Thursday, December 31, 2009

Of Christmas and Resolutions

2009 was another year...
1. in which we didn't get sent to debtors prison.
2. in which we traveled significantly more than was healthy for our budget.
3. wherein we thought about having a kid and decided to continue saving for a boat.
4. during which time we loved our cats entirely too much.
5. where my bibliophilia overwhelmed my storage space (check this out though, greatest library ever)
6. where I yelled at the idiocy of Politicians, Glen Beck, Fox News, and most sporting referees without investing the time or energy to actually do anything to help change the world
7. where I went way overboard on Christmas and still didn't get Wife the main thing she desired.

2009 was the first year...

1. that Wife and I started running consistently. Including 3 sanctioned road races.
2. that I road tripped with my brother where we were both old enough to drive (we did 2 such trips)
3. that I'd lived with a dog the size of a horse (he started out the size of a raccoon ended the size of a horse)
4. I ate lunch regularly at a truck stop (seriously good fish fry)
5. that I lived on a house boat for a week.

2009 was the last year...
1. I will have talked to my grandpa in this life
2. I will ever go to Bullhead City, Az.
3. I will ever drink soda
4. I will weigh over 200 pounds
5. Wife will have read more books than I.

1. Don't drink anymore soda, eat anymore chips, eat anymore candy.
-Reward for 12 months obedience=52" of hi-def beauty

2. Read more books than wife and use the blog to keep tally.
3. Blog more often. I know you miss our regular posting. We're sorry.

How was your year? Any resolutions?

On a musical note, if you guys haven't checked out the vblogger "la blogotheque" on YouTube you're missing out. He does these amazing little takeaway shows with some really cool artists. Check out his website. His Arcade Fire session where he put a 10 piece band in an elevator was hilarious. This is one he did with my favorite Quebecois band Malajube. Watch it! Love it!

Take Away Show - FME Sessions - Malajube #1 from Nathanaƫl Le Scouarnec on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

How Do You Get Freshly Squozen Orange Juice in December When You Live in New York?

Step 1: Win a juicer from a friend in Texas. I think it was my comment that made the robots choose me for said juicer. (I also won a Martha Stewart baking cookbook). Thanks LaYen!

Step 2: Have parents who at least partially live in Florida. Get them to like you enough to send you fruit in December. The guava jelly and key lime fudge are extra bonuses. Thanks parents!

Step 3: Juice the fruit in the juicer after making 64 molasses cookies and some Christmas sugar cookie cutouts, too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In Memorium Grandpa Carey

You'll have noticed this year and especially over the course of the last few months that the quality and quantity of blog postings on UsAndCats has declined significantly. While I have no excuse for the dearth of posts during the first half of the year, the problem of the last three months is based entirely on my inability to finish this post.

On July 28 of this year my step-grandfather, Edward Henry Carey Jr. died of an aneurysm. In some ways this was the least and in someways the most shocking thing that could have happened. Regardless of how intellectually prepared for it I was, this was only the second time in my adult I had to face the death of a family member.

For the past ten years, grandpa had been given 72 hours to live at least a half dozen times. In 1999 I flew down from Salt Lake City to Bullhead City, Arizona because he'd been admitted into the ICU and wasn't suppose to make it through the weekend. By time I arrived he was happily smoking a cigarette in his favorite armchair, this being both his favorite hobby and the natural reaction of someone fresh from the ICU.

In 2001 soon after 9-11, another similar call came from my mother to me that I needed to get down there to say my goodbyes. This was followed two days later by a call from my grandparents telling me not to waste my time. It was a good moment for them to make us promise to come down for Christmas, which of course we did driving out of Utah County in the midst of a heavy snow, but that's another story. So it continued, each year we dared the sweltering heat of the Mojave Desert to visit them. Each year finding a frailer grandfather, further and further removed from the man who taught me how to tie my shoe, love computers, and saved my life.

In some ways I think the saddest part of growing old is that age rips from us our self-identity. Even at my age, I look in the mirror and the person looking back isn't me. Each of us is different in our mind's eye: we are thinner, less gray, less wrinkled (did I mention thinner?). The acuteness of this knowledge grew with each visit to my grandparents over the course of the last decade. I knew, and he knew, that the man slowly dying in that recliner was not his truest self.

Yet through the years he was always there in that recliner, and I took for granted that he always would be. The modicum of life that age had left him, seemed to me to be so much preferable than the long parting that death's icy hand represented. When finally he passed, all that remained were a few words wasted on the dead at the funeral, an obituary to encapsulate all his life's travails in a couple paragraphs, and the memories he left behind.

Is this all we are in the end, a few empty words and then an etching on a grave stone? I don't believe it. Our immortality is ensured. Here I don't refer to the death conquest of religion, though I do believe in that as well, but insofar that our lives are intertwined in the great web of humanity. No person lives in isolation of others to the point that their lives are unremarked upon. For good or ill, our actions this day will ripple down through the generations of men and women yet to come.

Sadly to many these platitudes ring hollow, for we live in a culture paralyzed with a fear of death. It is something we hide from ourselves in nursing homes, hospitals, and retirement communities. Like Hamlet before us most of us fear what lies in that "undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns" (Hamlet Act III, Scene I).

