Archives for posts with tag: humor
My dogs, Scrappy on the left and Cholla on the right.

My dogs, Scrappy on the left and Cholla on the right.

I’ve settled into bed, whether from an early evening or a late morning, and I am certainly not feeling like getting up. As I drift between sleep and consciousness, a natural alarm system wrenches me back to the waking world: the dog starts barking.

In my case Scrappy, the brown cairn terrier, starts barking.

Scrappy has a sharp bark. It isn’t the most high-pitched bark I’ve ever heard on a dog, but it’s loud and not terribly pleasant. It carries easily through the walls of a modern house and over the music in your headphones. It isn’t easy to ignore, though I have witnessed conversations carry on through the blitzkrieg of Scrappy’s barking somehow.

I don’t always know why it starts. Perhaps he heard a neighbor’s dog start barking. He might have heard a neighbor’s car door slam and thought it meant someone had arrived at our house. Once in a while, I have no idea what gets him going. If I’m up and about, I can just exit my room and tell Scrappy “NO” in no uncertain terms while making eye contact with him. If he’s very excited it might take a second command, but usually he stops quickly enough.

When I’m comfy in bed or in the middle of a video game sequence I can’t pause (or don’t want to pause), I might not care enough to go tell him no. In that case, he’s happy to keep barking, punctuating his insistence even through the pillow over my head.

I wonder sometimes if he is trying to be dominant or spiteful in some way, as if his ability to make noise is the one way he feels he can assert himself. I wonder if he knows I can hear him, and he feels he has struck some little victory if I don’t exit my room to shut him up. Then again, a part of me wonders if he just wants attention, like a child getting into mischief. He might be barking just because he’s bored or lonely and he wants me to come and quiet him.

If I don’t, he can bark for a couple of minutes sometimes. He doesn’t bark forever, obviously, but longer than seems necessary to any real purpose. It’s the dilemma I face. Do I give in to laziness and let him bark himself out, or do I get myself up and stop him? Either way, my previously comfy state has been disrupted for some period of time. No matter how many times I get him to stop, he just loves to bark. By the next day, or even after several hours, he may be at it again.

As for Cholla, she has the bark of a much larger dog, more low-pitched and serious. She is content to let Scrappy run things however, and rarely barks unless there is Real Danger such as an unknown person or creature.

Interestingly, when we have a lot of guests over to the house, the dogs seem to get overwhelmed and eventually go sequester themselves away in a dark corner under some furniture. I guess the people are barking too much for them.

Scutigera coleoptrata, commonly known as the house centipede.

Every house has its quirks. Creaky floors, a lingering odor, doors that won’t shut, ghost sightings. These quirks tend to become part of the backdrop of everyday life, and while you may occasionally grumble about them eventually you get used to them… normally.

Unfortunately, one of my house’s quirks is Scutigera coleoptrata, the house centipede.

It’s not an infestation, per se. I learned that they prey on other insects and creepy-crawlies, so while ants or cockroaches or bedbugs range from pest to horror, the house centipede doesn’t eat your food (or you), isn’t poisonous, and actually gets rid of annoying things for you. I would liken it to having wolf spiders around the house. But… did you see the picture? I’m shuddering even now.

I rarely see them. They love darkness and they’re startlingly fast until they get really big. It lulls me into a false sense of security when I haven’t seen one for days or weeks at a time. Then one day, BAM! Out of the corner of my eye something with far, FAR too many legs goes dashing across my wall and hides behind a piece of furniture. I inevitably jump a little when this happens, because I just never get used to them. Something about them is just a bit too alien for me to appreciate aesthetically, and we all have instincts regarding sudden unexpected movements.

That’s a really polite way of saying I hate the little bastards. You eat insects for me, wonderful, now do it outside damn it! I’ve come to the conclusion that the natural defense mechanism of the species, aside from having such a creepy appearance that you don’t want to get close to it, is the awful way they smear if you don’t take exceptional care in killing them. Can you really be bothered to kill them when you’ll have to scrub the wall later? The leg-twitching of their death throes is also enough to give you nightmares.

Maybe I don’t know how good I’ve got it. Perhaps in other parts of the world they don’t have a little household predator eating pests or even poisonous things that like to slip into the house. I know some places in Kentucky have brown recluse problems, for instance, and I count myself lucky in that regard. Still, I doubt there will ever be a peaceful accord between myself and the nightmarish critters. Let the entomologists extol the virtues of the humble house centipede; myself, I plan to squish ’em.

(image courtesy of wikimedia commons: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/House_Centipede.jpg )

The time, when it isn’t blinking “12:00” at you.

The power blinks, and a moment later you hear a crash of thunder. Whew, thank goodness the power didn’t go out for hours… wait just a moment. With trepidation, you catch movement out of the corner of your eye, and you realize it’s the alarm clock.

12:00
12:00
12:00

With a sigh, you set about correcting your alarm clock. This, at least, is usually a simple matter. Alarm clocks are simple constructions with relatively few buttons, so after 10 to 20 seconds’ worth of patience, you’ve reset it. You will be able to go to work on time tomorrow, and all is well once more.

The rest of the clocks in the house, however, are another matter.

