The Ideally Clean Apartment

I like my apartment to be quite clean. Some would probably say it is excessively clean (if such a thing exists—I think not). So over the last many years I have tried to maintain the level of cleanliness that I prefer. This has, of course, been inhibited by many a roommate. Early on I realized that if I wanted a clean apartment I would need to clean it even if I didn't trash it, and that was that. At that stage I thought that keeping the ideally clean apartment would be relatively easy once I didn't have roommates that didn't seem to care. But then I started to doubt. My doubts started to fester when I had some particularly clean roommates. Now I've lived with some pretty clean roommates a few times, and our apartments did stay quite clean most of the time. But even then the apartment would still deteriorate into a state of quite intolerable filth like clockwork and would require some pretty drastic cleaning. Fortunately when I had those roommates we would all pitch in and get the place back up to par. Most of the time our apartment was immaculate. But what I wanted was an apartment that didn't have those filthy interludes. And I began to wonder if having a low maintenance, always-clean apartment was really feasible. Or was it going to require obsessive, constant cleaning to achieve that? And could it be a reality with only one of me to do the cleaning with very limited time? I'm now happy to say it can be done and it really is quite easy. I've lived by myself now for five months and my kitchen, bathroom, and other rooms all stay quite clean all the time. I still have an occasional disaster, and I still let it slack every once in a while, but it doesn't usually last very long, the problem is really localized, and cleaning it up is a snap. So I've found that cleaning up after yourself as you go really does work. For example, I think I've only really cleaned my bathroom once. And I think I might have scrubbed my kitchen floor twice. Maybe. The rest of the time I just do simply things to maintain the same cleanliness level. It doesn't seem that difficult, but for some reason it was utterly unachievable with even the cleanest of roommates. That brings me to one of my favorite things in regard to a clean apartment. I have a relatively small kitchen, so I often clean as I go so I always have room to keep working. I love it when I spend hours cooking a meal and dessert, I get it all ready, people show up, everything's ready to serve, and my kitchen is spotless. I need to have people over for dinner more often just for that feeling.

Duck

I've been wanting to try duck for quite some time. Unfortunately, it's a bit pricey to buy, so I hadn't done it yet. A couple days ago Shelli took me out to eat at Thaifoon and to a movie for my birthday. They had Bangkok Duck served with a duck salad, so I had to take the chance and try it out. It came with a bunch of larger pieces of duck along with the salad that had bits of duck meat throughout. The duck itself was quite similar to the dark meat on turkey or chicken (duck is entirely dark meat), though it had some subtle differences in flavor. It was much more moist (in part because it had more grease) and was really quite tasty. This was probably especially the case because of how well it was prepared. I've heard a number of times from people that duck is too greasy, but I didn't really mind the grease. The duck salad was especially good. I'm not sure what all was in it, but the flavors blended really well to compliment the duck meat mixed in with the salad. So as a result, I'm still not sure that duck is better enough than other fowl to justify spending what duck costs at the grocery store ($20+ for a duck that will feed 2-3), but I'll definitely eat it again if given the chance. The dessert was also especially delicious. Ice cream with some sort of custard-like cheesecake and banana drizzled in caramel. Desserts like that make me remember just how much there is to master in making desserts. It was an incredibly good blend of flavors. So it was a great birthday dinner: it was fun, great company, really tasty, and I got to try some duck.

Pavarotti, Eminem, Pavarotti

Although I usually listen to the radio when I'm driving, today I had one of my Pavarotti CDs in. After a bit I decided to change the CD to another Pavarotti CD I had. But while I was changing it the radio came on and there was a really great song by Eminem on the station it was set to. So I turned it up and listened to it before I put my next CD in. Only after it was over and I was again blasting Pavarotti, did it strike me how humorous that was. Pavarotti, Eminem, Pavarotti—all of them great songs. I think I'm making progress in branching out musically.

Seriously A Genuinely Massive Statement

I don't typically pay too much attention to spam comments on my blog other than make sure they don't appear. But every once in a while you get a gem. This comment was left on one of my older posts today. I've marked it as spam so you won't find it anywhere, but I'm posting it here for your entertainment:
I dont know what to say. This web site is amazing. Thats not seriously a genuinely massive statement, but its all I could appear up with right after reading this. You know a great deal about this theme. So much so that you manufactured me need to understand more about this. Your web site is my stepping stone, my close friend. Many thanks for the heads up on this subject matter.
It's great to know that my blog can be a "stepping stone" and "close friend" to brighten someone else's life. That just manufactured my day.

Facebook Failure?

About half way through my last birthday I was shocked to log on to Facebook and find that not a single person had wished me a happy birthday. My wall has historically been overrun—easily accounting for some 90% of my wall activity for the year. I had to check to verify that my birthday was in fact publicly available information, which it was. By the end of the day my account had held out: not one person even acknowledged that it was my birthday via Facebook. While many would see this as a devastating failure of Facebook and of my 375 Facebook friends, I personally am really not bothered by no Facebook birthday wishes. I think they're kind of stupid anyway. No offence to anyone that's wished me or anyone else happy birthday via Facebook, but the reason that every one of them has wished you a happy birthday is because Facebook told them it was your birthday. And they obviously didn't care enough to actually interact with you in reality. Furthermore, an awful lot of Facebook birthday wishes I've received in my life are from people I hardly know. So I was glad that no one spent the extra time. P.S. I realize that many of you reading this will now wonder when my birthday was and will go look it up on Facebook, so I'll save you the trouble: it was yesterday. And now many of you reading this will feel bad that you forgot or didn't know. I really don't mind. And you really don't need to wish me a late birthday. I'm actually glad it's over and I really am glad hardly anyone noticed, Facebook or otherwise.

