Thursday, March 30, 2006

PMD : Puppy of Mass Destruction

It comes to something when even the elements are against me…aided and abetted by the puppy.

You see, yesterday, the wife and I were grocery shopping, and right next to the register, they had oversized kites.

Suddenly I wanted an 8 foot wing span kite more than anything in the world.

(I’m a hideous impulse buyer, and since age 3 I’ve been completely and totally fascinated by anything that flies. Gliders, kites, model planes, helicopters…anything. It’s my dream to own my own Apache attack helicopter before I die. (Although I’d settle for a model one…if it was over-sized.)

Anyway, I knew better than to ask Sunny for the required $6 to buy this Bat-shaped, 8 foot wide beast…so I stayed quiet.

Then, I suddenly passed into the Bizzaro World.

Sunny said: “Hey, have you seen those kites? Me and Frank spotted them last week. Do you want one?”

Hmmm. Stupid question. Do I, Paulius, want an over sized, bat-shaped kite?

Hell yeah, I do!

Well, unfortunately, that day there was not a breath of wind.

This morning, however, the very first thing I did was run outside to see if it was good kite flying weather. I’m a big kid, what can I say?

There was a light breeze, and it might be just enough.

Guess what? It wasn’t.

I was disappointed…but not defeated.

So, after spending 20 minutes un-tangling the kite line, I decided to at least pretend I was a grown up, and decided to do a little bit of yard work. The fishing pond was completely covered in fallen leaves, so I decided to be a good son-in-law and rake them up.

Can you guess what happened as soon as I got the half-ton of leaves into a nice tidy pile?

That’s right, the wind got up. I watched as a couple hours of work was suddenly undone.

I cursed for a while.

Attempt number two:

So this time, I raked the leaves back up and dumped them in a small gully where the wind couldn’t get at them. Then, I stood back and admired my work.

Suddenly I was filled with a sense of dread.

Do you know that scene in Jurassic Park, where the water in the cup starts to vibrate as the T-Rex’s footsteps get closer? I swear I saw the surface of the pond move, just like that.

Then I heard it.

The unmistakable sound of a 10lb puppy charging down the hill at full speed.


The world clicked into slow motion. Just like Peter Parker when his Spider-Sense kicks in.

I saw the puppy charging. Each footfall took an age, and somehow echoed.

BA ba-bah-bah bah. BA ba-bah-bah-bah. Ba ba-bah-bah-bah.

He reached the edge of the gully. I saw his muscles slowly bunch up like elastic bands under tension.

He leapt with a height and power that I didn’t think possible. He rose from the ground like the Wrath of Kings. He did a perfect half pirouette in the air, his fur rippling like a turbulent ocean. He passed me, at head height, staring me square in the eyes. His face was home to a huge grin and his tongue was flapping behind him like a World War One fighter pilot’s scarf.

I’m also pretty sure he flipped me off on the way past…again in slow motion.

I ran forward, feeling as if the air had turned to treacle. I was shouting the obligatory slow-motion “NOOOOOoooooooooooo!” as I ran.

My arms went up, stretching out to catch him, and I heard him laugh like a demon from the 7th circle of hell as my fingers brushed ineffectually against his fur.

He reached the apex of his arc, yelled something in puppy language, that I’m pretty sure was “Caaaannnnnnnnnon Baaaaaaaaaaaaaalll!!”…which was odd as he landed on his side.

He hit the pile of leaves like a mini-Hiroshima.

The leaves flew up in their own mushroom cloud, as Buddy vanished beneath the surface.

The world snapped back to full speed.

I dropped to me knees, held my hands up to the heavens and spoke:

“Why God! Why!”

…which Buddy misinterpreted as the command to ‘Completely spaz out, run in circles, and try and spread the leaves over as wide an area as possible.

My rake dropped at my side.

Oh well. I thought. At least I can try out my kite!

…and the wind dropped.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No Title...I Don't Have The Will For It

So I woke up this morning and wandered into the living room. Surprisingly, there was no one home.


You see, when you get married, your new spouse makes you do frivolous things like spend time with them, talk to them and help them with things…rather than let you do the important stuff, like spend 4 hours playing video games.

So I turned on the computer. I’d watched Lord of the Rings: Return of the King the night before, and I was really in the mood to play the game on the PC.

Now, where are my Lord of the Rings CD’s.


Now, you see, all my games are prettily arranged on a shelf right next to the computer. Unfortunately, my copy of Return of the King came in one of those compilation packs, the ones that have really crappy packaging. The kind of packaging you throw away as soon as you open it.

So I look on the shelf, and find the play disc in one of those uber-crappy plastic slip case things…you know the ones, the ones that offer no protection to the CD whatsoever.

The install discs are no where to be found.

I am suddenly filled with disgust and an odd sense of foreboding. In the distance I hear demonic laughter.

I have to venture into the ‘Desk Drawer of Ultimate Doom™’

Everyone has a drawer like this. It’s the drawer that houses all those things that aren’t really important enough to keep, but you don’t want to throw them away, just in case you need them at some point in the future. It’s arranged in the Biblical System…aka “Seek and ye shall find.

So, after about a half hour, I stumble across install discs one and two. Now I only have disc three!

About an hour later, with nearly the entire house turned upside down, something in my head clicks.

How many install discs are there? I thought it was a four disc set, but maybe it was only three?

I do a Google search. Guess what? It is a three disc set!

I’d just spent an hour searching for a fictional disc. I’m sure the third disc exists somewhere in potentia, the mystical universe where anything that could exist does exist…only not in this universe…it doesn’t.


Oh well, live and learn.

So I put in install disc one.

Please enter your CD key. This is located on the back of the Jewel Case.”


You see, my version of Return of the King didn’t even come with a jewel case. Like I said before, it was in a compilation. A compilation that came with lots of very small, and above all losable bits of paper with this kinda stuff written on it.


The little bits of paper, very much like the ones I threw out a few weeks ago, in a fit of madness, when I decided to try and be tidy. The bits of paper that I looked at and thought:

“Damn this drawer is untidy! Why am I even keeping this crap?! I haven’t taken a thing out of this drawer in over a year, I’ll clean it up a little!”

Double Uh-oh.

I looked anyway. Let’s just say that if I had a bit of paper for every bit of paper in that drawer…I’d have exactly one butt-load of paper.

Now, at this point a lesser man would have given up. It had been almost three hours since I got out of bed…but I wasn’t going to be beaten by a piece of god-damn paper.

At this point, I realized I had two options:

  1. Email Electronic Arts customer support, wait about a week for a reply, end up sending my actual game CD’s to them (The only proof of ownership I had…the receipt was lost in the “Desk Drawer of Ultimate Doom™”) then wait six weeks to get my CD’s back and a new CD Key…that’s if EA would actually do that for me.

  2. Use my 1337 H4XoR skillz, and get a CD key off the internet.

So, about 30 minutes later, I had finished removing the myriad of spyware programs from my PC, and had just finished the virus sweep that I carried out after I got virus warnings from every single site I visited looking for the CD Key.

But I had a CD Key dammit!

(Paulius After School Special Corner: Hey Kids, Paulius here! I’d just like to point out that I didn’t do anything illegal because I actually own the game I got the CD-Key for. Getting CD-Keys for games you have pirated is against the law, as is pirating the games in the first place.

Just say no to software piracy, kids! Not only could it land you behind bars, it also makes you a dirty commie, a racist, a homosexual, and bizarrely, a Lithuanian pole vault second place winner.

Besides, EA needs more money to roll in while worshiping their heathen Gods.

We now return you to your previously scheduled programming.)

So I was all set. I put in my recently acquired CD Key, and started the installation.

Now, why all games aren’t released exclusively on DVD is beyond me. Surely DVD-ROM drives are standard equipment these days? Plus, you can buy one for about $20 now.

But, I was stuck with the CD’s:

Insert disc one

Insert disc two

Insert disc three.

Insert disc one again. (Why? Why God, Why? Couldn’t it have got everything it needed the first time?)

Insert disc two and three together, while wearing disc one as a hat. Lean slightly nor’ east, and slightly oil a whale fisherman’s buttocks.

Nah, what’s the point of putting a single DVD in the drive, starting it and walking away…when you can be stuck in front of your computer for 30 minutes swapping discs like a…a…a big disc swappy thing!

Anyway, I finally got the thing installed. I started the game up.

Now, one of the few bad things about Return of the King is the first time you start it up, you’re stuck watching about 15 minutes of introductory video (Read: Film Clips) that are non-skippable.

It’s like EA sat there and thought: “We’re paying a lot of money to get these clips in the game, so you’re sure as hell going to watch them! I don’t care if you’ve seen the films a hundred times! I don’t care if you’ve seen all this before! I don’t care if you actually want to play the game you spent your hard earned cash on! We’re EA dammit! Kneel Before Zod!”

