, shut up), with Fygar outlasting the other two by quite a substantial margin, which is really as it should be) and two teddy-bear hamsters, one a year or two after the other, both named Ralph (blame my younger brother for that one), and both living la vida loca every single minute of their thousand-day lives.

So, yeah. Not much for the whole pet thing. Hell, I can barely take care of myself; why would I want to do that to a poor animal?

But then I started dating the S.O., and she’s got two cats, Arthas and Jaina. (Apparently it’s a WoW reference of some sort.) Jaina is quiet and reserved and is generally content to be near people without being handled by people, though she’s getting better about that.

But Arthas. Oh, Arthas.

Frequently referred to as "Whackjob" by the S.O. (I almost typed "affectionately referred to," but the aforementioned S.O. would smack me), Arthas is deaf as a post, gets into everything, and generally uses people as climbing posts. A friendlier cat, you will not meet. And by "friendly" I mean "he will climb up onto your shoulder and clean your face with that piece of sandpaper he has for a tongue, usually right after you have shaved and your face is at its most sensitive."

And of course, Arthas decided from Day One that he liked me. At first I didn’t know what to make of this, but as time goes on I’m starting to understand the whole cat thing. Dogs, for the most part, are blindly loyal, but not too terribly bright. Cats, however, will size you up, and then make an informed decision about who to trust. And they can tell when you’ve had a crummy day and could use a little extra affection. All of this, and they poop in a confined box. Can’t beat that.

So Arthas and I, we’re a team now. I try to defend him to the S.O. as a "good kitteh," and she just rolls her eyes at me, and then Arthas will knock a Wiimote or something onto the floor, making it that much harder for me to argue his case. But he is a good kitteh, because when I’m having a bad day, he climbs right into my lap and then sits and purrs while I scritch between his ears. The rest of it is forgiven. (And my allergies aren’t nearly as severe as they were when I first met him, though my eyes still get a little itchy if I’ve been there all day.)

Sadly, I don’t have a wacky punchline for this one, but I can always use a little clickbait, so we shall close with a picture of Arthas in full Is-It-Can-Be-Hugz-Tiem-Pleez mode:

Arthas

Two Drink Minimum

Saw one of these at Wal-Mart today…Crayola, please step forward to collect your Ron Popeil Award for Bad Product Design:

image 

The best part, just below the fold of their Total Tools page:

image

Look no further than your marketing department, folks…

Gather ‘Round The…Wait, What?

Overheard while on line this afternoon at Papa Murphy’s, picking up a pizza for dinner:

“If you want cheap [pizza], Pizza Time. If you want good, Pizza Hut.”

A small part of me died inside.

(By the way, that cheesesteak pizza you see on the front page of the Papa Murphy’s site? Pretty good.)

I Love Lucy

So just a warning before we get started here: this post is going to have a higher sucrose level than much of the material you read here at Chez Fred. Complimentary insulin syringes will be distributed after your meal.

Tonight was the annual Seattle Women’s Hockey Club fundraiser. I’ve written about it before…basically, one of The Four Of You was a member of the club a few years ago, said “hey, yeah, I know someone!” when they were tossing around the idea of getting an announcer / host for the event, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I won’t bore you with the details…suffice it to say we faced a few hurdles before and during the event, we got through them, and nobody noticed that I essentially butchered the first game. (I stumbled through a few announcements. Yeah, I’m human, but I hold myself to a superhuman standard when I do this thing.) And I ended strong, so I was okay with it. But this post isn’t really about that.

I said before that I love seeing these women, and for the most part, sadly, I only see them once a year, at this event. They are fantastic people, they are SO happy I’m there, and I’m pretty sure I could just say “Boondoggle!” repeatedly into the mic for three hours and they would still think I did an awesome job.

Anyhow, after all is said and done and I’ve reminded everyone to Please Drive Home Safely, I generally queue up some music on my laptop, chat it up a little with the on-ice officials I’ve been working with all night (who I actually remembered to publicly thank both BEFORE AND AFTER the two games this year), and just kinda hang out. Everyone in the club is basking in that whole post-event “hey, we actually pulled this thing off!” vibe, and I like that.

