Monday, June 26, 2017

Woofer twofer.

The lovely Mrs. Key was not feeling her best yesterday morning, and I had to take the dogs out to do their usual dog things to my unsuspecting lawn. (Which shows you how dumb lawns are.) After which it was still early, a little after six on a Sunday morning and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, so I thought I would both of them for a walk.

If you have had multiple dogs, you're thinking "Oh that's nice YAWN" or "Are you CRAZY?" depending on the kind of dogs you've had. I think mine count for the latter. It's mostly an issue of size, their combined weight being about 200 pounds, and them being younger, faster, and together probably stronger than I am. It wouldn't be an issue if they were both calm, sedate adult dogs, but one of them still acts like a crazed puppy a good deal of the time, and the other one can usually be counted on to do something naughty if he knows Pops is distracted with the baby. So walking them together has the potential to be challenging.

In the past we've had some success trying this, but that was when the puppy, Nipper, was quite small and more easily manhandled. He also was less likely to fun-attack the older dog, Tralfaz. When the fun-attacks became virtually inevitable anytime they were outside at the same time, the idea of walking together was temporarily discarded.

Sunday was different. We started off a little hinky, the boys scooting back and forth in front and behind me, twisting up leashes, me switching hands as needed, turning and leading, wondering how those dog-walkers in the city who take 18 dogs out at once handle it. I felt like an idiot who couldn't control his dogs. But then, suddenly, they snapped into shape. Suddenly, I wanted to be seen by my neighbors.

It was beautiful, them trotting ahead of me side by side, enjoying the morning. It was surprising. It was wonderful. It was about twelve seconds.



It could have been worse. If one of them had decided to poop on a neighbor's lawn -- which I would be obliged by honor to clean up -- I would have to hold them both with one hand while wrangling poop and a poop bag with the other. I've done it before but it is nobody's idea of a good time.

Actually, it could have been a whole lot worse than it was. The boys were good, and there was no attack fun until we got back to our own property. We got a nice walk in and I think just two people saw us, one of them being the lady that delivers the newspapers.

And no one pooped. Not even me. Big, big props for that.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fantastic voyage.

Here are some parts of the body that sounds like they came from a bad fantasy novel. All I ask is that if you write the novel using these and make a million dollars, that you send me half.

Name: Femur
What it is: Thigh bone
What it sounds like: Norse hero

Name: The Adenomeres
What it is: Functional unit of the salivary glands
What it sounds like: Femur's people, beset by a curse

Name: Superior Vena Cava
What it is: Wide vein
What it sounds like: Chief of the Adenomeres, who sends Femur on a quest to save his people

Name: Islets of Langerhans
What it is: Regions of the pancreas that produce hormones
What it sounds like: Where Femur's quest takes him

Name: The Sphincter of Oddi
What it is: A muscle valve that controls the flow of digestive juices
What it sounds like: Magic artifact Femur needs to find on the Islets of Langerhans to set the Adenomeres free of their curse

Name: Medulla Oblongata
What it is: Lower half of brain stem
What it sounds like: Mysterious witch woman on the Islets of Langerhans who prophesies big fat trouble for Femur

Name: Urethra
What it is: Tube that connects the bladder to the genitals
What it sounds like: Beautiful tribal princess on the Islets of Langerhans

Name: The Cholecyst
What it is: The gallbladder
What it sounds like: Urethra's tribe

Name: Thorax
What it is: Part of the body that lies between the head and abdomen
What it sounds like: The half-warlock, half-demon beast that steals the Sphicter of Oddi and kidnaps Urethra

Name: The Epithelium
What it is: One of four basic kinds of animal tissues
What it sounds like: Band of tribal elders who blame Femur for the kidnapping of Urethra

Name: Crypt of Lieberkuhn
What it is: A gland found in the epithelial lining of the small intestine and colon
What it sounds like: Where Thorax spirits Urethra and the Sphincter of Oddi to

Name: Submandibular
What it is: A salivary gland
What it sounds like: The hideous monster that answers only to Thorax

"Submandibular Attacks Femur,"
by Frank Frazetta

Name: Auerbach's plexus
What it is: Part of the nervous system
What it sounds like: The mysterious weapon Femur finds that leads him to the Crypt and helps him destroy Submandibular and Thorax

Name: The Fovea
What it is: Part of the eye
What it sounds like: The vessel on which Femur and Urethra depart to bring the blessings of the Sphincter of Oddi back to the Adenomeres


Who says there's no romance in science?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Noisy neighborhood.

