fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Parenting Advice for Fathers: Teenagers

My son turned 18 recently. Technically, that means he is now an adult. But not really!

I've read somewhere that the human brain isn't fully formed or mature until about 24 or 25 years old. I can vouch for that! Since that doesn't help me now, I've come up with some tips and advice on dealing with older teenagers.

First and foremost, they are never, ever wrong. Nor do they make mistakes. Even when they're completely wrong, or you catch them making a mistake, it's never through any fault of the teenager!

The littlest, fuzzy, black dog actually being nice! Back to sleep...

Also, teenagers are veritable geniuses and know everything. Yes, everything! If you catch them in the wrong, refer back to the first rule above.

Parents, you are no longer adults. You have now become 'older, clueless people who lack vision.' In fact, your job is to prevent your teen from finding his (or her) true inner self and reaching his (or her) worldly potential through the dispensing of sound suggestions and sage advice. Gosh!

Also, parents, learn when to just not say anything. The words that come out of your mouth will either be ignorant, politically incorrect, racist, sexist, narrow-minded, or just plain biased in some way, shape or form. Take the following conversation, for example...

"Hey, son! Check out that tall guy..."
"What have you got against tall people?!"
"Umm... Nothing. Him. In the plaid shirt."
"Now you're making fun of what he's wearing?!"
"The dude! With the brown hair!"
"It might be gray. Or a wig! What if he has cancer?"
"Just look! Him! Over there!"
"What about him?"
"Never mind now. I don't remember."

I must say that after 47 years, 18 of them as a parent, I have finally understood the magic of the word "whatever." Honestly, I used to hate it because it followed questions like "why is the milk out?" "have the fuzzy, black dogs been fed?" and "who was at the door?"

Now I use it. It's quite exhilarating and I highly recommend trying it. Here's how it works...

"Dad! There's no gas in my car! And I'm taking Beth to the movies after we go out for dinner and I'm flat broke! And Mom said to talk to you!"


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holidays, Good Deeds and Mipso, Oh My!

I started off my holiday weekend by doing some good deeds -- a feat I hope to repeat next year. It seems to have started me off on the right foot, so to speak, and in a good frame of mind.

I raked the leaves in my and my neighbors yards. I jumped my wife's and her mom's cars. There's a joke there involving two blondes and two red cars, but I'm still being nice! I ran the Early Bird 5K in Lexington with my wife's sister. Now I'm ending it by helping a cousin.

Technically, he's my first cousin, once removed. And, yes, I had to ask my mother in order to make sure I got that correct. Thanks Mom!

Regardless, I decided my final good deed for the holiday weekend would be to provide a plug for him and his band. What better place to have your band advertised than in the most famous of Internet venues, Fuzzy, Black Dogs?

I considered asking my cousin, Joseph, the singer and guitar player, (did that sound like name-dropping? Nah!) if he wanted his picture with me for this blog post during Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily, good sense won out.

First of all, I didn't want to make him uncomfortable since we are family. And secondly, I felt it would be most unfair to him for me to eclipse his chance at success with my amazing celebrity status as the creator and comedic genius behind this wildly successful blog.

Anyway, the name of his band is Mipso. Perhaps you've heard of them. I believe they played on a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade a few days ago in New York, NY. Their new album, Old Time Reverie, is currently at the top of the Bluegrass charts. I've heard them. They're good!

In the meantime, I'm petitioning the parade's float and balloon committee to request a Fuzzy, Black Dog balloon in the parade for next year. Of course it will be big! I'm just hoping it won't be so big to be considered gaudy, or anything like that!

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to go eradicate a sparrow from my mother-in-law's laundry room. I'm hoping that this will be the last good deed because I am worn out!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chaotic Books Cause Suffering

Even though I really don't suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in case you're wondering), I have to admit to having just a few particular tendencies towards certain... Things.

Books, coincidentally, fall in this list. In fact, they're probably pretty high in that list. They may possibly top the list, but I'm digressing.

Anyway, I just happened to visit my wife at her school earlier today. She likes to give me "little projects," as she calls them.

"These books," she said, pointing to a rather large-ish stack of banded books, "need to go back into the Guided Reading Library. Would you do that for me? If so, I need you to find some more..."

First of all, I love books. Secondly, I like to hold books. Thirdly, I like to peruse through various books. Fourth, I like to find books. Fifth, I like to read books... Wait! Did I mention I love books?