Furniture At Last

After months of researching, purchasing, waiting, and assembling, my apartment is finally furnished. I've still got a few odds and ends to tweak, but I'm really happy with how well it turned out thus far. Check out the pictures.

It's just the perfect atmosphere that I was hoping for: it's perfect for having people over, reading a book, comfortably lounging around, and so on. The combination of the lamp, two levels of ambient lighting (in the top of the bookcases), and the overhead light gives lots of flexibility for the perfect amount/type of light. And virtually no technology in sight. Then when I want it, I've got a TV and stereo that is flexible for viewing from virtually anywhere in the room, including the kitchen.

The only downside is, all the plants will probably be dead within the month.

3M Command Strips

If any of you have ever heard me endorse or speak positively in any way regarding 3M Command Strips, you should be aware that I am no longer a fan of them and have sworn off using them. I've had quite a few of them fall off the wall in the last couple of months—many have not had much weight on them at all. The latest tragedy was a clock I recently purchased. I've spent a lot of time since then trying to adjust the escapement on the clock so that the pendulum swings for more than 30 seconds. This is proving more difficult than I expected and I'm beginning to think there may be something more seriously wrong with it. It may never run again. Stupid Command Strip.

Robyn

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Spiders Killed My Plant

The other day I noticed that one of my bigger plants—my majesty palm—was beginning to die. I've had terrible luck with plants lately, so I was not terribly surprised. Although I had been watering this one as I was supposed to so it struck me as a bit unusual. I looked more closely at it to see if I could just trim the dying stalks and leaves and save the plant and discovered that it was covered with spider webs and the dying sections were covered by an especially large amount of spider webs. I didn't have a lot of time at the moment to do anything about it, but it looked like the spider could be found, the plant could be trimmed and the plant would be okay. A few days later I looked at it again and discovered that it was significantly more covered with webs and that all the little tiny specs of dust caught in the web were in fact moving. Apparently there was an egg sack in the plant, probably when I bought it. And it had hatched. There were a lot of spiders: easily thousands of them, each one smaller than a pin head. I couldn't find any traces of spiders on the pot of the plant or on any nearby things. So I took the plant directly to the garbage dumpster. Unfortunately, while doing so I got quite a few spiders on me by inadvertently brushing up with the plant in transit (it was a fairly large plant). So I stripped my clothes directly into the washer and immediately took a shower. I hope I got rid of them all; I really don't want have to deal with a large spider infestation. So now I have discovered what it is like to have a spider's egg sack hatch in my apartment. I don't recommend it.

Interior Decorating

Many of you have undoubtedly noticed by now that my purchasing habits are slightly atypical. I really like to do a lot of research and study before purchasing most things. When I decide that I want to buy a certain thing then I begin the research process of learning everything I can that is pertinent to the purchase. Depending on what it is this phase can last quite a while. I often look at price, features, quality, read reviews, and understand as much as I can about the target purchase and analyze every facet of the purchase's impact that I can think of. Then, once I have completed my research, I make a decision and go ahead with the purchase. The length and scope of this research is not, as many would guess, related necessarily with the dollar amount of the purchase. I've spent a lot of time to make a purchase that only costs $20. It's more about getting the most personal utility from my purchases. The thing is, if I am going to buy something—regardless of the price—I want to take the time and buy exactly the right one of whatever it is. So the amount of research is often related to the complexity/impact of the purchase rather than the dollar value. As a result of all this, I often take a while to purchase things but very rarely regret any purchase. (The most notable exception is a pillow I purchased six months ago, but that's a topic for a different post.) This pattern has proven a rather difficult one in regard to purchasing furniture and interior decorations for my new apartment. I moved into my apartment in April. Now it's July and it is still pretty sparsely furnished. For example, I still don't have any couches. In fact, my living room is really nearly devoid of furniture. And my walls are also quite bare. I am most starkly reminded of this nearly everyday when I make noise and become aware of the empty echo in my apartment. The problem is, in order to purchase couches, I need to understand what I want my living room to look like in pretty great detail. The couches, of course, need to match in color and style with all the other furniture in the room. So then I have to look at a coffee table and end tables. But those depend on bookcases. And then curtains depend on colors of everything else in the room, not to mention what the curtain rods should look like. Then once I figure out all of this I can think about lamps and a clock and other wall hangings. But then I change my mind about the type of lamp that I want, which affects the color of bookcases, in turn making me go back to the drawing board on the couch color. But it gets worse. I want a TV, but I don't want my living room to be focused on the TV. So I want a way to hide it that is not obviously a TV. I've got a few ideas, but they center around particular features of bookcases and finding TV mounting brackets that do very specific things, while also requiring certain arrangements of furniture. So that means that criteria for dimensions and features on a lot of things are more constrained so I have to do more hunting to find some that meet my parameters and also are a style I like that simultaneously fits in with everything else in the room. Furthermore, while I do really like my apartment, I don't expect to live here forever. So things I buy need to be flexible enough to be perfect in an apartment/house that I may live in later. And then there is the fatal combination of having rich tastes while wanting to keep costs low. This only scratches the surface—I could go on for pages, but you get the idea. This is really unbelievably complicated. So essentially, I have to know exactly which item of every piece of furniture and decor I am going to buy for the whole room before buying any single item. And it turns out, this is a pretty serious undertaking. And I am nervous that after spending all of the time and effort to do so, I won't even have a result that is acceptably perfect. Anyway, despite all the forgoing complications, I think I am making significant progress. In fact, I am hoping to essentially complete my analysis by the end of July. So you will soon be able to sit on something other than folding chairs when you come to visit me. Then I can turn my attention to purchasing some new clothes, which I've been needing to do since early 2009.