But really I’m waiting to see…well, we’ll call her “Lucy.” (For no other reason than it makes the post title pretty much write itself.)

I’m a horrible judge of age and I wouldn’t do that to her anyhow, so let’s just say that Lucy is older than I am and leave it at that. I first met her in 2005, the first year I hosted the event. It was also her first year with the club, and she had explained to me that she’d joined up because she thought it would be a good and different kind of exercise, and that at the time she joined up she couldn’t even skate, but she just absolutely fell in love with the game of hockey once she was around it.

And MAN, did I completely understand where she was coming from. There is just something about being near a hockey game that…satisfies me. I don’t have any other way to explain it, I can’t tell you why, it just IS. And the itch can be scratched with other sports, but never completely. There is an ethereal thing about hockey and its culture that no other sport has.

Anyhow, me and Lucy had a fantastic talk about that, and we realized that we were absolutely kindred spirits in that regard. She didn’t know what It was, either, but she knew It was there, and she knew she was in love with It. And she made it very clear that having me there doing my thing amplified It. She asked if she could have a picture taken with me, and of course I was happy to oblige.

And I left that night awash in the appreciation of a lot of people, but talking to Lucy always stuck with me, because she Really Understood. And The Four Of You know that I’m not exactly a New Agey kind of guy, but there was totally an exchange of positive energy between us that stuck with me for quite a while.

So two years ago, as athletes often are, she was injured and couldn’t play, but we still got to talk a little bit. And she took a year off from the club last year, and I was sad that I didn’t see her name on the roster. So I was totally jazzed when I got my rosters for this year’s event and saw Lucy’s name back on there.

Back to the postgame show: cue up a little Oingo Boingo and Dead Or Alive and whatnot, mill around a little bit, and finally I go back to the scoring box because we’re about to run out of music and I don’t want it picking something at random out of my playlist, because with my luck we’d get Snoop To The Motherfarking Dogg or Kid Motherfarking Rock popping up and a lot of parents with their kids would (justifiably) be pretty motherfarking pissed at me.

And I threw a few more songs into the queue, because there were still a bunch of people milling around (apparently the good people at Pyramid Breweries gave us a LOT of beer), and I looked up, and there was Lucy.

And of course, we get to talking. (She was surprised and thrilled that I remembered the picture from three years before.) Now understand I was still beating myself up a little over the flubs I’d made over the course of the evening. Not a lot, but a little. And she’s looking at me like I’ve turned bright green. “I don’t think you understand,” she says. “I’m sitting there on the bench, and I hear you, and I think “we have a VOICE.” If you’ve made a mistake, we don’t notice. We just know that there’s a VOICE, and that it’s great.”

Wow. If you’ve never had the experience, I strongly recommend having someone say that to you sometime.

I tried a little something new this year: someone (thank Glub for Internet whackjobs) has collected fairly clear recordings of the goal horns of all 30 NHL teams, made simple movies out of them, and posted them on YouTube.  (A quick explanation for the hockey-impaired…when the home team scores, most pro teams have a…well, for lack of a better term, a ritual, to get the fans involved in celebrating the goal.) So I worked a little bit of the multimedia magic that I’ve picked up over time, grabbing a few of them and ripping the audio off as MP3’s that my laptop DJ software can fire from the sound effects banks. I thought maybe it would add some big-league flavor to our little community-rink production.

I was a teeny bit worried about the sound quality, so I asked Lucy what she thought of them. And she looked at me again, and just from her look I knew that, at least for her, it had EXACTLY the effect I was going for. And that snowballed into the “kindred spirits” energy-exchange that I was so hoping for. We talked about what it felt like to sit in an empty arena and look at a clean, freshly-Zambonied sheet of ice, and about how it feels to do something you really, really love to do, and do it alongside people who really, really love the small part they are contributing to the overall whole, and about how we still hadn’t figured out what It was, but we still knew It was there and that we could never get enough of It.

