My little Ash is doing a little better today, I think. Ate some small bits of chicken last night (we made fried chicken for the first time at home), slept a lot, and seems a little brighter-eyed today, though still light as a feather. Thanks to all of you who /msg'd me about her yesterday.

Loki, my oriental shorthair, though, is being a total asshole about it. Always the jealous type, he's really ticked that HE isn't being the center of attention (his constant, unwavering need) and is being a bastard to her. So he's getting his whiny, needy self yelled at a LOT. (and yes, we've tried paying attention to him too; doesn't work. He even gets jealous when I pay attention to my wife, not him). Love him lots, but he's such a jerk sometimes.

Tips learned about fried chicken, by trial and error:

  1. Use fresh oil. That oil you didn't think tasted of the last thing you cooked in it a few days ago -- does.
  2. Don't be afraid of salt. Fried chicken needs horrendous quantities of salt in the coating or it doesn't work. Fried chicken is just not going to be a low sodium food no matter what, and it's best just to deal with that. In fact, the rule is even more general: it's very hard to be over the top about flavorings in the coating. Just chuck it in.

To go with it we made oven chips with garlic (British chips, ie. thickish french fries) following something Alana saw Jamie Oliver doing on the Food Network the other day. Cut them into chip shapes, boil for ten minutes, then place in a frying pan with heated olive oil and whole (but squashed) garlic cloves, stir them up a bit, just a minute or so, to get the olive oil all over them, then put them on a pre-heated cookie sheet in the oven, at about 375 I think, for 20 minutes. Or a bit more if you like 'em crispier, which we do. Recommended; they were delicious. Normally I'd do them in the deep fryer but that was being taken up by the chicken; this is a good alternative method for when the deep-fryer is unavailable.

Later on, at the gas station, filling up the T-Bird with the standard $40 of premium (that's about five days' running), plus lead substitute plus octane booster - I feel like a mad chemist, measuring and pouring all these in - and this gives me a lot of time to look around and people watch.

Realising, for one thing, that all these SUV owners, at least the ones driving the big stuff, Navigators, Expeditions, Excursions, Suburbans, Sequoias and the like - they're pumping as much gas as I am if not more.

So where has thirty-six years of automotive development got us, exactly? For what, exactly, did we kill the American automobile? My sixties gas guzzler is scarcely thirstier than their 2003 gas guzzlers. So explain to me why we traded the grace, beauty, power and comfort of my car - or the naked adrenaline overdose of the Dodge Charger or Boss Mustang owned by the guys down the road - for this, these overpriced sheds on oversized wheels, built for mountains they never see, forest trails they'll never be taken down, huge loads they'll never haul.

It might have been worth the dagger in the back of the classic American car in all its glorious excess - for the sake of the environment, the planet, efficiency, sanity and reasonableness. But for this? We might as well have not bothered. At least the old American car was actually built for its real purpose, didn't waste it all on showy offroadability that does no good on tarmac.

At least, too, the classic American car was capable of expressing more emotions in designer and buyer than the couple the SUV is capable of expressing. Aggression, brute force, distance from the world, sheer hulking impossible mass. There's no truly beautiful SUV, no graceful one, no slick speedster one, nothing else.