Simply Nick’s

Business travel is a bit of both bore and chore. The bore part can happen if you travel to the same place a little too often. That’s how it is with Lakewood, Colorado and me. Lakewood is a nice enough city on Denver’s western edge, nestled a few miles from the start of the Rocky Mountains. It has a nice view of the mountains and Denver, many affordable houses, convenient strip malls, a new hospital and the Denver Federal Center, where I hang out during the day. Soon it will have light rail as well. It’s a decent city and might be a nice place to retire to if you dream of retiring to a ranch house and like to bike places. It is quite bike-friendly. Still, there is nothing particularly special about Lakewood, aside from its scenic views. It is the average American city, the sort of place where Dagwood Bumstead would feel at home.

Nick's Cafe
Nick’s Cafe

Business travel to Lakewood usually means sleeping in the same so-so hotels. The TownePlace Suites where we usually stay is very much so-so: standard clean Marriott hotel, just not one of the nicer ones. Calling them a suite is a bit of a stretch. There is a tiny kitchen, but there it is basically one room with a bathroom. There is also something resembling breakfast in the lobby in the morning. Breakfast means a continental breakfast: cereals, milk, bananas, apples and bagels. The closest thing to protein is the hardboiled eggs, which only recently appeared on the menu. The price is right but meal quickly gets boring. You find yourself craving some real breakfast food: like scrambled eggs with bacon, fresh orange juice, pancakes and hash browns. For most Americans this means Denny’s, and there is a Denny’s across Highway 6 about a half a mile from the hotel. There is also a hole in the wall called Nick’s Cafe.

You would be wise to choose Nick’s over Denny’s. Granted, passing this tiny restaurant at 777 Simms Street your first reaction might be to run to Denny’s instead. Nick’s epitomizes the hole in the wall restaurant, and its location in a tiny and disheveled looking strip mall with a liquor store might have you wondering if restaurant inspectors ever come by. Moreover the place is tiny. Your chair might well bump up against a chair of the table next to it. It can’t possibly seat more than two dozen people and when it does it must be with considerable discomfort. There is that plus all the kitschy stuff on the walls, almost all of it with an Elvis theme. Nick, the chef behind the counter, reputedly used to cook for Elvis though for how long I don’t know. Nick’s is part restaurant and part shrine to the crooner, with a dash of Marilyn Monroe thrown in. Rumors of Elvis’s demise may be exaggerated, because at Nick’s he has a parking space awaiting his return.

You can likely get breakfast 24 hours a day at your local Denny’s, but at most restaurants at 4 AM you are out of luck. Not so at Nick’s because Nick is an early bird. He arrives around 4 AM and departs around 3 PM after lunch. Nick is not intimidated that most of us are asleep at 4 AM rather than searching for a hot breakfast. He is there, probably because he’s wide awake anyhow. He knows what he does well which is make great tasting breakfasts and lunches for prices that make him competitive with McDonalds. Unlike McDonalds though you can also get a taste of Greece or Mexico, if not during lunch when his hot and tasty gyros are in high demand, but even during breakfast where if you think your taste buds are awake enough for it you can get the breakfast burrito.

Nick concentrates on the food, not on the silverware, which is plastic, or the glasses, which are paper cups, or the plates which are Styrofoam. You can watch Nick prepare your meal if you want since he is right there behind the window. And you cannot escape Nick, as you pay him, not the waitress, on your way out the door. Tip the hard working waitress of course, but leave your credit card at home. It’s strictly cash at Nick’s.

I eat at Nick’s a few times a year, usually toward the end of my trip when I cannot endure another continental breakfast. I am on per diem anyhow, and breakfast is always cheap at Nick’s. It’s also a short walk across 8th Avenue, across a gas station lot and up a short but steep embankment. It’s worth the short climb just to have the pleasure of sitting down, enjoying the Elvis memorabilia on the wall, the Today show on the TV (in the morning) and to hear the comforting sound of food frying on Nick’s grill. The waitress is always there, so it is a matter of seconds before you get a cup of water and a menu. (Seat yourself.)

