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  • Mandatory yardwork

    Posted on June 27th, 2006 Jeff Keller No comments

    One of the nice (or maybe not) things about living in the area which had one of the largest urban fires in US history is that the fire department is extra cautious so lightning doesn’t strike twice. You’re supposed to have your yard cleared by June 15th, or else they fine you and fix it themselves.
    Monday morning the doorbell rang, and I opened the door to see an Oakland firefighter standing in the front yard. Apparently I didn’t do a good enough job at clearing brush in the backyard (which took half a day a few weeks ago), so I have to get out the ol’ Grasshog and get to work — or else. Can’t say I’m too excited about cutting back ivy, blackberry, and probably poison oak, but I don’t have much choice in the matter.

  • Bizarre cat behavior

    Posted on June 27th, 2006 Jeff Keller 3 comments


    Zoe has been doing some strange things lately. A week or so ago I was “taking care of business” on the toilet. Zoe comes into the bathroom, jumps on the counter, goes into the sink, and proceeds to pee. I let her finish before scolding her (better there than on the floor, right?) and then she got an earful. And that was that.
    Jumping to yesterday (Monday): I’m hiring a pet sitter to watch Zoe while I’m in Europe. They came over for the “introduction visit” to meet me, Zoe, and see where things are in the house. They were heaping praise on Zoe, talking about her nice eyes and soft coat. Then she proceeded to go into the bathroom and get into the sink. I went over and grabbed her before she could do anything. I went back to the other room and sat down again. Two seconds later Zoe is headed back to the sink, and I went and got her AGAIN. This time she goes down the stairs toward the front door and proceeds to start peeing on the wall. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled at her, she stopped, and I told the sitters “she’s NEVER done that before!”, which as far as I know is true.
    The sitters think that Zoe got all territorial because they came in smelling like multiple cats. Thinking back to the first incident, that may have been the same day as my training at the rescue place, where I too was around multiple cats. So, I’m going to keep an eye on her before I leave, as will the sitter when I’m gone.
    Cats sure can be strange sometimes…

  • Two weeks and counting

    Posted on June 22nd, 2006 Jeff Keller 4 comments


    Two weeks from today I will be in Rome at the beginning of an “epic” three week trip around Europe. I’m not really prepared at all (though I have a valid passport, at least), and I really need to get my butt in gear so things don’t get crazy at the end.
    Here’s what the itinerary looks like at this point:
    July 6-7: Fly to Rome, in Business class no less. Thank goodness for United miles!
    July 7-8: Explore Rome (I’ve been before)
    July 9: Trip to Florence, hopefully
    July 10: Board the Noordam in Civitavecchia
    July 11: Day at sea
    July 12: Dubrovnik, Croatia
    July 13: Corfu, Greece
    July 14: Olympia (Katakolon), Greece
    July 15: Santorini, Greece (really looking forward to this one)
    July 16: Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey
    July 17: Day at sea
    July 18: Valetta, Malta
    July 19: Messina (Sicily), Italy
    July 20: Back to Civitavecchia, then it’s off to Budapest!
    July 21-25: Touring Hungary (with a little Austria thrown in for good measure) with my friend Tibor and his family
    July 26: Loongggg flight back to the USA, once again upstairs in business class
    I imagine that I’ll be exhausted and fatter (from all the eating) when I return. I’m gonna do my best to post pictures on my blog whenever I can — the ship has Internet, but it’s slow and expensive. It’ll be nice to finally get a break from work!

  • Jeff Keller: Certified Cat Socializer

    Posted on June 20th, 2006 Jeff Keller 6 comments

    Today I completed my “training” at the animal rescue foundation where I’m volunteering and I’m now a certified cat socializer, complete with a black paw stamp on my name badge.
    I already had one group training session a few weeks ago, but today was a one-on-one with a “cat coach” (I’m not making this up). I got some hands on time with the kitties too, spending about 30 minutes with Adonis (he’s a BIG cat) and Libra.
    So, I did my “internship”, passed my written exam, so next up is getting on the schedule so I can start doing my “job”. I’ll try to bring a camera one of these days to take some pics… who knows, maybe it’ll get one of these cats adopted!

  • A few pics from the Santa Barbara Zoo

    Posted on June 19th, 2006 Jeff Keller No comments

    I was in Southern California over the weekend and I stopped off at the Santa Barbara Zoo on the way down. My sister works at the zoo, so we learned some things that most people don’t get to. Click the link for a few of my favorite pictures.

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  • Gardening in Oakland

    Posted on June 15th, 2006 Jeff Keller 4 comments


    Back when I lived in Brentwood I used to write a lot about my gardening adventures, but I haven’t mentioned what’s growing here.
    Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve got corn (yes, corn), onions, grapes, peppers (well, they’re trying), tomatoes, green beans, watermelon, and my personal favorite, sugar snap peas (pictured). Despite being a much cooler climate, everything seems to be growing well!

  • Brentwood Fruit Picking: 2006 Edition

    Posted on June 10th, 2006 Jeff Keller 4 comments


    Today was the day for my third annual Brentwood fruit picking trip. Fellow fruit picking enthusiast “Mom” joined me, and we hit the cherry, peach, and apricot orchards, plus a strawberry farm. Click the link for a few pics.

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  • Chase: You have failed me for the last time

    Posted on June 7th, 2006 Jeff Keller 1 comment

    Well, my credit card was declined once again today courtesy of Chase. I called them, asked for a supervisor and was disconnected. I called back, jumped through all the security hoops, and was told that I would not have any more problems. I told the woman on the other line (and who knows what country she was in) that if I had any more trouble that I would cancel the card.
    So, I got home and tried to refill my Starbucks card and guess what: card declined. So, I’m transferring my balance out of there to another card and will cancel the Chase (United Mileage Plus Visa) as soon as that’s done. I’m not going to waste any more time dealing with the imbeciles in their fraud department.