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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Friday, September 29, 2006

food blog part II: Arborio Rice Pudding, a happy mistake

so while i was off to grill those steaks i talked about in Part I: It's what's for dinner, my lovely and talented wife Di was busy getting stuff ready for making Stuffed Red Bell Peppers. notice i used capital letters. that's because when Di makes stuffed peppers, they rate capital letter's.
anyway, she had grabbed the first bag of rice she could find in the pantry, tossed in a cup of rice and two cups of water into the rice cooker, and waited for the "ding".
what she had was a glob of rice, because she'd grabbed the arborio, also known as paella or rissotto rice. short, starchy, velvety rice that simply does NOT work in pepper stuffing.
as she was ready to toss it, i interceded, knowing that there had to be something i could make with it. hmmmmm.... RICE PUDDING! a quick search of the internet for arborio rice pudding popped out a couple of recipes, and i printed out the one from www.foodnetwork.com. of course i had to modify it a bit, but this is pretty much from their site, with tweeks. always with tweeks. you can see the original at the link

Ingredient list
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tbs butter
  • 4 tbs sugar. i used a little less here, because i didn't want it too sweet.
  • pinch of salt
  • healthy tsp of vanilla. healthy like a full tsp and splash in a dash for the cook healthy. i can't be the only one that does that with vanilla, can i?
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk. don't use that skim or reduced fat crap. what's the point?
  • handful of raisins. i like golden raisins, so that's what i used.

bring the water to a boil. add the rice and salt. the recipe said add the butter too, but since this was started after the fact, the butter went into the milk. don't know if it makes a difference, but MINE turned out great. cook for about 15 minutes, until "it is creamy but still al dente", to quote the recipe. di cooked it until the rice cooker dinged. here's the rice. note that it's kind of clumpy and well, starchy looking. that is a characteristic of arborio rice, and it is SUPPOSED to look like that
arborio rice

next i grabbed a 2 quart sauce pan, and added the milk, butter, sugar, a pinch of salt, a pinch of nutmeg, and enough cinnamon to cover the surface of the milk. that would be several healthy shakes. can't give an exact measurement. how much do you like cinnamon? use that much.
heat until it starts to simmer. don't use more than medium heat though, because it's easy to scald the milk, and that's not the flavor you are looking for here. i should also caution you to NOT walk away from the stove when the milk is near boiling, because it WILL boil over, and it WILL make a mess. not this time, but plenty of times before
once the milk starts to simmer, add the raisins and the cooked rice. use a wisk to get all the rice clumps broken up. lower the heat to medium low. let it simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently with the wisk. the rice will suck up a lot of the milk, and get thick and creamy, kind of like making rissotto. when it looks like a majority of the liquid has been absorbed, pull it from the heat. if you are at the 12 minute mark, and it's still runny, pull it anyway, cool it and eat. it's still good. and the next time, cook the rice a little less time.
pour the pudding into a bowl, and let it cool to room temperature. then toss it into the fridge until you feel like scarfing it up.
or do like we did. let it cool until it won't burn the insides of your mouth, drop a little into a bowl, add a couple of raisins and shake of cinnamon for garnish, and chow down.
arborio rice pudding

it's really yummy. i got the official Di seal of approval, so you know it's good.

how's that for a happy accident?

as always, if you try this recipe, or it inspires you to try something different, please let me know how it turned out. i'm always looking for fresh and clever ideas to improve my own cooking skills and recipes.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here


food blog part I: beef, it's what's for dinner

cue in western style music while reading the following post. no recipes here, just talk about food. i will post a killer rice pudding recipe in Part II.

everyone likes appetizers, those little things to get the mouth interested in what's coming next. those little nibbles that get the stomach primed.
well, how about
as always, click on images for larger options
start with marinated artichoke hearts, some delicious sharp irish cheddar, some english white cheddar, a colby/cheddar from the mid-west, and a sharp tangy gargonzola from a northern california coastal producer, sprinkle on some sweet ripe black globe grapes, add several types of crackers, and there's a party starter!