And eventually (and always far too soon) it was time to go, and I walked with Lucy out to our respective cars, and we went our separate ways, but that positive vibe, that unique, unexplainable, special love for the game that Lucy absolutely basks in and that I can literally SEE her soaking up when we talk, that stayed with me. And, once again, it’s going to stay with me for a while.

I give her a VOICE. Heady stuff, that.

Can we have female pimpettes at Chez Fred? Yer damn skippy we can. “Lucy,” if you’re reading this, please enjoy your Bishop Don “Magic” Juan Big Pimpin’ Cup:

Big Pimpin' Cup

Time For A Change

The Four Of You who have been around for a few years know that I’m not terribly fond of my given name, and that I’ve never gone through with officially changing it because I didn’t trust the government not to muck it up, and I thought replacing all of my identification would be too much of a hassle.

(It doesn’t happen as often anymore…when I was in school I was constantly correcting teachers and such, especially those asshats who thought that the simple courtesy of remembering a student’s name was beneath them. These days, it happens just enough to be annoying…when I have to flash my ID when I buy something with my credit card, I twinge when I see the name. The record-keeping software at my doctor’s office doesn’t have a convenient or obvious field to record a preferred name, so I get to correct them when they call to confirm an appointment. That sort of thing.)

Anyhow, you also know that back in May I lost my wallet and had to replace all of the identification anyhow. And in so doing, I discovered that it really wouldn’t take that much doing to replace the ID, that my Social Security number would remain unchanged (I was always under the impression for some reason that they had to issue you a new number), and that once those two were knocked out, everything else (and “everything else” really just means my medical and dental insurance cards, since my debit and credit cards and such are already under my preferred name) would really fall into place.

Then, as I am wont to do, I forgot about it for a while.

Well, I’m on my 100-day contractor break from Microsoft right now, which has given me some time to re-think-about things that I have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of normal life. So I’m sitting at home on Sunday, surfing around, and just on a whim I decide to see what it would entail. And I found that it basically comes down to three forms (two of which I could fill out online via Adobe Reader before printing ’em out, yay for not having to deal with my crappy handwriting!), about $140 spread between three agencies, and a quick drive over to the district court just up the road from me a little in Shoreline. Since I’m between contracts, this would be a REALLY good time to do it, if I’m ever gonna do it at all.

This Tuesday comes, and for various reasons I happen to be up and actually prepared to run errands and such much earlier than I ordinarily would be, so I take a deep breath and decide to do it. Quickie thing, right? Go to the courthouse, drop off the papers, write ’em a check, and in a few weeks I get a letter with a stamp on it that says I’m Christopher John Lemon now.

As it happens, not so much.

I go in, find the appropriate window, and the nice lady behind said window processes some paperwork and accepts my check and what-not. After a while, she says “Okay, you’re all set up, you just need to walk down to Courtroom 1 and wait for the judge to call your name.”

(Please enjoy this picture of the O RLY? owl. I’d put him inline, but it breaks up the flow. And I’m all abouts da flow.)

Well, okay then. I had nowhere urgent to be, so no big deal. I walk into a very full courtroom, and since there is nowhere to sit, I stand near the back, and watch two or three cases where people convicted of DUI are trying to plead down their sentences with the usual excuses you would expect: “Oh, I’ve gone through the program, I’m a changed (wo)man, I need to be able to work so I can pay off the rest of the fine.” The first lady was in on her third DUI. The judge did not execute her there and then. I was disappointed.

Finally someone gets called, and it leaves an empty seat in the gallery, so I sit down. He’s yet another DUI case, and part of his excuse for not wanting to serve jail time was that he had “hepatitis and an chronic upper-respiratory infection.”

And here I am, sitting in the airspace he just vacated. Great.