Perhaps it is just as well that Nick’s Cafe is unknown. With a restaurant so small, Nick simply does not need much more business. It’s the sort of place that should have a line outside the door but I have never seen one. This may be due in part to the severely limited parking. It may be small but that does not mean it does not have loyal clientele. They are also friendly clientele, perhaps too friendly. As I had breakfast the other morning, one patron walked in to pick up her usual order of takeout, but stayed just long enough to sit on the lap of a much older patron. Nick’s is apparently the dining choice of penny pinching Lakewood police, two of whom came in for breakfast while I was there.

As much as I enjoy the ambiance of Nick’s as well as its great food, I confess my primary motivation is the bacon. Nick knows his bacon and he delivers thick strips of bacon cooked just right: neither too greasy nor too brown. It’s bacon you can sink your teeth into and ingest with great satisfaction. I haven’t found it served in any other restaurant, probably because other restaurants are too busy making their bottom line to worry about giving patrons thick slices of bacon. At Nick’s there is only Nick behind the counter and a waitress handling customers. He serves what is good, not what makes him the most money. He cannot be in this business to get rich, as he charges so little. I figure he works simply because he enjoys it. He is the master of his own small domain, a cash-only business, and it works for him. He can open his own damn store at 4 AM if he wants and there is no one to complain. And so it goes until the last gyro is sold around 3 PM. If you need to see Nick, he will be back at 4 AM. Count on him.

Silver Dining

On the occasion of my 21st wedding anniversary, I waxed about the fine dining my wife and I found at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The dining there is unquestionably extraordinary. However, like most couples my wife and I cannot often afford to drop $155 for dinner very often, no matter how fabulous. Like you, most of our dining is more pedestrian and far less costly.

How does a $20 breakfast for two compare with a $155 dinner? No one would mistake a $20 breakfast at a Silver Diner for high class eating. Arguably, you get much more value from a breakfast at a Silver Diner than you get a Ruth’s Chris. If you want good “get up and go” food that leaves your tummy sighing happily, especially after breakfast, but you do not want to part with most of your spare bills, Silver Diner is your place.

Silver Diner is a local restaurant chain with all but three of its nineteen diners located in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. When diners were de rigueur during the middle of the last century, they were leftover dining cars from an era when travel by train was as ubiquitous as flying is today. No one would mistake a Silver Diner for a dining car. They do retain the large windows of dining cars, a gleaming aerodynamic silver frame as well as a long counter where patrons can dine alone if they choose. A Silver Diner restaurant cannot be relocated nor does not stand on wheels. Moreover, a Silver Diner restaurant would be the size of at least three dining cars, since two wings extend at either end of the restaurant. I am waiting to see what Zippy the Pinhead’s reaction will be to a Silver Diner. I think he would be disappointed. It is like eating hamburgers at a Fuddrucker’s when you would have been fully satisfied at McDonald’s.

For those old enough to remember the authentic diner experience, Silver Diner would feel too fancy and too artificial. It is too wide and too clean, to start. It is more like a diner for the carhop generation. At the moment it targets us baby boomers as its major clientele. You can tell because at the Silver Diner, rock and roll music from the 50s and 60s comes with the territory. From the videos of the Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show in the foyer to the mini jukeboxes on many of the tables (which plays a song to the whole restaurant), Silver Diner tries to epitomize the Breakfast in America experience. The music may be Beach Boys instead of Supertramp and the waiters are more likely to be Hispanic than pasty Caucasians in aprons with slicked back hair, but it hardly matters. Silver Diner is hoping that buffed up nostalgia for a bygone age will keep it profitable. The strategy seems to be working.

My wife and I go to one of the local Silver Diners about once every two weeks. If we went more often, we would probably be sick of it. With my compressed work schedule, I take every other Friday off. This makes for a good morning for us to eat out and reconnect. There is a Silver Diner halfway to her office anyhow, and the shopping I need to do is nearby, so it is convenient for both of us. During the week, the blue-plate meals are the deal. We typically order one of the blue plates each, which come with juice and a bottomless cup of coffee. Usually we can have a tasty and highly caloric meal for two, with tip for $20. What a deal. Moreover, we rarely have to wait for a table. Their breakfast food is uniformly good to very good. The waiters tend to be fast and personable but business-like. At the Silver Diner, you can feel free to bring your newspaper and spread it out on your table if you want. It may market itself as a bit of an upscale diner, but it is still a diner after all.

