Category Archives: Life

They Don’t Stay Puppies Forever

It’s been a year since Lauren and I brought two puppies home.

They’ve gone from being little handfuls with wispy, chirpy barks to full grown rascally dogs with deep, booming, and still mostly chirpy barks. Indiana and Elphaba now weigh 25 and 22 pounds, respectively, and Indy feels husky in comparison. They know how to “sit”, “speak”, “back off”, and “stop biting my ear”.  Elphaba is getting pretty good at playing fetch. They go absolutely bonkers and start jumping and flailing when you offer them a treat, they stand on the arms and back of the couch despite our insistence they shouldn’t, and they don’t like lettuce or dry pasta but eat absolutely everything else that accidentally falls on the kitchen floor.

House training was a challenge for a long time. We took up our rugs a little too late and put them back down a little too early, but most of the time if the dogs had an accident in the house it was because we weren’t paying attention. As they’ve grown up, they can go longer between trips outside and are better at “asking” to go. It took faith early on that such a day would come.

Choosing toys and treats was a learning process before we had a handle on it. Both these dogs are heavy chewers, so plush and rope toys would get destroyed. Then eaten. Durable chew toys are the only ones left standing and now the only ones we buy. Kong and Nylabone are our trusted brands for toys. At first we bought many different kinds of treats. We’ve give them bacon treats, cranberry treats, peanut butter & banana treats, jerky treats, long lasting edible bones, and just about anything else. But to borrow an adage from photography, the best treat is the one you have with you. We buy them in bulk at Costco now along with their dog food and the Costco brand Kirkland is surprisingly the best quality dog food we’ve found.

The best decision we made was getting two puppies instead of just one. Even better, getting a boy and a girl. Being away from the house during the day seems like only a minor inconvenience for the dogs, who are constant companions and play very well together.

Here are some recent pictures:



I am not sure I recommend that everyone should get 8 week old puppies, since they pee on everything and chew up anything and that doesn’t stop for months and months. It can test your sanity and ruin your carpet just like being a parent to a newborn baby can test your patience and ruin your sleep cycles, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Yesterday’s Schedule

8:30 AM: Wake up without an alarm after 9 hours of sleep.

9:30 AM: Breakfast at Panera. Bacon, egg, and cheese Asiago sandwich, half a spinach and bacon soufflé, and a large coffee.

11:15 AM: Avengers in 2D. Large popcorn and a large bottled water.

2:40 PM: Cabin In The Woods in 2D.

5:00 PM: Dinner at Carrabba’s. Veal Marsala, garlic mashed potatoes, sausage and lentil soup, blackberry sangria.

7:10 PM: Avengers in 2D. Chocolate covered pecans we snuck in.

Yep, pretty great day.

People Love Their Cars

I love my car, but recently it has become apparent that it is nearing the end of its life. I’ve driven it for 6 years and put about 125k miles on it and really grown to love my 1998 Mercury Sable. And I’m having a tough time saying goodbye.

Denial: A couple weeks ago, Lauren and I were driving home from having dinner with her family and the Check Engine light came on. And started to blink. I had no trouble dismissing it out of hand, because in a 14 year old car with a history of electrical issues (the dome light will stay on during rainy weather), I was sure it was something else I’d just have to live with.

But it happened the next day. I got suspicious. So I pulled out the owner’s manual from the glove box and looked it up:

Light is blinking:
Engine misfire is occurring which could damage your
catalytic converter. You should drive in a moderate
fashion (avoid heavy acceleration and deceleration)
and have your vehicle serviced at the first available

Under engine misfire conditions, excessive
exhaust temperatures could damage the
catalytic converter, the fuel system, interior floor
coverings or other vehicle components, possibly
causing a fire.

Anger: So I took the car to a mechanic for a diagnostic. And they kept it for a whole day without calling me back. And then came the news: 1) cylinder one is misfiring; 2) the presence of engine exhaust was detected in the radiator; 3) this isn’t fixed by a tune-up: there is a crack in the engine. “Sorry to be the bearer of bad news”, he said. Like an empathetic defense attorney after a guilty verdict. More like a doctor giving my car 3-6 months to live. Getting a replacement engine (about $2000) would cost more than the value of the car in good condition (about $1200).

Bargaining: I have no idea how long the car can keep running with a crack in the engine block. Some people I’ve talked to are amazed it will even start. But it’s not huffing black smoke and it’s not overheating; it just rumbles a little more than usual. Hey, I’ve seen the movie Uncle Buck and if that car was street legal, well, maybe I could keep driving Mable the Sable forever. With a heart filled full of hope and tags expiring in 60 days, I drove it down to the emissions testing center. Where it failed spectacularly. It was a $9 lesson in humility.

