Have My Cats Sprouted Thumbs?

Earlier this week I came out of the bedroom just after six in the morning, as I do every workday, following Misaki who bursts out of the bedroom in a whirl of fur. (I'm actually not kidding about fur - she's blowing her coat right now, which means fur everywhere.)

For some reason she ran over to the corner of the coffee table (the picture below is a weak re-enactment), sniffing at something. Thinking maybe one of the cats had been sick during the night and not wanting Misaki to "clean up," I followed her over to check it out.

She was sniffing the base of one of the table legs (in this pic it would be the one furthest from the camera). There was something small there, so I picked it up and found this.

It took me a minute to figure out what it was: a nut that holds the frame of the table to the legs. Both the frame and the legs are steel and each leg is attached to the frame with four bolts and nuts (the below picture is an upside down look at each corner). That may sound like overkill, but the top of the table simply lays on the frame and is made from a solid piece of slate; it's freakin' heavy.

But now that I knew what the item in my hand was, I was confused. How did it come unscrewed from the bolt? Each of the other fifteen nuts were screwed on tight. The table hadn't moved in a couple years and in that time no one has ever messed with the nuts and bolts. Misaki will sometimes curl up under that table, but not at the corner that was unscrewed (in the picture above it's the corner to the left side of the image). Plus, she doesn't sit and paw at random things.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one other tidbit. See, I didn't even find this nut under where it came unscrewed. No, instead it was nestled at the base of the another leg three feet away.

In the absence of any other explanation, that only leaves these fiendishly clever little felines.

Sera and Moochie: "What do you want?"

Did my cats really do this? Did they figure out how to unscrew a nut that at one time was tightened with a wrench? And how long have they been working on this? Was it just one of them, or a team effort? And what were they trying to accomplish?

So many questions, so few answers. Maybe, perhaps, the biggest questions of all are these: Should I be worried? What are they going to unscrew next?

If you don't hear from me for a while, it might be because the cats unscrewed my office chair and I collapsed. They are pretty sneaky...


Hail to the King, the Pumking

I had sworn off fruity and flavored beers completely.

There had been some bad experiences - and zero good ones - most notably the Black & Blue by Dogfish Head tasting of rancid blueberries and raspberries. Ugh.

I was not going to bother with ales brewed with pumpkin, figuring it was just another shtick I would end up regretting spending my money on. But then friends started going on and on about how good their pumpkin brews were, and it eventually broke down my defenses. Everyone else was enjoying them and I wanted in.

So I started with Stingy Jack, a pumpkin brew from the local Laurelwood Brewery. I could smell the pumpkin a little bit when I popped the cap off the bottle, but I only barely tasted it. The flavors were very well balanced though, with not too much pumpkin pie spices or hops. I enjoyed it, so I decided I was willing to try more.

Next came Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head.

As I mentioned above, I'd had a bad experience with Dogfish, even though many craft brew fans love them. Another one of theirs I tried, the Festina Peche (peach flavored), was just odd and I wouldn't recommend it. But still, Punkin was one of the top-rated pumpkin brews nationally and also one of the more inexpensive bottles, so I said what the heck.

And I liked this one too. It had slightly more spice than the Stingy Jack, but was still well balanced. I'm not a big hops fan, something Dogfish Head is known for, but this brew shows a lot of restraint in that regard.

At this point I deemed myself a pumpkin ale convert.

Friends on the east coast sang the praises of Southern Tier's Pumking all this time, so I had to have it. The problem was Southern Tier hadn't sent any to Portland yet. Most of the local places I pick up beer - Whole Foods or New Seasons, or specialty shops like Belmont Station and John's Marketplace - all carry Southern Tier and I swore I had seen it in previous years, but the middle of October came and still no one had any in stock.

I had just about resigned myself to not getting any Pumking, when Belmont Station - about 18 miles away from me across Portland - posted this:
Here it is. After literally hundreds of phone calls over the last few weeks, the Southern Tier Pumking is finally here. Despite us receiving 40 cases it's sure to go quick, so don't delay if you're hoping to stock up.
Belmont Station is a great place for craft brew aficionados and they maintain their website very well with twice-weekly updates of bottles they get. Needless to say, I was there when they opened the next day. (I have no idea how far 40 cases - 480 bottles - goes, and since they had hundreds of calls I didn't want to miss out.

I bought two bottles and opened up one that night with dinner. Just opening this bottle is tasty, because it smells exactly like pumpkin pie. Exactly. You don't get the alcohol in the nose at all. It pours a nice orange-amber with little head.

