Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Re-routed; Dog Punishment; Movies in Theaters; Videos Online

Currently Reading: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Had a little bit of trouble this weekend. Router died. The router, in case you don't know, is the little box that allows multiple computers to talk to each other and share the same printers and Internet connection. We use a wireless one here at the apartment so CC can check mail and stuff from her laptop.

The problem we had was some sort of argument between the router and the modem. The modem worked fine if used alone. The router worked fine if used alone. Put them together and they just did NOT want to get alone. I'm pretty patient with these sorts of things so I tried just about everything I could think of before finally giving up.

Went out Monday and got a new router. Works WAY better than the old one. Much faster. Easier to install. Most important, it gets along with the modem :-)


CC wasn't feeling well yesterday. Some sort of 24 hour bug I'm thinking. There are always a few of those floating around this time of year. Worse, I got called in yesterday to work. Apparently the other bather didn't show up and they needed someone to close the salon.

I decided that it would be better for CC if I took the dogs with me to work. Hey, I work in the grooming department, we've got a whole room just for storing dogs. My reasoning was that CC would get more rest if she didn't have to deal with the dogs barking or running around every time they heard the slightest noise. I also figured the dogs needed a brush out and their nails trimmed. I washed them last week but never got around to the brushing. Ran out of time.

Katya came out very well. She really enjoys being fussed over. When she was younger she used to put up such a fight when it came to brushing. She just did NOT want anyone to make her look pretty. Not her style. Now she's a bit older and I think she rather enjoys looking nice.

You'll notice she's got pretty ribbons in her hair. Blue and red, those were my high school colors. She actually wasn't too sure about those when I was putting them in. I'm not exactly quick with the bows like the groomers are but I'm getting better. All things considered, she was fairly patient with me and it came out nice.

Jack, on the other hand, was a different story. At home he's really good about brushings. He enjoys them. He actually tries to push Katya aside while she's getting brushed so he can have his turn first. But at the salon it was a much different story.

I put Jack up on the grooming table and put the loop around his neck so he'd stay still. He immediately decided to plop down right there making it impossible to do his belly and pretty tough to get to his feet. I managed the brush out but when I turned to get the nail clippers, he tried to jump off the table . . . the same table he's attached to by the grooming loop.

Fortunately there's a safety break in there to keep dogs from hanging themselves by jumping off (the way Jack did). Still, I was NOT amused. I gathered him up again, put him back on the table, reattached the loop and did his nails. When I turned to get the spray on cologne, he did it again.

Needless to say if he was going to be a bad doggie he was going to get punished. So he got ribbons too :-)

Blue and orange. Those were my college colors. Thing is though, he didn't seem to mind the ribbons much. Actually stood still while I put them in. I guess I'll have to come up with a new form of punishment next time :-)


We're heading into the spring and summer movie season. That's when most of the really GOOD movies come out. Well no, that's when the BIG good movies come out. All the Oscar movies wait until the dead season to be released.

Anyway, big movies is what CC and I like to watch in the theaters. CC just likes big movies I think. She's not so big on dramas and thrillers and such, but put in a musical or a big special effects show and she'll enjoy it. Just look at how much she loved V for Vendetta.

Me, I like all kinds of movies same as I like all kinds of books. But now that my hearing has gone all to hell, I pretty much save the smaller films for dvd and cable. Why? Well those thrillers and dramas usually get their force from dialogue and quite frankly, I often only get one word in 10. You take V for Vendetta for example. Great film. I heard pretty much everything Natalie Portman said. Same with John Hurt and Stephen Rae. But Hugo? Hugo Weaving, mid to deep voice, behind a mask, I missed HUGE chunks of what he was saying. It's just a bad range for me that's all.

This is why I like the big movies. Usually you don't need to actually HEAR them to get a good idea of what's going on. The action speaks for itself. So that's where you'll find me when I'm at the theater: where the action is.

The exception to this rule is when a movie is based on a book I've read. I saw Memoirs of a Geisha in the theater but there again, I missed a lot of the dialogue. Did it matter? No, because I already knew the story. Contrast that with Capote, which I finally saw on dvd last week. There's no way I would have enjoyed that in the theater. I'd have missed too many important details. That's a case where even knowing the story doesn't help.


CC put up some video on her site. She's got a pretty cool Shakira video. I swear that woman is a robot. There's no way humans can move like that :-)

I hate being left out of cool things so here's a video by Pussycat Dolls. The dancing may not be as good but it's not bad. Clearly the video is geared more towards a MALE audience ;-) Plus, I really like this song. Enjoy! :-)

Monday, March 20, 2006

World Baseball Classic Finale

Currently Reading: Shadow Family by Miyuki Miyabe

Tonight (Monday) at 8 PM central ESPN is showing the final game in the first World Baseball Classic. If you haven't been following it, well it's a bit late now but you can still catch the last game. There's been quite a bit of drama and some really great baseball going on.

