Friday, April 20, 2007

"Dogs in elk. Dogs in elk."

Since I posted the vacuum cleaner story the other day, I wanted to take about 3 minutes to post one of my other all-time favorite stories from the Internet. This was a conversation thread in the rec.pets newsgroup that happened over a holiday weekend.


Anne V - 01:01pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1318 of 1332)
Okay - I know how to take meat away from a dog. How do I take a dog away from meat? This is not, unfortunately, a joke.
AmyC - 01:02pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1319 of 1332)
Um, can you give us a few more specifics here?
Anne V - 01:12pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1320 of 1332)
They're inside of it. They crawled inside, and now I have a giant incredibly heavy piece of carcass in my yard, with 2 dogs inside of it, and they are NOT getting bored of it and coming out. One of them is snoring. I have company arriving in three hours, and my current plan is to 1. put up a tent over said carcass and 2. hang thousands of fly strips inside it. This has been going on since about 6:40 this morning.
AmyC - 01:19pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1321 of 1332)
Oh. My. God. What sort of carcass is big enough to hold a couple of dogs inside? Given the situation, I'm afraid you're not going to be create enough of a diversion to get the dogs out of the carrion, unless they like greeting company as much as they like rolling around in dead stuff. Which seems unlikely. Can you turn a hose on the festivities?
Ase Innes-Ker - 01:31pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1322 of 1332)
I'm sorry Anne. I know this is a problem (and it would have driven me crazy), but it is also incredibly funny.
Anne V - 01:31pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1323 of 1332)
Elk. Elk are very big this year, because of the rain and good grazing and so forth. They aren't rolling. They are alternately napping and eating. They each have a ribcage. Other dogs are working on them from the outside. It's all way too primal in my yard right now. We tried the hose trick. At someone else's house, which is where they climbed in and began to refuse to come out. Many hours ago. I think that the hose mostly helps keep them cool and dislodges little moist snacks for them. hose failed. My new hope is that if they all continue to eat at this rate, they will be finished before the houseguests arrive. The very urban houseguests. Oh, ghod - I know it's funny. It's appalling, and funny, and completely entirely representative of life with dogs.
Kristen R. - 01:37pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1324 of 1332)
I'm so glad I read this thread, dogless as I am. Dogs in elk. Dogs in elk.
Anne V - 01:41pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1325 of 1332)
It's like that childrens book out there - dogs in elk, dogs on elk, dogs around elk, dogs outside elk. And there is some elk inside of, as well as on, each dog at this point.
Elizabeth K - 01:57pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1328 of 1333)
Anne, aren't you in Arizona or Nevada? There are elk there? I'm so confused! We definately need to see pics of Gus Pong and Jake in the elk carcass.
Anne V - 02:03pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1329 of 1333)
I am in New Mexico, but there are elk in both arizona and nevada, yes. There are elk all over the damn place. They don't look out very often. If you stand the ribcage on end they scramble to the top and look out, all red. Otherwise, you kinda have to get in there a little bit yourself to really see them. So I think there will not be pictures.
CoseyMo - 02:06pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1330 of 1333)
"all red;" I'm not sure the deeper horror of all this was fully borne in upon me till I saw that little phrase.
Anne V - 02:10pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1331 of 1333)
Well, you know, the Basenji (that would be Jake) is a desert dog, naturally, and infamous for it's aversion to water. And then, Gus Pong (who is coming to us, live, unamplified and with a terrific reverb which is making me a little dizzy) really doesn't mind water, but hates to be cold. Or soapy. And both of them can really run. Sprints of up to 35 mph have been clocked. So. If ever they come out, catching them and returning them to a condition where they can be considered house pets is not going to be, shall we say, pleasant.
CoseyMo - 02:15pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1332 of 1333)
What if you stand the ribcage on end, wait for them to look out, grab them when they do and pull?
Anne V - 02:18pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1333 of 1333)
They wedge their toes between the ribs. And scream. We tried that before we brought the elk home from the mountain with dogs inside. Jake nearly took my friends arm off. He's already short a toe, so he cherishes the 15 that remain.
Linda Hewitt - 02:30pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1336 of 1356)
Have you thought about calling your friendly vet and paying him to come pick up the dogs, elk and letting the dogs stay at the vets overnight. If anyone would know what to do, it would be your vet. It might cost some money, but it would solve the immediate crisis. Keep us posted.
ChristiPeters - 02:37pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1337 of 1356)
Yikes! My sympathy! When I lived in New Mexico, my best friend's dog (the escape artist) was continually bringing home road kill. When there was no road kill convenient, he would visit the neighbor's house. Said neighbor slaughtered his own beef. The dog found all kinds of impossibly gross toys in the neighbor's trash pit. I have always had medium to large dogs. The smallest dog I ever had was a mutt from the SPCA who matured out at just above knee high and about 55 pounds. Our current dog (daughter's choice) is a Pomeranian.A very small Pomeranian. She's 8 months old now and not quite 4 pounds. I'm afraid I'll break her.
