Yesterday I was at Costco buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Donald-John, the Wonder Dog. I was stuck in a rather slow check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant?

The Purina Diet

Now, I’m retired with a lot of time on my hands and few outlets for my sense of humor. A sense of humor my students thought was rather “wicked,” especially when an administrator walked into my classroom while I was telling stories. I was a History teacher, after all.

So, on impulse, I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time. On the positive side, however, I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and the way that it works is, to load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete, certified, so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care, because the dog food poisoned me. “No,” I said. “I stopped to pee on a fire hydrant and a car hit me.”

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Costco won’t let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Sun Bath
Sun Bath

Coffee for Me


I began drinking coffee as an undergraduate student at Cal-State Los Angeles. In those days it was a State College rather than a State University. I liked being able to schedule my classes for just two or three days a week, but that meant long days. It was “institutional” coffee that was served in the “Top of the North” cafeteria or in the Student Union, and I had to drink it with too much cream and sugar.

After graduating in December of 1971, I did my student teaching and had a concurrent internship. That meant I taught a 60% load and got paid at a 40% rate at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in Temple City, California and spent the next forty years teaching in Orange and Villa Park, California.

Forty plus years drinking teachers’ room coffee–sometimes so thick I’d cut it with a knife and drink it with a fork.

For my first several years at Yorba JHS in Orange I had breakfast most mornings at Poncho’s on Tustin Avenue. I became such a regular that as I walked into the restaurant one of the waitresses would put my cup of coffee on my “usual” table or spot at the counter. She’d keep it full until I was ready to leave. Rich always had my breakfast ready at five to seven–good coffee and strong enough to get me ready for a day full of teenagers.

One morning a new waitress complained to Rich that no one had ordered the meal he had just put up for her. He said it was mine. She looked in my direction and I confirmed it. Yum, chili and cheese omelet, hash browns and sourdough toast. Of course, that was back in the days when I ran six or more miles per day and could eat like that.

At home I had a variety of drip coffee makers over the years and usually brewed Yuban coffee. In those years when my classroom(s) was too far from the teachers’ lounge/office to get coffee between classes I’d bring a large thermos and drink from it most of the day.

I couldn’t drink coffee late in the day or I had trouble getting to sleep. This even happened with decaf. I guess my mind/body just thought coffee = caffeine stay awake and do something.

For the last ten years or so I’ve used a Cuisinart coffee maker that has an internal grinder so I could have fresh ground coffee in the morning–it made good coffee–but the grinder was difficult to clean and became more trouble than it was worth. It was easier to use my small electric grinder rather than the one in the coffee maker.

In Retirement

Most of the time since I retired in 2012 I’d drink most of a carafe and, as thrifty (cheap) as I am, I’d microwave the rest the next day. More? I’d use my wife’s electric teakettle to heat some water and make instant coffee. The same if I wanted decaf in the evening, my body having adapted to caffeine, or lack thereof, in retirement.

But, instant coffee isn’t really coffee or, at least, doesn’t taste like it is.

A buddy of mine solved a like problem with the purchase of a K-cup machine.

Hmmmm . . . too expensive (remember I’m thrifty). I didn’t like the idea of more trash (K-cups), and I still have a good coffee maker.

Decided to look for a machine which would brew both a regular pot of coffee and single cups.


Well, I found a Cuisinart that would do the job–for two hundred dollars–ouch! I also found a Hamilton Beach for eighty dollars that would brew a pot, a K-cup single and came with a K-cup sized filter for using my own ground coffee. But, remember I’m thrifty; I sat on the idea for several weeks.

Last week I shopped for the Hamilton Beach on Amazon and found it for $79

I found the same model at Target for $89. However, if I ordered it online from Target the price was $79 and another 5% off with my Red Card. So, I bought it online and picked it up at our local target.

Washed everything out last night and brewed a pot this morning — mmmmmm, delicious coffee. This evening I’ll try the single serving side with some decaf and see the result.

PS: Had a whisky instead of decaf. Sunday morning I had one cup remaining in the carafe and zapped that in the microwave to drink while I read part of the morning paper. Read the rest of the paper while sitting on the exercise bike and then fixed Charlie’s breakfast and another cup of tea.

Rather than make a full pot of coffee I decided to try the single (K-cup) side of the coffee maker. Filled my coffee cup with water, poured it into the single-cup reservoir and inserted a Trader Joe’s Medium Roast K-cup. A few minutes later I had my second cup of coffee — ahhhhhh . . .