I do not fear for my grandfather however. He was not a religious man by any stretch of any imagination, but he was a good and decent man, who deserves more than a two paragraph obituary. So if you will indulge me, I will over the next few posts be retelling his life in a way more befitting his kindness and generosity. Believe me when I tell you it's a story that is much more fitting a novel (a smutty one at that) than most lives.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Last Book On Earth

So we were discussing literature the other night, and Wife posed the question "If you had one book (non-scriptural) and one book only to read for the rest of your life what would it be?"

This is a hard question. I'm not a great reader of fiction as most of you know. College ruined fiction in many ways for me. I spent too much time reading histories and ethnographies. Now I have no idea where to start when I enter the fiction section of Borders. The sheer number of tomes in the fiction section makes me believe that most of them must suck. I can't believe that there are that many quality writers in the world.

In any case if I were to choose just one book to read for the rest of my life, I'd have to choose Watership Down. Now let me explain that this is not the greatest novel of all time nor even my favorite novel. But it seems to me that the inherent optimism of this novel is something I'd need in a world where I only had one book to read.

In any case this whole exercise reminded me of one of the greatest shows of all time. The original Twilight Zone; for those who think I'm referring to a show about vampires, well there's no hope for you. One of the greatest episodes of Rod Serling's masterful program starred Mickey from the Rocky movies. His real name is Burgess Meredith but honestly he'll always be Mickey to me. In any case in the episode "Time Enough at Last," Meredith plays a beaten man who happens to be a book worm. If you have half an hour check it out. After watching it I wonder why television sucks so badly these days, it didn't always.

Friday, October 09, 2009

There was music before I was born

I think everybody has in their closet that one pair of comfortable jeans to which they are religiously devoted. You know the pair to which I refer. They're usually stained with ketchup or sometimes catsup. Often they're either too big or small, depending on which side of Christmas you find yourself (damn that Christmas fudge). Almost without exception, this pair of jeans has a hole in the crotch or buttock region (your fanny for you non-Brits).

I often treat the Internet like that pair of jeans. Just as I like to wear those comfy jeans every day, I visit the same ten comfy sites every day. So you can imagine how exciting it is when I find a new site that gives me a whole new way to waste time online.

Today my time waster is It's like a giant virtual jukebox which seems to have an infinite (well no Zeppelin or Beatles) supply of songs. As my friends Tyler and Ryan and I were discussing just this very week what we would consider the top ten songs (non classical) prior to our birth year (77), this site proved to be an excellent delivery vehicle to prove my list's superiority over theirs. So with no further ado I present to you "Husband's Top 10 Songs that were Almost as Great as the Divine Chorus which Undoubtedly Sounded at my Birth"(or that could have been my mom swearing at the doctor, my memory is fuzzy back that far).

[Note if you're reading this on facebook you should probably come to the blog site as you won't be able to see any of the neat links I loaded from lala. Oh and it helps stroke my ego to see my site visit counter go up. STROKE MY EGO. THE FIRST COMMANDS IT]

10. Black Water-Doobie Brothers

9. House of the Rising Sun-The Animals

8. A Boy Named Sue-Johnny Cash

7. Kashmir-Led Zepplin

6. Fortunate Son-CCR

5. Purple Haze-Jimmy Hendricks

4. Helter Skelter-The Beetles

3. Mr Tambourine Man-Bob Dylan

2. For What It's Worth-Buffalo Springfield

1. Paint It Black-The Rolling Stones

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another meme

I usually ignore these but la Yen's looked too fun to ignore. Once again proving my susceptibility to peer pressure.

1. If you could escape to anywhere in the world where would it be?
Husband: France. This is a no brainer for me. Although this time I'd spend less time in Paris and more in the country side.
Wife: I guess France because I like to hang out with Husband. But if I got to choose a vacation for once it would probably be anywhere on the Mediterranean.
2. What song do you play when you are by yourself in the car?
Husband: Meatloaf's "I will do anything for love". And I sing it at the top of my lungs.
Wife: I love it when I find a Backstreet Boys or N'Sync song on a satellite radio station. Please don't judge. I don't get much alone time in the car so it doesn't happen much.
3. If you had a night to yourself, and money was no object, what would you do?
Husband: One night. I'd probably go online and buy all my Christmas presents for the year.
Wife: Spend it all in a bookstore.
4. What is your guilty pleasure?
Husband: A homewrecker burrito from Moe's and a night watching Criminal Minds.
Wife: A tub of cream cheese icing and a box of vanilla wafers and a VH1 countdown featuring Backstreet Boys and N'Sync.
5. What is the farthest place you have traveled away from your home?
Husband: Dumfries, Scotland
Wife: Vienna.
6. Last book that you couldn't put down?
Husband: Rough Stone Rolling
Wife: Suite Francaise. Thanks to all who suggested it. It was not a wasted read.
7. When you want to escape into another time, what movie do you watch?
Husband: The Lord of the Rings.
Wife: It doesn't much matter. There's a good chance I'll fall asleep regardless of what I put in.
8. What is your favorite local escape?
Husband: I'm really fond of Thatcher Park
Wife: Target, though that could also be my answer to Q#3.
9. How do you escape on a budget?
Husband: Stay with friends and mooch off their families.
Wife: Totally what he said. Or maybe even my own family.
10. Best food you've ever had while on vacation.
Husband: Cafe Rio, steak burrito cooked enchilada style with the medium sauce.
Wife: Totally what he said. But we usually eat pretty well on vacation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dinner at UsAndCats Week of August 29

For those of you who have visited us, and we all know how lucky those blessed few are to enter these hallowed halls, know that Wife and I may not be anal retentive about cleaning but when it comes to planning our meals in advance we have few rivals.

