Sunday, May 30, 2010

Long Weekends

I seem to always be surprised when I get a long weekend.  I am organized, I live by my Outlook calendar, but sometimes getting an extended weekend just creeps up on me.  I get that revelation at some point on Saturday or Sunday that I really don’t need to go back to work until Tuesday.  I spent almost all day working outside on Saturday.  My lawn is a mess.  It has been completely overrun with weeds.  If I weren’t so picky, I would be able to enjoy my beautiful crop of clover in the south quarter and my hearty bounty of wild strawberries blooming in the north.  I also have some weird vine-like weed that is filling in the spaces in between the clover and strawberries.  I put down a strong layer of weed and feed hoping that will put a dent in it. If this doesn’t work, my only recourse maybe to kill everything and start over.  I really hope it doesn’t come to that, with three kids and a dog, I need a backyard, not a mud pit.

The garden, on the other hand, is growing like crazy.  I already have a few small peppers sprouting and the tomatoes look like they are going to need 2X4’s to support them soon. 

The boys helped me weed all of the flower beds.  Of course I had to bribe them.  I offered them $1 per 5 gallon bucket of weeds.  I honestly didn’t think they would last past a bucket or two, but they stuck with it.  We were done in about 90 minutes and I am only out $12. 

I had to run out to local home improvement stores to pick up a few essentials, like fertilizer, duct tape and para-cord.  I think I moved up a few notches on some federal agency’s watch list after that purchase.  My wife suggested I pick up a fire pit while I was out.  We have been putting off getting one since we were waiting to install a new stone patio off to the side of the deck and have one built in.  I don’t think that is getting done this year, so we figured we might as well get one now. 

I found a nice one that was reasonably priced.  My wife picked up marshmallows, Hershey’s bars and graham crackers.  We promised the kids that if they ate their dinner we would roast some marshmallows and make some s’mores later that night. 

I pondered the genius that first created these lovely confections.  I wondered if this person ever had children or had considered the effects that this would have on them.  Let’s look at the steps making a s’more:

  1. Ignite a marshmallow on the end of a sharpened stick (I think the Mongols conquered most of Asia with similar weapons)
  2. Watch as it gets waved around like a flaming white meteorite (yet another medieval siege weapon, flaming pitch)
  3. Attempt to squish the molten marshmallow between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate
  4. All of this happens around a fire

After the first round of s’mores, these steps get played out in hyperspeed as the roughly 500 calories of sugar per s’more gets quickly introduced into the child’s bloodstream.  This is a GREAT treat right before bedtime.

There were no injuries although the dog almost waved his tail through the flames a few times.  He could not understand why we were all outside in the dark and not in bed.  If he is not on his dog bed by 8 PM, he starts to get really weird.  He kept coming up to my wife and I and then turning towards the house as if to say, “um, hello!  It’s bedtime.  Follow me and I will show you where we need to be.”

We decided to go on a little hike after church on Sunday.  We packed up the kids and headed out to a nearby state park.  We got one of those backpack carriers for the baby.  Secretly I wanted to test out the My Tracks application on my phone.  We picked a bad place to start.  The beginning of the hike was a 600 feet increase in elevation over 2,000 feet walking distance.  That is about a 30% upward grade. 

20 lbs of baby + 7 lbs of backpack + my lard ass + 600 feet climb = imminent heart failure. 

I survived.  Unfortunately I hit something I wasn’t supposed to on the phone and turned the My Tracks application off midway through our hike, so I never got complete stats.  We all had a good time and it was a beautiful day to be outside.  The boys definitely want to come back to this same place again without their little sister, so I can take them exploring a little more.

This chick wouldn’t get off my back the whole time, her first lesson in becoming a wife:

State of euphoria from lack of oxygen:

mom and her two mountain boys:

mountain men:     

For Cattle and Love Play

No, it’s not what you are thinking.  “Mood’s a thing for cattle and love play,” is a quote from one of my favorite movies.  Moods maybe for cattle and love play, but they are also for music.  I love music.  I listen to music all day long, I listen while I am working, pausing only for meetings.  I listen when I am out doing yard work, driving in the car, making dinner.  And when I don’t have something playing, I usually have a song or three running through my head.  Every time I walk down a long hallway, I hear the “Imperial March” playing in my head.  Waking up everyday triggers a few minutes of “Ugly in the Morning” to come blasting through from my subconscious.  My Pavlovian response to a text message on my phone (i.e. when I get paged from work) is to whisper “I push my fingers into my eyes…” from ”Duality”.  Hell, even the title of this blog is ripped from a song title.  

I listen to a lot of different types of music, everything from Amadeus to ZZ Top, from “A.D.D.” to “Zzyxz Rd.”  I have about 90 GB of music stored in various places, about 20,000 songs.  That’s a rough guess – attempting to remove duplicates, spoken word tracks and audio books from the total count has proven a much more difficult task than I imagined and I didn’t want to spend the time getting an accurate number before writing this.  I have album versions, demo versions, live versions and even cover versions of the same song.  That has something to do with my condition of needing things a certain way.

I do have my limitations, there is a lot of music that I just can’t listen to, like new”er” country (anything written in the last two decades) and anything played on a Top 40 station or any radio station in my general vicinity (the radio stations around me have really began to suck over the past four or five years).  I will be the first to admit that I have some weird standards for music that I like.  First, and probably most important, if you are singing about bubblegum and rainbows and shiny happy people, I probably won’t be listening to you.  That has a lot to do with how I pick what I want to listen to at any particular moment, or rather, what mood I am in.  I just don’t ever get into a mood where I want to hear how happy someone is.  I don’t trust people that are happy all the time.

My week usually progresses from the slow sedate mood of a Monday morning where I listen to mostly classical or instrumental pieces to the frenetic, anger-driven pace of Fridays when it’s all hardcore, like Hatebreed, Sepulture and Sevendust.  On Tuesdays, when I have robotics, I have the urge to throw on some punk.  There is something about being in the middle of 40 kids that makes me want to hear Black Flag belt out “Room 13” (NOTE: this is not the original, but a cover by Corey Taylor, I couldn’t find a decent sounding version by Black Flag). 

Things slow down a bit again Wednesdays and I reach for some classic rock, and by classic I mean stuff from the 60s and 70s.  Thursdays pick up the pace again, and the genre du jour is a mix of the more modern rock with a heavy metal edge, with the blurring fingers of Hammett, Mustaine, Ian and the ilk.  Saturdays mean working out in the yard, so I need something LOUD to overcome the rumble of the various small engines of lawn equipment.  This brings a weird mix of hardcore metal and rap, because there are few things cooler than riding a lawn mower while pimpin’ some Chuck D and Pubic Enemy or killing weeds with Slayer’s “Chemical Warfare” as the soundtrack.

Sometimes the weather or the season gets me in a mood.  Late spring and early summer makes me want to dust off the Zeppelin (by “dust off” I mean, go to Artists, Led Zeppelin and hit play on my iPod).  This past week and for the next few weeks, that is all I will want to listen to.  There must be something in the air (other than pollen) that makes me need Zeppelin playing around the clock.  And it only gets better when I hear one of my boys humming along.

