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Should Have Been Done in November


As promised, here is a taste of what we've been working on since about October of last year.

Happy when red


It was actually more fun than I thought it might be. They stayed still, probably because they can't move well in the sand, but the treats probably had something to do with it, too. Luigi is weighed down by a lobster costume and Stella had on her dog goggles (doggles, if you will) and bikini. We were a little nervous that they might run off after another dog, so we had to leave the harnesses on, attached to leashes.


Posted by dennis @ 01:09 PM | Comments (0)
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Rest? Yes, Please!


While I haven't been especially busy in the last month, except for work, school, cleaning the house, looking for a condo to purchase, gardening, and walking the dogs, I haven't really felt rested. Sure, I've been sleeping every night. Six hours just doesn't seem to do it for me. I need to feel rested, which I haven't in a long time. Although it is possible for me to go back to bed after wifey wakes up, I find that the gentle rustling of the alarm clock sounding every five minutes, six to eight times in a row kind of rouses me from my deep slumber. So, I am usually up.

I have been seemingly conscious while driving lately, too. I no longer arrive at my destination and wonder which path I'd chosen or how long it took me. However, in the presence of so much rain in the last two months, I have been putting together a list of the things I know about cars that I might not have known, if I hadn't grown up in Minnesota.

1. The arm-out-the-window wiper slap. This is surely more useful in climates that have frequent snow.
How it works - Have you ever tried to use the windshield wipers, but there is something stuck to them (or frozen to them) that is causing massive streaking? Most of the water or mud or snow is gone, but just enough is smeared across in front of you to make it harder to see now than when you hit the switch? You are usually in a hurry when this happens.
The fix - while driving, though I suppose this would be safer when stopped, put down the window and extend your left arm through the open window. Hit the switch to make the wiper go, the slower the better. When the blade is within reach along its arced path, grab it and snap it away from the windshield. It will slap back against the windshield and loosen whatever debris was causing the problem.
Be careful - A couple of things here. Don't hold onto the wiper arm too long or you risk breaking it, bending it, or causing a harder slap than you need. In colder weather, there is a real risk of cracking the windshield. I've seen windshields crack because the defrost was too aggressive. I would say that if you have to perform this operation more than twice, you probably need new wiper blades.

2. Car manufacturers are not always designing cars with you in mind. My first car was a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. It was ridiculously underpowered, but that wasn't the real issue with the car. I drove it in Minnesota. The GM geniuses decided to form the frame out of steel in a U-shape, not an upside down U. It's bad enough in the Minnesota Winters that the salt from the roads makes just about everything rust, but when the frame traps the snow and salt together, it's just a recipe for disaster.
The fix - I'm sure it was as a reaction to this problem that car companies started selling underbody coats. They would offer to spray something all over the bottom of your car to "prevent" corrosion. It didn't really do anything besides prolong issues. I can't tell you how much it cost, but I'm positive that this particular problem could have been avoided with another $10 worth of forethought and planning.
Be careful - There are materials that won't rust, lots of them actually: plastic, aluminum, stainless steel. Plastic isn't exactly the safety solution as it is, um, plastic, and not likely to protect you a whole lot in the case of a head-on collision. Aluminum isn't exactly cheap and neither is stainless steel.

The strange part of having these thoughts come to me while driving is that they're not the only ones. One day on the way to work, I starting thinking about perfect squares (numbers multiplied by themselves). Of course, perfect squares have to end with either a 0, 1, 4, 5, 6, or 9. However, that interesting fact becomes more pronounced when you count in hexadecimal (count by 16's). In this way, the first twenty numbers would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 because to count by 16's, you would have to have 16 different symbols. So, for instance, 4^2 = 16 in decimal, but 4^2 = 10 in hexadecimal because it is the 16th number.
Okay, so to the weird part. Perfect squares counted in hexadecimal have to end in either 1, 4, 9, or F. Stranger yet is that when you see them this way, there is certainly some symmetry created, as shown below...

from Excel


Each set of perfect squares forms a right-opening parabola, including the focus.

Well, I think that's all for today, but stop back later this week when I unveil the first part of a six month project we've been working on lately.


Posted by dennis @ 12:27 PM | Comments (1)
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An Update on 2008


I realized that I don't talk much about our pets, other than the dogs. I mean, really, look at the last two posts. Losing Matteo was horribly traumatic, especially for Melissa because she had picked him up off the street more than ten years earlier. Matteo had been part of Melissa's family since before she even met me. That didn't mean that I didn't bond with him, though. We had our moments.

Eisenhower was part of my family before I met Melissa. Only by a few months, but history is history, right? And yes, he was named after that Eisenhower.

Happy Bearded Dragon


I picked out Ike when he was only eight weeks old. That was four and half years ago. He was one of two bearded dragons I brought home that day. Of course, Eisenhower was trouble from the get-go. I stored him in a cardboard box on the drive home, only to arrive home without him in the box. I had to look high and low for him in the cab of my truck, only to discover him hiding under the driver's side seat. Who knows how long he had been there.