Lori Shiraishi - 02:38pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1338 of 1356)
Bet you could fit a whole lot of Pomeranians in that there elk carcass! Anne - my condolences on what must be a unbelievable situation!
Anne V - 02:44pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1339 of 1356)
I did call my vet. He laughed until he was gagging and breathless. He says a lot of things, which can be summed as *what did you expect?* and *no, there is no such thing as too much elk meat for a dog.* He is planning to stop over and take a look on his way home. Thanks, Lori. I am almost surrendered to the absurdity of it.
Lori Shiraishi - 02:49pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1340 of 1356) "He is planning to stop over and take a look on his way home." So he can fall down laughing in person?
Anne V - 02:50pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1341 of 1356)
Basically, yeah. That would be about it.
AmyC - 02:56pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1342 of 1356)
No, there is no such thing as too much elk meat for a dog." Oh, sweet lord, Anne. You have my deepest sympathies in this, perhaps the most peculiar of the Gus Pong Adventures. You are truly a woman of superhuman patience. wait -- you carried the carcass down from the mountains with the dogs inside?
Anne V - 02:59pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1343 of 1356)
The carcass down from the mountains with the dogs inside? no, well, sort of. My part in the whole thing was to get really stressed about a meeting that I had to go to, and say *yeah, ok, whatever* when it was suggested that the ribcages, since we couldn't get the dogs out of them and the dogs couldn't be left there, be brought to my house. Because, you know - I just thought they would get bored of it sooner or later. But it appears to be later, in the misty uncertain future, that they will get bored. Now, they are still interested. And very loud, one singing, one snoring.
Lori Shiraishi - 03:04pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1344 of 1356)
And very loud, one singing, one snoring. wow. I can't even begin to imagine the acoustics involved with singing from the inside of an elk.
Anne V - 03:04pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1345 of 1356)
reverb. lots and lots of reverb.
Anne V - 03:15pm Sep 9, 1999 PDT (# 1347 of 1356)
I'll tell you the thing that is causing me to lose it again and again, and then I have to go back outside and stay there for a while. After the meeting, I said to my (extraordinary) boss, *look, I've gotta go home for the rest of the day, I think. Jake and Gus Pong are inside some elk ribcages, and my dad is coming tonight, so I've got to get them out somehow.* And he said, pale and huge-eyed, *Annie, how did you explain the elk to the clients?* The poor, poor man thought I had the carcasses brought to work with me. For some reason, I find this deeply funny.
(weekend pause)
Anne V - 08:37am Sep 13, 1999 PDT (# 1395 of 1405)
So what we did was put the ribcages (containing dogs) on tarps and drag them around to the side yard, where I figured they would at least be harder to see, and then opened my bedroom window so that the dogs could let me know when they were ready to be plunged into a de-elking solution and let in the house. Then I went to the airport. Came home, no visible elk, no visible dogs. Peeked around the shrubs, and there they were, still in the elk. By this time, they had gnawed out some little portholes between some of the ribs, and you got the occasional very frightening limpse of something moving around in there if you watched long enough. After a lot of agonizing, I went to bed. I closed the back door, made sure my window was open, talked to the dogs out of it until I as sure they knew it was open, and then I fell asleep.
Sometimes, sleep is a mistake, no matter how tired you are. And especially if you are very very tired, and some of your dogs are outside, inside some elks. Because when you are that tired, you sleep through bumping kind of noises, or you kind of think that it's just the house guests. It was't the house guests. It was my dogs, having an attack of teamwork unprecedented in our domestic history. When I finally woke all the way up, it was to a horrible vision. Somehow, 3 dogs with a combined weight of about 90 pounds,managed to hoist one of the ribcages (the meatier one, of course) up 3 feet to rest on top of the swamp cooler outside the window, and push out the screen. What woke me was Gus Pong, howling in frustration from inside the ribcage, very close to my head, combined with feverish little grunts from Jake, who was standing on the nightstand, bracing himself against the curtains with remarkably bloody little feet.
Here are some things I have learned, this Rosh Hashanah weekend:
1. almond milk removes elk blood from curtains and pillowcases,
2. We can all exercise superhuman strength when it comes to getting elk carcasses out of our yard,
3. The sight of elk ribcages hurtling over the fence really frightens the nice deputy sheriff who lives across the street, and
4. the dogs can pop the screens out of the windows, without damaging them, from either side.
Anne V - 09:58am Sep 13, 1999 PDT (# 1401 of 1405)
What I am is really grateful that they didn't actually get the damn thing in the window, which is clearly the direction they were going in. And that the nice deputy didn't arrest me for terrifying her with elk parts before dawn.
AmyC - 09:59am Sep 13, 1999 PDT (# 1402 of 1405)
Imagine waking up with a gnawed elk carcass in your bed, like a real-life "Godfather" with an all-dog cast.
Anne V - 10:01am Sep 13, 1999 PDT (# 1403 of 1405)
There is not enough almond milk in the world to solve an event of that kind.


