Archive for the ‘fish’ Tag

Apartment Hunters: Season 2, Episode 3   Leave a comment

James investigated Waterford Forest apartments by himself on Sunday. I asked him what he thought.

“The living room area was really small,” he said. “I’m surprised you liked it.”

I confessed that it was literally everything else about the apartment that I really liked. The living room area was really small, but the bedrooms were nice and big, and the kitchen was nice and big, and it had a sensible floorplan. The location was fantastic, and the staff was nice.

“The staff person I talked to was sort of impatient,” he said. “But maybe that was because it was the weekend and she was by herself. She just sort of showed me the apartment and then walked me back to the office. We didn’t really chat much. But again, maybe she just didn’t want to leave the office for too long.”

The other place he had investigated was a place called Treybrooke.

Option 1

Option 2

“I like the living room in the apartment, but I like the bedrooms in the townhouse,” he sighed. “If only they could be combined!”

“What the property like?” I asked.

“The staff was very nice,” he said. “It’s right next to an elementary school.”

“Oh, no,” I said.


“Traffic is going to be ridiculous.”

Despite my hesitation, we went ahead and checked the place out today. It turned out to be across from a Montessori school (a really nice-looking one too, holy crap); the elementary school was around the corner and had separate turn lanes with a huge winding parking lot, so the traffic wasn’t too bad even though it was peak pick-up time.

The grounds were surrounded by trees, although there wasn’t much in the way of trees inside the complex. We were within walking distance to the Greenway, so there would be a lot of walking paths. There was also a large pool, tennis courts, and a half-basketball court (!). The leasing agent remembered James and was delighted that he had come back (always a good sign).

First we looked at the townhouse. James had said that he didn’t like how small the rooms were, and I’ll admit they were smallish, but the place was so light and open. There was a fireplace with a set-in nook over it. I thought it was adorable. The kitchen was great, with lots of counter space. No pantry, but lots and lots of shelves. The dining room area was big enough for our table. The half-bath was functional (there’s not really a whole lot you can ask from a half-bath).

The upstairs was indeed very spacious. The huge bedrooms were great. There were vaulted ceilings. I had visions of putting shelves up there with potted plants or something. The master bedroom closets were somewhere between standard and walk-ins, and very nicely laid out, with a separate shelf for shoes. I was very impressed overall. And there was a fenced-in backyard! Perfect for woodworking projects or painting or just sitting outside.

Next we visited the apartment option. The living room here was huge. The kitchen was small — we wouldn’t have any more counter space there than at our current apartment. The second bedroom was also in a weird spot, kind of a thumb that turned the other way from the entryway. The leasing agent said that it had been designed for a “roommate” situation. The parents and kids wouldn’t have rooms next to each other, or two roommates would have their own little nooks and just share the common areas.

She asked me what I thought. I said that I had really, really liked the townhouse, with the cute little nook above the fireplace, the backyard, the separation of private and public spaces, and all the counter space. This place wasn’t bad — oh my goodness, the living area — but it just seemed to have less of what I wanted and more of what I didn’t really care about.

Back at the leasing office, she consulted availability. A townhouse was available when we needed it to be, but it would be a middle unit; a backyard and a big kitchen, but no fireplace and no wall nook. A two-bedroom would be available, and it would have a fireplace with a nook, but it it was a second-level apartment, so no backyard. But fortunately, we have two months to decide.

Next we visited Harrison Grande, the place that James really liked during our first apartment search. The woman we were able to speak to explained that they were about to upgrade literally all of the currently-empty apartments, when were we looking to move in?

“April,” I said.

The relief on the woman’s face was palpable.

“I can show you a Biltmore floorplan,” she said.

“We’ve seen it,” I said.

“She hates it,” said James.

“Really? I live in one of those,” said the woman. “It’s fantastic.”

“I know!” said James. “So much space! But she doesn’t like the bathroom right at the front entrance.”

“Oh,” said the woman. “But the bedrooms are so far apart, so my son and I don’t have to share a wall. I suppose that doesn’t make any difference for you two.”

“We were hoping to see a Monticello,” I said.

Well there weren’t any cleared to see — the renovations, you see — tomorrow there would be some big corporate people coming to look at the whole apartment complex — they were in the middle of renovations — just cosmetic changes — maybe next week — they were doing renovations to all the empty apartments — maybe next week a Monticello would be cleared to look at — maybe she could get our information and call us — so sorry, but it was because of all of the renovations.

