Shaving Your Dog

OK-let me tell you how I ended up with a back full of dog crap. It’s summer, it’s hot out, and I have a pair of clippers and two very hot, shaggy, hairy mutts who are shedding so much balls of hair are just rolling across my carpet like tumbleweeds.

Looks like it’s time for some action.

So on a clear, lovely evening like today I set up a blanket in the backyard, pull the extension cord over, hide the clippers behind my back and call to my larger dog in the sweetest voice I can muster.

“Come on now, sweetie. Mama’s not up to anything, ” I coo encouragingly.

She wanders over, in a reluctant, ducking, eyes averted type of way like she’s been caught eating out of the garbage. She’s looking at me from the corner of my eye like I’m about to plunge a giant needle under her fur. How can she possibly know I’m up to something already? Perhaps it’s that weird intuition dogs have, like when they can smell cancer. Or maybe it’s the cheese-eating grin on my face. I don’t know.

Maybe my dog is psychic.

Anyhow, she gingerly sidles up to me and plops her big old butt at my feet, opening her mouth in a nervous pant. Pieces of fur flee from her body and cling to my face. I take the blade from behind my back and begin giving her a rump scratchin, inching the blade closer and closer to her fur.

She doesn’t appear to notice me being up to anything. Good. He he he…

I inch the blade up into her fur and receive no reaction. This is going to be EASY, I’m thinking to myself as I hunch over her, poised and ready to flip the switch.

*Click*

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

She jumps up so damn fast and backs up she actually does a backward somersault over my body, knocking me flat while instantaneously raking her toenail across my face. She bolts and skitters away from my blanket just to plop her fuzzy butt back down on the ground and drag it a good six inches, panting mightily.

I’m flat on my back and half-laughing, half-pissed, the clippers buzzing in a repeating circle somewhere in the grass.

My dog is howling at me excitedly, hunching down in prance mode, ready to play.

I’m still lying on my back, my cheek throbbing from her toenail’s assault. I’m sure it’s bleeding as it stings pretty bad.

Good job, girl.

I reach above and over my head to grab the shaving clippers, still humming grandly. I click off the switch and instantly my dog beelines for the back door, plowing it in and taking refuge in the bedroom.

I get up off the ground, heaving a massive sigh.

Pound, tomorrow! I’m disciplining her since she’s not there, heaving insults at my dog with my mind.

I’m laughing, though. Did I really truly expect her to sit through an entire shaving? I mean, the dog jolts at the sound of gum popping.

Stupid dog momma.

I rub my cheek in remembrance of the pain I’m still feeling in my face. Little stabbing heartbeats of stinging shock. Grr…

That dog got me good.

I prepare to go inside but have to wipe the dirt off myself first. The pine needles out of my hair, the grass off my pants…

What is that smell?

Wow, either a dog just farted or I am standing seriously close to one of my dogs’ deposits in the yard. Geez, that’s strong. I look around and find nothing, pick up and check my shoes for signs of poo stomp-age. Nothing.

But YUCK! I can still smell it! I better not go inside until I figure out where that smell is coming from, because it’s like it’s right under my nose. I need to clean it up.

I start wiping down the front of my shirt, scrunching my nose up at the odor. Leaves tumble to the ground. I begin wiping the debris off my back. Hey, what is that wet stuff?

Oh, my God!!!

Yes, siree. I have a back full of dog crap. And it’s all smooshed in there GOOD.

You can bet your furry booty I won’t be shaving my dogs again. I think first thing in the morning I’ll book an appointment with the groomer.

I think my dog is still laughing over it. Yep, she got me good.
Shaving Your Dog
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Screwdrivers, Phones and Air Conditioners

I am about to make a statement that makes me sound like my grandfather. I don’t care. I loved my grandfather. A WHOLE LOT of people loved my grandfather. And besides, I am a grandfather myself, three times over. So I can say what I am about to say and have it be totally in character. And not only that, but I truly mean what I am about to say with my whole heart!

Ready?

Here goes.

“Life used to be simpler.”

There! I said it, I’m glad I said it, and I’m not ashamed that I said it.

And it’s true.

For instance, there was a time when we used to rent telephones. Seriously. We didn’t buy them, we rented them. From the phone company (of which, in the easier days, there was ONLY ONE!) SERIOUSLY!!! All customers of Ma Bell used to rent all of their phones from her. The rental fee was added to the monthly phone bill.

When’s the last time you rented a phone?

