Catch Up...

It seems I need to play catch up. Oh how I have neglected thee; my beautiful blog. What has been happening you ask? Well, I have been playing the role of single parent to Chili, Sigma and Secant. With Lauren in Chicago (or Tampa), I am left to raise the critters on my own during the week. Also, I have renewed my commitment to Six Feet Under. I had previously been stuck in Season 4 due to the boredom it was causing me. It did get significantly better toward the end of that season, and Season 5 is infinitely better. The World Cup is also taking up some of my time. However, I am actually a little bored with some of the games. Maybe after watching a season of Longhorn football, I can no longer watch any sport doesn't include illiterate athletes with criminal records. Who knows.

What of the Chili update you ask? No fear. Here it is. She is now about 10 weeks old. Less than a week after getting those baby gates, she somehow managed to get over the top of them. They do manage to corral her to the main floor of the house. This is good since she also can go up and down stairs with ease at this point. She walked downstairs the other day and before I could turn around from transfering laundry to the dryer, she had eaten about 3 huge mouthfuls of the cats' chow. Last Friday she went to the vet for another shot and check up. The results were as follows:
  • Weight: 14.6 pounds
  • Stool Sample: Normal
  • Heartworm Pill: To be given July 1
She also walked with Lauren and I to the pet store so we could buy some sort of "stop-your-dog-from-bleeding-when-you-f*ck-up-cutting-her-nails" powder. During this trip she also came away a couple new toys (a big furry mouse that she picked out and a plush orange and white soccer ball that Lauren and I picked out for her), and some more rawhide bones. The next purchase needs to be a toybox so that our living room doesn't look like ground-zero anymore. The best Chili news of the past couple weeks (at least for Lauren and me) is that she managed to sleep all night. This happened just last night, so I am hoping that this is a continuing trend and not a one-time deal.

What else have I been filling my time with aside from old TV and sports? Not much...some reading (I'll get to that in the next paragraph or so), teaching (I can't believe how fast we cover material in the summer), and more than a few naps. The two big events in the last couple weeks have been Josh's Bachelor Party and the MN Advocates for Human Rights dinner with Laura (AKA the do-gooder lawyers dinner). All I will say about the bachelor party is that it involved (1) camping in the rain in an RV that looked (and smelled) a lot like a frat house, (2) a tubing trip down the Apple River in what felt like 30 degree weather, and (3) strippers that looked like they were about 40 years old.

Now on to the dinner that I had with Laura to try and raise funds for this do-gooder organization. The dinner itself was pretty weak considering it was a catered event for the glitterati of Minneapolis. The menu consisted of:
  • Baby greens, cranberries and walnuts that could be swathed in the patron's choice of a bleu cheese or vinaigrette dressing served in a "i'm on a diet...let me put my own dressing on the salad" silver-ish teapot looking container
  • A variety of buns placed a priori on the table by the catering crew. I had a herb encrusted bun, but there were a few different types to choose from. This was accompanied by another dish that was full of small orb shaped butter nuggets. It looked like a rabbit had crapped butter into this dish (the butter orbs were the same size and consistency as bunny dung)
  • The main dish was a piece of chicken swabbed with marinara sauce and mozarella cheese served on a bed of rice and black olives. It also came with a vegetable medley that was color coordinated with autumn foilage (Carrots - orange, Squash - yellow, and Zuchini - green). Serving vegetables with those colors alongside an already red covered piece of meat made them look like amateurs. It looked like a California brushfire broke out on my plate. I have three words for them: Presentation, presentation, presentation.
  • Finally, the final course was either a Lemon Mousse accomanied by a shard of strawberry, or a more traditional Chocolate Mousse layered on a chocolate cake type substance and garnished with a chocolate leaf. These were also pre-placed by the catering crew...one in front of each place on the table and were alternated so that one place had lemon and the next chocolate, etc. I found it funny that at our table, these were shuffled about so that all (and I mean every single one) of the women had a chocolate mousse, leaving the men with the lemon ones.
The program, which consisted of giving some folks a human rights award, was hosted by Garrison Keillor. He was one of the better parts of the evening for most people in the crowd. The people who won awards were also allowed to speak. At one point during those speeches I reminded myself that they had won their award for their work in human rights...not for speaking. These speeches were often made more intolerable by the sporadic applause offered by the primarily affluent caucasian audience and was made even worse whenever one of the speakers used a snappy trite catch-phrase that would appeal to their bleeding heart captive (and by captive I mean mostly bored) audience. This whole thing would have been horrible except for the fact that I got to hang out with Laura.

Enough about the dinner. I have managed to find a little time for reading. I am currently working on The Cat's Pajamas: Stories by Ray Bradbury. This is a collection of newer short stories from Bradbury. Some of them are great, like the one about a group of senators that lose the United States during a night of gambling at a casino. I have also been reading some scholarly papers about Value-Added Growth Models used in school accountability. Before I end this post I leave you with a few great links.


Chili (8 weeks)

Chili actually looks bigger this week. Her bark, however, is still quite juvenile. She accompanied Lauren and I to Starbucks this morning and promptly introduced herself to about 10 kids who walked by. In the last week we have found two lifesavers. Baby gates and rawhide bones. These save both our sanity and our arms. It also gives the cats a place to escape to.

