Day in the Sun for Non-Packing Dog

As is common around the Perplexing office here it seems we’re knee-deep in preparations for yet another business vacation trip. Also, as is so common around here, I’m bee busy sunning myself while the frantic parents are a’ prepping and a’ packing.

This is me basking in the glory of not doing whatever it is that the parent folk are doing, whatever that may be.
This is me basking in the glory of not doing whatever it is that the parent folk are doing, whatever that may be.

So we’ve all got to do our part to get ready for this vacation thing and my part is as critical as any. My designated job is to dress up all fancy, lay out in the sun and stay out of the way of other forms of progress. And oh baby, it isn’t easy, necessarily, but it’s all kinds of great for me.

You see, if you do something well you should do it often. I don’t “stay out of the way” well, but I do “not help” often, so that’s good enough for me as well as the people moreso in charge over me.

But if every dog truly has his day in the sun, then “ruff, ruff,” today is mine.

And, as one forever adding insult to injury, I’ve got to point out that I need a cup of juice right about now. Not to distract ye elderberry folk from your packy preparations or anything but I’m busy as heck relaxing and I just can’t do it properly without my OJ, AJ or GrJ… even if the lattest is WhGrJ, that would be okay.

If not, how about you grab me some Kool Aid, I’m just asking.

Though I’ll admit our insurance policy’s forced us to cut way back on Kool Aid on account of that chubby jug dude perpetually bursting through our kitchen wall, I still like the stuff.

Fine, whatever, you guys go on about this packing business. I don’t know where we think we’re going nor why, but it had best be better than the most bestest good. My time in the sun is precious spent and I’m not about to do it just for giggles.

However, it is important no less that I add “tee-hee”, but only because I do so love tittering.

ABOVE - And this is me wandering around in a field of dreams or fantasies, but not poppies.
ABOVE – And this is me wandering around in a field of dreams or fantasies, but not poppies.

Sibling Rivalry Displayed via Roughhousing

I’ve warmed up to my kid bother* over the past year and a half I’ve been dealing with his noise and attention deficit spending, and I’ve truthfully come to love him and think of him as a friend and even a brother, which technically he is. These days I limit my detrimental handling of him to a more passive aggressive technique; that of overpowering roughhousing. story779

Here’s kind of how it works. We boys like to play with toys, but “toys” is a loosely defined term. It could be a literal toy, cardboard box, spatula, stairs or something metaphysical and undefinable. Inevitably, whether it’s a DVD or an M&M it always breaks down to wrasslin’, which is precisely the double-edged sword of fun I’ve learned to love and hate.

According to experts in the field, “wrasslin’ is what boys do,” so we’re all pretty much justified in the action. It’s the outcome where the line I tread becomes dangerously thin, especially if you account for my still unsteady gait. I have to put the hammer down, but only just precisely so. Sound confusing? Try being me. Since you can’t be me just read on and I’ll explain.

It’s a sound plan in theory. When we play, which we do less and less as we get older,** I simply play with him as vigorously and brutally as I do my older brother (who has a good foot in height on me plus a weight differential of a good 130%.) With elder brethren this is plum fine, but with the young ‘un my design is to pass off my passive aggression unnoticed. Invariably it’s there that I fail.

In practice it all kind of backfires on me. When I fall short of my goal he bashes and body slams me back worse than I’d have even given to him and I end up the loser with ouchies and boo-boos to prove it, however invisible they may be. When I reach my goal and inflict that extra straw of sting that breaks his camel-style back, he ends up crying and I end up busted for being “mean to the baby.”

Sheesh, why can’t he just grow up already?

Let me say again that I really and truly do love him dearly. We have good times playing and hanging out, we get into trouble together, we even have similar tastes in food,*** but when it comes to my attempts to balance out the equation of parental attention I’m invariably the loser. First because he gets more of it by default and secondly because my attempts at reclamation fall short and only earn me double trouble.