And it tastes as good as it smells. Maybe better. I would recommend this to the entire world if I could, since I stocked up with a couple more bottles the next day.

I'm saving these a little bit...it'll be nice to crack one open in March or April, to get a little bit of a fall flashback.

Then, after all of that pining and looking, I stopped at New Seasons to get some milk on the way home from work the other day and what do I see? Cases of Pumking. So buy them now, while you can, because they sure won't last long.

Well, that, and it's one of the best beers I've ever had. Believe the hype and bow down before the Pumking.


2011 Pacific-12 Football: Week 9

Last week I managed a 4-2 to push me to 44-15 on the season. To be honest, I need to pick it up. A 6-0 week here or there would be nice.

Of course, when Utah and California seem to trot out completely different teams every game, it makes picking winners difficult. And what about those Oregon State Beavers? The quality of those freshmen they play...they may be two years away from a Rose Bowl berth. Laugh at your own risk.

The Oregon and Arizona State games should be over before halftime this week, but the rest of the games have a chance to go down to the wire. Don't discount the Wildcats in Seattle - an upset would not be a total shock. And I picked Stanford over USC, but I am willing to bet their streak of eight straight wins of 25 points or more comes to an end.

And with that, on to this week's picks! Rankings in parentheses (AP, ESPN). All times Pacific.
(Time - Matchup - Network - Pick)


12:00pm - Washington State at Oregon (7, 7) - ROOT Sports - OREGON
3:30pm - Colorado at Arizona State (23, 20) - Fox College Sports Pacific - ARIZONA STATE
4pm - Cal at UCLA - No TV - CAL
4pm - Oregon State at Utah - ROOT Sports - OREGON STATE
5pm - Stanford (4, 3) at USC (20, NR) - ABC - STANFORD
7:30pm - Arizona at Washington (29, 31) - ROOT Sports - WASHINGTON

Stanford and Oregon are bowl-eligible with six wins. Washington and Arizona State should become bowl-eligible this week with wins. USC earned their sixth win, but is not eligible for the postseason.

The Pac-12 has contracts with seven bowl games. Look at the current standings - I'm not convinced they can fill even five of them... Cal? Maybe. UCLA? Wazzu? Oregon State? Utah? They all need quite a bit of help to get to six wins.

Who do you pick?


Dear Netflix: Thank You

Dear Netflix:

I changed my plan on the website today, downgrading to a cheaper option. It was something I've been meaning to do for awhile, I just hadn't got around to it. Then, not more than a couple hours later, I read this article on CNN about how you lost 800,000 subscribers this past summer and I felt I needed to explain a bit.

See, the fact of the matter is I changed my plan because of that initial decision by your company to split apart the Instant streaming option from the disc options, but it's not out of anger or annoyance. No, it's because I'm glad they are now two different things and I don't want to pay for streaming.

This is Misaki's Twitter buddy, Taro the Shiba, nomming on a Netflix envelope.

See, streaming just doesn't do anything for me. I understand the point, but I don't use it. I don't watch video on my computer, my phone, or my iPad, nor do I have any intention of beginning anytime soon. I own a 46-inch television which I like very much, but it's not a streaming device. Sure, I can use my PlayStation3 (and have), but every time I go to stream something I have to re-synch the device to my account or download some kind of update. After I finally get that done, then I have to wait for the movie to download and most of the time there are still hiccups.

On top of that, it doesn't download in the same quality of video as a Blu-Ray disc. It's a hassle, and whether or not it's my setup (I doubt it) or my ISP (maybe), the fact of the matter is it just doesn't work for me.

And that's fine, I'm sure. I understand Netflix's plan all along has been the discs were only a bridge until they could go all streaming. Unfortunately infrastructure just doesn't support that yet, nor are people ready for that. And then there are people like me, who sit in front of a computer all day long and really want to relax on the couch and enjoy that wide screen Sony they bought. Maybe if my computer monitor was nicer, or my office chair more comfortable, I'd change my mind. But they aren't. Add in the fact I watch a movie at most once a week (usually less) and it's not like I'm going to run out of first-run movies (that aren't available for streaming anyway) to watch.

So all of this is just to say when a dollar amount was finally attached to streaming and the opportunity there to choose to not include streaming and pay less, I was very pleased.

