This week is the Missus' twice-annual trip to Bob's Hogs and Wiener Pigs HQ. Usually not a big deal, but we usually don't find ourselves recently adopting another dog. This one would be an ancient Great Dane mix.
To make matters worse, Ensie has been the main caretaker for a new kid (er, old man) and has to leave me detailed instructions on just what do with him.
A shooting at the downtown Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Details are sketchy, but 1 person is confirmed dead, with "at least 4 wounded". The shooter, a Pakastani reported to be from the Tri-Cities (some say SeaTac), somehow got through the fairly tight security in the JFGS, told the staff members, "I'm a Muslim-American and I'm angry at Israel." and began shooting.
On a very personal note : I'm rather glad I took the day off today, as the location of the shootings (Third avenue between Lenora and Virginia) is about 3 blocks from my office
This unspeakable horror is called... wait for it.... Ichiroach Suzuki.
Let that simmer for just a second. Are you completely creeped out yet? Good.
Ichiroach is just one of many crimes against nature perpatrated by something called the Zooperstars, a group of traveling mascots that include Peyton Manatee, Deion Salamanders and Ken Giraffy Jr. To make this all even more terrifying, I do need to mention that these are inflatable costumes.
Found at Deadspin, and I will never, EVER truly forgive Will for this. More general creepiness after the break.
It was one year ago today that Ensie and I arrived in Tacoma and picked up the keys to our new home.
Happy Anniversary Honey.
And to the menagerie: Jeffrey, Matchbox, Moby, Merlin, Gilbert and Percy. Plus the new kids Clyde and Pharaoh.
My wife and I are lunatics. More on this tomorrow.
I've actually lost count. But I am still enough of a geek to be intrigued by the teaser poster for the upcoming JJ Abrams movie.
It is a bit weird to release this during Comic-Con, but not at Comic-Con, isn't it?
This began here, continued here and hopefully will end here.
Thursday night, after introducing Herky to the family we had made the choice to keep him. Really I think we decided that as soon as we found him, but we made at this point it was official. He slept -sorta- next to the bed on Ensie's side, waking her every so often just to shove his big goofy head in her face. We woke up with the intention of doing our damndest not to find Herky's home. We knew we had to do the three things we promised: 1-check to see if he's microchipped, 2-check the local area for signs and 3-check the local pet stores for signs. Once we did all those, and we hadn't found anything, we'd be okay with keeping him.
It didn't work that way of course. It never does. We took him into our vet's office and they fell in love with him too. While the vet tech went off to get the scanner, the secretary rubbed his head and told us how it was obvious he should stay with us.
That's never a good sign.
The tech returned with the scanner, a bright red contraption that looked like a prehistoric cell phone. She waived it over the back of his neck.
Ensie went white. I'm sure I blanched. The tech went into the back to call the chip company. She came back with a name and two phone numbers. Maybe the numbers were out of date. Maybe the owner didn't want him. Maybe... maybe we don't need to call him. To our credit, neither of us considered that. Well, we didn't consider it very long. We went out to the car and Ensie dialed the first number.
"Maybe we won't be ab-"
"Hi, uhhh... you don't know me, but my name is Ensie Frinklin and I think I have your dog."
Christ, first ring. He picked up on the first ring. This probably isn't a good sign. Ensie spoke with him for a moment or two. His name is Josh, he lives nearby. He's been looking since Thursday. He asks if he can pick the dog up after he gets of work. I fight the urge to yell "NO".
It's set, he'll stop by after 5 this afternoon. At the last second I ask Ensie to find out Herky's name. His name is actually Gnosis, though why anyone would use the Greek word for knowledge to describe this lumbering goofball I'll never know.
We now find ourselves with an extra dog for our errand day. We could -and almost certainly should- take him back to the house and stick him back in the backyard. But we don't. We decide to torture ourselves by hauling him along. We're going to some pretty dog-friendly places, and well... well, we really don't need a reason now do we?