Anyway, I gladly staggered into the library under the weight of the books. Upon first inspection, everything seemed pretty tidy. Fiction on one side, in order by level (difficulty level, that is). Nonfiction was on the other side, also in order by level. And that's where it stopped.

I looked at the first bin in the first section. I expected a book with an "A" title, but Junie B. Jones was there, sticking her tongue out at me. I stood there a moment, stunned.

Perhaps Junie is just out of place, I thought. I started rifling through the books to fix Junie. The next book started with an "M." The next, "R." The next, "C." I began to panic. I flipped through faster. Not a single book was in its rightful and proper place!

Thank goodness someone thought to put chairs in there! I had to sit and collect myself a moment.

I felt like Atlas, the weight of the world resting upon my hands and shoulders! I faced a monumental decision.

Everyone knows that if you have more than three books, they should always be in alphabetical order! So there I sat, stunned and debating whether I should begin alphabetizing them. It's only five shelves, I reasoned. Each shelf is only 30 yards long, give or take a few yards.

I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I found empty spaces for the books in their proper levels. I took a deep breath. I shoved the first set of books in a spot. I shuddered and hoped the next set of books would be easier. They weren't!

Needless to say, I did get the books put away, though not properly. That was more than five hours ago. Luckily, I've long since put it out of my mind. And I'm definitely NOT thinking about going back to fix it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hurricane Naming Made Easy

It seems that I'm not up on my Spanish currently. For those of you who don't watch the news or are rusty on your Spanish, the hurricane that has meandered along the East Coast and is loitering who knows where over the Atlantic Ocean is pronounced wah-keen, not joe-can.

It's important that someone save the less informed from any undue embarrassment that could be caused from improper pronunciation.

I would like to take this opportune moment to address the powers that be that actually assign names to hurricanes. That, in fact, would be an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

Joaquin? Really? I'm not saying it's a bad name. Quite to the contrary, it's a pretty cool name. From what I understand, it's a relatively common Spanish name that comes from the Hebrew name Joachim, which literally means, according to Wikipedia, "lifted by Yahweh."

Regardless of what the name means, some people see the "J" and get confused as to how to pronounce it, though I'm not going to name any names

For you folks at the WMO, I'm all for unique names! In fact, let's go for some different, unique names like, perhaps, Hurricane Ace. Now that has a nice ring to it! So do hurricanes Bob and Lilly. 

It is but a mere coincidence that those happen to be the names of my three fuzzy, black dogs!

Here are some others for your committee members to ponder over for future hurricanes. They are as follows: Harper, Davis, Ariabella, Ethel, Franny (since Frances was retired, of course!), Carl, Mae, Spencer, Gray, Hannah, Buffy, and Beauwater.

While you don't necessarily have to credit me with supplying these other cool names, WMO, I won't mind if you do. It won't go to my head.

In the meantime, the name Joaquin has begun to grow on me. Perhaps if I acquire another fuzzy, black dog, I'll name him Joaquin.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Men, Women, and Foreign Objects

have extensive knowledge on the subject of women. I grew up the middle child between two girls. I've been married for nearly 21 years. Trust me... I know stuff!

The most important thing that any guy needs to know about women is that they don't like foreign, unsightly, or out-of-place objects. Allow me to elaborate with a simple test.

Study, if you will, the photo above. Then proceed to the multiple choice answers listed below. While there may be more than one correct answer, you may pick only one.

A. Wow! This dude can't even take a decent selfie. Perhaps there's something wrong with him...
B. Hmm... I don't see anything wrong with this photo. Whatever.
C. Goodness. That's a long hair. He should probably cut it.
D. OMG! Foreign object alert! Somebody, quick, hand me the tweezers and stand back! 

If you picked A, that means you're a guy and you're only half correct. While I may not be the best selfie taker, I'm a pretty well adjusted, with-it, and swell kind of guy! Really!

If you picked B, you are, without a doubt, a guy. And you're right! There's really nothing... Too wrong about this photo.

If you picked C, your powers of observation are impressive. However, define long. Now define too long. Also, if I cut it, wouldn't another just grow out to take its place? Just some questions to ponder...

If you picked D, no doubt about it, you're a woman, plain and simple. This is okay, of course, because oftentimes men need women in their lives to take of these types of things.

