Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bombs Away

In Southern California, New Years and the Rose Bowl are synonymous. The media hype begins right after Christmas and continues through January 1st. This evening there was a news item about two B-2 Stealth Bombers arriving in the area. One will fly over the Rose Parade and the other will fly over the Rose Bowl game.

The B-2 Bombers are very impressive planes. They look like something out of Star Wars. They cost a bundle of money and can create a whole lot of destruction.

My question is "What the hell are we doing starting off a parade and a football game with flyovers of Weapons of Mass Destruction? What kind of message is that sending? I am probably going to piss off a lot of people, but I think it is criminally irresponsible to begin festive events with a display of military power. The B-2 Stealth Bomber is an extremely effective and destructive weapon of war. It has no place in a parade or a football game.

And people are going to cheer. Shame on them!


We all have them. Little things that others think are strange.

One of mine has to do with soap, be it soap at the bathroom sink or soap in the shower. I don't like to waste soap. (According to my wife, I am much too wasteful with most things, so this soap fetish is a little strange -- at least according to her.) I will use it until it becomes a very small piece, to the point where it keeps falling out of my hands. I then stick it on the top of a new bar of soap. Once the soap dries out, to old piece is securely stuck to the new piece and, voile, no wasted soap.

I am so proud of myself!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doggie Update

The golden was operated on today. The doctor had to wait until today because of the bruising on her lungs. She (the Dr.) was concerned with breathing problems due to the bruising. The people at the hospital have fallen in love with her. They keep her in a open area in the back where everyone is, so she gets lots of attention during the day. She is sedated so she is not up and moving around, but she is aware of her surrounding and the people around her. Golden retrievers are very people oriented, I think she is enjoying the attention.

The operation to put her pelvis back together went very well and the post-operative x-rays show that everything is back in place. However, because of the length of time that the pelvis operation took, they did not get to stitch up the laceration on her side. The Dr. said that her body temperature was dropping because of being out for so long, so they decided to wake her up. They will take care of her side tomorrow. Then she will go home to our son and daughter-in-law on Wednesday.

The operation and hospital stay is ungodly expensive, but there was never any doubt that we would do it. I can't believe the "friends" who have said, "Gee, if it was our dog we would have put her down." I can believe that people would put down their pet rather than pay for an expensive operation. But to say it to us after the decision has already been made is very insensitive and, quite frankly, pretty stupid.

We treat our pets as part of the family. By some peoples standards, I guess that is stupid. I say to those people, "Don't have pets." Our pets ARE part of the our family. When they are in need, just like any family member, we do what we can to help. There was never any doubt that we would help with her care -- as much as was needed. She is not just a dog. She is family.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Small And Big Tails (or Tales)

The 300 pound dog is in the news again.

I have written about the 300 pound dog in the past, here and here. As you may recall, the 300 pound dog is actually 4 dogs together, my two (german shepherd and labrador mix) and my sons two (german shepherd and golden retriever).

First of all, the 300 pound dog has now become the 310 pound dog with the addition of a chiweenie.

(A chiweenie is a mix between a chihuahua and a dachshund). My son and his family got her a few days before Christmas. She is a little thing but will grow up tough living with the other two big dogs. I won't be surprised if she turns out to be the boss of the family.

The other news is that the golden got hit by a car last night.

We had just finished cleaning up from the Christmas marathon and were settling down to watch a movie. I got a frantic call from the Daughter-in-Law saying that the golden had been hit by a car and asked if I would go help Son with her. I quickly grabbed a big dog blanket, jumped in the car, and rushed to the busy intersection where she had been clobbered by a speeding suburban. I never did care much for suburbans and now I like them even less.

I found her in the midst of a group of people laying on her side. She recognized me and tried to wag her tail. She had a large gash on her side. One of the people was keeping pressure on it. It looked bad but was not bleeding much. We got her on the dog blanket and put her in the back of the car.

Fortunately there is an emergency dog hospital about two miles away from where she was hit. Son and I quickly got her there. They immediately gave her some morphine and put her on a IV. We were there for about an hour while they stabilized her, did a blood workup and took x-rays.

She is going to be okay. She has a bruised lung and the big gash on her side, neither of which will require surgery. However, she also has a broken pelvis. The pelvis will require surgery. I looks like it is broken in three places. Son and DIL have a consult with an orthopedic surgeon later this morning to get the details on what the surgery will entail. The important thing is that she will recover. Son is devistated. It was his fault that the dogs got out. I am not sure if he will recover from that.