For $20, I do not expect excellent food. To be clear, there is nothing that would qualify as excellent cooking at these prices. However, the food is of noticeably higher quality than you would get at, say, an IHOP. Whatever you get will be freshly prepared and likely served hot. Your table will be clean and your server, if not friendly, at least will not be surly. You cannot complain that their food is overpriced. It is a typical diner in that if the food cannot be prepared in five minutes or less, it is not worth having on the menu. We Silver Diners want good food and we want it quick. You will not have to wait long to chow down at a Silver Diner.

My one complaint about the restaurant is its music. Maybe the first dozen times you go to a Silver Diner, the 60s songs are kind of fun. When you have been there fifty or more times, like my wife and I, it wears off. It would be more tolerable if they would spice the music up more, but anything on their jukebox will be a Top 40 song. Perhaps in response to this we are noticing subtle changes in the music available at the table jukeboxes. 70s and even the occasional 80s tune are starting to show up. There is less Buddy Holly are more Michael Jackson (at least the early years) than there used to be. No doubt, this is because their demographics are changing. There are still plenty of Baby Boomers around, but we are retiring and the mortality statistics are starting to catch up with us. To stay around in the long run, Silver Diner must capture a younger crowd. There are signs that Generation X is starting to get some of its music on the Silver Diner jukeboxes. Perhaps in a dozen years the Elvis Presley tunes at the Silver Diner will be just a memory as the owners surrender to the financial powers of Generation X.

I have had dinner a few times at a Silver Diner. Dinner has left me much less impressed than breakfast. In fact, I am likely to look for other dining choices at dinner, however reasonable Silver Diner’s prices are. Breakfast is Silver Diner’s optimal dining experience.

Silver Diner is not the only diner experience locally. There is also a “diner deluxe” experience at Amphora’s Restaurant. I know of two Amphora’s restaurants: one in Herndon and one in Oakton. I have eaten three times at Amphora’s. I was under-whelmed on each occasion. Unquestionably, Amphora’s is more upscale looking diner. Their menu selections are much larger. Their waiters are better dressed and their on-premises bakery is impressive. However, nothing I have eaten there has risen above mediocrity. Therefore, my wife and I stick to Silver Diner. We know we will get very good food, good atmosphere and a predictable dining experience at an excellent price.

Try a Silver Diner and you will probably never go to an IHOP again.

Fine Dining at Ruth’s Chris

Thursday’s dinner was one of those that I would have every night if I were independently wealthy.

Had my wife and I not had a reason to celebrate, our dinner would have been something much more prosaic. In fact, there probably would have been nothing resembling a family dinner. We do have family dinners, but mostly on the weekends. During the week, we usually scavenge. When we get hungry, we go make something, generally for ourselves. (You can do this if your family consists of only three people, like ours.) I would have likely pulled something out of the freezer and microwaved it.

However, Thursday just happened to be my 21st wedding anniversary. Since it was an anniversary, my wife and I elected to go some place very nice for dinner. Last year as you may recall we went to The Hermitage, in Clifton, Virginia. There we had no problem happily departing with $130 or so. Thursday we went to Ruth’s Chris in Fairfax, Virginia. Rarely have I left a restaurant more satisfied. Moreover, rarely have I had to dig so deeply into my wallet to pay the bill. With tip, our bill came to $155. It would have been more had we ordered drinks.

Ruth’s Chris is a national steakhouse chain. You may have eaten great steak before, but unless you have eaten a steak from Ruth’s Chris, you probably have never have eaten perfectly prepared steak. I bet any other steak you have eaten cannot attain Ruth’s Chris lofty standard of excellence.

The steak though was just the centerpiece of a rich dining experience that was meticulously controlled and arranged to impress. There actually are entrees other than steak on their menu. It just seems like such a waste to come all the way to Ruth’s Chris and not order the steak. It is like going to Starbucks and not ordering coffee. I ordered the Petite Filet with Shrimp. It was a mere eight ounces of corn fed USDA Choice steak, cooked at 1800 degrees and served on sizzling, 500-degree plates. On top of each four ounce filet was one jumbo-sized shrimp.

But oh, the ecstasy of that first bite! Actually, each subsequent mouthful was equally excellent. Each slice was dripping in butter, lightly seasoned and so tender it offered no resistance whatsoever during consumption. Each swallow sent another little surge of ecstasy down my throat. The taste simply radiated through my whole mouth. I found myself slicing my filets very finely just so I could savor each bite to the maximum.