Not again :(

Some idiot has just shown up at the Johnson Space Center with a gun and reportedly fired one or more shots. The Houston PD, including a SWAT team, are there on the scene (good!), but I do wish that people could just GO TO A FUCKING THERAPIST OCCASIONALLY!!!! There are anti-depressants in the world and there are people to talk to. There's even valium. Guns are not such a good solution for personal environmental frustration (although I have a story to write up a little later).

Fuck the 2nd Amendment. We should have gun owners also pass a mental health test.

Intelligence vs. cats

I just discovered something that other people have known about for ages: XKCD, "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." It's more abstract than UserFriendly and has much more of a Stick Figure Death Theater feel to the artwork (if you're not familiar with Stick Figure Death Theater, take a look at this and this), but it'll appeal to much the same crowd. The following was pointed out to me as a favorite and I have to say that it's right up there.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fun thought du jour

"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3." -Alice Kahn

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shift happens

Kymm N. just sent me this fascinating little film from, itself a site with bunches of really unusual video clips. This particular clip has some amazing facts about education, population, and jobs that are worth thinking about as we march merrily forward. It's got sound but it's music, so you can turn it way down if you're looking at this at work.

The vacuum cleaner story

I was thinking about how much paper I have stacked up for shredding now that the taxes are off to the appropriate agencies. (It's about two large boxes full, far too much for the little 4-6 pages at a time office shredder I have near my desk.) I was talking to someone at work about how I used to dispose of old papers by shoveling them into the wood stove and I was reminded of something I read some years ago that's a really good story. I haven't thought of this for quite a while and it bears repeating. (You can find the original of this story here.)

I hate to admit it, but this happened to me way back in 1980.

A few years after graduating from college, I returned to my folks home to retrieve a considerable number of storage boxes that I had left with them. These boxes were filled with books, course notes, old homework projects, etc that I had kept. I decided to weed through them and eliminate as much junk as I could.

Not having the heart to dump all that hard work into the garbage, I decided to grab a six-pack, settle down in front of the downstairs fire place and ceremoniously burn four years worth of college memorabilia. I managed to get through about five of the 15 or so boxes piled around me when I realized I could not possibly sort through each box page-by-page. In the interest of time, I decided to do a cursory scan of the contents to determine if anything 'jumped out' as worth saving. Well, box number six appeared to be loaded with Psychology and Logic 101 junk so I took the short cut and tossed the whole box on the funeral pyre before me.

I popped open beer number four and watched the box smolder. Raising the can, I gave one last salute to those two unmemorable courses as the box erupted into a roaring inferno.

The papers were consumed rapidly.

So were the ancient contents of the dresser drawer that I had hastily dropped into the bottom of that box when packing two years earlier. Dang, I had forgotten all about that stuff. The toothbrush and hairbrush went up rather well... also that packet of disposable plastic razors, dental floss and contact lens case and a bunch of junk I don't even remember. Of course, I didn't even know that stuff was going up in smoke as I sat there. Just chugged the beer and watched. It burned great... right down to that full can of deodorant that was in there with it all.

