Tuesday, September 16, 2014

There're Sharks in These Waters! - 5 Ways to Avoid Jumping Over Them

Alternate titles:
  • I Used Questionable Judgement While on Vacation Last Month
  • Wherein I Address "Jumping the Shark" Both Literally and Figuratively
  • I Hugged Dug (From the Pixar Film UP) and I Liked It

Little known fact: I write the titles of all my blog posts before the posts. Sometimes days before. In other words, the creative juices flow from the titles (I don't know why, that's just the way it is). 

Why this matters: I'm still (as I type) coming up with alternate titles for this post. So, if it (the post) comes out half-baked, I cannot be held responsible. 

*****

Remember how in elementary school, when you got back from summer vacation, the teacher would sometimes have you write an essay (on newsprint paper with lines on it) entitled, "What I Did on Summer Vacation"?

Yes, well, I'd like to do a condensed essay for you now (circa my writing ability in 1976). 

What I Did on My Summer Vacation






Over my summer vacation, I went on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was fun. When I was in the Bahamas, I went to a place called Atlantis Aquaventure and went down a giant water slide called the "Leap of Faith." The slide looks like it is going down the outside of a real-life Mayan temple. Not many people go down it, because it's really scary and almost taller than a skyscraper. Also, when you get to the bottom, you shoot into a chamber that is surrounded by a shark tank. There are lots of big sharks swimming in the tank, but they can't get past the glass to bite you. I did it twice. 



Note: Not me. I am not a man. I took the photo, however, and a few hours before, *I* was the fool sliding off a pyramid into a shark tank. 




On my last day in the Bahamas, in a town called Freeport, I rode in a motor boat with a glass window in the bottom out over some reefs in the Caribbean Sea. When the captain stopped the boat, we could see schools of tropical fish and sharks swimming through the glass window. We also saw a wrecked tug boat that had barnacles growing on it. The sharks and other fish circled the boat when the captain's helper threw bits of raisin bread off the side. I don't think the sharks were man-eating because they liked eating the bread. So did the seagulls. On the way back to the shore, only one lady got seasick. It was a fun day. 



Sharks on the reef, under the boat.



[end of essay and 1976 writing flash-back]

Although I didn't technically jump a shark on vacation last month, I did, in fact, slide/ride over (more than) one in close proximity. Therefore, the following tips are written from experience: 

5 Ways to Avoid Jumping the Shark(s) (while on vacation)
  1. Don't get in the water. 
  2. Don't go on vacation during Shark Week, when there's a high probability of a sharknado. (Because then you might get caught up in the cyclone and fly over one.)
  3. When your friends/family/tour guide suggests you attempt the shark stunt, refuse to do it. Have some will power. 
  4. Stop going on vacations. 
  5. Go under, or around the shark, instead. 

Who remembers the old Happy Days episode (and by old, I mean 143 years ago, in 1977) when Fonzie water skied over a shark? I don't...because the show had already gotten STUPID by that point, and I'd quit watching it! 

And that, friends, brings me straight to my next point: figurative shark-jumping. 
(Caution: Heavy use of metaphor ahead.)

I believe you all know what the idiom means. It means, the show got so boring, that the writers (with the producers' blessing) had to write something incredibly hokey into the plot to spike ratings. But, who the fudge cares about water skiing over sharks, y'all? Who wants to tune in and see Scooby-Doo's bratty nephew (Scrappy) ruin all the mystery fun? And why the heck did Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm have to grow up, anyway? Can you imagine if the writers for Sesame Street made Bert and Ernie grow up, become trapeze artists for Cirque du Soleil, and spun them off into their own Elmo's World-esque mini-show each week? No!!! I say, (1,000 years from now) let those muppet children (are they? children?) go out in a blaze of glory, without having aged one minute! [end rant]



Random photo of Jon Farleigh witnessing something monumental, while holding his own leash.

So, here's the thing. Not only did I literally get in shark-infested waters while on vacation, I've been sensing (no, more like fearing) a few figurative sharks in my (blog) waters for several weeks. And, y'all, I got myself so worked up, I came this close to making #4 in that list up there a reality. (Except make it say "stop writing the blog" and not "stop going on vacations.") I was this close

Yet, here I am. Not doing #4.


Random photo of Dewi sleeping through an earthquake, apparently lying in a puddle of his own slobber.

And you know why? Because I befriended them. The sharks in my blog waters. Yep, turns out I like sharks. If they were giant octopuses, or spiny lobsters, I'd probably like them too. Because if I didn't, why the frell would I have written them into my blog waters? This is not a TV show and I am not Fonzie! It doesn't matter if I jump a shark, because I'm a creative writer, and writing about sharky stuff makes me happy! What I need to do is stop worrying that other people will disapprove of my shark-jumping skills. (Which, I suppose, are passable, since neither I nor the blog are dead yet.) 