My wife eradicated the "offending foreign object" last night with a pair of tweezers and extreme prejudice!

To my wife, and all women out there, men aren't weenies. It really does hurt, and for more than just a second, too! I nearly called in sick to my school due to the excruciating pain I felt upon waking...

Monday, August 31, 2015

Gluten Free Fiesta Lasagna. Ole!

I have a very funny wife. She tells me that she's not creative or handy in the kitchen. Yet, she came up with a new recipe off the top of her head just last night. Guess what? It was delicious!

Normally, the person who creates the meal gets the credit. Take, for example, Phillip's Fabulous Gluten Free (GF) Crackers or Phillip's Famous GF Faked Ziti. Both delicious, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, my wife didn't want credit or her name used in this blog, so I'm simply calling it GF Fiesta Lasagna. Ole!

Now, the true food connoisseurs out there are going to want to test this amazing new recipe for themselves. You are in luck since I penned the recipe to paper, more or less. Here are the ingredients:
1lb ground beef
Can of black beans
Can of whole corn
Half cup of salsa (or more, or less... I forgot to measure it!)
Pretty good amount of cheddar and colby jack cheeses, shredded and mixed
GF taco seasoning (I make my own using garlic, cumin, chili powder, and paprika -- amounts unknown! I forgot to measure!)
GF corn tortillas
Can (bigger) of crushed tomatoes
1 beer (wine or ale, if you prefer. This is strictly for the cook's consumption!)

Brown your meat. Add a little water (just a little!) and taco seasonings. Cook. Drain and rinse black beans. Add to mixture. Drain corn. Add to mixture. Add salsa. Add tomatoes. Cook some on stove top set somewhere safely between Off and Hi.

Don't forget (like I did!) to preheat the oven. More than 300, but less than 400 degrees. Perhaps I set mine for 375? I think?

Start with meat sauce and layer, placing tortillas on next. Then sauce, cheese, tortillas, sauce and end with the cheese. It's not Southern without the cheese on top!

Then just cook it for a while. Mine warmed as the oven preheated, but I think it was in for a total of 35 minutes. If you subtract the 10 minutes I'm guessing it takes my oven to preheat, I guess it cooked for 25 minutes? Maybe?

Anyway, if you want a vegetarian version of this, try going to my friend's cooking blog, www.cookingwithcrago.blogspot.com. She's a real chef who measures ingredients and knows how to use ovens and stove tops! Go figure!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Teacher's Guide to the New Year

The new academic year is nearly upon us. New students, old students, books, pencils, classrooms, and grades will all be in full swing in a little more than a week.

An exciting time for parents looking for a little quiet time in their day, but a busy time for teachers. And teacher assistants, too, of course. Really.

Three days into school, this pile of pencils will be missing!

I've created a helpful guide for new teachers, as well as refresher notes for experienced teachers who have foolishly donned their rose colored glasses.

Here are the significant details in a nutshell.

There will be a lot of kids. They will be all sorts of ethnicities. This is okay, as long as they're human. A few may argue with you over that fact, but that, in fact, is normal.

Out of these kids, a handful will be male. The rest will be female. If you're lucky, the numbers of male to female will be even. If not, that's cool too.

Some of the males will cause trouble, as will some of the females. Don't worry too much about who they are. They'll let you know in their own special way just as soon as they are able.

Hopefully, they'll all be wearing clothes. Discourage the discarding of clothes throughout the day. If you don't teach, don't laugh. It's a thing!

Now each one of these unique little beings is different and each one has his or her own name. Confusing, but this, also, is a good thing. Otherwise, the rest of the year will become even more confusing.

The first day can be summed up in one simple word -- chaos. Here's the short answer why...

Take all the ingredients above, mix them together in a single room known as Miss Whoever's room. Add in a peanut allergy. Don't add Johnny next to Junie because he's gross and makes her throw up. Mix Jerry near the board since he can't see. Don't mix Junior near the computer because he has no self-control. And no matter where you mix Jarrell, he'll still lay on his desk bubbling and burbling, pretending to be a fish!

This, of course, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It can, and sometimes does, get worse.

Don't believe me? Just ask any teacher you know. They'll tell you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Local University Flaunts Extraterrestrial Tech

I'm eight classes into graduate school. I'm four weeks into my Master's degree. That gives me approximately two years to go, right? The question begging to be answered is -- will I make it?