This is the part of the game that you spend staring at the screen, pressing every button on the keyboard, mouse and gamepad, because somewhere under that cynical, life-hardened outer-shell, the eternal optimist in you is thinking: “There has to be a way to skip this damn thing! They can’t force me to watch this!”

Finally, the opening scene is finished and I’m at the main menu. I configure my gamepad, I start the game.


I’d forgotten. Not only do you have 15 minutes before you even get to the menu, you also get treated to a 5 minute introduction to each leve,l the first time through (Sod the fact I’d already played the game through and  had beaten it…all the crap that gets left on your hard-drive when you un-install something, they couldn’t leave a little line of code that says “He’s seen this, skip it.”)

Dear Games companies:

Stop making non-skippable cut scenes and full motion video segments…or I will kill you…that is all.

(Maybe I was wrong, video games DO cause violence).

So, it’s been close to four hours since I decided to play this game. I’ve found the discs, got a CD key, installed the damn things, and just sat through 20 minutes of non-skippable video.

The display changed from movie clip to compute generated. I’m about to be given control of Gandalf at any second. My heart quickens.

YES! I’m actually PLAYING the damn thing.

The Battle of Helm’s Deep. Shit hot! The walls are in front of me, there’s Orcs and Uruk-hai a plenty between me and them. I set Gandalf in motion.

At that precise moment, Sunny walks into the room.

“Ah! You’re up!” She says.

“Uh-huh.” I say…that first Orc is within spitting distance/

“Well, get your shoes on, you’re coming with me to take the trash to the dump.”


I bash my head against the desk.

“God!” Say’s Sunny. “I’m so sorry I’m interrupting your little computer game! Get your shoes on.”

I weep.

…and do you wanna know the worst part? When I actually got to play the game, I remembered why I un-installed it in the first place. It’s good the first time through…after that, it gets a little boring.

  • Sidenote.

Earlier this evening, I was sitting at the computer while frank listened to some music. He was playing the CD through the DVD player, in order to hear it through our surround sound system.

Strangely enough, ‘Ice Age’ was on the TV at the time.

Apparently, rap music lip-syncs almost perfectly with Ice Age…leading to the most fucked up music video you’ll ever see...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nostalgia, it's not what it used to be.

Okay, so I was trying to while away an hour or so on, and I stumbled across a video that was the opening sequence from ‘Power Rangers’. Here’s the link:

Not the new Power Rangers, I’m talking about the one I actually used to watch when I was 12. The original (or at least the first American version) Power Rangers.

Now, I’ll be completely honest. I only clicked the link to see if it was as bad as I remember it being. Power Rangers was one of those shows that was so bad, it actually passed right through bad, and came out the other side, as something resembling good.

In other words, you watched it so you could take the piss out of it in the schoolyard the next day.

Classic points to ponder are:

The fact that the Yellow Ranger was obviously a male in the Japanese version (They just pasted the fight scenes in directly out of the Japanese show).

That the big floating head thing gave them a new robot or weapon every single episode, and the fact that every single episode was more or less the same.

The plot. Bad guy attacks. Good guys fight back. Good guys get almost beaten. Floaty head guy gives them new weapon. Good guys win.

It was also amazing just how many high school kids really cared about the environment and were invited to ‘International Peace Talks’.

However, there are some things that you completely miss as a child. You know, before cynicism builds that cold dark wall around your soul.

Go watch the clip, I’ll wait until you get back.

(Reads the paper for 15 seconds).

Back already? Let me walk you through the clip.

Opening Scene. The witch type woman gets released from the gigantic pot. What are her first words?

“Ahhh! After ten thousand years I’m free! It’s time to conquer Earth!”

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but if I’d been locked in a giant pot for 10,000 years I’d do three things before I decided to conquer any nearby planets:

  1. Take the biggest pee ever known to man.

  2. Stretch.

  3. Go grab a bite to eat.

Second thing.

Something’s not quite right about the big floating head. First of all, he’s apparently been given the job of looking after a giant pot that has an evil woman trapped in it… for 10,000 years.

Don’t you think after the first hundred someone might have realized that it didn’t really need guarding?

The other thing here is he actually fails to guard it. After 10,000 years, he sneaks off to the bathroom for a quick dump, and the bitch pops out.

Think he was given this assignment to keep him out of the way? Like he’s an important person’s cousin or something, so they can’t kick him out, but just give him an easy job where he can’t cause much trouble?

If you need further proof of his stupidity, think of the problem that’s facing him. An evil woman type thing has escaped from her pot, and she’s probably dangerous.

What would you do?

Well, in his shoes I’d call on, at the very least, the police. Earth has numerous armed forces, he could have his pick.

What’s his plan?

“Recruit a team of teenagers with attitudes!”

Basically, get together a group of kids to fight your mortal enemies!

While we’re on the subject, what exactly does ‘attitude’ even mean? Back in the early 90’s, everything had ‘attitude’. It’s one of those words that doesn’t really mean anything, but demographic studies show that the kids like it, so let’s slap it on everything!

Having an ‘attitude’ was something my mum used to beat the crap out of me for.

Oh, I get it, parent’s don’t like it, so being a kid with ‘attitude’ means you must be cool!

However, the thing that made me laugh them most is, if you watch the clip carefully, you’ll see that the robot dude manages to recruit the aforesaid ‘teenager’s with attitudes’ by pressing a single button.

I ask you, what kind of command center has a “recruit teenagers with attitudes’ button?

One ran by a monster tard, I’ll wager.

Let’s face it “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” should be more accurately titled as:

“Bunch of kids with generic ‘cool’ qualities, that real kids think are stupid, being sent to fight against people in bad Halloween costumes under the direction of a monster-tard floating head.”

…which surprisingly sounds a hell of a lot more like a japanese show title.

Burning Down The Barn

Ok, there’s a common misconception that I want to clear up.

I was just reading a back issue of ‘Reader’s Digest’, and came across a story about the latest thing parents should apparently be worried about.

It’s a ‘game’ kids have started playing where they choke themselves out. That’s it. That’s ‘the game’.

Now, obviously, this is a bad thing. Depriving your brain of oxygen is never a good idea, and of course, you get the accidents where kids go too far and kill themselves. Of course, this happens to two or three kids nationwide and we immediately have a epidemic on our hands.

But this isn’t what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about the bit that made me just put the magazine down:

“The child’s parents are convinced this game came from the Internet.”

Hang on a min, let me put that through my truth filter:

“The child’s parents want something to blame, so they decided to blame the internet instead of the fact they should have kept a closer eye on their child.”

Don’t get me wrong. What happened to the kid in the story was a tragedy, and to be fair, maybe there where no signs that he was playing this dangerous game. All kids do dangerous things that their parents don’t know about, because kids don’t think.

I remember back in my childhood, a few friends and I would go out into the woods and make tree swings that would swing out over 30 foot drops.

Yeah, we found that bit of moldy old rope on the ground and no, we didn’t test how strong the rope was, or that the tree limb was sturdy.

Did we consider ourselves in danger? Nope. Not at all…well, maybe a little bit… but that was half the fun!

It’s something kids do.

I hate to be the one to tell everyone this, and I think every parent with grown kids will back me up on this, but unless you wrap your kids up in cotton wool and lock them in their rooms for their entire life…there’s not a lot you can do. 99% of the time, the worst that happens is a broken bone or cuts and bruises. You get the occasional tragedy, but there’s not a lot you can do about it.

(Right now, plenty of parents are thinking “Not MY kids!”…Yes, YOUR kids.)

You see, sometimes the sad truth is, there’s no one to blame. No one is responsible. It comes down to a pure accident.

Take this choking ‘game’. One day a kid passes out. He wakes up and thinks “Wow! That was cool! Your head goes all fuzzy!” Then he tells his friend…who tells a friend, who tells a friend etc, etc.

Kids at that age don’t know or care that what they’re doing is dangerous. Hey! I did it a hundred times, and I’m ok!

Then someone gets hurt, and the parents look for something handy to blame.

After the Columbine shootings, they decided to blame Marilyn Manson. No one asked how a couple of high school kids got their hands on semi-automatic assault weapons…or why their parents didn’t notice anything wrong.

A kid shoots his friend. Again, no one asks where a 12 year old gets a handgun, or why his parents allowed him to get his hands on a gun…video games are to blame.

I’ve said this a hundred times, but every generation has its scapegoat. The 20’s had Jazz, the 30’s and 40’s had pulp comic books, the 50’s and 60’s had Rock and Roll, The 70’s and 80’s had ‘Video Nasties’ and The 90’s had Rave and Hip-Hop music.

This generation’s scapegoat is Music, Videogames and above all…The Internet.

The Internet is an absolutely perfect scapegoat. No one owns it. No one ‘runs’ it. There’s no company you can blame for what’s on there. You can blame anything on the Internet, and who’s going to object?

Well…People like me, but who cares what I think? I’m just another brain-washed Internet junkie.