Of course, this just made it worse. Herk -er, Gnosis- is just about the most lovable dog in the tri-state area. The kid outside the Starbucks? Loved him. Four different families at the pet store? Adored him. And that was the problem. Not only did we love Gnosis, we loved the idea of him. Don't get me wrong, I love Matchbox and Jeffrey. They are and always will be my boys. The problem is neither of them is what you call a real social dog. Matchbox is simply terrified of anything that isn't his normal pattern. Jeffrey gets agitated, and while he doesn't lash out, he always looks like he will. Gnosis was different, just a sweet-natured dog that everybody could approach, despite his size.
The late afternoon was torture. We came home with a couple of hours to spell. It was hot and we were still exhausted from the previous day's hike, so we did nothing. We laid around the house. We bent our rules and let Gnosis on the couch. All he wanted to do was cuddle. All we wanted to do was keep him.
We didn't get to though. Josh came round at about 5:45. Gnosis seemed happy to see him,but not as overjoyed as we would expect. It turned out that his wife had picked him up from the vet on July 3rd, and forgotten to put his collar back on. He slipped out during the fireworks on the Fourth and ended up with us. Josh was perfectly nice -though it seemed he wanted to be out of our house as quickly possible- and offered us money for taking care of it. We refused, of course. He seemed a bit uncomfortable when Ensie and I attempted to explain -without sounding like a couple of dog-obsessed lunatics- just how much we loved him and how we'd like to set up play dates with our dogs. He seemed to be okay with that, but not terribly excited.
And so he left.
It didn't hit us until the next evening. The Missus became profoundly depressed. She missed him. I missed him. Hell, Jeffrey and Matchbox seemed to miss him. The cats were okay without him though. Everybody else was gloomy. I tried to do something about it.
I asked for him back. I didn't demand, I just sent an email stating how much we loved him and missed him. Josh had mentioned that he was a new arrival to their house, and I thought maybe they weren't that attached to him yet. It was really just a fool's hope, but I had to take the chance.
The said no, of course. I got back a very polite response from Josh's wife turning us down. I didn't come as a shock; neither Ensie or I thought they'd let us have him. The funny thing is we can't stop running into these people. The day they turned us down we saw Josh at the pizza place near our house. A couple days later we saw them walking Gnosis around our neighborhood. Turns out their house is on Jeffrey's normal walk route. I sure hope they don't think we're stalking him.
We aren't, just so you know. I mean, we joke about the Herky Liberation Front, but we know he's with his family. This experience has taught Ensie and I a couple things. First, Jeffrey isn't as crazy as we think he is. Done correctly, he's fine with adding another dog to the pack. Which is good, since the other thing we learned is that Ensie and I want another dog. We've come to the rather counter-intuitive position that a third dog - a calm, friendly and submissive one- will actually calm our household down.
And we think we've found one. She's in Wyoming of all places, but I'll write about that when we get her.
It's mere coincidence that the new ownership group just happens to hail from a city with an empty arena.
It's been a great 40 years, but Seattle's first major franchise is just plain gone.
I’m a day late on this possible ballot initiative in Arizona. I’ve given it 24 hours, and the sheer lunacy of this still boggles the mind. For those unaware, this initiative would -if passed anyway- add a random $1 million cash prize to one lucky voter each general election.
Do I really need to get into this? Is the move towards making voting as easy as possible by Internet voting and vote-by-mail not enough? We need to add a prize to it? Sweet Jesus people, this isn’t a Happy Meal. Look, in return for living in the richest, freest, most powerful nation in the history of the freakin’ world, you are expected to have some rudimentary idea of what happens in the world and to take 10 minutes once every 2 years and make an at least slightly informed decision on who you think would best run your city, state and country. It’s that and jury duty, really a worthwhile trade-off.
If the 1 in 12 million chance at a million bucks is the difference between voting and not-voting, please don’t bother.
This is precisely why dating drives me crazy.
Rule #1: Game-playing can be exciting, not evil For starters, my friends told me that I had to get over the idea that games are for insecure, manipulative liars out to destroy the self-esteem of singles everywhere. Without game-playing, they argued, dating can actually get pretty dull.