At this point, I'm simply not sure if I will or not. The technology may kill me first!

I had a rude awakening about three classes ago. Here's what happened in a nutshell.

Two women -- and I use that term loosely since they, as well as my classmates, all look like teenagers to this 47 year-old -- wheeled in what looked like a hibachi style, silver metal cooking table.

The table turned out to be a "laptop cart." They opened hidden doors to reveal a neat, precise row of wafer thin, silver squares. It looked scary. The squares, it turned out, were laptops.

I watched my classmates and tried to replicate them by walking to the station, unplugging one of the sinister looking, silver seeds, and placing it on my desk before me.

Man, those things were small! My first cell phone was bigger than those little laptops!

Regardless, I continued to imitate the women. As I did, I noticed the fruit emblazoned upon the device. Hmm... I opened it up. That began my first panic attack.

It took a moment, but I did find the 'on' button. Whew! My panic ebbed a bit. And then it came back in full force. Darn High Point University and its alien technology!

Where the *BLEEP* were all my buttons! The 'F' keys were missing! The number pad was gone! And, most importantly, my left and right click buttons simply were not there! In fact, there were NO clicky buttons!

The alien device's screen glowed, staring at me. It silently mocked me. I assessed the distance from my desk to the door and gauged how quickly I could run from the classroom.

As luck would have it, all these young women, as well as the professor, are incredibly nice. They're respectful to the elderly and have given me a crash course on operating the university's crazy technology.

That, of course, leads me to my next question... How do these women know how to operate this extraterrestrial tech?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

High Point's Hidden Wonders

Every time I turn around, I discover something new, unusual, or unique about my home town of High Point. It seems you just have to keep your eyes open to see these things.

Some are pretty obvious, like the giant comma, masquerading as a round-a-bout. For those of us who live near it, the comma offers up a bit of fun as we watch the traffic navigate it. Scary, but quite entertaining!

Some are not as obvious, like the million square feet of business space in our downtown that's only used four to six months out of every year. Hmmm...

And of course we harbor the worlds largest chest of drawers here in High Point. I think we advertise that in our brochures about our fair city. I'm pretty sure we have brochures... I'll check into that one.

A little less known is the giant, unused mall that resides within the confines of our city. The idea "if you build it, they will come" apparently does not pertain to shopping malls.

Meanwhile, High Point University, which used to be not much larger than a postage stamp, has grown to immense proportions. Word through the High Point grapevine says that HPU may be converting that mall into something more useful.

Now I've discovered an alligator farm across the street from the little elementary school where I work! Will wonders never cease!

I walked across the street to get a better look at it this past Friday. I did not see a farm. Nor did I see any alligators. I did, however, spot a sign of hope!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NC Governor Surprises Fourth Grade Field Trip

"That was the governor that just walked over your heads," I told some of our fourth-graders during our Raleigh field trip yesterday. We were touring the Capitol Building as an important meeting finished up.

"Huh?" was one response. Another said, "what?" and one student said, "who?"

"The North Carolina Governor," I said. "You know, Pat McCrory! The guy the lady in the legislative building mentioned just a little earlier?"

I got even more puzzled looks from my fourth-graders. A brusque, but polite voice immediately behind me asked me to move myself and the children to one side.

I did as I was told. I straightened up. I turned around and stood face-to-face with the 74th Governor of North Carolina, Patrick Lloyd "Pat" McCrory.

This may be a good time to tell you about this funny quirk in my personality. I attribute it to my ADD. Basically, when something takes me totally by surprise, I have a tendency to blurt out something from the deep, dark recesses of my brain.

I shook his hand. I looked him in the eye (like a deer caught in headlights!). I even shared some words with Governor McCrory! Words of encouragement, I'm sure.

I puffed up with pride. I went on with the remainder of my field trip with a newfound swagger in my step and my chin held high. After all, I just shook hands with our state's governor!

It wasn't until we were all safely on the bus heading home when it hit me. For the life of me, I simply couldn't recall my words to the governor as I exuberantly shook his hand.

So, Pat, if you're reading this, feel free to leave a comment on Fuzzy, Black Dogs telling me what I said. I can't handle another sleepless night wondering!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Case of the Missing Chocolate Cake

I go on mad baking binges sometimes. Every now and again, for some unknown reason, I just feel the need to create something. To bake something. Last night was one of those times, so I made a cake.