Here’s the thing, and this is the misconception I want to clean up.

The internet is simply a wide area network of computers. A bunch of machines plugged into one another.

What you find on the internet is people. Everything on the internet is there because someone put it there.

Nothing ‘comes from the internet’. It’s not like some evil corporation designed to take your children’s souls. When you say something ‘came from the internet’ all you’re saying is that it ‘came from people’. It’s like blaming ‘society’.

I hate to tell you this, people, but WE are ‘society’. We are the internet. All the Internet does is provide a way for us to communicate with each other.

A few paragraphs ago I pointed out that it’s pretty much impossible to keep an eye on your kids 24/7. I just find it funny that the one thing parents blame more than anything else is the one thing you CAN control 24/7. Keep the computer in the living room, install net-nanny, and there’s no reason your kids should look at anything you don’t want them to.

The biggest problem is that the only thing non-internet users hear on the news is the negative things:

Under-age kids look at porn.
Pedophiles use the internet to hunt children.
Pedophiles use the internet to swap child porn pictures.
Terrorists get plans off the internet to make bombs.
Children get exposed to bad language/sex/violence.

Does this happen?

Well, yes, it does…but you can’t blame the infrastructure for what people choose to do on it.
Let me put it another way.

The regular mail can be used to send porn magazines, child porn pictures, plans to make bombs (Or even actual bombs), movies that aren’t appropriate for children…but you never hear people calling to get the mail shut down.

People use the phone to harass people, call and leave threatening messages…but no one demands that all phones are disconnected, or that you have someone else on the line to make sure nothing is said that you may find offensive.

All the ‘bad’ information on the internet can also be found at your local library. You can find out how to make a bomb from a chemistry text-book. The British Library, one of the ‘Great Institutions’ of Britain has a copy of pretty much every book there is in print. This is held up as a ‘Good Thing’…yet most of the books there would be considered inappropriate for children…yet parents don’t want it burned to the ground. If it’s on paper, and bound in a cover, that’s ok…if it’s on a computer screen, it’s bad.

A very clever man (namely MC Etcher), put it best. (Sorry if I paraphrase you here, Etcher):

“The internet is people. If 5% of the population are criminals, 5% of the people you see on line will be criminals).

No one ever says anything about the good stuff the internet has brought us:

I met my wife on the internet, and we’re very happy together.

Thanks to the internet, I can talk to my parents (face to face over a webcam), whenever I want, and it doesn’t cost me an extra penny.

I can write to my parents and friends back in England, and they get my message within seconds, not weeks.

I can learn about anything I want with a simple Google search.

It’s just unfortunate that the people who choose to badmouth the internet and use it as a scapegoat are the people who have never used it, or know nothing about it.

Here’s the thing. Your kids look at something you don’t want them to, and you blame the internet. Not yourselves for not keeping a closer eye on them.

You decide that the internet is a ‘Bad Thing’, and tell everyone that’s what you think.

Instead, why not actually go on the internet and learn a little about it. If you have children, within a few minutes you can download and install something like Cyber-Sitter or Net Nanny…programs that block inappropriate sites.

It all comes back to censorship and parental responsibility.

Many people want the internet censored, but the internet allows self-consoring. You can decide what you want, or what your children get to see.

What does it mean to censor the internet?

To put this into non-internet terms, it means that every new book that gets written is read over by an ‘authority’, who can edit, cut out and add to any book he likes. Every picture you take is looked at and decided whether you can have it back or if it should be destroyed. Every letter you write or conversation you have goes through a third party, who decides what you’re allowed to say and what you hear.

It amazes me that here in America, the country that holds its freedom above anything else, is doing everything it can to have its freedom curtailed. By calling for internet censorship, we’re holding up our hands to the government and saying “Please, decide what we can and can’t say, and what we can and can’t see or hear.”

I’ll be as fair as I can here. There are some things on the internet that should be stamped out. Freedom of speech and expression does not cover people who want to trade child porn pictures.

However, you don’t close down the mail because someone sent a child porn picture through it. You find out who sent it and punish them.

You don’t shut down or try to censor the internet because the minority choose to mis-use it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Here Kitty Kitty....BOOOOOM!

Regular readers will know that I recently took in a stray dog.

Unfortunately, we also have two stray cats that have took up permanent residence on our front porch.

Here’s the deal. These two strays used to just sit out there and watch us come and go. Me, being a big softy, occasionally put out scraps for them, or if there are no scraps, the occasional handful of padme’s cat food.

Now, I know if you feed a stray, you encourage it to stay, but to be honest, they don’t bother me that much…or at least they didn’t, so I fed them anyway.

Now when you feed a dog they think:

“Oh worshipful master! Thank you for this gift. Thou art truly a god.”

Cats think:

“Ah, the staff has arrived. What? You expect me to eat this? Take it away and bring back fresh salmon, you uncultured oik!”

In other words, the strays have gotten all uppity. They, like all cats, have decided that my gift to them is a right…and now bitch at me every time I walk past them…or walk near my front door…or cough too loudly in the living room.

Dogs see us as Gods…Cats see us as Staff.

Now, whenever I open the door, they run to my feet and mewl like crazy. It’s like that mewl bypasses my ears, and the meaning enters straight into my brain. That meaning is:

“Get me some food, fo’ I slap you, Bitch!”

It’s not helped by the fact that Buddy’s gotten to the stage where you don’t need to keep a really close eye on him when you let him out. I’ve taken to just opening the door, letting him out, and getting up to close the door when he makes an appearance at my feet.

The cats, who used to put a nervous paw across the doorway if it was left open for a half hour, have taken to striding in like they own the place every time the door is opened. If you block one of the left with your foot, they simply back up and go to the right.

Kinda like air-hockey, but with cats.

Here’s what I spent the past 15 minutes doing.

Open door, let dog out.
Hear noises in the kitchen.
Shout: “Buddy, get out of the trash!”
Notice that buddy is now, in fact, lying on my feet.
Walk out to the kitchen.
Pick up Cat #1, and put him outside.
Close door
Return to the living room.
Hear more noises.
Return to kitchen.
Pick up Cat#2, and put him outside.
Close door.
Return to living room.
Watch in amazement as Cat#1 walks into the living room, jumps in chair, makes self comfortable.
Pick up Cat#1
Throw Cat#1 outside.
Deftly stop Cat#2 from sneaking past with my foot as I eject Cat#1 (By deftly, I mean ‘I fall over’)
Let dog out again.
Return to living room.
Cats #1 and #2 walk into the living room and give me “Where’s my dinner, Bitch?” mewl.
Pump air rifle.
Laugh as both cats haul ass for the door.
Close door.
Sit back down.
Realize the dog is still outside.
Get back up, and let dog back in.
Hear mewling in kitchen.
Stamp out to kitchen ready to cook some fried cat-skins.
See Padme sitting on dining room chair cleaning herself, looking all innocent.
Hear cat laugh at me as I walk back into living room.
Hear more mewling.
Shout “You’re not fooling anyone Padme!”
Padme, accompanied by Cat#1 walks into the living room…

Padme’s letting them in…I swear.

So basically, what this all boils down to is:

Does anyone have a 12 gauge shotgun I can borrow?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A couple Random Musings

This morning I had a flash of inspiration.

I was asleep. I mean, dead asleep. The kind of sleep where you’re actually paralyzed for a few seconds when you wake up.

Then I heard the puppy’s distinctive and unmistakable “I’ve really got to gooooooo. I have to use the bathroom. I gotta go! NoooooooooWWWW! I Can’t hold it much longer!”…Howl.

I went from horizontal and sleeping to vertical and running to open the door in just a few seconds. That’s when the inspiration hit me.

You see, alarm clocks to me are about as much use as a submarine door made of cheese-cloth. They’ve got the snooze button, they’re not loud enough etc. Usually, you could fire a cannon right next to my ear and it wouldn’t wake me up.

But a puppy-gotta-poopy whine bypasses your consciousness and speaks right to that little caveman portion of your back brain. Howling animals usually meant death in our not-so-recent past.

The second thought is that once you’re actually awake, if you don’t get up right now, your first activity for the day is going to involve cleaning up dog-crap.

Basically, a puppy is the ultimate alarm clock.

The only problem is that puppies are hard to ‘set’. You’ve got to feed them the precise amount at precisely the right time, and put them to bed at precisely the right time as well.

That’s a lot of precision for a ‘give or take an hour or so’ alarm system.

That’s when I came up with the idea. It hit me in a flash, just like Doc Brown’s idea hit him when he fell off his toilet trying to hang his clock.

The ‘Puppy Go Poopy’ Alarm Clock.

It gets delivered to your house, and bolted to your living room floor, so you can’t solve the problem by leaving it outside. Once the time is set, you have to wait two weeks to un-set it, meaning you can’t just set it for a later time.

Here’s the kicker, though.