In an effort to help you all drink deeply from the depths of our awesomeness, and to force us to actually eat what we plan and not just skip meals and go out to eat we're going to start posting our weekly menus along with links to the cookbooks from whence we got the recipes (Amazon should seriously pay us for the traffic). We will at the end of the week post the feedback on each recipe. That said this experiment will probably last two posts before we get sick of it. So with out further ado here's our schedule.
    29 August --We're eating out at Phoenicians of Albany. Yeah that's a heck of a way to start but for those of you in the greater Capitol District we highly recommend this place. It's my favorite Lebanese food around here. If you are going let us know though and we'll go with you and introduce you to the owner. Fantastic food.

    30 August--Chicken Parm from "Starting with Ingredients" p. 265. Accompanied with Pesto Pasta Salad from "Food Network Favorites" and Grilled Asparagus. Of Course we're having husband's family recipe of Mississippi Mud for desert.

    31 August--Pork Enchiladas in a Green Chili Sauce from "Mexican: Healthy Ways With a Favorite Cuisine" p 134. Yes our Mexican is probably better but we haven't tried this green chili sauce.

    1 September--Stir Fried Sesame Chicken & Leeks from "The Essential Wok Cookbook" p 166.

    2 September--Moorish Chicken & Nut Pie from "The New Spanish Table" p 172. This by the way is an awesome cookbook and well worth the $9 it's going for right now on Amazon.

    3 September--Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

Since you've been patient here's a classic Pinky and the Brain:

(If you're viewing this on Facebook or through an RSS feed, well you're missing out on the awesomeness of the photos and videos on our blog. Further, your lack of comments on our blog makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in hopes that pain lessons the emotional trauma you've caused.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lost in Translation

There are certain experiences in life that are common to all humanity. Perhaps the moment that's most common to us all is that moment when you suddenly realize, that your finger nails have crossed the line into weaponry. I'm not sure how this happens but it seems to me that one day my nails will be a perfectly acceptable length, the next day a TSA agent will have me forcibly subdued while another clips them off with hedge trimmers.

For readers outside the US the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is an American governmental organization created in response to the 9/11 attacks. So far as I can tell its job is to increase sales of ridiculously small hygiene products like mini toothpaste, and to see how many people they can arrest for public nudity by making them take their belts off when passing through security checkpoints. They also ridiculously make you take your shoes off every time you pass through their screening. This makes American airports the only places in the country where you officially can't be "serviced" with your shoes on, at least outside Nevada.

Besides the inevitability of gross fingernails, we all have those moments in our lives where we have out of body experiences and can see as if in hi-def slow-mo ourselves making complete idiots of ourselves. That I have more of these experiences than most, is not a surprise to any of you I'm sure.

Let me share my most recent foot-in-mouth moment with you.

Our summer vacation this year consisted of three day stay in Utah, followed by one day of travel, a week on a house boat in California, and three days in Arizona with the grandparents. Of course on none of these trips did we bring our camera, or if we did I didn't take any photos. Fortunately Coop always takes many photos so check out his favorites here.

So on to my story. The first night on vacation, our buddy Dan, aka Big Dan T, aka Hoss, aka the Prince of Darkness hosted a reunion of our old friends from the apartment complex where Wife and I met. It was a wonderful evening filled with reminiscence and renewing of old friendships. That is until the train wreck that is Me decided to open my mouth.

Now there are many professions that yield themselves to simply adding an -ing to the end of the profession to describe it. This is called in grammar inging. You think of a dancer, it would be perfectly natural to ask a dancer if they are still dancing, a painter if they are still painting, a firefighter if they're still firefighting. Some professions don't lend themselves to this. For example it would be pure madness to ask a professional cowboy if he's still cowboying, a baseballer if he's baseballing or a pimp if he's still pimping. Okay the last one works but hopefully I don't have too many conversations with pimps.

In any case you can see the dilemma I faced in regards to one of Wife's former roommates at the aforementioned event. Now if she was a doctor holding her newborn and I had asked if she was still doctoring, that would be strange. The fact that she's a nurse and I don't know when to shut up made it a comedy of errors that I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Honestly who would think I was interrogating her about her lactation practices? Oh right anyone who's spent time with me.

And yet I still tried to talk my way out of it. Until finally I gave way under the weight of my own idiocy.
Good to see old friends again though. We really should do it more than once a decade.

(If you're viewing this on Facebook or through an RSS feed, well you're missing out on the awesomeness of the photos and videos on our blog. Further, your lack of comments on our blog makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in hopes that pain lessons the emotional trauma you've caused.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Top 12 Albums of All Time

My friend Ryan just started a music review blog. Go visit it minions, it's fantastic.

In honor of his latest post of the eleven greatest albums of all time I will now one up him and do my

Twelve Greatest Albums of all Time: IN 3D
Someone needs to do the 13 greatest now, Tyler/Chiapelli I'm looking in your general direction

These are in no particular order.