Today, you have four hundred thousand decisions to make when “buying” a phone. Do you want text messaging? Blue tooth? Video games? WI-FI? How thin? Flip-up? What service? Can you hear me now? How many monthly minutes? What style of phone do you want? (You must pick one that matches your persona and makes a statement about you.)

Back in the day, we thought we were making a statement if we had more than one phone in the house! And the only decision that we had to make was, “What color do you want?” There was black, white, yellow, green and red.

No worrying about roll-over minutes. No “going over” your minutes.
Way back before dirt, you were charged a flat monthly rate for as many local calls as you wanted to make. And long distance calls were so much per minute.

And what about ring tones? Six years ago, the term ring tone didn’t even exist! Now, there are literally THOUSANDS of them to choose from!

(I recently heard a commercial on the radio in which Tom Bodette says, “There was once a time when we all had the same ring tone, and it sounded like . . . the phone.”)

Back when God was a kid, you could tell what state you were calling by the area code because each state had only one area code.

Sounds like a different world, huh?

It sure was.

I miss it!

But, phones are not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about air conditioners.

The one connecting thread between my revelries about the phones of my youth and air conditioners is…simplicity.

Okay, I bought a new air conditioner the other day

One that slides into a window.

Sounds simple, right?

I brought the thing home from the electronics superstore thinking that I just had to open the box on my bed, extract the unit, open the bedroom window, slide the thing into the opening, and then close the window down snug on top of it.

Well…great, big, silly me!

As I opened the box and peered down into it, my heart was suddenly filled with dread. Instead of seeing an air conditioner, I saw the one thing that always scares the crap out of me and sends jolting lightning bolts searing down my spine. I saw…

PARTS!

Yes, freaking PARTS! There must have been three million plastic and metal parts in there!

I looked on the front of the box and, to my dismay and disgust, I saw words printed there that I had overlooked before. Words that curdle milk and send good and otherwise sensible people screaming down the road in terror: Some assembly required.

SOME???? Hell! There were enough screws, bolts, rivets and cables there to assemble the Golden Gate Bridge, for Christ’s sake!

So, crestfallen and heavy-hearted, I trudged down the stairs to get the screwdriver.

I HATE screwdrivers! I just knew that I would get the wrong size and the wrong style of screwdriver if I only brought back one, so I grabbed every freaking one that was in the toolbox, and walked back up the stairs with more metal in my hands than a samurai warrior.

(Can somebody explain to me why the hell it’s necessary to have more than ONE FREAKING TYPE of screw head? Why can’t they all be regular screws? You know, the ones with a single, straight groove across the head? Why, oh why do some have to be Phillips heads? Or worse, those new, star-shaped bastards that nobodyon the planet has the right screwdriver for? Wouldn’t life be easier if they were all the same kind?)

Anyway, back in the bedroom, I emptied the entire contents of the box out on the bed, and, I swear to God, all the metal pieces that lay there before me looked the aftermath of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

I almost cried. All I wanted was cool air in my bedroom so that I could sleep comfortably for about two nights in the dead of August. (Here in Connecticut, that’s about all the “bad” sleeping nights we get. The rest of the summer, we get by very nicely simply by opening the windows and turning on the ceiling fan that is over the bed.)

I was so overwhelmed looking at the metallic carnage on my bedspread that I did something I very rarely ever do. I actually began reading the stupid assembly directions.

And those directions, to put it delicately, diplomatically and objectively, . . . sucked.

“Step 1439: Attach the dual cams to the bottom of the outer housing of the compressor using forty-two standard, 5/364-sized lag bolts.”

HUH?

HOW???!!!! What the hell’s a dual cam, and what’s it doing on an air conditioner? WHERE on the outer compressor housing? WHAT KIND of fucking screws????? “MARY! WHAT IN THE GOOD CHRIST DOES A COMPRESSOR HOUSING LOOK LIKE?”

Mounting brackets, lag bolts, metal housings, support brackets, compressors, Type A screws, slide tracks…the damned pamphlet might just as well have been written in Mandarin, for all the good it did me! And there were NO PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, after three hours of me cursing and wailing and slamming things around the bedroom at high velocities, I was seriously considering just dumping everything back into the box that it came from, sealing the box shut, and then just throwing the whole hellish thing out of the closed, second story window like it was shot out of a cannon.

As I gleefully envisioned this contraption from Satan’s workshop lying twisted, mangled and whimpering in my backyard, my thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the bedroom door.

