October 20, 2017

Smug Parents and Dog Owners

Maybe the "dumbest" dogs are actually the smartest
Fine, I admit we haven't raised the most disciplined dogs over the years. Regardless of the breed, they always bark when the doorbell rings, jump up on guests, and poop all over the back yard in a willy-nilly fashion. Be that as it may, they haven't hurt anyone or any body's pets (the neighbor's mauled chicken doesn't count because he flew into our yard---he was asking for it), nor do they intentionally defecate or urinate in the house.

When I tell people my funny dog stories (the stories I think are funny anyway), I get mixed responses and reviews. The dog haters think I'm the worst---mostly because I own a dog. I can get over that and understand their perspective. The majority of people who own dogs whom I talk to are smug and condescending, and instead of laughing at my stories and commiserating with me, criticize my lack of training and dog-control, making me feel like an irresponsible stupid dog owner.

The funniest kid stories are the ones about those little rugrats misbehaving. I feel like a tool when I talk about how wonderful my kids are and why---sorry egotistical parents, but those stories don't amuse or engage people (except grandmas---save those stories for her!). C'mon, you know how much you hate it when your neighbor goes on and on about how smart and talented her precious little Jimmy is...how his math skills are so advanced that he is now teaching math to the teachers; how his scientific ability is so "special" he is about to invent a drug that cures obesity forever and earn a billion dollars in the process. My favorite (by which I mean least favorite) is when parents "complain" about the hardships of having such intelligent and talented kids. "Oh no, life is so hard because Jimmy is smarter than everyone in the world---poor us, he can't get a good education that caters to his unique and special gifts." All I think when I hear this is BARF! You're just saying all this to brag. Stop. You've already won the superficial kid challenge. I tap out. It's all you. Stop talking about it. If I started talking about all the amazing things about my kids, there wouldn't be enough time or space to share it. We all have amazing kids. We are all doing are best as parents. Every person has a different skill set or talent---regardless of how schools and society judge intelligence and success. 

The same thing to all the arrogant dog owners out there. Aren't you so wonderful training your puppies to obey your every command? Because of your awesomeness, those canines only relieve themselves in the toilet (and even raise both lids and wipe off the seat! Wow, they are better than most men!).

When I share my frustrations about my kids with others, in general, they let their hair down, laugh, sympathize and then share their own harrowing kid stories, and we bond and laugh together with a common challenge. But when I do the same with dog owners, I usually get self-righteous condemnation.  

Are dogs that much different from human children? Can you really train dogs to the point where their natural inclinations are destroyed and they obey your every command without question---like a non-evil robot? Is that even what we should strive for? I would never want that level of control and stifling for my children, should I want it for my dog?  I know the dog shouldn't be allowed to poop all over the house and bite and scratch people, but is it really that bad if he barks and scares people and jumps up and kisses people he loves? Is it? I'm asking because I really don't know and want to learn.

Why do dog owners want to let me know how much better they are at raising dogs then me? I don't have the luxury of spending 24/7 with my dog teaching him to quit being such an asshole. I've taught him the bare minimum, and he is super happy, and we are mostly happy with him. Why can't that be enough? Can we lower the bar a little, so slackers and laze-bouts like me can enjoy life, hug and spoil their pets without being judged?


Wizby: Taking advantage of his masters' weakness, and pissing of haughty dog owners one hike at a time

April 29, 2017

Is a Salmon's Life Really Worth Living?

I recently listened to a podcast reminding me of the seemingly mindless and self-sacrificing natural, instinctual life of the wild Salmon. Salmon are born in freshwater and then eventually swim downstream to the salty ocean where they grow and live for about five years (depending on the species). Then they make the hazardous swim back to whence they came, make some new fish then die.

Do they ever pause as they get beaten down as they struggle up waterfalls and think, "Hey man, what's this all about?" Or, "Forget this spawning crap Jim, I'm staying here in the ocean and living a full life on my terms."

I mean sure, they're effective at propagating the species, but are they happy?  Is it enough just to live, propagate and die?

Maybe their 5 years in the ocean is like rumspringa. At the end of that, they swim back to the community to secure their place in heaven when they die. Maybe the salmon really do have it all figured out. Maybe they are having their cake and eating it too.