With kids around, I am faced with some challenges.  I always have to be mindful of what is playing when they can hear.  A large portion of my music comes with a parental advisory label attached.  You bet your sweet ass that they will hear and comment on someone singing a four letter word when they are three rooms away with the TV on, but god forbid they would so much as blink when I shout their names six inches from their heads telling them to stop punching each other.  I usually avoid those songs/albums/artists altogether when they are around, but sometimes I just press my luck and spin the volume to 0 when I know something inappropriate is coming.  My ever observant children never fail to say, “Why’d you do that?” 

“Do what?”

“Turn the song off.”

“It’s not something you should hear.”

“Like what?”

“Well, if I wanted you to know what, I wouldn’t have turned it off, would I?”

The other challenge, of course, is trying to not force them to listen to what I want them to listen to.  But it’s not as bad as it could be.  They are into the Top 40 stuff my wife listens to and what their friends at school are listening to, like Black Eyed Peas and Just’, Just’, Justin…  (Blech, I just can’t write his name.  Remember what I said about happy people earlier, well this douche is their crowned prince.  So what if he is only 16 years old, where are his parents?  Shouldn’t they have some sort of control over this child?  Isn’t there a law out there that prevents this shit from being played over the airwaves?  They should have to stick a label on the cover of that album that warns people “Contains lyrics that will make you want to pierce your eardrums with an ice pick after exposure”)

I win some little battles when my 7 YO asks if he can add some songs to his iPod.  He asked the other day if he could have Slipknot’s “Before I Forget” and Helmet’s “Surgery” added.  Or when my 6 YO sings every word to “Umbabarauma” which is mostly in Portuguese, or whatever it is that Max Cavalera is growling.  I guess I will have to be open to whatever they want to listen to.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to help them experience the stuff that I am in to.  I can’t wait to take them to the first concert.

That is all for now, what was to be my Saturday post took a little longer and has now turned into a Sunday post.  I hope everyone’s Sunday is “Easy”.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lost: The End

By now, I am sure all of the diehard Lost fans have read at least some of the myriad of theories and possible meanings of the last episode of Lost.  I have read quite a few myself (if you want a really good one, try this one posted on Dark UFO).  I have to admit that I was a bit confused by the final 15 minutes of last Sunday’s ending.  Let me rephrase that, I was fine and everything was peachy keen until three seconds after Jack closed his eye for the final time and my wife said, “See!  They were all dead the entire time and the Island really was Purgatory!”

“Huh what? No, that can’t be, it’s, uh…”  At that moment, six years of facts and figures and theories came rushing into my head.  She went to bed, mad at how it ended and I stayed up for the next few hours working (of course) and in the back of my mind, I recreated scenario after scenario of what I thought had happened.  By morning, I had a clear idea of my “truth” about what Lost really was.  And I also had a few “theories” on why people misunderstood what happened.  I read a bunch of critiques of the last episode and I saw that many agreed, but there were also quite a few that disagreed.

Before I go any further, let me start out by stating what I believe (and what my wife now believes):

Everything that happened in the six seasons of Lost (outside of the sideways/alt-universe of season 6) really happened to the characters.  They crashed on the Island, they fought with the Others, they time traveled, some were killed on the island, etc.  The LA-verse was some sort of afterlife meeting ground where they existed in a pseudo-existence before passing over to their final afterlife.  You could call it purgatory before getting to heaven.  It was Jack’s story of redemption, of finding faith and love and fulfilling his destiny.

With that out of the way, let me try to address all of the criticisms out there about unanswered questions.  Did anyone really expected to get all of the questions answered and delivered with a nice little bow on top?  The purpose of the series was not a science lesson, it was not a spiritual discourse on how to attain enlightenment.  It was a piece of art put together by many people over a long period of time.  It’s purpose was to entertain and move people.  Like any good pieces of art, whether it is music, painting, television or movies, it should cause its audience to think and to feel and to react and, ultimately, tell a story, and I think it accomplished that extremely well.

I also think that the people that really “get it” and like what happened over the past six years and enjoyed the ending (i.e. people that agree with me) are the people that have had experience with this genre before and can also accept that sometimes you just don’t get all of the answers.  I can name countless books and movies, many of which are labeled as classics, that did the same thing.  They told a story and left many unanswered questions at the end.  Is it wrong to do that?  No.  The authors and directors of these books and movies typically “know” or at least have a very good idea what the answers are, but they cannot fit them all into the story.  You would end up reading an encyclopedia instead of being entertained.  They told their story, as much of it as they could in the time allotted.  The reader/viewer/listener has to use their imagination sometimes.  Being spoon fed the answer to life, the universe and everything is usually not an option.  It’s part of the mystery of good art. 

Watch Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 and 2010, do you get all of the answers?  No.  Were you entertained?  Read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, did he tie up every single loose end?  No.  Was it still an amazing piece of work?  Yes.  What about Pulp Fiction, did you ever get to see what was inside the briefcase?  What about Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, is Deckard really a replicant?

Even when someone attempts to go back and fill in the blanks, the result is usually never good, the viewers are never satisfied and the resulting attempts fail to entertain or enlighten.  I can name a bunch of these too.  Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, both failed at building on the Alien story.  Even the mighty Star Wars saga failed when Lucas tried to fill in blanks with the prequel trilogy. (NOTE: I actually liked the prequel trilogy, but I must admit that it was not as good as the originals)  Try reading the Dune books written by Frank Herbert’s son, Brian.  The original six books by Frank were amazing, award winning works, but when they tried to revisit the story and fill in the blanks, the result was, um, very difficult to enjoy.

If you want all of the answers, read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories or something by Tom Clancy.  Certainly don’t cross over into science fiction and fantasy, because your need for all of the facts ain’t gonna be filled.  When you tell a story of another world or something that doesn’t quite fit with reality, you sometimes have to leave some of the facts open to interpretation.

But if you really want some answers, here is my attempt.  There was a really good article written on IO9 about the 50 Questions Lost Really Needs To Answer.  They followed it up with a report card of the results, which I think failed because it didn’t extrapolate what we know, it was based purely on seeing or hearing a solid answer.  I wanted to take a stab at answering them with what I think happened. 