If Ruth’s Chris has a downside, aside from the price, it is that everything is sold separately. This includes the baked potato. I chose a Caesar salad. It was delivered with unchopped leaves of romaine lettuce artistically arranged on my plate, covered with shaved Parmesan cheese and allegedly dressed with croutons. Their croutons resembled shaving the top eighth of an inch of a crusty loaf of bread. Of course, I elected to have it garnished with black pepper. This was one of the few salads where I had to apply my knife before it could consume it. I so rarely have pepper on any food (since my wife is allergic to it) that it was almost a shock.

My wife ordered a baked potato with her steak, but I elected for a side of mashed potatoes. One of the reasons I mourn my late mother is that she was excelled at preparing mashed potatoes. They always came out lumpless and were both creamy and buttery. I look for mashed potatoes whenever I dine out, but can rarely find them. I do not find lumpless mashed potatoes to necessarily be a sign of excellence. In fact, I like a little something to chew on in my mashed potatoes. What I look for is flavor. Ruth’s Chris mashed potatoes did not disappoint. They were as creamy and buttery as my mother’s famous mashed potatoes and came lightly topped with parsley. The serving was enough for two people. Between my fond memories of my mother’s excellent mashed potatoes and the exquisite steak, I was in culinary overload.

My wife chose a side of sautéed mushrooms. Each mushroom was uniform and perfectly round, and came in a lightly buttered and seasoned sauce. Sautéed mushrooms are one of my wife’s specialties. She frequently serves them on special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner. They get rave reviews. However, Ruth’s Chris’s mushrooms were actually better.

Of course, we found room for dessert. My wife ordered the Warm Apple Crumb Tart, which was enormous and more than she could finish. She gave me a taste, but it was hard for me to judge its quality, because my mouth was overwhelmed by the taste of the Chocolate Sin Cake that I ordered. The “cake” was excellent but perhaps misnamed. It was more like a big chocolate in the shape of a small cake slice than a cake. There did not seem to be anything in it that needed baking. It came garnished with a finely sliced strawberry and with drizzled raspberry sauce across the plate. I had to restrain myself from licking my plate when I was done with it.

As you would expect, the service was impeccable. Each table was covered with real linens, which were replaced after each dining experience. If I had a complaint, it was that perhaps our server gave us too much time to linger over our meals. The dining room was clean, attractive, quiet and well laid out. Clearly, they have been in this business a long time. They have this level of dining down to a science.

I have eaten better prepared food, but only very rarely. You go to Ruth’s Chris because you want the best tasting steak available. You will not be disappointed. Yet I have had fancier meals. More than ten years ago when it was still in business, we took our first cruise on a Dolphin cruise line. Our cabin was tiny, but the meals were to die for. At the time, Dolphin was known for its high cuisine. When it was still in business, my wife and I also had several meals at The Windsor House in Middleburg, Virginia. Both of those were better than our meal this week at Ruth’s Chris, although I do not recall ordering steaks with those meals. I know there is better dining is available. If I were independently wealthy, I would make sure at least once a year I dined at The Inn at Little Washington, which is renown in our region and which requires diners to sign up months in advance. Since Ruth’s Chris is a chain, there is likely one near you. Unquestionably, Ruth’s Chris is an excellent restaurant. If you have the money for this kind of dining, you will not be disappointed.

My harried week out west

Occam’s Razor fans will have to forgive my inability to post much lately. I have just finished a weeklong business trip in Denver. Between work and visiting family, I have been kept fully engaged. It is only now on a 777 moving across the country that I have something resembling sufficient personal time in which to order my thoughts.

My work took me to the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, Colorado. This is my third trip out there for the agency I joined two years ago. The trips now have a certain familiarity to them, which will only increase when I return again the first week of June. So far, we have stayed in the same hotels: a pair of Marriott hotels in Golden, Colorado a couple miles away from the Federal Center. They are clean and comfortable and provide an excellent view of the Rocky Mountains. Like most hotels these days, they offer a decent complementary breakfast consisting mostly of foods most sedentary adults should avoid.