I looked up and saw my youngest son, the carpenter, standing there.(Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mary had called him to solicit his help.) As he surveyed the scene of me sitting there cross-legged on the bed with screwdrivers in both hands, sweat and tears pouring down my face, and pieces of white metal and plastic strewn everywhere, his reaction was simply, “Oh, wow!”

Then, he looked at me, smiled, and said, “Need a hand, old man?”

About fifteen minutes later, the damned air conditioner was in the window, humming quietly, and filling the bedroom with cool, crisp, dehumidified air.

Sometimes, I really hate and love my son at the same time.
Screwdrivers, Phones and Air Conditioners
Displaying Screwdrivers, Phones and Air Conditioners.

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Saving Money at the Store: Is There an Easier Way?

I hear people talking about it everywhere. The grocery store, the bank, the beauty salon…the rave is all about couponing and saving money here and there. It is quite easy to be a skeptic, but I believe that there is some clout in this passing phenomenon. It sure seems like a lot of effort to put into saving cents off of a few name brand items. But stores and merchandisers now offer store brand coupons for those of us who don’t always flock to the most expensive carton on the shelf. Your national chains will double coupons up to 50 cents, and in some regions of the country, will take a store coupon along with the manufacturer’s coupon. Buying those Sunday papers can be quite beneficial if you are clipping coupons. Here are a few general rules that you must use in order to truly save money:


1.Only purchase items you would normally buy.

2. Only purchase items that are on sale if at all possible.

3. Take time to get a customer advantage card for the stores you frequent.

4. Make a list of things you need before you go to the store.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel….use resources already provided by others.

Here are a few places you can go that will save you time looking through weekly circulars. www.GroceryDeals.com is the ultimate site for people who are looking for a quick way to find out what’s on sale at their local merchants. This site will list all of the items on sale and will keep a running total of your bill. It will also allow you to ‘shop’ from several retailers and print it out in a nice, organized grocery list. It’s completely free!

www.hotcouponworld.com is more like a listing of what’s on sale at your local merchant, and the bloggers will tell you how to match your coupons with the items and how to get it for next to nothing. This site is for the more organized couponizer, so if this describes you, check out this one. It’s also completely free

www.couponmom.com is another favorite of mine. It sends weekly emails letting you know what’s on sale, where you can get free rebate items, and my favorite, restaurant.com specials. You can get a $25 gift certificate for $2! There are a few catches, such as purchase minimums and redeemable Mon.-Thurs. only, but still a good deal.

I love freebies. I have found a few websites that you can subscribe to and get occasional freebies.Dairy Queen, Coldstone Creamery, Great American Cookie Company, etc. are only a few of the places that will give you a free coupon either for signing up or for birthday specials. T.G.I. Fridays also has great benefits if you sign up on their website. Free appetizers and VIP offers are only a couple of things you can enjoy. The only downside-you get emails on a regular basis (once a month). I think that is well worth the trade.

So in this tough economic time, you can find a few deals that truly are free!
Saving Money at the Store: Is There an Easier Way?
Displaying Saving Money at the Store: Is There an Easier Way?.

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Review: Halo: ODST

Have you ever woken up at four am to drive to Toys R Us and wait in line for two hours to purchase a video game? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Not if the day was Black Friday, and especially if the person in question has more time on their hands then they have money in their bank account.
The video game in question was Halo ODST, on sale for a measly $35 — when every other store is selling the game for $60. Was it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding yes.

From the moment I began playing the new campaign, the first thing that struck me was the music. The music is depressing, yet comforting at the same time. The music is what made the campaign in Halo ODST an enjoyable experience.

While many believe that first person shooters have no replay value, and should be traded in for store credit towards their next purchase, that simply isn’t the case with Halo ODST. While less than 30 hours of story telling pales to many other titles out there, it is the extra features that make Halo ODST worthwhile.

While I finished the campaign on normal within the day, beating the game on Legendary, completing the firefights, and unlocking the rest of the achievements has taken over a month of dedicated play.

Bungie completely dropped the ball when it came to their decision to not include matchmaking for Firefight. Firefight is the team multiplayer mode where players defend against never ending waves of covenant. Playing Firefight by yourself is akin to trying to beat Tetris – you will spend hours playing without any real results, and end up throwing the controller in frustration.

