Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Wager

One of the guys I work with, whom I will call "Q", because that's his nickname, has been trying to lose weight for the last year since he started working with us.  Q has tried different incentives - "I need to buy a new suit, but I'm not going to get one until I lose weight", or "I'm not going to shave my beard until I lose weight" - but each time has failed; in fact his weight has continued to creep upwards.

Although he's really not that big of a guy, in my office once you make a declaration like "I'm going to lose some weight" you have pretty much set yourself up for daily ribbing on your progress or lack thereof.  One guy made the mistake of not only admitting to not having heard of "The Princess Bride",  (what is that, a movie?) but having watched "Brother from Another Planet". If you guessed that's a low budget sci-fi movie about an alien who happens to be a black guy, you would be correct.  We still find excuses to call his judgment into question based on his movie choices.  But back to Q.  I finally decided to step in and provide some much needed assistance to help him actually achieve his goal.  It was either that or buy him a Santa suit for his growing belly and beard.

One day as Q was talking about relaxing with a beer on the weekend, I started telling him how he needed to stop drinking alcohol if he wanted to lose weight, which he attempted to rebut by pointing out how few calories he consumes in alcohol and how, were he to lose just one pound per week over the course of a year, he could still lose 49 pounds, as the alcohol would only add 3 pounds worth of calories.  Needless to say, this quickly led to a bet as to whether he could actually lose a pound a week for a year.

Seeing an opportunity to give my buddy what he really needed (an actual driving motivation - he's very competitive), we hashed out the rules and put down the bet.  He has to lose 52 pounds in a year, with quarterly weigh-ins.  Each quarter if he is on track, I will buy him lunch.  If he falls short, he buys me lunch.  At the final weigh-in, the loser has to buy the winner and his wife a dinner at Chama Gaucha, a steakhouse that from what I have heard is totally awesome (and about 60 bucks a plate).  I figure it's a win-win for me.  I either get an awesome dinner for free, or for a little over 100 bucks I get to help my friend meet his weight loss goal, and of course it gives me an excuse for lots of good natured ribbing in the meantime.  Based on his progress so far (down 11 pounds in 2 weeks), I have a feeling my wallet's going to be taking a hit.  But hey, what are friends for?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Back to Normal

For at least 15 years I have lived with intermittent back pain, usually occurring after standing in one place for long periods of time, or after sleeping on a soft bed (a waterbed is like a torture chamber device for me).  Recently the pain has gotten more frequent, to the point that there would be around an hour or two spread out throughout the day where my back did NOT hurt.  Finally I broke down and scheduled a doctor's appointment.    The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was shopping at Target, slowly shuffling along, leaning on the cart to try and relieve the intense pain, and thinking "wow, this is what it feels like to be 80".  I actually got passed by a guy in a motorized cart.

Let me go back a step.  First I broke down and prayed to God for some healing for my back.  Then I followed up with a doctor's appointment the next morning (my personal belief is that while God has the power and sometimes does heal miraculously, more often than not he uses the more mundane means around us to affect his good graces.  Since I don't know which (if either) method he will use, I feel it is my role to trust in him while taking whatever measures are prudent as well).

The doctor gave me a good looking over, had me lay on my back, grabbed my ankles and pulled me a foot down the examining table.  He told me that my back muscles were much tighter on one side than the other, making one leg about an inch shorter than its mate. Then he had me bend my knees and he leaned into my legs while I provided resistance for  a few seconds, then relaxed and repeated, slowly moving them closer to my chest.  This, he said would cause the muscles in my lower back to fire and relieve some of the tension, which it most certainly did.  Finally, he made me an appointment with the Physical Therapist.