February 20, 2017

Wild

Our wild dog Wizby
At two months old, our dog was completely wild. If he had an urge to do something, he'd do it. He peed wherever he wanted, bit whomever he wanted, destroyed whatever he wanted. We've spent the last year and a half trying to tame the wild out of him. Now he only pees outside.  Based on the fact that yesterday he ripped up our entire DVD collection, I would say his percentage of wild is still too high.

If we could get him to stop destroying things, barking insanely at the doorbell, and jumping up on people, his wild to tame ratio would go from a guesstimate of 50/50 to 20/80. He would still be able to sleep wherever he wanted, have crazy time whenever he wanted, and get us to pet him whenever he wanted.

Some people think that is still too much wild, and give me unwanted advice on what I'm doing wrong and what I should do different raising him. I have friends whose dogs are completely tamed. They only tip-toe on designated areas of the carpet, only bark on command, and poop in the toilet and even wipe the seat! I'm sure it's nice on the one hand, because you'd have a lot more free time not having to chase him around or clean up his messes (just think of all the extra Internet surfing time!). It's like having a programmed robot for a pet that only does your bidding. On the other hand, it's kind of boring and sad---at least for me. It dims their personalities. The wild bits, while frustrating, also make for the best stories. It makes them unpredictable and entertaining. Just yesterday, Wizby snagged an entire loaf of homemade cinnamon bread of the kitchen counter. I was really upset. But a day later, I find it pretty hilarious, remembering him scrambling around the furniture with a huge loaf wedged in his skinny mouth, with me running after him shouting poorly woven obscenities. Plus, I remade the bread and it turned out even better than the first loaf.

I get that there is good wild and bad wild.We are working to remove most of the bad wild from our dog, while keeping all the good wild. For example, pooping on the carpet for no reason is bad wild. Pooping on the carpet of your arch enemy, good wild.

Wizby is definitely getting better, as indicated by the following text my husband recently sent me:

"I hope you are having a good day and Wizby is more less-bite-y."

If that isn't progress, I don't know what is.

When I was kid I was an awesome amount of wild. Back in the day, I would romp in the woods, jump on the bed, do front flips on the couch, have adventures, all without adult supervision---I just had to be home on time for dinner. My parents had no idea where I was and couldn't contact me because cell phones didn't exist. Electronic media choices were limited so we weren't submissed by TV and video games. Kids were expected to be nuts. My parents never minded and let us be crazy as long as we didn't take it too far (i.e., bad wild---e.g., hurting people, committing crimes, etc.). I had a glorious childhood. And then Jr. High came along with the social taming from well-intentioned peers. In Jr. High I really start caring what other people think about me, and without questioning, internalized the taming.

All of us start out wild and most of us eventually become Prudfrokian---afraid to even eat a peach in front of others for fear that the shiny, goopy mess will be too embarrassing to bear.  And then we become like that extremely tamed dog---only doing the predictable and conveniently out of the way---living quietly and conservatively, and eventually dying the same way. How many sweet, luscious peaches do we miss?

Unfortunately, kids today don't even get the wild childhood anymore because media changed---new things were invented like  Pac Man, cable TV, VCRs, cell phones, and 24-hour news. Information became omnipresent---which bombarded us with things like germs, kidnappings and bicycle related deaths. It seemed like the world was getting more dangerous and kidnappers were hiding behind every shrub. Although to this day I don't know a single person personally who was kidnapped or died by falling off a bicycle without a helmet. But the point is, it all seems more dangerous now. So we stopped letting our kids run wild and started micromanaging their every move. We wanted to tame all the wild out of them to keep them safe physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

Tame people are easier to control, do what we want them to do, and don't cause trouble. But at what cost? Wild begets creativity which begets innovative ideas and inventions. Without wild, as Thoreau said, we "...lead lives of quiet desperation." We can't be happy when we are slaves to social convention and status quo. We will despair quietly and alone. We were each born wild and owe it to ourselves to resurrect the good part of that wild self.

Stop suppressing all your inner wild. If people complain that you laugh too loud---laugh even louder.






February 18, 2017

Freakin' Hilariously-Genius Shows You Must Watch

I'll never understand why people watch 60 min dramas when there are so many brilliant 30 minute comedies available. Why would you want to watch a show that depresses you instead of a show that makes you laugh?

My mind is consistently blown away with the new, creative, funny television shows that people keep producing.