 IO9‘s 50 Questions

  1. So the island is the place with the glowy light that's inside all of us. Does this mean the Island's alive? People talk about what the island "wants." What do they mean? Is the island Eywa?The Island represents some spiritual power, probably related to some deity-like being.  It keeps the balance of good and evil in the world.  Having just seen Avatar the other day, I would agree it is sort of like Eywa.  You could also call it The Force (for the Star Wars fans) or Ka (if you have a read a Stephen King book in the last 10 years).
  2. How come the island heals people? Why does it heal them selectively? – If you do what the island wants, it rewards you.  If you have something that island wants, it protects you.  If the island doesn’t want you there, it doesn’t let you come.
  3. Who was the woman who raised Jacob and the Man In Black, and how did she get there?She was another protector of the island, she was probably not the first and definitely wasn’t the last.  She got there the same way everyone else gets there.
  4. If Jacob was a Roman, why is he so into Egyptian gods? – I don’t think the Island follows any specific mythology or religion.  Since the majority of religions stem from the same ideals, the spiritual practices on the Island are just another example of an amalgamation of peoples’ beliefs and their search for answers to life’s mysteries.  Many religions and mythologies deify natural phenomena, like Thor being the God of Thunder, so the island’s inhabitants selected a god from their beliefs to represent what was going on.  And whatever the beliefs and heritage of the inhabitants of the island had, they built and used symbols that they were accustomed to represent that.  So somewhere along the line, there were probably Egyptian inhabitants there, along with Romans, and eventually Christians, Muslims, Hindis and Buddhists.  Every inhabitant of the island related to it in terms that they understood, so a Christian experiencing the island related it to stories that they heard from their religion (i.e. like my theories on Lucifer, Job, etc.) while an Egyptian would use something like Taweret.  I think the protectors of the island, like Jacob, knew its true nature and realized that it didn’t need a name, but went along with what everyone else wanted to call it.
  5. What was with those Egyptian symbols that appeared in the Hatch when the countdown went past 108 minutes? That didn't seem like the Dharma Initiative's style.See #4.  That probably stemmed from something that MIB created to try to harness the island’s power and was never “translated” out of what he or a previous resident did.  Newer inhabitants of the island took up where the previous or older residents of the island left off.  This is similar to using Greek symbols to represent scientific and mathematic concepts.  Why do we do that?  Because that’s what the guys who created them used and we just carry on the tradition.  We could always use different symbols but then our common language would fall apart and we wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively.
  6. Jacob told Alpert some previous visitors to the island had built that Taweret statue. Did he tell them to build it? Why Taweret?see #4 and #5 above
  7. Is Jacob bringing people to the island, as the Man In Black suggests? If so, then who was bringing all those people to the island before Jacob did it? Why does Jacob want to bring so many people to the island? What was he trying to prove to the Man In Black? I think that one has been pretty sufficiently answered by the show itself and doesn’t need anymore.
  8. Why did Widmore bring Desmond to the island? What's the sacrifice Desmond has to make? – Again, answered by the show.
  9. Why was Charlie fated to die, exactly? What did Charlie's death accomplish, in the end? – I haven’t really given much thought to this one, so I am not sure how to answer it. 
  10. Was that the Smoke Monster telling Ben and Locke to move the island, back in season four? If so, why did Smokey want the island moved? What did moving the island accomplish exactly? – This was probably an attempt to destroy the island or set in motion the MIB’s plan to get off the island.
  11. Why was Libby in the same mental hospital as Hurley? What's her deal exactly? Why was she in Australia? – Beats me, maybe she went through a tough patch in her life and had a mental breakdown.  Isn’t that what happened to most people on the show in one way or another.
  12. Why did the Smoke Monster kill Mr. Eko? Why did the Smoke Monster leave Rousseau alive after killing or "claiming" the rest of her expedition?Mr. Eko probably was getting too close to the truth of what the island really was or to what MIB was trying to and the MIB knew it.  It looks to me like MIB eventually claimed Rousseau anyway, or at least he got her to do what he wanted
  13. Who made the Rules? Like, what's preventing Smokey from killing the Candidates directly?The island :)
  14. What was so special about Walt? No, really. They made a big deal out of it and everything.Walt was probably more open to the power that the island emitted, similar to Desmond’s resistance to it.  Hurley and Miles also had some weird abilities, i.e. talking to the dead.  Maybe Walt was of a similar vein, but because he was young, he was more powerful. 
  15. Jacob was immortal, right? So what made him decide he needed to start doing such a huge head-hunting search for his replacement? – I don’t think Jacob was immortal, but rather he wouldn’t die of old age or at the hands of the MIB.  He probably had a few other abilities that helped keep him alive too.  He was eventually killed by Ben, so that rules out the immortality thing.
  16. Why is Aaron so important? Why wasn't Kate supposed to raise him?Aaron may have been important because he was a child that was destined to be born on the island.  The island may have only allowed “special” children be born, such as Aaron, Jacob and MIB.  It could also be that the MIB could possibly take control of newborns in the same fashion he could take over the dead.  Kate was needed as a candidate and therefore shouldn’t raise Aaron.  Jacob said that he had to remove her from the list because she became a “mother”.
  17. Why isn't Kate a candidate?see #16
  18. What was the Dharma Initiative really up to on the Island? What was their ultimate goal? Why did the Hanso Foundation regard the Dharma Initiative as a failure?The Dharma Initiative was there for the same reason as everyone else, to harness the power of the island, and also serve as sort of a protector.  Some of them were eventually corrupted by the MIB.
  19. It seems like everyone who was a passenger on Oceanic 815 has numerous connections that they don't even know about. Like Jack and Claire being half-siblings, and Sawyer's ex-girlfriend helping Kate confront her mom. What caused this excessive degree of synchronicity? – This is probably the work of Jacob and/or the island in drawing the candidates to the island.
  20. What really happens if the Smoke Monster leaves the island? – The end of days
  21. In the "flash-sideways" universe, the island is under water. When exactly did this happen? – I think this is a metaphor for what life would have been like if the island had never existed in the Oceanic passengers’ timeline.
  22. How/when did Roger Linus and Pierre Chang get off the island before it sank?a boat, or maybe a plane, does it matter?
  23. Why did Ben and Widmore hate each other quite so much? Why couldn't Ben just shoot Widmore in the face that one time when Ben came into Widmore's bedroom?They both wanted to be top dog on the island, having two power hungry leaders will always lead to contention.  Ben didn’t shoot Widmore because he wanted Widmore to experience the pain of losing his daughter, just like Ben did.
  24. Why did Widmore order Keamy's gang to kill everyone on the island except for Ben? Especially since Widmore is so keen for Locke to lead the Oceanic Six back to the island a few years later. And why exactly is Widmore so keen for the Oceanic Six to come back to the island? Because they're Candidates? Or some other reason? If he is keen for there to be Candidates on the island, why did he order Keamy to kill them all? – Widmore admitted he was wrong for having done that and that Jacob came to him and showed him the error of his ways. 
  25. After Richard Alpert met Jacob and Jacob explained the island to him, why didn't Richard repeat that explanation to everyone he met?He didn’t explain it because most people would not have understood it.  He had to get the people to do what was needed by putting things in ideas that they could understand.  Walking around telling everyone that the island was some sort of spiritual power source that kept the world in balance and prevented evil from taking it over probably would have landed his ass in a Looney bin and we could have watched him not age in a padded cell.
  26. How did Richard and the Others decide whom to recruit from among the various people who came to the island after that? What was the deal with all those lists? The lists weren't lists of Candidates, since the Others didn't try to recruit Sawyer or Jack. So what were they? – Jacob must have provided Richard with the lists or Richard might have come up with them on his own.  The lists contained people that had to be removed from the island and also people that were needed to influence the real candidates. 
  27. Why did the Incident in 1977 leave the island's women unable to give birth? What's with the huge importance placed on fertility on the island, what with the Tawaret statue? Why are so many women separated from their babies?See #16
  28. So why was Widmore unable to return to the island? And then why was he able to return to the island after all? Also, why did turning the donkey wheel mean that Ben was unable to return to the island, except with the Oceanic Six? – The Island only brought people there that it wanted.  It didn’t bring Widmore back until he could bring Desmond with him.  It didn’t bring Ben back until he brought the candidates with him.
  29. What was the deal with that brand on Juliet's lower back? The cross/asterisk thing?tramp stamp?
  30. Where did that supply drop come from? You know, the huge pallet of food and stuff?the Others, Richard’s people that lived off the island.  Widmore’s people maybe.
  31. Who built that weird Dharma Initiative door that leads to a stone wall? Did the Others put it there as part of their fake village?no idea, but does it really matter?
  32. Was Rousseau "claimed" by the Smoke Monster the same way Claire and Sayid were?I would say “yes” and “no”, see #12
  33. What was the Sickness that the Dharma Initiative was vaccinating people against? Is it similar to the Smoke Monster "claiming" people, or something else?One way to control a group people is to unite them against a common foe.  It may have been the idea of Richard or someone that propagated the idea that there was a sickness on the island that made them go insane, instead of revealing that it was a mystical smoke monster attempting to control their minds.  It probably worked to keep the island’s inhabitants from getting to the real truth of the island.
  34. When the Smoke Monster told Sayid that he could have Nadia back from the dead, was he referring to the "flash sideways" universe, or something else? Or just lying?I think the Smoke Monster told a lot of lies, he even admitted it to Ben at the end.  He could have been telling the truth, but only part of it.  Maybe by destroying the island, the MIB would have released all of the souls in hell/purgatory and Sayid would have been reunited with her in a sort of hell on earth scenario.  Or maybe he planned on Sayid dying, since he was a candidate.
  35. What was the deal with Pierre Chang having so many wacky pseudonyms?Really, who cares?
  36. What were the Others having Kate and Sawyer build? Was it really going to be a runway? For what?Probably for the Ajira flight.
  37. So if the hydrogen bomb going off caused the "flash sideways" universe and prevented Oceanic 815 from crashing, how did it change Hurley's lottery numbers, or make Sawyer a cop instead of a con-man?I don’t think the bomb did any of that.  I think the bomb brought everyone into the same timeline or current day.  The LA-verse was timeless and was always there, we just never got to see it before.
  38. Is Ji Yeon the "Kwon" who's a candidate?No.  But she might be now that her parents were killed and she is alone.
  39. Who's the mother of Jack's son David in the "flash-sideways" universe? On a related note, where's alt-Juliet? – Answered.
  40. What happened to the body of Christian Shephard on the "flash-sideways" Flight 815?Answered.
  41. Come to think of it, what happened to Christian's body on the island?Eaten by polar bears, consumed by the MIB, or something similar.
  42. Sayid was "claimed" by the Smoke Monster, but he still had free will afterward. What did that being "claimed" thing mean anyway? Claimed meant under the influence of MIB, but not in total control by MIB.  They were promised something by the MIB and sworn their allegiance to him.  It was probably a lot like Jacob’s marking someone as a candidate.  The candidates obviously got some sort of protection since the MIB could not kill them directly. 
  43. What does god need with a starship? I mean, why does Locke need an airplane to leave the island?I think he needed the ability to free himself from the island, regardless of what the form of transportation was.  MIB was sustained by the power of the island, he could not leave it unless the island was destroyed and that power unleashed.  Jacob on the other hand was still a living being and could come and go as he chose.  He could probably use the power of the island himself to travel in time, teleport off the island and return the same way.
  44. Why are the Numbers so important? I get that each of the Numbers corresponds to one of the remaining Candidates as of a while ago. But that's just another instance of the Numbers popping up in relation to something. Why these numbers? Why were they powerful long before Jack, Hurley, et al. came to the island?This was probably one of the many ways of attracting people and candidates to the island. 
  45. And come to think of it, what was the point of having someone broadcasting the numbers over the radio over and over again for years?see #44
  46. If Jacob is dead, and his ghost is wandering around talking to Hurley, what's with the little kid version of Jacob? Why can only certain people, like Sawyer, see the little-kid Jacob? – They can see him when he wants to be seen.  His spirit lingered on until his body was completely destroyed.
  47. Who was Juliet inviting to coffee? What sort of coffee? Can I come? Will there be biscotti, or madeleines?Sawyer.  Juliet was dying and was seeing into her afterlife. 
  48. Why can't the Smoke Monster cross a line of ash? What about the sonic fence?The ash probably represented a magic circle similar to what is used to contain demons in many occult rituals.  The sonic fence disrupted the smoke particles or something similar.
  49. So the Man In Black can't leave the island. But Jacob was wandering off the island all the time, buying Louis Vuitton luggage, touching the Oceanic Six and various other people, and stocking up on Flannery O'Connor books. At one point, Jacob opened a dance studio in Newark. What gives?See #43
  50. When Ben took Locke to Jacob's Cabin, there was a weird telekinetic storm and Locke heard a voice saying "Help me." Was that Jacob? Or the M.I.B.? What sort of help did the voice have in mind? More importantly, what's with the dog painting in Jacob's Cabin???This was the MIB, he was locked in the cabin by the circle of ash.  He couldn’t appear in a physical body because he didn’t have one to inhabit at the time.