The Physical Therapist looked me over and gave me some stretches for my hamstring and hip flexors, then let me know that the reason my back makes me feel like an old man is because I stand like an old man - knees flexed, slightly hunched over.  Thanks Doc!  He also let me know I have the tightest hamstrings he has ever seen.  It's always good to be #1 at something, right?  Since then I've been trying to walk taller and sit straighter and do my stretches daily, and it has worked splendidly.  I feel like a new man, and although I hate stretching, it is definitely worth it.  That medical care was an answered prayer, and I'm thankful for it every day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

When Multitasking is Inappropriate

Americans are renowned for our love of multitasking.  While people in other countries may settle for simply reading part of the morning paper on their way to work while riding on the bus, we use that time to put on makeup, send multiple text messages, eat breakfast and shave, all while driving at 70 mph down the freeway. You may argue that nobody would both shave and put on makeup while driving, but that's only because you haven't passed Marilyn Manson on his way to work.

I'm not complaining about our multitasking addiction. Let's face it, you don't win two world wars by letting your time go idle.  I'm only pointing out that our desire, no, impulsive need for productivity forces us to grab each day like a ripe orange and not only squeeze every drop of juice out of it, but use the pulp for compost and turn the rind into an artsy creation we can share on Pinterest.

This trend has only accelerated with the advance of technology.  Not long ago, spending time with others relegated you to carrying on conversation with those people and not much else.  Now, in addition to checking that box, you can literally check your inbox, chat with your more interesting friends and research what's happening in your community this weekend.  If nothing else you can redeem the otherwise useless minutes with a game.  Because the only thing better than listening intently to your friends tell you about what's going on in their lives is to listen to them half heartedly while aggressively destroying pig-made fortresses with birds launched from a virtual slingshot.  Look at my productivity soar!  Now I'm spending time with you and having a good time!

Unfortunately I was raised in a time when multitasking was not as appreciated.  I wasted years of childhood with unproductive hours spent climbing trees and riding my bike, when I could have been mastering chess, learning to play multiple musical instruments, rising in the ranks of soccerdom and getting my black belt in karate, all at the same time.  Fortunately, today's parents aren't about to let their kids waste their time the way that mine did, which will save us all when we go to war with China, which will unexpectedly declare that the conflict should be decided by a head to head soccer match, with competitors to be selected from the best chess playing violinists from each country.

I recently experienced multitasking gone too far, when I stopped by the bathroom at work.  Personally, I view the restroom as a serial tasking environment.  I take care of biological needs, then I wash my hands, then I dry my hands, then I leave.  Some feel the need to expand this to carrying on a conversation while using the urinal, or reading in the stall, which I can accept, albeit with reservations.

What is not acceptable is carrying on a conversation over the phone while sitting on the toilet.  Yes, somebody in stall number three was simultaneously doing their duty while doing their dootie.  For me, this is just a bridge too far.  When I speak with someone over the phone, I really want to do so without hearing the sounds of fecal matter leaving their body.  I would rather they not be splitting their attention between what I'm saying and when to pinch it off.  And I would really rather not borrow someone's phone who was juggling it in one hand while wiping with the other.  Call me old fashioned but I have to draw the line somewhere.  Can we all agree to make the restroom a no-phone zone?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Rockets Red Glare

A while ago I blogged about starting an amateur rocket club at work.  We finally consummated the relationship a couple of weekends ago with our inaugural launch day.

The weather was warm with a gentle breeze as we all parked on an empty cul-de-sac that is on the edge of my neighborhood's soon to be developed area.  This seemed the perfect launch site, as there are no houses nearby, and a large, freshly plowed dirt field where houses will someday be planted was the anticipated landing site for rockets as they descended back to earth.

Several of us brought rockets to launch, although I was the only one to bring a water propelled variant.  I carefully put the drinkable fuel in my spacecraft, carefully created using a 2 liter water bottle and a hobby kit, placed it on the launch pad, then attached the air compressor to pump it up to 80 psi.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the clamp that holds the rocket down properly secured, so it lifted off when the pressure had built up to only 20 psi (and yes, the requisite jokes were made about the premature lift off by several in the crowd).

