Archive for October, 2010

Brushin’ Husky

Who would have ever thought that getting a 60 pound wooly coated 10-year-old Husky a bath would be such an ordeal.  For years we had a regular groomer, twice a year Sequoia would go to this groomer at great expense and come back a clean, if not a little hoarse (yes she would howl the entire time).  However, the last time we went to make an appointment her groomer told us she was booked for the year.  Who the heck schedules a dog grooming session a year in advance?  So, it was time to find another solution.  We found another highly recommended groomer, but when we started asking around we heard some stories we didn’t like. Twice we heard that this groomer ended up shaving a dog without the owner’s permission.  Nope, not going there.

We decided we would try the ‘do-it-yourself’ dog wash.  However it was expensive, you were limited to 10 minute intervals and any way you approach it, it was going to be a lot of work.  It takes a groomer a good 3 hours minimum to wash, brush and dry Sequoia.  I dreaded the ordeal.

Nine years ago we took her to Petco where they did a horrible job.  We think they were afraid of her so they cut some corners.  But it had been nine years, and we have heard both good and bad things.  We found ourselves in Petco one Friday without the dog and we decided to check out the grooming service. We  asked our questions and gave them the scoop on Sequoia. We told them straight up what they were up against, a ten-year old, really strong, really dominant husky who was not afraid to get mouthy.   She was rescued from an abusive home and not socialized well and does not get along with other dogs.  She is really sweet but does not like to be fussed over and she cries when we leave her in a strange places (except when we left her with my sisters mother-in-law where she did beautifully, or so we were told). 

We got a goodish vibe, we met the groomer who takes care of the more challenging dogs and she seemed pretty confident.  We an appointment for Sunday at noon.   Saturday evening we decided to get a head start and brush her out as best we could.  Kind of like cleaning your home before the cleaning service people arrive.  And true to form we decided to clip her nails even though it was included in the cost.  We have a fool-proof method of achieving this event, I pin her down while my wife does the deed.  (I am pretty sure my parents will have something to say about this). Soon it was time to leave, I’m sure we were more nervous than Sequoia or the groomer.  When we left her at Petco we looked in the window where they trying to put her in the cage.  The groomer had Sequoia by the collar and Sequoia was doing the stubborn thing, meaning she was twisting around in her collar grabbing at the groomers hand while heading in any direction but the cage.  They got her in, we left the store. 

Three hours later my phone rings:

“Hello this is so-and-so from Petco, Sequoia is ready to go home, please pick her up.”

We got a full report from her groomer who looked a little beat up.  Sequoia it seems, can be quite the handful.  She escaped once and ran around the kennels like a crazy dog.  She took to the bath okay but she really didn’t like to be brushed.  Much to the groomers credit she did her best and told us quite frankly that she just couldn’t brush her out as well as she would have liked.   We assured her this wasn’t a problem, we could brush her out in small periods over time.  It was the bathing that was the problem for us.  I’m guessing Sequoia was not the hooligan she could have been as when we left the groomer gave me a slip of paper with the recommended time to get her groomed again complete with a 10% off coupon with her next visit.

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Hit By A Truck

Okay the title is a little misleading.  My friend Richard drove into a truck.  With his bicycle, the truck was not moving.  He didn’t really even hit the truck.  In fact he drove up the ramp and right into the back of a moving van.  No, he did not do this on purpose.  We were riding down the street side by side talking about whatever we happened to be talking about.  Parked on the side of the road was a large moving van.  Rich, did. not. see. it.  All I am saying is good thing there was a ramp otherwise he would have smashed right into the back-end of the truck and the outcome probably would have been a trip to the hospital.

I’m not sure why this is a pick on Rich post, but it is.

Rich, Steve, (Richards brother) and I spent a lot of time riding around on our bicycles.  Often times we experienced technical issues.  I was hit by a car, (nothing serious), Steve lost his front wheel, it just kind of rolled on ahead of us.  On this particular excursion we were headed to Mt. Royal.  Before the journey even began Richard proclaimed; “He who gets a flat tire walks!’  Richard got a flat half way down the mountain.  Steve and I were the ones that ended up walking.