It wasn’t only until posting on the Xbox forums that I was able to get a full four player firefight going. And difference indeed. Even with four players, obtaining the 200,000 points for each achievement was somewhat of a challenge. It took over two hours of killing hundreds of Grunts, Bugs, Brutes, Hunters, and Chieftains before a whopping 10 gamer points were awarded. Unlocking the Vidmaster challenge Endure was another story altogether.

Halo ODST also came packed with all the downloadable content for Halo 3. This is where it truly shined. For those who have not bought any of the map packs to Halo 3, the included Halo 3 multiplayer disc is what makes Halo ODST a bargain – even at full retail price. The additional enclosed code to play in the upcoming Halo Reach Beta is gravy.

Between the main campaign, the new Firefight mode, the Halo 3 multiplayer, and Halo Reach Beta, Halo ODST provides hundreds of hours of game play. Halo ODST is a must have for any first person shooter fan, and also a great bang for your buck.
Review: Halo: ODST
Displaying Review: Halo: ODST.

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My Video Game Addiction – a Retrospective!

It was 10 minutes till 7am. I had to be at work in an hour for my standard Wednesday 8am meeting. And, I started the morning as I usually did, as many guys my age probably started their day (I was convincing even to myself) – in front of my monitor camping a mob so that I could get one piece closer to my “epic” weapon. I was up for the last 7 hours trying to run the gauntlet of a level 50 scenario in EverQuest that would get me a weapon not too many players had. It was only one more thing that I focused on as I tried to get geared up so that the guild I was in could get a leg up on “raids”.

At this time in my life, I was 28 years old. I had graduated college several years back with a degree in Mathematics and I held a job at an internationally recognized computer company. I would work the entirety of my day with the game in mind, writing down on 3×5 index cards what I needed to get and how I was going to acquire certain virtual objects. I wrote down how I was going to attempt various scenarios and started preparing complex excel sheets with time lines and performance metrics. I spent, on average, 4 hours sleeping after work so that I could be online and in-game during non-peak hours. My social life stopped almost as fast as my cleric became level 30.

I broke up with my girlfriend who I had also introduced to EverQuest. She had become a level 50 mage faster than I had become a level 50 cleric. We had a terrible break-up online as she started spending more time with this level 30 bard who caught her fancy! I didn’t really care as my life was consumed, almost every moment of the day, by the attraction to the story, the anonymity of my character and the camaraderie that I was forming with my new-found friends in this virtual bubble of fantasy and new experiences.

After about 6 months of keeping this schedule, I began to realize that I hated my job. I put on 30 pounds from not moving and eating fast foods at any time of the day. I had cluster headaches, undoubtedly, from the number of hours I spent in front of my monitor! I realized that I was completely entrenched into this online video game addiction when, even after gaining that weight and looking terribly, I was asked out on a date by someone that I wanted to date several years back. I still remember saying, “Uhm, I can’t tonight. My guild is raiding in this new plane and we are hoping to get some really great items.” I remember going home and this inner voice yelled at me “Are you kidding me – ‘my guild is raiding'”? At this point, I realized that I was addicted to a video game!

Over the course of the next several months, I pulled back from the game play rather drastically. I would still check in, from time to time, however, I was overly concerned with my mental and physical well-being. I didn’t consider myself an addictive personality, in general, but there was something that called out to many. For me, it was a means to escapism. It was a way to push aside life problems by becoming absorbed into something that added no real tangible quality to my life.

I ended up leaving my job and finding something in a different city. I increased my outdoor activity time and adjusted my diet/nutrition. I won’t say that the idea doesn’t occasionally visit me to create a quick level 20 – 30 character in some new game. However, now with a family, I find more meaningful dialogue in this game of life that we live than in the online gaming world that once so transfixed my senses.
My Video Game Addiction – a Retrospective!
Displaying My Video Game Addiction – a Retrospective!.

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Multifunctional Travel Systems

If you are a parent you have probably often heard about the many multifunctional travel systems. But have you ever really considered buying one? Is it really worth the money? There are several multifunctional strollers, play yards and car seats. Before you buy one though you will want to make sure that it meets or exceeds all of the USA Department of “Transportation Safety Standards”. If it does not have this seal of approval you will want to think twice before you buy. The Sit n Stroll five in one travel system that converts from a car seat to a full function stroller, a certified flight seat and a booster seat for dinning, is just one of many currently available for parents.