It wasn't just any cake. It was a gluten free chocolate cake made from a King Arthur brand cake mix.  (Yummy!). The chocolate icing was one of my own recipes, made from scratch and absolutely delicious!

I took two small pieces out of the cake last night -- one for me and one for my wife. Otherwise, it was a completely undisturbed, happy cake on the counter. Or so I thought.

I awoke this morning with one thing on my mind. Chocolate cake! We all know cake is the ultimate breakfast food and I don't feel the need to delve into the details on that one. It is obvious, right?

So I went through my usual morning routine and then made my way downstairs. As I came to the kitchen, the crime scene came into full view.

The cake was missing. In its place was a nearly empty cling wrap container. I put my sleuthing skills to the test and began making observations. The details, as I saw them, were that there were no dogs to be found and no broken glass, so the dogs didn't eat it. Another detail was that my son is 17, and, while possible, it's not really feasible that he could have eaten an entire chocolate cake in one evening. Right?

It is possible that a 17 year old can actually put something up. I've seen it happen. I checked the refrigerator. I checked the microwave. I checked on top of the refrigerator. I checked the pantry. I checked the refrigerator again. Then I checked the 17 year old's room.

I woke him and kindly interrogated him, using his sleepy state to my advantage. Another dead end!

Then I remembered my wife telling me she needed a snack for her classroom. Though I fixed popcorn for her little second-graders, the clues were all pointing to my wife! Gasp!

An entire chocolate cake for snack time? Second-graders? A healthy breakfast does not a healthy second grade snack make!

I got to school and texted her. While I have yet to hear from her, I fully intend to extract a confession from the guilty party when she gets home from school today.

Case closed. I think.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lawn Mower Comes Down with the Flu

love this time of year! Warm weather. Shorts and flip-flops. Pools opening. Leaves finally returning to the trees. Flowers blooming. Grass growing...

Well, you can nix that last one for one simple reason -- lawn mowing season! Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a yard maintenance kind of guy.

"I hope your mower works," my wife said helpfully as I went to break out my lawn mower for the season.  "You know, you never got it winterized. And I don't know if you ever covered it properly for the winter."

The ailing, evil grass cutting machine.

I love my wife, but she says the silliest things! I walked with confidence to where I stored my lawn mower for the winter. Somehow, the cover had come off the self-induced torture device.

I pulled it out anyway. I brushed it off. I checked the oil. Check. I eyeballed the gas tank. Hmm. I topped it off. Check. Concluding my mechanical knowledge, I cranked it on up. Perfect.

And then it cut off. Hmm. Maybe I should have winterized it. I jiggled it to mix the old gas with the new gas. I cranked it up. Perfect. And then it cut off again!

I told my wife I was heading to the gas station to get some orange juice for the mower. "It has the flu, honey," I said, explaining that I was really getting fresh gas.

"Check the filter before you do anything else," she replied. There she goes acting like she knows machines again! Silly!

I decided to humor her and checked the filter. It was a little gummed up. Only a little, though. I cleaned it out and started the infernal machine.

Strange. It actually ran a little better. I managed to mow a majority of the yard with it cutting off in three to five minute intervals.

I managed to cut the grass, as well as the cursing and curses to a minimum as the mower's brief running intervals hummed happily longer. And then, it reached the end of its rope, so to speak.

I was planning to get a white candle to light on the mower while I perform a healing dance. My wife, however, suggested a lawn mower mechanic.

She's been lucky so far. I may just follow her advice.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Fuzzy, Black Dogs' Taste Test

I fairly recently had a birthday. In fact, I turned 47, thank you very much. So far so good, right? Reflecting upon that vast amount of time, I realized that, while I enjoy playing in the kitchen, I haven't always been the avid, amazing chef that I am today.

While my poor wife and son put up with a lot of my craziness, at least they don't have to suffer my cooking. I can make an excellent chicken tetrazzini. My sister-in-law particularly liked my spinach stuffed manicotti I made once. My father-in-law likes my cakes and most everyone likes my manic, mad cookie baking binges!

While I am enjoying tooting my own horn, I must admit that not everything I make is a masterpiece.

There have been some gluten free bread loaves that would make great door stops. Cardboard tastes better than some of my gluten free saltine crackers. I've made some gluten free pizza crusts that failed two out of three fuzzy, black dogs' taste test (Bob eats anything!).