Yes, there were hiccups for Netflix, PR-wise, but I get it. I totally understand the thought process behind coming up with Qwikster, even if you aren't sticking with it. It makes sense because that's not your core business, that's not what is going to carry Netflix forward. The price changes make sense too, since I have read about how the studios, some of whom gave you a sweetheart distribution deal in the beginning, are now squeezing you. I know your costs are about to skyrocket, and you know what? Even with raising the price, your service is still cheaper for me than any other service.

Netflix, I get it. And yes, I did change my plan, and as a single number in a spreadsheet which says I downgraded and am now paying you less money per month, it will look like I made the decision because I'm unhappy, but I wanted to make it clear that's the furthest from the truth. I am, in fact, very happy with Netflix's service and made the change because of that.

Thank you for finally giving me exactly what I want. I appreciate that.


The MyNWX Family


Moochie Wanted A Walk

Most of the time when we go to take Misaki for a walk the cats barely raise an eyebrow. Moochie and Sera have no desire to go outside and while Lilo would like to, they generally stay away from the front door.

Not the other day. I called Misaki over to put on her collar and leash. As usual, she took her time, but Moochie raced over, rubbing on legs and talking like a madman (this is normal for him). Misaki just shakes her head and huffs at him.

Then I had this great idea - why not put the collar on Moochie? I had no idea if he would go for it, but I told Wifey to grab the camera, just in case. The next time he rubbed on my shin I dropped the collar over his head (the collar is way bigger than his head).

At first he seemed a little surprised.

It wasn't Moochie's first experience with a leash. We actually bought cat harnesses and leads for him and Sera way back when we first got them. Moochie doesn't mind the harness, but he doesn't do well being led around by the leash, even just in the backyard - he still goes where he wants. Sera...well, we got the harness on her a couple times - yes, blood was drawn - and she freaked out, throwing her body around the room and bouncing off walls until we finally took it off. Lilo loves it.

Then Misaki had to come over and check out what was going on. After all, it was her leash. She kept sniffing and sniffing at the leash and at Moochie.

Mooch decided to walk around a bit. The weight of the collar didn't seem to bother him too much, but then again he's an 18-pound beast of a Bengal cat. Everywhere he went Misaki shadowed him.

This is Misaki finally very, very concerned. She was told we were taking her for a walk, and now the cat is wearing her collar and leash and she isn't going anywhere. I believe she is trying to work her Shiba Mind Control on Moochie to take off the collar.

Right after the previous picture, he just about did. I didn't have a tight hold on the Flexi-lead - just enough to guide him because I didn't want to yank on his neck. Cats, as those of you that have had them probably know, aren't very receptive to being tugged on.

I'm not quite sure what happened, but Moochie suddenly freaked out and took off, yanking the Flexi out of my hand. The handle hit Wifey in the leg, bounced around the couch and off the glass side table, hit the wall, and finally wrapped itself around a chair leg as Moochie ran for refuge by his scratching post.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but his tail is fluffed out huge - you could have cleaned a bottle with that thing.

After he calmed down I took the collar off of him and he was fine. Misaki huffed like crazy though, because she didn't appreciate her collar being shared with her little bro.

So if you ever get bored and have a cat, throw a leash on him and see what happens. Have your camera ready.


2011 Pacific-12 Football: Week 8

Last week I went 3-3. Yikes - one of my worst weeks in a long time. Who knew Utah would go on the road and kick ass after getting worked in the Pac-12? And that Cal would roll over like that? Oh, and apparently BYU has a good offense. Oh well - 3-3 sends me to 40-13 on the season. I need to do better.

Couple things I figured out last week:

1 - Oregon doesn't need LaMichael James. That may sound odd considering he could be the best running back in the nation, but Kenjon Barner filled the star back role just fine. James is very, very good, but the Ducks can win without him.

2 - Oregon State needs to quit making the mistakes. If the Beavers could cut down on the turnovers on offense they would have at least two more wins now - maybe more. The defense, which is just as young as the offense, is forcing turnovers like crazy, but the offense is giving it right back. Until they can keep it to two or less and win the turnover battle, they will continue to struggle. Love all the talent they have on both sides, and an expanded role for Malcolm Agnew at running back this week should be a positive.

Also, I'm pleased the Beavers are finally on a station this week I get in HD. After three straight weeks on Fox College Sports Pacific (which is not in HD), getting a game on Root Sports is something worth celebrating. Plus, besides the lack of HD the production on Fox College Sports Pacific is pathetic. The cameramen keep losing the ball, their is a distinct lack of replays, and the score and time on the screen is almost always wrong. Bad announcers I can deal with, since that's common on most all channels, but bad production? It's like Fox just hired meth-addicted monkeys to put on the show.