Rule #3: Guys—quit with the compliments Men have been taught that women love compliments—and in many cases this is true. But in the early stages of dating, compliments can backfire, warns pickup guru Neil Strauss, best-selling author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. Sure, telling her that you can’t take her eyes off her is flattering, but she’ll ultimately be more interested if she doesn’t know she’s absolutely riveting.
The male equivalent of spinsterhood is looking more appealing all the time.
|'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com|
Found at Trusty Plinko Stick
I held off on buying the XBox 360 until I thought it had a can't miss game. Well, I've been playing Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and while not perfect, it's a pretty good freaking game. I also picked up NHL 2006 cheap. I'm planning on getting either Madden or NCAA (or both, don't tell Ensie) when they come out. And of course I'll buy Halo 3 the day it comes out.
But I have never looked forward to a video game more than I do Mass Effect. It's a 360-only Action/RPG from Bioware -developers of the original SW: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, two of the five best Xbox games. My obession is starting early.
Look, Gary Majewski is a pretty good setup guy, and maybe Bill Bray and Ryan Wagner might be something, but unless these three turn into the Nasty Boys V2.0, the Reds just got hosed. Giving up two young regulars for relievers? Foolish, just foolish.
FRED ADDS: I'm going to miss Bray, who is a nice young lefty reliever, and Majewski, who looks like Jesus, but this is a classic "two quarters for a bunch of nickels" trade. Competent middle relievers are a lot easier to replace than patient power-hitting corner outfielders or young shortstops with pop and speed. Nats fans love to bash GM Jim Bowden, and some of it is deserved, but I have a feeling we're going to miss him when he's gone. He's not afraid to make bold deals.
Oh, and Ryan Wagner is coming our way, so if he becomes something, that's good for the Nats.
(FRINKLIN called in from work to ask ENSIE to post the following): Please excuse the horrible Ryan Wagner mistake. It was realized some time this morning in a haze on the early morning train in to Seattle.
The hike was, as expected, exhausting for both man and beast. Matchbox handled the pack with ease, which seemed to confirm our suspicions about some Husky in his background. Jeffrey tired at times, and seemed to stiffen up in his back legs, but he loved the trail, and he was brave enough to scurry down a hillside with me to check out a waterfall. I actually went down to the waterfall without any dogs at first, but I had been down or a couple minutes when Ensie told me to call Matchbox. I did and he came scurrying down the side. I grabbed his leash and went to lead him farther down the creek, but he was already heading back up. He wasn’t there to join me; he was there to rescue me. Jeffrey though, was a born explorer. We finished the Lake Quinault loop, and decided to head home and hit the showers. On the way home we made reservations at Primo Grill, our favorite restaurant.
The Missus and I had the Herky issue to check on upon our return. We told ourselves that he might have been taken by animal control, but we were fooling ourselves –and the in-laws- I’d locked the gate. We knew he’d be there. We just didn’t know what to do about it. Privately we made the decision to at least introduce him to Jeffrey –on neutral ground- to see what would happen.
We got home, put away our dogs and threw our packs on the kitchen table. Ensie went to check up on the big lug while I kept an eye on our puppies. This was not hard. Matchbox plopped down on the couch while Jeffrey dragged himself to his bed and fell asleep. I looked out the window that faces the backyard, and I saw my lovely wife with a look of pure panic on her face. She caught my eye and began waiving frantically. Huh… it sounded like she was yelling something about digging.
I ran out to the backyard, wondering if this was why Herky was roaming free. I peeled around the corner and jumped of the deck to find my wife with a most curious look. She seemed to be completely flabbergasted.
She looks at me, “I thought he was digging underneath the fence.”
This is what he did.
This would be a 70-pound dog wedged under our house. That vent he’s poking his head out is maybe 18 inches long and 8 inches high. There are six of them. They are the ONLY ways under our house. There is no cellar or basement. The space between the foundation and the floor of our house is about a foot.
Ensie told me that when she saw him out the window he got really, really excited. When she came out the back door she heard a noise about halfway between a scratch and a thump. She saw him digging. She ran to stop him. She wasn’t successful. Apparently, he really wanted to be inside with us. Herky saw the vent, punched through the chicken wire cover and found himself very stuck.
