Tagged: animals

Do we need a better mouse trap?

What is the best mouse trap? You hear all the time in company meetings and motivational speeches alike, “let’s build a better mouse trap.” It has actually turned into a cliche. But why? Are mouse traps really that bad that someone needs to be thinking about building a better one? Or is it just the perfect item to make a joke about because it really needs no improvement?

I can’t tell. See, I think the absolutely perfect mouse trap would completely disintegrate the mouse. Turn it into energy, or a puff of perfume-laced smoke. Every mouse trap I’ve ever used – though all of them worked effectively – was imperfect in that you still had to deal with the body of the mouse when the deed was done. And that’s the part I think we all dread the most. I mean, who wants to have to touch a nasty, dirty, flea-infested, possible-rabies-carrying carcass? Not I. So let’s take a look at some of the mouse traps available on the market, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

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The Bar Harbor Diaries, Vol. 3

What I didn’t consider when I wrote volume two was that it was Memorial Day. I mean, of course I knew it was Memorial Day. But I hadn’t considered that the breweries would be closed. So in short, what this meant was that we could take our time getting to Portland. There was no need to rush to make sure we had plenty of daylight left to hit as many brewhouses as we could. And you know, that worked out after all, because we were able to have a nice leisurely drive back. What should have taken three hours took almost six. And it was completely cool.

Cadillac Mountain was very nice. Gorgeous views. It was a little cold up there, but we had a great experience. Then we sat at Jordan Pond and had a brunch of popovers and lobster rolls with coffee. One of the most excellent brunch experiences of my life, right there. Completely worth the drive, friends. The wind was cool and fresh off the lake, as we sat outside at a picnic table staring out over the water while we ate. So beautiful.

These popovers are apparently the latest craze up there. The bake a muffin until it gets huge and just sort of explodes. So it’s a gigantic muffin that’s hollow on the inside. You put butter and jam on it, and – well, let me back up. You know those spherical scoops of butter they give you in breakfast diners? Yeah, I took that whole thing, sliced a hole in the pop and stuffed the entire butter sphere in it. Then poured the entire cup of jam inside, and sort of mashed it all around. Dear sweet WOW.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 4

Part Four: The Tribal Village of the Embera

We’ve come a long way with technology. This to me is science. I like to stay at the forefront – the leading edge, and all the other buzzwords you can think of that have to do with technology. I sometimes buy devices and gadgets with the full intention of returning them within the fourteen-day window just so I can become familiar with them, learn all about them, and be able to speak intelligibly of them. I would never personally own a Windows phone, but I was quick to hop on my mother’s for an hour or two when she got it, just to check out what they’re all about. I have more gadgets and technology in my house than a Best Buy distribution warehouse. Well, one that’s very small and only has like five laptops and three tablets in it.

I never dreamed I could part with my tech so easily. And maybe I can’t. I brought my tablet and my D/SLR camera with me on this trip to Panama. And my cell phone. And my wife’s laptop, her cell phone, a pocket camera, a 3G wireless hotspot, a GRUB analyzer, a Trip Socket spectrometer, and a bag full of cords, cables, chargers and SD cards. I came fully prepared. Our phones, however, remained off the entire trip. It was nice to be disconnected. Sort of. Not sort of nice. Sort of disconnected. Of course we still fired up Lync and Google Talk to video chat with the kids in the evenings, and I checked my email on my tablet and sent my drawings to my game mates on Draw Something. But we were more off-the-grid than usual. Especially when we went to see the Indians.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 2

Part Two: Back in the Jungle

This was my second trip to Panama but it was so markedly different from the first in every aspect that I’m beginning to replace negative feelings and emotions about it with positive ones. Where my first trip was dark and unkind, frightening and unforgiving, this one was healing and rewarding. This was my opportunity to change some of my thoughts and feelings on a second-world country and turn an exotic vacation into a therapeutic session and personal growth. Being granted the opportunity to see the jungle again from a cable car, and the safety of a boat, I’ve been able to calm the sense of dread and anxiety that seems to boil up in my gut when I think of the darkness that dwells in that little strip between the Americas.

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SpaceBrew Review: The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

I enjoyed this book well. It was far different than anything I’ve ever read – which I’m sure most people who’ve read it will agree with – but not bad at all. If you’ve read any other reviews of this book, you know how violent and gruesome it is with animal cruelty and murder. Some people have said it makes them physically ill and they’re not able to finish it. I didn’t have that problem. I guess I’m desensitized from all my years of working on computers. Anyway, if you can fight through it, just tell yourself it’s fiction. It’s a book and nothing more. I think it’s worth reading.

My writing here will be vague and make references to events without spoiling any of the book. You can safely read my review without fear of losing anything in your reading of the novel.

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The Dumbest Animals at the Zoo

The Fort Worth zoo is a very big place. It’s full of animals. If your goal is to see every exhibit, you really have to haul ass. If you monkey around at the aquarium, you won’t have time for the elephants. I mean, it’s a zoo out there. But really, I think the dumbest animals in the park are – well, you guessed it: humans.