And with that, on to this week's picks! Rankings in parentheses (AP, ESPN). All times Pacific.
(Time - Matchup - Network - Pick)


6pm - UCLA at Arizona - ESPN - ARIZONA


12:40pm - Oregon (9, 8) at Colorado - ROOT Sports - OREGON
4pm - Utah at California - No TV? - UTAH
4:30pm - USC (28, NR) at Notre Dame (27, 27) - NBC - USC
5pm - Washington (22, 24) at Stanford (7, 5) - ABC - STANFORD
7:30pm - Oregon State at Washington State (in Seattle) - ROOT Sports - WASHINGTON STATE

Stanford is bowl-eligible with six wins. Oregon and Washington can become bowl-eligible this week with wins. USC also could get it's sixth win, but is not eligible for the postseason.

Who do you pick?


2011 Pacific-12 Football: Week 7

Finally I managed a slightly better week with the picks, going 4-1 last week to push me to 37-10 on the season. The lone miss was Oregon State earning their first win of the season over Arizona, which may have led directly like to Zona Coach Mike Stoops' firing a couple days later.

I'm not overly surprised the Beavers won. If you have watched them the last couple weeks you've seen a very young team improve dramatically week to week. If they continue to improve at this rate, it wouldn't be a total shock to see them at 4-4 when they visit Stanford on November 5th (I wouldn't put money on it, I'm just saying).

One tidbit I want to point you to this week, from ESPN's Ted Miller. For his second half prediction article he posted today he predicted a Pac-12 championship game matchup of a 9-3 ASU and 11-1 Stanford. I have no problem with him choosing those two teams, but I do have a question: How does Stanford win the Pac-12 North and end up with an 11-1 record?

One of two things must happen for Stanford to win the division and lose a game.

1 - They beat Oregon, but lose to someone else. Given the rest of their schedule I just don't see a game the Cardinal lose if it's not Oregon. If both teams finish with one conference loss, the first tie-breaker is the head-to-head matchup.


2 - Stanford beats Oregon but loses to someone else (Washington? USC?) and the Ducks also lose another conference game (Washington)?

I find either of these, given the conference dominance by Stanford and Oregon, unlikely. I strongly believe the winner of the Oregon-Stanford game - November 12th in Palo Alto - will determine the Pac-12 North winner. And nothing else. That means Oregon will represent at 11-1 overall (with the loss to LSU), or Stanford will at 12-0. If Stanford finishes the season at 12-0, they have a strong shot at going to the national championship game, and if they finish 11-1 (with only a loss to Oregon), they have a strong shot at going to another BCS game with an at-large bid.

But 11-1 and playing in the Pac-12 title game? I can't see it.

On to the games! Rankings in parentheses (AP, ESPN). All times Pacific.
(Time - Matchup - Network - Pick)


6pm - USC (31, NR) at Cal - ESPN - CAL


9am - Utah at Pittsburgh - ESPNU - PITTSBURGH
12:30pm - Colorado at Washington (27, 27) - ROOT - WASHINGTON
1pm - BYU at Oregon State - Fox College Sports Pacific - OREGON STATE
4:30 pm - Stanford (7, 5) at Washington State - Versus - STANFORD
7:15pm - Arizona State (18, 20) at Oregon (9, 9) - ESPN - OREGON

This week Arizona and UCLA are off. Stanford and ASU can both become bowl-eligible with wins this week.

Who do you pick?


Do Not Miss: Mucca Osteria

A new Italian restaurant is open in downtown Portland, Mucca Osteria, on SW Morrison between 10th and 11th, right on the westbound MAX tracks. The chef, Simone Savaiano, is a native of Rome, but moved to the U.S., married an American from Los Angeles, worked in Santa Monica for five years, then they traveled. On that trip they came to Portland, loved it, and moved here.

I am, selfishly, glad they did. The restaurant is two levels, with stairs that go up to the second floor balcony (you can see the railing in the picture below). There are tables on the main floor and a few seats at the bar of the open kitchen. (As always, click on the picture for a larger version.)