so what's for dinner? BEEF. that's what's for dinner
build a charcoal fire with brickets and chunk mesquite charcoal, and toss those babies on. hit both sides with your favorite seasonings, in this case it's Montreal Steak Seasonings from McCormick.
its whats for dinner
these are about 1 pound ribeye steaks, after searing the first side. they will get turned two more times, and pulled while still rare inside, but charred on the outside. just the way i like them.

hmmm. what to have with a rare steak? how about field fresh sweet corn on the cob!
the wine is a California Central Coast red table wine called Mission Park Red Cuvee. it's a blend wine with syrah, petite sirah, grenache, mourvedre and cabernet sauvignon. it's damned tasty, and i think it's a small run wine, from one of the boutique wineries scattered throughout northern california's wine regions. my buddy 'dwardo and his lovely wife the golden one brought this over sunday. i made huli huli chicken for dinner sunday, and it was good. damned good.
how good the meal was can usually be determined by the condition of the plate at the end of the meal.
all gone

a classic do as i say, not as i do

i read this earlier this week, and i've been pondering it in my slow inimitable way.

first of all, the whole article from the sanfran comical is here.

the gist of the article is that while our state legislators here in california are hot and heavy on the path towards abating the newest cause d'celeb global warming, they are definitely not putting their money where their mouth is.

a few points:
In the Senate, Dean Florez, D-Shafter (Kern County), whose district has some of the worst air quality in the country, drives a GMC Yukon Denali, which gets 12 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway. Florez, who has authored several measures aimed at reducing pollution in the Central Valley, also voted for the global warming bill.

One of the worst offenders among state legislators who voted "yes" on this year's global warming bill is Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, who said she commuted from her Oakland home to the state's capital four days a week during the legislative session.

The Democrat drives a 2004 Lincoln Aviator that gets 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.

"I would admit that I should get a better mileage car," Chan said. "But I mainly looked at the crash-test factors. I drive every day from Oakland to Sacramento, and I see these horrific accidents on I-80

so it's ok for her to drive an SUV because she is an important figure in the running of our state, but it's not ok for you to own and drive an SUV to protect your family because it is environmentally unsound? really, WTF?

see, we've been exposed to this mindset of do as i say, not as i do for more years than i've been alive. it has long been accepted that the majority of americans pushing for some morality or belief don't usually practice their beliefs. we're humans, and as humans, we have our own agendas. fine. but don't push your agenda on me if you don't actually practice what you preach.

and regarding the legislation passed in california to make us the "most progressive and aggressive fighter against global warming", a few ideas:

anyone that has been around this blog long enough knows that i am personally in favor of stopping all research work at all the nations federally funded labs and redirecting their efforts into finding an alternative to fossil fuels.

and i'm not a big fan of using biofuels.

in an article on the BBC on Tuesday, someone in the press is finally reporting on what i've been saying is the negative on biofuels. i can't imagine anyone with a shred of intelligence would take arable land that can be used for food production, and plant for use in biofuel production. it just doesn't make sense. and what about pinning your entire economy and ability to USE energy on growing cycles and the weather. the article on the BBC is Biofuels: Green energy or grim reaper?.

there has to be a better way. we just need to make it the top issue in our scientific community. that way, we can let those fookin' weasels in the middle east and venezuela piss off.

alternatives? can you say NUCLEAR?

and if you are up to it, i seriously recommend a trip over to The U.S. Senate and read one hell of an intelligently formulated speech about global warming. I wish i lived in this guy's state so i could vote for him

the passing of a legend in the gun world

Jeff Cooper, or the "Colonel" as he was known throughout the gun world, passed away on monday. when i get my Guns and Ammo magazine, the first thing i do is flip to the back and read "Cooper's Corner", a mainstay of that magazine. his devotion to the 1911 pistol is what convinced me to buy one, and now i'm hooked.

his obit in guns and ammo magazine is here.

a more detailed one is available at Fr. Frog. you might want to go to his main page at this link and wander around a bit. good gun writing, good commentary, and not a little dose of humor

and if you have never read him, or even heard of him, one of my revered gun links to the right is Jeff Cooper's Commentaries a collection of his columns and writings that i have visited at least once a week since i started blogging.