The alarm is a howl, and if you don’t get up within 5 minutes of the first howl and reset it, it dumps a small amount of sewage, directly from your septic tank, through a cunning pipe system, onto your living room floor.

Now THAT’S an efficient alarm clock

One of the first things I did when I woke this morning was read through my blog list.

Kato was wondering whether he should start a Podcast.

I tried to comment, but or some reason, his word verification wouldn’t let me through. He raised a good point though.

Podcasts are nothing new. Streaming audio has been on the internet for years. The only thing new is the tacked on RSS feed.

Now, speaking as a true g33k, this is kinda annoying to me.

Only in the past few years has the internet, video games and computers in general become mainstream. Before that they where the domain of the geek. My theory is that one day, some hot girl walked up to a geek and said: “Is it true you can get free music off the internet?”…and everything changed.

The internet changed from smart people on dumb terminals to dumb people on smart terminals. Computers and internet went from challengingly hard to ridiculously easy. Now every 12 year old with a computer and a microphone thinks they should have a podcast.

(Umm, I’m not talking about Kato in that last comment…He’s proven his true geekiness, and his ability to entertain.)

However, the absolutely most annoying thing about something going mainstream is that most people think it all started when they first heard about it on the news. Plus, then some guy hears about the internet. Gets his first computer, and then after 15 minutes solid surfing becomes an ‘expert’.

Trust me, there’s nothing more annoying than getting computer advice from someone who thought computers started with Intel, and when asked what computer he has, says “Windows”.

Hey ass-hole. My first computer was an Acorn Electron in 1982. You can’t be a ‘133t d00d’ when you only own an X-Box.

…and let’s not forget the awards shows.

To me, you know something has finally lost its soul when it starts hosting award shows. Especially when it’s hosted and run by a group of people who had never even heard of a video game before 2005, but suddenly see it as a way to ‘get down with the kids’.

So far, I’ve caught snippets of three separate Video Game Award shows, each proclaiming to be the ‘first’, and they ALL involve pop-stars, TV-stars etc.

Yes, and hearing some ditzy pop-bitch say how great it is to be involved in this ‘Whole New Media!’ is like getting needles in my eyes.

Yep, videogames. Been around since the 70’s-80’s, nearing their 30 year birthday…and it’s a ‘whole new media’.

I feel like a Vietnam Vet: “I was there man! I was there at the beginning!”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clergy Bashing and Cop Bothering.

So I punched a bishop in the face today.

Fuckin’ imposter…didn’t once move diagonally.

It got worse though. When the lady cop was reading me my rights, when she got to the bit where she says: “Anything you say can and will be held against you..” I jumped up and shouted ‘Boobies!’

Some people just have no sense of humor.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

One of those days.

Ever had one of those days?

The day before yesterday I had a good day. I climb into bed, and fall into a nice deep, restful sleep.

I awake 30 minutes later with what feels like bombs being exploded in my guts.

So I spent all night getting out of bed every 15 minutes with what can politely be called ‘Gastric Problems’. (The none polite description is ‘The Green Apple Splatters’, ‘The Screamin’ Wildy’s’ or for the traditionalists out there… ‘The Shits’.)

Not a fun way to spend an evening, as I’m sure you know.

I finally get to sleep at about 8am.

I’m awoken at 9:30 by Buddy howling his head off. Sunny said she would probably be in late from work, so I assumed he’d either got caught up in something, trying to escape from behind the baby gate, or needed to go really badly.

Cursing, I get up, get dressed, and walk into the living room. Sunny’s sitting on the couch.

“What’s with the dog?” I ask.

“He got into the trash, so I’m punishing him.”

I mentally curse myself because when I told Sunny to punish him that way, and don’t let him out no matter how much he whines…I forgot to add: “Unless I’m asleep after being up all night with Explosive Ass Syndrome.”

Well, I figure that if I’m out of bed, I’m out of bed. With the dog awake and running around, I wasn’t going to get much sleep anyway.

I sit on the couch and try to relax. While the worst had passed, I was still feeling a little queasy.

Later that afternoon, I decide I might feel better if I eat something, so I make a pizza.

I have to admit, it was a work of art. Three different cheeses, chicken, mushroom, bacon and all the right herbs and spices. Yum.

I sit down on the couch and take a big ‘ole bite of pizza. It was great.

It was at this point that buddy decided to walk into the living room. Sit in front of me…and throw up.

Now normally I have an extremely strong stomach. I don’t get seasick, airsick, carsick nor do I go green around puke or filled diapers.

Not so today.

I put my pizza down. After what I’d just seen, I wasn’t going to be finishing it…then I had to clean up the doggy-puke.

Imagine a fucked up relay race.

Walk towards the sick, retch, run outside for fresh air…repeat.

Luckily I managed to get through the whole thing without losing what little pizza I’d already eaten.

…and I won’t be eating pizza for a while.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Guinness...Uh, I Mean St. Patrick's Day!

To an Englishman, St. Patrick’s Day is a weird Holiday.

In Ireland and America, it makes perfect sense. St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, so the Irish obviously celebrate it, and many Americans emigrated from Ireland to America, so it makes sense that America celebrates it as well.

In England, it gets a little more fuzzy.

You see, the Patron Saint of England is Saint George, the guy who supposedly killed a Dragon. However, while everyone in England goes out and drinks copious amounts of Guinness to ‘celebrate’ St. Patrick’s day, St. George’s Day goes completely unmarked.

Hell, most English people don’t even know when St. George’s Day is.

So we celebrate another country’s Patron Saint’s Day, but not our own? Why?

Well, basically, St. George’s Day involves going to church, having a good old pray and then going home again.

St. Patrick’s day involves wearing over-sized, emerald-green hats with shamrock pinned to them, singing lewd Irish drinking songs… and drinking lots and lots and lots of booze. (Guinness if you’re orthodox, but drinking any form of alcohol is permitted. It’s the getting drunk that matters…. just how St. Paddy wanted it.)

I should point out here that this post isn’t born from religious outrage. It’s the same with most holidays. Christmas is an excuse to eat, drink and get presents. Easter is an excuse to eat lots of chocolate. Thanksgiving is an excuse to overdose on turkey etc.

You see, I’m a dyed in the wool atheist. I’m not angry that a religious holiday has been turned into an excuse for binge drinking, nor am I getting down on the religious establishment. I’m not writing this to express my displeasure, nor am I attempting to expose religious ‘corruption’.

Nope, I’m writing about this because I think it’s funny.

It makes me laugh. St. Patrick’s has basically become ‘Christmas 2’ for the brewery and bar owners.

Ah, but Paulius, isn’t that a little cynical? Surely the bar owners enjoy the extra business St. Patrick’s brings in, but that’s not what it’s all about, surely?

Let me tell you about St. Patrick’s Day 2001, Location: England.

This was the year when St. Paddy’s had the severe misfortune of landing on a Sunday..

Now for a true religious holiday, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. Sunday is the Sabbath after all. What better day to celebrate the life of a Saint?

Well, there probably isn’t a better day to celebrate a Saint’s Day… That is unless that particular Saint’s day involves a lot of drinking, and you’re bound under British Licensing Laws.

You see, under British Licensing Laws, all ‘drinking establishments’ have to close early on Sundays.

Usually, pubs and bars in England are licensed to sell alcohol until midnight, but on Sundays they’re required to stop serving at 10:30. (I think this law has been over-turned now, but it was solidly in place in 2001).

That’s an hour and a half of drinking time! That’s right, the most booze filled holiday of the year, and the bars have to close early?!? That’s like a toy store closing down for the Christmas Holidays!

Even if you discount the licensing laws, most people have to be at work on Monday, and no one wants to get up in the morning with a massive hangover.

Foiled on both counts. On the day that people should be wearing their shamrock hats, singing the song about the ‘Hedgehog that can never be Buggered’, and buying lots and lots of Guinness, the pubs are closing early, and worse than that, instead of saying “Bajesus! Oil have anuther Guinness barkeep!” People would be saying: “I’ll just have the one thanks, gotta get up early tomorrow.”


Trust me, I was a bartender for nearly five years (I could draw a shamrock on the head of a pint of Guinness as I pulled it, I even knew to chill the glasses first, pull half the pint and let it settle before filling it and everything!)

St. Patrick’s day was busier than Christmas. One St. Paddy’s I took over four grand in just my register within a couple of hours…we usually wouldn’t make that all night.

So the bars had a problem. Luckily, they wouldn’t stoop to bastardizing a cherished religious holiday, would they?

Of course they would!

Rather than celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2001, British pubs chose to use all their Guinness selling tactics and ‘specials’ the day before.

That’s right, the boards outside the pubs that usually proclaimed things like:

“Guinness Extra Cold! Buy One Get One Free on St. Patrick’s Day!”

instead read:

“St. Patrick’s Day Eve Celebration! Free Guinness!”

Yeah, that’s right. The actual holiday was ignored, and we chose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Eve instead.