Many parents say that these items are the best when it comes to traveling with your little one. They can also be very useful when just traveling from one store to the next. Although before you place this item on your registry you will want to check a few things first. First of all if it is too heavy for you to lift at the store with no baby in it, then chances are you will not be able to lift it and convert it when the baby is in it. Second make sure that converting it is simple and not complicated. Remember the whole point of getting a multifunctional item. You will also want to look at the measurements and make sure that it will fit into your vehicle easily or with minimal effort. You do not want to end up getting something that will take you up to twenty minutes to get in and out of the car.

Keep in mind that any multifunctional travel system will not be perfect. The whole purpose is to make your travel easier, so it make be a little lacking in the comfort department, or it may not be as pretty looking. But some of the benefits of a multifunctional travel system is that you will save money, time, and energy. If you can get two or maybe three items for the price of one, then this is definitely a bargain. You should do your research and locate the best one that works for you.

And remember that just because something is a little more expensive this does not mean that it is a better product. If you are considering buying a multifunctional travel play yard there are tons to choose from. Most of them can be converted from a play area to a changing table. These are great for parents who want to leave their baby with a sitter for the weekend. Always shop around before you make your final decision.

Multifunctional Travel Systems

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Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome: The Real “Night Owls”

It’s two o’clock in the morning, and you’re not at all sleepy.

You tried to go to sleep, and it’s not as if you shouldn’t be tired. You worked all day, ran errands, cooked dinner, supervised homework, tidied the house, and put the kids to bed. Then, you worked on a hobby or surfed the internet for hours, long after the rest of the family was already asleep. You finally managed to fall asleep for a few hours, and before you knew it the alarm clock shrieked. You dragged yourself out of bed, only to spend the day exhausted, irritable, and barely able to stay awake.

If this happens occasionally, you can chalk it up to a random bout of insomnia. However, if this scenario describes your life on a daily basis, you may have a sleep disorder known as delayed phase sleep syndrome (DSPS).

Delayed phase sleep syndrome is classified as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, a family of disorders that affect the timing of sleep. The onset of DSPS can occur as early as infancy, although the disorder most often makes its appearance during the adolescent years. Seldom does it manifest itself for the first time in persons over thirty years of age.

Persons suffering from delayed phase sleep syndrome regularly have problems falling asleep until the wee hours of the morning, and subsequently feel the need to sleep during the day. These “night owls” tend to function best late at night, and as a result they’re sluggish and sleepy the next day. Generally speaking, persons afflicted with this disorder have no difficulty getting a normal amount of sleep (six to eight hours), but only if they’re able to sleep and wake as their internal body clock naturally demands.

Delayed phase sleep disorder can have a profound effect on the lives of of its sufferers. Relationship, school, work, and a myriad of other problems can result. Clinical depression is so common amongst persons with DSPS that the disorder itself is frequently misdiagnosed as depression. Having DSPS has been equated with living every single day with severe jet lag. The longer the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more difficult it can become for the person to function.

In persons diagnosed with delayed phase sleep syndrome, sleeping pills and other sedatives have been shown to have little or no impact on their ability to fall asleep at a normal hour. Melatonin and other natural sleeping aids have proven equally as ineffective.

Chronotherapy – a systematic delaying of bedtime in three-hour increments – has been helpful in some cases. This method of coping with DSPS requires discipline on the part of the sufferer, and most will eventually lapse back into their natural sleep pattern. Research is also being done on bright light therapy as a possible treatment for DSPS and other circadian rhythm disorders. As delayed phase sleep disorder shares several characteristics with shift work sleep disorder, some physicians have prescribed the stimulant modafinil (U.S. trade name Provigil) for their DSPS patients. Modafinil is most often prescribed for narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and certain forms of sleep apnea.

At this time, there is no magic bullet for curing or coping with delayed phase sleep syndrome. Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential to the treatment of DSPS, including: limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, curtailing strenuous exercise at least four hours prior to bedtime, and not going to bed hungry or with an overly-full stomach. The most crucial element in the treatment of this disorder is, unfortunately, the most difficult. While attempting to adjust the sleep/wake cycle may sound simple in theory, for a person with DSPS it can be next to impossible.

Many large hospitals now have sleep disorder clinics. These facilities are the best resource for people who believe they might be suffering from DSPS. Sleep disorder clinics usually have physicians who are board certified sleep specialists on staff. To locate a certified sleep specialist in your area, please contact the American Board of Sleep Medicine by phone at 708-492-1290, or via email at absm@absm.org.

Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome: The Real “Night Owls”
Displaying Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome: The Real “Night Owls”.

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