I’m off to rethink my strategy on the matter and maybe come up with a revision. If you’ve got boys (or those unimaginable “girls” I’ve heard so much about) just recognize that half of roughhousing is pleasure and the other half is business. If you’re going to do something, no matter what it is, do it all the way. With that said, I’m off to roughhouse that kid all the way. Wish me luck, benevolent treatment, and a short sentence.

* I’m no longer unclear as to whether he’s a “kid brother” or a “kid bother,” I now understand that he’s both. As such I just use the first one that comes to mind at the time.
** There was a time in my life when both of us were much less focused on our careers, but now that we’re older the time we have to spend playing is more and more limited. As of this week I’d estimate that only perhaps 92% of our waking lives is spent in play… and you don’t even want to know what the other 8% is. Trust me, it’s ugly.
*** That is to say we both like sweets, candy and sugar-laden foods, but ain’t much too pleased with the greens, save for green Jell-O, Kool-Aid or key lime pie.

ABOVE - I have no problem flipping myself off the couch if it's just a part of my roughhousing game.
ABOVE – I have no problem flipping myself off the couch if it’s just a part of my roughhousing game.


Bad Humor Man Brings Ice Cream, Brain Freeze

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the lake or a park only to hear some vendor drive through with festive music blaring as if he’s barking for a circus*. I never knew what he was all about, since the parents were always eager to distract my attention away, but now I know and now I love. story775

There’s this thing called “ice cream” and it’s made out of a heavy form of milk whipped to icy delight with sugars and an assortment of flavorings. This here is the Good Humor man, and I know how he got his name. He’s the bearer of very best tidings, specifically in stick-administered, frozen form.

He’s the Good Humor man and he brings more than his pleasant smile and silly soda-jerk cap of paper, he brings the polar ice-cap opposites of expensive, sunny-day delights and the horrible hangover of the ice cream headache.

An ice cream headache (or “brain freeze” as the scientific community so passionately and religiously calls it) is a form of karmic punishment bestowed upon those who know not the virtue of moderation, such as myself. It’s when you eat something magnificently chilled at a pace unfit for the human who’s consuming it. The resulting reprimand is a headache that strikes with a pace and fury unmatched throughout the balance of nature.

But please don’t think I’m being pessimistic. This isn’t a fate worse than death, it’s a fortune better than life. Sure, he brings the instruments of a headache, but he also brings ice cream of many flavors and of a variety so wide that it unfailingly begs the consumer to empty the pocket and fill the belly.

Even compounding the brain freeze with my own bit of trademark lactose intolerance* I still think I’m coming out the winner, even though I’m broke and suffering for it.

These pictures, by the by, are not of an actual ice cream truck, in case you’re less savvy to the world than me, but of me and a co-conspiratous brother of mine in a coin-operated facsimile of such a truck. It still cost money, but we got to be in it instead of many chests of frosty yumminesses… wait a minute, now that I think about it, that isn’t good at all, is it?

When you go to the park, lake, boardwalk or other such place of collected and collective interpersonal festivities, be on the listen-out for the chimes of good humor. When you hear them, just know that these sounds of mirth coincide with the jangle of coin in your pockets, and that ice cream and its subsequent headache cannot be far behind.

I tell you all this as your friend, as a trusted advisor, and as an honest kid who’s not afraid to admit that he looooooves the ice cream.

* Seriously, I can’t tell you. I know it’s a lot but my memory before about a month ago is really pretty hazy.


Walk-In Cupboards Offer More Play Room

If you have a walk-in closet you know just how delightful it is to go in there and look around, do whatever you have to do. The walk-in closets in my world are called cupboards and unlike big closets, you’ll find these in every kitchen. Only now ours are bigger.

Just checking out my options at this point.
Just checking out my options at this point.

Since as long as I can recall, which is about a week and a half, I’ve enjoyed the many benefits of cupboards, but at the old house they were all so full of together-smackable pots, pans and assorted gadgets that I couldn’t really myself in the experience the way I’d have liked. By that I mean I couldn’t climb myself inside and shut the door, and that really short-changed my childhood.