Fortunately, I came prepared with enough water in a travel mug for two launches, so I refilled the rocket, made sure the lever was clamped all the way down, and started pumping the air in.  It quickly became apparent that something was wrong.  The rocket began leaking fuel almost immediately.  I'm glad it was only water, but I was only able to wait until 50 psi, then had to launch for fear of losing too much fuel.  So much for the eco-friendly portion of the day's activities.

Once I was done demonstrating my lack of engineering skills, we were on to the real show.  We started with the biggest rocket of the day.  We had been talking about what we should launch into space for weeks, and had finally settled on a fish.  Only one of the guys who showed up actually brought a rocket with a payload section, and he made up for everyone else's lack of imagination by bringing not one, but two zebrafish   He was so excited that he couldn't even wait for me to get my camera ready, but fortunately one of the other guys got a photo before he ignited the thruster.

The rocket had a D engine, which was rated to put it up to around 1600 feet.  Watching it shoot into the sky was a thing of mesmerizing beauty, although I can only imagine it had to be the worst day of those fishes' lives.  The big question on everyone's mind was, would they survive launch and reentry?

The rocket went up and up and up, and finally it reached its peak and the orange parachute deployed.  We watched as it slowly floated back towards earth, gently drifting over the dirt field as it descended.  As we continued to watch it come down we began to realize just how high it had gone.  It just kept floating, occasionally drifting faster as a gust of wind caught it.  It soon became apparent that it would land at the far end of the field.  Then we realized it might make it into the edge of the trees.  Then it just kept going.  When it finally settled down below the tree line out of sight, we headed in the direction where we had last seen it coming down, looking forward to recovering the swimming aquanauts inside (or at least we hoped they were still swimming).

Try as we may, we were unable to find the rocket.  I even went back and scoured the woods for another 3 hours over a couple of additional days.  While I found lots of cow bones, and a second rocket we lost that day, I never found the silver rocket with its space pioneers.  I suppose the only thing worse than unexpectedly pulling 10 gs is slowly running out of oxygen while hanging from a tree somewhere lost in the woods.  Every great space program has its tragic losses, and we experienced ours right off the bat.  We will forever be haunted with questions.  What if we had cut a hole in the parachute so that it came down faster?  What if we had better pointed the rocket to fly into the wind?  What if we had used heavier fish?

We didn't let the tragedy keep us down, as we went on to launch many more rockets, and recovered all but one of them.  We're already looking forward to our next launch day in a few weeks, and planning on putting some more lucky creatures into orbit.  Or at least into the lower troposphere.  We have even given our club the moniker of PETA - People for the Extra-terrestrial Transport of Animals.  Hopefully next time will be more successful.

If you look closely, you can see the fuel spilling everywhere.  I fixed this later by adding a second gasket.  If you look less closely you can see both of the areas where my hair is thinning.  I have no fix for that.

We tried to launch 3 at once.  It didn't turn out as spectacularly as envisioned.  They all 3 went, just with a 10-15 second delay between each one.

This 2 stager didn't have a parachute, just streamers.  The wind had picked up so much by this time that I found it about a half mile away while looking for our first rocket.  The rocket had a Zelda theme; when we couldn't find it we dubbed it "The Missing Link".

The fish had to go through an intensive screening and training process prior to being selected as the first aquanauts for our rocket club.  They had no idea what was coming.  That was probably for the best.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Today marks the second of the "high holidays" for Christians everywhere.  Interestingly, the first, the birth of Jesus, would be meaningless without the second, the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I find this interesting, because Christmas gets way more attention than Easter.

I chalk this up not to the difference in the religious meaning behind each of the holidays, but to the fact that a jolly old elf circumnavigating the globe with flying reindeer to deposit elf-made toys in people's houses is way more exciting than a giant bunny leaving a basket of colored eggs.

By the way, am I the only one that noticed that since our migration from hand-made toys to plastic creations with "made in China" stamped on the box, the whole elf-made bit should have collapsed on itself?  Thank goodness for the simple trusting nature of children, at least for a time.