Colonel, thank you for your service and devotion to your country. Rest in peace.

a taste of Cooper's commentary from the first volume linked above
I suppose nothing can be done about the erroneous assumption that hand held fully automatic fire is somehow more efficient than aimed fire. As I used to demonstrate, when I had a teaching job, quick semi-automatic fire is far more likely to produce results than bursts. Thus the preoccupation of the Feds with the idea that is it somehow an offense against God and man to convert a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic capacity is simply a manifestation of ignorance. If a man is shooting at me, I would much prefer that he were on full auto than carefully holding and squeezing. The automatic option is the greatest encourager of the spray-and-pray technique, which I have long done my best to discourage.

and another from further into his catalog of writings"
"I have over the past thirty years been one hundred percent in favor of Gun Control - achieved through proper stance, controlled breathing, and smooth trigger squeeze; applied repeatedly until the threat is neutralized."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

why we didn't have ADHD when i was young

this is funny as hell. it's from South Park, if i'm not mistaken. THIS is how unruly kids were handled when i was in school, and that's no shit.
this has been floating around the email circuit, and i didn't have anywhere to lodge it for web access. then i thought of youtube, like i should have right off the bat.
see even old duffers can learn sumpin.

so, which of the three kids were you?

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

another e-mail crossed my screen, this time with what i consider one of the best lists of what i would do given specific situations. in this case, what i would do if i was an evil overlord. that's right, mean, vicious, dangerous and all powerful. a sith lord to rule over the masses. and this list would be my starting point to insure a successful and long tenure as the ruler of the galaxy.
since the list is so long, i squirrelled it away over on the geezerpix blog listed at the end of this entry.
here's a taste:

7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

85. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

and of course

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

i laughed and then pondered. yeah, this is a good list. check out the entire entry, and think about it. haven't you thought exactly the same things while watching action movies? like... "what the hell was he thinking? of course the hero is going to try some sort of misdirection hoping he can get out of the trap." James Bond villians would probably survive a lot better if they impliment this list forthwith