It was interesting when I got back home. I brought the dog blanket that we has wrapped the golden in back with me. My GS would not stop sniffing it. She just kept smelling and smelling it. I put it up out of her reach and she just kept jumping, trying to get to it. I know she could smell the golden's scent on it. But the way she was reacting, it was like she could "read" the whole story of the event from the blanket. The blanket had traveled to the hospital with us. It went into the treatment room with the golden. Sometimes I wonder just what dogs can "see" with their noses.

So our Christmas ended on kind of a sad note. At least she is going to be alright. It is something that time and money will cure. Thank goodness that we have enough of each to cover her recovery.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Christmas party is over and now we gear up for Christmas. Christmas day has always been a big day in the Critter household. All the kids and grandchildren come over for food, play, and, of course, gift giving.

Gift giving is a major event in our household. While we have talked about doing the "secret santa" thing, so far there has been little enthusiasm for it. Thus, everyone get everyone a gift. Well, not quite, but almost. There are about 15 of us all together. The tree get half buried under all the presents.

Here is the tree from last year.

You can only imagine the spread of presents around the base. We are truly blessed with a loving and giving family.

We all sit around together. One family member acts as Santa and gives out the presents one at a time. We all watch while that person opens their present. Then another present is handed out. It is not unusual for this process to take 4 or more hours. Even the little children enjoy it. There is often a food/drink/bathroom break in the middle of it and then dinner when it is all over. I also video tape the whole process. We have tapes going back many, many years.

So, while the Critter family gets ready for its big Christmas extravaganza, may I wish all of you a very pleasant and blessed Holidays. For those of you traveling, may your travels be quick and safe.

And thank you for following the rambling of a old man.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Well, after all, $83 million is only 0.83% of the $10 billion we GAVE (not loaned like the auto companies) to Merrill Lynch, so why am I bitching?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Isn't This Guy In Jail?

Dick Cheney when asked by Chris Wallace if it's legal when the president makes a decision to help the country when it's fighting a war, Cheney said, "As a general proposition, I'd say yes."



Following that to its logical conclusion, we could have the following scenario:
  1. The president starts a war.
  2. The president declares himself king/dictator.
  3. President disbands Congress.
  4. President does anything he wants.
According to Cheney, this is legal. As long as we are "at war", the president can do anything he wants to and it is legal.

Thank God we are only one month away from a new administration.

The Party Is Over

Each Christmas we have a party for our friends. We have been doing this for the past 25 years or so. My wife plans for this party all year long. It is a tremendous amount of work. Each year I tell her to hire a caterer to help and she says maybe next year. She gets a lot of joy out of it and apparently our guests do also. Several have been coming every year. The party was last night.

I was talking with a couple last night. They were telling me about their oldest daughter going away to college and how the house now seems empty. I reminded them that they started coming to the party before they were married. We went to their wedding. In a way, we have followed a generation of their family though our party. I think that is kind of neat.

It is hard in this day and age keeping connections with people. The party is one way we do it. In the end, maybe it is worth all the effort.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Saga Continues

A few days ago I wrote about hitting something on the freeway going about 70 mph. Nothing bad happened at the time, and I was able to drive home without further incident.

The next morning I decided to look the car over. While I was able to drive home without a problem, the car did "feel" different and the steering wheel was cocked to one side. Nothing was loose or hanging down under the car. However, upon closer examination I noticed a bubble on the side of the right rear tire. Not a good sign. Obviously the tire had been damaged.

I have needed new tires for a while. Being a great procrastinator, I have put off getting a new set. The time had come. Actually forced upon me, since the right rear tire now was not safe to drive on, at least , not safe to drive very far on. So, I was off to Costco and 600+ dollars later I was the proud owner of a brand new set of tires, with the recommendation that I get an alignment.

So, off the the auto shop I went, asked for an alignment, and said "check the suspension. I hit something on the freeway." They came back and said, "yes. You certainly hit something on the freeway. You bent a bunch of crap on your right rear suspension. But never fear. We will give you a rental car while we fix your car."

So off I go in the rental car after signing away a significant portion of my credit card available credit. Rear suspension parts and labor do not come cheap.

The next day I am taking my grandson in the rental car to school for his math final. We get about three blocks away for the school and I notice that the rental car is starting to overheat. OH GREAT!!! Grandson begins to freak out. "I'm going to be late for my final". I say "Don't worry. I will keep driving to car until we get to school." Grandson gets dropped off and I call the rental car office.

