Friday, December 19, 2008

they'll never become self-aware at this rate


A cautionary tale:

  • If the power cord has detached from your laptop and the battery is about to run out, do not hastily jam the power cord into any old hole in the general area of the power jack, assuming that it will only fit into the power jack.

  • It will also fit into the USB port.

  • That will make your screen go black and the computer will start turning on and off repeatedly by itself.

  • Also, do not attempt to reproduce the accident, "just to see if that's what happened," by purposely sticking the power cord into the USB port.

  • That will make sparks come out of the USB port.

  • And make your computer smell bad.

Back to the Hamsterworks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

my yogurt is gender-neutral

Slate's Explainer column has a list of unanswered questions from 2008. Here are two of my favorites:

  • I have been accused of assault in Ohio. The woman fell over a box in the hall backward, and my brother opened the door, saw her lying there, and started hitting me. I got him down and held him down. It was all over a fight concerning my niece. What do you think will happen?
  • Can men eat the Activia yogurt that is advertised exclusively to the modern woman in khakis? Will it have the same internal regulatory effects on the male system that are promised for the female bowels? If not, why not?
To see the whole list, go here.

should I get up and pee, or just pee in the bed?

The crookedness of the picture is thanks to my begloved hands.

If you're a goat, the answer is: Either!

It's supposed to get into the single digits tonight, like, if I wanted single digits I'd move to Minnesota, where winter is the most beautiful ten months of the year. (People in Minnesota: "Shut up, lightweight. We get single digits in June.")

Our goats are Nubians, which are technically a desert goat, so they are well-suited for our dry, sweltering summers. However, they are not as happy in the bitter cold as Saanens or Alpines. And since Catwoman doesn't have anyone to cuddle up with, I was concerned that she might have a rough time, so I tricked the children into helping me prepare for the night. I shouted excitedly, "Okay, everybody get your snow clothes on!" And they came running up the stairs, and then they found out that we were just going outside to pitch hay into the goat pen. To their credit, there was minimal murmuring. We're out of straw right now, so we got some of the "licorice" hay (this is hay that has gone black and moldy from being wet--oh, those hilarious farmers) and tore it all up to make a thick, softish layer of bedding. In case you're thinking about doing the next run of PBS's Colonial House or something, you're going to want to use straw, not hay, for your louse- and bedbug-ridden mattress. Hay is super scratchy and pokey. I don't know why it's ever been called "a roll in the hay," because the bruises and scratches you'd get from that would be grievous and apparent. I'm just saying.

The reason you want thick bedding on the floor is so the animal can nestle down inside, as well as pee and poo and do other hideous things in it. The decaying waste matter puts off heat (like a compost pile), and it keeps the animal warm. Then in the spring you muck it all out and put it on your garden, or weed patch, as the case may be. It's pretty much exactly like indoor plumbing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

local cheese: beehive cheese co.

On my birthday a few years ago, before we decided "Screw that noise. No more birthday presents for siblings." my sister gave me a set of cheese knives and some Promontory Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Company. You wish your sister were so cool. I enjoyed it so much that I've dabbled around a little in their line, and every cheese has been a pleasure to eat. Just last week I tried Full Moon for the first time, and I may start cheating on Midnight Moon with it. I am a cheese polyamorist!

Promontory Cheddar: tangy and lemony, a little bossy. Very distinctive--maybe I've told you this already, but this summer we were at the house of some friends, and Jill was sharing a cheese with us that she and Mike had bought for a picnic (or something--the details are fuzzy). She couldn't initially remember the name of the cheese, but when I rolled it around in my mouth, I thought, "I've had this before . . this is . . . it's . . . Promontory Cheddar!" And she totally confirmed! Layne: 1, Cheese: 0.

Barely Buzzed: yum. A rubbed rind of ground coffee and lavender buds--it's a WWII vet with a punchy, assertive flavor--it seems grumpy at first and doesn't get along with everything, but it is enormously rewarding and there are times when nothing else will do. It's what I almost always bought, before I discovered Full Moon.

Full Moon: in my party scenario, the one where Brie keeps talking to its reflection? Full Moon is the attractive (but not TOO attractive) guest who manages to be witty and clever without being catty or snide. Bright, creamy, wonderfully versatile, and makes a killer omelet.