So that’s it.  My final Lost post.  I might write something else when the DVDs come out in August.  I here there will be an additional 15-20 minutes of epilogue.  I doubt there will be another show like this for a while.  I am sure I will find something else to occupy my time, right now it is watching the complete Battlestar Galactica series.  Well, it will be when Netflix decides to start sending me the DVDs again.  I’m sorry this post was so long, but the word count is divisible by 18, which is always a good thing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Say Hello to My Not So Little Friend

Day 141:  Another skirmish today.  We didn’t take any casualties, but the enemy suffered a major setback.  I was finishing up a production install for work.  I needed to take a break and get something to drink.  It was just after midnight.  I got up from my desk and began to walk across the room to where I had my bottle of Coke sitting.  This is what I saw staring up from the middle of the basement floor.

(that’s a quarter in the picture)

My two eyes locked with his eight.  He didn’t budge, he didn’t flinch.  He caught me with my guard down, I was unarmed and bare feet.  I backed up a few steps to my desk to arm myself.  I usually go for a can of compressed air and attempt to freeze the enemy, but this guy would be a hard shot.  He was in between the coffee table and the sofa.  If I hit him at the wrong angle with the compressed air, he would be propelled under either one and possibly flee the field of battle or be lost among broken crayons and Lego bricks.  Instead, I grabbed the wooden ruler I keep under my desk for confrontations such as these.  I hoped that he wouldn’t run while I was gone. 

No, not this guy, he was still in the same spot when I returned.  I approached slowly and when I was in range, I struck.  I brought the ruler down slowly and crushed him down.  Right before the ruler hit him, he reared up on his hind legs as if to parry the death blow.  The soft chitinous crunch signified his defeat.  He died in battle, he died with honor.  He got flushed down the toilet (after a short photography sitting).