The first round was pretty tame as far as the games went but you had such an odd mix of teams. Who knew they were big on baseball in South Africa? Or that there'd be a Team Italy? When you think of baseball you tend to think of the US, Latin America, maybe Canada, and Japan.

More recently in the major leagues there has been a much larger influx of players from Asia though. Depending on which minor league team is in your area, you might have seen some good players from China or Taipei or Korea. That one still throws me. South Korea is a baseball powerhouse. I'm not kidding. In one semi-final game it came down to South Korea (unbeaten no less) vs Japan.

Anyway, over on the other side of the bracket, the big mystery was Cuba. Everyone knows Cuba is a big baseball country but since they're pretty much a closed country, no one really knew how their players measured up with the players from other countries. Turns out they've kept right up with everyone else because they're in the finals tonight.

Japan vs Cuba. Should be a great game. I'll be cheering on Japan of course. Even before the series started I've been a fan of the way they play ball. It's much more like the way we used to play here in the US. Check out this story from the MLB site and you'll see what I mean.

Tomorrow I'll get back to the usual blog entries. Tonight I'm watching baseball :-)


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Zoo Story; No Dishes; Splitting Services; No Energy; Help Arrives

Just Finished Reading: Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert

When bathing a dog in the traditional way, you are out-numbered. Your opponent has 4 legs and one tail, all working towards the same objective: avoiding a bath. You have 4 limbs but they do not work together. Best to deploy what tools you have to increase your odds. You have two hands, use two hoses or two dryers or two brushes at once. Do not limit yourself.

Go over to CC's blog. No, not right now! After you're done reading. Why? Because she's got the video of our zoo trip. It's not one of those boring, home video things where we introduce you to relatives you've never heard of and don't care about. This is a short video of the polar bears at the zoo.

Recently, the zoo here opened their Northwest Passage section. The main attraction is the polar bear enclosure which features a glass-sided pool so you can watch them as they swim and play in the water. It is SO cool. I could have stayed there all day.

It was actually an odd trip to the zoo for us. For one thing, we didn't walk the entire park for a change. We went over to the new section first because they were feeding the sea lions and then stayed in that general area so we wouldn't miss the polar bear feeding. We did manage to see the pandas and gibbons and a few other animals but that was it really. Did a LOT of shopping though :-) We came home with two t-shirts, a jacket, a polar bear, and a 3-d wooden puzzle of a carp (which looks REALLY cool by the way).

In a way it was more like a trip to the mall than the zoo. Or maybe a combination of the two. Of course the important thing is that we had fun. We REALLY enjoyed our visit and we'll be going back. Might even get a membership so we can see the bears more often. :-)


I'm a little annoyed that we can't get a dish up here. See, I wanted to drop our cable company and go with Direct TV. More channels, better price. You see the dishes all over the place in our apartment complex. I set it all up with them and they sent a guy over today to install it. The problem is that we're on the third floor and our apartment building is in the way of the line of sight. In order to hook it up they'd have to put the dish on a pole outside the building then string cable up to the third floor. I expected that. How else would you do it right? Several people have it set up that way here in fact. But apparently that's not something the installer is allowed to do. *I* could do it. An independant contractor could do it. An official Direct TV guy can't do it though. So no dish for us.


What we were able to do is something CC wanted. We split our cable and Internet services. We had them bundled from the cable company, which is fine except that if something happens to the cable connection we also lose Internet. She didn't like that at all. At least twice we lost everything and ended up spending the day unplugged. You want to see my wife go nuts, take away both cable and Internet. She just doesn't know what to do in the background :-) CC likes to multi-task. If she's watching TV, chances are she's doing something else too. She likes having the computer downloading something while she works on other things. Or she'll play music from the Internet radio. Losing both cable and the net at the same time just isn't acceptable to her.

Anyway, we're now on DSL. Bellsouth sent us the kit yesterday and I got it set up. Had some trouble getting it to work with the router at first though. Their "easy installation instructions" don't say anything about a wireless home network so it's lacking a LOT of technical information that I need to make everything work right. I spent quite a while digging through their web site looking for what I needed but I found it eventually. So at least THAT story has a happy ending :-)


I have no energy. Two days now, no energy. I'm behind in my e-mail and I'm blogging MUCH later than usual. I think I'm coming down with something. Allergies don't sap my energy this way. So if I'm slow responding to something you sent, just be patient. I'll get there :-)


And finally, I got new hearing aids on Monday. Talk about a difference. They're the same size as my other pair but MUCH stronger and MUCH lighter. It's going to take some getting used to. I can't turn them up too loud or things get distorted. That was never really a problem before because my old pair just didn't have that much strength.

On the plus side, this pair should last a good long time. I'm only using maybe 1/4 of the power right now. And I got a lot of free things too like 40 batteries. That'll last me a while :-) They're also more comfortable to wear. The ear pieces are made of a softer material that doesn't shift around much.