I had gotten about half the beer down when that deodorant can finally decided it had enough. What happened next I can only compare to the scene from "2001" where that Dave Bowman guy is falling through all those lights with that 'o shit' look on his face. I heard a BOOM so loud that my brain only registered it as a high-pitched squeal. The contents of the fireplace right down to the last ash were propelled out with such velocity that all I could see were a multitude of bright streaks emenating from a point about three feet in front of me (ala 2001). Big blue shock wave knocked me back.

Spill the beer? You bet. Caught me off guard? Hell yes. Felt like I jumped on a live grenade? Guess so. One second I was watching that inferno burn from the outside, the next second I was watching it from the inside.

The human brain reverts to 'primordial slime' mode when thrown into a situation like this. All higher-order functions vaporize. Guess it's all those endorphins and endomorphines hitting it at once. It took a couple of seconds to get the 'reasoning' capability of my brain back online. I jumped up, looked at my hands and feet, touched my face and realized that I was indeed intact. Holy Cow, I was completely untouched. Not even a soot mark on me. Although I might possibly qualify as a human cannon ball, there would be no Richard Pryor imitation tonight, folks.

I looked through the thick smoke toward the fireplace. What WAS a 6-inch deep accumulation of one winter's ashes was now squeaky clean. Blasted it right out. All those burning embers were now sitting on the deep-pile carpet behind me. ALL over the room.

I panicked.

I grabbed the little shovel from the fireplace set and scooped as fast as I could. As soon as I filled the shovel, I'd run to the fireplace, empty it and run back. Some embers were 30 feet down the hall. I guess I set the Guinness World Record for "Hot ember pickup with a little shovel" in those next few minutes. I did manage to avoid setting my folks house on fire, and the carpet only had one or two real serious melted spots on it. I DID find the deodorant can too- it had left the fireplace at some ungodly serious velocity, bounced off the wall at the far end of the room and come to rest directly behind where I was sitting. Dang thing was split wide open along the weld and peeled back almost flat. Burned black, too. Looked like re-entry junk.

After I got the Fire Marshal Bill stuff under control, I grabbed beer number five, popped the top and thought about how I was gonna get the remaining mess cleaned up. Close examination revealed that everything was coated with a heavy layer of very fine ash. Heck, a vacuum cleaner will get this stuff up no problem.

Gee, how lucky could I be? I didn't get decapitated, the house is still on its foundation, I got a GREAT story for the grandkids and the cleanup is gonna be a cinch. I grabbed my mom's upright out of the closet and started to work.

Ever have one of those split-seconds of consciousness when you realize you survived something really bad but you sense that it's not quite over yet? Well, I never have, but I wish I had felt that way at this point. Would have clued me in as to what was about to happen.

There I was, sucking up ashes with an upright vacuum. Too bad not all of them were cold. That upright vacuum swallowed ONE LITTLE ITTY BITTY HOT EMBER that was sitting there on the carpet. It flew right up inside it and sat on that big ol' pile of carpet lint way up in that bag. Heck, that bag hadn't been emptied in a long time. And all that air rushing in there made that little bitty hot ember REAL happy. Next thing I know, the side of that vacuum is glowing red hot. By the time I figured out what was happening, there was a two foot flame blowing out a volcanic vent in the side. It really looked and sounded sorta pretty, like a fighter jet on full afterburner. Diamond shock pattern and all (This is obviously a recurring theme in all of my writing).

Again, my brain reverted to primordial slime mode. All higher-order functions ceased and all I remember thinking was "T-h-r-o-w v-a-c-u-u-m".

I pitched it as hard as I could towards the open basement door, hoping it would make it to the patio outside. The distance was about 20 feet. In slow motion it looked like one of those old NASA films where the rocket goes psycho right off the launch pad. There it was, sailing brush end first with a nice slow belching out the side. As the umbilical pulled out of the wall, the flame settled into a long trail of sparks. The vehicle had plenty of initial velocity and it looked like a good downrange trajectory... right up to the point it passed through the plate glass window to the right side of the door.

Yep, I swear this happened as written.