Friday, October 31, 2014

69 - Answers

[Editor's Note: Tim has informed me that he's going to take the month of November off so that he can focus all of his time on NaNoWriMo. This year he's going to be writing a romantic comedy based on a couple that he and his wife met while on their honeymoon. I'd be lying if I said I was excited to edit it, but I am excited to see what he comes up with. He'll be back in the beginning of December ready to tackle whatever questions you can throw at him.]

Q: Mike Guethle - My cousin/neighbor is kind of a crazy bastard. He owns about 40 acres of open land with a trailer, a barn, lots of guns, and beer. He's 79 years old this year. His wife passed three years back, and his wife never liked cats much. However, he's been having trouble with mice for quite some time, so he got a barn cat. The cat will not stay in the barn.

Barn Cat has now migrated to my parents' property, spending most of its time in the swamp. However, Barn Cat has now begun coming to my grandma's dooryard for food. Reluctantly, she feeds Barn Cat. However, the two house cats dislike of Barn Cat. Like, freaking out in the fucking window at Barn Cat.

Will Barn Cat make it through the winter, and if so, how will he do so?
A: Two things before I get going. First, your cousin/neighbor sounds like just the kind of person who belongs on the show from last episode's question, so I'll append that answer with "send them a description of this situation." Second, have you considered a career as a pitchman for TV shows? Because I think you'd be pretty good at it.

I'll tackle the second part of your question first. From other questions and answers here I've deduced that you live somewhere in Maine, but regardless of where you live Barn Cat's survival depends on meeting the basic requirements for life:
1. Sustinance (food/water): Fresh water can be found in winter (eating snow, etc), but food is going to be a problem. I see that your grandmother is feeding the cat, but assuming that stops then Barn Cat is going to have to find another food source. If Barn Cat returns to the barn it could hunt critters that live there, or you could take the cat in yourself.
2. Shelter: To survive the harshness of Maine winters I would think that Barn Cat would return to the barn to live. Alternatively your grandmother may let the cat inside to survive, though I think that it would quickly get into a fight-to-the-death with the two inside cats.
3. Survival: This means fending off predators. Maine has a wide variety of plant and animal life. Reading the link I think that the biggest threat to Barn Cat would be lynx and coyotes. Black Bears, though common in Maine, are probably not going to go out of their way to take on a house cat, but a lynx or coyote would find Barn Cat a delicious meal.
4. Entertainment: Sounds like this is covered by Barn Cat's taunting of the two house cats through the window.

So with all of that said I will guess that Barn Cat will not make it through the winter without help from you or your family. Exposure and starvation seem to be the biggest threats, so if you and your family can solve those then you'll succeed in saving Barn Cat. Of course whether or not you want to see Barn Cat make it through the winter is really up to you.

Q: BillJ - In honor of episode 69, can you refresh us on the maximum/record number of orgasms a human can have in a day?
A: After a bit of research I finally found the answer courtesy of 500 by an English woman (sadly the article doesn't give the number for men). The numbers I came across more often were for most number of orgasms in an hour, which are 134 for a woman and 16 for a man. There are many other interesting records at that link, including for furthest ejaculation (6 meters in case you were wondering) and most bras removed in one minute (20).

Q: Jesse_Burton - Will I get charged for the first pizza I ordered but didn't answer the door for?
A: I don't think that you can be, even if you pay ahead by credit card. What you will do, however, is reduce the chances of the pizza delivery place making deliveries to your home in the future.

Q: Matt Neal - Who would win in a fight: Lizzy Borden or Anne Frank?
A: Having lived through high school I am familiar with Anne Frank. For those of you who aren't, she was a young girl who took refuge in Nazi-controlled Netherlands. She kept a diary of her experiences. After her family was discovered her diary was found by one of the people who was sheltering them and returned to her father after the war. It was eventually published and became a widely read historical account of the time. As such her diary is required reading in many junior high and high schools in the world, and has also been turned into many movies and plays.

