Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

"Atheists Don't Have No Songs"

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Batman and I visited a park.

We played fetch,
for an hour.

Then we commandeered a baseball field,
for another hour.

Batman found a baseball,
and peed in the dugout.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Batman & Ellie 4Ever

Batman made some lady-dog-friends this week. It seems Boxers are a popular breed in this neighborhood, I’ve seen several different boxers running around, but the girl that caught Batman’s eye is only two houses down the street.

(Lucentio falls for Bianca instantly in this clip from Zeffirelli's 1967 movie version of The Taming of the Shrew)

Meet Ellie and Maxi, both very sweet dogs, but it’s a bit of a Taming of the Shrew situation, or what they might call a “grenade” on Jersey Shore, when you add Batman to the mix. Ellie, the younger pup, is sweet, docile, and slobbery. Maxi, older but not by much, is heavier than Batman and acts like an 8 month old puppy. Her tongue is also three inches too big for her mouth causing it to dangle out one side. While Ellie drools away Maxi wants to wrestle Batman to the ground and make him cry, “Uncle!” like the amazon boxer dog that she is.

Meanwhile Batman is VERY big on personal space. He’s happy to invade yours, but protects his own with a ferocity that Freud might describe as hyper-anal retentive. Batman’s message to the world is, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”; meaning, he wants to be able to choose to come up to you for attention/treats and not have you slobbering all over him attempting to pile drive him into a choke hold.

(Petruchio chasing Katarina around also Zeffirelli)

If Maxi is the shrewish Katharine, making Ellie the temperate drooly Bianca, Batman is happy to let me play Petruchio. In this way he safely Lucentio’s his way with Ellie without fear that the playful Maxi will pummel him into the fence.

This plan worked somewhat well for Batman.

In the time that Maxi was distracted, Batman ran up to Ellie, sniffed her derriere incessantly, barked at her, pretended to ignore her, barked at her some more, and adoringly watched her drool. I’m not sure why she drools so much when she sees Batman. Perhaps it’s a sign of submission, maybe a school girl crush, either way it doesn’t seem to bother Batman much.

Unfortunately, I am neither as drunk nor as persistent as Petruchio when dealing with Maxi; who happens to have the attention span of a fruit fly in a room filled with overripe papayas. Batman’s slobberfest of a date ended almost as quickly as it started when Maxi trucked over.

Everything officially came to an end when Maxi jumped Batman, who snapped at his beloved as he attempted to shake Maxi off of him. After nearly having her face taken off Ellie started having second thoughts, leaving Batman to deal with Maxi, who got so excited that she bit her lolling tongue.

I’ve seen the Three Stooges make better first impressions, but I think that this whole thing went rather well. Batman made a skeptical girlfriend, what smart girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t skeptical though, and Maxi probably doesn’t remember what happened at all by this point.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good Morning, Love Batman

There’s nothing like being slobbered awake when you’re still semi-conscious in the morning, especially when this face is the slobber source.

Batman began life here fearfully, and I’ll admit that he’s still afraid of some things (stares at the dish washer, TV bunny ears, and garage and everything in it skeptically), but he has conquered some of his fears. He no longer cowers when we turn on the ceiling fan, instead he watches it while glued to my side.

Other big dogs still freak him out. He gave one a piece of his mind while on a group walk when we had to board him last week, and was sentenced to solo walks.

This might have been their conversation:

Big dog, “HI HI HI HI HI HI HI, *slorp*, HI HI HI HI HI HI!”
Batman, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH, respect my personal bubble! I bite you face off!”

He later went on a group walk with the hors d’oeuvre dogs, due to a clerical oversight (someone didn’t read the note saying don’t put Batman with the other dogs didn’t they…). Strangely enough Batman didn’t eat a single Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, or Heinz Mini Seven. Instead he “made friends” with lots of tiny midget-dogs that he can lord over. I like to imagine that, while we were gone, Batman pretended that he was Willy Wonka in the peanut butter kong factory, and he presided over an army of oompah loompah dogs.

Despite all the fun Batman had while he was boarding I think he was happy to come home. We went for extra long walks, and found a great park to play at and taunt the pit bulls trapped in their back yard watching us. These were disturbingly huge dogs in a back yard that included pieces of busted furniture, but that’s another story…

All was well until this morning. I took Batman outside to “do his thing” after being slobbered awake and noticed a blood spatter on the cement. More upsetting though were the tiny bloody spots on the side of his barrel chest. I wiped them, but couldn’t find a source and went back inside confuzzled (Mary and Max anyone?). 