Does anyone know an arachnologist or an entomologist?  I would really like to know what kind of spider this is.  I checked out a few websites, but I couldn’t find anything that looked this guy.  Is it poisonous?  Should I be concerned?  I am not concerned for myself, but I have three small children in the house, one of which does a lot of crawling about on the floor.  I haven’t seen them anywhere else in the house other than the basement.

Day 142:  All has been quiet.  I try to post a regular watch, but my other duties have kept me distracted.  I sometimes imagine I can hear the rustling of tiny bristled legs on the carpet.  The lack of sleep and constant vigilance has put me on edge.  I am jumping at shadows.  Ironic that my enemy lives in the shadows.  I don’t think I can keep up this pace.   My faithful companion deserted me earlier today for the warmth of the spring sun.  Damn him, my only companion now is the cold aluminum can of compressed air.

Should you not hear from me again, know that my enemies have organized a counter attack and I have succumbed to their overwhelming numbers.  Know that I fought bravely, for home and family.

Did that sofa cushion just move?  I think they are coming…

It was a 4-5-3-4-0(3.2) Star Meal

I like food, that you should already know.  I have talked about the meals I have eaten in the past and how much I liked them, how easy they were to make, and how the kids didn’t eat them once they were done.  I think I need a ratings system for food.  A simple five star system won't do, there are too many variables and I am not the kind of guy that overlooks the variables.  I was discussing this my wife and we had a few ideas.

  1. Taste: this is pretty self explanatory, rating 0-5 stars
    • 5 Stars - Filet Mignon
    • 0 Stars - Filet-O-Fish
  2. Prep time: how long does it take to make, rating 0-5 stars
    • 5 Stars - Throw it on a plate and eat
    • 0 Stars - kimchi
  3. Health: will this keep your stool loose or clog an artery
    • 5 Stars – Anything with bran in the name
    • 0 Stars - Anything from Five Guys
  4. Cost: whether you are buying the ingredients or buying the prepared meal, rating 0-5 stars
    • 5 Stars - Ramen Noodles
    • 0 Stars - Dom PĂ©rignon
  5. Kid friendliness: this one is a little difficult, so follow along.
    • 5 Stars - Something that always works, anytime of day, under any conditions, like hot dogs, pizza and tacos.
    • 4 Stars - Something that works a lot, but don't go to the well too many times or your kids will be whining, in my house, that's barbeque chicken and hamburgers.
    • 3 Stars - You never know what will happen, they ate it the first time, but they might have been tired or distracted.  They might eat it again, but grudgingly, like pasta with Italian sausage and spinach or quesadillas.  Bribery with ice cream or some other treat will coax them to clean their plate.
    • 2 Stars - Even worse, they complained the entire time eating it, but they will eat some of it, repeat performances are frowned upon.  We once made Egg Noodles with Ham and Peas and that went over like a fart in church.  My wife and I loved it, but the kids thought it looked and tasted like vomit, they at around the ham and peas and only ate the noodles.  Bribery fails at this point.  
    • 1 Star – You didn’t think this one through, did you?  You temporarily forgot you had kids.  You forgot that they won’t eat anything that looks “weird”.  They might, just might, take one or two bites, but that is it.  Shut up, don't spook them or things could get bad quick.  Just suck it up and break out the cereal bowls.  We made chicken in a puff pastry shell.  We thought it would be fun to eat.  We were wrong, very wrong.
    • 0 Stars - What the hell were you thinking?  If you were smart, you wouldn’t even make them a plate.  Hell, I wouldn’t even invite them to the table.  You eat the meal in silence and have a PB&J waiting for them when you are done.  The closest this meal is getting to their mouths is when they try to bite your face off for trying to serve it to them and you have a little of it on your lip.  An example of a 0 Star meal is the time we made noodles with a Thai peanut sauce.  Turns out that the sauce was just a tad bit spicy.  The kids immediately threw a fit and refused to eat.  They claimed we were trying to kill them.
  6. Average Score – take all five scores and average them, rounded to the nearest decimal point.  I will not add weighting for any particular attribute at this time.

In any future posts where I mention food, I will reference this rating scale.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lost: What They Died For

It took six years but Lost finally pissed me off.  I can now see what all of the haters are talking about.  After tonight's episode, I don't think I can watch it anymore.  It wasn't just one thing, there were two incidents that brought about my anger, that caused me to see right though this show and see it as the sham it really is. 

The first thing - who in the hell keeps their milk in a glass pitcher?  Every normal person in the world keeps their damn milk in the damn carton or plastic jug it came in.  Who in the hell are they trying to impress at breakfast that their milk needs to be in a big glass pitcher?  This show is so lame.

The second thing, the one that pushed me over the edge, also involved Jack.  How can he call himself a surgeon, how can he be a real doctor when he stitched up Kate that way?  How could he stitch her up with that small area to work with.  A real doctor would have had her take her shirt off.  A real doctor would have ripped her shirt off Hulk Hogan style to have some room to work.  At least that’s what I would have done. 

Just kidding.  There is no way I could hate this show.  I am sure Sunday night I will have some doubts and unanswered questions, but I doubt that I will ever have any serious complaints, other than it being over and not having anything else to occupy my TV time.

In tonight’s episode Jacob finally comes through and explains why he picked everyone and we finally got to see who will fill his shoes.  Something about the way he said “for as long as you can” made me think that Jack might not be in his new role for very long.  I think there might be another protector waiting in the end.  I think that new protector could be Ben.  I was shocked to see Ben switch back to the old Ben so easily.  But Ben doesn’t do anything without a Ben plan.  I don’t think he bought MIB’s promise of keeping the island all to himself once MIB was free from it.  Especially after Not Locke said he wants Desmond to destroy it.  But my theories have all proved pretty worthless.

What is going to happen at the concert?  Desmond needs all of his Oceanic buddies there for some reason.  Will Daniel Faraday/Whidmore save the day?  Will he cause some cataclysmic electromagnetic event that will bring the Island-verse and LA-verse in alignment?  I guess we only have a few days to find out.

What are you plans for the big day?  My kids are really excited.  On Sunday, I started to hype them up for the event. 

“Next week at this time, we will have eaten an early dinner.”

“Next week at this time, you guys will have had your showers and have your pajamas on.”

“Next week at this time, you will get to try a very special drink, called Sleepy Juice – made with warm milk (out of the DAMN plastic jug – I am not a glass pitcher poseur) and a dose of Benadryl.”

“Next week at this time, you will be fast asleep and Mommy and Daddy will be watching four and half hours of Lost.”

I really don’t know how it is all going to work out.  There are still some many questions.  Will we find out the significance of the numbers?  Will they be able to stop the Man in Black and save the island?  Will we ever find out his real name?  Will the survivors get to go home?  Who will end up protecting the island?  Will Kate really look as hot as I hope she does in that little black dress?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

He Shall Be Known as 6

My 5 YO shall henceforth be known as my 6 YO.  His real birthday was ten days ago, but his big party was today, so to him he wasn’t officially 6 until he was surrounded by eleven kids screaming happy birthday.  That works for me and I am sure there are a few people out there that would agree with that logic as well.  Who wouldn’t want to delay or even skip getting a year older if there wasn’t a party to mark the event. 