Finding Lizzy Borden proved a little more difficult, presumably because of my oft-documented lack of cultural knowledge. The link above gave me the following possibilities:

4. Opera

I also found a Lizzie Borden, who was an axe murderer in the late 1800's.

I'll proceed by assuming that you mean the actress/wrestler since she seems to be the most culturally relevant of the bunch, so if I got that wrong then I'm sorry and I can revisit this another time. If the fight were held today then the clear loser would be Anne Frank for the simple fact that she's been dead for almost 70 years. But for the sake of argument let's assume that they've both alive and in peak physical form for their lives. Unfortunately for Anne Frank she's at a disadvantage since she wasn't very physically imposing ever, plus she died at age 15, which is before she reached her peak physical form, so I'm going to have to go with Lizzy Borden with this one.

Q: AndrewSmith - What is the best pumpkin beer available this year?
A: To research this question I bought the following beers from the craft beer section of my local Wegmans:
1. CB - Good beer flavor but a little too sweet for me. The pumpkinyness overwhelmed the other flavors in the beer in same way that many fruit beers do.
2. Harpoon Pumpkin Cider - Light and sweet, much like every other cider I've ever had. The most refreshing of the bunch but not the best flavor.
3. Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale - Very Sam Adams, also very pumpkiny. Not the best combination.
4. Saranac Pumpkin Ale - Medium pumpkin flavor, good beer flavor, all around most balanced.

My personal favorite was the Saranac Pumpkin Ale since it provided the best blend between beer and pumpkin. However, my personal favorite may not be your personal favorite, so I consulted my old friend the Internet and came up with the following lists:

As for which pumpkin beer is the "best" that's ultimately up to you. What are your criteria for the "best"? Is it amount of pumpkin flavor? Smell? How good it tastes when you throw it back up because you drank too much? I don't know how you judge those things, but hopefully my research leads you to your perfect pumpkin ale.

Q: waits - Are band aids inside those paper wrappers really sterile?
A: As one of millions of people who makes use of band-aids on a regular basis, lord I hope so! Luckily for all of us they are. They are manufactured and sealed in a sterile environment, and therefore remain sterile until you remove them from the paper packaging.

As a public service, here's an article I found while researching the question. Normally I'd say "hopefully you never have to use this" but let's be serious, life is risky and we all get cuts and scratches and scrapes, so hopefully this helps them to heal faster.

Q: Jacob - What can I do with an ass load of pears?
A: In part one of today's episode of "Mitssob Answers a Question With Biographical Information" we set the wayback machine to the summer of 2008. I had just purchased a house with, among other appealing features, a pretty-looking tree in the backyard. As I was mowing my lawn for the first time I noticed that the tree was producing small green/brown fruit. By the end of fall I had harvested about a dozen Wegmans bags of pears, which I think can reasonably be called an ass load.

All that is a long way of saying that I've been there and I can share some first-hand help.

As Bill pointed out in a side comment on this thread, you can adapt many apple recipes for pears and do pretty well. My two go-to recipes were pear crisp (made with apple crisp mix) and pear-sauce. The crisp was pretty good but the pear sauce needed some improvement (more on that in a minute).

Around the time I was harvesting the pears I found a life-changing recipe for bacon-apple pie. The recipe at the link is the original recipe I found and I love it because it replaces the sugar with maple syrup, giving the pie a delicious breafasty taste. I ended up making two of these with my pears and bringing them in to work to share them with my co-workers. I learned that fresh is best with these pies, meaning you should eat them as soon as they come out of the oven rather than re-heating them. 

As an epilogue to my sauce experiment let me pass on some tips I've learned. After I met and moved in with my now-wife we started making applesauce together. She has a simple recipe for preparing the apples (basically cut them up, add water and sugar, and let them cook for a few hours on low heat), and I would use a food mill to grind them up into the sauce. The food mill is great because it takes care of the seeds and skin for you and you end up with very tasty sauce that was much better than my earlier experiments. I highly recommend getting one if you plan on making sauce.