Richard and I survived high school together, I honestly don’t think I ever would have survived if he wasn’t there.  People would look at us in an odd sense of wonder as we would argue and bitch at each other most of the day, yet we always walked home together.  We were in a lot of ways opposite. Richard is a blue-eyed blond german.  His father is direct from ‘The Mother Land’  he was not a nazi, not even close but he did fight in the regular army.  If I remember correctly Richards grandmother was pretty close to Hitler possibly a secretary.  I don’t know it was never really talked about.  Richard will correct me if I am wrong.

I on the other hand am Jewish,  not hard-core, but jewish enough. My great-aunt had the numbers tattooed on her arm.  I don’t like to think about the holocaust I don’t like to think about that particular war.  I’ve never seen Schindler’s List.  It is a sore subject with me and I can’t honestly say why, enough said. Regardless Rich and I were/are very close.  But we had our moments. 

Richard: “Bri, let’s go to McDonalds”

“Okay”  We would get there, order the food.

Richard: “I forgot my wallet, I’ll pay you back”

Richard currently owes me $2,723.36.  I’m starting to think he left his wallet at home on purpose.  I also have come to the realization that I’ll never see that money again.  I did get even.  Richard and I built an HO scale railroad in his garage.  While Rich would work on a particular part I would plug the track in at the exact right moment.  It is amazing how much electricity runs through a model railroad track.  It was kind of fun to watch the sparks fly from his fillings.

Richard built a model rocket, okay we both built model rockets.  The difference is Richard launched his INSIDE his basement.  His reasoning?  He didn’t think it would fly.  Man was his father pissed when he saw the ceiling.  Of course we do have Steve to thank as he sat there staring at the ceiling until his father looked up.

Richard and I purchased some lumber for a deck we were building onto his folks house, (it is a great deck) we strapped the wood to the roof of the car.  How does one secure wood to the roof of a car?  Why rope of course!  The employees at the lumber yard had a good laugh as we looped the rope through the windows and over the roof (and the wood) in the process we tied the doors to the frame of the car.  Of course we only realized this when we tried to get into the car.  Eventually we did the dukes of hazard thing and went through the windows.  unfortunately there was no Daisy Mae waiting for us when we got home.

I think that ends my little walk down memory lane.  Rich we will have to do the Skype thing one of these days.

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This is an addition to Things I Actually Like.  I decided to add to this list because somehow I hurt my hip, not a big deal, it’s not like the majority of my job is bending or lifting, or reaching oh wait, add counting and that is pretty much my job.  In any case when you have pain everything is more annoying than usual.  I don’t count my crohn’s as pain, okay I do but that is normal everyday, not out of the ordinary.  My point is that a little positivity doesn’t hurt…much.  And this excludes the obvious such as friends and family.

1.  I love it when my eyes open at four in the morning and realize I am heading into Sunday and not Monday.

2. I love it when I wake up feeling no pain.  On the odd occasion that does happen, first I have to convince myself that I am really awake, and once I’ve established that I am awake I have to establish the fact that I am alive.  However once I establish that I’m indeed awake, pain-free and alive and it is Saturday or Sunday it feels pretty darn good…makes it even better if there is a possibility of sex. (especially the one in the winter).

3. I love it when my wife says something funny and it takes me a moment to get it.  Like just this moment for example, the dog was begging for candy but we were not sure where the candy was so my wife says to the dog, “One second Sequoia and I’ll find your candy”  No, it is not candy for dogs, it is candy for people, for us, but suddenly it has become the dogs candy. It took me a minute to realize what my wife said.  Of course the candy is not enough, now the dog is licking what is left of my wife’s popsicle.  No, the dog is not spoiled.

4.  A job done well. Okay that just seems like something you are supposed to say.  I guess it depends on the job.  Sometimes I honestly don’t care. 

5. I love it when I get to ‘5’ on a list like this and can’t think of anything else to add to the list.

6. I love sarcasm, (see number 5)

7. I love the fall, and I love getting the leaves off my lawn before my anal retentive neighbour gets his cleared off,  (a rare occasion)  I once had a competition with one of the technicians I work with, we were competing to see who could mow the lawn the least.  I won, hands down.  

8. I love people who use the word ‘ignorant’ wrong.  Such as, “That guy was rude to me, how ignorant!”  I’m not sure why it amuses me, it just does.