And my latest cooking venture? It was simply titled Meatza Pepperoni Pizza. It's been several days since I attempted that creation -- I just can't call it a meal.

Instead of a typical bread crust, it uses ground beef in place of the crust. That's right. No bread, just meat. My recipe didn't call for anything that could be misconstrued as healthy. Instead, it called for sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Each of these ingredients simply go on top of the meat crust.

"Good gosh, Dad," my son exclaimed. "Are you trying to kill us?! What is this? Cholesterol spiking, heart attack in a cookie sheet?!"

Needless to say, I won't be going into details on the "four star" recipe we printed off the internet. I won't even bother with some of the other comments that were made, except to say that it did pass the fuzzy, black dogs' taste test.

I will say, though, that it sure looked a lot better in the picture than it did in my house!

Monday, March 23, 2015

To Pirate, or not to Pirate...

have a 17 year-old son. Funny thing about 17 year-olds is that they typically aren't known as stellar conversationalists! While my son can be a very well spoken young man, he is no exception.

"Hey Dad," he said to me one morning. "If you were a pirate, what would your pirate name be? What would be the name of your ship? What animal would you have? What appendage would you lose and how would you replace it?"

Being the awesome father I am, I indulged his 17 year-old nuttiness. That's where I went wrong.

My original pirate name was simply Arrrrrrr! After he pointed out that I would be called Captain Constipation, I changed my name to Captain Blackheart because I felt it sounded intimidating.

While I don't remember my ship's name, I do remember my pirate animal being a parrot that would say, "Blackheart's gonna kill ya dead! Squawk!"

After some ridicule from the 17 year-old contingency in my household, I changed my pirate animal to a lemur. A really creepy lemur with big, haunting eyes.

We started talking at length about our crews. My crew, I pointed out to him, would be a deadly force of confident pirates since I would teach them to read, write and fend for themselves out in the world! I explained that originally, pirates were probably at-risk youth who needed to make a way for themselves. I would provide them that way.

The appendage I would choose to lose would be a pinky. Why? Simply because my guns would have to be custom made and no one who had pinkies would be able to accurately shoot them. If someone got my guns, I would have a good chance of survival!

"What the heck, dad," my son said, laughing. "You would be Captain Constipation! Your ship's name would be the Redundancy! Your pirate animal is nocturnal! You're getting specialty guns knowing you're going to lose them in battle and be shot at! And, worst of all, you're an outreach program for wayward youth!

"Then what? Are you going to get them matching t-shirts? Going to have bonding campfire moments with them?"

After his not-so-brief laughter, he proceeded to tell me what a horrible pirate I would be.

"By the way, dad," he said. "I'm out of gas. Can I have $20?"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Car Dream -- Denied!

"Oh, honey, look," I exclaimed excitedly to my wife in the car. "It's a little red VW Rabbit convertible! There's no tags on it... Hmmm... I wonder if it's for sale?!"

"Doesn't matter if it is," she responded cooly. "They wouldn't sell it to you. They can't."

I paused a moment. I pondered her words, wondering what she meant. Obviously, I wouldn't be purchasing any car over $20 any time soon, but that was beside the point.

"I hear your gears grinding," she continued. Wives are amazing that way. "You can quit thinking about it. I've put you on the list. It's called the National Registry of People with Stupid Addictions."

She explained to me that some people have real addictions, such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, and other substances that people invariably overuse. Then there are people, like me, she said, who have stupid addictions, like Volkswagens.

"So I've added your name to the NRPSA (I've given it an acronym for simplicity sake). It's distributed widely and no one will sell you a VW. You have bad luck with them so you need to get over your love affair with them. They're just cars, honey!"

Just cars?! While I may not be the manliest man in the world, I do love cars! Especially VW's! Such blasphemy!

Maybe she was referring the the VW Dasher deisel my family once owned. According to my mother, that car spent more time in the shop than it did on the road. Or maybe the Jetta. The Jetta leaked every time it rained and eight mechanics couldn't figure out the where, why or how it leaked. It was eco-friendly, though. I actually had a plant growing from the back floormat.

While those were before her time, she personally became acquainted with the Scirocco I owned. I loved that car. She hated it. It had a tendency to shake when it idled, but only a little bit. There were derogatory comments made about our newborn, my car and shaken baby syndrome, so I got rid of it.