Finally, this wouldn't be much of an Ask Mitssob question without some off-the-cuff silly/goofy/downright stupid suggestions:
- Teach yourself how to juggle
- Load them into a pitching machine and work on your swing
- Keep them in your car and throw them at drivers who annoy you
- Give them out at Halloween
- Start your own bakery business using the above recipes

Q: M-L - I also am in the same predicament...Although I think I probably have a half ass load.
A: In that case I suggest that you half-ass the above suggestions.
[Ed: You don't pay me enough for this. Joke's on you, I don't pay you at all!]

Q: Sam Parker - Why is it so Goddamn hard to find someone who plays the fucking bagpipes?
A: First (and not to sound too condescending here), you should try being more polite. You sound very angry and worked-up about your inability to find a bagpiper and if that attitude is leaking into your search then I'm sure it's not helping. I know that if you were using the same method to find a "fucking drummer" I would probably back away slowly rather than offer my assistance.

Second, I did some searching but was unable to find any instrument called "fucking bagpipes". Apparently they are a lesser-known variant of bagpipes, so for now I'll just go with "bagpipes". 

Bagpipes are not a very common instrument so I'm not surprised you're having trouble finding a bagpiper. I suggest checking with your local town hall and asking whomever is in charge of organizing parades since that's where I've seen the greatest concentration of bagpipers, both in person and on TV. Of course you could always buy yourself a set of fucking bagpipes and learn how to play them yourself, then it wouldn't be so Goddamn hard to find someone who plays the fucking bagpipes because you'd be that someone.

Q: Jesse_Burton - What do you mean you people?
A: I mean you people. You know, you people? Over there? Doing that thing in that place? Right? Make sense?

Q: Jackie - Winter in Chicago is coming fast, what should I knock off of the list before the second polar vortex hits?
A: The definitive answer to this question comes from the classic movie Ferris Bueler's Day Off. In it they engage in several activities in and around Chicago including:
- Attending a Chicago Cubs game
- Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and the Sears Tower
- Joining in the Von Steuben Day parade

I think that if you watch that movie and re-create those iconic adventures you'll have a great time and be able to head into the coming winter with lots of stories and memories.

Q: Bridget - We'll be house hunting in the winter season. How will this impact our house search, and are there different things that we should look for?
A: In part two of "Mitssob Answers a Question With Biographical Information" we go all the way back to February of 2014 and join my wife and I as we begin our search for a new home. We concentrated our search on Fairport, Penfield, Pittsford and Webster. The quantity of houses available is typically less in winter and we definitely had trouble finding houses to look at that met our criteria (4 bedroom, 2+ bathroom, 2 car garage, neighborhood, pool). We spent a couple months going to open houses and doing in-home visits with our outstanding and very patient real estate agent Michelle but didn't find anything that was "right". I put "right" in quotes because, as those of you who have house-hunted before can attest, sometimes you just know that a house is the right house for you. And we didn't get that feeling for quite a while until, as I described in our last episode, we finally found our current house in June. 

So again, I've been there and I can help.

The peak time to be looking for a house is when it's warm outside (spring through fall). Sellers can increase a house's curb appeal much easier by investing in landscaping, and buyers are more likely to leave their houses to look rather than hunkering down for the winter. Because of this, the first thing to note is that the real estate market on the whole is slower in winter. That means both fewer houses available and also fewer buyers out there looking. You can use that to your advantage if you find a house that you really love because there's probably less competition. The downside is that it's much less likely that "the house" will be on the market.

An advantage to looking in the winter is that you can see some practical things about the house. You can judge how energy efficient the windows are by checking for drafts. If the house you're looking for has a driveway then you can see for yourself how hard it would be to shovel/snowblow/plow it. You can see how friendly your new neighbors are by playfully throwing snowballs at them. 