As a child I never fully believed in the Easter bunny; what did he look like?  A real bunny, or a giant mix between a rabbit and the abominable snowman?  How did he get into the house (certainly not through the chimney) and why did he come at all?  Am I the only one who doesn't find it sanitary to have an animal handling my food?  Probably, but that doesn't make me wrong.

Aside from all of this, the underlying reason for the holiday can get lost, even for those who purport to celebrate it.  At least Christmas has some great carols about the birth of Jesus.  There's not really a large storehouse of great Easter songs to sing.  Maybe the best way to truly enjoy this aspect of the holiday is to just quietly reflect on what it means that God loved us so much that he came into our world (complete with our crazy cultural expressions) not to be revered and adored, but to be rejected and abused, and ultimately to pay the price on our heads so we could be made right with him.  That's even more amazing than flying deer or candy producing rabbits.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bark All Night, Sleep All Day

I, like most people, enjoy sleeping around 8 hours a night. I normally wake up around 5:30 in the morning on work days, while sleeping in until closer to 7 on week ends.  In recent days,however, I have gotten an early wakeup from our neighbor's dogs.

There are two of them, and they never bark, except when they are awake.  Then they bark non-stop.  That's not really fair.  Each of them stops barking, often for intervals as long as 3 seconds (I counted - not as effective as counting sheep it turns out).  I'm pretty sure they take turns making staccato status updates to the neighborhood, so neither of them gets tired.

I don't know what time they start, but generally I wake up around 2 - 3 in the morning to the sounds of their yapping.  At a rate of around 100 barks per minute, I have found I can handle about 800 barks before I literally can't take it any more and just get out of bed.  Fortunately they wrap up their session around 8 in the morning, so at least they only bark when human beings are trying to sleep.  Apparently after barking at the wind all night they are exhausted and crash for the day.

I don't know if their owners have sound proofed their house, are heavy sleepers or are working the graveyard shift.  I've never been so tempted to buy a big juicy steak and lace it with cyanide.  Not sure where I would get that, nor how I would get my neighbors to eat it.  I guess I'll just have to create some ambient noise to cover the sound of the hounds, by turning on a fan or perhaps letting the vacuum run next to the bed all night. I always took for granted that I would be able to sleep through the night until I got old enough for my prostrate to grow to the size of a small melon, forcing multiple trips to the bathroom.  Now I'm really looking forward to moving in a couple of years.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting Tired

When I was a kid my favorite activity was riding my bike.  I could go anywhere in our small town as long as I was home by dinner time, or if it was after dinner, I had to be home by dark.  I don't know how many miles I logged riding my 20" bike around Dalton City, but I'm sure it was a lot.

I rediscovered my love of biking when I was in college.  I commuted to school and parking on campus cost a fortune so I would parallel park in a nearby neighborhood for free and ride the last few miles on the bike I hauled on the back of my car. (I might add, parallel parking was probably the most useful skill I learned in college, and I got really good at it).  As a bonus, I would have my bike to get around campus on as well.  I never could have made it to my meteorology class on time without a bike.  It was in a building on the north side of school about a mile from the quad where my previous class was held and I only had 10 minutes to get there.  

I bought a cheap mountain bike from Walmart (they called it the "Mountain Fury"), and after riding road bikes with thin tires and curved handlebars since I was a teenager, I was pleased to find this was like a bigger version of the 20" bike I rode growing up.  I could jump curves and ride off road or in the snow.  It was awesome!

Unfortunately my Mountain Fury was stolen, as were two other bikes I had during the 3 years I lived in Rantoul.  (My street was Maplewood, but we called it Maple hood. Fortunately the stolen bikes and an egging to my car were the only crimes we experienced while there.)  I still miss the Fury, but when Heather won a lightweight crossover bike (built like a mountain bike, but with thinner tires more fit for road use) that was too big for her, I was able to reconnect with my inner child again.