So, St. George killed a great big honking dragon (Perhaps even Trogdor the Burninator), and the English say “Saint Who?”

…and while I’m not a religious man, when St. Patrick died, I’m pretty sure his last thoughts weren’t:

“I’ve led a good life. Through my actions people will have the perfect excuse to get shit-faced on Irish Beverages once a year!”

St. Patrick’s Day Eve?

I mean, come on…Who in their right mind would turn a religious holiday into a shameless marketing ploy?

Oh, that’s right. Most of the world.

Absolutely Hilarious

Cops n Starwars

Just click the link. You know you want to.

Oh I get it! It's Magic.

I’m one of those people who has to know how everything works.

There are others, who probably make up that majority of people, who don’t care how something works, just so long as it does.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said: “So how does that work?” only to have their eyes glaze over when I’m 2 minutes into the explanation, I’d have, well…three dollars.

My point is, there isn’t anything I own that I don’t have at least basic understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. Yup, I even know how a hard-drive works…and I’m talking about the Domain Theory of Magnetism here…

Sad, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wish I was more like my wife. She doesn’t care how things work, unless she absolutely has to know. She knows how all the hinky-jiggers under a car’s hood works, because she has to work on it if something goes caput. They TV? No clue. A computer? No chance.

I’m not saying she’s dumb or anything, she simply doesn’t care how things work unless she needs to know. She can work a TV and a Computer with ease…she just doesn’t give a damn about how it works. She’s one of those people who I’ll be explaining something to, and she can cut me off and say: “Ah, so it’s magic?” and end the conversation right there.

Then I have to find someone else to explain how a modem works to.

You see, the bad part of being like me, is that you occasionally hit dead ends. Without a Masters Degree, you just can’t understand it. Take the following example.

Back in High School physics, we did the experiment where you shine a light at a prism and look at all the pretty colors. Then, my psychopathic physics teacher would explain how it works.

Here’s the deal. White light is made up of all the different colors of light, and objects only reflect the color that they are, and absorb all the others. IE a red object reflects the red wavelength, but absorbs all the others.

Right, got it.

So, when ‘white’ light, which is actually every color of light, is shone through a prism, it slows down slightly.

Okey-dokey! With you so far. It’s easier to pass through air than a solid chunk of glass.

The different colors slow down to slightly different speeds, so the light ‘bends’ and we see all the different colors.

Great! Understood. Thank you very much!

…and this is how Rainbows are made.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up there, Spanky!

You see, this doesn’t explain how rainbows are made. Not one bit.

Yes, each raindrop acts as a prism, and breaks up the light that passes through it into all the pretty colors.

But what about the shape? How do all those different sized and shaped rain drops all ‘work together’ to make that arc shape…no matter what angle you view it from?

It’s like setting fire to a puddle of gasoline and saying: There, that’s how an internal combustion engine works.

You see, I understand the basic idea, but I don’t know how rainbows work, God Dammit! This actually annoys me.

Yes, I’m a little bit weird. Ok, a lot weird, but some people eat their own hats, I’m positively normal next to them.

So What got me started on this topic today?

Basically, I bought a pair of binoculars. I actually know how those work, but I wanted to know what those numbers on the side meant.

I own, apparently, 8X21 binoculars.

I know that the first number is how much closer things appear when you look through them. Basically, it means 8 times closer…simple enough, but what did the 21 mean? Is a bigger number better? If so, why?

Well, Google is your friend, so I asked it for an explanation.

The second number is the ‘objective lens’ size. Basically, it’s the size of the lenses on the front. Bigger is apparently better, because it collects more light, and gives you a brighter image.

Now that is simple enough to understand. Bigger the lens, the more light gets in, the brighter the image.

But then I made the mistake of starting to think.

If your eyes where binoculars, your pupils would be your objective lenses…they’re tiny! Even when they’re as dilated as possible, they’re still only about 5mm across, if that!

So, if decent pair of binoculars have 50mm objective lenses, why doesn’t the image fry your eyeballs? Why do you need to have such a big lens to match your eye’s regular light gathering ability when they’re less than a centimeter across?

That’s like saying if you double the width of a garden hose, you’ll get more water through, even if the nozzle on the end stays the same size.

In short, why doesn’t your pupil act like a bottleneck?

I mean, how does that work? It’s baffling.

Well, for once, I’m following Sunny’s example.

“Ah, it’s magic.”

Nope, didn’t work. I gotta go visit Google.

Good old Google.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rule One

There are only two rules you need to know to succeed in a marriage. They are:

  1. Your wife is always right.

  2. If you are right, and your wife is wrong, refer to rule one.

Today we did something that had been put back, and back…and back… for about 3 weeks. My sister in law is moving, and said we could have her dining room table and chairs. The catch, if you can call it that, is that she lives over 60 miles away, and we had to go get it ourselves.

Now, as a guy, I don’t give a crap what kind of table I eat off, as long as it’s clean, roughly the right height and fairly sturdy. However, things like dining tables are apparently very important to women.

The first problem comes in, in that Sunny has been complaining about the clutter in our house for about the past year. Her definition of clutter, however, appears to be “anything I don’t personally like.” So despite the fact my swords got put on top of the entertainment center under sufferance, it’s perfectly ok to bring in not one, but TWO entertainment centers, and a whole dining room set.

Anyway, getting this dining table was very important to her, so I let it slide and didn’t complain.

Last night, Sunny reminded me on her way to work to go to bed early, so I’d get up and be bright eyed and bushy tailed when we headed off to get it. She insisted on this.

Unfortunately, this morning brought a bit of a family emergency, so Sunny went to see her daughter, and said, and I quote: “I will be back by 2 O’Clock. Have your shoes on and be ready to leave when I get back.”

This apparently is a sticking point with all women. You must be ready and waiting at the door at exactly the time prescribed. Not having your shoes on and making her wait 15 seconds while you slip them on is unacceptable. So is making them wait about a minute while you go to take a piss before you leave.

‘This Is The Time We Are Leaving. Delay Is Unnaceptable’.

But as every guy knows, it’s always a case of ‘Hurry up and wait.’ We’ve got to be ready to go, but if we hurry them even slightly, because they’re still deciding on the shade of lipstick to wear when you should have left half an hour ago…we’re being unreasonable. I mean, honestly, what’s worse? Being half an hour late (if you’re lucky), or her leaving the house in the shoes that are the wrong shade of white?

The worst part is you go off an occupy yourself while they’re ‘getting ready’, and when they decide to put in an appearance, an hour after you where meant to leave, you get it in the neck for making them wait that extra 15 seconds while you go back into the house to get the car keys. (I HAD THEM IN MY HAND AN HOUR AGO, WOMAN!!!).

Yes, Ma’am.

I was ready, shoes on and all at 2pm. I was ready and 2:15. I was even ready at 2:30. When she finally arrived at 2:45 I, quite reasonably I thought, asked “Where have you been?”

In return I got a ‘talk to the hand’ gesture and a “Sh.”

Now, at this point I wasn’t being a smart ass. I had been starting to worry, and just wanted to know what held her up…

I should say that only at that point I wasn’t being a smart ass. Mrs. ‘Complain about the minute it takes to use the bathroom, but calls it no big deal when she’s three quarters of an hour late’ actually dismissed me with a wave of her hand when I asked a question.

Oh, it was on then. It was on like Donkey Kong, Biz-atch!

“Well, what took you so long? I’ve been sitting here bored shitless just waiting for you! “
“WELL!” Said Sunny. “I forgot what the traffic was like over there at this time.”

This was delivered with a ‘Well DUH!’ kinda attitude.

Again, let me get this straight. She didn’t factor in traffic, purely a mistake on her part, and somehow it’s slowly becoming my fault. I could see her getting ready to snap as I washed my coffee cup out before I left. (45 minutes versus 15 seconds….I was making us late…not her.)

I shit you not, as she was flitting around the house getting ready to leave, I sat on the couch and started watching TV. Ten minutes later she had the nerve to walk through the living room, truck keys in hand and say:

“Tsk. Are you ready?” Delivered with the: ‘Come on, you’re holding me up!’ attitude.

Yes, my darling wife, I’ve been ready to leave for the past hour. I apologize for watching TV while I waited, and I know it’s my fault we’re late, because I now have to waste time by standing up, turning off the tv, and walking to the truck. Next time I’ll wait outside by the truck while standing to attention. I will read your mind and see the future. I will understand that your delay was unavoidable and my fault, as expecting you to know that rush hour traffic is heavy was a mistake on my part, and I should have informed you of this. On the other hand, I could simply have stood outside, by the truck, completely still and doing absolutely nothing for the past hour. After all, I am only here to serve you.

Anyway, we left.

Now, the ride over there wasn’t entirely comfortable. There where three of us, Myself, Sunny and my stepson Frank. We were in a single-cab pickup truck. Both Frank and I are over 6 feet tall. Sardines anyone?