the whole list can be found here

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

what were you doing 30 years ago

30 years ago, my frequent reader/poster harry the hop and i were getting the shit scared out of us.
we were heading home after a deployment, making going home turns. since we were going to be having an ORSE board shortly after returning from our SpecOp, we went into drill mode to polish up.
of course, what i'm not telling you is that there was a typhoon of historic proportions blowing overhead. it took out most of the island of guam, if i recall correctly.
"Group Scram"
"Rig ship for reduced electrical, Engineering Casualty Assistance Team lay aft"
so far, normal
"Commencing Fast Scram Recovery"
"Full Scram, rig ship for Delayed Scram"
shit. one of the nuclear instruments decided it was time to give a little back, so it spiked on the startup, full scramming the reactor.
"Prepare to snorkel"
WHAAAT? oh lord, i know i'm going to be sick.
at this point, i was lining up the diesel petcocks to blow down the cylinders, manually feeding the steam generators, and hand cranking the diesel lube oil priming pump while the engineroom supervisor rolled the diesel with air. normally, it's a comedy routine watching the feed station watch do all of this during drills.
it's a whole different scene when the boat is pitching and rolling in state 9 or state 10 seas, without the benefit of being able to say screw it, dive the boat and do a quick recovery of the reactor. when stuff breaks, there is no easy way out.
"Commence snorkeling"
which we did, only the head valve at the end of the snorkel mast was under water as much as it was above water. figuring from the waterline on the surface, the head valve was about 40 feet up. and it had a set of electrodes that would shut the valve pneumatically to prevent flooding the boat. so the waves were crashing over the head valve, cycling it. to put this in perspective for non-submariners: start your car, pull the air filter off, and then put your hand over the carburetor. now imagine the engine is in a closed room with you, and the air going into the engine is coming from the room. the vacuum produced by 2 diesel engines with the intake air closed off is best left to the imagination. i've burst my eardrums twice because of this type of happening.
anyway, when the head valve cycles, that means there may be water in the fan room, which is where the air comes into the boat through the snorkel mast, to be distributed throughout the boat. and when you are not playing drill sets, things like being able to keep the engines running is a very very big deal. so the skipper ordered the diving officer of the watch to manually override the head valve closing circuit, to keep air coming in to the boat for the diesels.
the chief of the watch sent a young A-ganger down to look into the site glass on the fan room door to see if there was any water in there. "I can't see any" was the report.
but the boat was getting heavier, and harder to control. so the COW sends down our young PN (i made the mistake of calling him a yeoman in an email... sorry Hop, you know what age and years do to your memory) down to look. after he moved the movies that were stacked up in front of the door, he saw nothing but clear cold northern pacific water through the glass. well, no wonder it felt like the boat was sinking. IT WAS! seems our A-ganger couldn't be bothered with moving the interference to actually look inside the space. i was aft, so i didn't see the following, but it was told often enough afterward that i think i have the next steps pretty close... our young PN levitated up the ladder to control, probably only hitting one step on the way up, and stammered and sputtered to the chief that the fan room was flooded. he was white as a sheet. so we had to line up to pump the fan room, but since the turbine generators were down (no steam) the power for the drain pump had to come from either the battery, or the diesel generators. and it was a huge load, which we couldn't afford just that moment. but necessity overrides sometimes, and we ended up lining up the drain pump to the fan room, and kept it running the whole time, helping keep the boat on the surface, and not littering the ocean bottom with good U.S. Navy steel.
so now we try to perform another reactor startup, only the whole electric plant and steam plant is in a hosed lineup. only to scram again. the instrumentation was telling us it wasn't a fluke, but that something was really messed up. to cut this story short, we ended up spending a day or more on the surface while repairs were being made to the nuclear instruments, in a typhoon. there were only 4 people on board that were not near death from seasickness, and i'm sure there were drugs of some sort the doc had at play, since he and the skipper were two of the folks not puking their guts out. there is nothing i've ever experienced that can come close to equaling being "mortally seasick" for days straight.
the reactor operators tried pulling the spare drawer out of the storage rack. with the boat taking 50 degree rolls and 60 degree pitches, the poor sumbich pulling the drawer out of the rack couldn't hold on to it, and it hit the deck HARD. hard enough to destroy it. so they ended up pulling the bad drawer out of the panel, and working on it inside a big poly bathtub containment i'd stolen from the shipyard. they needed it, because all the parts would fly around, and we couldn't afford to lose even one screw. poor bastards were in major repair mode, sick as dogs, and all the time trying to repair and calibrate a sensitive piece of electronics while riding on the back of a brahma bull in the rodeo. when all avenues of repair had been exhausted, the skipper made a command decision to flip the "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" switch to permit us to start up and get the hell under water where we belonged. flipping the BS switch required a life or death situation and complete and detailed explanations to Naval Reactors. whole wardrooms had been replaced because NR didn't think flipping the switch was warranted. not so in our case. we were able to get the reactor up, steam down the headers, turbine generators on line, underway on nuclear power. once the boat was back down where she belonged, it was as if we had gone to heaven. the deck didn't pitch and buck, and the fuzzy high frequency buzz and nausea was gone. we figured the average weight loss during this was around 15 pounds each. some of us lost more. i know that i was so sick that i tasted my asshole at least a couple of times.
hey harry, feel free to fix the story if i got anything wrong. time and experiences have kind of dulled the memory a little. but i'll never forget the misery and abject fear of dying. by the time we were able to dive the boat, i was wishing i would die, just to get it all over with. I've known a lot of submariners over the years, and most of us have stories just like this. what i find amazing, looking back after all these years, is that no one freaked out. while it's true that the doc had to sedate and strap in a couple of guys that were convulsing ( hey, i said it was rough up there. it was) nobody ran around freaking out that we were going to die. well, nobody except harry. we all knew that submarining was (and still is. remember what happened to the San Francisco) a dangerous business. we were scared, but we also didn't let that get in the way of what we had to do.
as the saying goes: The older i get, the better i was. actually, i look back and think about some of the people i've worked with or known over the years, and i wonder how they would handle being put into that sort of situation. we were all volunteers. perhaps that helped us deal with the situation calmly enough to get the job done, and get home in one piece.
hey hop... thanks for reminding me. i'd kind of forgotten this, since it was just one of many similar experiences i had on the boat in 6 1/2 years. after a while, they all kind of blend into one big casualty, where everything happened, not individual moments of sheer terror interjected into the hours of boredom. it's a nuke's lot to have his existence tried, and his skills and knowledge tested constantly. drills and casualties all pile up over the years into a mess of memories.
and to rub a little salt in, hey harry, remember the almost non-stop harassing you got afterwards? i can't remember how many times i heard "How high's the water, Harry? 6 feet high and rising" sung to Johnny Cash's old tune. submariners never let a chance to mess with a shipmate pass. ever