There should be certain rulesets to which we all adhere when in a public place. For instance, when there’s a path that everyone is to follow, and one direction has, say five feet, then you don’t stretch your party across the entire five-foot path. There are other people who are interested in seeing exhibits, and might possibly be traveling faster than you and your party of hambeasts. Sorry, women, the beached whale exhibit is back by the entrance.

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Don’t Give Me The Bird

I’m not just now beginning to believe the birds are conspiring in some manner against humans. Now I’m not sure of their intentions, but my best estimates are that they’re either planning to take over the world by killing all humans, or plotting some massive attack in order to acquire more birdseed. Either of those scenarios is as realistic as the other. So it’s hard to tell. But for a long time, I’ve thought birds had some sinister plan. Remember, I mentioned it in my column about how people are becoming more like birds.

So what spurred this train of thought, you say? Well, hear this, friends. Grab a cup of coffee, maybe a napkin with a couple of strips of cold bacon on it, and a chair. Then pull up close to your monitor, put your elbows on the desk and prepare to read possibly the greatest tale ever of how a bird tried to assassinate and possibly take over the life of a human being. It’s about to get scary in here.

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Wait. What birds? What bees?

A few years ago, when my nephew was still just a little shaver, we found ourselves faced with an uncomfortable confrontation when my sister mentioned something about sex. Now it wasn’t something inappropriate, to be sure, but rather something along the lines of “sex in a movie” or something equally as innocuous. So all she did was basically say the word sex. It might even have been something like, “what sex is the child?” or whatever.

Anyway, my nephew, hearing the unfamiliar word, piped up with this little gem: “What are secks?” Well, seeing that a possibly uncomfortable situation might abound, I went ahead and stepped up to the plate with a perfectly delivered response, when I said, “Well, son, let me tell you what secks are.” So as the boy sat on the couch and looked at me, I told him that secks were like different categories into which women are grouped to determine their eligibility. I said, “For example, your mother would be in Seck A. Grandma over there? Well, she’s in seck B. Now Step, my red-haired wife? Yeah. Hi-five. She’s Seck C.

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End Stupid Construction

As I was driving back from the clinic today, I came across a few things that made me frown a little, tilt my head to the side, wrinkle my nose, and quite possibly quote the phrase that started the now world-famous acronym you all know as WTF. You see, I have to go to the clinic an average of two to three times a week. That’s how bad my genital centipedes have gotten. Oh wait. No, no, you see, I work for a company that has 22 clinics. Phew. Thank God it’s that. So maybe I don’t have genital centipedes after all.

Anyway, as I was driving I saw a couple of things that I thought I should let you guys know about, and see if you have the same reactions I do. Since I’m what some call an ‘intellectual’, and I’m terribly smart, I catch some things most people don’t. For instance, you know those concrete barriers they line up beside highways? They’re about 20 feet long and weigh like 40 tons. Yeah. Well, I thought about something, guys. Before they rebar those things together on the side of the highway, they just leave them all stacked in grids over on the grass, usually near the starting section of where they’re going to install them. I mean, no fence, no guard dog, no security cameras… Dude, we could totally just walk away with a couple of those. And who couldn’t use a twenty-foot concrete barrier to toss in his driveway? See? Told you I was smart, guys.

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Humanity’s Weird Beliefs

Have you ever wondered why some people latch onto certain things that make absolutely no sense, defy all logic and, furthermore, are most likely fake and gay? Here’s where you insert your own noun or quirky belief – mostly having to do with religions. But I prefer not delve into that here. I don’t want to offend anyone with talk about h- –SEVEN VIRGINS? SERIOUSLY? Sorry. That sort of slipped out. But no, I’m not really talking about religions. That’s just too easy. Sort of like traffic rants. Ahem.

No, what I’m more referring to is stuff like lore. Legend, rumor and hearsay. Like bigfoot. We’ve spent so many years looking for (and never finding any evidence of) this supposed big apish hairy monster that lives in the woods. Why? Well forget I asked that. People are humans. But the funny thing is that no one has ever seen bigfoot in real life. (Because he doesn’t exist…) No one. Has seen bigfoot. Yet some people still believe in him. Huh? It’s okay to want to believe. Hell, I’d love to think there are some crazy animals and monsters and shit living in the woods. That would make it that much more interesting. And that’s fine. I could invest my life in searching for them. That’s fine too. Maybe a little gay, but okay, at least you’re hanging out in the woods while you look for it. I would say don’t make that your primary focus – at least be doing something productive, like studying flowers or the elusive spotted humpback bumble wasp… But yeah, I could dedicate part of my life to the search for an awesome monster. But seriously? Believe in it before you find evidence?

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Fleas Flee, Please

Not too long ago, I had a dog named Daisy. Or Dixie. Something like that. You see, I’ve never really connected with her. Because see, she’s never allowed me to. She’s so scared of men that she wouldn’t come to me. Every time I would approach her, she would make a rather large puddle of this dark yellow liquid. I’m not sure what all that is about. But I couldn’t have a relationship with this dog like most people have with their dogs. You know, like petting it and saying, “Come here, Butch!” and have him actually come see you. So I’ve never connected with her, and thus – I don’t really remember her name.