Of course we went inside to get a camera.
Now, after we’d gone from stunned to amused, we realized that getting him out would be a bit of a chore. We called him and he tried. We gave him cookies and he tried again. No luck. Ensie noticed that part of the chicken wire was still there and gauging him in the chest, so I ripped it off as best I could. We were debating the fire department and wondering if we would have to rip holes in our floor. He got down there; he must be able to get back up. We realized he was getting one leg through the hole, and then getting his shoulders caught trying to move the other. We tried laying cookies out for him, but he ignored them. He only tried to get out when we would pet him. If anything he was too excited. Ensie calmed him down, and kept his shoulders flat while I pulled him out.
Just in case it happens to you.
When we came home from dinner we had a decision to make. We loved Herky; there was no getting around that. We had to figure out if the rest of the household (mostly Jeffrey) would tolerate him, and how he was around cats. We’re up to four of those, remember. There was the other issue too. We couldn’t just keep him. Neither Ensie nor I could live with ourselves if we just kept him and didn’t make any attempt to find his owner.
But we really, really didn’t want to find them. We decided to try three things: check our area for signs, check local pet stores for “lost dog” notices, and take him to the vet to see if he was chipped. At this point Herky was a bit contradictory. He had clipped nails and immaculately clean teeth, yet he had very rough fur like he’d spent a lot of time in the sun and he very little –if any- obedience training. That and not having a collar…
Any of that was meaningless if Jeffrey didn’t like him. We had modest hopes: Herky was very easy-going and completely submissive despite his size and Jeffrey has mellowed over the years. We decided to head to neutral ground in front of the vacant lot on the corner. I took Jeffrey around the block on command. He was so exhausted he barely noticed. Ensie and Herky waited for us. Jeffrey got a little barky, did the dominant thing and Herky was very good and very submissive. He just wanted to play.
Miracle of miracles, so did Jeffrey. They rolled around in the grass for nearly a half-hour. Jeffrey hadn’t played like this since he was a puppy. We moved to the backyard. Jeffrey and Herky raced around (well, as much as Jeffrey’s creaky legs would race) and continued to play. We introduced Matchbox. He was a bit more defensive and made it clear he would stay the #2 dog. After another 20 minutes or so Ensie and I brought all three dogs inside the house. Jeffrey and Matchbox both made a point to inform Herky it was okay to be in the house, but he was NOT ALLOWED on either the dog beds or the people bed. Other than that, continued mellow.
The cats were… not thrilled with this. Merlin, the longest tenured furry pet in our house, was disdainful, as he always is with more pets joining the family. Moby was nervous. He seems to be slowing recently. We know he’s at least 7 or so, and he might be much older. Clyde was curious, and Percy –ever the fearless one – vainly attempted to catch Herky’s wagging tail. Herk (by this time I was going for that or Hercules) was a bit more interested in Percy or Clyde than maybe we would like, but he calmed down and seemed much more intent on getting our attention than the cats.
We had 3 major obstacles to keeping Herky. He had passed the Jeffery Test and the Cat Test. The third was the Not Finding His Family Test.
From time to time, I can't sleep. When I can't sleep, I tend to go turn on the TV and watch until my eyes snap shut out of self-defense, whether I'm actually sleepy or not. Any self-respecting eyes would shut when confronted with the vast wasteland of late-night/early-morning TV.
A prime example of this is PlayMania, the show than GSN uses to fill the critical 1-to-3-AM slot Thursday through Saturday. I've encountered this show a few times in restless moments, and the premise of the show appears to be as follows: people phone in to the show and play mindlessly simplistic games (hangman, unscramble the word, fill in the blanks, and so forth) in order to win nominal cash prizes (in the $50 to $100 range).