By this point I was in CSI mode and watched Batman’s every move as though he might spontaneously start spewing blood from wherever it was that he was leaking.

No dice.

As we came inside though I noticed another dried blood spot, and wondered what the heck was going on with Batman. Blood spot (A), led to blood spot (B), to blood spot (C), until I discovered that the Batcave contained more blood spatter than any of the other blood spots combined.

(These pictures don't do the Batcave justice. Take me at my word when I say that there are little dried bits of blood all over the cave walls. Ugh.)

Me, “What in the Sam Hill were you DOING in there Batman?”
Batman, “Slobber you face, I go sun now.”

Batman licked the side of my head while I was still inspecting the blood spattered Batcave. As I backed out I noticed his bloody elbow, and have no idea how he managed to scrape his elbow inside his kennel, let alone rub it all over the walls…

 (Again, you can't see the blood but I promise it was there.)

This discovery led to a full Batman inspection resulting in the discovery of this little beauty.

(The discoloration that looks like a freckle in this photo is actually a warty looking growth.)

After doing twenty minutes of dedicated internet searching I have diagnosed this as either an interdigital cyst or an interdigital furuncle. Since it's "crusty" (gag), I'm guessing that the abscess "popped" (hack), and should heal soon (shudder). According to lowchensaustralia.com I should foment Batman's paw humidly or "form a cataplasm of bread crumb soaked in hot milk". I plan to keep the interdigital warty bugger clean until it dries up and falls off, leaving the bread crumb cataplasm as a last resort.
In my expert, non-veterinary/new pet owner, opinion the only logical conclusion is that one of Batman’s oompah loompah minions contracted a demon. Thus possessed, the tiny whatever-it-was attacked Batman, scraping his elbow and giving him scurvy/the warty growth between his toes.

Sooooooooooooo, that was my morning, I hope yours goes much better and involves a minimum of blood spattered furuncles. Batman is sunning himself, and I’m off to clean his cave. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Germ

Dr. Charles P. Gerba makes a living studying the creepy crawly goobers that the human eye can’t see.

I made some unpleasant discoveries, while watching a lecture of his on hygiene in the 21st century, that made me think twice about a few things in and around my life.
    1. My kitchen: According to Gerba, “a microbiologist alien from outer space might be very confused about whether it should use the kitchen sink or the toilet to do its business because there is over 200 times more e coli and fecal matter on the cutting board in your kitchen than the toilet seat in your bathroom”. People are generally paranoid about keeping their restrooms clean, but throw caution to the wind when it comes to where they prepare their food. Meanwhile dogs seem to have the right idea because “they drink out of the toilet”.

    1. Laundry: Charlie’s mom might have been dirt poor, but she knew how to launder clothes well. Note the steaming vat of hot water she stirs the clothes in the next time you watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. Considering that the average load of dirty undergarments have upwards of 100 million e coli colonizing them you’d think that washing machines and detergents would be designed to obliterate a scourge to your nether regions, but that’s not the case. Great, great, great, Grandma’s clothes were actually cleaner than most folks today because she probably used more rugged detergents and hot water to do the wash. 95 percent of folks today use lukewarm or cold water to wash their clothes in an average 12 minute spin cycle that might as well be a water park for germs. If you really want to kill diarrhea and flu causing germs you have to crank the heat on high. While it might be more expensive to use hot water you can sleep soundly knowing you have “clean” underpants and hopefully pay fewer doctor bills.

      1. Public Restrooms: In the event of an emergency, say the sky collapses or an alternate universe implodes into our own reality making it absolutely necessary to use a public toilet, I plan to use the first stall. Statistically speaking, most people like to use the middle stall, and I plan to give them wide berth while they enjoy their germ encrusted thrones. I’ll bust down the door with brute strength to avoid touching the outside knob to the restrooms, and use my own hand sanitizer on the way out. Gerba cites 70-80 percent of people using a public restroom that wash their hands, like it’s a fantastic percentage, but that makes me wonder about the other 30-20 percent of people that shake your hand in the street after not washing. Eeeeeeeeeewwww. Oh, but wait, it get’s better when you think about toilets on an airplane. These are the germiest toilets by far. There's usually only one or two per plane for up to 75 passengers to share. They're cramped, and both the toilets and sinks have poor water flow. Currently there are no public health protocols for cleaning them either. Double eeeeeeeeeeeeeew.