The Trail behind my house

I found a trail behind our house that's pretty fun to ride on, but I had to take turns super wide or the bike would start sliding out from under me.  The street tires just weren't cutting it.  Fortunately, I got a flat last week after running over a thorn while off-roading, and when I took it in to the bike shop I had them put a new tire on the wheel in addition to a new inner tube.  The new tire is much more aggressively treaded.  After taking it for a test run what a difference some decent traction makes!  I can turn with ease and speed, just the way I like it.  Now I'm flying down the trail, jumping ditches and loving life.  I'm glad my attempts to patch the old inner tube proved futile, and Walmart didn't have the right size tube to replace it or I wouldn't have made it to the bike shop and would still have my crappy tire.  Gotta love serendipity.

I'll be enjoying this scenery flowing by at faster speeds now

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It was Almost Like a Song

Once upon a time, in this very blog, I talked about how much I love music, and pointed to a Bruno Mars song that is a great combination of good lyrics and an acoustically complex, compelling tune.  Unfortunately, I had the displeasure of hearing one of Mr. Mars more recent songs the other day, and oh how far his star has fallen.  But more about that in a minute.

One of the great discoveries I have made is Slacker radio.  It's a music app similar to Pandora, where you pick a genre and can stream music to match your tastes, even banning songs or artists you detest and marking other songs as favorites so that they are played more often.  I have actually discovered talent on Slacker that I would not have otherwise listened to, such as "Red" (who has a lead singer with a crazy ability to go from screaming at the top of his lungs to singing beautifully seconds later) and "Need to Breathe" with their wonderful jazzy/smokey vocals.

While I normally listen to the Christian Rock station, Heather prefers Country & Western, which I don't particularly care for, which is a nice way of saying that I hate it.  However, I found a compromise in the Classic Country station.  When I was a kid my parents listened exclusively to Country and Western music, which back in those days was actually Country, and not Rock and Roll with a cowboy hat. Because I was raised listening to it, I actually like a lot of the old country songs, and don't mind listening to it, and Heather likes the old stuff as well as the new, so we're both happy.

One of the things that made Country music so good was solid lyrics.  Which brings us back to Bruno Mars.  Compare an old country classic about love by Don Williams (who has an awesome baritone timbre, but that's beside the point):

I ain't gonna marry in the fall
I ain't gonna marry in the spring
Cause I'm in love with a pretty little girl
Who wears a diamond ring

And I'm just a country boy
Money have I none
But I've got silver in the stars
And gold in the morning sun
And gold in the morning sun

With this modern tale of love by the aforementioned artist:

Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your world is something spiritual
I'm born again every time you spend the night
Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Of course not every old country song has great lyrics, nor is every modern rock song as terrible as the one above, but there are a lot of good classic songs on the Country playlist.  As a treat I'll leave you with one that Ronnie Milsap sang over 30 years ago, and although some of the accompaniment is noticeably dated, it still sounds great, and the story he tells (as well as the power with which he sings it) makes it a timeless classic. Rather than make you read the lyrics, I'll give you a link so you can listen to it yourself.  Don't blame me if you almost get choked up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Road Trip to Colorado

Last week we took a trip to Colorado Springs.  The plan was to check up on our rental properties, catch up with some friends in the area, and I would get to hit the slopes with two of my buddies who live in town.  Since we had been mulling over upgrading to a smartphone for awhile, we decided to take the plunge and buy one the day before pulling out.  This turned out to be not the best decision.

When we got the phone we wanted to keep our phone number from the previous phone, which takes 24 hours or so to take effect, so the Cricket lady gave us a temporary number we could use until the phone number ported over.  While on the road we texted the friends we would be staying with to let them know that we would be there around 6 pm, as the GPS said we would be there at 7, but you have to subtract an hour for changing from Central to Mountain time zone.