We had the party at one of those places with all of the inflatable slides and moon bounces and obstacle courses.  The kids had a great time and I had a pretty good time too.  I acted like one of the kids and tried out a little of every thing.  I even held a little how-to session in one of the moon bounces on doing front and back flips.  I called it quits after a few of each when I under rotated a front flip and rattled my teeth and jarred my spine.  Maybe I should start skipping birthdays too, this old age stuff is beginning to hurt too much.

I had one of those proud geek/father moments when I passed by the 12 kids all sitting down to engorge themselves on pizza and chips and soda.  I overheard this snippet of conversation.

Little Girl: “Don’t drink your soda so fast, your belly will explode.”

My 6 YO: “That’s totally BUSTED, your stomach would not explode.”

My 7 YO: “Yeah, you would burp first and release the gas.”

6 YO and 7 YO together: “Busted.”

I had to step out of the room because I was getting all misty.  My two boys, ahem, men, busting urban myths before my very eyes.  I have been catching them using “plausible” and “confirmed” in conversations for the past few weeks and their eyes lit up a little yesterday when I broke out the duct tape to try to seal up the top of the heavy bag.

We are planning our own Mythbuster-esque experiment this summer when the weather gets a little warmer.  We are going to test out the non-Newtonian properties of a corn starch and water solution.  The only problem so far is trying to score a 100 pounds or more of corn starch or enough to fill a turtle shaped plastic sandbox (shh, don’t tell my wife that we are planning this, she has forgotten all about the sandbox I have hidden in the shed).  If anyone out there knows where I can get that much corn starch, let me know and I will teach you how to walk on water.  Of course we are going to start small scale and build up to the main event once we get the proper water to corn starch ratio right.

Bustin’ Myths and Getting Older (my 6 YO is the one drenched in sweat with the little red arrow above his head):

Happy Birthday big guy!

Up in Smoke

Today was a beautiful day.  I got up early, walked out of the house to a beautiful sunny, warm day.  I spent seven hours working in the yard, mowing, weed-eating, hanging up the heavy bag, putting up the canopy on the gazebo, watering the garden, etc.  It went much better than last Saturday. 

Last Saturday was windy and a bit on the cool side.  The wind did a good job of stirring up all of the pollen, so I immediately started sneezing when I walked outside.  Not a problem, I am used to it by now.  I mowed the front lawn with the push mower and then moved on to the tractor for the backyard.  About 20 minutes into the backyard, the tractor seemed to be slowing down.  I thought it was my imagination, sort of an allergy induced mind trick to make me feel like the lawn was going to take longer to mow. 

As I turned the tractor to make another pass on the lawn, the wind suddenly died down and I caught sight of something not right.  A little plume of smoke was coming from the front of the engine.  I hadn’t noticed it before because the wind was blowing hard and my already clogged nose wasn’t reporting anything other than its hatred of nature.  I shut off the mower and let it cool down (i.e. I walked around the yard cursing and kicking at things). 

When I returned, I inspected the engine and couldn’t find anything that could be causing it to smoke.  This isn’t the first time I have caught the tractor on fire, two years ago I ran over a small pile of leaves and they got caught around the exhaust and with a little breeze, burst into flames.

I thought something similar was happening, maybe with it being so windy, something got stuck around the engine and was just burning off.  I inspected the engine and exhaust and couldn’t find anything.  I got back on and started her up.  Everything was right as rain, for another 5 minutes.  This time, my nose, taking a momentary break from expelling high speed snot, got a good whiff of burning oil.  And there was that smoke again, this time a lot thicker.  I jumped off and saw the entire side of the engine covered in motor oil.  I messed around with it some more, added oil, checked for leaks, but I couldn’t find the source of the leaking and burning oil.  I tried to start it up again but the engine had seized and refused to start.  More cursing, more kicking at real and imaginary things.

Get it fixed or sell it for scrap metal?  After a long internal debate and then a very simple conversation with my wife, the scrap metal option would probably be the easiest and least expensive in the long run.  I headed out to what I thought would be a relatively quick trip to Sears to buy a replacement.  I already knew what I wanted, having seen it every time I get one of their ads in the mail.

I waited patiently as the Sears salesperson worked with other customers and when it was my turn, I told her what I was looking for.  She showed me a couple different models, explained some features, and even tried selling me their top of line professional garden tractor with a 54” deck, PTO, 23” rear tires and a reserve fuel tank for twice the price of the one I wanted.  I explained I wanted to mow the lawn, not harvest the back 40.  I gently guided her back to the one I wanted.  Craftsman lawn tractor, built by Husqvarna, 46” deck, 24 HP engine.  She said I was in luck, there was one in stock.  We headed to the outside warehouse to take a look at it.  We then proceeded to look at every single tractor in the building to find the right one.  It wasn’t there.

I asked if she could check with another store to see if they had one.  “No, they don’t,” she explained, “I called the two closest stores last night looking for one for another customer and they were all out.”

Last night.  You didn’t have one last night.  Did you think that the warehouse would magically grow one over night?  Why did we spend an hour reading the serial numbers off of 150 tractors if you knew you didn’t have one last night?  Did you think that over night, two of the other tractors might get frisky and spawn a new one?

“Can I have the floor model?”  (I really didn’t want the floor model, I saw at least 10 different kids jump up and down on it while I was waiting, who knows what other abuse it has taken in the year that it has sat there.)

“No, we don’t sell the floor models.  I could order you one, it would be here by Wednesday.”

“I can deal with Wednesday.”

“Well, it would be here on Wednesday, but it comes unassembled in a crate.  It would be ready for pick up by Friday or Saturday.”

My mind quickly calculated how many people saw me come into the warehouse with this woman and if I could be identified as a suspect if she was found dead with a Craftsman lawn tractor shoved up her ass.  “Umm, I will think about it.”  And quickly left before the voices in my head could persuade me to do it.

I headed to Home Depot.  Big mistake.  The is the busiest Home Depot on the east coast, one the busiest in the country and a Saturday in spring is perhaps one of their busiest days.  There was not a single parking space open in the entire lot.  In my current mood, a large crowd of people would not be the best place for me to be.  Lowes was another ten minutes away and if I couldn’t find anything there, I could head to the overflow Home Depot (yes, they build a second Home Depot seven miles for this one strictly for overflow).

Lowes proudly displayed a row of several different John Deere mowers.  All of them at least $800 more than the comparable models at Sears.  But they had an amazing offer going on, if you purchased one that day, you would get a John Deere hat for FREE!  Who could pass up that offer?  No thank you.  But what did I see in the second row of mowers?  The same exact mower that I wanted at Sears.  A Husqvarna 46” cut 24 HP, except this one was orange instead of the Craftsman red and black.  And it was on sale for the same price!  I flagged down a sales associate and yes, he had five in stock.

“Are you sure?”

“Um, yeah [jackass], I just sold one to someone else and there were five more like it sitting right next to it.”