We arrived. It took over and hour. We also knew the ride back would be even longer, as we’d have to keep the speed down with a fully loaded truck.

The table was heavy, the chairs where awkward. It wasn’t fun. Especially the part where a falling table grazed my swonicles.

I accepted this with good grace. Life can’t always be fun.

We were on our way back home when Sunny looked thoughtful.

“I hope that table fits in our kitchen.” She said.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Back it up there, Skippy!

My mind worked at lightning fast speed:

Fact One : The dimensions of our kitchen is a known quantity.
Fact Two : I’d assumed that the size of the table was also a known quantity.
Fact Three : A simple phonecall could have solved the will it/won’t it fit conundrum.

I also went through the full spectrum of emotions. From anger, to sorrow, to frustration and more, in the space of just a few seconds.

You see in Sunny’s situation, I would have seen two options:

  1. Keep my husband and son busy all day by crow barring the three of us into a truck for a combined 2-3 hours. Have them move a gigantic, heavy and awkward table out of a house. Have them load said table onto a truck, crow bar everyone back in the truck, drive back home, have them unload the truck, and hope to hell everything fits.

  2. Call my sister and say: “How big is that table?”

I could have blown my top. I could have shouted. Instead, I said:

“Please tell me you’re joking.”

She shrugged back at me.

“No honestly, tell me your joking.”

Again, a shrug and a hint of a grin.

“Well.” I said. “You’d better be joking, because if we’ve just gone through all this shit for nothing, I will be pissed at you…and I mean more pissed than I’ve ever been.”

(That isn’t saying much, I’m not pissed at Sunny often. That statement meant I’d probably not put the exact amount of creamer that she likes into her coffee…I’d have also done a sub-standard job of rubbing her back…Yeah! Take that, Biz-atch!)

She did that wife thing, if you’re still single, you might not have seen it. Basically, they look at you…then their faces turn to stone.

She was pissed at me.

Can someone explain that to me? She’s just dragged three of us to the Georgia border in a two seater truck, made us to all that work, potentially for nothing. I express my sincere displeasure at the prospect, and I’M the one who’s in the wrong?

I was thinking:

Ok, I’ve just given up my entire day to do something that I honestly don’t give a crap about. I don’t care if we get a new dining table or not, but I did it anyway, with a smile on my face,  just because I know it’s something that’s important to Sunny. We left an hour late, due to a mistake of hers, which took up even more of my day. Now I find that the whole thing might have been for absolutely no reason, because she didn’t think to call her sister and get a measurement of the table before we left…Now I’m the bad guy because I pointed out her mistake, even though I didn’t even raise my voice, which I believe I wouldn’t be over-reacting to do.

Sunny was thinking:

I go out of my way to get us a nice table for the house, I get stuck in traffic, which is somehow my fault, and now he’s acting like it’s the end of the world, because I made one teensy mistake. What a bastard!

This brings me back to the beginning of this post.

Refer to rule one.

You see, ladies, may of you don’t realize that as bad as we may seem, we men can be a whole lot worse. We’d also be completely justified in doing it.

Although I’d have been in deep shit for a month or two, I could simply have said at the start of all this:

“I don’t want a new dining room table, the place is cluttered enough as it is! If you want to go get it, go get it, but I’m not helping out any!” Then let her go off, do it all herself, and sat on the couch as she struggled to bring it in.

You see, women care about dining tables, matching curtains and couch cushions. Guys care about the computer, the TV and the stereo system.

But here’s the thing.

I used the lesser know Marriage Rule 3:

Rule 3 : If rules 1 or 2 don’t seem fair, keep your damned mouth shut.

If I’d have made a big issue out of it, and started an argument to prove that I was in the right, we would have argued for about half an hour, not be speaking to each other right now, and would have been engaged ‘Marriage Cold War’ for about two weeks.

Instead, I followed rule 3.

When I saw the stone face thing, I shut my mouth and unloaded that table with a smile on my face and a spring in my step..

Right now, Sunny’s napping before she goes to work, and I don’t have to worry about getting wee-wee in my coffee for the next two weeks.

I know I’m right, she ‘knows’ she’s right, it’s win-win and all the unpleasantness has been side-stepped.

…until she reads this.


(Oh, and in case your wondering, the table did fit, and it looks nice…and if I don’t blog in the next week, Sunny did it. I‘ll be buried under the house. Someone tell my parents.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Puppy Chillin'

Since getting the new puppy, walking anywhere in this house has become a lot more difficult. It’s like a puppy minefield. His hobbies include peeing, pooping, chewing through electrical cords and getting under your feet.

However, I’m a fairly easy going person, and that sort of stuff is just what puppies do. Before they’re trained they crap in the house, chew things, destroy treasured personal items, bark when you’re trying to sleep…

Umm…Why did we keep the puppy again?

Ahem, anyhoo…

He was really annoying Sunny today. Doing the ‘make you trip up’ trick, he chewed through the power cord for a lamp (I almost wish it had been plugged in, he wouldn’t have done it again, and he could have won first place at a Don King lookalike competition), and doing general annoying puppy stuff.

Now, Sunny isn’t the most patient person in the world, and it doesn’t take much to get her worked up. So, when I heard the “GODDAMMIT! WILL YOU GEDOUTAHERE!” from the kitchen, I wasn’t really surprised.

I tried to explain that getting mad at a puppy for getting under your feet isn’t really fair. That’s what puppies do. It’s just being a puppy. Getting mad at a puppy for being mischievous and annoying is like getting mad at a bird for flying. It’s what they do. He’s a puppy!

However, Buddy is getting to that age where you can start to see malice of forethought. He knows what he’s doing, and does it anyway. He knows the place now, and he’s trying to get away with as much as possible.

Some things are: “Oh, he doesn’t know any better, he can’t help it.” But, some things are: “The little bastard did it on purpose!”

A perfect example happened three minutes ago.

Over the past few days the weather had been warm and sunny, meaning I’ve been spending most of the day outside. Of course, Buddy comes with me, and he’s decided he likes it outside.  It’s fun, he can run around, he can chase the cats.


He’s learned he’s not allowed to crap or pee in the house. He’s also learned that he has to get my attention to let him out.

Here’s the deal. Most dogs will run to the door and scratch at it when they want to go out. In fact, my last dog worked out that jumping at the door and giving it a good hard shove made the keys in the lock jingle…however, that was also the dog that worked out how to work the door handles to give himself free run of the house, and when we changed them for doorknobs, worked those out as well.

However, I’m not talking about Jake, my old Border Collie, I’m talking about Buddy.

Buddy is not like other dogs. When he wants out, he doesn’t scratch at the door, he’ll jump up and scratch at me.

He’s discovered the way to get outside. He also knows I’ll always let him out, because I don’t want to clean pee out of the carpet.

He also pushes his luck.

A few minutes ago, I was sitting here at the computer, when he jumped up at my side and started whining. I got up, let him out, he peed and came back inside. I called him a good boy, and gave him a biscuit.

5 minutes later he did exactly the same thing again. This isn’t unusual. To be nice, I’ll say he’s easily distracted. He may have forgotten he needed to go number two as well.

I got up and opened the door. He went outside, looked at me, stretched out on the floor, and made himself comfortable. He gave me a look that said: “You can go back inside, I’m just enjoying the cool night air.”

I called him a bad dog, made him come back inside, and didn’t give him a biscuit.

5 minutes later, same deal.

Now this is where the pre-meditation comes in.

Buddy also knows he gets put outside if he pees on the carpet...albeit after a ‘whoopin’

So he tried whining at me, which didn’t work, and as I watched, he walked to the center of the carpet, looked at me, squatted down, and I saw the strain cross his face. I was already standing up, went to grab him….then I noticed he wasn’t doing a damn thing.

He continued staring at me, after a full 20 seconds, he managed a single drop. I mean, he had to force that single drop of pee out. He stood, looked at the carpet, looked at me.

I just laughed at him. He just looked bewildered that I hadn’t shook him by the scruff of the neck and put him outside.

I either have a retard dog, or a genius.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Frackin' Frackers!

Dear Creators of ‘Battlestar Galactica’,

Let me be begin by introducing myself, my name is Paulius, and I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of your show.

I’m not saying it’s bad, I just wasn’t a fan of the original, and have only managed to catch one or two episodes during TV flicking sessions.

However, the main reason I don’t like your show is one small thing:

The word ‘Frack’.

I understand that the Sci-Fi genre gives you a license to create new words, as the culture we see is not necessarily our own. For example, Star Trek gave birth to a whole new language (klingon), and all trekkies know a few klingon swear words.

However, seeing other humans use an obviously made up words in the space of real swear words just gets plain annoying, especially when it’s obvious what that swearword actually means.

For example:

“Frackin’ toasters!”
“Go frank yourself!”
“I don’t give a frack!”