p.s. hey WICK, weren't you on board during this? got anything to add that you remember?

edit seems i'm getting my seastories mixed up. most the above happened on the way back from a specop, including flooding the fan room by overriding the head valve, but harry the hop's part was on the way IN to a specop area during another run. a quote:
The fanroom filled with seawater, next stop, battery well. rig for production of phosgene gas, aye.

We were in the Sea of xxxxxx, inbound, not outbound. Around us, the entire Russky Pacific Fleet was frolicking on summer maneuvers, weather clear, visibility unlimited. First I thought I would die when my lungs were destroyed by phosgene, then I thought we would be captured by the Russians. We snorkeled out of there, underway on diesel power. We must have been looking very Russian that day.

ok, so i'm getting the seastories mixed together. it happens when you get older.
and since my correspondent was a coner, i'll forgive his "phosgene" for "chlorine gas" oops. either way, it could be deadly...
it's good to have shipmates that read this blog. they help keep me honest. and they help me get my timelines straightened out.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

we're baaaack

anniversary wine
Originally uploaded by bothenook.
the wife and i took a couple of days to get away. we went to one of our favorite places, the California north coast. we stayed at a place i like to call yuppie camperville, Costanoa. it's a nice place with some great amenities you don't usually associate with camping out, like tent cabins, saunas, hot tubs, and a great restaurant on site.
we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary, which is actually today. we found a nice secluded beach, cracked out the wine and some munchies, and toasted our lives together.
hey love, here's to many more of these trips in the future.

i posted a couple of the photos we took on flicker. clicka de leeenque to see them.photos here

Saturday, September 16, 2006

austin texas: a short foodie restaurant review

well, i made it back from austin in one piece. great conference, and i got to meet and shoot the breeze with the new chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, so that was a good thing.
i could go on and on with the issues about future needs of the nuclear community regarding infrastructure and education funding support, but i won't bore you. instead, i'll tell ya about a couple of great bbq places i went to while in austin.