I told him I wanted one.  As part of the current sale, I could get a $120 dump cart along with it for free.  What?  No hat?  I told him that I already own a dump cart and he agreed to knock the $120 off the price.

My new toy:

The heavy bag hung temporarily from a tree (Thanks Mr. Dave!):

Friday, May 14, 2010

Damn the Consequences

Has it really been nine days?  Did y’all miss me?  I really should be working tonight, I still have a ton of stuff to do, but I don’t feel like it, so to all of my various “Bosses” and you know who you are, I am taking the night off.  The last few weeks have been rough and the nights that I am not working (which are not many), I have chosen not to be in front of a computer at all.  I have even gotten to the point where I won’t even turn on the Xbox.  Instead, in the time when my wife and children are asleep and I am not working, I have opted to catch up on some reading and movies. 

I am almost done with Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub.  When I am done with this book, I don’t have any ideas on what I want to read next.  I am certainly open to any suggestions, my bookshelves are void of books that I haven’t read.  I have a $200 gift card burning a hole in my wallet and I am really considering purchasing the bound editions of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Graphic novels

I have strayed a little from my reading plan in the last eight months.  My plan for the past seven or eight years has been to alternate between reading recent publications and classics.  The reason I do this is so that I can catch up on the hundreds of classics that I have not yet read that I have always wanted to, but at the same time, try to keep current with new releases.  The last few books I have read have all been recent publications and now I feel like I have to spend the next few months reading some classics achieve that balance again.

As for movies, I have seen some pretty good ones lately, good but disturbing.  I recently watched The Machinist starring Christian Bale.  This is a story about a man that has not slept in a year and his entire life deteriorates into paranoia and hallucinations.  Christian Bale has proven himself several times playing men that have gone over the edge (American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), even his first big role as James Graham in The Empire of the Sun was about a boy pushed to the extreme while trying to survive Japanese occupation in World War II. 

I have always been a sucker for movies and books that document someone’s decent into madness and The Machinist did not disappoint.  I think I like them so much because I mentally note all of the tell-tale signs so that I can recognize them as they happen to me.  Insomnia – check, talking to myself – check, copy of Catcher in the Rye - check, extreme weight loss – damn it, got to get a little crazier for that one. 

Netflix finally fixed the streaming version of Dolan’s Cadillac so that the sound actually played with the video and I was able to watch that one night.  This was a pretty good portrayal of the Stephen King short story of the same name.  It starred Christian Slater as a crime boss that dealt in human trafficking and Wes Bentley, who I haven’t seen since his role as the crazy videographer kid in American Beauty.  The movie fell way short of accurately depicting the illegal sex trafficking underworld.  I don’t have experience or first hand knowledge of this, but after having seen Trade with Kevin Kline, Dolan’s Cadillac almost makes this subject seem like a laughable experience.  (Note: Trade is an excellent movie, but it is gruesome and disturbing and I would not recommend it unless you are prepared for the subject matter.  This isn’t a movie you walk away feeling good about.)

My wife and I got a chance to watch The Lovely Bones together a few weekends ago.  We both enjoyed it, but I think the spirit world/heaven scenes detracted from the story.  I felt like they went to a lot of expense to draw this afterlife world, but they really didn’t accomplish anything with it.  This a story about the murder of a teenage girl, butterflies and rainbows and flowers are not what I was expecting.

On the flip side, the kids and I watched Where the Wild Things Are.  I loved this book since I was in first grade, I vividly remember sitting Indian style (yes, it is Indian style, not criss-cross applesauce or cross legged or tailor fashion) in the library (they were libraries back then, not '”media centers”) of Lincoln Elementary School and watching the librarian read us the story in almost a whisper as she flipped through the pages.  That story and those images made a big impression on me and looking back on it 28 years later, I realize now how much I could relate to Max and his overactive imagination. 

When the movie started, I was expecting the warm and slightly scary story of my childhood, and didn’t expect it to be as dark and depressing as it was.  I almost turned it off, thinking that it was a little too intense for the boys.  But they seemed to enjoy it and I asked them several times throughout the movie if they were scared by it.  They, of course, said no.  But now that they have watched it, and have those towering, carnivorous monsters in the backs of their minds, I have a little more leverage when they are behaving poorly.  I can always tell them I know where the wild things are and I can send them there.  They might declare themselves king, but they might get eaten too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tlatho-Shaba, Tlatho-Shaba Lama Sabachthani

Tuesday, Tuesday why have you forsaken me.  I really jinxed myself by reporting that Tuesdays are good days.  The past two weeks have proven me wrong.

My Tuesday morning consisted of browsing through a pile of emails telling what is currently broken or appears to be broken.  I don't consider myself a bad developer, but I consider myself incapable of pleasing everyone all the time or some of the time, most times I just want at least one person to be happy.  Deploying applications on thousands of desktops across the country used by various users with various levels of knowledge intelligence skill to be used in thousands of different scenarios is not easy.  It is much easier in a corporate environment where conditions are somewhat controlled, I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to build something used in the outside world.

Last week was all production support and now that I am done my monthly “on-call week”, it is a little quieter, but there is still a lot to do.  Last week left me severely behind on at least six different projects and playing catch up is hell.  Everyone is looking for a piece of me, every time I start on something, someone else is knocking on my door looking for an update.  I understand that I dig my own holes, but sometimes I wish there was a reset button or a way to file workload bankruptcy, hell a pause button would be nice.  I think I am incapable of working the hours that I used to.  I burn out around 11:30 now and even the hours before that don’t seem to be as productive as they used to. 

I got to leave work behind me early today (which is not a good thing being that I am already behind), because I had a doctor's appointment.  It was my yearly visit to the dermatologist.  Right after the appointment I had robotics, so I needed to take all of my robotics gear with me.  That means I couldn't take the truck.  I pulled the Subaru out the garage right after my wife left this morning and it sat in the sun all morning long.  When I got in to head to the doctor’s, the windshield was covered with pollen, sawdust, and a mass of other crap.  So I hit the windshield washer button and POP!  The cool windshield washer fluid on the hot windshield caused a 10 inch long crack right down the middle of the windshield.  I know this is in retaliation for not driving her for a month, but at least she could have given me a warning before self-mutilating herself.

I don’t think the patients in the dermatologist’s waiting room were too pleased with me when I arrived.  I sat there for 15 minutes and must have sneezed at least 40 times.  They all looked at me like I must be in the wrong office.  I just smiled at them between sneezes and wiped away the snot.  I got to meet my new doctor, he appears to be at least 14 years old.  I then came to the realization that I am at the point in life where my doctors can actually be younger than me and that I am truly old.  He gave me the all clear sign, which is good.  He asked me if there was anything else and I began to inquire if they offer any euthanasia services, but figured our health insurance probably wouldn’t cover it, so I said “No” and went on my way.

On to robotics.  I arrived a little late and had to park about 1/4 mile away.  Everything was going smoothly until my cell phone started blowing up. 

