Monday, December 29, 2014

Stubborn? Who, me?

It should probably be seen as a sad state of affairs that my mother--who was up until recently famous for not knowing how to answer her own cell phone, which could neither text nor take a picture--now has a smart phone with all the bells and whistles, and pays about the same per month that I do. Not to mention the part where I whipped out my phone over the holidays to check a message, and got a round of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the assembled family members, along with a "I didn't think they still made flip phones." Whereupon I had to admit that they didn't, and I'm a freak.

Yes, it's true. I'm clinging to outdated tech. Hard. I'm not even sure why--it's a pain in the butt to answer a text with the old keypad, where hitting the number 1 enough times eventually offers you A, B or C as options, and it's not worth taking a photo knowing it's going to be the size of a microchip and I'll have to text it to Arizona and have him send it to my email.

At the same time, though, I kind of like not having email access all the time, and there have been a whopping two times that I could've used internet access out on the road and didn't have Arizona right there with his work-provided smart phone to pick up the slack. So is it really so bad that I cling to my creaky old phone?

Then there's the car thing. My mom is currently car shopping and Arizona and I are (unfortunately) probably not that far behind her, so there have been some recent discussions of the new models with AWD … and the squirrel-powered engines that come standard these days. 

Okay, maybe that's not entirely fair … but this girl learned to drive in and around Boston, and still tends to take the 'when in doubt, aim and hit the gas' mentality, especially on the highway. Which isn't an easy thing to do when you feel like you've gotta whip your squirrels to get any acceleration!

If I could replace my eleven-year-old turbo Baja part for part and horsepower for horsepower (or keep it on the road forever), I would do it … except that Arizona doesn't exactly fit it with room to spare, and while Baby H will be a smallish package for some time, I'm told that won't last forever. At some point, we're going to need to transport large, gangling humanoid males in the midst of growth spurts. Sigh. 

So … we're either going to be stuck with squirrels, or we're going to have to upgrade the engine, which will come with a whole lot of crap we don't want, like back-up cameras and on-board navigation. All so I can get my RPMs up from squirrel to angry badger territory. I get the whole save-the-world thing, honest, I do! But when we come down to it, I'll cheerfully sacrifice some MPG for actual acceleration.

Yes, stubborn. But, hey, at least I own it (sort of), and I try not to let it affect other people. Except for the part where my beloved has to fold himself nearly double to get into our one car. Or the other week, when I had to ask the roadside assistance lady to Google me the number for a local taxi …

How about you, ReaderFriends? Do you have a something that you cling to, even when logic and the 21st century suggests life would be easier with the newer version? Please don't tell me I'm the only one!

Monday, December 22, 2014

On not breaking a leg this holiday season

Hello, ReaderFriends, and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate! 

Seeing how Arizona's spirituality lands somewhere between Navajo and agnostic, and mine is mostly self-assembled, our celebration is a bit of a mutt. We have a 'Winter Tree' that I decorate myself and Arizona surprises himself each year by enjoying; we do small gift exchanges with each other and my family and go spend time with his on Christmas day; and we take some time to be together and reflect on the year past and the one ahead.

And, weather and circumstances permitting, we take the bikes somewhere fun for a ride. 

This year, the usual tradition has been complicated somewhat by my super-pregnant, ordered-off-the-mountain-bike status. So we've adapted--going on some fun hikes, ostensibly scouting new biking locations for next year. How is biking going to work with a new baby involved? Beats me, but I'm sure we'll figure something out. (Crossing fingers.)

One of the coolest locations we've scouted is Rocky Neck, where an old WPA project building overlooks the sound on a lovely piece of state park. On the 'bringing things full circle' front, the first and only other time we had visited was to scout the building as a possible wedding venue. At the time, we deemed it too big (and frankly intimidating) for our small friends-family-and-barbecue plan. Now, though, Arizona declared it perfect. Because, you see, it has Good Rocks.

Here's the two of us scouting those rocks a couple of weekends ago and modeling our furry hats. (For the record, he was wearing said hat when he first came toward me across the ferry parking lot for our initial face-to-face meeting, and my original 'wonder if he'll be over six feet like his profile claimed' quickly morphed to 'jeepers, what is he, like eight feet tall?')

And here's Arizona this past weekend rocking the … er … rocks.

I, of course, was firmly planted on my hiking boots, taking the pictures (in a furry hat). And before I sent him off to have his fun while I hiked down to get a good picture angle, I gave him a kiss and hesitated. There was no real point in telling him to be careful, because if you're too careful on a downhill like this, you'll go over the handlebars. And I didn't want to tell him not to crash, because that's sort of inevitable in the sport, especially when you're scouting a new line. Break a leg? Just no. 

I went with "Have fun and try to land softly." And he did exactly that. So that is what I wish for you, ReaderFriends, as we navigate the holiday season and look to the year ahead. Have fun, and try to land softly.