Then there was the VW Beetle. I paid $300 for that 1970 vehicle in 2004. It had a few problems, like standard size doors on a Super Beetle body. There were some mix and matched engine parts. The brakes sometimes worked. And, as my father once noticed, you could see the road go past by simply looking down. Silliness!

Of course, I convinced my wife I needed a Cabrio when my Volvo was totalled. You know, the convertible top opened and closed just like it should on that car. I sure liked opening and closing the top on that car. It was fun.

Regardless, I'm questioning this NRPSA thing. Of course I trust my wife, but I'm tempted to Google it anyway. That couldn't possibly be real, could it?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Anatomy of a Snowstorm

We've already finished one snowstorm here in North Carolina. Now we've begun the next one! While we survived the first one more or less unscathed, that doesn't necessarily mean it went smoothly.

The second, larger snowstorm, aka, Snowpocalypse!

Here is what happened in a nutshell.

Day 1 - (Monday evening) Yay! Snow! I love snow! It sure is pretty! I wonder if it will last long enough to get us out of at least one day of school?

Day 2 - (Tuesday) Yay! No school! I need a day to get caught up on all the things that need to be done around the house. I'll finally fix that towel rack I knocked down last week.

But before I tackle that, let's see if I can figure out where that kid put the remote control. It's been forever since I've seen the Queen Latifah show!

Day 3 - (Wednesday) Wow! No school? Again? Two day vacation? That's crazy! At least I can get to that towel rack I put off yesterday. But first, I'll check my Twitter and Facebook...

Day 4 - (Thursday) Ummm... What? No school?! I wonder if my kiddos miss me? Are they taking advantage of the weather to read some good books? I could email some math fraction questions out for them to do.

Wow! I'm way off my routine. I sure do hope we have school tomorrow...

Day 5 - (Friday) What?! No school?! I'm gonna call the county school board office to lodge a formal complaint! We should be in school today!

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! (That's the sound of my head hitting the wall.) Oooooooooohhhh!! Oooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!! I'm! So! Bored!

Needless to say, I raced to school on Friday for my optional teacher work day. 

Now, only a few days later, we're out of school again because of snow! Maybe I'll get that towel rack fixed this time around.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Alien Invasion Imminent

Alien technology has infiltrated the Haworth household. It has settled in my home in the form of a travel coffee mug.

Please don't think I'm being extreme about this. I've added a photo and even included some supporting details.

The travel mug in question...  Alien or not!

Here are my conclusions thus far...

The brand name these aliens have come up with is MojoEmo. I feel certain this means something nefarious in Martianese!

The first fact is that the cup isn't designed to travel with humans. Observe the shape of the travel mug above. I've yet to see it fit into the cup holder of any vehicle! How does one travel with a non-traveling mug?

The second fact is that we still have the mug. Most travel mugs don't last an entire year, especially ones put through the dishwasher multiple times. They crack, warp and leak after a few months.

This mug, as of this photo, is approximately two years old. It works just as well as the day it was purchased.

The third, and final fact, is what this mug is capable of doing.

My wife and I were driving to Raleigh a few weekends back. Approximately 20 minutes down the road, my coffee had already become tepid, at best.

"Mine's too hot to drink, still," she said. I gave her my best "Yeah. Right." look, so she offered me a sip.

Somehow, the temperature of her coffee increased since I poured it into the cup! What the bleep!?

I may be purchasing large quantities of aluminum foil soon. I'll need something to protect me, my wife, son and three fuzzy, black dogs from being abducted by aliens!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fuzzy, Black Dogs Vs. The Intruder

There's been a pretty vicious string of break-ins in my neighborhood recently. Thanks to the valiant efforts of my three fuzzy, black dogs, I suspect one of those break-ins was thwarted.

While I obviously wasn't there, I analyzed and recreated the crime scene. My brilliant deductions led me to one startling conclusion. My dogs are geniuses!

Here is what, I believe, happened.

Footsteps were heard on the front porch. The three dogs sprang into action, enacting their plan.

Lilly Abigail Martin van Buren (she thinks she's royalty, you know), the littlest of the three (who is also the alpha dog in my absence), took up her position at the door and growled. "Rrrrrrrrr!!"
"Ace," she barked. "Take the back door! Now! Let no one in!"
"Bob! Find something to hinder or slow the interloper!"