It's a profoundly dumb program, but it's the perfect late-night show. For one thing, the vaguely dizzying set colors, music, sound effects, graphics, and manic host chatter (all designed to keep you awake, I think) are fascinating in a bad-acid-trip sort of way. For another thing, the show's creators recognize that the kind of people who watch television between 1 and 3 in the morning are probably (1) drunks and/or stoners, (2) high school and/or college kids, probably male, (3) desperately lonely people, again probably male, (4) insomniacs, and (5) some combination of the above. The show was clearly designed for these people, and it doesn't even try to pretend otherwise. Hence the HR Pufnstuf set. Hence the wacky graphics. Hence the eye-catching hostesses dressed in mildly risque outfits. Hence the sound effects, which seem to have come straight out of the SNL "Pranksters" sketch.
Also, the show is, as they never seem to tire of pointing out, "COMPLETELY live!" This means two things. One, all those stoned/drunk/horny/lonely/sleepless viewers are also the contestants. This means a plethora of mysterious hang-ups, slurred conversations, inept attempts to flirt with the comely hostess, and profoundly idiotic guesses at the answer. Also, the comely hostess has to keep talking for two straight hours, with only a handful of brief breaks in the action. The PlayMania hostesses (there appear to be two regular ones who rotate days) are generally pretty good at this, but late in the show, things can get, well, interesting.
For instance, one of the hostesses, Shandi Finnessey, is a former Miss USA. One night, she was free-associating about her experience working for Donald Trump, who used to run the Miss USA pageant. "I was actually an employee of Donald Trump at one time, when I was Miss USA. He owns that, you know. Miss USA. Whatever. The point is, I was under Donald Trump for a while there. Well, I didn't- no, not- you know what I mean."
Another night, one hostess (whose name I didn't catch and who doesn't appear to be a regular hostess) was desperately trying to fill dead air while waiting for someone to call. "Come on and give it a go. It's just like hangman. You all played hangman when you were little. I know I did. But I was dyslexic. I really was! It was so bad that the only word I could use for hangman was 'people.' That's it. If you played me a few times, it was easy to guess my word, because it was always the same. Sometimes I used 'green.' But that was it. 'Green' and 'people' were my only two choices. But my family was never good with words. My mother didn't talk unti she was 5. Really!" That same hostess, in an attempt to get more people to call in, said, "If you're thinking of going to bed, remember: Sleeping is cheating!" She said it several times. I still have no idea what she meant.
In short, this show is trainwreck TV at its finest.
Anyway, last Friday night I couldn't sleep again, and I found myself in front of the idiot box again, watching this program. The aforementioned Shandi was hosting. (Have you ever met anyone else named "Shandi?" I haven't.) The game at hand was "Shandi's Top 5 Sexiest Actors," which is exactly what it sounds like. One caller guessed Harrison Ford. Shandi was horrified. "Harrison Ford? Ew! He's like 400 years old!"
According to IMDB, Harrison Ford is 63 years old, and Shandi Finnessey is 28. So her horror is perhaps understandable. Harrison's old enough to be her father, for Pete's sake!
However, consider the following. Shandi's #1 choice for Sexiest Actor was John Travolta, who is 52. Shandi's #2 choice for Sexiest Actor was 56-year-old Richard Gere. Either of them is also old enough to be Shandi's father.
Oh, and Shandi explained her choice of Travolta as #1 by saying: "He looks just like my daddy! Don't they say that women are always looking for their fathers?"
If I were a psychologist, I'd love to have a long session with Shandi about this.
(As I recall, her #3 through #5 choices were all in her own age bracket, or roughly so. But still.)
There was a new dog, and then there wasn’t.
It was Wednesday, and I -along with my father-in-law and brother-in-law- was on the way to the Angels-Mariners game. My wife called when I had just got off the freeway.
“You shouldn’t let the dogs out into the backyard when you get home” she says.
“Because there’s a stray dog back there.”
My wife, her mother, sister and my mother were on the way to dinner when they saw him. A giant puppy, they said. Bernese Mountain Dog maybe, mixed with Australian Shepard or something. My sister-in-law, 14 and weighing at least 10 pounds less than this giant, managed to coax him into the backyard. He didn’t have a collar. He was big and he was goofy and he wasn’t scared. My wife called the local animal control. She didn’t speak to a person, just left a message saying we had a stray dog in our backyard. They might come today or tomorrow she said.
That would be the end of it, right?