On Monday evening, I went to sleep in my room at the Residence Inn at Golden, only to awaken unexpectedly at 1 AM. A fire alarm was putting out a deafening ring. 1 AM must be the worst time for me to have to awaken unexpectedly. I knew where I was but mentally I was on some other planet. For the longest time I could simply not figure out what was happening. Once my foggy mind put the facts together, I was unable to figure out how to do the simplest thing like turn on the light. When after a minute or so I had finally mastered that act, I could not figure out what to do next. Should I dash outside in my underwear? Eventually I decided to throw on my bathrobe, slip my shoes into my sneakers, and grab my room key. I staggered out of my room into the hallway in a dazed state. Fortunately, I was only a dozen feet or so from an exit.

It may have been 1 AM, but one of my employees, Dave, was still awake and in his business attire. Apparently, he is a night owl. Some birdbrain a few floors above apparently hung something on a sprinkler head, causing it to rupture, so there was no actual fire. After a few minutes outside, we were allowed back into our rooms. I went back to sleep, wary of another fire alarm. I could hear the sound of water coming down between the walls and a wet/dry vacuum above me. Needless to say, the rest of my sleep that night was restless. The next day we were all a bit groggy.

Linda, a coworker from my office in Reston, had a rental car. I became both one of her passengers and one of her dinner mates. Fortunately, Linda is an adventurous person. Despite having been to Denver at least twice a year for a decade, she felt there was much more to see. On Tuesday night for example, she took us on I-70 over the continental divide. This was my first time crossing the continental divide by car. The drive fifty miles or so into the Rocky Mountains was quite awe inspiring. For this east coast person, the mountains on either side of us struck me as incredibly steep and high. We made it through the Eisenhower tunnel before turning around. We dined at Beau Jo’s in the small town of Idaho Springs. The restaurant offered something called “Colorado Pizza”. I later asked my brother Tom, a resident of Boulder, if there was such a thing. He had never heard of it. Colorado pizza apparently consists of very thick crusts around the rim of the pizza pan and thin crusts in the middle. Since there is plenty of crust remaining after consuming the pizza, you are supposed to spread honey on the remaining crusts and eat them for dessert. While the pizza itself was okay, by getting dessert “free” it made for an inexpensive meal. It was also the first pizza parlor that I have ever been in where you order pizza by the pound. A two-pound pizza can feed three normal people more than adequately.

There is hardly room for the town of Idaho Springs between the Rocky Mountains. Except for the restaurants, there was little in the “downtown” that remained open after 6 p.m. For someone looking for an authentic small town experience, it seems a great and inexpensive place to live. We passed a realtor’s office and learned we could rent a mobile home for only $250 a month. The town is not big enough to justify a Wal-Mart.

Thursday night Linda took us to Mataam Fez, a Moroccan restaurant in Denver. I had never eaten Moroccan food before. The entertainment was as much a part of the experience as the meal. If you have never eaten in a Moroccan restaurant, be prepared to remove your shoes and sit on cushions on the floor. Expect the table to be about two feet off the ground. We had a five-course meal and shared our food. The food was overall quite tasty (though expensive), but rather elemental too. My Shrimp Pel Pel, for example, came in the shells with the feet still attached. A partner’s salmon was quite good but still had the scales on it. Moroccans apparently dispense with silverware. We ate everything with our hands. Before eating we had to wash our hands at the table. The waiter had us place our hands above a pot while he poured lemon water on them from a pitcher. After trying to eat dishes like creamed spinach with our fingers, I realized why silverware was invented.

The entertainment came in two forms. First, there was the belly dancer, an achingly beautiful and buxom woman half my age who I suspect was a local American co-ed, rather than a Moroccan. No matter, she was excellent at being both alluring and doing impressive things with her abdominal muscles. For example, she was able to balance the edge of a sword on her tummy and work it down her abdomen. Many patrons stuffed dollar bills into her skirt. In addition, the waiters had a unique talent of pouring tea into cups from behind their backs. They also demonstrated they could pour it from a high height into three cups stacked on top of each other. As best I could tell, not a drop landed on the floor. The spiced tea was excellent.

The business part of my trip was intense and exhausting. There were about fifty of us. Most participants were users who were rigorously testing changes to a system we manage. A typical day consisted of three or four formal meetings where they gave reports on the problems they were uncovering. Since these meetings have a critical mass of important users from across the country, it is hard not to have many other ad-hoc meetings too. I was sucked into many of these, and some of these meetings were intense.