So, no, this is not the blog it was three years ago. That's OK (I affirm to myself). I'm not the same writer, or person, for that matter. And maybe next week? I'll be chasing alligators in Australia. Who knows! 


Random photo of Bobby Flay sleeping inside Youngest Child's summer camp bag, while I was trying to pack it.

Please Cut the Corny Metaphors and Tell Me What the Heck This Has to Do With Anything!

Fine. Here's what you should take away (if you're still reading):

  • On this blog, there will be more Tacky Cardigans. And some litter box anecdotes, with a splash of product review. Oh, and I changed my 15-year-old cat's name - you'll hear about that. And the handmade purse I'm getting with Dewi's likeness on it...OMG! SO adorable! Oh, and the pet-assisted meditation tutorial...just for starters.
  • Me telling you that Jon Farleigh just rolled over on his back next to my foot, which means either 1) he wants a snack, 2) he has to pee/poo, or 3) he wants a belly rub. At the moment, I believe he needs to poo. Hold on, I'll be back....OK, I'm  back. They both had to pee and poo. But Jon Farleigh just flopped over again. [insert belly rub]
  • This blog is not subject to Nielsen ratings, nor does it have stockholders who give a rip. 
  • You need to subscribe by email (see upper right sidebar) to this blog. Please do this. 
  • Sharks are largely misunderstood.
This would be where I might write "The End," except IT ISN'T! BECAUSE LOOK!

I met Pixar stars, Dug and Russell, at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida! On my way to Mt. Everest (there was a Yeti, and I nearly died, but that's not relevant right now)!


This, friends, is one hard-working professional dog handler (slash) celebrity body guard. 

Dug likes to rub on walls. Who knew?

I was one happy camper (get it?), despite my inner wondering whether Dug and Russell were secretly female. I don't know how to edit that stripe out of the photo.

I will never wash (nor tape-off) that outfit again. 

Russell picked his nose and tried to put his finger on my shirt right before this scene.  I told him he had crossed the line. He just looked at me and smiled. 

Hey, you think it's too late for me to change the title of this post? Yeah, never mind. 

P.S. I still have to tell you about (and show you) the stingrays. REAL live Southern stingrays that I met and interacted with in the Bahamas. Later...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is it a fruit bat, you ask? Nope, it's actually my new FOSTER KITTEN!

So, in the 300 or so years (hours?) since I last wrote on this blog, all kinds of relevant* things have happened in my life - not the least of which was this...


...which ended up like this...


...all while I was trying to be on vacation! 

* Relevant, as opposed to irrelevant things, e.g., all the times my kids left the door open and let the flies in, or that at least twice a day, a hair falls out of my scalp unbeknownst to me, lands on my bare skin, and makes me think I have a spider crawling on me that I can't flipping see.

Well, guess what? I faked the hack! (not really) Just to collect the (nonexistent) blog-hack insurance money! I got 23 cents, less shipping and handling, which, all told, left me owing a dollar and 18 cents. I do not recommend faking your own blog hack, people. It's not worth it. Just go out and recruit a couple legitimate bloggers (who write well and make good pictures) to do it for you. Please let them think it was their idea, though. You know, so they won't think you're a complete nut job, and wonder whether they need to report you to the FBBI (Federal Bureau of Bozo Impersonators). You don't wanna be on the run from those guys. Trust me.

OK, so where was I? Oh yeah! Stuff that's happened while I've not been writing! Y'all! I've got a bunch of pictures to post from my vacation (most of which include animals), but those are gonna have to wait until another day. That's because I have much more pressing news to share...


And his name is Fitzwilliam Darcy McDrool (Mr. Darcy McDrool, because he drools when he purrs), but you can call him TRAVIS*!

* Travis being his real name. I made up the other one, because I have a major crush on Travis, just like I have one on Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

But, lady, I don't even like peaches!

NO, he's NOT a fruit bat (I already told you that); he's my four-month-old foster kitten from the Richmond SPCA, and we're already into week three of his four-week stay!

Here, have another, less batty look...

Hey, that's not "beef purr-gundy;" it's apple butter!
Oops. Hold on...


There's this, and have a peek at these...


Isn't he handsome?!


FYI: Phone charger cords come in a variety of colors, including fuchsia. 


This is his Vogue, angry model look. Underneath, he's a real pussycat. ;)

And, finally, (my favorite, a little artsy)...



