May 24th, 2006

Go Go Gadget

This is the first of a series of backlog posts I've been meaning to make over the past couple weeks. They're not really timely at this point, but I'd still like to document them nonetheless.

We have officially decided to keep the little kitty that had been hanging around our house for so long. There were a couple of possibilities of people who might have been able to take her, but nothing really solid or definite. And I admit that in the time I was waiting I ended up getting attached to her.

at_spinners_end will be pleased to know that I have also officially accepted her suggested name of Gadget. She doesn't respond to the name as of yet, but I'm guessing she'll figure it out if we keep calling her that long enough. Though we've been having some trouble breaking the habit of calling her "little kitty," the "non-name" we called her before we officially let her adopt us. The thought was that I didn't want to give her a real name and get attached...some plan that was! :P

She's been a pretty good cat so far. She doesn't cause too much trouble nor is she very destructive. She has some tendency to claw at furniture, but she hasn't done any real damage. We've decided to try not declawing her for the time being to see how it goes. Keeping her nails trimmed down seems to be reasonably effective.

Her biggest behavior issue is that she does not at all respect the difference between kitty food and people food...or her food and Widget's food, for that matter. We've never offered people food to Widget, so he has no real interest in it at all. He'll even sit quietly at the table with us while we're eating and doesn't bother our food even if we get up for a moment.

Gadget, on the other hand, is totally in your face about wanting to get to anything that's even remotely like food. She'll just stick her head right down in our bowl or plate if we don't actively push her away. And if we push her away, she'll keep on coming back time and time again. Sometimes we just have to put her in another room or outside to get her to stop. Though the more we have done this she seems to maybe be catching on at least a little. Hopefully she'll catch on soon.

Widget has been an "only child" for some nine years now, and we weren't really sure how he might react to having another pet around. His reaction seems to alternate between indifferent and indignant. For the most part he just goes about his usual routine. When Widget and Gadget happen to cross paths they might take a moment to look at each other or sniff at each other, but then they just go on about their respective business.

But Gadget is still very much a kitten and there are times when she wants to rough house and play. She'll stalk Widget, then charge and pounce on him. They'll wrestle for a little while, but Widget gets tired of it (and just plain tired) fairly quickly. He's old and fat and lazy! :P He's still big enough that he can usually get the upper hand, put her down, and hiss or growl at her. She seems to submit most of the time, though her attention span can be short and she may start it up again soon.

I haven't really seen them do anything cute and cuddly with each other yet. My biggest worry is that Widget might feel displaced. I try to do my best to make sure that he gets attention. Hopefully they'll warm up to each other and be more friendly (while calm) soon.

However, Gadget does seem to be more cuddly and lovey with us than Widget generally is. That's not to say that Widget isn't affectionate. He is. But Gadget seems more apt to sit in a lap or snuggle up on the couch with us more often and for longer periods of time. Of course that's when she's not busy being a wild kitten running all over the house and chasing down the big kitty. :)

One other funny difference about Gadget is that she doesn't seem to care about walking and sitting on objects. If you watch Widget, he is always careful to step around objects on the floors, tables, etc. as he walks. The only exception to that is papers and plastic bags. He'll intentionally lay down on those if we leave them out. Gadget, on the other hand, will just walk right over things. For instance, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop in my lap. She jumped right up and plopped herself right down on the keyboard. It was cute...albeit something of a productivity sapper.

More kitty pictures!
Even more kitty pictures!

what happens when I ass-u-me...

A couple months ago yourcarsucks helped re-route some plumbing so that our kitchen would get water that went through our whole-house water purification system rather than just straight city water. The house was originally plumbed to feed the kitchen and the hose bibs on the sides of the house before going to the water softener hookup and then on to the rest of the house.

This is fairly common since it often doesn't make any sense to water your lawn with soft water and people often don't want the higher sodium content associated with soft water in their kitchens. However, we have a secondary reverse osmosis drinking water system in our kitchen. The cartridges for it were testing bad earlier this year, and the water wasn't tasting too great either. But the cartridges were only about a year old and they're supposed to last a couple years or more. Since replacements are over $200, I'd like to get as much life out of them as possible. Having the drinking water system fed by water from our whole-house purifier rather than straight city water would go a long way toward that goal. It would have a lot less that it would have to filter and the cartridges should last a lot longer.

Anyway, flash forward to a couple weeks ago... I'm standing in the shower getting "needled to death" because the shower head is clogged up resulting in a fine, stinging spray. I think to myself, "this is a hard water problem...why are we having a hard water problem?!" And thinking about it, we have hard water stains and clogs all over the place. I guess I just wasn't really recognizing it until it was quite literally "in my face."

I thought I'd do some investigation to see if our water system was working properly. I went down to the basement to examine the settings and realized that I had no clue what most of the dials meant. So, I called the company that sold it to us. I got a guy on the phone that was very helpful and walked me through it. We came to discover that the system was set to regenerate after 2000 gallons of water usage. I asked him what the capacity of the system was. He replied, "about 600 gallons." (!!!)

Well, crap! That means that it had been producing about 600 gallons of good water and then letting about 1400 gallons of crappy city water into the house before it regenerated. That's just swell...and certainly explains all the hard water problems I had been apparently ignoring up to this point. It also explains why I only seemed to need to add salt to the system's brine tank about once a year. :P What's really sad is that it must have been set this way since we moved the system from our old house to our new over three years ago!

I guess I had assumed that the person who moved the system would have set it up (it was seemingly fine at our old house). But come to think of it, the guy who moved the system initially got it hooked up backwards at our new house which resulted in the filtration beads getting spewed out of all our faucets. :P I should have known better than to assume anything about the installation...hence the subject of this post.

Anyway, with help I was able to get the system setup correctly and Lissa and I have been enjoying lovely water ever since. As nice as the water is now, I would have thought I would have noticed before, but I guess the inconsistency of the fact that it would have been sometimes good and sometimes bad before confused me just enough. So I feel a little dumb, but at least it's fixed now.

And now for something completely different...

I really enjoy having people over. It was really the whole point of looking for a new house when we moved back in 2002. The living space is only marginally larger than our old house, and that's fine. But the basement gives us much more space for entertaining and much more flexibility of ways to entertain in it. That's where all the "big toys" come in. ;)

Lots of different people have come over to hang out, but it's been relatively rare for people from my office to come over. But xnolenx and Brian came over this past Saturday.

Brian brought his daughter, Ireland, with him, and Jon came with his girlfriend, khunckle. Jon and Kindra have been over a few times before, but this was Brian's first visit. So that makes a grand total of only four people from work who have ever been to my house. And I believe Jon is currently the only one who has ever come more than once. Though there has been some chatter and plan brewing about a summer cookout or something. That could certainly prove entertaining.

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Then it was time for Brian to leave since he had to get home and get Ireland to bed. But he had one more thing to do before he left...

Click here to watch video of the entire experience.

Brian and I have been talking about this at the office for awhile now. I don't even remember how it came up, but he was sure that he could teach me how to do a backflip. And I am just crazy enough to let him try. I just have to say it's a hell of a thing to try and learn at age 31!

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See all the pictures from Saturday night