R.E.M. --Document
This was my first introduction to R.E.M. before they got strange. The impressive part of this album is its balance. The most recognizable songs are in the middle with "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "The One I Love", but this is a well paced album that starts strong with "Finest Worksong" and ends with the very eclectic "Oddfellows Local 151". Easily their finest effort.
Best song-- Finest Worksong

Metallica--The Black Album

Yeah I know, but hear me out. While Metallica's greatest song, One, is not on this album, it is filled with fantastically solid songs. It's one of those cds where each track puts you back to the specific time and place when you first heard it. As our token "hard rock" group in this list, it's worth noting that it just barely beat out Soundgarden's "Superunknown" which is another great album.
Best song-- Wherever I may roam

The Jayhawks--Tomorrow the Green Grass
Any album that opens with the line "Where have all my friends gone, they've all disappeared" just fits the angst of teenage me. And while this may seem to be a purely nostalgia pick for that reason, this is an album filled with wonderful music that defies genre labels. It is for lack of a better description, pure Americana.
Best song-- Blue

U2--Joshua Tree
I went back and forth on this album truthfully. This is one of those albums like Dave Matthews' Under the Table and Dreaming, Bob Marley's Legend, or the Doors Greatest Hits which is unquestionably brilliant but that I can only listen to periodically. That said everyone knows it and it represents the apogee of U2's artistic production and to a large degree has defined their subsequent career.
Best song-- Bullet the Blue Sky

Bob Dylan--Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
Yes a greatest hits album is a cop out. I know that and you know that, but Dylan is an all time great and this collection is amazing. Look at the track list if you don't believe me. Rainy Day Woman is one of the greatest pro-weed songs ever, Mr. Tambourine man should be learned by every American, and The Times They Are a Changin defined a generation. For my money I'll always take Johnny in the basement mixing up the medecine.
Best song-- Subterranean Homesick Blues

Black Crowes--Shake Your Moneymaker
Yeah I've already had one Americana style band on this list but comparing the Black Crowes to the Jayhawks is a bit like comparing Alice and Chains to Nirvana. Yeah they hit their peaks around the same time, and yeah were loosely in the same "genre" but they're worlds apart in style and content. Alice in Chains was way better than Nirvana by the way but I digress. This album does not have a bad song and has more than you'd think which are toe tappingly fantastic. I rediscovered it not too long ago and was blown away by just how good it still is.
Best song-- Jealous Again

Flogging Molly--Swagger
Now just as I have a love Americana I have a love Celtic Punk. Yes this ranks right next to French rap, and Hindi reggae in the average person's iPod playlist, but I find great satisfaction in the almost desperate optimism of these artists. Flogging Molly is the best of the lot in my humble opinion, and this album is my personal favorite (although the Real McKensies and the Dropkick Murphys are also worth a look).
Best song-- The Worst Day Since Yesterday


There are some songs that you hear and you think, yes I could seduce a woman with this song. This is one of those albums and Guitarra is one of those songs. Picture it, a coastal restaurant in Portugal. You're dressed up in the absolute finest clothing. The food is fresh from the sea. The sun is setting over the Atlantic while the moon rises on the eastern horizon. The restaurant is deserted except you and your lover and this band who plays haunting traditional music with a soprano whose vocals blend beautifully with the sound of the sea lapping against the I need to go to Portugal.
Best song-- Guitarra

Patty Griffin
--1000 Kisses
Okay this was a tough one. This is a great album, but it falls into a difficult category for me to like. That category is of course "stuff that can be played at Lilith Fair". Still, Patty Griffin is much more of an artist than many girl power acts and her musical sensibilities range from country to blues to folk. Tomorrow Night exemplifies this diversity.
Best song-- Tomorrow Night

The Shins--Oh Inverted World

What do you get when you have a band who's lyrics you can't understand but who sound like they would be wicked cool if you could? The Shins of course. I have no idea what the guy is singing. I do know that whatever it is, sounds awesome.
Best song-- Caring is Creepy

Weezer-- Weezer (Blue Album)

If the Shins are incomprehensible, Weezer is best comprehended by D&D playing, Ivy league attending, Linux loving, uber-nerds. Which might be why In the Garage, with references to 20-sided dice, is my favorite of their songs off this album.
Best song-- In the Garage

Fleet Foxes--Fleet Foxes
I had to come up with one more album to beat Ryan and so this was my throwaway. I'm not convinced in ten years which of emo-laden fat bearded artists I'll still remember. But since Fleet Foxes was the first that I really grew to love, they're the ones that make the list. Also they have some of the wildest videos. Check this one out...
Best song-- White Winter Hymnal

(If you're viewing this on Facebook or through an RSS feed, well you're missing out on the awesomeness of the photos and videos on our blog. Further, your lack of comments on our blog makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in hopes that pain lessons the emotional one you've caused.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Long Awaited Post

Hey guys,
Having trouble with the RSS feed on Carolyn's blog so figured I'd mention it here as well. I finally published my long awaited post over there. Please note it has PG-13 rating for subject matter.

I Will Run 3.5 Miles and I Will Drive 1000 More

I am the world's worst liar. Wife can tell if I'm trying to lie to her before I even start (For the record none of these lies are malicious, they are the type designed to protect marriage. You will be able to read more about them in my forthcoming book "What she don't know won't hurt me: how to lie to your wife, save your marriage, and protect your man parts".) For this reason I don't gamble, I won't run for public office, and I certainly confess to any crime for which the police approach me. Actually I'm so afraid they'd pummel me with their batons that I'd confess to assassinating Lincoln. There must be something Freudian about that....