9. I love when a meal is so good I get saddened when it starts to noticeably disappear from my plate.

10. I love when my dog is so content she rolls over onto her back, paws in the air and starts to snore.

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Seeing as Bullying is once again the hot topic I thought I would share my bullying experience.

Brody was in grade seven, for the second time around.  That in itself would not be bad, but he also spent two years in grade six.  He also tried to jump out of the second floor library window.  They should not have stopped him. 

I had known about Brody for a year or two before we came face to face.  Due to my dyslexia it was decided rather than repeating a grade  I would take remedial classes to make up for the classes I had missed while dealing with the dyslexia.  It was not a great idea, first, going to the remedial classes forced me to miss yet more classes.  Secondly, Brody was taking remedial classes, and that is how I became a large blip on his radar.

It wasn’t too bad a first.  I’d leave school and waiting for me at my bicycle would be Brody who would want to ‘borrow’ my bicycle. 

“Brian, unlock your bike I need to borrow it”

“Brody I can’t let you borrow it I need to go home”  At which point Brody would try to pick the lock and failing that he would threaten me, perhaps shove me around but eventually he would ‘give up’ and leave.   I fell for that once, he really didn’t leave, he hid in the bushes around the block and at the last second he would jump out from behind the bushes and throw me and my bicycle to the ground.  I soon learned that I could leave out the back door and go to my friend Roberts house for an hour or so, then go back to the school get my bike and head home.  For awhile I simply stopped bringing my bike to school, Shane, (another friend) was Brody’s other target.  Shane and I lived two houses apart, and we would walk about a mile out of our way so Brody could not follow us home. 

Andrew and I had identical bikes, Brody did not know the difference and would lay in wait near the bike thinking it was mine.  When he realized it was Andrew’s Brody would be so upset he would shove Andrew around.  Andrew also stopped bringing his bike to school.

Often times I would walk home with Brahm.  Brahm was rewarded for his friendship with me by getting a kick in the shin by Brody. Sorry Brahm, and thanks for sticking with me.

Eventually I told my mother about the situation.  She had my brother, (who was in high school) talk with Brody.  My brother spoke to the wrong guy.  That guy told Brody and my life became even more difficult.  I wish there was something I could type here that would help parents help their kids.  But I have no answers.  Thanks for trying mom, and Mike.  But seriously the situation only got worse. 

The odd thing about the situation is that Gail, Brody’s sister and I were pretty good friends, and my life may have been made easier if I had dissolved that friendship.  But I was far to stubborn for that kind of nonsense.  Gail and I had been in the same class and friends for three years before Brody started to target me, and until that time I didn’t even know they were brother and sister.

So, you may be wondering, how did it end?  Before I answer that I want to point out that the way it ended will not work for everyone. In fact I can’t really recommend it as a solution, but sometimes…

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a sports guy.  Sure I’ll watch the occasional hockey game on TV.  I used to play pool and darts.  Living next to Penn State you pretty much have to have at least a partial interest in football, or at least Penn State football.  But if it all went away tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me in the least.

At lunch and recess we used to play hit the bat.  One person would be at bat and hit the ball,  if you catch the ball, the batter places the bat on the ground and the person who caught the ball would roll the ball towards the bat, if you hit the bat you became the batter.  (Naturally I played to lose seeing it wasn’t until high school when I could actually make a connection between the bat and the ball, it would have been a very long, dull game).  My father who was a terrific ball player and played on some sort of league had purchased a new glove and allowed me to borrow his old one.  In truth I think he gave me the glove, only I didn’t know it at the time, we will have to wait to see if he comments, I do know that later he did give me that glove, and I kept it for a very long time.  There is a part of me that wishes I still had it.

So what does all this have to do with Brody?  Be patient, I’m just waiting for the words to be typed.

Peter is at bat.  I am trying to look like I want to catch the ball along with a bunch of other guys.  Out of the corner of my eye I see Brody heading towards me.

“Brian!  Brian I want to play, give my your glove”  I knew if he got my glove, I would never get it back.