If you have or would have a walk-in closet you can understand the natural appeal to the unnaturally tight space and for me the cupboards are sincerely the very same thing.

The new place has bigger cupboards which is good, and about four times as many, which is even better. Best of all, a solid half of them are empty, so now I’ve got that much more space in which to do whatever bidding it is I have for the moment.

And don’t think because I’ve got all these empty ones to hang out in that it somehow means I don’t have the other kind to meddle in as well. The kind that are full of heavy, clangy pots, cookie sheets and those remarkably rugged Pyrex glass cookware things. Those are cool because they’re clear, thunk a bit differently in tone and always bring parental attention in a doubly-hasty fashion.

The best part is that the parents have yet to put on enough of those confounded kiddy-locks that made the ones at the old place so wretchedly inaccessible. Not only do I have this space but, at least for now, it’s mine to keep.

So if you are supposed to be watching me and you made the frightful mistake of looking away for 15-30 seconds, don’t be surprised to find me gone. And when you search and search and I’m still nowhere to be found, consider I may have walked in to one of these delightfully and doubly captivating cupboards of celebrated expanse.

And when you find me, consider the fear and frustration you felt in equal opposite to my delight and satisfaction in the same experience, then reconsider your opposition to putting a bell on me. It works well to keep track of where the cats have gone and it can work equally well on the kids.

ABOVE - Whether with or without shelves you can see they're still quite spacious for the in-climbing and around-in-playing.
ABOVE – Whether with or without shelves you can see they’re still quite spacious for the in-climbing and around-in-playing.

Garden’s Secrets Revealed: Buncha Dead Plants

For as many days as I can comfortably recall* I’ve been curious as a George-style cartoon monkey as to what glorious revelations may be contained by my secret garden, the one that’s fenced too inaccessibly and therefor surely glorious.

Man, this is disappointing.
Man, this is disappointing.

Turns out the answer’s: “Nope, nothing cool.” And it’s more than a bit of a let down.

Is all romance dead or just the part of my yard that’s secure from our ability to weed and mow it?

We had to be all kinds of resourceful to get there. Forget that double-high mountain range, we just jumped out the window. It’s a method ideal for escaping fires and police, but it turns out that it’s also good for getting into the garden.

gardens-secret2LEFT – There is no great reward without a great challenge. Finding my way into the garden was one such great challenge and my reward, well, great, here it is, a bunch of dead plants.

Every rose has it’s thorn, every secret garden has it’s (admittedly ‘mostly dead’) folliage, but the only rose in this garden (and thorny at that) is the one I brandish myself acenter my bare and almost albino breastplate.

Where’s the engraved placard with puzzling riddle of deepest meaning? Where’s the rose memorial? Where’s the illicit grow space of the amateur apothocary? None such of any such and it’s more than a little bit disappointing.

Okay, wel this is no kind of good so I’m going to go. I’m shutting down my take-a-memo request and looking for a way back through the window. Consider me done.

*About three days, that’s my outside threshold. It’s probably been two weeks, but who knows for sure?

ABOVE - Maybe I'm missing something but the only plant I see blossoming is the one on my trunk.
ABOVE – Maybe I’m missing something but the only plant I see blossoming is the one on my trunk.

Vonage Makes Me Shake (in) My Booty(s)

You’d have to be even younger and less tech saavy than me to not know about Vonage, but as a bit of a newcomer to it myself, I figured I’d give you benefits of doubts and just tell you how much it rocks, which as it runs out is quite a lot.

Hey wow, I really CAN hear you now!
Hey wow, I really CAN hear you now!

It’s not like we disliked Verizon, they were a good company for us. Reliable, consistent, fully loaded with all the traditional services you’d expect from a telephone company, but all the prices like it too.

You know what a normal plan is, but you may not know what a VOIP phone is. No, it’s not pronounced “voyp” — though that would be funny too — VOIP is Voice Over Internet Protocal. It’s the very same technology that cell and phone companies use to make oodles off you, but this way you get to keep your oodle-money for yourself.