In the last four and a half years, I have tried a few times to take a good picture of him. This is one Melissa took, and I think it's great. Not only can you see him clearly, as well as his coat, but you can see one of the crickets he has made into a pet until he gets hungry again. Most literature on raising beardies recommends that you remove any crickets uneaten after about five minutes, but Ike befriends them.

Speaking of great pictures taken by Melissa, here's one from our last trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Happy Jellyfish


I thought the jellyfish exhibit was supposed to be temporary, but it seems to have become part of the permanent display. There are so many beautiful photo backdrops, but I think the silhouette aspect here is very striking. It doesn't even matter to me that it's slightly out of focus.

In the last post, I mentioned that Stella likes, no loves playing with toys. The way she plays is to grab a toy, move to an open area, and shake vigorously. If her shaking leads to a flying toy, she is more than happy to track it down and repeat.

Happy Stella


She isn't, however, limited to playing with one toy at a time. As you can see in this picture, Stella can play with three or four toys at the same time. Many times, she can be holding one toy in her mouth while trying to pick up another one. Luckily, this hasn't caused any choking problems, but it's still funny to watch. Can you spot the seven and a half toys in this picture?

This year, when it neared the end-of-year holidays, Melissa and I decided to stay home. It wasn't totally set in stone, but we were sure enough that we decided to break out some of the holiday traditions that we had skipped in the past, including the gingerbread house.

Happy Gingerbread


This may be considered some sort of gingerbread mansion, it was so immense. It took so long to build that we didn't even take pictures for a week after we started. I'm not really that familiar with etiquette for gingerbread building, so immediately after this picture was taken, I broke off a piece of roof and feasted. The only thing not edible was the foil on the snowmen, Santa, and Mrs. Claus.

Happy Clauses


They didn't last long, either.

One thing that Melissa and I had wanted to do for years (four, to be precise) was decorate a Christmas tree. Melissa has a treasure trove of gorgeous glass ornaments from Murano. Well, this year was the year for finally getting a chance to show them off. Not to anyone in particular, but mostly so that I could see them.

Happy Decorating


I didn't have enough foresight to turn off the lights and get a picture in the proper setting, but then you couldn't have seen the ornaments, anyway. I wanted to leave the tree up until March, but in about the middle of January, there were more needles on the floor than on the tree. As you can imagine, that was a lot of needles because we bought the needle-est tree we could find. It was quite an ordeal to get it out of the house, too, especially when I tipped over the base (still stuck to the tree. Don't ever call me a great planner!) and spilled around three gallons of water on the carpet near the door. Next year, I should know better.

Happy Luigi


Luigi decided that the velvet treeskirt was more comfortable than his bed and spent a lot of time under the tree. Luckily, neither of the dogs we interested in playing with the ornaments, even the low hangers. It may have taken a small miracle for Stella to show that kind of restraint, but that also may have been what I asked Santa to bring me for Christmas.

I think that about wraps up 2008, but I wrote about pets again.


Posted by dennis @ 12:35 PM
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Introducing the rest of the family


Melissa and I were very sad to have lost Matteo a little more than a year ago. I wanted to make sure that we left a sufficient period for mourning, which I declare as ending today. Since the last post, we've adopted two new members to the family.

The day after Christmas, we were lucky enough to find a dog in need of a new family and a shelter that was willing to let us take him home immediately - something that Melissa and I were desperate to find. This is Luigi. He has a diploma from obedience school, but that doesn't mean that he isn't still afraid of some things - like me, for instance. If there are other people around, he can be my best friend. However, when it is just the two of us, he does not want to be touched or held. I have bite marks to prove the last point. It's very clear that he was treated badly by whoever first took care of him, especially with his teeth. We took him to the dentist soon after rescuing him and had to have more than ten teeth removed because of decay. He is skittish of loud noises, but with patience, he has gotten better around people.

Happy Luigi


Five months later, we realized that Luigi needed a friend. He just was not fit to be an only dog. We started looking for another dog in need of a home and we found Stella very soon after. We brought her home on May 1st and haven't had a calm day since. She likes to bark, which is in stark contrast to both Matteo and Luigi. She loves to play with toys, but not always her brother. Somewhere in the living room, there is a dark corner hiding at least two dozen tennis balls. When she isn't too busy chasing a ball or whining because she knocked one under the television, she is a great lap warmer.

Happy Stella


These two dogs are really great for one another. They protect each other, they play with each other, they step on each other, and they cuddle with each other. And at the end of the day, they have never fought. Not once. I wish I could say the same for Luigi versus my thumb.

Happy Doggies!


Sorry that it's been so long since an update, but I've been really busy lately. I have more cute pictures, not only of dogs, but other things as well. I don't want to overshare after such a long absence.


Posted by dennis @ 04:00 PM | Comments (1)
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On a day like today in 1978...
OPEC raises oil prices 18%

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