Note: Currently, I’m drinking a blend of Trader Joe’s Medium Roast and their Kenya AA.

Another Note: Right after I graduated from CSCLA the name was chanced to CSULA (University). I was sent a letter offering a new diploma with the “University” name for a one-time payment of $50. Think I got one? Remember, I’m thrifty; No Way, Jose!

At my feet
At my feet

Today’s Politics — The Musical Ass

The Musical Ass

— by Tomas de Iriarte y Oropesa

The fable which I now present,
Occurred to me by accident:
And whether bad or excellent,
Is merely so by accident.

A stupid ass this morning went
Into a field by accident:
And cropped his food, and was content,
Until he spied by accident
A flute, which some oblivious gent
Had left behind by accident;
When, sniffling it with eager scent,
He breathed on it by accident,
And made the hollow instrument
Emit a sound by accident.
“Hurrah, hurrah!” exclaimed the brute,
“How cleverly I play the flute!”

A fool, in spite of nature’s bent,
May shine for once, by accident.

The above at least partly expresses my views on today’s politicians.

And I wonder if I am the only one who sees a comparison between our current leader and one from Asimov’s Foundation novels.

Fraud, Scams and Oops! A Friday Morning in January

Fraud? Scam? or merely Oops?

Yesterday I received an email from Citizens One Personal Loans telling me that I had taken out a loan to purchase an iPhone X and my first payment of $49.91 was due on 1/8/18.


No, I haven’t purchased an iPhone X.

No, I had neither obtained nor attempted to obtain such a loan from Citizens Bank.

Bogus email: Rule #1 — Don’t click on any of the email links.

Okay, so how do figure out what’s up with this email?

Forward the email to Apple: [email protected] — with appropriate comments.

Look up Citizens Bank on Google. Hmmmmm . . . looks like a legitimate business.

Call the number I get from the Google search.

Well, I spent some 40+ minutes speaking with three people (two of the seemingly competent and understanding of my situation) and being on hold before being told that: yes, there was a real loan with the account number and payment that was on my email; no, I was not the person who had obtained the loan and was not obligated to pay it (as though I was going to); no, it did not appear to be a matter of fraud but of an error in the email address; yes, Citizens Bank was going to contact the account owner by means other than email and (attempt to) clear up the situation.

Cleared up? Hope so — Oooo – Rah!

Other Thoughts

Barcelona is paying Liverpool $192,000,000 (£142,000,000) for Philippe Coutinho.

Raiders are paying Jon Gruden $100,000,000 over the span of a 10-year contract.

What is Nick Saban going to get on his next contract if Alabama wins on Monday?

Alabama state minimum wage/Federal minimum wage = $7.25 / hour

The Trump Administration and its supporters appear to be tearing themselves apart. It seems as though there is no loyalty to each other nor to President Trump himself. And, Mr. Trump appears to reciprocate this loyalty, or lack thereof.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


Amazon delivered my copy of Lee and Miller’s Neogenesis on Tuesday — finished it Friday — Thumbs Up.

Stopped by the Huntington Beach Public Library on Thursday and found a copy of Sue Grafton’s last novel: Y is for Yesterday. Read the first four chapters while on the exercise bike this morning. It’s a bittersweet reading experience — for the alphabet ends with Y.

Cat Food — Feeding Mist & Smoke

Cat Food — Which to Pick?

Merlin and Magic
Merlin and Magic

Mist and Smoke are now about four and a half years old and, knock on wood, are in good health. Magic and Merlin — Di’s “Burmese boys” — lived to be 18 and 15, respectively, and passed away some ten days apart.

Not being raised a cat person, I purchased what ever food Di wanted or was on sale and didn’t pay particular attention to what was in it or how it was rated. If the cats liked it, I kept buying it. Magic and Merlin did quite well on the regimen of Iams, Nutro, Friskies, Science Diet and Royal Canin. Their diet consisted of wet foods at breakfast and dinner with dry food available 24/7.

With Mist and Smoke, however, I’ve taken a different tack. Di’s inability to shop on her own and my retirement give me both the responsibility for the purchase of cat food and the time to research both brands and individual products.

I’ve continued to feed Mist and Smoke both wet and dry food. Breakfast is at 7 am and dinner is served at 6 pm.

Dry Cat Food

After four years testing what they like and what I’ve researched, I currently feed a combination of Wellness Core, Open Farm and Science Diet Indoor.