What a babe!

* Cell phone photography courtesy Eldest Child. The editing (in PicMonkey) is mine. 

Here's Travis' adoption profile on the Richmond SPCA website

(Yes, HE IS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION!)


I assure you the Travis in this photo is the same Travis who appears in all of my photos. The difference is that in his adoption profile, the sun wasn't shining directly into his eyes. Sweet boy. 

So, I was sitting on my return flight home from Florida, waiting on the tarmac for takeoff, when I spotted an email on my cell phone from the foster care coordinator at the SPCA. The subject read: Kitten Foster Care. My being a registered foster care provider, I see lots of emails during kitten season, bearing the same subject line. It kills me every time, as taking care of under-vaccinated wee ones, alongside my existing feline crew, is just not feasible. 

However, this email was different. It wasn't the wee ones who needed fostering, so much as the older (3-4 months old), fully vaccinated ones, who'd been waiting for cage space on the adoption floor, and (the clincher) were perfectly fine interacting with existing cats in the home. I thought about it for exactly 79 seconds. Then, while still seated on the tarmac of Orlando International Airport, I volunteered.

Travis was in my home the next morning. I hadn't even unpacked. 

And, you know what? I would do it again in a frazzled, morning-of-the-first-day-of-school minute! (Did I mention today was the first day of school? Oh, well it was! It's also my kid's birthday! And there's another birthday tomorrow! Awesome times, yo!)

So, there you have it! The most important (in a humanitarian sense, that is) relevant thing that's happened in the 300 400 or so years (minutes?) since I've written on this blog!

Do you know anyone in the Richmond, Virginia area who might want to give a silky gray, dog- and cat-socialized, purring, drooling (only when he's reeeealy happy), sweet-smelling, fuzzy, cuddly, hilarious, space-saving kitten a permanent, loving home???? (Think really hard, OK!) If so, will you share this post? Or simply Travis' adoption profile


Oh yes, and you'll want to mention these adoption perks!



He'll be staying with me until the week of September 12-19, at which point, if he hasn't already been adopted, he'll join several other kittens on the Richmond SPCA adoption floor. (sigh)

Thanks for reading and listening, everybody! I'll be back as soon as I can with those wild beast pictures from my vacation! (You think I'm kidding...)



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Reasons Puggles are Totally Cooler than Corgis

Kolchak here. You know, Kolchak? The loveable puggle from Kol's Notes with a penchant for homemade dog treats, DIY/crafts and a secret evil plan? If you didn't catch yesterday's post from Disc Dog Mort from Dogthusiast, then you should probably check it out. Go now, it's important, I will wait. 

You back? Good.

That fool! Kelpies are so easy to trick. Let that be a lesson to you, pups. You don't want to tangle with the superior wits (and incredible good looks) of a puggle. All I had to do was suggested to Mort that he could have more discs and he was more than happy to do my dirty work, trapping the Dewi & Jon, distracting those insufferable c*ts with the nip and leaving my path to taking over the Chronicles of Cardigan clear. All I had to do was throw a disc and Mort was out of my way too.  
Not bad for a day's work. 

Look at these loveable goofballs. Kidnapped, crated behind bars and still smiling like fools. Corgis!
You guys seem pretty "cardi crazy" over here. Everytime I come over here it's pictures of corgis, stories about corgis, jokes about corgis. It's always CORGIS! CORGIS! CORGIS! Enough already! It's time for Chronicles of KOLCHAK. I'm the star of this blog now. It's going to be all puggles, all the time and you're going to like it. Capische?

So now, with no further ado, 5 Reasons Puggles are Totally Cooler than Corgis

While puggles and corgis have a whole lot in common (we're comical, sturdy and we shed like it's our job), there's also a whole lot that sets us apart. Puggles are totally awesome.

#1: We aren't all "fancy pants"

Apparently corgis can't just be corgis, oooooooh no! They've got to be all fancy with their "Welsh Cardigan this" and "Pembroke" that and all "We're so posh, we live with the queen". It all just seems like a lot of work and snobbery that bpils down to one thing: some corgis have tails and some don't. Yuck, who needs all that snobbery? I'm a puggle. 1/2-Pug, 1/2-Beagle. The best parts of two of America's favourite breeds. I'm everyman's dog. I'm a dog's dog. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Not like those show-offy corgis. I mean, what does a corgi even NEED a tuxedo for?!

#2: We don't have "fluffy pants" either.

Have you ever seen a close up of a corgi's butt? WHAT IS WITH THOSE PANTS? (Or should I say pantaloons?) Why are they so weirdly fluffy and out of proportion with the rest of their bodies? Puggle butts aren't all weird like that. We have perfectly normal dog butts with muscles of steel, topped off by the perfect curly tail. See? SEE?! 