At least, that's how our old GPS worked.  When I noticed we were 140 miles from our destination at 5:00, I realized that the new GPS we bought already figures in the time zone change.  This makes sense, but I realized I needed to text our friends and let them know we would be coming in an hour later than I had thought.  Unfortunately, between the time of the previous text and now, the phone had ported the new number over.  It was now unusable until we could get in an area with data coverage so we could finish the process of setting up the phone, which wouldn't happen until we got to Colorado Springs.

This was extremely annoying, but we finally arrived and were able to achieve all of our goals.  I learned a couple of our properties need some yard work, we had good visits with several friends, and I even got to do some skiing and snowboarding and didn't break anything.  As a bonus we went on a shopping spree while we were in town.  We bought a new couch and love-seat (who would have thought they would ship to Texas?), new sandals (yes, we bought sandals in February in Colorado - there's no REI in San Antonio), I got new sunglasses (my old ones somehow got broken while attached to the sun visor on the way up) and a video game (after playing Call of Duty with my friend Mike I decided to get a copy for myself).  It was a pretty good trip, though I'm not looking forward to getting the credit card bill.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Welcome to the 21st Century

Today officially ended our hiatus from the internet - or at least from having internet access at home.  After a year and a half of driving to Starbucks, McDonalds, and the (not so) local library (about a 30 minutes drive), we finally have internet at home again.

What's more, for the first time we have a smart phone, aka a mobile social isolation device (look at me, I'm surrounded by people and yet totally oblivious to their presence).  Heather finally couldn't take using an old fashioned flip phone any longer, so I agreed to pay the monthly charges if she would buy the phone.  Heather went with a Samsung Galaxy III, and I get to pay the monthly bill for unlimited calls, text and data (with throttling after 5 gigs).  We can even tether devices to the phone, hence the ability to post a blog from home again.  I just got done doing some banking online and it felt marvelous.

I have to say that while having no internet at home was tough at times, it definitely forced us to wean ourselves off of our connected dependency.  I even got totally off of Facebook during this time, and don't feel particularly inclined to get back on, though I may eventually.

But on to the really exciting part.  Heather's phone is super cool!  After playing with it a while I realized two things.  1. This phone is more complicated than my iPod touch, in a good way.  2. I may have to get one of these things.  Unfortunately the budget isn't ready to absorb a second phone right now, but someday in the future I expect I will finish the final migration into the present.  In the meantime the iPod touch will just have to suffice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Slug and Bug Go to a Party

As promised last week, I am sitting down to tell a tale worthy of human consumption.  Tiny humans at least.  I even created some cover art on the fly using an app on Heather's iPad that let's you draw by hand on the screen.  I'm not exactly artistic and the app is far from user friendly - it's almost impossible to do circles, as evidenced by the output below, but it's fully digital and not really any worse than what I would draw on paper.  But I'm definitely too lazy to make a picture for each page, so you will just have to use your imagination.  Each paragraph marks a new page.  Without further adieu...

Slug was not happy today.  Slug did not have to go to school today.  Slug did not have a headache.  Slug had no work to do today, and felt perfectly well.  But slug was not happy, because slug was going to a party.

Bug yelled "Hurry up Slug, we don't want to be late!"  Bug was Slug's best friend.  Bug loved parties, but Slug did not.

Slug would rather read a book

or climb a tree

or play at the park.  Slug did not like parties because Slug liked peace and quiet.  And there is never peace or quiet at a party.

"What's the hurry?" asked Slug.  "The party will last for hours.  Can't we wait a little longer to go?"
"No" said Bug.  "I want to go now.  There are so many people to see and things to do!"

"We will play fun games!"

"We will eat delicious food!"

"We will talk to all of our friends!"

"I would rather spend my time with just one friend", said Slug.  "But I will go to the party because you want to go.

So Slug went to the party, and he ate the food, and played the games, and talked to the other guests.  At the end of the night he was exhausted, but he had a good time.  More importantly, his best friend Bug had a wonderful evening, which would not have been the same if Slug was not there.