After several calls between the rental car office, their central rode side service office, and AAA, a tow truck shows up and arrangements have been made to change out the rental car at the "closest" rental car office. The tow truck operator looks at the engine and says someone left the radiator cap loose and all the water has evaporated. He goes up to the house I am stopped in front of and grabs their hose and fills up the radiator. He tells me to go ahead and drive to the rental car office. There is no need to tow the car. Fortunately he is right. I was able to drive to the rental car office without further problems and get a new rental car (actually a truck, this time).

When I got home, the repair shop called and said that my car was ready. I quickly (actually one and a half hours because the freeway was jammed) drove over there and picked up my car.

So now, almost $2000 later, I have a new set of tires and a new rear suspension.

Lucky me!

How has your week been?

Monday, December 15, 2008

What's In A Name

I realized the other day that my grandson always refers to his girlfriend as "my girlfriend", not by her real name.

That struck me as kind of strange. Back in the days when I had girlfriends, I would introduce them as "This is Alice, my girlfriend". Girlfriend was a descriptive term, not a name. It told the other person what our relationship was. I always referred to her as "Alice", not my girlfriend, since that was her name.

I know his girlfriend. We have met several times. If he were to mention her by name, I would immediately know who he was referring to. So, it is not for my benefit that he refers to her as "my girlfriend" rather than by her actual name.

Is it for his benefit? Is he trying to remember that he has a girlfriend? Maybe he called her by the wrong name once, got in a lot of trouble for it, and has decided that "girlfriend" is a safer title to use.

I don't know what it is, but it does seem strange to me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

This has been one of those weeks with too many things to do and not enough time to accomplish the things that need to be done. It seems like I have been on the go since Monday morning, yet I am falling behind in the work that I really need to get finished.

I seem to have been doing things for others all week long -- not that that's a bad thing. On Monday and Tuesday I was involved in a work proposal presentation for a job that I probably will not work on because of previous work commitments. I told the people when they contacted me that I probably could not do the work because of previous verbal commitments I have made, but since there I had not signed a contract yet, technically speaking I was available. They went ahead and put my name on the proposal because I have a long relationship with the client and they are familiar with my work. Due to some miscommunciations, I wasted part of Monday and Tuesday morning going to the client's offices, but not being needed until Tuesday afternoon. Real work got put on the back burner.

Wednesday, Thursday, and today turn out to be babysitting days. I was expecting to sit today only, not Wednesday, yesterday and today. Now I love my grandchildren dearly, but it is difficult to get much work done when they are around here. Right now what I am doing requires a block of time where I can concentrate without interruption. I can't do the work in 5 and 10 minutes spurts. It get very frustrating.

I am also tutoring one of the grandsons in math. He has a test today and a final next week. Math is definitely not one of his strong subjects -- hence the tutoring. He is taking algebra and it is really not making any sense to him. I know algebra, but I'm not sure I much of a teacher of it. At least I don't seem to be helping him much. I think we will be going through this again next semester.

Last night driving home from an evening obligation, I hit something on the freeway going about 70 mph. I don't know what it was, but it sent the car partially sideways and somewhat off the ground. I was able to get the car back under control. It is interesting how focused your vision comes when something like that happens. I could not really hear anything around me although I was aware of my wife saying something like "Oh Shit!", except she would never use that word. My vision became very focused on what was immediately in front of me and to my immediate left and right. And time really did slow down. That's the closest I have even come to losing control of a car at 70 mph.

And then to top things off, my daughter-in-laws father died yesterday.

This has been a somewhat frustrating and stressful week.

Monday, December 8, 2008

7 myths about Detroit automakers

This is an interesting article about the automakers. Admittedly, it is from the Detroit Free Press which may not be a completely unbiased source. But assume that all these myths are indeed myths.

Myth No. 1: Nobody buys their vehicles

Myth No. 2: They build unreliable junk

Myth No. 3: They build gas-guzzlers

Myth No. 4: They already got a $25-billion bailout

Myth No. 5: GM, Ford and Chrysler are idiots for investing in pickups and SUVs

Myth No. 6: They don't build hybrids

Myth No. 7: Their union workers are lazy and overpaid

Then why are the automakers is such trouble?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Faucet (Not The Farrah Type)

Today I had to do one of the things I hate to do. As I have mentioned before, I hate plumbing. Actually, my faith in plumbers and plumbing companies has been partially repaired thanks to some great help from a very unexpected source. I thank that source very much.