--Doc Jess

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Open Letter to the Alarm Cat

Dear Pixel,

We love you dearly, and still marvel on a weekly basis that a bright, generous soul such as yourself found your way onto Route 95 that morning two years ago, and that you survived your dash across five lanes of traffic to where I had pulled over to help. And that, ironically, I had been on the way to the animal shelter, wanting a second kitty who was more amenable to cuddles and hugs than Lucy T. Cat, whose folder at the veterinary clinic is splashed with warning stickers and the nickname "Cujo."

The Universe got it very right when it paired us up--you are as soft, warm and cuddly as I could have asked, and you are Extremely Serious about your job of helping me write each day. I realize that some times it may feel as if there is no end to the pens and papers you must sit on, the computer keyboards you are required to walk across, and the effort it takes to poke me into the optimal position for your next nap. You take it all in stride, though, uncomplaining. You are a valued employee, and your annual review will reflect this, as will the raise we are planning for you next year. It is called a "catio" and will be attached to my office window and replace the scrubby bushes in the front yard.

However, in your annual review (and, well, pretty much every morning), it has come to our attention that you have taken on a second set of duties that you pursue with equal zeal: that of Alarm Cat. We would like to point out that we have small mechanical devices that perform this job adequately, and on a schedule of our choosing. Also, we would like to note that when these mechanical devices fail to raise an alarm around daybreak, this does not necessarily mean they have malfunctioned and need you to back them up. Similarly, you do not get extra credit when you anticipate them by anywhere from a minute to an hour. Sometimes us humans need extra sleep, too.

We can only assume it is your lack of faith in these devices that has prompted you to assume the duties of Alarm Cat, seeing how you have kibble in your bowl at all times; Squishy Food is not dispensed until 5 p.m.; and upon my awakening, you immediately repair to your window perch for an extended bath-nap combination that undoubtedly fortifies you for the busy day ahead.

We acknowledge the grievance you recently filed, regarding our closing of the bedroom door, and understand that this causes you great distress as you picture what might be going on outside of your reach, and assume it involves Cthulhu. If you could see your way to trusting the small mechanical devices more, and perhaps waiting for daylight before sticking your paw in my mouth, then we would be less likely to invoke The Door. 

It is our hope that the three of us, along with the Feline Workers' Union, will be able to negotiate some sort of an Alarm Truce in the year ahead. However, please note that your other excellent interpersonal and editorial assistant skills far outweigh the impact of your overzealousness in this other matter, and that we have no interest in altering the lifetime contract that was signed the moment I dug you out from underneath my car on that highway. We love you very much, and look forward to many more years of you being part of our family. 


The Management

Monday, December 1, 2014

An Ode to my George Foreman Grill

I don't know about you, ReaderFriends, but I rarely (like, almost never) watch a TV commercial or see an Internet ad and think "I gotta get me one of them." 

I mean, really. Why all the dollars spent on car commercials, most of which look the same? I'm going to pick a vehicle by reviews, word of mouth, price and research, not because some VIP tells me it'll make my ass look smaller, or faster, or more fuel efficient or whatever. Same with restaurants, beer brands, and car insurance.

Now, mind you, I'm a fan of ads as an art form, as tiny little stories that play out on screen. (For example, the new Netflix one at the airport gives Arizona and me the giggles.) But while I enjoy some of the insurance commercials out there (the All State deep-frying-the-turkey ad is one of my all-time faves), they haven't influenced my choice of provider (USAA all the way, baby!). And half the time I know I like an ad, but couldn't tell you for love or money what company it's supposed to represent.

So suffice it to say that what little brand loyalty I possess comes from my own experiences, not the idiot box. Mostly, anyway. Because, as with any rule, there are a couple of exceptions. 

My green nonstick frying pan is one, impulse purchased at Wally World following the questionable consumption of a late-night infomercial that showed happy little sunny-side-up eggs sliding cheerfully of said frying pan and onto a plate, with (allegedly) no lubrication involved. And to be honest, it's a good pan. Maybe not lube-free, but plenty sufficient for Bacon-and-Eggies Saturday. 

Then there's George. Do you remember those ads with George Foreman and his gazillion kids, all named George? I do. And how about the ones where he extols the virtues of his indoor grillers, with their fat-channeling grooves, quick preheating, and numerous health benefits? Sign me up!

Yep, many years ago, I succumbed to those promises and bought an indoor grill that looked rather like the UFO at the World's Fair--you know, the one where Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones bust the place up fighting the big alien Bug in the first MIB movie? Yeah, it was like that, and it served me well until getting lost in the move to CT. I didn't replace it at the farm--who had time to cook when there were chores to do? However, a few years ago, in the early days of my new post-farm life, I once again saw a commercial for George and his gazillion kids, and found myself hankering for fat-channeling grooves and numerous health benefits. 

Are there better mini-grillers out there? Probably. Could I have done some research and come up with a different option? No doubt. 

Instead, I drove down the street, found the proper aisle, and got myself another George. And you know what? We love him. We even bought him some accessories. And if he died tomorrow, we would go right out and buy him all over again. I use him for everything from seared tuna to waffles, and a whole lot of stuff in-between.

So what about you? Have you succumbed to a commercial? Have a gadget that you adore and would willingly buy over and over again? Have a recipe for me and my George? Do tell!