Annie and the Screen Door – Part II

The Heebie Jeebies
The Heebie Jeebies

Eighteen hours.

That’s how long the new screen door survived. We enjoyed the bug-free environment while it lasted, but alas, it was not meant to be. I know what you’re thinking. Let me help you to remove all doubt; Annie did it. This time there was no malice of forethought – no desire to do wrong. At least none that we could prove.

Annie had ruined the original screen weeks ago. I only bought a new one yesterday because the mosquitoes moved in with us. Without a screen door to keep them at bay, hoards of the winged bloodsuckers had flown into our house to feast on our warm bodies while we slept. While I’m fairly obsessive about keeping the doors locked at night, during the day they’re left open while we’re home. We don’t have air conditioning, so leaving the door open is the only way to get a breeze in that part of the house. With no screen to protect us, the insects had come a-callin’. Since Lauren had talked me out of hunting all the tiny vampires with my shotgun, I did the next best thing and bought a new screen door. Even with today’s prices, ammo would have been cheaper.

Annie is still a ferret puppy, and is therefore prone to attacks of crazed energy that my mother would call “the heebie-jeebies”. Regardless of where she finds herself during such an episode, she proceeds to run at flank speed until meeting an obstruction or simply deciding to change course. She then digs in and rebounds to run in a different direction, repeating the madness until boredom or exhaustion overtakes her. This maniacal behavior can happen at any time, but we’ve learned to expect it just after dinner. Yesterday was no exception, and Annie ran outside like a squirrel on a Red-Bull bender.

Deep in the midst of the heebie jeebies, Annie apparently decided that it was time to come back inside. As usual she ran up the 14 steps in two leaps, then rounding the corner of the deck, headed for the door. Without missing a beat, she continued her charge and leapt once more, soaring through the air towards the open door. This was the same door that had been open for weeks allowing her unfettered access to the house – the same door that had recently been covered with a new $128.95 screen.

The screen fought valiantly. Even with Annie’s considerable kinetic energy, the screen seemed to hold. Annie was the image of taught-muscled youth as she flew through the air. Her 100 ferret-pounds of mass met the screen dead center, her body crumpling into the tortured screen as the sickening sound of tearing fabric filled the air. As the door flexed under the attack, the force of impact caused the screen to tear perfectly across the bottom and halfway up one side. With the energy remaining from the impact, the screen ejected Annie unceremoniously to the deck. The battle was over; the screen had won. Though the screen had given its life to protect us from the large flying pest, it had successfully kept her out. Annie sat on the deck, no doubt confused by the sudden resistance where previously there had been none.

The screen had been here for all of 18 hours before it met its demise. Actually the screen still works pretty well, so I suppose it’s not a total loss. Because the screen tore on the edges, the door almost looks normal. Besides, now the dogs can come and go as they please through the new flap.  Marketing folks might even call it a design enhancement. My sanity on the other hand has taken another step down the very dark stairway to madness. Though I can’t see the bottom, I don’t think that there are many steps left.


Annie and the Screen Door

Annies Naughty Nose
Annie's Naughty Nose

We have a new screen door.

No I have not succumbed to pointless (and seemingly ubiquitous) “I’m making coffee!” blog entries. This screen door, like everything else it seems, is directly tied to Annie.

When we moved into our house back in 1997, the house had just been refitted with then-new Anderson windows and sliding glass doors. There are two beautiful sliding patio doors in our house; one upstairs in the dining room, and one downstairs in the family room. These sliding doors are our primary means of egress to the deck and back yard, so they are used frequently throughout the day.

The doors used to have beautiful wooden panels on the large sheets of glass. A matrix of intersecting decorative wooden strips made the doors look like they were made from 12 small panes of glass. They looked nice until Cozy learned to paw at the door to go out. Cozy eventually destroyed these strips, so for the past five years or so, the doors have been unadorned. Annie would have no doubt destroyed them anyway.

At some point in the past, Cozy had torn the screen on the upstairs door. The tear wasn’t large – maybe a few inches, and though ugly, the tear did not greatly affect the screen’s ability to keep bugs out. Then we got Annie.

Annie discovered that she could fit her pointy little ferret nose into this opening. She also discovered, that if she pushed, she could make the hole bigger! Bad dog!

I like to believe that there is a degree of decorum in my house. There is not of course, but I like to believe there are rules that was as civilized people try to follow. We all follow the unspoken rule that when having nice things, we must not destroy them lest they become ugly – or worse – useless things. Annie is a free spirit, who has no use for rules – especially unspoken ones.

One fine day, Annie was trying to get inside. I’m not sure why – zombies in the yard maybe? We do have a bit of a zombie problem here in New Jersey. Whatever the reason, Annie stood at the door, woofed her little ferret woof, and becoming impatient with our inaction, pushed her nose onto the screen as dogs often do. Annie is no ordinary dog though.

