Friday, February 29, 2008

Be the Pack Leader

Dog handling book by the Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan. We also got a DVDfrom the library highlighting a dozen cases from the first season of his show. In combination they were excellent and have really helped us to get a head start on bringing up Parker right. The only downside is I feel we shortchanged Turk, but at least he was placed in another home rather than put to sleep.

I recommend any of his books or DVD’s to any dog owner looking to improve first their own behavior; and then their animals.

Dishwasher Update

If you ever want people to shop at your store again, it is best not to tell a woman with 5 kids who has been hand washing dishes for a week that “If you would just stop being so emotional about it Miss, you would see that it isn’t such a big deal.” In the end they annoyed me enough that I had them tear out their in store wall display and put that model in my house. We are now washing dishes again but we will never shop at Sears again for anything.

It doesn’t annoy me that the Bosch turned up broken; I work in manufacturing so I know crap happens randomly. It was Sears’s complete lack of urgency to do ANYTHING to rectify the situation. If they had immediately offered to replace it with a date of how soon they could get one and said if that is not soon enough can I offer you a similar model or give you a complete refund; I probably would have waited patiently and sang their praises. Instead they stalled for a week and then wanted to just replace anything that was broken on the existing machine. I did not buy a reconditioned dishwasher, I bought a new one!

Being condescending to Lisa was just the push over the edge. We will NEVER shop there again, which is too bad because I also need a snow blower, a refrigerator, and soon after that an oven.

Father and Son

When I was working with the teenage boys in lock-up I remember them expressing the belief that if they rob a car that was left unlocked, it was the owner’s fault, not theirs. We used to work real hard at breaking that paradigm, not always successfully. The villain in Larry Brown’s Father and Son is the grown up version of this pervasive idiocy. It is because this bad guy was so real to my experience is what made him truly evil, unlike a lot of the extreme, or even likable, criminal masterminds found in most books. If you want to see what a real villain is like, this book is a masterpiece. And if you find yourself sympathizing with Glenn, well you should seek counseling.

Bottom line: A new to me author I will definitely read again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Parker P

We had decided we would try on more time with a dog, and as such had set forth a few requirements. Well Lisa had quite a few requirements, I just wanted to start with a puppy this time to try and avoid the abandonment and socialization issues Turk brought with him. Lisa wanted something that wouldn’t shed and was trainable among other things. So we had settled upon a poodle or poodle mix and were just checking around for how much that would cost (quite a lot actually). I checked out the pet finders website (a great online resource connecting Humane Societies nation wide) when I saw a pure bred 8 week old Standard Poodle had just been put up in Faribault (about 60 miles away). I called and left a message on their machine that we were interested. They called back and said I was first to call in (there were several more calls for him) and he was ours if we wanted, we just had to get over to Faribault by noon.

Well a mad dash later and we met our new puppy. He is all black and cute as a button. In the few days we have had him we have already learned sit, so I think he is a fairly smart dog as well. We debated the name choice for two days and again I had Hairy Pooper rejected, along with Mr. Tibbs, the ironic Whitey or Cracker, and the very appropriate Hegai (Hegai being the kind black eunuch from the story of Esther). Since Parker P is the opposite of Peter Parker (i.e. Spiderman), and from Spiderman 3 we know the opposite of Spiderman is the black suited one, the name seems to work.

Somnambulistic Showering

Zeke likes to sleepwalk around a bit at night. Mostly he is harmless like turning on his lights, but occasionally he does something a little more odd. Last night about 10:30 he went into the bathroom, turned the shower on, and then went back to bed. Lisa noticed around 11. What deep seated tension is he hiding??

Sears Sucks (at least ours does)

Bought a new dishwasher from Sears which they said they would install. One week later they show up put in the dishwasher and take the old one away; but wait the new one doesn’t work. The guy said it sat outside for two days on a truck being delivered from Chicago. Consequently the water that was in it during quality checks was frozen; so it needs to defrost. Lets not forget he damaged the water shut-off valve (we discovered that later) as well. Anyways we wait until Monday and still no water is entering the machine. We call Sears and they send out the installer again. He says the Bosch technician will need to see it and there isn’t a local guy.

So we wait until today (5 days hand washing the dishes so far) for him to show up. The computerized scheduler called and conveniently let us know he would be here between 8am and 5pm. Thanks for really narrowing that down. So he had not shown up by 2:30pm so I had to leave work to go pick up the kids at school, just in case he picked that 15 minute window to arrive. Good thing I did as that is exactly when he arrived. The Bosch is a bust, a lemon. His advice was for Sears to just replace it or give us our money back. Still waiting to here from them still.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green

Occasionally when I find the writers I generally read do not have any new books out and the new release shelf does not have anything that catches my eye; I will peruse the general fiction shelves. I then sort of scan them until I see a spine that interests me and proceed to pick 4-6 books off that bookcase from writers that I have never heard of. Sometimes this pays off and I find a new writer and backlist that I can work through. A lot of the time I will make it 50 or so pages and give up. Then there is the third category, I read the book and it is okay but does not evoke any excitement in me.