“Yeah, we can do that,” I said.

“What are your names?”

“Kelsey and James.”

“Is that the same last name?”

I hate that question. Casey and I had gotten that question asked all the time when we had gone apartment hunting way back in 2008. This was the first time I’d been asked that question in a while, and I’ve never been able to figure out why that question bugs me. I had to spell out my last name (which is spelled how it sounds?) and she guessed James’ last name on the first try. I gave her my phone number, and she wrote on top of it Monticello view. She apologized again for the renovations, and we left.

We visited a few local shops while we were out and about. First we looked at Pet Supermarket, right across the street from Harrison Grande. If we ended up living there, that would be our pet supply store, and we needed to know if they had crickets for the beardies (they do). Then we looked at a local fish store, just to see what they had for our future aquarium. I pointed out all the cool fish I like, all the coral I like, and all the marine fish I like (wrasses and damsels, the whole lot of them — but they had chromis! I am definitely getting a wrasse or two and some chromis in like ten years or so when I do get a saltwater tank). We looked briefly at their selection of driftwood and substrate. Then I asked the guy running the shop for advice on fish.

“I’m getting zebra danios, and I’m having trouble thinking of tank mates for them,” I said.

He nodded.

“I know they’re pretty community-friendly fish,” I said. “I was thinking about putting cardinal tetras in there.”

He didn’t think that was a good idea; zebra danios are just so fast and busy. They might not nip, but their antics might make the small, placid cardinals timid and stressed.

“Cardinals aren’t small,” I said, surprised.

“They’re about the same size as neons,” he said.

“They’re like twice the size of neons,” I said.

He shook his head no.

“So like bigger tetras then? Lamp-eyes? Buenos Aires?”

“They’re still way too busy,” he said. “I wouldn’t mix danios and tetras at all.”

“So what about barbs?” I swallowed the suggestion of tiger barbs and said, “Maybe cherry barbs?”

“Cherry barbs would be great,” he said.

So that’s that. Our future tank, whenever we build it, will have Glofish/zebra danios and cherry barbs.

On feelings and fish   Leave a comment

So I’ll go out and say it: I have relapsed in my depression. It is full-on, and constant. James confronted me about it (I say “confronted” because I don’t know what better word to use, “intervention” isn’t a verb?). He keeps asking me to see a doctor. Well, I won’t see a doctor until I have a better job. That’s what I say.

James even pointed out the pattern to me: I moved to Iowa, I got depressed. I move to North Carolina, I get depressed.

Speaking of patterns, this is what most people see depression as:


But I see it more like this:


The green is life. The yellow is fear. The red is anger. I don’t remember being sad, really. Empty. Hopeless. But not sad. I spent my late teens and early 20s afraid. But now I have relapsed, and I am angry all the time. I get angry that I have to wake up. I get angry that my feet are cold. I get angry that I can’t eat a hamburger. I get angry that I have to wear khakis. I get angry that someone is talking to me. I get angry when someone laughs. I am angry all the time, and that is exhausting. My insides feel sore from all the anger. And, at the same time, I feel empty, and it’s hard to see an end to all of this. Sometimes I come home and cry from being angry and tired and hopeless. I can’t focus enough to read, which is a shame, because At the Mountains of Madness was finally getting to the point. I can’t concentrate or remember anything so I can’t write. I have one last hope, and that is Latin. I have tomorrow off. I’m going to devote the whole day to Latin. Maybe that will fix things.

Anyway, the point of this entry is to talk about fish. About a week and a half ago, I was struggling through exposition in At the Mountains of Madness, and James was flipping through his internet things. Suddenly he said, “I can’t wait until we have a more permanent place. Then you’ll finally be able to set up the fish tank.”

“I’ll do what?” I said.

“You’ll set up the fish tank.”

“Your fish tank?”

“The fish tank.”


And I let the words sit for a moment, and then I said, “I was going to get a 36-gallon bowfront so we’ll have tanks that are about the same size, and then we’ll each have fish tanks.”

“In addition to the fish tank we already have?”

To make a long story short, James thought that we had already discussed this and had decided that I was going to build up his old 37-gallon fish tank, but I did not know that, and anyway. I thought, based on several conversations we had had in the past, that he wanted cichlids.

