On kitty litter

 

Some time ago I was offered a free box of World’s Best Cat Litter in return for a review on the blog, and I kind of jumped at the chance with unseemly haste.  Anything that promises to make the litter chore easier or better is too good of an opportunity to pass up.  So I promptly agreed, and shortly after received a small box of corn litter to try out.

 

Full disclosure – I don’t do cat litter. I used to, and found the job disgusting, and spent a fortune on a Litter Robot which is God’s answer to cat litter management.  It worked phenomenally well, I loved it, and that would have been the happy ending, except for James broke it one day.  And I said,  since you broke it, you feel free to clean cat litter, cause you see I had a ROBOT that did it, so feel free to either replace it, or manage the cat litter single handedly.  So he’s been doing the cat litter solo since then. So all World’s Best Cat Litter observations are his.

 

My impressions were – this ain’t gonna be enough litter, yo. We have two giant litter boxes for four cats, which we spot clean every day or two, and fully empty once a week. This system works pretty good, although not nearly as good as my Litter Robot. So we set up a small litter box full of World’s Best to see how it would play out in the arena.  All the boxes were fully clean and ready to go in a nod to scientific consistency.

 

My cats LOVE it when their litter box is cleaned, so they were pretty much a ready audience when we (James) were done with the litter set up. They are also creatures of habit, so first they were fascinated with their old clean boxes. Other than a perfunctory sniff not one chose World’s Best until the regular boxes were soiled. But you know what? Cats are like kids and old people – rather change averse.  So that means nothing.  The litter comes out of the box smelling freshly grassy with a faint corn scent and pours very nicely compared to clay, by the way.

 

So three out of four cats proceeded to use WBCL and it was pretty darn good. There is far less dust raised when pouring the litter, scooping, or raking maniacally by cats. It clumps completely and is really far superior to clay at holding urine smells at bay. All the cats continued to use it as their regular boxes got smellier, so they can definitely tell the difference.  The stuff can be flushed too which we didn’t test cause we (James) were already cleaning clay, but I’m sure it’s safe.  Not so much good at keeping poop smells at bay, but really, nothing is. Except the Litter Robot.  Because we had three cats using it, we went through it pretty quickly despite the fact that we dumped out less litter clumps per sweep.

 

Verdict – it would be immensely worth trying for a one or two cat household. Because we have SO many cats we would need a pallet of this stuff. And of course it’s more expensive than clay. Because you use less overall litter, it should last far longer than clay, but in our case it still went pretty quickly.  Odor control is excellent at the start of the box, and diminishes with time, as does clay. Dust is less but it will still track a bit.  You really have to try a bag for longevity to see if you get any cost savings, my guess is probably.

 

Is it the answer and the holy grail of cat litter management? Not really.  It’s still litter, you still scoop it, it will still smell depending on how heavily it’s used.  If you mixed it with the Litter Robot though, I think you would be as close to Nirvana as cat ownership gets.

 

 

Back in the saddle again!

 

I tried to stay away I really did. But even though this is likely the busiest I’ve ever been in my life, I miss having stuff to say and throw into the ether of the interwebs.

How busy is busy? Crazy crazy busy. This new job that I’ve started is a full time desk that was about four months behind, and I’ve been playing catch up since I started here in February. (In case you’re wondering about my frequent job-hopping and general trustworthiness, I am a contractor while I’m in school and as such I get around, :)) School is also busy, but that’s nothing new, and won’t change anytime soon. I am also doing a side project in school, helping my family with various stuffs, and trying to spend enough time on myself to recharge the batteries.  There is no garden for me this year, nor woodworking, and I have to indulge my creative juices mainly in the kitchen which requires far less of a time commitment for productive results. I’ve baked a lot of bread.

I’ve also been keeping up with the exercise, seeing it as a crutch of sanity, and in fact, am stepping it up for a couple of months just to get leaner for the summer.  And as a function of that I’ve just bought and fallen in love with a special foam roller, called the rumble roller.  I’ve long had a foam roller, which is great for treating muscle aches and pains, especially if you’re prone to muscle tightness, knots, and general stiffness. Well this is like a foam roller on crack, with bulging bumps that look a bit medieval, that dig deep into the muscle tissue and do great things.

 

 

I spent about an hour with it the first night I got it, and holy cow, it’s the greatest self treatment tool I’ve ever used. Painful, but excellent. My calves have not been so loose since I was a kid, my right forearm which had a suspicious tingle I thought was the start of carpal tunnel is gone, my quads are looser, and so on. I use it on traps, neck, lats, and even arms which are surprisingly sore. After using it, my deadlift went up by 20 lbs, just like that, which I attribute to looser muscles ‘firing’ properly for the first time. So if you’re prone to muscle tightness and enjoy sports massage, this may be the answer. I brought it to the gym when I bought it, and it was immediately popular with all the trainers, they practically fought over it while I worked out.

Of course, if you don’t enjoy deep tissue massage, or find hard massage painful, then this is likely not for you. It really is a tool for athletes, so if you need it, you likely know.

Mom and I went to Austin for a long weekend, and had a blast. One of the neatest things we did there was take a tour of the city on the Segway scooters. I have never seen such childlike excitement and happiness on my mom’s face. Never. She took to it despite her fear and hesistation, and had a blast. She still talks about it, and wants to buy one.  I’ll post some pictures soon, it was really amazing. If there is a Segway tour in your area, run don’t walk there and take one.

All the cats are great – Tweak needed and got about 1200.00 worth of dental surgery, and the respiratory infection she nursed for like six months magically disappeared.  Pumpkin still loves Cheney, follows him around like a lovestruck puppy, and sits on his head at naptime. Cheney is… still special. Alfie is good buds with everyone and loves her new scratch post. All in all it’s a pretty happy household.

 

 

And on that note, I will come back and write about something else soon. I miss you all!

 

 

Pho-nomenal

 

 

A good bowl of pho is a work of art. An addictive, delicious work of art, that I crave sometimes with the intensity of a crack addict needing a fix. Maybe that’s a hyperbole, but it feels very true nevertheless.  Over the holiday break I feasted on plenty of delicious foods including a roast goose, a leg of lamb, homemade egg nog, the best fruit punch in the world, and many other delicacies, and yet by the time this week rolled around I was craving a bowl of restorative pho with a scary intensity.

 

I am not alone in my love, there are many addicts roaming the streets looking for their next fix, so I’d like to tell you about the most amazing pho in Calgary. It’s served in a small nondescript restaurant in Chinatown, one of those ones you’ve been to many times, and the decor looks like a hundred other venerable establishments.  It’s located in a building that positively reeks of all manner of dried seafood, so you have to bravely cross that barrier before you get there, but never mind, it’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

A pho lives and dies by its broth, and Pho Hoai’s broth is a work of art. Rich, meaty, silky, it’s as close to ridiculously great as I’ve been able to find in our city. The soup will inevitably contain some noodles, your choice of meat, sliced onions and cilantro if you so desire (I don’t), and will come gilded with a huge plate of the freshest, largest basil you’ll ever see, a hot pepper or two, some lime wedges, and a large handful of bean sprouts to add some crunch. The rare meat slowly cooks in the hot broth as you swirl around the noodles and achieves a perfect tender texture.

 

 

And as you toss in a handful of sprouts and basil, and drizzle in some lime juice (or a metric ton, if you’re like me), and sip that rich broth that tastes like a spicy hug, you can’t help but feel that the universe must be a pretty benevolent place for something like this soup to exist.

 

 

5/5 

PHO HOAI
132 3 Ave SE
(403) 264-8174

 

Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House on Urbanspoon