I still have to try the Emigrant, Uintah Jack and SeaHive (Eeeee! So excited to try this cheese!), but stupid Good Earth never has them. I'ma try Harmon's.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the winningest winners of all

Mesdames et messieurs, I present to you the winners of the 2008 Baba Capra Giveaway:

3rd place: 3 bars of soap to Sarah my sister-in-law who is conscious of her state of happiness
2nd place: 4 bars of soap to Jenny (who may share her soap with her husband if she wishes, although he did not win)
1st place: 5 bars of soap to Sarah who is Jill's sister

Woot! The excitement is palpable! Winners, email your mailing address and any last fragrance requests to me at babacapra at gmail dot com. Non-winners (none of that 'losers' kind of hate speech around here), I feel sad that Lady Luck made snake eyes at you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

product may stay: Ariat Fatbaby boots

Don't barf, you guys. I know cowboy boots are something they wear in small towns where the girls are hair farmers and do their makeup all hard and shiny, but they can be a very practical and comfortable choice for the average, non-tobacco chewing citizen as well.

Here are the first cowboy boots I bought, three years ago:
They are the Fatbaby Brown Bombers, and three years later they are still comfortable enough I could sleep in them, not so hickish as to call attention to themselves, and they're in great condition. And I love wearing them when I'm going to be shopping for clothes, because they're easy-on, easy-off. No laces to tie, after all. However, they are a gateway drug, because this is the pair of boots I mentioned that I bought last week:
These are the Fatbaby Poppy boots, and I really have no excuse other than I like the orange flowers, and I needed a pair of black shoes. I am ashamed, but not enough to not wear them, and I'm not promising that I won't pull up my pant leg and show off the embroidery on the shaft if given the chance.

A friend of ours is also a fan of Ariat boots, because they have an insole similar to an athletic shoe, rather than a gym floor, like most cowboy boots. They are really terribly comfortable, and although they have clompy soles and are not recommended for riding, I don't own a horse, so no foul. And they do have a line that is approved for riding, with a smoother clompy sole. I can't recommend them for everyone, but if you're a boot kind of gal or feller, Ariat is the way to go.

Remember, today is the last day to enter the BABA CAPRA GIVEAWAY, so if you're considering how great it would be to finally have some soap so you could take a shower already, then take the plunge and leave a comment on last Monday's post--the "maybe tonight" one. 7:00 MST tonight is the cutoff.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

this is why you measure twice: adventures in english I

Seen on a car while running errands: a myriad of custom bumper stickers, including "American Soilder" (emphasis mine). FAIL.

scienticians agree: sugar is habit-forming

MSN's "health and fitness" department has their finger on the pulse, all right. Who knew that sugar is addictive, except maybe all bipeds, the mid- to high-functioning quadrupeds, and the cetaceans?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

layne muses, larry king-like

I tried the "Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage" recipe from this month's Cook's Illustrated tonight. I have to say it was pretty good. The children renounced it and all its dark works, but I sort of couldn't stop eating it. It said to dice the squash into 1/2 inch pieces, but I rejected their reality and substituted my own, because I was running short on time. So 3/4 to 1 inch pieces it was, but of course they took longer to cook and I suspect that the resulting texture was therefore inferior. Shut up, thermodynamics!

Traci is on her date this week, and Catwoman is destitute, despondent and forlorn. Since goats are herd animals, you don't ever want just one of them, unless it's a house goat. And I don't know how easy they are to crate train, but I'm guessing: not. When I was young my parents got a goat named Bruno from somewhere (hey . . . it's their fault I have goats!), and put him out on the ditch bank to keep the weeds down. And that was the noisiest animal I have ever had the misfortune to meet. (And then came Finola.) He just bawled all day long, and now I know, it's because he was terribly lonely and probably a nervous wreck from recognizing that if a slavering wolf came creeping, he was on deck.

I think it's important for you to know that I ate an awesome omelet for lunch today composed of eggs, Midnight Moon, and sauteed spinach.

Some person flushed a marker down the downstairs toilet. I'm guessing it's the same person who flushed a toothbrush down the upstairs toilet. Freaking kids.

I am working like a little coal miner getting the soap ready for the drawing next week. Or is that swearing like a coal miner? I think it's working like a coal miner, swearing like a mule skinner. Those are both pretty intense jobs, though. I'm guessing you can get a nice sweat on no matter which one your career aptitude test aims you toward.

I bought a second pair of cowboy boots. It's so gross of me, but they are super comfortable, and pretty low-key. I hate me a rhinestone cowboy, but I guess animal husbandry entitles me to wear them. That wasn't the case when I was ten (old enough to know better) and I got a cowboy(girl?) outfit complete with high-heeled boots and spurs, which I wore to school. Not so much with the zero tolerance policy then.

If you haven't entered the drawing, be sure to comment on the previous post! Real-life acquaintanceship is not necessary, and dudes can win, too. I'd be willing to try a rosemary or pine scent if you're too afraid that grapefruit is a chick ride.

Monday, December 8, 2008

maybe tonight . . . maybe tonight . . . maybe toniiiiiiiiight!