Basically it's going to be a long project. If you know that going in and are patient then you can be successful, even in the slow period of winter. Best of luck in your house hunting!

Q: AndrewSmith - How much am I allowed to drink alone in my apt on a weeknight?
A: My first answer to your question was "as much as you damned well please", but as I was writing those words I noticed something about the question itself. You seem to be deferring to an external authority figure by asking this question the way that you did. I'm not sure if you meant to do that but I wanted to take a minute and talk it through from that perspective. Why is it any of my business how much you are "allowed" to drink As I see it, if you drink too much and die (either from drowning, alcohol poisoning, or other causes) then that's your fault. Also, if you drink too much and miss work and get fired, that's also your fault.

However, by asking how much you're "allowed" to drink, you're passing off the responsibilities for your decisions to someone else. And that can feel very liberating, but it also means that you're not actually in control of your life. You can't have rights without responsibilities, and so by passing off the responsibility that comes with the decision to drink to a third party, your right to drink can be taken away by that same third party.

Am I over-thinking this question? Of course, but it's something to consider as you work your way through life. Don't look outside yourself for responsibility. It's your life, dammit, drink as much as you like!

Q: Vanessa - I'm going to cut my hair next week after growing it out for about 5 years. What are some organizations that I can choose from for donating my hair, and what differentiates each of the organizations from the others?
A: [Ed: It took Tim three weeks to answer this round of questions so I'm sure you've already cut your hair and donated it by now, but I'll pass along his answer anyway. Sorry about that, I should have prodded him harder than usual.]

The most famous of these organizations ("famous" defined as "the first one that popped into my head when I read this question") is Locks of Love. They look like the most general of the organizations and have a good reputation. 

For more specific donations there are other specialized organizations. If you want to donate to a children-focused organization try Children With Hair Loss. If your concern is cancer patients the American Cancer Society recommends two organizations:
Wigs for Kids and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I don't think you can go wrong with any of those organizations.

If you really want to go out on a limb you could always just find a random bald person on the street and offer them your hair. I don't recommend it, especially with so many other worthy alternatives for your donation, but it's an option.

Q: Jesse_Burton - When ke$ha brushes her teeth with a bottle of jack, does she put jack Daniels on the toothbrush or toothpaste on an actual bottle of jack Daniels?
A: Anyone who spells their name with a symbol instead of a letter probably isn't the brightest knife in the shed, so I'm going to go with putting toothpaste on the bottle of jack.

Q: Jacob - What makes a Domestic beer domestic compared to a beer brewed in the US.
A: A domestic beer (for the purposes of this answer the actual country doesn't matter) is a matter of impression as much as it is of legality. The over-simple answer is that domestic beer is domestic to the country from which it originates. However that's not as simple as it used to be. For example some imported beers (Becks for example) are actually brewed outside their country of origin, but they are still considered "imports" because their company of origin is not where it's brewed. Also, ingredients for the beer may come from various countries. Finally, the major corporations that actually own the big brewing companies often have headquarters outside their native countries.

Taking all of that into consideration I think that Domestic Beer can be considered beer that is served in the same country where people think that it comes from. Beer brewed in the US is just that: brewed in the US, regardless of the "country of origin". 

Q: Bridget - Is IKEA really as awesome as people make it out to be?
A: I have never stepped foot in an IKEA and so I am thoroughly unqualified to answer this question. While that usually doesn't stop me, I'm going to let it this time because, well, it's taken me a long enough time to answer these questions and I don't want to keep my readers waiting any longer. My only connection to IKEA is through one of my favorite sites on the internet LifeHacker. They often feature things done by IKEAHackers. I find the designs really interesting and if there were an IKEA nearby I'd be tempted to try out some of the designs. 

Q: Jesse_Burton - When will this episode of ask mittsob be answered?
A: Wait for it...wait for it...NOW!

Q: waits - Where did the song "here we sit like birds in the wilderness" originate?
A: This one came in WAY after I started answering so I'm going to save it for next time. Sorry!