(Bonus: Watch this video, but while you do, imagine Sir-Mix-Alot is playing over the whole thing.*I like puggle butts and I can not lie.*)

#3: We aren't pushy, domineering brats.

Hey! That's not my being rude. That's a real thing that I read about corgis on a corgi website. Seems those fluffy little jerks can be a bit bossy sometimes. While puggles are often accused of being bossy, that's actually inaccurate. We're just self-assured, we know what we want and we are excellent at convincing our humans that what WE want is what THEY want. That's not domineering, that's just good business sense and this vacuum cleaner totally had it coming. Sometimes you have to put your appliances in their place.

#4: We don't have delusions of grandeur. 

I don't know where these corgis get their sense of importance?! I mean really?? 51 Corgi Gifs that will Change Your Life?  39 Smiling Corgis Who Will Inspire You? The 40 Most Important Corgis of 2013? WHO ARE THE CORGIS KIDDING HERE? What crazy person is running the corgi PR Machine? Someone needs to remind these fluffy little beasts that they are not the centre of the Universe. Puggles aren't like that. We don't have articles declaring that mere pictures of us will change your life and help you lose 15 lbs. because that is ridiculous. We don't need the whole world to love us. We aren't trying to be the latest internet craze. Puggles are just chillin' like a villain with their peeps and being awesome. Ain't nobody got time for this celebrity0dog nonsense.

#5: We're smart as woof.

Can I just say that a puggle would never get trapped in their crate by a disc-obsessed kelpie and an evil genius? We are killer smart and given enough treats, you can teach us to do almost anything. I mean, can you imagine a corgi doing this? COULD a corgi even do that with their weird, squat little half-legs? I doubt it. I don't even know how they get around on those pegs. It just looks awkward. I digress though, I was saying that puggles are smart. Almost too smart. A puggle could out smart you, if you're not careful and then where would you be? It really is best to stay on a puggle's good side or you could fine your site hacked and find a shrine erected to the honour of the most handsome puggle who ever walk the Earth. This guy:


Why do you think puggles are better than corgis? 

Leave your opinion in the comments AND WATCH OUT. In my quest for world wide web domination, your blog could be next.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This site was hacked! Well, almost...by a Kelpie mix named Mort.

This is a guest post by Jen deHaan from DOGthusiast.com

Because the amazing author of Chronicles of Cardigan is away on vacation, I am here to tell you how this blog almost became HACKED.




That’s right... hacked. So how did this almost happen? Let’s go back a bit, and I'll tell you a little story about a dog obsessed by discs who had his ultimate plan foiled by a puggle.

It was a calm day, to begin with. That was until the corgis were locked up by a certain Kelpie mix called Mort. He may have had a bit of help, or used magic to get those cute bundles of fur locked up, but the point is that the corgis were relegated to their crates so their website could be hijacked in the most tragic of proportions.



You see, Mort had a plan. And his plan was this. You might not know him too well, but he is a disc addict. In fact, he makes his human sew and make decals to support this habit. But making her do so didn’t net him enough discs (I guess she doesn't sew or decal fast enough), so he thought to take matters into his own paws.

He decided he would create an online resource for other disc addicts like himself, where he could provide videos of dogs catching discs, and perhaps other thrown objects. And he’d charge per view. And watch them himself, in dimly lit rooms.

Mort thought he would make MILLIONS and take over the world! DISC DISRUPTION! But most importantly, be able to purchase more discs and maybe bribe his human to take him to the park more.



So off Mort went to Chronicles of Cardigan Headquarters, with it’s decreased security levels, to procure a website of his very own. A website with many lovely followers already who may appreciate a tossed toy or two. Perhaps even pay to watch it over and over again.



The corgis were detained, and Mort went to town on modifying the website and uploading his disc videos and adding affiliate programs and PPC advertising for the brand new hijacked website. A site that might appeal to the masses. A site that would take over the world so he could purchase more plastic.



But oh no. No this plan was about to be thwarted. Just as Mort was about to upload his modifications there was a presence at the door…



It’s KOLCHAK PUGGLE TO THE RESCUE! And how, pray tell, did Mort get thwarted by this puggle? Well it was simple. Koly threw a disc for him.

And Mort took off to fetch it. Single track mind, my friends. Single track mind.

About the Author:


Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California who regularly blogs at DOGthusiast.com. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars on it since 2010. It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel (doing stuff better than these rough sketches!), and operates a small business creating hand crafted dog products called Stylish Canine.

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