Some soaps I have made.
Clockwise from top right: Orange Pomander with Nubbies, Oatmeal Spice with Nubbies, Citrus Classic, Cinnamon Classic, Lavender Classic (in the center)


John came home heavily laden with the mail and totally harshed my buzz, because he said that the large brown package in his hand (not a poo joke) was my information from the American Dairy Goat Association (insiders call it the ADGA), which it was, but also? There was another, smaller package that had MY POWER CORD! You need to go back and read the last bit of that sentence in Oprahvoice. I'll wait . . .

So I have my internets! And my typing! And all of the keys on my keyboard, including but not limited to the I and 9--because John is awesome like that and replaced them when he did preach unto my laptop hellfire and damnation.

So it's time for the best little Baba Capra Giveaway in history. Also the first one of those. And I've decided to give away some homemade soap, specially made for your paws by my paws. Here's how you win: leave a comment in the comment section of this post. The one I'm writing/you're reading right now. It doesn't have to be intelligent, and misspellings and grammar errors will not be penalized or decrease the likelihood of your winning. Am I not merciful? Next Monday near this time I will put all commenters' names in a receptacle which may or may not be a hat (I don't promise what I can't deliver). Some member of our family will draw out a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner, and I will post the names of same. You all want to win this, because soap is good for washing stuff, and we all need to wash stuff. Also, flavors! By which I mean scents!

Lavender Classic
Cinnamon Classic
Citrus Classic
Grapefruit Ginger with Nubbies
Oatmeal Spice with Nubbies

1st Prize will be 5 bars of soap, 2nd is 4 bars and 3rd is 3. All with no scary ingredients. You may choose one scent or a medley (up to 3, or it might be the Twelfth of Never before you get your loot). Leave a comment and your scent preference and win a major award! Thank you. That is all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

something's comin', I don't know what it is but it is gonna be great

Okay, my power cord was supposed to be here on Thursday, so every day since then I've woken up thinking, "Today's the day!" and it is never the day. Never. I've ganked John's computer to write this entry because the Hamsterworks is just that bad. A fan like a commercial range hood, a version of Windows that predates written language, and a mouse that could give Eichmann a run for his money.

As my anger grows and becomes sentient and self-sustaining, I feel that my relief and joy will be similarly prodigious when (IF) my power cord finally arrives. So I am hereby announcing the First! Annual! Baba Capra! Giveaway! to celebrate the occasion*. I will have to think about what it will be, because a lot of what we are known for here at Baba Capra either a)is perishable or b)has too many hooves to wrap. Whatever it is will hopefully be worth the boldface font and exclamation marks.

*I should clarify that the giveaway does not begin today, but rather on that blessed undisclosed future date upon which my power cord arrives. I will keep you apprised.

Friday, December 5, 2008

shut up, all of these

I blame country music for the fall of Western civilization. Here's why:

Where Are You Christmas
The Christmas Shoes
It Wasn't His Child
A Baby Changes Everything

There are others, but I want to talk about examples #3 and #4 for a minute. I've noticed that there is a sort of bait-and-switch theme to a lot of country music, especially at Christmas. It's like "Oh, this guy's wife cheated on him, and is having a baby, but he's cool with it, because you didn't know this, but the baby is Jesus. Now don't you feel like a jerk, Mr. Judgy McJudgypants?" or "This teenage girl got into trouble and is having a baby, and isn't ready, but she's not even going to put it up for adoption, because you didn't know this, but the baby is Jesus. I bet now you wish you hadn't been so judgy, Mrs. Perfect McRighteousness." And I think it's grody--I was telling my sister that it reminds me of those weird Christian rock songs you read about that make you think the guy's singing about his girlfriend, but instead he's singing about his relationship with the Lord. And it seems that for a religious person that would be sort of a blasphemous way to talk about God. But what do I know? So if they want to compare Mary to an unfaithful wife or a teenage girl of loose morals, I guess that's their business. In fairness, I haven't heard all of the words of these songs, because I had to change the station. I have heard the one about the shoes, though, because the little Urchin Voices at the end are hilarious. We like to sing along in Glomer voices (remember Punky Brewster? That was a crazy cartoon.). These are the musical equivalent of spray cheese.

Country music hasn't been good for about twenty years, and hasn't been sincere for at least thirty. I realize that popular culture might disagree with me, but just because a lot of people listen to it doesn't make it right. Naked lady truck decals and novelty trailer hitch covers displaying any variation of the sentiment "Cowgirl butts drive me nuts" are not indicative of people governed by reasonable or rational thought. Shut up, country music.