In any case this also means that I don't bluff. Yet twice last month I did bluff and learned my lesson as both were called. Time number one went something like this:

Wife: So I'm doing a 3.5 mile road race with my co-workers, you want to join my team?
Husband (distracted by TV): Sure honey that'd be great.
Wife (Surprised): Great I'll go sign us up (exits)
Husband (suddenly refocused and to Max the cat): Something terrible just happened didn't it?
Max: (Licks himself)

For the record I beat Wife in the race and did it in 36 minutes or so. Wohoo me!

Second bluff:
Brother: So there's a festival in D.C. in a couple weeks where the Offspring are playing (Please note that Brother, despite his advanced years (40) is a huge Offspring fan), if you drive I'll buy the tickets.
Me: Cool let's do it.
Me (aside): He'll never buy the tickets.
Two weeks later.
Brother: Okay I ordered the tickets, what time do you want to leave?
Me: *@#&#(@*!(@

The concert was fun, they gave out free samples of chili. The bands were a bit harder than I'm used to but quite entertaining. Also I did the Albany to DC drive in under 6 hours, Google maps says it should take 6:19! I was quite psyched about that.

The funny part about the concert was that Wife and I had gone down to DC just the week before to celebrate our anniversary. That was a lot of driving. Of course it pails in comparison to our latest trip but more on that when I'm awake. Stupid insomnia.

In the meantime here's some robot chicken to entertain you. Yes it's old but I still think it's funny.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

1 AlGore 1:1-10

1. In the beginning were the tubez. And the tubez were void and without shape. And I went down unto the tubez and connected them one unto the other. And saw that they were good.

2. Yet the tubez were empty with nothing to fill them. And so I poured knowledge of all kinds down into the tubez and lo, beauty and genealogy and lots and lots of nerd stuff.

3. And I saw that the tubez were good.

4. Yet darkness entered the tubez and their links and webiness filled with boobies, lots of boobies. And so I said to the tubez let us fill you with templates and links for all people to post the random mind vomit of their quotidian existence. And let us call this vomitous mass "blogging". And so were born Wordpress and Blogger and their red headed step brothers whose names are long forgotten.

5. And it was good.

6. Yet the darkness crept back into the tubez and corrupted them and said to the vomitous mass. 'Thou art too clean and fertile. Let me lap you out and spew you forth in 144 character segments, and fill you with such trivilaity that no one will be able to cut wind without failing to record it for the masses with such witisisms as "hurricane ike blew from my caboose this morning. smelled like spoiled eggs. man I want eggs".' And the darkness called its evil tweets.

7. And it came to pass that I beheld the tweets and understood the peril of humanity. For verily each tweet consumed a 144 byte corner of the soul in darkness. And I wept and said to the tubez, the darkness shall not consume thee.

8. And it came to pass that I looked upon the tubez and lo I foresaw all humanity united in one site. And I said to this site thou shalt be called Facebook. And thou shalt fight the darkness of the boobies and the tweets and protect the tubez from those who wish to destroy them.

9. And it was good.

10. But lo, I erred and did not perceive that the Darkness was Facebook. And it consumed me, not as the tweets, but in endless kidnapping, mafiawar, and superpoke requests. And lo all my good was undone, but hey this quiz looks interesting....

Yeah I don't know what that was about either, but isn't it nice to have a post from me again? Admit it you missed me. So did Beeker.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Struggle of Dog and Lawn

Dogs are not good for lawns. There are several reasons for this which should be discussed specifically in regard to our new canine tenant, Gulliver.

1. Dogs like to dig. As a young lad one of my favorite things to do was to build snow and mud dams as melt ran down the hill of our upstate NY residence. I cannot explain the simple joy of watching the water you've dammed up flood right to the front door of your house although the subsequent parental rebuke, usually with the wooden spoon was less joyous. That said I didn't realize the full digging potential of a bored and mangy mongrel until I went outside for the first time after leasing some floor space to the rug dog. He has and continues to excavate the rear fondation of the UsandCats headquarters. I can only hope he's a pirate dog and searching for buried treasure, YARR! (Pirates would beat ninjas)

2. Dogs poop like every meal comes from a Chinese buffet. Okay perhaps their puppy piles aren't quite as toxic as they would be from a diet of General Tsao's, but they're still not pleasant. Nor are these urban land mines small. I estimate at current defecation levels my lawn will be 60% dog bomb 30% fallen tree limbs 10% dead grass by the end of the summer. Indeed one could say that Gulliver is quite defecatious. One could say that if it was a word.

3. Dogs seem to think that sprinklers are the devil. You remember the classic film The Waterboy? You remember how the protagonists mother sought to alert him to the evils of the world surrounding him by indicating its demonic origins? Well Gulliver too seems to think that sprinklers at the very least are "The Devil". Watch the following images and video for proof.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Out of the Mouth of a 9 year old

Tonight we had dinner with friends. Mexican. The food, not the friends.

After we ate I used the facilities. Turns out I had to do more than what I had intended when I first went into the bathroom. No problem. I finish, wash up and join the adults in the living room again.

A minute later, their almost 9 year old daughter goes to brush her teeth before bed. We hear her say, "Why does it stink in here?"

The adults almost die of laughter and, in my case, embarrassment. Their daughter is clueless as to what is so funny.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How can we tax it if they're giving it away?

Unbeknownst to most Americans, many New Yorkers, far too many Albany-ers, every governor we've ever had, and New York City itself, Albany is the capital of New York State. I work downtown and often find myself walking in front of, behind, or around (but never through-I don't feel like going through the equivalent of airport security) the capitol building. Several times each year there will be a rally taking place. My favorite is the annual springtime rally of Bikers Against Child Abuse.