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Your show features lots of people under extreme stress, and it would be highly unlikely for someone to be flying a fighter, have someone shooting at them and say: “Oh, gosh darn it! These rotten blighters are shooting at me!”

I also understand that during prime time on the sci-fi channel, you can’t have them actually say: “Holy Shit! The fuckers are shooting at me!”

The problem is, ‘Frack’ is so overused, I find myself simply playing the “Count the Fracks” game every time I watch your show.

I would suggest that you either stop using ‘frack’ so often, sneak in the odd real swear word, or just do away with ‘Frack’ altogether.

A supposedly alien race calling someone a ‘p’tak’ actually works, it’s like hearing someone swear in German, or French, or any language you don’t speak. You get the picture, even though you don’t know what the word means.

Hearing a guy without the pie-crust looking makeup on his forehead shouting “Frack the fracking frackers! They frackin’ fracked me!” Just gets bloody annoying.

Yours Sincerely


(Grand Master of the League of People Against Frack in Any Form)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

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My house is slowly turning into a zoo.

About a month ago, we had just one animal (not counting the fish), namely Padme, the Cat.

Right now, there are four animals hanging about the house. Let me give you the time line.

When I first arrived in America, Sunny already had Malibu, a Maine Coon Cat. For a while, she was the most loving, fun cat you could ever hope for. Then, in the space of a day, she changed.

Basically, she took to sleeping in her (full) litter box. We had her food and litter box set up in the back bathroom that we never used. She never left that room, but she’d pop her head around the door and yowl every time she could see the bottom of her food bowl….that’s right, not when it was empty, but when she could see the bottom.

Then, a couple weeks later, she darted outside, and refused to come back in. My stepdaughter moved in across the way, and Malibu decided to take up residence on her back porch, and lived off all her leftovers.

Then a pregnant cat took up residence on my stepson’s back porch, and gave birth. Unfortunately, the kittens took to sleeping in the wheel-wells of his car, and quite a few of them ended up getting crunched.

Finally, there was only one left, so my stepson asked if we wanted it. Padme entered the household.

Then Buddy turned up on the doorstep…and began his reign of stealth-pooping terror.

Then, a couple days ago, my step-daughter moved away, meaning Malibu, and her unidentified kitty pal have took up residence on our doorstep.

You see, that’s a habit of Malibu’s. She leaves the property for hours at a time, and returns with other strays in tow.

From one cat to one dog and three cats in the space of a month.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On Hunting

My last post got me thinking.

The whole hunting issue is divided into two camps. People who love hunting and will defend every part of it, even if it’s wrong, and the anti-hunters, who think killing ANY animal is wrong and a crime against nature.

Basically, it’s a loaded issue (Please pardon the pun). Both sides tend to be extreme in their views, and there’s very little  middle ground.

I think I have a rather unique perspective on this, in that I come from England, a gun-free country, and to be honest, I USED to think that hunters where indeed cruel, trigger happy maniacs. Then I moved to America, in fact, the SOUTH of America, where hunting is an extremely popular sport. I listened, I learned, I changed my mind.

If you’re either pro or anti-hunting, read the following with an open mind, you might find it interesting.

The first and most common misconception about hunting, and one that I used to hold myself, is that hunters kill animals purely for pleasure or for the trophy. I learned later that most hunters actually eat what they hunt. Yes, they may mount the deer head on the wall, but they eat the rest.

This made me think. I’m a meat eater, and if hunters actually eat their kill, for me to be anti-hunting would be hypocritical. What’s the difference between a hunter killing a deer and eating it, and me buying venison cutlets at the supermarket?  

When your meat comes in pre-butchered, shrink-wrapped packages from the supermarket, it’s not too difficult to forget that that package of prime rib used to stand in a field and moo.

I thought a little more, and now I believe that there’s a case to be made that hunting is actually less cruel to the animal than it is to breed cattle.

Think of it this way. A deer lives a perfectly normal life, but for a few months out of the year is in danger of being shot and killed by hunters. It spends its life out in the woods, doing what deer do, and there’s a chance that one day, it will be given a quick death from a bullet. (To be as fair as possible, a hunter may miss and only wound an animal, leading to a slow death, but accidents can happen in abattoirs as well.)

Cattle, on the other hand, are bred and raised in captivity. In the case of veal, raised its entire life in a small cage and force-fed corn. Cattle spend their entire life in a cage, then are loaded into a truck, taken into a slaughterhouse and given a bolt through the brain.

I’d have difficulty stating that hunted animals are better off than cattle, but it’s a close run thing.

The other majoy point made by anti-hunters is the unrealistic notion that all animals should be left alone to ‘run free’.

The truth is, however, that we humans are also animals, and are also part of the food chain. The food chain helps to balance nature, it’s NECESSARY that we hunt or kill other animals. That sounds like a ridiculous statement, so let me explain.

I had a conversation once where a woman, who shall remain nameless, was shocked and appalled that hunting was allowed on a nearby nature ‘sanctuary’.  I tried to explain.

A sanctuary means that there are no natural predators, meaning that the animals that live there don’t have to worry about being attacked. It sounds nice, in a Disney like way. Bambi’s mother wouldn’t have been shot and lived a full and happy life with her son.

Unfortunately, no natural predators means one thing : Population explosion.

So the animals reproduce, and all the offspring survive. Within a few generations the number of animals far outstrips the food supply, and this leads to mass starvation.

So then you have to ask yourself, what’s the more humane option?

Hunters are given a limit of how many animals they can kill. This is simply to stop a species from being hunted to extinction, while ensuring the numbers stay at a manageable level. So the choice boils down to a pre-determined number of animals being dispatched with a humane bullet, or allowing thousands of animals to slowly starve to death.

There are also hundreds of other reasons why I could say hunting is a good thing for the environment, but you’ve probably heard them all before, and I don’t want to bang on for 50,000 words.

Of course, there are bad things to say about hunting as well.

For example, I don’t agree with hunting that is just for the trophy, or hunting species that are endangered or potentially endangered. For example, hunting lions or bear hunting.

I also think hunting should be fair. For example, many hunters choose to hunt bear by setting up an area filled with food. Bears are attracted to the food, and you shoot them when they approach. Where is the sport in that?

The main downside, however, is there are hunters who simply shouldn’t be let anywhere near a hunting rifle. This comes down to hunting ‘ethics’, which summed up as simply as possible is that hunting should be fair and you should cause the animal as little pain as possible.

Like I mentioned in my last post, if I’m shooting the groundhogs that destroy the railroad embankment behind my house, I only pull the trigger if I’m as certain as possible that I can kill it with my first shot.

A good hunter knows how good he is with his rifle. He’s technically proficient enough to know where the bullet will land over a specific distance. He knows his limits.

For example, I make sure that my rifle scope is ‘zeroed’ for the distance I’m shooting at (This means the bullet will land at the center of the crosshair at a particular distance, and not above, below or to the side), and know my own limits. Basically, I know I can place a bullet within a one and a half inch circle at 100 yards. This means that I will only shoot at a living creature up to 100 yards, or very slightly beyond.

Of course, not everyone is this sensible. There are numerous horror stories of people turning up at a hunting camp without first sighting in their rifles, or attempting shots at three hundred yards, when they have no business shooting at more than 50.

The downside to this is that rather than kill an animal, they wound them. Best case, this means an animal is hit in a non-critical area, and slowly bleeds to death, or an animal is given a superficial wound that gets infected and kills the animal over a period of months.

The ‘rules’ of hunting are simple, but not everyone chooses to follow them.

I think I can best sum up my argument as this:

Hunters are a largely misunderstood group of people. Hunting isn’t perfect, and isn’t for everyone, but it isn’t the evil most people assume it to be.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Varmint Hunting

I have to begin today’s post by defending myself:

My name is Paulius, and I shoot Groundhogs.

Yes, Groundhogs are cute. They’re also very destructive.

Behind my house (In fact, it’s the property border), is a railroad track, the embankment of which has been turned into Swiss cheese by groundhogs. Every single year, they have to spend hundreds of thousands to repair it. This also has the unpleasant side-effect of us having to put up with a full work crew, complete with machinery, less than 80 yards from our back door.

If you still think it’s cruel, put it this way, it’s fairly common for the weakening of railroad embankments by groundhogs to buckle the tracks, and de-rail trains…and I don’t want a mile-long locomotive ploughing  into my kitchen for breakfast.

So, at this time every year, I go outside, sit on my back deck and shoot the little buggers.

So, read on if you wish, if you don’t, don’t.

During the Summer, the kudzu on the embankment grows up so much, that you can’t even see the Groundhog burrows. It also means that you will rarely spot a Groundhog, and if you do, you can’t see enough of it to allow for an ethical shot.

In other words, I only pull the trigger if I’m absolutely certain that my shot will kill the thing instantly. As much damage as the things cause, I’m still human, and I don’t want to put a bullet through the thing’s stomach or leg, so it can crawl back into its burrow and slowly bleed to death.