Also, shut up, EPA. I'm sure this has nothing whatsoever to do with the government wanting to drive small suppliers out of business to clear the way for industrial agriculture. You guys, animal poop stinks, in case you were wondering. And global warming? Totally caused by animal farts. Let's not talk about the fact that these animals aren't supposed to be stacked nose-to-derriere in a sea of their own waste, but our insatiable appetite for meat at every meal (while I'm at it: shut up, Dr. Atkins . . . oh, wait . . . I guess you did) has created a demand for animal flesh that the earth is not capable of supporting. I promise, meat that is good for you is also good for the environment. Happy animals running around in grass, producing enough poop to fertilize your garden and enough meat to feed your family, and that's it.

Any other terrible Christmas songs that make you either switch channels or listen in mystified horror? I've got one that may be controversial: anything sung by Josh Groban.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the yummy trifle with a stupid name

I had an idea for a trifle the other day. Trifle is occasionally a point of contention in our household, because John is a trifle Nazi and feels that trifle is: cake, soaked in fruit liqueur, topped with custard and unsweetened whipped cream. I, however, feel that trifle can be defined much more loosely. As long as there is a representative from each of the cakey, custardy and creamy factions and it's assembled in a trifle dish, it's a trifle. Another way in which we disagree is that John permits the use of Little Debbie snack cakes, as well as Cool Whip--don't blame him, you guys. The main thing to him is that the cake is soaked, and I think the soaking is optional. And my definition has acquired even more feature creep, because hearken: Funky Monkey Trifle, with peanut butter cookies playing the part of cake. It's a revision of a Cooking Light recipe for Funky Monkey Parfait (because they, the lovers of product placement and fake food, use Nutter Butters, which are a fine cookie, but: let's take out the mummifying foods where we can). I haven't made this yet, but you had better believe I'm going to. And don't ask me what chocolate and peanut butter have to do with monkeys. Maybe that's the funky part.

Funky Monkey Trifle

peanut butter cookies, broken into bite-sized pieces
sliced bananas, not too ripe
dark chocolate custard (I guess you can do milk chocolate, but if you do you're a baby)
pastry cream (optional, but has pastry cream ever been the wrong choice?)
very lightly sweetened whipped cream

Alternate layers of cookies, bananas and custard (and pastry cream, if you're using it) until you get to the top, then pile on the whipped cream. It's good for your body!

I think this would be a much better trifle than the one I made for Thanksgiving, which, though better than I feared (that was some DRY cake), did not age at all well. Five hours in the fridge is the max--past that, and you'd better have chickens or pigs to eat the waste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

science baby

This is a post about goats, so abandon hope all ye who enter here who don't want to read about dairy character, udder conformation and the ins and outs (zing!) of artificial insemination.

We have decided not to breed Catwoman. She is so bowlegged that I would feel very uneasy putting the extra strain of pregnancy on her legs. Last spring when she was still long before her kidding date she was just hobbling around like an obese grandma, and she looked terribly uncomfortable. I think another pregnancy would be painful and possibly fatal, and my magic porridge pot of guilt and self-recrimination doesn't need any more ingredients. So, the question is, what to do with her? And this is where I may gross some of y'all out. I would rather eat her than sell her. But hear me out. I don't want to take the chance of someone buying her who will stick her out on a ditch somewhere by herself, or breed her until she dies in childbirth. And I'm not willing to keep her as a pet, because she eats a freaking ton of food and is darn expensive. And she's not so old that she would be inedible, so . . . I don't know. It's sick, but at least she would go to a good home in our tummies.

Traci is going to have a prolonged date with Cyclone, the Boer goat down the street, since I HATE milking her, but she does make wonderful, big babies that put on weight quickly. For us to eat. Because that's what meat is, is an animal that is dead now.

Our plan is to keep both Catwoman and Traci through the winter, while saving our pennies, then in the spring we will turn Catwoman into white packages and buy another doe to be friends with Traci--hopefully one as nice as Finola.

Conformation-wise, Catwoman has Traci beat handily. Catwoman is willowy and refined, with a lovely, well-attached udder, whereas Traci is shaped like a lazy trapezoid with a crappy udder. She's a Jeep. Catwoman takes after Finola, and is an improvement on her in many ways, except I wish she were black. I would love to find another doe like Finola.

The huge headache has been finding a Nubian buck, as you know, because why pay a ton of money for a superior animal if we're just going to be breeding Nubian/Boer crosses? But last night we realized that, duh, my grandpa raises beef cattle and has his own liquid nitrogen tank for the storage of straws of . . . bull juice, we'll call it (I don't even want to think about the weird searches I'd turn up in otherwise). So we can buy straws of fancy buck juice and keep them in the tank, and use them to breed our fancy doe. Fanciness all around! I've been squeamish about artificial insemination, because I am such a proponent of a diversified gene pool, and I don't like the idea of a bunch of animals running around with the same parents. But we really don't have a choice, since there's no Nubian stud service anywhere around. And it should drastically improve our herd, but you never know with Nubians.

I still have no power cord. I hate this computer.