Wifey and I visited on a Friday night, arriving just as they opened at 5:30pm (they are also open for lunch). We were first, but the restaurant had tables available for anyone who may have walked by. The staff was very knowledgeable, helpful with questions, and gave us space while at the same time very attentive. Mucca's menu is online, but don't take it as gospel - the actual menu was slightly different, and they have chalkboard specials.

First we were brought housemade bread, two slices each of a ciabatta, a sourdough, and a dark, nutty bread. All of them were excellent, and even tastier with the wonderful olive oil provided for dipping.

We decided on an appetizer of burrata (see here for a definition of burrata) with heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar.

This entire dish was fantastic. The balsamic, in particular, really made everything pop, and the burrata was a revelation. I may never be satisfied with "normal" fresh mozzarella again. See the dark spots on top? A black salt, perfect for the dish. I could eat this all day.

Wifey ordered gnochetti with gorgonzola cheese, Italian sausage and walnuts (watch Simone make it!) These small puffs of pasta were not overpowered by the flavor of the gorgonzola, a mistake many restaurants can (and do) make. The sausage had plenty of flavor, providing welcome bursts of spice.

I ordered the spaghetti amatraciana with guanciale and San Marzano tomatoes. Again, fantastic flavors. The sauce had a pleasant creaminess to it, with the guanciale providing punches of meatiness.

I knew I wanted a glass of wine with dinner, but looking at the long wine list all in Italian I didn't know what to choose (well, actually, by the glass there are only two whites and two reds to choose from). At the suggestion of the staff based on the pastas we ordered, we went with a red: Cannonau di Sardegna d.o.c. Feudi della Medusa 2007 (from Sardegna). This was the smoother of the two and it was very pleasant on the tongue, almost velvety. Great flavor as well.

One note about the pastas: Depending on how much you normally eat and how hungry you are, it may not be enough. They are created with fantastic flavor and an exceptional level of skill, but the servings may be considered small compared to other restaurants. Don't worry about it - order an appetizer too.

Or two desserts, like we did.

The first was a vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh blueberry sauce. Panna cotta is something we love to order (especially if it's vanilla bean) and so fancy ourselves amateur experts; this may be the best we've had in town. Look at the picture below - see how the panna cotta holds its shape? Usually it seems to be served in a dish and if I had to guess there is no way it would stay together served on a plate like this. And yet, it still has all the soft creaminess necessary for a great version of the classic. The blueberries were a nice addition and the vanilla flavor was, well, perfect. I'd go back just to eat one of these. Or two.

The other dessert, almost as good, was a flourless chocolate cake with strawberry reduction and balsamic vinegar drizzled around the plate. Dense and moist, the chocolate tasted of high quality and the strawberry added the perfect amount of sweetness to go with the rich dark chocolate. One bite of all three flavors is about as close to the perfect dessert as one can get.

With our desserts we were also served complimentary glasses of a white dessert wine. It was a moscato called Dinderello from the Maculan winery in Veneto. We were told it had fig flavors, which I am not a fig person so I don't know, but it has a wonderful smell and a flavor to match. Sweet, but not too sweet like most dessert wines, especially the local ones. Oregon has a great, young wine industry, but it's going to be a long time before they can realistically compete with the centuries old vines from the old world.

Dinner wasn't cheap, but not crazy either. $69 for an appetizer, two pasta dishes, two desserts, and a glass of wine isn't that bad, but I would pay this gladly every single time. There was not one thing we didn't like about the meal or the service and we plan on making this a regular stop.

There's just one thing that's bothering me. They need more customers! We walked in on a Friday night in downtown Portland and were seated right away. Sure, it was early, but when we left over an hour later, we still would have been seated immediately. Mucca is quickly becoming a food favorite and has been written up in The Oregonian (see above), but they still aren't that busy. Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily want a line out the door of my favorite restaurant so cumbersome I decide to go elsewhere or work my schedule around it (like, say, Toro Bravo or Tasty n Sons), but more customers to assure Mucca's continued success would be nice.

By writing this and telling people about the virtues of the restaurant I'm doing what I can do to help them out - even though the number of people who will read this I can count on my fingers and toes (yep, toes too, moving on up...) - so hopefully it's enough to convince people to give Mucca a try. I guarantee if I help get you in the door, Mucca will do the rest to ensure you return and tell your friends.


2011 Pacific-12 Football: Week 6

Not a good week for me at all in Week 5, posting just a 3-2 record to bring the season score to 33-9. The conference this year really is very balanced; after Oregon and Stanford any of these teams can win on any given Sunday.