Today, however, was a rally for the legalization of marijuana. I didn't taken any of the flyers offered to me, but I did admire many of the homemade posters adorning the capitol steps. Some of my favorites included:

Hemp is Wealth

New York CAN

Don't Encroach on my Roach

And then I saw the sign that said simply, "FREE MARIJUANA." Awesome, I thought, Let's go pick up some of this no-charge pot, come back downtown tomorrow, sell it and put the proceeds in the Forbes Baby Fund (which consists of the pennies in the jar under the microwave and the diapers that Pampers has been occassionally sending me for the past four years).

But it turns out that they were not really giving it away. Apparently marijuana is being held hostage somewhere by someone. Bummer. But I did do some people watching. Dreadlocks and tye dye and panchos, oh my! Before long I found myself repeating in my mind Eric Cartman's mantra of "Damn hippies."

Strangest Video Ever

If I got offered a job in Europe I would leave without even thinking twice. I would abandon my house. I would abandon my friends and family (except Wife, I'm awful fond of her and she'd kill me if I didn't take her with me). I would abandon my clothes (because let's face it Americans are a decade behind European fashion). I would board the next ship setting sale to the old world. So I guess in this strange fantasy I'd be a nude impoverished stowaway on a trans-Atlantic freighter...

Sorry I just wanted to see how disturbing you found that image. Very disturbing you say? Wife should return to her censorship role on this blog you say? Yeah you're probably right. Sorry about that.

In any case, my Europhilia (my spell check wants to make that necrophilia...I think I'll stop using spell check) lives on because of the over idealized memories of my time in France. (Ah que la France me manque.) The fact that Wife and I are foodies doesn't hurt my love of the old world either. Nor does the fact that the last time we were in France I managed to lose 10 pounds in 10 days hurt our desire to go back. Plus given my current elephantine proportions this weight loss would be very welcome. Though if we stay 200 days would that mean I disappear?

Yes I'm up above 200 again, the Wii fit already calls me obese and asks if I walk into walls you guys don't have to be mean too. Great, now I'm going to have to get some ice cream and turn on the Lifetime Movie network. Thanks a lot. (For more information regarding my mood swings see my upcoming post on Wife's other blog.)

Really what calls me back to the mother land though is quirky videos like this one. (Sorry Astrid but Sweden must be a weird place)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sloth seems an appropriate follow up to gluttony

We have these friends, we'll call them the Steves. Nate likes to eat and since Mel is a vegetarian, if meat is involved, even more does he like to eat. Last year Nate invited us to his house for a bbq but instead of buying burgers, he bought a steak and ground it in Mel's juicer. I could not finish this burger. Mel has not since used her juicer. For good reason.

The Steves invited us to dinner last night, along with the Bloods. Less than 2 hours from here is a casino on an Indian res, Turning Stone. Up until now my experience with casinos has involved a nearly annual trip to Laughlin, Nevada, and riding the New York New York roller coaster and eating at an outrageously expensive buffet at the Wynn casino in Vegas. And driving past Turning Stone en route to Buffalo or Syracuse or Palmyra.

The restaurant of choice was Rodizio. I had never had all you can eat meat and the idea was never appealing but I like these friends so we went. The salad bar was ok, nothing spectacular. You could tell that people don't go there for the salad bar, though the sushi was impressive (to look at for me, I don't eat it). Then the meat course started. I didn't even try half of the options but the men made up for their wives small portions. The pork with pineapple glaze was really good and the salmon was excellent. Other than that, though, it didn't knock my socks off. I believe the men all spoke highly of the skirt steak. At least it was restaurant week so the meal was 20% off.

The experience reminded me of my unmarried days when I would come home from classes and find that my boyfriend (now known as Husband) had gone to a Chinese food buffet with his friend Dan and they had each eaten themselves stupid. The idea has never appealed to me. I would make a lousy guy in this regard. And I am not macho.

On the way out we spoke of the possibility of gambling. I had some change that I would gladly throw in a slot machine and enjoy losing while inhaling more second hand smoke that I normally get (thank you New York anti indoor smoking laws). But you can't do that at Turning Stone. You have to put money on a card and then put that card into the slot machines. Sorry, but once you make it more of an effort to lose money I'm out. Instead I invested my money in cheap reservation cigs.

I think Husband is still sleeping off his meat-over. Anybody know of any home remedies for such a thing?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Boot to the Head and Fingers to Eyes

I am not a graceful man. Ask anyone who's ever seen me dance, and they will attest to this fact (of course I'm eliminating all those people bit by bit so they best not comment on this blog post). I have the agility of a three legged elephant, the rhythm of a squirrel hopped up on crack, and the response time of a beached whale. Perhaps this is why the Wii Fit keeps asking me if I walk into walls.

This means that I need to be given a wide berth else I run into, trip, or otherwise manhandle and maim you. Sadly the love that Wife bares for me keeps her coming back into the "danger zone", or perhaps it's her adrenaline addiction. In any case this has led through the years to some incidents of what some would call "spousal abuse" but what I would call putting her eye where my elbow was.

Now I do not want to bore you with a reminiscence of the many "concussive episodes" we've had through the years but I did want to tell you about the most recent one. Perhaps in so doing I'll assuage some of the guilt that I feel.