What's that loud clashing noise I hear all over the block?



It turns out they repainted the fire hydrants, again. The town seems to do this every now and then, and never the same color twice. This irritating red and orange hydrant was a stylish yellow and blue last week. Now it's so loud even the dogs won't go near it. Sensitive ears, you know.

I was puzzling out what this means. The town's done strange things on the street before, like leave street markings for alien ship landings. One thing they did just this week was notify us that the water might shut off one morning between nine and noon, but it never happened, unless it was just for a moment when we weren't in the shower or flushing the can. This was said to be part of a water flow improvement project, and I wondered if the Crayola attack on the hydrants was connected.

According to the site Today I Found Out, upon which one may find out things, fire hydrants may be color-coded according to their water pressure. "Due to the numerous different supply systems throughout the United States, there can be a wide range of available supply, from 500 GPM [gallons per minute] or less to over 2500 GPM." It's very helpful for firefighters to know at a glance what the water pressure is going to be when they hook up to the water supply. So that could be the answer, right?

Maybe not; the same article notes according to National Fire Protection Agency standards, while the caps indicate the water pressure (orange would be 500 to 999 GPM) the body of the thing should be "chrome yellow." A red cap would mean under 500 GPM. Using a red body muddles the code for the cap, if that's even what's being signaled here.

What the heck, town? Get your act together!

If I find out that this was some idiot councilman's idea of "aesthetics" to help keep our town "weird," I will write a strongly worded letter to the editor. This was a nice quiet block until those hydrants were repainted.

I confess, though, that I was kidding about the dogs. They still love the hydrants. Their color vision isn't as good as ours, so they aren't as offended by the color selections. Never hire a dog to redo the living room.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer shopping!

Summer's here! It's the first full day of summer!

ta-da
And the summer season, like the Christmas season, is a good time for shopping!

Let's see what summer stuff is available at the local supermarket.

First off, we want to taste summer -- all the best produce the earth can offer is in the produce section! Who cares? We want portable, clean, shelf-ready snacks, like Annie's Homegrown Organic Bunny Summer Strawberry Fruit Snacks.


They're organic, so it's virtually identical to real food. Just not as messy. Seriously, you can't just walk about with raw strawberries in your hand. People will talk.

Now for the entrée -- and that means meat!

Sausage you have to cook is great, but sausage that you can just whip out and gnaw on is better. And Hillshire Farm is there, with the Yard-O-Beef Summer Sausage. Now, maybe this too will cause people to talk, if you just go around waving your Yard-O-Beef in the air, but you know what? There's no law against it. It's summertime! Knock yourself out. (But please: No Ecky-Thump.)

Now that we've had a taste of summer, let's get the scent, with our old friends at Airwick:


Ah. Airwick Life Scents Summer Delights. Smells like... I have no idea, actually. Melted ice pops? Suntan lotion? Coney Island? Lawn mower oil? The Lexington Avenue/59th Street station express platform in August? Oh, God, I hope not that. But those are all Scents from my Life, Delightful or not. No, it's probably floral stuff. Okay, that's fine. But summer isn't always flowers and soft breezes. Sometimes it rains....


Fab Ultra Summer Rain gets rid of the Ultra Summer Mud in your life! I'm not actually sure what this is supposed to smell like either. Water? Ozone? It could go several ways. They may be thinking of laundry, which is wet. But that end is also covered by...



Little Tree Summer Linen scent! The smell of humid laundry! Why should your clothes and house have all the summer smells, when your car can too? In fact, why shouldn't you have it on your personal person as well? Here's one for the kiddies:

Tom's of Maine Wicked Cool! Deodorant for Girls in Summer Fun scent. Which is... cotton candy? Drama at the beach house? Oh, who knows. Tom's is very natural-minded, of course, even though the company was bought by Colgate in 2006. But you'd think they'd be concerned about gender assumptions, with girls' scents and boys' scents. Then again, isn't the whole point of gender fluidity the desire to assume the gender you feel? In other words, boys who want to be girls don't want to use Non-Gender Scent, they want Girls' Scent.

Although this might be a summer bridge too far:

And I suppose that's as good a place as any to end our expedition to the supermarket. Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hangman for dummies.