The comedic geniuses that write and perform brilliant material that make people laugh should be the people getting Nobel prizes. I can't think of a better outstanding contribution for humanity than to transport viewers into a new reality for 28 minutes that make them happy. 

There are a lot of funny shows out there, but my current list contains shows I've watched and deemed "hilariously-genius" or for short "hi-gen."

For a show to earn my coveted "hi-gen" label, it must make me:

  • Consistently lol (literally, not figuratively).
  • Experience something I have never experienced before
  • Want to meet the writers
  • Want to read the script over and over
  • Want to watch the same episodes over and over
  • Binge-watch all available episodes
  • Feel smarter and lighter after watching it
  • Wish I was working on the show (in any capacity, except for the toilet cleaner)
  • Want to live a more adventurous, confident, fun, crazy life
  • Want to write a blog recommending it to the world


No laborious 3 hour movie can touch the lols the shows I list below produce. I don't have cable TV, and seldom watch my antenna-supplied TV shows, so the only way I can consume these brilliant shows is to watch them on the following: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Note that I have mentally classified several other shows as hi-gen that I have not listed (with one exception), because these shows have been canceled (e.g., Seinfeld) and I assume you have already seen them.

With no further adieu, here are the ultimate comedic shows (in no particular order) you need to start watching this very instant:

  • Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix Original)
    • Not for the squeamish or curse-word averse
  • The Mindy Project (Hulu)
    • Get over your sexism you idiots and watch this. Billions of jokes woven throughout each episode
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
    • Funniest Donald Trump impersonation ever!
  • Futurama (Netflix -- unfortunately canceled -- I still believe this will eventually come back)
    • I can watch this over and over and still enjoy it and see/hear new things I missed
  • Bob's Burgers (Netflix and Hulu)
    • So funny and creative. You'll wish you were part of the family.
  • Superstore (Hulu)
    • Creative characters, awesome dialogue
  • Broad City (Hulu)
    • Super filthy, but super funny and unique
  • The Good Place (Hulu)
    • Addictive and creative. Makes me want more and more!
  • The Mick (Hulu)
    • So funny and ridiculous. Acting is stellar
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
    • So, so many funny jokes per episode you'll have to re-watch to catch the ones you miss.

January 21, 2017

Donald Trump is our President?

I hate to get political on this blog for fear of alienating my three readers, but dude, I just can't keep it in any longer. Ya know that feeling when something terrible happened the day before (like your dog died) and you wake up in the morning, forgetting about the day's horror for a split second (ah, everything is good), and then you remember...you remember what happened. Then the sorrow floods in. The hurt is all the more powerful and damaging because of that brief, forgetful moment of peace. Okay, you're with me on this phenomenon? Good. To my point: I'm experiencing this sensation on a daily basis with the whole Donald Trump = President thing. 

So I'm humming happily along in my everyday, boring life, then I hear a news report or see a carrot, and I'm instantly blasted out of my contentment and reminded that, holy cow, Donald Trump is the President! What???? I usually say out loud to whoever is nearby, "I can't believe Donald Trump is the President."

10 years ago, if you told me he would one day be the president, it would be completely and utterly ridiculous and implausible. It would be like suggesting that Snoop Dog would get elected as the President in 2021--- completely unimaginable. It's  sort of like in Back to the Future when Marty tells Doc that the President in 1985 is Ronald Reagan. Doc's reply is pure disbelief: "Ronald Reagan?! The actor?! Ha! Then who's Vice President? Jerry Lewis?"

When my last beloved dog died, it took a couple of months before the "forget and then remember" horror ended. How long will it take for my brain to accept Trump as President and remember it? If there was an emoji depicting a face rubbing her eyes in disbelief, that would be my go-to emoji in every IM, text, and blog post I create.

They say that to deal with grief, it's best to talk to someone about it. For some reason, talking about your sorrow with another person lessens it. Unfortunately, I live in an ultra-conservative state that voted for Trump. I can't talk to anyone nearby without offending them. I really want to yell in their faces and say "You're such an idiot!" but that would be rude, plus for the most part, they are all really nice people. So instead, I'm hoping this post will meet my need for actual human conversation. After all, isn't technology the new substitute for being human?

October 1, 2016

Brownies

If chocolate cake and fudge had a baby, it would be a brownie. 

September 3, 2016

Why aren't there more Labor Days?

Labor Day became a federal holiday 122 years ago. 122 years! That's enough time to add at least 3 more Labor Days---that's only 1 Labor Day every forty years for cripes sake!