Like many boring or elderly couples we typically go to bed with the sunset and read a few hefty tomes by candle light while listening to the wireless. Finishing our reading Wife rose on the night in quest to extinguish the illumination. Normally she quickly slides into bed after so doing. However our timing was off a bit the other night and instead of gracefully putting my arm around her to hug her good night, I eye-jabbed her three stooges style. I swear it's not my fault though, I'm just clumsy......that said it's been the couch for me every night since.

Since I can't see the Chicago River turn green this year here's a little taste of Ireland for you.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Nobody takes my thunder without a fight

Not to be outdone by his wife, Husband had to go and roll his ankle at churchball Thursday night. He came home, iced it and made dinner so I thought all would be well and I'd still be the pitiful one. Until he woke up at 5:30 the next morning and barely made it to the medicine cabinet for pain meds. A good wife would have gotten it for him, but I was just upset that he was encroaching on my recovery time with his stupid injury. All I wanted was four days of being taken care of.

He was in such pain that I *made* him go to urgent care before work. Not broken. Take that, Husband. I'm still worse off, even with my easy recovery. The most frustrating part for me was that he hurt his ankle and still played two more games. He should have used that as an excuse to come home and take care of his poor, lonely wife.

I guess its sister-in-law's turn to be the hurt one in the house. I hope she does something exciting.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Lists

My snobbery knows no bounds. I can freely admit this, in fact by so doing I increase my snobbery quotient 110%. Fortunately for me, my douchebaggery has decreased exponentially since marrying Wife (she makes up for my tendency toward douchiness). Now one might think that this is not possible, the standard equation is usually rendered:
Douchebaggery=((Snobbery+Oakley Shades) x Tattoos)2
However recent trends have changed this formula significantly. It can now be rendered as follows:
Douchebaggery=((Truck Nuts+Spoilers on Honda Civic) x Tattoos)2
This is known alternatively as the Dane Cook Quotient or the Uncle Ricco Theorum.

Now why do I bring up my snobbiness you might ask? Well let me tell you. Recently that greatest of time wasters, Facebook has been deluged by a meme purportedly from the BBC telling you that you're smarter than the average person because you've read more than six of these books. Let's ignore the fact that Dan Brown (that loathsome butt boil of the litterary world) made the list, or that Dune almost broke the top 50 (when we all know that was Patrick Stewart's worst movie) or that Jane Austin inexplicably came in at number one on the list (this is a bit like Day's of our Lives being hailed as the greatest TV show of all time). The fact is that it takes you five seconds of googling to realize that this list is complete bilge.

Yes the BBC did a list but it wasn't an editors choice, it was a readers poll and while there are some good reads on there this is hardly a list for an English Lit graduate class. After looking around a bit on the Interwebz I found a list that some more reputable people at the Modern Library had put together of the 100 greatest novels. Sadly I've read only 10 on the reader's list and 5 on the editor's. I think I like the Facebook list better I'd read 28 of those. Does that make me less of a snob?

Now since I haven't added this in awhile here's a new video from Blitzen Trapper. I could listen to this song all day, it's got a cool Dylanesque quality to it. Enjoy. (Oh and if you're reading this on Facebook, link to this actual site because honestly watching my visitor count go up helps stroke my ego and you won't be able to see this vid on FB.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

6 States; 36 Hours; 3 Drivers; 1 Puppy

A few weeks ago, Husband, Sister-in-law and I drove to Solon, Iowa to pick up her puppy. Not the craziest thing I've ever been a part of, but it very easily may be the craziest thing I've ever done without a Cooper involved. Left our house just before 9pm on a Friday night, arrived back home just after 8am the following Sunday. Here's a synopsis of the trip:

New York - this isn't so bad. We've made the drive to Buffalo before. I felt rested and excited for a roadtrip. Some snow but the weather is very good for the last few days of January.

Pennsylvania - the roads here suck. So do the rest stops. I'm glad we're only driving through the smallest part of the state.

Ohio - Realizing that we only live about 7 hours from Kirtland, we should make it a vacation destination or at least drive through during the day and not the middle of the night. Cleveland rocks! This is the song that happened to come on the playlist while we drove through town. I love the lake. Someone else will have to drive back through Cleveland so I can have a look around. And Ohio, your restops? Panera and Starbucks? You're everything PA wasn't.

Indiana - You had me at a speed limit of 70 mph. You just don't get that in New York.

Illinois - Seriously, on a major interstate highway your speed limit is 45? Seriously. And what is this urge to bribe someone?

Across the Mississippi River - Amazing. I love large bodies of water (see Cleveland).

Iowa - I see many fields but none necessarily "of dreams." Cute puppy picked up an hour into Iowa so we turn around. This was around noon or 1pm Saturday.

Illinois - Still 45 mph, eh? Glad Husband is driving.

Indiana - Loving the 70 mph. Somewhere in here the puppy peed on Husband twice. Reason #1 I didn't sit in the backseat with puppy.

Ohio - Cleveland and Kirtland in the middle of the night again, eh? How did I end up driving again? Lots of cops in and around C-land, even a paddywagon and people getting busted for guns, drugs or both. The Kirtland temple needs lights illuminating it. If it was still ours, it would have lights. Did not appreciate the snow blowing across the roads. Ohio, grow some hills so this isn't a problem next time I drive across you.

Pennyslvania - Your roads still suck, as does your snow removal. I know its Erie in the middle of the night but still there are some cars out on the roads. I'm glad I left. I am officially over you.

New York - Home state but still 5 hours from home. Mostly sleep-driving the last hour or so.