Like people, cats have individual likes and dislikes. While cruciferous vegetables and kale might be good for me, I cannot stomach them and just the smell of some of them cooking nauseates me.

Neither cat likes Acana or Orijen, but both happily munch the Science Diet, which I consider to be much less healthy.

So, I’ve settled on feeding the cats with a mixed diet.

I have a large plastic box and periodically pour in a half dozen cups of the Wellness and Science Diet and three cups of the Open Farm. Then, I mix these together and dispense into their bowl when necessary. They “cherry pick” the Science Diet but also eat the rest of the mixture without demure.

I occasionally get coupons for other foods and, after checking the ingredient list to exclude those with wheat and/or corn, may add one to the mix to see how they like it. (Recently got a coupon for a “Free” 4-lb bag of Fussie Cat and got it for the cost of the sales tax. They ate it but didn’t prefer it over the others.) The same goes for samples occasionally given out at our neighborhood pet shops.

Wet Cat Food

Just like our previous cats, we feed Mist and Smoke wet (canned) food twice a day. I give them each about an ounce and a half in the morning and again at night. Brother Smoke, who is a couple of pounds heavier than his sister, would like more, but Mist often leaves a bite or three in her bowl.

Smoke and Mist asleep on Joe's lap.
Smoke and Mist asleep on Joe’s lap with Smoke using his sister as a pillow.

Smoke happily gobbles up Mist’s leavings when I don’t pick up her bowl in time, but he tends to throw up the meal when he eats more than his share. I also put away the dry food bowl. About two hours after the meal, I put out the left over wet food, which has been sitting in the fridge, and the dry food bowl from its drawer. Smoke usually eats the left over wet food right away and Mist has a few nibbles at the dry food.

Smoke will eat wet food that has been open and stored in the fridge, but Mist won’t. Neither cares for food warmed in the microwave for a few seconds. Therefore, I purchase most of the wet food in the the smaller 2.8 – 3.0 ounce cans. Yes, it’s more expensive, but the cats eat it and none goes to waste.

Currently, their wet food mix consists of: Wellness Morsels Tuna Entree, Wellness Sliced Salmon Entree, Wellness Signature Selects Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth and Wellness Signature Selects Skipjack Tuna & Shrimp Entrée in Broth.

Neither cat likes any of the patés I’ve tried; so, most of their food is sliced, flaked, cubed, morsels, etc.

They also prefer seafood to chicken, beef and other meats. Smoke will eat some of them but Mist just sniffs and turns away to “bury” her bowl.

I purchased some individual Tiki Cat cans a couple of weeks ago and three of the tuna versions were approved; they are on my next Chewy order. Neither of the cats would deign to even sample the Weruva cans I purchased at the same time I got the Tiki Cats, so they are off all future lists.

As I was about out of wet food and the next Chewy order isn’t due until the end of this week, I bought some cans of Blue Healthy Gourmet at Target the other day. The Flaked Tuna Entrée was quite favorably received this morning by both Smoke and Mist and the others will be sampled over the next couple of days.

Conclusions and “Advice”

I don’t know that there is any one food which will satisfy any cat’s needs or wants over its entire life. Likes, dislikes and needs change with experience and age for our feline family members just as ours do.

I believe that feeding our cats both what they really enjoy (even if it is the feline equivalent of ice cream or french fries) and what they like a little bit or merely tolerate (albeit what I think is higher quality food) will keep them in good health for a long feline lifetime. And, I’ll keep on trying out new/different foods to add into the mix.

If you need “advice” on what to feed your cat(s), go to several different sources. Try your cat’s vet — although, s/he may steer you to what the clinic stocks and sells. Pet shops and markets may stock many foods but be aware that some may be more profitable to them than others; this may influence what they try to sell you. Ask your friends; ask your Facebook friends and groups.

Also, check the Internet. Type: cat food ratings into your search engine and you’ll end up with millions of results — many, unfortunately, will be biased; so, check them out carefully.

I like CatFoodDB (Cat Food DataBase) and read several others.

Read the reviews of the foods on Amazon and Chewy — some of them have got to be legit.

And, don’t be afraid of buying a dozen or three different cans of food from a store’s shelves, your cats may like them. If they don’t like a particular brand you bought several of, give them away. Your next door neighbor’s cat may like them and a local shelter or rescue group will love them.


Yes, I know the Science Diet contains wheat and corn, but the cats love it. I had fish for dinner last night and “chips” and plenty of tartar sauce to go with. I will survive and so will they.