"Look what I found," says Bob, carrying what used to be a brand new, largish bag of coffee and leaving a trail behind him. "If the inter-whatever is invisible, perhaps we'll see his footsteps!"

Bob proceeded to rip into the bag of coffee, spreading grounds from one end of the house to the other. And in an over zealous fit... of something, he shredded the inner and outer bags as well.

Here is but a small part of the mess!

At this point, the interloper has become well aware of two things -- three vicious, attack dogs and a house that Oscar the Grouch would be proud of!

Naturally, the interloper fled the scene. The three vicious, attack dogs, having nothing better to do, decided to sample the gourmet coffee for themselves. This would explain the hint of coffee in the various 'deposits' which were left around my humble abode.

That's the obvious explanation for the mess that greeted me upon arriving home from work this past Tuesday.

While I have since cleaned the mess, I haven't yet figured out how to get the Starbucks smell out of my house.

Monday, January 26, 2015

DeflateGate? No. CartGate!

"Honey," my wife said as we entered the store that I not-so-affectionately refer to as Wally World. "This cart is all wonkee. How about getting me another one?"

The offending wonkee wheel!

Some alien has obviously burrowed deep within my wife's brain and has detrimentally impaired her cognitive abilities!

When it comes to shopping carts -- whether at grocery stores, department stores, home improvement or any stores -- I have the worst luck with carts.

As the retriever of the household groceries, I have a considerable collection of pretty scary cart stories. In order to spare my readers, I will relay but one of these stories.

It was at my local grocery store several months back. I nonchalantly picked the nearest cart and headed toward produce. Ka-whomp. Ka-whomp. Ka-whomp.

I pushed the cart to the side. I went back for another and was heading for produce when ka-swish to the left. Ka-swish left. Ka-swish left. I ditched it as well.

I imagine you've heard the adage 'third time's a charm'? Well, it most certainly was. That is, until it came to a jarring halt and I nearly pitched head first into the cart!

Fearing for my health, I refused to get a fourth.

Perhaps now you may understand my reluctance towards picking out a better shopping cart. So I devised an immediate plan.

I observed three people returning carts. I analyzed their faces and their carts. I made a quick choice and pounced, scoring what I believed to be the best rolling cart out of the lot.

Did my plan work? Well, I got no complaints from my wife.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Expert Tips and Advice on Dieting

One of the most popular New Year resolutions people make is to lose weight. I think I've actually made that resolution before. Maybe.

This, of course, explains why you see so many articles lately, online and elsewhere, about various aspects of weight loss. Some tout the virtues of weight loss. Some tell you how to do it. Some tell you how not to do it. Some tell you how to think, be or act in order to do it. Some even tell you how to do it psychologically. Hmmmm...

I've yet to see an article on where to find it once you've lost it. I usually find mine lurking in a dark corner of my bedroom. It's obedient, though, and usually comes back.

Regardless of whether or not you've resolved to lose weight, here are my expert tips and advice on weight loss.

The freeze pop diet is still a work in progress. I think that, in order to make it work, I may have to switch to healthier freeze pops instead of the generic, sugary store brands.

I've also experimented on the collard green diet. Though collard greens are healthy, I advise against this one simply because of the gastronomical effects and the 'outcome.' It's not pretty. Nor is it conducive to others wanting to remain in the immediate vicinity of the collard green over-eater!

Glory collard greens? Simply the best!

I'm currently working on a Pop-Tarts diet. I've been working on this one for quite some time. It's still a work in progress.

I've heard good things about hiring a personal trainer. Unfortunately, that means I'd have to clean my house and -- gasp! -- keep it clean. That's a lot of exercise in and of itself. Also, I can't find a free personal trainer.

Workout videos work well for some. However, the few times I've tried them, my dogs seem to think I'm trying to play with them and crawl on me like a toy.

I've been afraid to try dancing. I worry that the neighbors will call 911, thinking that I may be having seizures. Or else assume that my fuzzy, black dogs have finally turned on me and are trying to maul me within the confines of my own home.

My father, who is an actual medical doctor (hence the M.D. after his name), suggested I eat less and exercise. He also told me to cut out some of the food he perceives as 'junk.'

Leave it to a medical practitioner to come up with such a crazy, radical idea! Chocolate does contain antioxidants. Potato chips and French fries come from potatoes. Peanut butter cups contain protein. And don't gummy bears now have vitamin C?