We decided that I drove just over half of the total 36 hours and I only slept maybe 3 hours. I had taken off the Friday we left and napped much of the day. I slept from 9am-5pm that Sunday, missed church, but forced myself to stay up for the entire Super Bowl.

This is Gulliver. I love him.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wife's Day--In Numbers

7--The time this morning I got up and began my day.

55--Dollars I spent at the grocery store for this week's food.
15--Dollars I spent at the gas pump for a week's worth of fuel. Loving the lower gas prices. How did we ever afford gas at almost $4?

5.25--miles I did on the treadmill.
90--minutes I did on the treadmill.
1--Number of episodes of "Law & Order" and "How Clean is Your House?" while on the treadmill.

2--Times I swept the kitchen floor before mopping it.
7--Fridge shelves I removed and cleaned today. This counts the removable ones in the door.

5--Mustards in the fridge as I cleaned it out today.
2--Bottles of fish sauce in the fridge. I didn't think Husband and I had any, but I doubt that Sister-in-law brought two with her.
3--Bottles of soy sauce in the fridge.

85--Percent of the kitchen that I cleaned today. I did not pull out the oven or fridge to clean behind them. That's a once a year cleaning and I have all of 2009 to do that. And the oven is responsible and cleaned itself last weekend.

90--Percent of the bathroom cleaned by Husband. I did the floor and will do the shower doors. House rule#1-put the toilet seat down after you use it. House rule#2-Husband cleans the toilet because if anyone is missing the bowl, it is not sister-in-law or me. I can say with confidence its not me.

0--Number of naps I took today. This one pains me but there is always tomorrow. I will be so happy for our day of rest. Especially that I don't have to teach and we are going to a friends' place for dinner.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Debt Erradication Made Simple

Given today's market situation I thought it wise to give a few slices from that infinite pie of wisdom I call my brain (mmm...pie). (This post is primarily for our American audience so foreigners just sit back and enjoy the show) First off for our American readers remember, spending money on high ticket things is a solemn duty to protect and preserve our God given democracy. It doesn't matter that the boat you're buying is made in Ulaanbaatar of Jamaican parts shipped using Chechen smugglers. Your purchase is helping to keep salesman who studied English Lit employed.

Also remember that we're beyond the day and age where skills like: sewing your own clothes, fixing your own car, or cooking your own meals are of any real utility. Remember by not doing things ourselves we're helping others make an honest days wage. Lastly remember that the 50-70 hours you work every week while being only compensated for 40 is a noble rite of passage that you must follow in order to rise to the top of the bourgeois trash heap that is corporate America.

Fortunately for most of us (and you'll know this by any new reporting on obesity in America) we're all roughly the size of small blue whales. Thus we can rely on our natural reserves of blubber to get us through the lean times to come, oh and I think I'm going to cut back on toilet paper, no more than two squares a seating.

Here's a bit of SNL prescience from 2006:

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Nerdsters Paradise

In 1995 I was exposed to the dulcet sounds of west coast rap for the first time. Having been raised in the oh so rural east my exposure to rap up to that point consisted of House of Pain and little else (I think I remember someone mentioning Dr. Dre but I assumed that was some kind of anti-fungal ointment at the time).You can imagine my surprise however when I learned that not all rap included bagpipes and was performed by Irish Bostonians.

The irony that this knowledge came to me in oh-so-very-white Utah (I'm talking polar bear in a blizzard, white)still makes me laugh. I think I'm supposed to say at this point that "I'm not fronting", but if you look at the demographics of my earliest upbringing and my collegial locale you'll understand that I have know idea what that even means. My introduction to hip-hop had nothing to do with Brigham Young University as an institution, but everything to do with my new apartment and my first glorious exposure to Music Television.

For our younger reading audience I know this might seem a bit confusing. Let me explain. There was a time in the mid-1990s when the organization known as MTV played music videos. These videos they'd squeeze in between episodes of Beavis and Butthead. In case you don't know what music videos are, please check YouTube. If you don't know what Beavis and Butthead is...well you're probably better off.

MTV was a revelation for me. Not only did I get to admire the beauty of the ladies of TLC, but I for the first time was exposed to the hypnotic beats of Tupac's "California Love" amongst others. My infatuation with this new media also explains the 2.8 and 2.1 GPAs that I earned during this first year in the halls of higher learning.

Amongst the many great songs released that year was one by that wonderful "purveyor of beats" and original "gangsta" rapper, Coolio. That's right I'm talking about "Gangsta's Paradise". This anthem describing the suffering of the urban poor ranks right up there with such songs as Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", The Rolling Stones "Paint it Black", The Boss's "Born in the USA", and the Aquabats' "Captain Hampton & the Midget Pirates" in terms of social consciousness.

I bring this up, because today I experienced paradise. No not a gangsta's, nor a celestial, nor even a pizza paradise. Today I experienced a nerd's paradise. Today we got rid of a bookshelf. This meant one glorious thing for me. I got to reorganize my bookshelves. I went with a dual organization. All the fiction went into Wife's office. All the classics and some of the history went on the custom shelves and the mix of religion and history went on the cheapo Sauder shelves. Of course everything was alphabetized by author and then title. I just hope that someday I have enough books to devise my own Dewey Decimal type's that for anal retentive?

Yen mentioned this song in an earlier comment so here it is. Oh and Christmas was wonderful, Wife made a ham that was out of this world.