Anyhow, they muddle through these (and let me tell you, the wheels of justice could definitely use a little oiling, at least in Shoreline) and the judge calls for “Jon Lemon.” And I cringe and step forward, but in the back of my head I’m feeling kinda smug in the knowledge that this is the LAST time that will happen.

And the wheels of justice whirr into overdrive: I raise my right hand and solemnly swear that I’m not changing my name to dodge creditors or arrest warrants (Shh! Don’t tell them!), Hizzoner congratulates me and sends me back to the window to pick up my copy of the court order form I submitted, and Jon Christopher Lemon walks out of the King County District Court (East Division, Shoreline Courthouse) as Christopher John Lemon. Felt a little weird, mainly because of the immediacy…’member, I was expecting it to happen in a couple weeks through the mail, but here it is, boom, done, final answer, Regis, thanks for playing, and don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

On the way home I decide to swing by the Social Security office, figuring that whatever birds I can kill with this stone would be worthwhile. Surprisingly, pretty painless…confirmed my number and address, showed ’em the court order and ID, and I was out the door in about fifteen minutes, most of that wait-time.

Today, feeling a little less ambitious than yesterday, but ambitious nonetheless, I decide to go to the DOL (what you folks in other states know as the DMV…I think it’s different here because they’re privatized the vehicle registration side of the equation) and get the Holy Grail of this whole thing, the new driver’s license. Photo ID, baybee.

Ho-lee.

I go to the one in Greenwood, just down the road from me, because I figure it’s close by, and how long could it take, right?

The Greenwood office is FULL. Standing room only. There are easily 100 people waiting their turns, and during the entire ten minutes I was there I think I saw three new numbers called. I am quite sure I would still be there now if I decided to stick it out. I quickly concluded that it would actually be faster to drive over to the likely-less-busy Bothell office (Yes, Bothell, home of the most intimidating city slogan I have ever seen: “For a day…or a LIFETIME.“) and do it there. And I’ve got an iPod full of podcasts and a full tank of gas, so what the hell.

So I get over there…pretty quickly, considering that it’s now going on 3:00P and the commuting traffic is gonna start kicking in pretty soon. And I take a number…134. Checking the little readouts above the windows indicates that Number 124 is currently being served in those lines. Golden. I sit down.

Immediately, three of the four windows close. I look up to see a sign reminding me that attacking or intimidating a public servant is a felony offense. I now understand why it’s there.

I plug into the iPod and finish listening to This Week In Tech. It takes, I shit you not, a full hour and change to get from 124 to 134. As I approach the window, it dawns on me why driver’s license pictures always suck: by the time your turn finally comes, your spirit has been completely purged from your being and you are nothing more than a hollow shell.

And, of course, I get the trainee, who has no idea how to process a name change. (You married people, you get a new ID when you get married and change your last name, right? This can’t be THAT uncommon.) So he has to wait for someone to help him, and after she does, he does something out of order and erases it all, so she gets to help him again. Whee.

Didja know that when you change your name, your vision changes along with it, and therefore they make you retake the eye exam? Me neither.

Didja know that despite the entire known universe having gone to digital photography, and despite getting a new license in May when I lost my wallet, you have to (wait some more to) retake the picture AGAIN? Me neither. (Attention, DOL administration: have you heard of this wonderful technical advancement called a FRIGGIN’ HARD DRIVE?)

Anyhow. Started this whole adventure a little before two, and did not leave with a temp license in my wallet until right around 4:30P.

Which means it took longer to get the new license than it did to change my goddamn name in the first place.

There’s just something very wrong with that.

Apparently, Sometimes, It IS Easy

The Four Of You are aware that I have a little bit of a background in broadcasting; in college I was one of the radio voices for San Jose State athletics on the campus radio station. So I’m a bit of a sports broadcasting geek. You also know that I’ve been known to watch the San Jose Sharks play hockey, erm, every once in a blue moon. But just in case you are a newcomer to the Fellowship of the Four, now you’re all caught up and you have what you need to appreciate what follows below.