Anyway, I had to replace the kitchen sink faucet today. The old one just wasn't doing its job. It was a cheap model and lasted about 2 years. I've replaced it with a better one. When I had to replace the last one, I called a plumbing company to see what it would cost to have them install the faucet instead of doing it myself. They wouldn't tell me the price over the phone. Someone had to come out to estimate it. They showed up, looked at the sink, asked if they were to supply the faucet (no), and said that it would cost $300. I said "too much". He called his manager and the manager said how about $275. I said how about $100. Obviously we were not going to come to an agreement so I did it myself.

Today, I didn't even bother calling a plumber. For what they will charge me, I will bite the bullet and just do it myself. It is not a hard job. I'm getting old and I just don't like having to crawl under the sink and work in such a cramped space. I know, I am being a big baby. So what! I can be one if I want to.

The faucet went in relatively easy. It works and there are no leaks, so I guess today was a success.

I still will not become a plumber, however.

I Thought This Was Funny

You know what would really PISS OFF the Democrats...

Bush should resign now.

Then Dick Cheney becomes President

Then he appoints Condoleeza Rice as VP.

Then Cheney resigns two weeks later and Condoleeza Rice, a Republican,
becomes the first BLACK - WOMAN President!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Is Happening?!?

I was listening to the evening news tonight while eating dinner.

First there was a report of a woman being hit by two cars and a description of "body parts" spread on the highway. Then there was a report about a lady that dragged her dog behind her truck (she may not have been aware that the dog had fallen out of the truck bed) complete with blood stains on the street. She was on her way to have him euthanized. Then there was the kid that was chained and beaten. Then the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwi. The attacks in India. On and on it went!

What is wrong with the world?

Sometimes I am glad that I am old.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where Is The Oversight

I can't make this stuff up.

The White House sent an invitation to Jewish leaders to a Chanukah reception with the picture of a Christmas tree on it.

No wonder the government is in such a mess. The White House, the leader of the government, can't even get an invitation right! The level of incompetence in this White House is staggering.

I am staggering too -- laughing so hard my gut hurts! And shaking my head in disbelief!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Drain Away Your Problems

The sink in the bathroom has been draining slowly for several months. I hate plumbing and since I am pretty good at procrastinating, I have put off doing anything about it. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had family visiting last week. They arrived on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, the sink decided to stop draining. I had a choice to make. Call my son and borrow the snake to clean out the drain myself, or call a plumber. Since I hate plumbing, I called the plumber. He arrived a couple of hours later -- early Sunday afternoon.

The pipes under the sink are very old. They probably have not been opened up in the last 20 years. The plumber thought that the pipes would probably break if he tried to open them and suggested trying to unblock the drain by running his snake down from the vent on the roof. We went up there and he located the vent. Then he offered, for a little more money, to run all the drains and give me a 1 year guarantee instead of the usual 90 days. I said fine, just get it done.

So that's what he did. Of course in the process of doing that, he discovered that he could not get the snake down the vent for the bathroom sink, so he had to take the pipes apart under the sink anyway. And of course the piping broke as he expected it to. To make things worse, he did not have the right piping to replace what broke and neither did Home Depot, so he said that he had to come back the next morning. FINE!?! Fortunately we have two bathrooms, so we were not completely out on the street.

As he was leaving, my wife came out of the other bathroom and said that something was wrong with the toilet. I took a look and saw a hole in the side of it. I grabbed the plumber before he left and told he we had a problem. It turns out the the snake instead of going down the drain, came back around and poked a hole in the side of the toilet. The plumber said that they would take care of it and replace the toilet. Of course, that has never happened to him before!

So, the next day, Monday, the plumber showed up about 9 am with a new toilet in hand. By early afternoon the toilet was in and the sink was repaired. He wanted his money.

Part of the original deal was that he was going to run our main line out to the street with a larger snake. He said that because of the toilet problem, he was told not to run the main line. I said fine, just give me a discount since you did not do all the work. He said he could not do that and that he had actually run the main line from the roof, but with a smaller snake. I just wanted to get rid of him and went ahead and paid him the full amount.

I got a call from the plumbing office later that evening and they asked about the job. I went over everything with the lady on the phone including not getting a discount that I thought I was entitled to. She said that all these reports go to the general manager and that he may call me. It's been a week now and I have not heard from him.

I told her, I have a year guarantee. If something happens within the next year I will call them. If something happens in more than a year I will call a competitor. I guess they don't care.

So now I hate plumbing and plumbing companies! What's a guy to do?