Also, they hibernate in the winter, meaning that when the kudzu has died off, they’re deep underground, sleeping.

At this time of year, however, the kudzu is still dead, and they’ve just started to move around. If you shoot, say five of them, it stops them reproducing out of control.

So ‘hunting season’ began a few days ago.

Usually, with small game hunting, (Although I have to admit, considering I can shoot just a few feet from my back deck, this is more of a very slow shooting gallery), a little research tells you when they get up, when they’re most active, what weather conditions usually brings them out.

However, these groundhogs never read that article. You never know when they’re going to be out and about.

The first day was an absolute wash. I sat outside for three hours, and didn’t see a single one.

Day two was exactly the same. The only thing I bagged was slight sunburn on my forehead.

After that, I gave up for a while. They normally only start to move around in April, but the 12 burrows I counted, and the well worn tracks in the Kudzu lead me to believe that they were all out and about early.

I decided I’d try again in a month or so.

Then, today I spotted one.

(Typical, you sit outside, perfectly silent, staring at the embankment for 3 hours straight, and you don’t see one. Then, the next, you’re out playing with the dog, and they pop their heads out to ask you to keep the noise down.)

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted movement. I looked over, A groundhog was sitting on top of the embankment, perfectly still, just chillin’.

I ran to the house, grabbed my rifle, took the clip out of the cupboard, and took some ammo out of my lock-box (Too many kids come in and out of the house to leave the rifle, ammo and clip in the same place…and not under lock and key.)

I loaded the clip as quickly as I could, put the rifle on safe, and inserted the clip (I wouldn’t actually cock it until I got outside).

Groundhog, nowhere to be seen.

I should point out here that their apparent rarity doesn’t mean there are only one or two of them, it just means they spend most of their time underground.

I cursed at myself.

I started to turn to head back inside, and I saw it move from behind some of the dead kudzu. I raised my rifle.


I was about 90 yards away, and because I could only see it while I was standing, my crosshair was jittering all around it. If I pulled the trigger, I had about an 80% chance of hitting it, but I couldn’t pick where to put the bullet.

Again, it comes down to hunting ethics. I’m not Luke Skywalker, and I can’t “Bullseye Womp Rats” from a T-16. Bear in mind that a Groundhog is only about 12-18 inches long, and I’m shooting a completely stock rifle, and using a $20 Walmart scope at about 90 yards, nearly the length of a football field.

I had an idea, if I took one of the lawn chairs, moved it a little closer, I could use the back of the chair as a rest, and get in a good shot. I decided to give it a try.

The rifle was still safe (No round in the chamber), so I leant it against the side of the house, and picked up a lawn chair. I got maybe 8 paces, before it ducked back in its hole.

I silently cursed again, and put the chair back where it was. I reminded myself that it’s better to miss a shot completely, than to take pot shots and only wound an animal.

As soon as the chair was replaced, I couldn’t believe it. The damn thing came out of its hole, and started walking along. It headed for another hole, but just sat next to it.

I picked up my rifle, and sat on the ground.

GREAT! Where I was sitting, I could still see it, and could use my own knee as a rest.

Moving slowly as possible, I raised the rifle. The crosshair stayed steady on its outline.

My right hand came up, I cocked the rifle, and my right finger disengaged the safety.

I re-aquired it’s outline. It started to move. I held my breath. I had my rifle scope perfectly zeroed for the distance, but I wasn’t confident to hit a moving target. It headed for a hole…and stopped.

I got the crosshair and lined it up with its head. I held my breath again, and slowly squeezed the trigger.

The rifle barked, and despite the recoil making my sight-picture jump, I saw the critter go instantly limp. A perfect shot. The 22 LR bullets I use are supersonic. The Groundhog didn’t even hear the gun go off. Closer inspection showed the bullet went in between it’s left eye and its ear, you can’t get better placement than that.

Anyone know any good Groundhog recipes?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stealth Doggie

Ok, I’ve done my damndest to refrain from posting about Buddy (The new puppy). This has been for one simple reason.

Hearing stories about other people’s pets is about as interesting as watching paint dry…after it’s already dried.

Oh, your puppy plays and can sit on command? Well, whoopy-shit, so can pretty much every other dog that’s ever been on the planet.

However, I’m going to break my own rule today, because I’ve discovered a few things about Buddy that just MAY be unique (Or at least rare).

The first of these is that we own the world’s first Stealth-Puppy. I mean, this dog is the Sam Fisher, nay, the all round Ninja of puppies.

Back during the Second World War, the Germans discovered that it wasn’t a good idea to paint night-bombers black. It actually made them easier to spot, ground gunners could just look for the parts of the sky that where darker than the others. Basically, black is only good for camouflage if you’re in a windowless basement at midnight.

Since then, there has been constant argument of what color is best for camouflage at night. Dark grey? Distorted patterns of dark green?

Well, I can settle that argument right now. It’s blonde-brown with black speckles, just like Buddy’s coat. Seriously, you let the little fucker get more than 3 paces away from you when you let him out and night, and it’s over with. Let’s just say you’d better have good ears.

Let’s just say that while I’ll admit my night vision isn’t the best to begin with, I’ve actually trod on him while looking for him.

It’s not just the camouflage and his ultra stealthy footsteps (He makes less noise than a cat when he walks), he also manages disappearing/reappearing that would have David Copperfield slack Jawed.

For example, not 15 minutes ago, I went to the bathroom, and he started whining outside the door, wanting to be let in (What he finds so fascinating about watching people pee, I’ll never know).

I leave the bathroom, and as I leave, he sits down just outside the bathroom door. I call him. He ignores me. I head into the living room. Then, less than 15 seconds later, as soon as I step through the doorway, I see him sitting in the middle of the living room waiting for me.

There is only one way from the bathroom to the living room, and that’s a 3 foot wide corridor. Somehow he got past me without me noticing.

Unfortunately, he appears to be an idiot-savant. (An Idiot-Savant is one of those people who can barely tie their own shoelaces, can’t do the simplest of tasks unassisted, but has one major talent…like the ability to multiply 200 digit numbers in their head with no thinking time).

I may have the world’s most stealthy dog, a dog that should be studied by black-ops teams around the world…unfortunately, he’s a complete fucking idiot.

For example, he has seen the cat leap from great heights and land on all fours with no problems. He doesn’t understand that he’s a fat, short-legged puppy, with little or no co-ordination. I picked him up outside yesterday, and he decided he’d much rather be on the floor. He leapt from my arms…and landed gracefully on his head.

It should be on his resume: Hobbies : Face-planting as often as possible.

Yep, my Doggy likes to jump from every high surface he can find, and lands with all the grace of paraplegic overweight cow.

I’m pretty sure he’s half Lemming.

Well, he’s just a puppy, and he’s still learning, but there are two things you just can’t explain away:

  1. He can’t quite grasp the concept of the game ‘Fetch’.

  2. He likes to eat wood.

Ok, lets start with the fetch thing.

Jake, my dog still living in England with my parents, grasped ‘fetch’ in 15 seconds when he was still just a month or two old. In fact, he loved that game so much, he’s actually never stopped playing that first game. Sure, he takes occasional sleep and food breaks, but he’s never seen without a ball in his mouth.

Jake, in fact got extra crafty. He would deliberately roll his ball underneath the couch, or another location where he couldn’t reach it. He would then whine and scratch at the floor until someone got it for him. Then, while it was in your hand, you had to at least drop it to give it back to him. At first, we though he was doing it accidentally, until we saw him drop a ball within inches of the couch, then push it under with his paw.

Let’s just say Jake is very intelligent. We even had to replace all our door handles with door knobs to stop him from letting himself out of the house.  

Buddy, on the other hand, has all the intelligence of a pickled herring.

I got his ‘Ball-on-a-string’ ™, and held it up in front of him:

“You want the ball? Want the ball, Buddy?”

He did his little dance and his patented pirouette that translated into: “Yes indeed, I would certainly like that ball.”

So I swing it in front of him, then fling it across the field, and shout:


He watches as the ball arcs to the ground about 30 feet away, then he looks at me with a look that says:

“Huh? You asked if I wanted it, I said yes…so what did you throw it all the way over there for? I’m right here.”

I get the ball, I swing it in front of him, I throw it:

“Look, human, if you want to give me the ball, why do you keep throwing it away? You look kinda stupid throwing the ball, then walking after it and getting it. I wish I had a camera!”

Repeat, ad nauseum.

As for the wood eating thing, that’s pretty self explanatory. When he’s let outside, he does the stuff doggies do outside, then walks back to the door. The door that’s surrounded by woodchips. He then proceeds to eat the woodchips.

After an hour of him making a noise that sounded like an old man trying to get a fragment of a tortilla chip out of the back of his throat, I thought he learned his lesson. Only to let him out this morning, turn my back for a second, then turn back around, only to find him munching on a tree limb.

My dog eats wood.

No better place to end than there.