I said I wasn’t interested in building a cichlid tank. He said he didn’t want cichlids any more. He wanted a fish tank like what I used to have, but more.


More plants. He wanted grass. He wanted full-on aquascaping like what you see in all the fancy fish catalogues.

Obviously I can’t do anything like that with a mere 37-gallon tank, but I have read up on the Amano theory of aquascaping and could use a new purpose in life. I tend to decide what to do with my fish tanks based on the fish that I’m going to put in there. I built my beautiful 20-gallon planted tank around the corydoras that I decided I wanted. I made a corydoras paradise in there — soft, flaky gravel for their barbs and sniffers, lots of wide-leafed plants for them to hide under, and a school of tetras to act as lookout (they didn’t need a lookout in an enclosed environment, but having lookouts makes other fish feel more secure — hence the rummy-nose tetras, whose nose changes color according to water quality and therefore doubled as a barometer for me).

I pestered James to tell me what kind of fish he wanted. He said he wanted Pictus catfish. I can see why; Pictus are big fish, playful and charming (That means they swim, fast, out in the open. Fishkeepers have low standards on fish personality).

I came back a few days later and said no to the Pictus, and in fact no to any kind of bottom-dwelling fish. Bottom-dwelling fish come from rivers, and so they need very light planting, like what I had in my old tank. The heavily-planted tank like what we were going to have would be too thick with plants to encourage comfort in bottom-dwelling fish.

According to the internet, schooling fish were best for heavily-planted tanks. Alright, said James. Then he wanted cardinal tetras.

Cardinal tetras are all well and good, but I spent the morning trying to find tankmates. Actually, tankmates for cardinal tetras aren’t that hard to find. As long as the Cardinals have enough of their own kind (six or more), they tend to be pretty easy-going fish. They can live with anything other than predators. But I wanted to be picky. The tankmates had to be the perfect companions. Fish that I would be interested in. My immediate thought was tiger barbs, but the internet reviewed them as too nippy and unruly for a peaceful tetra tank. Dang. That’s what I like about tiger barbs.

I eventually settled on zebra danios: nine cardinal tetras and nine zebra danios. The cardinal tetras would take up the bottom half of the tank, and the zebra danios would take up the top half (they would swim in each other’s territory, but that is the way they tend to go). Plus, zebra danios have a ton of different breeds that I can mix and match.

That is all one species! I can have a variety of colors and fish in my tank and still technically only have two species in there.

Of course, I have no idea when I’m going to build this tank. Maybe in the new apartment; maybe when we buy a house. Who knows. But still, it’s been nice to plan.


Posted January 15, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Optimism, or hamsters   Leave a comment

Voltaire’s Candide: or Optimism is a novel meant to snub noses at the idea of philosophical optimism, or the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds. After all, in this world, bad things happen to good people. The book is about a good, optimistic young man, to whom terrible things happen. He never loses his optimism. Or maybe he does, I don’t know. I’ve never actually read it.*

This is relevant because when I came in to open Petsmart this morning, the entire tank of large feeder fish was infested with some kind of scale disease, and about 60% of the fish were already dead. I spent an hour today pulling dead fish out from the feeder fish tanks. It was disgusting, it was depressing, and it got me behind on my opening tasks.

And yet this is the best of all possible worlds, is it not? If there were a worst world, those fish would still be alive, festering in pain with their scale disease. If this were a worst world, there would be no hamsters.


Via tumblr

*Candide sits on my shelf, waiting for me to decide, on a whim, that I am a smart person who does smart person things like reading philosophical 19th-century literature for fun. Last time I did that, I only got about two-thirds of the way through The Scarlet Letter, which turned out to be a thoroughly dull book not worth reading. I don’t know why Scarlet Letter is so dull: it’s meant to imitate works from the turn of the 19th century. But I’ve read books from the turn of the 19th century, and, like, things happened and the plot moved forward and the writers didn’t try to hide what was happening behind terrible, terrible writing. I HATE SCARLET LETTER.

Posted September 11, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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More videos!   Leave a comment

As long as I was on youtube, I decided to see which of my videos had the most views (and by that I mean “over 100 views”)



939 views and three comments! Five if you include my comments.


114 views and two comments!

I’m not going to try to become famous on youtube until next year. This year…I should just focus on my education. And my blog. Yeah.