Annie the ferret-dog pushed her nose into the hole just as I walked up. “Annie NO!” I yelled as I ran up to stop her. Feeling panicked, she did what any crazed 100 pound puppy-ferret would do; she pushed.

I couldn’t get there in time. I tried – I swear that I tried. I can vividly remember the sound. The awful sound of tearing screen fabric as Annie’s black and white nose with that cute patch of white came pushing through the tear. As if watching a demonic birth, the head came next. It was horrifying!

The closer I got to the wicked beast, the more agitated she got. Being fully committed she had made her choice. In one final push, 100 pounds of black and white mayhem came through the screen. What had been a three inch hole was now a tear that my eight-year-old could walk through. Annie, now inside, wisely ran to hide behind Lauren. In the stunned silence, all that could be heard was mumbled obscenities while I stood and stared at the wrecked door.

Guinness, having been out on the deck watching, waited for the excitement to end. As if nothing had  happened, he got up, and walked through the new opening that Annie had so thoughtfully provided.

Yesterday, I bought a new sliding screen door for the kitchen. Are there any bets as to how long it will last?


Annie Gets the Apples

Annie, unable to get into the cabinet since I welded it shut (with a plastic child-lock), decided to hunt elsewhere for snacks today. While I was out writing at an air-conditioned Starbucks, Lauren and the kids went to the lake to be with her sister and nephews. Annie, who apparently had not been sufficiently fed – or perhaps entertained – still needed her snacks. A girl’s got to eat after all.

Being at war with a hyperactive 100 pound juvenile ferret makes us do things that other people might find odd. For example whenever Lauren leaves the house, she puts the kitchen trash can in the bathroom, and the fruit bowl in the microwave. That may seem strange in your house, but I assure you that it is quite normal in our little corner of the Newfy asylum.

Upon Lauren’s return from the lake, she discovered Guinness happily munching on a peach pit. What the Hell? But the fruit bowl is… empty on the counter. It didn’t even look like it had been moved.

We’re still unsure about Guinness’ role in all of this. He was found with a peach pit, so he is at least an accessory to fruit theft, but it’s possible that he simply found it when everyone came upstairs. I think we might need to set up the old Newf-Cam again.

Today’s score from the monochromatic bandit was five apples and a peach. There were no remains to be identified from the apple family. The peach pit was given a proper burial… in the bathroom where the kitchen trash remains.


Migrating from XP to OSX

Having recently bought a Mac Powerbook Pro, I had to come to grips with using a new operating system. I have used Windows XP since it was a beta in 2001. This being the end of summer in 2009, you could say that I’m a tad set in my ways when it comes to my computing tasks.

The original Macintosh
The original Macintosh

The Mac Powerbook Pro was so enticing a piece of hardware though, that I was willing to look at Mac OSX. I was no stranger to Macs having used them since my roommate bought an original Macintosh back before time began. Though at the time I liked my Tandy 1000 better, the Mac was pretty darn cool too.

Still, having one around and using one as my primary mobile computing platform were two different issues. I’m a working consultant, so I need my laptop to work – period. I also need to not be trying to figure out how to use my computer while charging my client by the hour. That’s just bad form. (more…)

Annie and the Shower Trash

There is a large kitchen sized trash can in our bathroom. It’s not that we have large trash-can needs in our bathroom – far from it. What we have is a trash security problem.

Many years ago we bought a very nice stainless steel trash can for the kitchen. This wonderful container cost over $100, and has a spring-loaded latching lid. In order to open it, you push down on the top which then pops up under its own power. When you close it, it latches closed. It is an engineering work of art that serves a necessary purpose in our house. (more…)

Why I Bought a Mac

Apple Macbook Pro
Apple Macbook Pro

I hate laptops. In fact I have a statement that I repeat whenever anyone asks me to recommend a laptop:

“All laptops suck – buy what you like”

The purists will note that we haven’t seen a laptop in the market for over 10 years. Laptops were huge beastly things that harken back to the days of floppy disks and orange plasma screens. What we’re talking about of course, are notebook computers. The word laptop just rolls of the tongue better than notebook does, so I, like most people, will continue to misuse the word. Besides, I use it on my lap all the time. Thanks, I feel better.

At any rate, I found myself recently needing a laptop because my HP widescreen laptop blew a hard drive and developed an LCD problem that I couldn’t live with. I fixed it up as best as I could, and donated it to my youngest daughter who now uses it exclusively for important tasks like surfing (more…)

Annie and the Mashed Potatos

Would you trust this face?
Would you trust this face?

