A Tale of Two Jacksons

The hair band style of music made popular in the 1980s generally requires guitars called super-Strats. These are guitars shaped like Fender Stratocasters that have been hot-rodded in any number of interesting ways. Usually they include at least one humbucking pickup in the bridge position, and are often adorned with neon colors or flashy designs. You have to remember that in the 70s, most rock bands played either Gibson Les Pauls, Fender Stratocasters or Telecasters. These hot-rodded super-Strats were a statement that the same old boring thing wasn’t good enough for us. Of course today, those “same old boring” Les Pauls, Strats and Teles from the 50s and 60s are worth a pretty penny, but back then, it was all about the look on these shredder guitars. (more…)

House of Staunton Collector Series Luxury Chess Set

I am an admitted gear-hound. I like stuff. While that in and of itself isn’t a problem, I suffer from a more sinister condition; I like nice stuff.

I blame my dad. I can remember him telling me that if I had narrowed my purchase down to a particular model, I should always buy the next better model. He advised that I would only feel the pain of the increased cost for a short while, but I’d enjoy the better item for years to come. Additionally, the better model often meant better quality as well, which would help to ensure an even longer lifespan for my purchase. Sage wisdom.

Today it seems that purchasing the “better” item rarely buys increased quality, but instead offers increased functionality. In the world of electronics, that can make sense. Electronics though, has become the epitome of mass production. Not only are hand-made electronics now the realm of boutique builders, those boutique builders are becoming more scarce every year. (more…)

Annie: The Beginning

I thought that I would share the story of Annie coming to live with us, since people who were not members of Newf.Net at the time don’t know the tale. You see, Annie was a mistake.

No, I don’t mean that it was a mistake to get Annie, though some days I might grumble otherwise. What I mean is that we did not plan on getting Annie, or any dog for that matter. At least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Or should I say that’s what Lauren likes to tell me.

I had decided that we would not get another dog until I had finished my book about Cozy. Cozy, who’s page on this blog has remained empty as I struggle to write the perfect piece about her, was our first dog as a couple. She was our first baby, years before we had human children. Cozy had died a few years before, and I had still not recovered. (more…)

Annie and the Zombies

There are zombies afoot. Our woods are full of the shambling undead. Of course we’ve never seen them, but we know they’re there. My Cozy first noticed them many years ago, but to read that story you’ll have to buy the book I wrote about her. You know, the one that hasn’t been picked up by an agent or publisher? Yes, that’s the one. Let me know how you like it.

To summarize the most wonderful zombie-dog story ever written (but not read), I’ll just say that there were zombies in our woods, and Cozy kept them at bay for eight years. How do we know there were zombies in the woods? Well, they never got into the yard, so they must have stayed in the woods. The logic is irrefutable. I should warn you though that I have been told the operative word in my previous sentence doesn’t mean what I think it means, so draw your own conclusions. (more…)

Annie: Bagel Snatcher

I like bagels. In fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. I know two people who don’t like cheese, but that’s just weird. Bagels, on the other hand, seem to be universally adored. Of course now that I’ve put that in writing, I’m sure I’ll get a flood of comments such as “I find your wanton disregard for those of us who dare to dislike bagels, much like bagels themselves: distasteful!” These comments usually appear in a more succinct “you suck” format, but I’ve learned to read between the lines. ¬†Allow me then to backpedal and say simply that I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like bagels. But wait… that’s a double negative, which will get the pedants on my case, provided Annie isn’t already sitting on it. What was I talking about? Oh yes – bagels. (more…)

Annie and the Butter – Part III

Annie turned two years old on Wednesday. Many people will tell you that a Newf is fully grown at the age of two. That may be true physically, but I’m here to tell you that the age of two is not the pinnacle of emotional development for a Landseer Newfoundland Ferret-Dog. If I had to venture a guess based on recent behavior, I’d say that 34 might be the age of enlightenment.

Annie is now very much a teenager. She understands the rules, but she can’t be bothered to obey them. She doesn’t grab every piece of underwear from the hamper like she used to, but she will grab a pair if she’s feeling spunky and ignored. She is no longer a rampaging menace in our house, but has grown into more of a patient, conniving menace. You know, like a dragon. The moment she starts hoarding treasure, my suspicions will be confirmed, but until then I’ll be keeping a careful eye on our suspected Draco Canis Ferritus. At any rate, we needed to celebrate the second anniversary of the she-beast’s hatching, and like any good celebration, ours centered around cupcakes. (more…)

Annie the Cheeseburglar

Before we get started, I’ll need to get this out of the way: My family enjoys American Idol. I resisted, feeling that the whole reality show genre was positioned squarely beneath me, but my wife liked it, and the kids liked it, so my resistance waned. After finding myself watching from the doorway, pretending that I was on my way to do something more respectable, I finally had to admit to myself that I wasn’t nearly a high-brow in my television tastes as I had liked to think. (more…)

Annie the Girl Scout

While I would love to have a story about Annie becoming a ceremonial member of the local Girl Scouts troop, this tale is, like Annie, far more complicated.

All of my girls are Girl Scouts. Lauren is even a Girl Scout leader. Annie though, is not a Girl Scout. I think perhaps she secretly wishes that she was, though who’s to know what really goes on in her ferret-dog brain. (more…)

Chessmate.com’s Travel Chess Set

I enjoy a good game of chess, but when I travel, I only play on the computer because most chess boards are too big to take with me when I travel. The problem with playing on the computer is that it’s just not the same as having a board with real pieces in front of you. Luckily, many companies make travel chess sets that cater to whiny traveling nerds like me. The problem is, they all suck. (more…)

My Other Daughter Beat Me at Chess

It’s official. Both of my daughters are chess prodigies. That is, of course, the only plausible explanation for the fact that they have now both beaten me.

It has been said that chess is life. I don’t know who said it, but I’m sure it’s been said. Heck, I just said it, so now it’s been said. Actually to be painfully accurate, it’s now been written, but rest assured, I said it just now for good measure.

If chess is life, and both of my pre-teen girls have beaten me at the game, then is it not therefore true that they have both beaten me at life? It sure feels that way.

Beating your dad at chess is supposed to be a big deal. You’re supposed to work for years before you finally rend that hard-won victory from the old man’s weathered hands. That’s the way it’s been since time immemorial, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be now. It’s not supposed to be like this! (more…)