Additional alarm clocks aren’t that big of a deal if you have any, just a little hassle as you move through the house resetting the most important timepieces. Still, you feel the waste of time as the seconds pass, waiting for the time to come up correctly once more. If you don’t concentrate, it’s easy to accidentally skip past the time and waste another few seconds yet. Your true challenge lies ahead still, biding its incorrect time.

As you move into the kitchen, your eyes betray you as they slide across the room to the green glow of the microwave digital readout. You don’t want to know, yet there it is: 12:02. The time has reset.

At this point, the sort of human being you are plays a large role in your decision-making. If you crave and demand perfection in your domain, then you set about resetting the microwave clock, toiling through less friendly buttons and more arcane layout than the alarm clock. If you are a lazier sort who does not demand perfection from all displays, then the time probably wasn’t correct before the power blip on your appliances. You can go back to what you were doing as you ignore the dozens of silently screaming clock readouts arguing with each other in their own personal hell.

For the most masochistic and perfectionistic of us, your task yet remains. In the living room/entertainment room, a dazzling array of buttons, slots, glows, and wires greet your unhappy eyes as you take in the dreaded entertainment center. Some of the most merciful devices may have battery backup to keep the time fresh, but not all. It’s time to tackle the VCR/DVD/Blue Ray/Betamax clock.

This is no mere alarm clock made for convenience, nor is it a slightly awkward feature of your kitchen appliance. No, this is far more sinister. You have delved into the occult now, the world of arbitrary menus, scrolling buttons, multifunctional buttons that don’t list their other indicated purposes. You are no kindly wizard in this world of forbidden magic; to know its subtleties you must study ill-translated grimoires that came from the mystical land of Asia, must perform unholy ceremonies involving pens and screwdrivers to reach tiny reset buttons, and consult dread scrolls demarking the physiology of the machine. You are a sorcerer here, a dread necromancer casting in your lot with the soulless powers of tertiary, afterthought features.

Using your forbidden knowledge, you still must consult the scrolls and grimoires constantly as you intone blasphemous curses, waiting until such time as the stars are right, R’lyeh rises above the waves, and the VCR time is correct. Perhaps great Cthulhu will have use of you in the time to come when his Betamax player needs resetting.

Your arcane task complete, you finally grab a drink and head back to your chair, satisfied that your dread works are at last done.

It is at that moment that a boom of thunder shakes your walls once more as the power blinks. With a cosmic loathing, you catch a movement out of the corner of your eye.

12:00
12:00
12:00
12:00
12:00

(image courtesy of wikimedia commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Digital_Clock_1232.JPG)

Around the House #1: The Last Cookie, or Polite Austerity Measures

Everyone has been at this critical juncture before.

Whether at a simple family gathering, a small party, or just the dinner table, some item of food has become the evening’s entertainment and is quickly disappearing. We’ll go with cookies (in Britain, biscuits). The rapidly diminishing supply has nearly run itself out, and the once-plentiful stockpile has dwindled to a lone survivor, one last bastion of sweet delights before oblivion. Everyone eyes each other nervously, waiting until someone says, “Hey, does anyone else want this last cookie?”

At this point, the headstrong contender has achieved at least partial victory. The others gathered ’round will either lie out of politeness and say, “No, I don’t need any more,” or some brazen and yet-hungry person will say, “Yeah, I’ll eat it if you’re not going to.” While this diminishes the first contender’s victory, what else can the second say when he replies, “Ok, let’s split it in half.” The second contender cannot, in good conscience and politeness, turn down such a magnanimous offer and must be content to only carry off half of the victory after looking like even more of a jerk than the first to speak up.

Yet this is preferable to an uglier turn of events, where those assembled are all so polite that not one soul will take the last cookie for fear of looking like an ill-mannered glutton. Then the last cookie sits, growing colder, drier, and eventually stale as the members of the entourage awkwardly depart, each secretly craving the cookie.

Sometimes the drama is less immediate. It may be a cookie jar, a box of Little Debbie cakes, the last bottle of Ale8-1, or even the last cup of yogurt. The supply is slowly nibbled at over the course of days or even weeks, until finally one is left. Out of politeness, you skip taking it the first time you see one is left, thinking that someone else may appreciate it more. The next day, it still remains. Perhaps the other members of the household haven’t seen it yet. Do you really need the guilt and anguish of knowing you deprived the house of its last tasty offering? You skip it that day as well. You don’t even look in the box the third day, assuming it is empty and someone forgot to throw it away; if not, someone will surely eat it today. On the fourth day, you hesitantly look in the box and note that the item is still there. A moral dilemma now faces you: do you continue to avoid your desired confection/drink/snack out of politeness, or from a purely logical sensibility of pragmatism do you choose to consume it before it goes bad?

Whichever choice you make, ye are surely damned: on the one hand you have Wasted Food if you leave it, and children in some impoverished nation will now starve because of your carelessness and haunt you all the days of your life; yet on the other hand if you take it you have given in to carnal Gluttony for your own selfish gain, and the other members of the household shall surely wail and rend their clothes as they are denied what should have been their rightful inheritance, and soon they shall vow vengeance upon you.

Because of the irrefutable nature of the divine conflict outlined above, this is how I learned to just grab the last cookie the moment I see it and simply assume that no one else wanted it. Life is simpler when you’re eating a cookie.

(photo courtesy of wikimedia commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:White_chocolate_chip_cookie.jpeg)