I met her later at the in-law’s hotel. Ensie hadn’t been home, didn’t have any way of knowing if our giant visitor had been picked up. He would end up at the Humane Society she said, and he was too big and goofy and cute not to find a home.
“You probably shouldn’t see him, if he is still there.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because he’s big and goofy and cute and you’d fall in love with him and we can’t keep him.”
She’s probably right.
He was still back there. Of course he was still back there. It’s never that easy, now is it? Ensie checked up on him and asked me to join her. He was just as she told me: Big and goofy and friendly.
“What do you think his name is?” She asked me this, after we’d been petting the dog for about a half-hour, every few minutes solemnly swearing that we wouldn’t fall in love with him, or try to keep him or even consider either.
“I dunno” I said, “Something like a Buster… something goofy and fun I think.”
“Herky” she said.
“Herky? Like short for Hercules or Herky-Jerky?”
Ensie shook her head and scrunched her brow together. “No, just… Herky.”
Herky it is then.
But we’re not naming him or keeping him or nothing like that. We either let him sleep in the backyard or we set him free, so we wanted to make him as comfy as we could. Ensie moved the junk on the deck around to give him some semblance of shelter. I got one of Jeffrey’s blankets and set it out for him to sleep on. We gave him some dog food and refilled his water bowl. He was heartbroken as we left him out there.
We’ve been watching the Dog Whisperer just about whenever its on, and one of his tricks is to take a dog for a walk before training. It drains whatever nervous energy the dog could have. Nothing could be more draining than the 2-hour car ride and 5-mile hike through the Olympic National Forest. Both Jeffrey and Matchbox would be carrying a pack throughout the day. “You know, tomorrow after the hike would be the best possible day to introduce Jeffrey to a new dog.” I mused as we lay in bed.
But we’re not falling in love or trying to keep him or nothing, right?
The next morning I fed him outside as our dogs ate. He was, as expected, completely overjoyed to see me. He would only eat after I’d gone back inside. Later, before we left, both Ensie and I spent some time with him… with Herky. The animal control people should come today, we thought, come today and take him away. I looked at my wife and she looked at me. I grabbed the lock from the front gate. I locked it shut and she nodded. He wasn’t going anywhere now. At least, not like that.
That would be the sound of my last 36 hours: Superman Returns, Angels - Mariners, a 5-mile hike through the Olympic National Forest and the strong possibility of a new dog. That would be the 80-pound stray puppy that managed to wedge himself under our house.
I'll explain when I can catch my breath.
After putting the damned thing together, Frinklin's Adventures in Grilling went well.
Fun was had by all.
The Frinklins are on vacation this week, and the Frinklin-in-laws are visiting. Much has been planned, much has not. Today was “play it by ear”. The Missus woke up and called the in-laws.
“They want to take it easy today. Just a barbeque and we can watch the fireworks from the house” she says.
“We don’t own a grill; do they know that?”
“They’re going to buy us one.”
Okay, seriously? This isn’t the first time the Frinklin-in-laws have decided to purchase a big item for the Frinklin House. When we moved in, my father-in-law decided we needed a new lawnmower and about $500 worth of tools beyond that.
Still, a barbeque? Do they realize I’ve never grilled a damned thing in my life?
I've noticed an oddity, and it came to the forefront today. The Missus and I, plus the Frinklin-in-laws in town for the week, completely enjoyed the Taste of Tacoma. A beautiful setting, a perfect day, great food and a very pleasing vibe all the way around. That isn't the point.
The point to all this is that I've noticed that after the Mariners and perhaps the Yankees, the most popular MLB team in the Pacific Northwest seems to be Fred's beloved Washington Nationals. I saw no fewer than three different Nats caps today, with one guy sporting a Livan Hernandez jersey to boot. Add to that the guy on the train I see every day wearing his navy Nats cap, and I have to wonder about the popularity of the Nationals. I'm too damned lazy to actually research this, but on anecdotal evidence alone I'd say the Nats are on their way to being a -forgive the slight pun- national franchise like the Red Sox and Yankees.
I really like the navy cap. I might have to get one.