“I can’t it is my fathers, I can’t lend it out”

“Give me the glove now!”  In my 45 years I have only been absolutely sure of three or four things in life.  At that moment I knew one thing, Brody was not going to get that baseball glove.  “Brody, please, I can’t.”  At this point I was quickly scanning for a teacher, I knew this was not going well, a crowd of kids was starting to form.  Peter stepped in to try to resolve the situation,   “Brody…”  Brody punched Peter in the face and Peter went down like a sack of potatoes.  Remember, Brody was at least two years ahead of us.

“Give me the glove!”

“Brody, I can’t”

Brody came at me, and suddenly everything slowed down.  It was very surreal, he raised his fists and kept coming at me full tilt.  But for me it was like watching a movie in slow motion, I was aware of the crowd but in a very limited way.  I also saw the flaw in Brody’s approach,  as he came at me I ducked low, my shoulder caught him just below his ribs and he went up and over me and landed hard on his back behind me.  As I turned he started to get up, his eyes bulging, his face red.  He was saying things I couldn’t quite hear and he came at me again. The exact same way.  Again I ducked down, again he flipped over me, again he landed on his back, again I turned and again he started to yell things at me, but I looked in his eyes and I knew he was done, I also knew he just couldn’t give up but I prayed he would stay down of course he didn’t.  He almost made it to his feet but my knee got him in the chest, hard! Now Brody stayed down and he wasn’t yelling anymore, he was too busy gasping for breath.

I sat in the principals office.  Mr. Russell just peered at me from over the top of his glasses.  I don’t know how long we sat that way. I thought he had phoned my folks, I thought that is what we were waiting for.  I wondered how much trouble I was in.  Eventually in a very quiet calm voice Mr. Russell spoke to me.  “Brian” he said, “I’m sorry, you are not in trouble, go back to class”.

I didn’t see Brody for a few months.  In fact I never saw him again in school.  One winter day I was walking home with Anna who lived not far from me and Brody appeared from behind a snow bank.  Anna started to run but she was safe, Brody was after me.  He tackled me to the ground yanked off my hat and started pulling my hair.  “Now who is stronger?”  I clasped my hands above my head and then thrust my fists forward when my fists hit his head he let go of my hair, I hit him again making contact with his chest.  He flipped onto his side.  I rolled him onto his back and landed with my knees in his chest.  He was still lying there when Anna and I walked away. 

A few weeks later Gail told me that Brody was going to another school and was no longer living at home.   Spring eventually came.  School ended for the summer and I never saw Gail or Brody again.

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Dispatcher Games

In my ‘Ideas For Blog’ there is a note that simply says ‘dispatcher games’  I know what the note refers to, as will you by the time this post is finished what I can’t figure out is what prompted this note in the first place, not that it really matters.

I started out as a dispatcher, as dispatchers  we mostly talked to technicians.  We made sure they had their jobs in order, and we helped them troubleshoot problems they had in the field.  What the technicians didn’t know is that we dispatchers played some interesting games to make our day that much more bearable. 

My favourite game was the ‘word’ game.  At the beginning of the day we would all write a few words on individual sheets of paper.  The papers were then thrown into a hat and we would each blindly choose a slip of paper.  We then had to use that word in a sentence while talking to the technician.  Of course the technician never knew we were playing a game.  They probably thought we were just a little crazy.  There were only a few rules, the main rule of course is that we had to be respectful of and to the customer.  We would never put a technician in an awkward situation.  A bit of experience, meaning a week or so on the job and you knew in the first few seconds of a conversation whether it was safe to play or not. 

A few examples of the words we used are: Australopithecus, meatballs, nutmeg, bifutus regularis, bigfoot, amniocentesus, neoteny, beens and weeines, etc.  Keep in mind these were technicians installing modems and digital boxes in peoples homes.  So a conversation might go something like this.

Tech: “Hello Bri, this is Dan tech 8433.”

Me: “Hello Dan what can I do for you today.”

“I’m at job 3 I’m having some issues getting the modem on line and the customer is here in front of me”.  This is the technicians code for ‘the customer can hear everything that is being said.

No problem Dan, can you give me the serial number and I’ll check to see if the modem is online on our end?”