      1. Work/Home Offices: I eat at my desk. There. I said it. And, according to Gerba, “most people don’t clean their office desk until they start sticking to it”. Yeah, I’m guilty of that too, and yet the number one germ hippy communes of free love are: cell phones, desktop/laptop computers, and keyboards. Germs can sing kum bay ya in electrical crevices to the thrum of battery powered heat, and reproduce by the gajillions. Interestingly women promote more desk germs than men because they tend to bring more biodegradable food to the camp fire. 70 percent of women store food at their desk, leftovers or maybe fruit, while 35 percent of men store food at their workspace. What men do keep at their desk, statistically speaking, is usually wrapped in plastic with a shelf life that would outlive them if they didn’t eat it.

        5. Teachers: If people got paid for the number of germs they were exposed to teachers would make more money than physicians and lawyers. Gerba explains that the cleanest job environments actually belong to doctors and lawyers. Meanwhile teachers trudge away in their germ factories and will contract more disease. Those that survive in the profession can legitimately claim that their constitution was well vetted.

        /Getty Images

        6. Children: If it took you an hour to read this post you will have touched your nose, mouth, or eyes approximately 16 times, and if you’re a young child you probably picked a few gems at least 80 times. Gerba cites young children as germ atom bombs. Having kids may be a joy, but consider having your overly critical in-laws babysit whenever Junior gets a cold. Most parents worry about what toys to give their kids and, from a microbiologist's perspective, the cleanest toy you can give them is a doll. If you’re worried about your children getting sick, or getting you sick via their toys, set aside gender roles and let everyone play with plastic dolls.

         After watching Dr. Gerba’s talk my initial reaction was to commission a bubble boy suit, but quickly realized that a bubble suit would only keep my germs closer to me. If all the germs die, then humans die too. While I’m happy to share the world with invisible microbes I’m still going to carry hand sanitizer, and stay the heck away from public water fountains.

        Tuesday, March 1, 2011

        Dear Felipe

        This is roughly what I look like before seven am.

        Looks aside, my mental faculties don’t function well/at all before that time. When I get calls from Felipe, and his friend who speaks slightly better English, before six thirty in the morning I become scared and confused like a demented 98 year old Alzheimer’s patient.

        Felipe, “Senora? Soy Felipe, eet ees Felipe.”

        Me, “Shmuh-shmerg? Shmuh-lipe? Snuguhguh.”


        I can’t explain why I answered Felipe’s first call at six am. I’d be hard pressed to tell you my name or move around without assistance at that time too. However, when Felipe proceeded to call three more times in succession I put my phone and my brain on silent. When I woke up three hours later I ate breakfast and checked my messages. While I punched in the code for my voicemail I thought absently about the fun weekend stuff I planned. 

        Hiking, visiting the new library, getting pizza dough ready so we could make them later for dinn-Felipe? Felipe? Didn’t I dream that?

        These are transcriptions of my messages. As I was listening I reverted back to the state of an inebriated orangutan.

        Message #1
        Woman’s voice, “Felipe is waiting for you at the park because you no give him the number to the house.”
        Gah! Felipe knows my park? He’s at my park? What house? Who is this woman, and how does she know that Felipe is at my park?

        Message #2
        Felipe, “Hello, thees Felipe. I gwhait 20 meenutes. I keep gwaiting see chu.”
                    Stalker! Felipe is stalking me at my park, and possibly my house! Bananas!

        Message #3
        Felipe, “Hello, thees Felipe. I gwhait hour, too long. I go…Thees Felipe…” Female voice interrupts.
        No, not a stalker, he’s a government agent! That’s it! I overdrew on my bank account and Wells Fargo knows. They knooooooooooooooooooooow, and they sent Felipe to get the money back.

        After Felipe called me the first time, and I went back to sleep, I dreamt that I’d overdrawn my bank account. Hearing these messages it made entire sense to me that Felipe was waiting at an unnamed park for me. It also made complete sense that the bank would hire a man, and his female companion/friend, both with questionable English skills, to collect.

        As I listened to the last message I received a call and picked it up still trying to understand what was going on.

        “Soy Felipe.”


        In retrospect I realize that Felipe is probably not affiliated with the FBI/CIA/IRS or any other governmental agency. A woman, with a phone number similar to mine, hired him for something, and arranged to meet him at the park (which is somewhat questionable in and of itself, but oh well). Instead of reaching the woman Felipe contracted to work for, he got me, a slightly demented mute.

        Dear Felipe,

        I’m sorry I didn’t use my words and screamed at you. You have the wrong telephone number. Good luck with your endeavor.