My brother’s Christmas gift arrived yesterday, and this afternoon was my first opportunity to open it. It came in two parts: a game I had been wanting for a while, and an autographed Sharks game puck, with two signatures on each side. Which is always cool, but in this case, I couldn’t identify the players who had signed it. This is odd for me; having followed the team almost obsessively for the last fourteen years, I can pretty much identity every single player who has ever donned a teal jersey. So I pondered it for a little while, and finally gave up. and put it aside. I figured next time I could catch my brother, I’d ask him who it was, and undoubtedly feel quite foolish that I didn’t figure it out myself.

So later on, this evening, I was watching the boys beat the crap out of Nashville, and I picked up the puck and was considering it again. Suddenly, the fog lifted and the light came on. And I got that tingly feeling that you get when you receive a truly well-considered gift, one of those gifts that just screams out that the giver was really thinking about what you might truly treasure.

You see, my brother got a puck signed by Dan Rusanowsky and Jamie Baker on one side, and Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda on the other. The San Jose Sharks’ radio and television broadcast crews, respectively. This is not the sort of thing you pick up in the arena gift shop, he had to have actually hit them up on Press Row (which is very accessible in San Jose; it’s at the bottom of section 215, but still) to sign it before a game.

As a result, to recognize my brother’s status as a stone-cold PIMP, I am pleased to present him as the inaugural recipient of Chez Fred’s newest award, the Player’s Ball Big Pimpin’ Cup:

Big Pimpin' Cup

Sorry, Wrong Number

My medical benefits from work are handled through CIGNA HealthCare. (Yeah, CamelCase and everything.) Like a lot of healthcare plans, they have a website where you can look up records, make sure billing has gone through, order prescription refills, stuff like that.

So yesterday I’m sitting here going through my credit card statement, and I see that a prescription whose co-pay should have been charged to my card some time ago, wasn’t. And I think “okay, I should give them a buzz, because if I let it go it WILL come back to bite me in the future.”

I pick up the phone. The website that everything is managed from is http://mycigna.com, and I can’t remember off the top of my head what the phone number is to contact them, aside from it being one of those 1-800-LETTERS jobs. Automatically, I think “well, mycigna.com, right? Must be 1-800-MYCIGNA.”

Dial. Ring.

“Mmmmmmm, you have come to the prace where hot, horny Asian girl can’t wait to tease and prease you…” (Swear to Glub, that’s a direct transcript.)

I had no idea that Western healthcare was moving towards Traditional Chinese practices.

Tonight’s Forecast: Dark

Wednesday: Sweltering heat, hitting 100 degrees in many parts of town.

Friday morning: Torrential downpour.

Yep. I live in Seattle.

Oink

(The following is a Chez Fred Public Service Announcement.)

Don’t ever get your wallet stolen.

(The preceding was a Chez Fred Public Service Announcement.)

I’ll give you the short version since this post isn’t really about that: I was at Fred Meyer, I had the fanny pack I keep my wallet in up in the top section where you put a little kid, I got up to the front and loaded my groceries onto the conveyor belt, I go into my pack to get my wallet out to pay, gone. Yes, I’ve looked in my car. Yes, I’ve scoured my apartment. It’s gone. And it sucks. Among Things That Suck, I must say that getting your wallet stolen is way up there on the list.

So, what else to do but move on. I’ve spent a goodly bit of this week contacting various and sundry agencies to get my ID’s and credit cards and whatever replaced, and in researching how to go about getting a replacement Social Security card (yes, I know you’re not supposed to carry it in your wallet anymore; I grew up during a time when you did and didn’t worry about it, and never took it out), I discovered that the credit agencies are a little more cooperative when it comes to putting a long-term fraud alert on your credit reports if you file a police report. I initially wasn’t going to bother, because I’m of reasonable mind and I know there isn’t a hope in hell of seeing the thing again. But now, I figure, what the hell.

Which brings us to today’s story: It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m in the Seattle Police Department, North Precinct Office. I stride up to the counter, and the officer on duty asks me how he can help me.