“Sure thing Bri here you go”

“Okay Dan I can see the modem on our end. I see the modem is trying to get online, but keeps failing at a certain point.  The problem appears to be that the downstream signal level is deep in the red, perhaps you can try and give it some bifitus regularis and see if that clears up the signal issue?”

long pause from the techincian, on my side however the rest of the dispatchers are bent over in fits of laughter.

“…Uhm, thanks I’ll get that signal cleaned up and give you a call back'”

The lesson is, life is often what you make it, so you may as well work with the hand you are dealt and make it as enjoyable as possible.


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My Desk

On another blog the author asked the people who follow her to send a picture of the place where they write.  I’m not sure why I found that interesting but I did.  Every now and again, during lunch I take a few minutes to write ideas for this blog.  Sometimes I end up writing an entire post, today is one of those days. Usually, however I blog while sitting on my recliner while watching tv.  My desk is an average desk, probably made in the early 60s.  It has a shallow front drawer which is full of pens and other implements of destruction.  On the right side are two drawers one of which is a filing cabinet which is seldom used, the other is another shallow drawer full of, paper clips, bull dog clips, a calculator, push pins and other thing-a-ma-bobs.  The left side is the exciting side.  Three drawers, my keys and wallet in the top, and I have not opened the others for a month.  Perhaps I should hold a ‘guess what is in my desk’ contest.   Off to the left is the desk top computer followed by the phone that I never use as I use my cell phone, in front of the phone are various papers, on the papers is a ruler and tabs for some dividers to sort out a file cabinet that I sadly do not use.  Two modems that need mailed out to another warehouse, an old-fashioned stapler and a cup of pens. Beside all that is my personal cell phone, my iPod, a wrench, modern stapler, a marker, directly beside me still to my left is a blue coffee cup, (The floor broke my company issued red coffee cup when I dropped it) a speaker for my computer a pad of post-it-notes atop a miniature pallet.  Beside that: a receiving stamp a sponge baseball and eyeball a staple remover and two more markers. Moving to the right, is the other speaker, a remote for the tv that we don’t have, a guy sitting on a toilet holding a roll of tape, (supposed to be toilet paper), a box containing extra keys for the van, box-truck, tech window and back gate, more paperwork. There is a bottle of diet Pepsi, more paperwork, a scissors that doesn’t belong to me…yet, my computer mouse and there is a piece of paper under my keyboard which I’m sure I put there because it is important, but I can’t remember why.

My desk at work

For those of you who might be wondering.  The space directly across from me is my supervisors desk.  unfortunately I only got a portion of my desk in the shot.  My lunch hour was running down so I didn’t have a lot of time to play around.   

So? What is on your desk?

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Okay I really don’t have a post for tonight. Sue me, so I figured I would give a glimpse of some things I’ve been working on:


I thought I had a friend. No I did have a friend. But he is a friend no more. Just like that in the blink of an eye, the friendship we had been building is just gone. I would like to think he is a good person who did a bad thing. But that would be a lie. I do manage to smile…when I remember that for certain crimes there is no statute of limitations….


At dinner tonight the waiter had a diamond in his tooth. The problem is he had really bad teeth, one was chipped, the other was green, another was crooked, and one had the diamond. Wouldn’t you think if you were going to the trouble to have a diamond put into your tooth, you would first have the rest fixed?…


When my wife and I finally adopted Sequoia I phoned my mother to tell her the news. After a long pause she said, “The problem is, they die.” Seven years later as I watch my dog getting older…


The question is, where will you be Ten years from now? Well, ten years ago I was in the process of moving from Vancouver Canada to Pennsylvania in the United States. Ten years before that I was in the process of moving from Montreal to Vancouver. Right now, on these anniversary’s I am happy to say that I am staying put. Ten years from now…


A few years ago my wife and I were watching a movie, outside there was a horrible commotion. It turned out to be a woodpecker trying to get its chick to leave the nest. While we never did see the fledgling fly we did manage to capture the following…


I don’t like olives! I don’t believe we were meant to eat coconuts. Seriously they hang from the very top of a tree with no branches and they are hard to open. Who even thought of eating them? I imagine the first person saw a monkey eating them and figured, ‘why not?” It would have been easier to eat the monkey…


Who knows, maybe one or two will actually see the printed page. In the mean time, thanks for reading.

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