"Thank you for coming to the party, Slug.  Tomorrow maybe we can go to the park and spend the day together" said Bug.  "I would like that very much" said Slug.

As Slug drifted off to sleep, he was glad he went to the party, and he was even more glad he had Bug for a best friend.  Then he dreamed about playing in the park with Bug.

The End

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Publisher's Dream

Writing a blog isn't always easy - at least if your goal is to write entries that some human being may find reasonably interesting more often than not.  It certainly is easier than writing a book, or so I imagine.  Putting together a story that spans several hundred pages exceeds anything I can imagine being within the confines of my limited attention span.  However, as I look back on my childhood I can't help but think the easiest book to write must surely be a Children's book.

In some ways writing a book for kids must be tough - you have to use a limited vocabulary and sentence structures.  On the other hand, there's no need for deep character development, plot twists or lengthy narrative.  Of course a good artist is a must, but I assume a publishing company would provide that.  So I am tempted to try my hand at writing a Children's book.  How hard could it be?

The key to a good book for small children, besides strong paper that is tear and water resistant, and a talented artist to populate the pages with your imaginary world, is friendly characters that tend to be animal based.  No three year old wants to hear a story about a bunch of kids in a daycare.  They want to hear about bears in the woods, or a puppy that gets a new home.  Of course the characters generally walk and talk like humans, oftentimes even wearing clothing.  This allows a tale to be told that is distinctly human, while more stimulating to the imagination.  Or maybe book illustrators just prefer drawing animals.  Either way, animal characters are the way to go.

I'm thinking my story will revolve around two typical garden creatures, perhaps a slug and a ladybug, aptly named "Slug" and "Bug".  It will be filled with action-packed lines like "Slug was not happy today" and "Bug yelled 'hurry up Slug, we don't want to be late!'"  Unlike other authors, I will not try to totally humanize my characters to the point where they lose all connection to their place in the real world though.  This will lead to a story more compelling and realistic.  At least that's how I envision it.  But not until next week.  I'm spent.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Dog Days of Winter

Every once in a while I go to a website for one of our local animal shelters and browse to see if any of the dogs catch my eye.  Heather and I live about as unencumbered a life as possible, considering the fact that there is nothing that depends upon us for life, be it child, pet, or even plant.  I suppose the dust mites in our bed sheets might wither away without the flakes of skin that we contribute to their diet, a sort of manna from heaven for such tiny creatures if you will, but I don't know if they would actually perish or not.  Besides, if you are microscopic you don't count.

Needless to say, I was actually interested in the look of a small-medium sized dog that was estimated to be a terrier mix.  Surprisingly, when I showed the picture to Heather she also was interested, so we decided to pay a visit to the local pound.  Unfortunately, this particular dog was adopted before we got a chance to see him, but we did stroll around and look at the rest of the inmates.  If you have never been to an animal shelter, it's pretty depressing.  The dogs would approach us from behind their chain linked cages and look with sad eyes at us as if they knew that we, like most visitors, would probably not be taking them home.  Some shivered in the cold, others barked excitedly, while some just looked at us as we passed by.

It's hard to get a feel for a dog's personality in such confines, but we did get to spend some one-on-one time with three of the dogs.  Not surprisingly they all spent the majority of their time checking out their new surroundings when we took them for a walk, and focused mainly on investigating the smells they encountered while ensuring they left their own scent behind in various locations.  I'm thankful that human beings developed the handshake to introduce ourselves, so there's no need to urinate in various high traffic areas to say hi to others.

Unfortunately, none of the three dogs we checked out seemed the right fit, although one, a lab mix wouldn't be a bad dog at all.  She had the look and more importantly the temperament of a black lab but was more medium than large sized, due apparently to whatever other breed was involved in what was undoubtedly a passionate but unapproved exchange on a sultry night in Texas. (I wonder if dogs call it "doing it our style"?)  I think Heather and I are ready to take on the responsibility of having a pet, but we will have to wait a bit longer to find the right one.