I had an uncomplicated little app that plays Hangman. You're familiar with the game---you get a blank word and have to guess it letter by letter, but when you guess a letter that's not in the word, you get a line added to the little stick figure. If you miss enough guesses, the stick figure is completed and your man is hanged.

It commonly starts with this:



Usually the gallows is a given. Then you generally have six misses before the man's a corpse:

My app gives you one more wrong guess, after which the face is added to the doomed man and he shuffles off this mortal coil:


Now, if you're playing with a young jackanapes who is not too swift, you can add the lines of the gallows to give him 4 more shots at it. But that's 11 wrong guesses. Really, any word longer than 4 letters should be cake with that many shots at it. (A common error young players make is thinking that long words are harder, when they actually afford many more guesses. Silly children.)

But if you are using to game to teach spelling, you may wish to let the little chap have many guesses to keep him going before he is dead. Indeed, at his age, his own personal timeline may be much longer than yours at your age, so there is a philosophical basis for such handicapping. This design, by my calculation (counting gallows and individual lines) yields as many as 27 wrong guesses, which more than covers the whole damn alphabet:

The fact that he looks a little like a clown just adds to the enjoyment of the game.

Of course, if you're dealing with someone completely stupid---someone who will guess numbers, punctuation, blanks, typos, names, objects, special characters---someone so willfully and completely ignorant, so belligerentso blatantly stupid as to be a New York State politician, perhaps---you may have to cut him even more slack if you want him to win:

Although really, at this point I think it's time to pack it in. Anyway, shouldn't he be legislating or something?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dads and movies.

We were chatting on Father's Day about dads in movies. especially in modern movies, where they seldom cover themselves in glory. If it's a comedy, you know Dad will be a dumbbell; if it's a drama, Dad will probably be an estranged man who constantly looks at his progeny with a sad, wistful face. Usually George Clooney's face.

If it's an action or adventure picture, Dad typically doesn't exist. I don't think we know anything about the fathers of Rick Blaine or Barry Kane or Jack Burton. Other dads in these films are all bad -- serial killers or evil scientists or those deep into the dark side of the Force.

But we do get to meet some dads in action or adventure movies; let's see how they made out.

Taken, Bryan Mills

It's hard to be a father when you're off killing people for the CIA all day. Bryan misses all his daughter's school plays and birthday parties, but can be counted on to spill all of the blood of her tormentors when needed. He's surprisingly sharp considering that his ex-wife and child seem to be able to bamboozle him at will early on in the film. I guess he's okay, but maybe he wouldn't have had to kill so many people if he just had cultivated different father skills in his career.

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are
looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what
I do have are a very particular set of skills, 
skills I have acquired 
over a very long career. These include double-entry bookkeeping,
compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, lawn mower
maintenance, a bowling  average of 158, and the ability to shave with
a straight razor."

Thor, Odin

You think being a human dad is tough? Try being the immortal father of the Norse gods. The kids never leave the house. And all they ever do is party and fight.

Odin is known as Allwise, the god who famously sacrificed an eye in his quest for wisdom, but you'd hardly know it in this picture. He overreacts to his son being a doofus (like that was something new) and exiles him to earth, a move that will result in all sorts of mayhem and death among the humans, especially in the Avengers picture. Then he takes his little ol' man Odinsleep, not anticipating that his adoptive son Loki, the god of treachery, is going to use beddy-bye time to take over the joint. Didn't see that one coming!

"I do and I do and I do for you kids...."
Maybe you were right in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul about retirement, Odin.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry Jones

Henry's single-minded pursuit of his goals leads his son into deadly peril, and we can be sure it isn't the first time. Worse, we quickly find out that he shares his son's stupid habit of not preventing Nazis from acquiring enormously powerful religious artifacts. Plus Henry and his son (real name: Henry Jr.) bicker through the whole picture.

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, but working things so His sacred artifacts had to be rescued by the Jones family could make you wonder about the kindness of Providence.

"He took hish nickname
from the dog! Can you
believe it? My shon ish
an idiot!"

So we see that even when action movie dads are tough, brave, not dead, and possibly competent, they can leave you shaking your head. Maybe next year we'll dissect fathers from Disney movies. I would expect that in real life all those Disney characters would be seeing analysts once or twice a week, minimum.