Today, as usual, I spent some time at my local  Starbucks to enjoy a tripple espresso con-panna and to write. While I enjoy writing at home, the distractions are many. Between children, dogs and the ubiquitous toys of my many hobbies, I simply cannot focus on what I’m writing long enough to finish a complete thought. Why as I was trying to write the last sentence my eight year old walked in to tell me about the latest development in her Wii game. Of course she isn’t to blame for my short attention span, but I digress.

At any rate, today after writing about my Cozy, I came home to an empty house and two happy dogs. After petting them I walked upstairs to discover what looked like snow all over the floor. Since it’s August, I cleverly deduced that it couldn’t be snow, and as I got closer I noticed a destroyed box of mashed potato mix. I also found popcorn, some wrappers and a bra. I’m not sure how the bra was related to the mess, but it caught my attention none-the-less since being a man, I am helpless in the presence of a bra to do anything but stare.

I knew at once that Annie had been here. Who else would have caused such wanton destruction of foodstuffs? Certainly not Guinness. Annie was the puppy in the house, and though now over a year old, was still the prime suspect in this crime. She had a known history of plundering food stores. She had previously been found guilty of eating whole avocados and bananas right from the counter. Turning to look, I saw that Annie had come up to the landing and was sitting there looking at me with her head hung low. She exuded guilt. I gave her my best disapproving voice, Annie what have you done. Her head hung even lower.

When Lauren and the kids got home, and I came in from mowing, I commented on how Annie needs a hobby, and how we need child locks again. It was a happy day when we finally removed all the child locks. Years of fancy finger work to open the cabinets and drawers were finally behind us. That is, until now.

Guinness, who loves Lauren most, was sitting by her enjoying the cool breeze from the open sliding door. The screen, long since destroyed by Annie leaned uselessly against the outside wall. As I leaned down to pat Guinness’ head, I moved in close to tell him what a good boy he was. That’s when I noticed little flecks on his nose – little flecks of mashed potato mix.

It would seem that there’s more to this crime than I first expected. I think a full inquiry is in order.


GAD the Cranky Consumer

Many people like to shop, and I’m no exception, but I tend to shop for very specific items after doing a lot of careful research. I know what I want, I know how much it costs, and I’m not an idiot. That’s worth restating:

I know what I want

I know how much it costs

I am not an idiot

It would seem that everywhere I go, I am assaulted by retail employees and shop owners who cannot understand these three simple truths about me. I feel that I am not alone, as I have heard other people complain of the same sort of things I will rant about here. Still, the American retail experience is one filled with frustration, arrogance and sometimes downright anger.

If I walk into a store knowing that something sells for $399.95 everywhere, and the sales associate tells me that the store’s cost is $445.00, they obviously think that I’m an idiot. It’s not always the sales person’s fault of course. I’m sure many of the big box stores train their employees to treat us all like cattle being led to slaughter. I would hope that some poor retail sales associate might refuse to play this game, but my hope seems misplaced. Perhaps the associates that refuse to play are fired. That would probably make me sad if I weren’t so often angry at the way I’d been treated.

Gibson Les Paul R9 w/ Rare One-Piece Top

I tend to buy specific high-end items. If I walk into a guitar store and ask to see a Gibson Les Paul 1959 reissue guitar (commonly called an R9), chances are that I know it’s made in Gibson’s custom shop, and that it will be significantly better made than the Les Paul Standard. The mere fact that the reissue retails for over six thousand dollars while the Standard retails for less than half of that probably indicates that it’s a better guitar. Granted price does not always equal quality, but in this case it does. Please don’t tell me that the Standard is “just as good”. I know what I want, and I’m not an idiot. Just tell me that you don’t have any R9s in stock please.

At any rate I have a pile of these stories, and I’ll be sharing them here. I’ll eventually complile all my ramblings into a book or at the very least a pamphlet to hand out during parades and such, so enjoy them now while they’re free.


Grimace and the Smoke Detector

Original Newf-Net Post:

I’m sitting in the home office working, when I hear “beep”. A short while later “Beep”. Hmm.. something needs new batteries.

“Beep” then the sound of thundering hooves down the stairs. In roars Grimace with a look of Oh CRAP on his face. He pushed by me, and proceeds to curl up under my desk, leaving no room for me.

Seems the smoke detector not only beeps, it says “Low battery” out loud in a scary man voice. Seems also that Grimace had tried to get in the shower with Lauren before he come seeking solace in my cave.

Such a brave boy.

He did not leave from under my desk for a good 45 minutes.

…and yes, I still call him Grimace. They wouldn’t let me change Annie’s name, I’m not changing his.Besides. He likes it.

Now he’s associated Lauren taking a shower with the smoke detector going off, so he runs and hides with me in the office until the shower is done.