While the testing part went quite well for my team (no underpowered web servers crashed this year), discussions with customers about delays in projects closing up and underway were less successful. I am under a lot of pressure to complete a current project, which, by some measures, is a year late. There are good reasons why it is a year late. Inadequate planning was certainly part of it, but it was also late because we spent much of the latter half of last year scrambling to install new web servers to keep up with demand from the public. (Demand is increasing by about a third a year.) However, our customers are wholly inured to operational issues. (They would have cared had the system come to a screeching halt last year, which it did not. Naturally, my team gets no credit for preventing this from happening.) Missing deadlines are perceived as bad management on my part. I am confident that over the next couple of years that most of these problems will be ironed out. Putting in place predictable processes and teaching excellent scientists the discipline of software engineering takes time.

As I told my boss, things will and in fact are already improving. However, given flat funding and a staff that is constant, changes occur in an evolutionary manner only. There is no magic wand to wave that can make long-term problems disappear overnight. Instead, solutions require much up front thought, planning, careful execution, rigorous monitoring, and integrating the many concerns. Bill Gates said managing programmers is like herding cats, and the same is true with my developers. Change is effected by getting their buy in and earning their respect. Over time, new and better practices will become institutionalized, and then plans will more accurately reflect reality.

While struggling with this I had to drop a bombshell on another set of customers. A key contract employee may have to leave us. The new contractor may not pick him up. In the federal government, contracting works in mysterious and often counterproductive ways. Against my wishes, the contracting officer selected another contractor because it bid lower. That makes a certain amount of financial sense if you assume two contractors can provide precisely the same service. Real life, of course, does not work that way, no matter how carefully you write the statement of work. That something like this would result in a six month or more delay in this project was irrelevant to the contracting officer. She had to follow the contracting laws. Apparently, I did not sufficiently plan for this specific contingency, and for that, I came up lacking. At the time, I was busy doing other things that seemed a whole lot more important, like instituting better ways of doing requirements management and system design. I occasionally get miffed by the pointless and counterproductive pressure, but I usually succeed in not taking it personally. I know that my strategy is sound and will prove itself in time.

Therefore, Friday found me glad to put the week behind me. My brother Tom lives in Boulder. The transit strike in Denver made it hard for me to get to Boulder from Lakewood via established means. Fortunately, Kip, a coworker who lives near Denver, drove me up to Boulder. We went along U.S. 93, a lovely road through the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Tom and some of his friends from NOAA do a regular Friday night dinner in a restaurant on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I was glad to enjoy their company. The Indian food at the Himalayan Restaurant was quite good too.

Saturday, Tom took me biking. My feet are a bit challenged at the moment, due to a recent toe injury, but I was able to enjoy a bike ride of about twenty miles with him by peddling with care. Boulder is a very bike-friendly city, with numerous wide and well-maintained biking trails. Most roads have extra space for bike lanes. I am impressed by how its residents take exercise and proper eating so seriously. A car is not an absolute necessity in Boulder if you are adventurous and an outdoor type. The prevalent obesity I see in the East is largely missing in Boulder. The cultural values are to be trim, eat organic foods and stay in shape. Boulder is really a model of how a city should be laid out and managed. It also demonstrates a pragmatic way for modern Americans to live healthy and engaged lives. It should be proud of its sensible land use planning and a pedestrian friendly infrastructure. As the age of oil ends, cities like Boulder will prosper while others that depend on hydrocarbons for transportation are likely to whither.

Tom’s girlfriend Beth invited me to spend last night at her house with Tom. Her townhouse was more home-like than Tom’s rather small condominium. It was good to meet Beth again, who I met for the first time in January. She is a skinny, intelligent, attractive, athletic and caring woman, which means she is a good match for my brother. Beth has a 9-year-old daughter named Erica who was fun to get to know. She reminded me of my daughter at that age. Beth must be a better parent than I am though, because Erica seems to be about as well adjusted as a nine year old can be. Beth also has two cats, one of whom is a lap kitty and deigned to sit on my lap for a while and be worshipped. While certainly not as affectionate as my recently departed feline Sprite, it was nonetheless comforting to be in a house with felines again.

In my absence, my wife has had about a dozen friends over for a party. She has also purchased a fish to replace Fred the Ferocious Fish. The fish is another betta and I understand she has named him Sid Vicious.

Tomorrow it is back to the salt mines. Those pressing problems I put on hold Friday afternoon will be back to challenge me again.