Some of you may be laughing at that comment, especially considering Oregon State's 0-4 record, but I actually thought the Beavers played a ton better this past week than they did in the weeks before. They still desperately need running back Malcolm Agnew back, but the freshman are improving every week. Running back Terron Ward looked better, and the freshman defensive players (like Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton) at times dominated Arizona State. (By the way, check out the roster to see the proportion of freshmen.)

And yes, there were also mistakes, but sometimes freshman make mistakes. They are competing and I have a strong feeling by the end of this season they will put together a couple complete games and the Beavers will surprise some people. And next year? The Beavers could be very good.

Also, I can't wait until the Pac-12 network comes around next year. I'm sick of watching games on Fox College Sports because I don't get that in HD. Yeah, I know, first world problems.

On to the games! Rankings in parentheses (AP, ESPN). All times Pacific.
(Time - Matchup - Network - Pick)


6pm - California at Oregon (9, 9) - ESPN - OREGON


12:30pm - Arizona at Oregon State - Fox College Sports Pacific - ARIZONA
12:30pm - Arizona State (22, 24) at Utah - Root Sports - ARIZONA STATE
4:30pm - Colorado at Stanford (7, 4) - Versus - STANFORD
7:30pm - Washington State at UCLA - Root Sports - UCLA

This week USC (35, NR) and Washington (28, 31) have the week off.

Who do you pick?


My Personal Energy Report

Apparently NW Natural Gas and Portland General Electric have decided to go out of their way to make me feel guilty about the amount of energy we use here in the MyNWX household.

Each month they jointly send out something called the Personal Energy Report. They mail this to me, rather than sending it via email, despite the fact both have my email address on file and were adamant they wanted to send my bills electronically about a year or so back.

I never asked for this report, but it just started appearing in my mailbox sometime in the last year.

What it does is tell you how much energy I use in this index they created that combines eletricity (kilowatt hours) and natural gas (therms) into a single measurement. They then take this number, put it on a bar graph, and compare your household to 100 neighbors that have a home similar in size and also have gas and electricity service.

This bar graph has three lines. A green line indicates how much energy the most efficient 20% of neighbors in the group uses.

The gray line in the middle is an average of all 100 neighbors.

The blue line at the bottom is your usage rate. Then, in big, bold lettering they give you your rank among the 100 neighbors.

Apparently my house is not very efficient, or I'm using way more juice than everyone else, because every month this report calls out my rank of 75 or lower in the group of 100 and then proceeds to detail ways for me to be more efficient.

I have no issues with pointing this information out. On some level, it's helpful. However, it also lacks complete context. The value of my home is right about average for my neighborhood, which is about as average middle class as it gets. However, my house has air conditioning, which I run from roughly June through September. Yes, it uses significantly more juice than a house without it, which doesn't bother me one bit - I will pay for A/C in my house and not feel a shred of remorse.

However, homes with A/C are not common in the greater Portland area, especially on homes in similar size and value as mine (I'd like to say it was my idea to put it in, but the house came with it, thankfully). I'm curious: How many of the 74 homes who are more efficient than mine have A/C? There could be some, sure, but I'm guessing not many.

Of course, the people putting together this report have no idea if I have A/C or not, or if anyone else does either. They don't know if I have a gas stove or anything else - this entire report is based simply on the fact I and 99 other people in houses of similar size have both gas and electric service.

Again, send me the report if you must, but give it context. My home should only be compared with like homes (i.e., ones with A/C). By ignoring a key point of information, this group is inadvertantly making a blanket statement that the only thing that matters is your energy bottom line. If I simply opened my windows and laid on the floor sweating heavily when the thermostat topped 95 degrees, I'd get a gold star.

The end of the report has something called Action Steps - things you can do to reduce your energy costs. Again, a great idea. But are they helpful? Here's the three things:

1 - Hang laundry to dry. Sure, I could do that, I suppose. That might save a tiny bit of electricity - in those same four months I use my A/C. Not really sure what they expect their customers in Portland to do the other eight months of the year...

2 - Remove your second refrigerator. I'll keep that in mind, if I ever buy one.

3 - Use solar outdoor lights. I'll keep this in mind, also, if I ever start using outdoor lights.

I gotta say, getting this report every month never fails to simply annoy me. It feels a little bit like a personal attack, even though it's really meaningless. It's not like my rates are going up or anything, it's simply a statement of what NW Natural and PGE consider facts.

And I still can't get over how they can't just email this to me...