first was Stubbs. it was about a block and a half down from our hotel, and the food just fired me up! i had the brisket and the smoked sausages, along with the usual sides like slaw, potato salad and beans. the meat was so good i just may have to buy a jar of the rub available in our area's grocery stores and try to dissect the formula for my own meat rub. holy smokes, this food was incredible. i guess i should have expected that, since i was in TEXAS for pete's sake, but still, i was surprised at how good it was. a couple of negatives in the review: i am a thick sweet sauce kind of guy, and wasn't all that impressed with the thin vinegary sauce we found everywhere we ate in austin, including stubbs, but the meat didn't need the sauce. the other thing i wasn't all that impressed with was the texture of the potato salad. the flavor was great, but it felt like i was eating lumpy mashed potatoes rather than chunky potato salad. like i said, the flavor was up there, and if i could make my potato salad TASTE like stubb's, only chunky the way i like it, i'd have the best of both worlds.
if i had three hands, i'd give this place a three thumbs up. it was good food.

the other bbq place i tried was at the recommendation of my buddy 'dwardo. he told me that i couldn't leave austin without a trip to Artz Rib House in south austin. i'm glad i took the time to go find it. their babyback ribs, to put it simply, KICKED ASS. he told me to get two specials if they were available, but instead, i opted to just get a full rack and be done with it. i ate, and ate, and loved every single bite. the meat was tender, seasoned well, and had a perfect amount of smoke. i'm not going to say they were the best ribs i've ever eaten, because i don't remember all the ribs i've ever had. but i will say they were the best ribs i've eaten in recent memory. again, the austin sauce leaves me a little underwhelmed, but that's just because i'm a brown sugar/honey base kind of guy. good stuff, and i'd recommend this place to anyone that really likes bbq. the food is 4 star stuff.

gun control

here is an obvious LACK of gun control.
.60 Cal

Sunday, September 10, 2006

a leasurely trip to Austin

yup. i'm outta here for a week, heading to Austin TX, home of good bbq and a ton of music. i hope i get enough of a break while there to take in a little of both.
see ya next weekend.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the pope visits alaska

another in a never-ending (and i like it like that) stream of jokes from my e-mail.

The Pope took a couple of days off to visit the mountains of Alaska for some sight-seeing. He was cruising along the campground in the Pope mobile when there was a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods. A helpless Democrat, wearing sandals, shorts, a "Save the Whales" hat, and a "To Hell with Bush" T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically, thrashing around trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10 foot grizzly. As the Pope watched horrified, a group of Republican loggers came racing up. One quickly fired a .44 magnum into the bear's chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Democrat from the bear's grasp. Then using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the other tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat. As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions!" he told them.

> "I heard there was a bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic Environmental activists but now I've seen with my own eyes that this is not true." As the Pope drove off, one of the loggers asked his buddies Who was that guy?" "It was the Pope," another replied. "He's in direct contact with heaven and has access to all wisdom." Well", the logger said, "he may have access to all wisdom but he sure doesn't know anything about bear hunting! By the way, is the bait holding up, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and snatch another one?"

Friday, September 01, 2006

cat blog friday

shebacat and the boombox
Originally uploaded by bothenook.
well, here it is, nearing the end of summer, and sheba, queen of all she surveys is STILL matting up and shedding. since she is so old, it's really hard to put a brush to her, because she's so skinny there's no padding there. brushing her is torture, so i've let her get a bit matted. anyone have suggestions on how i might help her groom herself a bit better? 18 is pretty old for a cat, i suppose.
anyway, i had to take this picture, because it made me laugh. we had the bugs over for the day, and Di took the boom box out to the back patio to play kiddy songs. it was funny as hell watching the little ones doing the "head, shoulders, knee and toes" dance. over and over. and over. but what was funnier was that sheba braved the little ones to come out from under the bush to sit in front of the boom box, and didn't leave until i finally had enough and turned it off. after the CD had been cycled through at least a dozen times. kind of felt sorry for our neighbors, but they are young and without children YET. i feel as though i am performing a public service, getting them acclimated to the "i love you" song by barney, and other such classics as "the farmer in the dell" . and sheba cat just sat, as though she were in a concert hall listening to Bach or Handel. weird cat