What happened to the people who used to care about stuff like this enough to do things? We need you now more than ever!

And it's not just for more Labor Days.  There's a lot of deplorable work conditions we need you to fix. Like, why the heck are we still working 40 hours a week? We should be at 30 by now, tops.

Mary Harris Jones
Denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate 
as the grandmother of all alligators. No wait, I think it was agitators.
We need more people like her


Mobilize and go forth all ye advocates of justice who have the time and energy to continue improving the work conditions of the American worker. Don't give up the fight!




August 8, 2016

How Much Should You Tip A Balloon Artist?

When did balloon animals get so complex? Check out the detail on these works of art:




I used to tip the balloon guy a dollar per balloon animal and felt like that was fair. Today with all the detail work the guy put in I felt $1.00 wasn't enough, so I upped it to $2.00. Now I'm wondering if that was too low. Also, when I asked where he learned his craft, he answered, "Jail." I LOLd. Would that warrant a higher tip? Then on the ride home my kids insisted that was his only job, and that made me sad. 

August 6, 2016

Why Do We Take Sports So Seriously?

I wouldn't have ever been picked to be “Sporty Spice.” I'd probably get picked as the "Likes Stuffed Animals Too Much Spice." Point being, I wasn't much of a sports player or sports fan growing up. I spent most of my days cataloging my stuffed animals' life experiences in a notebook and stirring up self-directed trouble in the neighborhood.

In an ironic twist, in addition to their love of stuffed animals (thanks to me), my boys love sports. Four years ago I'd never heard of "Comp” Sports. Now, most of my time is spent practicing, playing, or talking about them---oh and let’s not forget paying for them.

Future "Sporty Spice - Man Version 64"

Future "Sporty Spice - Man Version 47"


15 years ago if someone told me I’d be a “baseball mom” who spent every weekend and weekday shuffling her kids to practices and games, I’d call them bat-crap crazy. (*Sigh* the things we’ll do for our kids…am I right?) 

Since my kids started playing sports, I’ve seen and heard a lot of things that made me question the inherent goodness of the average human being. I’ve seen coaches yell, swear at, and physically abuse kids (granted, the physical abuse was extremely mild…but still!!). I’ve seen coaches and parents come unglued at umpires and exhibit behavior akin to rabid chimpanzees. I’ve watched otherwise resilient kids brought to raging tears on a continual basis just because they didn’t swing a bat at the “appropriate” time.

They don’t listen to me, but I keep reminding my kids that none of this really matters. Maybe someday they will see my perspective.  I continually question the ultimate effect sports will have on my children. On the one hand, I see amazing opportunities in sports for my kids to build character. I’ve realized that there are so many life-lessons in sports, that at least for now, I can justify paying for and enduring the crazy. Both of my boys work as hard as or harder on the field than anyone. They happily attend 3 hour practices that sometimes occur multiple times per week. Both have learned to bounce back from disappointment and failure.  On the flip side is the time suck, the money suck, and having to base your family’s life around some random coach’s itinerary. There’s watching your uber-talented son get benched for “rolling his eyes” at a bad decision made by the coach. There’s watching your beautiful, sound child have a complete emotional melt down because he strikes out a few times. Oh and my least favorite, having coaches promise us the moon and then stealing our money and disappearing.

So the ultimate question here is why? Why are sports such an integral and important part of so many people’s lives? Why do otherwise logical and intelligent people get overcome with emotion and rage on a call in a little league game that really doesn’t matter? Why do families spend thousands of dollars a year to have their kids play a sport they could play for free with a few neighbors and an empty lot?

The only thing I can come up with is that sports are an evolutionary substitute for battle. Gone are the days when kids were brought up out of necessity learning to fight and defend. War was a way of life for our ancestors. The most competitive and blood-thirsty survived and passed their genes on to us. Violence is no longer wide-spread and ubiquitous as before. True survival is more dependent on your intellectual prowess rather than your physical abilities. And yet, our brains still retain that need to “win”, to “survive at costs” So maybe sports is that conduit through which humans get their fix for battle and for winning or losing and then preparing to fight another day.


I reckon based on my kids’ age I have at the most, five more years as a “baseball mom.” I wonder a lot if I’ll look back on these years with regret or happiness. Maybe, like now, it will be both.

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