The down side is that I won't be able to ignore people as much. New hearing aids means I hear better. Can't deliberately misunderstand folks once I get used to them. Ah well. That game was getting old anyway :-)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Deaf as a Post; Shell-shock; The Oscars

Currently Reading: Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert

Dogs are not naturally creatures of water nor of air. However, being earth creatures they adapt well to their world. It takes little training to adjust a dog to water. In fact, the mixing of earth and water creates a dog bather's most common enemy: mud.

Well, I had an appointment with an audiologist this afternoon. During the cold snap we had a little while back the tubes on my hearing aids got so hard and brittle that they both snapped. For the past few weeks they've been held together with tape and super glue. Definately a sign that they were due to be replaced.

But before they can actually sell you hearing aids, they have to give you a hearing test. Yes, I am still deaf as a post, more or less. The right ear, the one that hasn't been operated on, now requires over 100 decibles before things register. How loud is that? Pretty damn loud actually. At that level you're talking about things like leaf blowers and rock concerts. Bad, yes but still just barely on the chart.

Unfortunately, hearing in both ears has slipped a little bit since my last test back in 2000. But to be perfectly honest, I already knew that was going to happen. It was one of the things they warned me about before I had the corrective surgery so no real shock there. In fact, the only thing that really came as a shock was how high my comprehension score was in the right ear. Once the volume is pumped up high enough, I can still understand almost half of the words I hear. I was expecting MUCH worse.

Anyway, I now have two new hearing aids on order. They'll be in by the end of the week and I'll pick them up on Monday.

Want some idea how much stuff like this costs? Well, for a pair of digital hearing aids with enough power to work for me, $5000. That's right, five thousand dollars. I didn't go with digital though. Too delicate. Remember, I bathe dogs for a living. I need hearing aids that can take a little punishment. That means analog. Not as many fancy parts. Still an upgrade from the ones I have now though and every little bit helps. Oh, in case you were wondering, my pair cost just under $2000. Quite a bargain compared to the digital ones.


I was talking to my friend Judy earlier today and she was telling me about this play she'd seen while she was in Houston recently. It was set in WWI, in the trenches, right before the big push. One of the things they mentioned was the general effect of all the shelling that went on. According to this play, the main problem was that it made people sleepy. You might think it would be the opposite but not me. When she told me that I knew exactly what they meant.

See, when I'm wearing the hearing aids, I'm getting the entire world turned up to some pretty high levels. In the right ear, as I said earlier, 100+ decibles for me to hear it. I've noticed that something similar to the shell effect happens to me. The longer I wear the hearing aids, the more likely I am to be sleepy. I'm thinking it must be something similar. My ears are under a constant barrage of sound, similar to what the WWI soldiers went through. Must be some weird quirk the body uses to deal with it.

Pretty interesting stuff eh?


And finally, you knew I had to say SOMETHING about the Oscars. I didn't watch them this year. First time in a long time. It was a protest of sorts. I'm not a big fan of Jon Stewart, the host. His show on cable is pretty lame and I've never liked it. The other reason, the more important reason, was the movie 2046 NOT being nominated in the foreign film category. How on earth they could over-look such a great movie is beyond me. I guess they were looking for more gritty stuff about the Iraq war.

That being said, I figure most of the awards went to the right place. It was nice to see that Ang Lee got another Oscar. He's a great director so even though I'll never see Brokeback Mountain, I know it was very well done because I know how good Ang Lee is. I was also glad to see that Memoirs of a Geisha picked up a few Oscars in categories it clearly deserved them. You'd be hard pressed to find a better job of costuming or art direction among this season's movies.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Clooney's Oscar. My guess is that he got the supporting actor Oscar because he just doesn't have enough experience to get the directing one. Or maybe it's a case where they wanted to award Brokeback Mountain and at the same time throw something to Clooney for Goodnight and Good Luck. Something similar happened the year Gladiator and Crouching Tiger went head to head.

The two that make the least amount of sense to me are best song and best picture. Now, I'm one of those people that thinks the best song Oscar should be eliminated entirely. It had its place back in the 30's and 40's when we were making big musicals but let's face it, these days the award goes to something that usually plays over the closing credits. And just to add more evidence that the award should be retired was this year's winner. Come on, the pimp song? 3-6 Mafia has an Oscar now and Martin Scorsesse doesn't. That's just wrong on SO many levels.

Best picture, big disappointment. Crash? It didn't win anything else did it? There were no acting Oscars from it. If it did win anything else it certainly wasn't major. And by most accounts, it was a pretty unimaginative, typical Hollywood movie. Very predictable, very boring. All the right buttons pushed. All the right emotions displayed. Formula stuff. And this wins best picture? This movie is, according to them, as good as Gladiator, Braveheart, The Godfather, Casablanca, Lord of the Rings? I don't think so.

Maybe next year it'll be better. Maybe they'll have a better batch of movies to choose from and who knows, I might even watch the ceremony. From what I hear though, I didn't miss much.