Depression: That was two weeks ago. I’ve gotten the phone numbers to several car brokers and been spending most evenings researching cars and what’s available in the used car market in Nashville. And I’m not happy about it. I remember clearly 6 years ago when I lost my truck, a simple Nissan Pickup that I had driven cross-country and been with me since college. It was totaled in an accident on I-40, and like an illusion, it disappeared out of my life. I wasn’t eager to replace a pickup with a 4 door sedan, but 6 years later, turns out, I’m not eager to replace Mable either.

Hey, we’ve been through a lot together.

Me : Mable :: Han : Millenium Falcon.

People love their cars. And I love mine. There’s a strange connection there I can’t put my finger on. Probably like how my Dad feels about his workshop tools (especially his nailgun). Or the way my friend Travis feels about that excavation tool he brings camping. It would tear you up if you lost it. Tear you up even worse if it broke in your hands. I feel like a cowboy who has to put down his horse. It’s probably silly, but I feel sad.

Acceptance: Coming Soon.

I Watched Star Wars at a Young Age

Last week, a friend asked over email how young is too young to introduce his child to Star Wars. It reminded me of my nephews who were reading through Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets with their mom (my sister), but had to stop because the Deathday Party was too scary for them. I didn’t remember it being scary in the slightest. Then I remembered that lots of seemingly benign movies (Neverending Story, Back to the Future Part II, Enemy Mine) gave me nightmares as a kid.

So I made a survey. If you want to take it, go here.

From the responses I’ve already gotten, here are some of the interesting tidbits:

  • There was a general consensus that the right age for the Star Wars trilogy is 5 years old. There was considerable dissent over the Star Wars prequel trilogy, with a common thread of parents waiting a few years to show their kids the prequels.
  • Most people would show their kids the first 2 Harry Potter movies before reading the books. I guess those first 2 movies really are kid friendly.
  • Most people would show their kids the Chronicle of Narnia movies before reading the books.
  • Nearly everyone said they wouldn’t show the James Bond movies to their children until 10 or older. That’s probably smart.

Here are the median ages from all the books and movies in the survey:

Star Wars (movies) episodes IV, V, & VI 5
Star Wars episodes (movies) I, II, & III 9
Harry Potter (book series) 7
Harry Potter (movies) 1 & 2 6
Harry Potter (movies) 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7 part 1 and 2 10
Indiana Jones (movies) 10
Chronicles of Narnia (movies) 5
The Hobbit (book) 9
Chronicles of Narnia (book series) 6
The Lord of the Rings (movies) 9.5
Goonies (movie) 10
James Bond 007 (movies) 10
The Lord of the Rings (book) 10
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory OR Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (movies) 6
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (book) 6.5
The Neverending Story (movie) 6
Anne of Green Gables (miniseries) 6.5
Anne of Green Gables (book) 7
Back To The Future (movies) 10

Cooking to Scale

This past weekend, Lauren and I took on the modest challenge of roasting a turkey. Spoiler: we didn’t screw it up and we can do make it even better next time.

I don’t know where it came from, but there’s been a frozen turkey in our freezer since Christmas. In the first week of January, I bought an aluminum “use it once and throw it away” roasting pan and it’s been sitting on the top of our fridge.  Thursday I put it in the fridge to thaw out and I got on the Internet and read about 30 “how to cook a turkey” recipes.

When I got it out of the wrapping Sunday afternoon, there were parts of the “insides” that were still icicles. Turkcicles. And I’d never ripped the neck out of the turkey cavity before (it was a visceral experience) and had Lauren to pull up a YouTube video on her phone of someone demonstrating how to do it so I felt a little more comfortable with the whole process. Separating the skin from the meat was also a little uncomfortable. And I had to run to the store because we didn’t own a meat thermometer. And I’m not that good at carving a turkey. I ended up using my hands for most of it.

Next time I am doing a few things differently:

  1. stuff the bird with onions, celery, and rosemary.
  2. lay it breast side down, so the breast meat stays moist.
  3. find a better use for the wings, since they have so little meat on them.
  4. two words: flavor injector.

Here’s the best part: on Sunday night we had a tupperware container in the fridge holding about 8 pounds of cooked meat and it’s been easy to make lunch all week. Last week I made about 8 pounds of pulled pork in the crock pot, which lasted us about 15 totals meals (dinner for both of us 5 times and several lunches). Week before that I made sausage and lentil soup that was about 7 meals. I can make a batch of red beans and rice that is about 8 meals. It’s a nice way to live.