The Unthinkable thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff is clearly in the third category. It visits a young man at three points in his life; 9, 13, and 15 years old. While mildly entertaining and providing a pretty good portrait of what a bad father can do, overall I am at a loss to understand what the writer was trying to say. This is another book that could have been a lot longer, but instead it leaves a lot for the reader to imagine. Unfortunately as a reader I just didn’t care enough about the characters to ponder it.

In short, Jacob thinks his father is crap in that narcissistic religious fundamentalist way (in this case Jewish), and that girls are hot and he wants to have sex with them (but as a teenage boy myself once, I already knew that – it is kind of universal). The one thing I did learned was how to understand the joke about a pastrami sandwich from Annie Hall from a Jewish perspective. In the same venue (books about teenagers written more for adults), a recall enjoying King Dork by Frank Portman more. As a bonus, if you get it as a recorded book you can hear my old college roommate Lincoln Hoppe doing the voice work.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Choice for Gunnar

Typically we have given Gunnar a limited number of college choices that we as parents will pay for. Generally speaking it has been BYU or BYU-I as both are quite cheap. We will help pay for other options and he knows generally speaking he can go anywhere he would like (and can get into). That said he also knows that he needs to get a scholarship of substantial amounts to afford them. So he has favored THE Ohio State University since visiting the campus last summer, and the success of their sports programs hasn’t been bad either. Of course now that it has been butt cold here, we have been hearing some talk of Arizona State.

The exciting development for us this week is the news that Stanford will not be charging tuition to any students who families make less than 100K a year. I am sure the competition will increase even more dramatically now, but since we qualify for that condition it has been added to the BYU’s as a full ride destination for Gunnar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Childhood Revisited

Through NetFlix we received a copy of Carry on Camping, a English comedy from 1969. The Carry On movies were a series of comedies all starring the same group of Actors in a variety of plots; and all were just an excuse to see how much innuendo could be packed into one movie. Another words, they were very funny. It is also fun to see the old grandparents on the current PBS British shows playing the young nubile sex vixens. It is like comparing Miss Brahms with Pauline Fowler.

So if you want to see what had a large influence on my sense of humor, or more importantly, what had a profound effect on Mike Myers in the creation of the Austin Powers character, rent a Carry On film (they all begin with the phrase Carry On).

Why it is hard to love Minnesota

IT IS 17 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT BELOW ZERO RIGHT NOW!!!! With the wind chill it is more like 35 below – and it is going to stay that way for three more days at least.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

This is Khaled Hosseini’s second work. His first was The Kite Runner and is also an excellent book. Once again we are back in Afghanistan just before all the wars and through modern times. In the Kite Runner the story focused on the relationship between two young boys, but now it is between two women. The book was very heavy and depressing, but extremely engaging and practically read it in one day. It reminds me of the Lovely Bones; a very sad tale that I could not put down.

Khaled’s strength is his ability to tale a love story that is not based on Romance. Through all the hardship and sacrifice, some things cannot be squashed or destroyed. The true love can weather a very hard path, and happiness is not without loss. As icing on the cake you can learn quite a bit about Afghani life, especially during the last 20 years.

Playing for Pizza

This is John Grisham’s latest non-legal themed book. In the past he has written about Italy and about football, but now he combines the two with the story of a washed out NFL quarterback who plays a season in the Italian NFL. An enjoyable book that increases my desire to visit Italy one day and it also makes me regret that I cannot eat wheat anymore. If anything was lacking it was the length; overall the book was much too short. He could have spent easily twice as long doing a little more character development, and threshing out a few of his aborted plot sidelines. I managed to read it in one evening after work.

Speaking of Atlanta

On the flight down at 7am in the morning I got to ride with a whole lot of Stewardesses commuting to work. They we all very attractive women but they were also all in their mid-50’s. I guess being a flight attendant is not a job for the 20 something.

Temperature in Minneapolis when I left was 20 degrees below zero and the wind was blowing. Planes were being delayed because their water lines were freezing as they stood. I got to Atlanta right as their worst snow storm in 3 years was raging. They shut down the airport shortly thereafter and most things in the city were canceling. I kid you not, it was in the mid-30’s (above zero) and they had barely an inch of snow. I was walking around in a t-shirt basking in the summer weather while they were closing up shop. Amazing what a few years in Minnesota will do for you.

Who’s Your Mother?

Age is such a hard thing to judge. Lisa was substituting at an elementary school when one of the younger teachers upon hearing her name, asked if she was Gunnar’s sister. Of course though when we did visit her real sister out in Utah last year (while she was a missionary on Temple Square), the other missionaries all assumed we were her parents. But that is not the point of this post, rather I went to Atlanta a few weeks ago for work and while there I stayed at my sister’s placed and assisted in the ordination to the Priesthood of her son. While at her church a woman asked if I was her son, and we are only a little over 5 years apart.

Getting Better

Losing Fred and all that comes with that was a lot harder than I thought. It has been getting easier with the passage of time, and now we are able to discuss all the good memories with the kids. They especially love the stories of Fred as a puppy when it was just Lisa and I; like that Fred was so small he fit in the pocket of my jacket, and that he could stick his head all the way inside a glass trying to get the drink n the bottom. They still pray for him and JT especially asks God that Fred be there when he dies. We have decided that as tough as his death was we will try again in the future. We feel it is important that kids get to grow up with the companionship of a dog; a young dog they can play with and enjoy.