While the rawhides have eased up some of the chewing on Lauren and I, Chili still manages to get her mouth on all sorts of things. Here is a partial list of things she has chewed on or eaten in the last week:

  • a dead bug (She ate it as soon as she found it)
  • two Southern Living magazines (ripped them to shreds)
  • an old glove she found in the alley the other day
  • the couch (thank god Pottery Barn slipcovers are only $700)
  • numerous twigs, leaves and other detritus
  • the ironwork on the dining room table
  • Sigma's tail (He didn't care for that and hit her 3-4 times in the snout in about a fourth of a second)
She has also gone on several walks this last week. While walks are what most dog owners call it, with Chili it is more of a prance/drag/sniff/bound. A typical "walk" consists of her prancing happily for the first 20 feet, then we stop and sniff something and promptly sit down (or lie down). After that, there is a tugging in any direction except the one you would like to continue walking in, And finally, there is a bounding run past you that end abruptly when she stops to sniff a stick, look at the concrete, etc. If you continually repeat this process you will have an idea of walking with Chili.

Summer Break Literature

Thanks to the new pup, an overwhelming need to sleep after a hectic semester, the start of the World Cup, and the fact that every TV show ever is available on DVD, I haven't read as much as I've wanted to over these last few weeks. As noted in my last post, I have finished a few books despite the distractions of frequent naps.

One of them was a book called 10th Grade by Joseph Weisberg. This was a quick read told from the point of view of a 10th grader named Jeremy. It had all the necessary components of your typical coming of age story: somewhat unpopular narrator, hot girl love interest, supporting cast of confused depressive friends, sisters, and a prom. Nonetheless, it was a refreshing read for the first book this summer.

The other book I mentioned in the last post was a fantastic little tome entitled Fargo Rock City. Written by Chuck Klosterman, this book is a must read for anyone who grew up on the musical interpretations of Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Warrant, Tesla and the like. Klosterman is a master of the pen (or word processor). He writes about hair metal with the same passion as Herman Melville wrote about whale blubber, with vastly different results. (Note: Herman Melville's 8 billion pages about whaling, entitled Moby Dick could put even the most insomniac person into a napping coma. If you haven't had the torture, I mean pleasure of reading this "classic," you can read a synopsis of it here). Anyway, Klosterman effortlessly weaves his tale, waxing philosophic about these 1980's icons. He actually makes you want to pull out those old W.A.S.P. and Dokken albums, let your hair down (at least what's left of it) and rock like you did in 1989. As he writes in the epilogue,
"I could never love Radiohead as much as I loved Mötley Crüe. I could never love Radiohead as much as Mötley Crüe because I'll never be 15 again. I can certainly appreciate Radiohead, but they're not an extension of my life. No rock band will ever be again. For 99 percent of the populace (myself included) that kind of mystical connection can only happen during those terrible, magical years when you somehow convince yourself that a guy like Nikki Sixx understands you."
Those sentences sum up everything that many of us in that generation still feel about this era of music. And, while most of our musical tastes have evolved, there are certain days where like Klosterman and Twisted Sister, we just want to rock!

Most recently, I have completed John Grogan's Marley and Me. This book was laugh out loud hysterical...until the final chapters where I bawled like a little baby. While dog owners might appreciate this one a little more, I feel it could still appeal to people who don't have a barking critter living in their home. You can't help but laugh at the exploits of this hound nor help but be touched by his loyalty and his gigantic heart. Another quickie for the summer months, this one only took a few days to read.

What is next on the summer reading itinerary? As always, too much. Another Klosterman book, Killing Yourself to Live; the Hornby edited Speaking with the Angel; the politically satirical FUBAR: America's Right-Wing Nightmare; Howell's classic Statistical Methods for Psychology; and hopefully, several others.


Chili (7 weeks)

Last Friday (May 26) we got a puppy. She is a rambunctious little golden retriever (at least when she is awake). She has joined our family with reckless abandon. She is the youngest member of the family and has two older "siblings," Secant (1 1/2 year) and Sigma (a little over 3 years). Both of the cats have accepted her (sort of), at least when she is asleep. They tend not to be too fond of her barking at them.

Chili, short for Chili Dog, does four things really well: sleep, chewing (on anything or anybody), peeing (both outside :) and on the floor :(....thank god for wood floors), and eating (right now she puts down a cup and 1/2 of food per day). In fact, if she had one of those grade-school report cards, she would get a SUPERIOR rating in each of those four categories. If she was graded on sleeping through the night, entering her crate without crying, not barking/chasing the cats, not using arms/legs/noses as rawhide chews, she would get a big red "X" in the NEEDS IMPROVEMENT section.

What does Chili do for fun, aside from chasing the cats? We have been to the dog park a couple times. She seems to really enjoy running around and playing with the other dogs. Last night she got run over by a giant poodle. No lie. She got broad sided by this huge, white, curly imitation of a bad 80's hairdo. Then she got slobbered on by another very large dog that looked like it had perma-saliva attached to and dripping from his jowls.

She also seems to enjoy TV and movies. She has seen a couple Twins games, two episodes of Northern Exposure (the finale from Season 3 and the first episode from Season 4), Intolerable Cruelty, two minutes of The Matrix, and the first third of Best in Show. She has mostly slept through all of these, but she did perk up when one of the dogs barked during the opening seconds of Best in Show. Don't believe that because she watches TV that she is a Philistine. Not at all. She has "helped" me read parts of three different books in the last week (Fargo Rock City, 10th Grade, and Marley and Me). Sometimes she does sit with indifference during these literate moments, but usually she wants to take a more active role in her education.