When we first got married, I would make dinner and it was just enough. No leftovers. I would cook 1 meal. My tune has changed. I would much rather cook for 10 meals at once. Our fridge is filled with leftovers these days, and it makes making dinner during the week much easier. I’m not to the scale of cooking cafeteria-sized recipes, like this one for Elvis Presley’s favorite fried chicken, but maybe one day.

Goals for 2012

I like the trajectory of my life over the last year. I think I’m in a good place. I have a wife who loves and two puppies that worship me and a great new job. But I think I can still make some improvements with some small adjustments. These are my goals for 2012.

  • Read more novels. I haven’t been an avid reader since I lived in Seattle in 2005. Back then I would go through a book a week. I want to do more of that.
  • Shoot more video. We got puppies in June of last year and I’m already surprised at how few photos and video I shot. And a little regretful.
  • Lose some weight. In the last 2 years I’m up 15 pounds. I remember when I weighed over 300 and that Scott is never coming back. This year I’m going to swing the pendulum back.
  • Stop drinking soda. I’m not yet convinced diet soda hinders weight loss, but Alton Brown believes it. So I’m stopping cold turkey.

Favorite Discoveries of 2011

With the year at a close, here’s my list of the favorite things I discovered in 2011.

  • and Evernote. The best way I’ve seen to create a searchable repository of your “Likes”, “Faves”, “Reblogs”, and “Stars”.
  • Multigrain Tostitos Scoops. best chip on the market.
  • Hypercritical, Back to Work, and The Incomparable podcasts. These podcasts have introduced me to new ideas, reinforced and also debunked long held opinions, and made me a fan of the medium.
  • Frozen Butterbeer. Only available at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I need to learn to make this at home.
  • Nylabone and Kong dog toys. Especially the durable toys for active chewers.
  • Ender’s Game. I had never read it. I might just re-read it in a couple of months.
  • AppleTV Airplay. THIS. more of this, lots more.
  • Clay Christensen’s lecture on successful innovation. He gave it at an IT Symposium in October and it is the best hour long video I’ve watched all year. Changed how I think. Watch it here.
  • Keurig. I’m not a coffee snob, so it’s perfect for me.
  • Married Life. So great. Not always easy.

Support Your Local Web Comic

I’ve kept an obscure item on my Amazon wish list and figured one day I would buy it. It’s this t-shirt print of XKCD’s #552 Correlation. Go read this wikipedia article on statistical correlation, go read the Freakanomics blog for a couple of hours, then go listen to two partisans argue over which U.S. President (Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton usually) had the greatest impact on our economy, then go reread the Correlation comic. You’ll smile, maybe laugh.

On a seemingly unrelated note, my wife complains that I’m impossible to shop for. So I directed her to my Amazon Wish List for ideas this Christmas. Where the Correlation t-shirt was pinned as a wish list item. And I got it for Christmas. My wife and in-laws admitted they really didn’t get the nerd humor, but they got it for me anyway.

The Christmas gifts I love the most are the ones where the “thing” represents the “mission”. This year my cousin gave me Fair-Trade coffee through World Vision, proceeds of which goes to their Maximum Impact Fund. I gave my dad a Pancake Pen so he could make pancakes with fun shapes for his grandkids  (my nephews) when they sleepover. And my in-laws bought me this t-shirt. In so doing, they financially supported my favorite web comic.

I hardly ever stop and think about gift giving on a metaphysical level; mostly I just buy an thing/artifact/stuff that looks nice or sounds nice, but doesn’t serve a deeper purpose. I am now convinced the best gifts aren’t just something the recipient might like, but serve their interest/passion/mission. I think this will help me give better gifts. And might make me less impossible to shop for.

4 Day Birthday Weekend

I have Thursday and Friday off work, my parents are in Nashville this weekend, and I’ve got a birthday to celebrate. Here is my to do list for my four day weekend:

  • finish reading the Steve Jobs biography
  • take one 2.5 hour nap
  • eat at Chuy’s
  • teach these puppies to “Sit”
  • eat at Germantown Cafe
  • do the dishes
  • see Wicked at TPAC
  • get my hands on some 1792 bourbon at the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ festival
  • find a recipe for Crock Pot Pizza that doesn’t use pasta
  • rip the DVDs of my original theatrical versions of the Star Wars trilogy (IV – VI) and convert to MP4
  • buy dog food
  • eat at Carrabba’s
I had one *tiny* speck of work email to do this morning, but that’s it, I’m not working any more until Monday. I’m off to start on my list.