“you didn’t load the new such and such data last night”

“i did”

“no, you didn’t”

“I know I did because it took forever, it was like 9 million rows of data”

“well it’s not working”

At this point I realized that while I might have started the job to migrate the data last night, I don’t recall checking on it before I went to bed, so it probably threw an error at some point and never finished.  I called into the “Henry F’ed up Party Line”.  It was right at clean up time for Robotics, which is the loudest point with all of my kids asking how to save their Scratch projects and complaining because they didn’t want to clean anything up and running around screaming so I don’t even recall what was said on the call or what I might have said.  I know I promised to look at the issue as soon as I got home.

As soon as I got home, I realized that I had to make dinner quick or we wouldn’t be eating until late.  I went the pasta and meatballs route to save time.  Everyone was fed and I headed down to the basement to fix what I had broken the previous night.  I was right, the job failed to complete and I caused an outage, wonderful.  The good news was that I found an easier way to run the job that went much quicker and the problem was resolved in about 30 minutes.

What a way to spend Star Wars Day.  Lost was good, but sad. Fitting.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day at the Spa

Not for me, but for my other half.  Not just any spa, but a mobile spa.  We have taken our dogs to various groomers in the area over the past 11 years and so far we haven’t really liked any of them.  There is always something that they just don’t do right.  When we first adopted our current dog, he arrived at our house straight from the groomers, within a few hours, we had discovered about eight ticks on him, some as large as raisin.  I think that is something a groomer should have noticed.  The other groomers in the area have been steadily jacking up their prices over the past few years and now the price doesn’t match the service that you get.

We decided to try out a mobile groomer for the first time today.  We have seen them in the neighborhood a few times and figured if the neighbors trust them, it’s not such a big gamble.  The groomer called just before she arrived.  When she got here, the dog and I answered the door together.  The groomer approached slowly, hands out with palms down.  She let him sniff and investigate, and she petted behind his ears, i.e. they became friends instantly. 

The groomer noticed his advanced age and said that since he was older she would help him into the van.  I just smiled, knowing that an open car door is all he will need.  I was going to mention that she didn’t even need the leash but figured she would find out soon enough.  She attempted to lead him over to the van, but he quickly took control and lead her around to the open door, jumped right in and sat down, like this was something he had done 1,000 times before.  I think he gave me a parting glance as the doors closed behind him, but he might have just been looking around for something to eat.

According to the groomer, this is the treatment:

  1. Massage to relax him and prepare him for grooming – yes, a massage, I just assumed it was a fancy word for petting
  2. Brush out
  3. Cut
  4. Shampoo
  5. Conditioner
  6. Towel dried
  7. Blow dried
  8. Brushed out again
  9. Teeth brushed
  10. Nails clipped (painting is optional)
  11. Eyes cleaned
  12. Ears cleaned
  13. Cologne
  14. Non-Bret Michaels Bandana
  15. Treats

It took almost two hours.  Two hours of me looking behind my chair every time I had to back up, pausing at the stairs for him to race around me, glancing around every time I spoke (he thinks I am talking to him), etc.  When the groomer came back to front door, she looked to have all of her limbs attached and in the right places and she was smiling.  Our dog isn’t dangerous and he isn’t wild, but he is strong enough to pull me off my feet and I saw him snap a 2 inch tree branch in half with his teeth in one bite just yesterday.  He is also a bit over 90 pounds and I can’t imagine what it was like with him cooped up in a van for 2 hours.  I get drenched giving him a bath in the driveway and I get to stand 5 feet away. 

The dog was also happy and handsome, he looked 5 years younger and 20 pounds lighter.  She said he behaved very well and that he was very healthy.  She said she would definitely come back again when he needed his next haircut.  I began to wonder if she had a few tanks of nitrous oxide venting into the van.  I almost asked if she worked on humans too, because I could use a haircut, but I was afraid of the response. 

Once all the excitement wound down, the dog inhaled his lunch and took a leisurely bathroom break, he resumed his position behind my chair for the rest of the afternoon.

His breath still smells faintly of rotting fish, but you can’t have everything.

Before (the camera failed to capture the pungent odor of decaying anus emanating from between the black lips an inch below his nose):

After (happy, clean, pleasant scented guy sporting a badass black bandana):

There’s a First for Everything

Saturday was my oldest son’s First Holy Eucharist mass at church.  For my non-Catholic readers, the First Holy Eucharist is when Catholics get communion for the first time (not sure how you guys do it in your particular sect), kids receive it when they are in second grade or older.  For my non-Christian readers, in Christian religions, our god asks us to eat his flesh and drink his blood in a weekly ritual ala Bram Stoker. 

Our god’s son, who is also our god, not another god, the father god and the son god are the same god, he just talks about himself sometimes as the father and sometimes as the son, and sometimes he talks to himself as the father or as the son (not really sure how that all works, but we take it on faith that this is the way it works.  There is also third part to the god and he goes by the name Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, and he shows up when the god wants to appear to people and tell them to kill someone or get them pregnant).  Anyway, the father part sent his son part down to Earth and was letting his son part get tortured and killed to make a point about sin and forgiveness, and the night before the son part was about to die, he had a meal with his followers.  At the dinner, he pretended that a piece a bread was his body and the wine was his blood and had his followers eat and drink it.  The next day he was nailed to a cross and died.  Three days later, the son pulled a Romero-esque comeback and rose from the dead.  So every Sunday, we go and celebrate this, and today was the first time my 7 YO got to do it.

We got up early and prepared.  My 7 YO got a new suit for the occasion and my 5 YO wanted to be part of the action so he put on a sports coat.  After getting dressed, my 5 YO said to his brother, “Wow, that suit makes you look 8.”

We had to slick his hair back with a lot of gel and then layered on some hairspray just to keep it in place.  It lasted for almost four hours before it busted out into an unruly mop.

(I am the tall dorky one on the right)

We went for lunch at the Mountain Branch Grill and Pub.  They served some of the best fried calamari I had ever eaten (the best I have ever had and possibly the best meal ever was at Roy’s) and an amazing blackened ahi tuna sandwich.  We got to sit outside and enjoy the wonderful weather and watch the golfers on the practice green.

We discussed the interesting fact that even though we celebrated mass that morning, we were still obligated to attend later that day or on Sunday.  I had never heard this before and I was not about to head back to church this weekend, according to my Cathlometer (that’s the little needle in my head that measures my current afterlife outcome and wavers between “Playing a Harp” and “Roasting with a Pitchfork”, I am sure after writing this post, roasting will probably be my only option), I was holy enough for the week, but according to church law, we did not fulfill our weekly obligation.  My argument to this is that it must be 5 o’clock somewhere in the world (in fact, it was around 5 PM in Rome (GMT + 2) when we were at mass (GMT – 4)), I figured if it works for having a beer, it should work for communion.  The consensus we reached was since they didn’t pass a collection plate, it doesn’t count as mass.

We also discussed what happens if you should throw up the host (the bread aka the body of god) at some point after communion.  One idea was that you have to have a priest dispose of the emesis properly (bury it in sacred ground, burn it, etc.).  Again, I have never heard this before, so I did a little research.  The only clear reference I could find was here and here.  So if you have to blow chunks, make sure you catch it in something you can hold on to until the priest gets there.  Luckily, everyone held on to their communion and their lunches.