“Yes, Officer, I need to file a report for a wallet I lost last Sunday.”

“Last Sunday? Well, why didn’t you call us THEN?”

Excuse me?

“Well, I didn’t realize the wallet had actually been stolen yet, and I haven’t had time to come down and do this until today.”

“You should have called us immediately! We would have put an alert on all of your credit cards, and when someone tried to get credit, it would notify us, and we’re off and running and we get ’em!”

Right, because the Seattle Police Department is going to tear themselves away from beating down WTO protestors to mobilize all of their forces in the interest of locating one guy’s wallet.

I admit at this point that I’m a little flustered, partially because I’ve spent the last several days dealing with every pain-in-the-ass agency you can think of, from the Visa to the credit reporting agencies and down to Blockbuster Video, and partially because, as the victim of a crime, I’ve also spent the last few days beating myself up over the same thing, and the LAST thing I was expecting was for the friggin’ POLICE to pile onto the guilt trip I’ve already done a great job of launching on my own.

Sadly, this isn’t the end.

“You should make sure that you call your bank and credit card people and such to make sure all of these cards get cancelled.”

“Yes, I did that the second I realize the wallet was gone, and I’ve been watching my accounts online to make sure that nothing unauthorized gets through.”

“Oh, you had time to do that, but you didn’t have time to call us?”

It is at this point that I steal a glance at the officer’s nametag, fully expecting to see either “Barbrady,” “Wiggum,” or “Farva,” but, surprisingly, it was none of those.

Sadly, local police aren’t under any obligation to file theft reports, so I have no choice but to stand there and absorb all of this. Finally, after he repeats the above bullet points several more times, I interject:

“Look, I’m here now, alright? What’s done is done, I’m here now.”

Officer Winchell just stares at me. Finally, he reaches for a pad of forms, and in the most magnanimous way possible, favors me with:

“Well, since you’re here now, I guess I’ll take the report for you.”

Gee, thanks for that.

He then asks me when it happened (“Sometime between 4:30P and 5:30P on Sunday, Officer”), where I was (“The Fred Meyer on Lake City Way”), and what was in my wallet, interrupting me to inform me that certain items that would be completely reasonable to be concerned about for identity theft purposes, like my medical and dental benefit cards, “didn’t matter.” Well, jackbag, if they don’t matter, DON’T ASK ME TO TELL YOU WHAT’S IN MY WALLET.

Turn. Sigh. Tappity-tap-tap into a computer. (Next to that computer, one with a photograph open of what I can only assume is a young relative of some kind, apparently what I pulled this guy away from with my invasive official business. I say I assume this was a young relative, but if somehow I found out that it was in fact the kid this guy was cornholing, I have to say it wouldn’t surprise me.) And he hands me a business-sized card with my report number on it, just as magnanimously as he did when he graciously agreed to do his friggin’ job in the first place. Here you go, get out of here, I’ve got a picture to wank to.

And I’ve got nothing left in the tank, and I know that it wouldn’t do a single bit of good anyhow, so I give him a “Thank you very much, Officer,” and go on my way.

So, yeah, there’s the story. I didn’t have a particularly positive opinion of our local law enforcement to start with, and all this guy did was reinforce that with a fine network of titanium steel.

I bet if I sent this card out to the lab, I’d find traces of powdered sugar on it, too.

Whaddaya Think Of THIS, Michael?

I’m driving into work today, and I notice a Mitsubishi Eclipse in front of me. Cars don’t usually jump out at me. I don’t have that yearning for a new car every three years that most of America seems to; I’ve had my Honda Civic since 1996, it gets me where I need to go, it’s still running great, and I’m perfectly happy with it.

But this one did. Mostly because the owner had performed a modification to the third brake light, the one in the center. It was modded so that instead of just a light coming on, a small line of LEDs would bounce back and forth horizontally when the brake pedal was depressed.

It felt like KITT was mooning me.