Here’s just some of the differences:

  • Old was like $35 and Vonage is only $24.99
  • Old charged us $17/month for voicemail and caller ID. Vonage gives you all that for FREE plus another dozen premium services, still FREE.
  • Old charged us 18 cents/min to call grammy (who lives an hour away) but Vonage let’s mama do it for free, plus other states, Canada and Puerto Rico all also unlimited.
  • Calling China on old, $4/min. Calling China with Vonage, 10 cents/min.
    Yes, 9-1-1 calls work fine and you’ve got call waiting, conference calling, number portability (allowing you to keep your old number wherever you go) and a ton of other benefits, but I’d be remiss to not mention what’s less than perfect. I mean, it’s not like there are no shortcomings with a VOIP service like Vonage.Some shortcomings:
  • I don’t know anyone in Puerto Rico for this unlimited calling benefit, in fact, I couldn’t even find it on a map.
  • No confusing bills for the parents to pour over, dissect, interpret and solve like some unimaginably complicated puzzle.
  • Overpriced long-distance barrons no longer call us with “fantastic offers”… to take our money.

Now, mind you, by recommending Vonage I do have something to gain. Feel free to color my endorsement thusly, but bear in mind I’d never recommend a product, service, event or attraction unless I’d used it myself and thorougly believed in it. Wegot nothing for most any of our glowing reviews (like Norcom whou didn’t even write us back) but this one just happens to be a “best of all worlds” scenario.

So, if you have a high-speed internet connection and want to learn how great Vonage is, how much money it can save your familial budget, and sign up, click this link and we’ll get an ounce of credit for it.

And to punctuate how very different the old phones and VOIP phones are let me say, they both pick up and dial in the traditional fashion from the very same handset but our 6-month average of $86 per month is now under $30 a month.

Don’t know about you, but I can tell you: I like them apples!

Bright Lights, Big Kiddies

Today we climbed in the Daddy-wagon and headed up north with passports and birth certificates curiously in tote. Little did we know we were fleeing the country, for however temporarily it may be. I don’t think we’re under investigation, but my investigation says this place is pretty slick.

Taking in the city and playing with crayons.
Taking in the city and playing with crayons.

You’ve always heard the old phrase I’m sure, “bright lights, big kiddies” but, if you’re anything like me,* you never knew A) what the bright lights were all about, B) who the big kiddies were, nor C) why so many people think it’s a “big city.” I mean, come on, let’s face it, all cities are big, right? They sure are to me.

As it turns out the bright lights are literal. Big cities, such as Vancouver, are full of them. Spy ye these pictures and in the background you’ll totally spot what I’m talking about. They’re electrical, I best suspect, and once illuminated they’re totally, totally bright.

Then comes the question of these supposed “big kiddies.” I always thought they meant big kiddies, like kids the age of brother Patrick and even older, but it turns out that since I’m a big brother myself I qualify as one of them. As such, I’m allowed to bring a guest and I brought baby Dominic. Therefore, (and do try to follow this nearly impossible math) us boys are in fact the big kiddies of the idiom.

Lastly you’ve got your standard confusion pertaining to size. We’ve encountered this so many times it quite literally isn’t funny. Seriously, we’ve played the joke pretty much all the way out, if we could squeeze another laugh from our loyal constituents we would. It just ain’t in the cards. But this here deal is as big a city as I can ever recall seeing.

Now mind you, I’ve been to Seattle which is bigger, technically, Tokyo, which is bigger, and lived a month in Shanghai, which is bigger than all of them combined. But no less, any city is a big city to me. Call me ignorant, call me young, call me short if you like, but I just have to say that with this inordinate quantum of strangers must surely come a “big city.”

But now I dine on the fries of France, as soon we must sleep, and tomorrow we must begin our adventures in Canada. I know their money’s funny and their measure of gas ain’t behind, I just hope they speak more English than I do, eh?

* By “like me,” I mean a carbon-based life form… you are one of those, aren’t you?