Regardlessly, she brought some of her friends in a few weeks ago. And now they’ve taken over. Fleas. I hate them. I hate them worse than I hate golf. Thousands of them. You couldn’t walk through the grass to the back door without having them hop onto your legs and start biting. The little cocksuckers.

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Let’s talk about spiders.

Spiders are great little creatures. Millions of people like spiders quite a bit. I like spiders. I’ve had a large huntsman’s spider in the corner of my bathroom for several years now. I don’t know what she eats – it’s not like there’s a lot of bugs in the bathroom! No, but seriously, they’re good for the environment, they help prevent global warming, and they’re a great alternative fuel source if you grind them into a fine powder and mix them with Tang® and shrew urine. I cannot back up any of these claims, however.

But that leads me to my real point: spider silk. Now that shit is bad ass. It’s so bad ass, in fact, that they’ve made movies about it. Have you maybe heard of a little movie called Spiderman? It’s about a boy who finds a bunch of spider silk and starts dressing up as a spider so he will have a reason to use it. Spider silk is seriously strong though. Its tensile strength is stronger than steel, and it’s extremely lightweight. You know I’ve read somewhere that if you were to take a line of silk long enough to wrap around the entire earth (which is like 70 or 90 miles) it would weigh less than sixteen ounces. Sixteen ounces! In other words, a little more than a pound.

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My fly troubles are over.

You know what Venus Flytraps do? They catch mothereffing flies, that’s what! These things kick ass. If you’ve never seen one in action, I suggest you run up to your local hardware store or retnec repus tram law and pick one up. My girlfriend walked by a whole aisle of them yesterday and said, “Ooh ooh, kick ass! Check this out, Space!” Yes, she calls me Space.

So to make a short story long, we came home with a Venus Mothereffing Flytrap. And it does what the container advertised: it traps some mothereffing flies.

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Eradicate the Crickets

You know what’s worse than lying there, not being able to fall asleep – when you should damn well be tired enough? Lying there, not being able to sleep – when you should damn well be tired enough – but you can’t because of a stupid effing cricket. Clearly it’s in the laundry room, which backs up to our master bedroom. But every time I open the door to look for his little ass, he shuts up.

So you end up sitting there in the dark, flashlight in hand, waiting for him to speak up. Sitting on the cold tile floor, waiting like a ninja. Or, ooh-ooh a Green Beret! And he never chirps again. I know he must be under the dryer, but I don’t even want to go into how much of an anathema that is. There’s no room in my laundry room to move the dryer unless I disconnect the washer and move it out first. So I have to live with the chirping?

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Where are the good cats?

This last Monday I took my folks to the airport for their trip to Hawaii. Yeah, I’ve heard it from just about everyone now: “Tell your parents they suck, dude.” Why, because they were smart enough to fly south for the winter? If only a week, at least… Anyway, I loaded them up with memory for their camera and Cheez-Its for their flight and sent them on their way.

That meant I was driving my mother’s Porsche for the last couple of days, because I was too lazy to make the trip back out to their house to pick up my trusty old Wrangler. It’s amazing how lazy one can get about things like that when he is driving a sports car. Either way, I took the wife and kid out to Red Lobster last night for a feast of seafood (OMG those lobster tails and crab legs holy god they were awesome…) and then made the trip out to Silent Hill to swap out the cars. I gassed up the Porsche (I tend to put my foot in it a little too often and turn what should be a one-gallon trip into a five-gallon adventure) and parked it neatly between the lines in the garage. After my wife hopped out and moved all the shit out of the way.

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The Dredge House Chronicles, Vol 3

Volume Three: Lisa, the Notorious Cereal Thief

Lisa, my sister, likes cereal. I actually used to call her Cereal Killa. No I didn’t. I just made that up. But I should have. Being that she lived right around the corner from me, she would skate up to my house (literally, rollerblades) and visit me in the mornings. However, I knew she wasn’t really there to see me. She was there to eat my Honey Smacks. Can’t say I blame her. That was some good ass cereal. I should place a hyphen there between good and ass. I’m not sure I’m fond of the thought of ‘ass cereal’. I digress.

So she would skate up and eat a couple of bowls of cereal just about every day. And I was finally like, “Why the hell don’t you just buy your own, then you wouldn’t have to skate a quarter mile uphill in your pajamas every day?” And she was like, “Then I wouldn’t get to see you.” Uh huh. At least the quarter mile home was downhill. Well, one day I was feeling particularly generous, so while at the store, I bought two boxes of Honey Smacks. And when she came up the next morning, I gave her one of the boxes. “Here, take this home and you can eat it whenever you want!” So she did take it home. After she had a couple of bowls at my house.

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The Dredge House Chronicles, Vol 1

Volume One: Weiland, the Racist Dog

My first story is about Weiland, the racist (and possibly homosexual, as Captain made mention to in my last column) pit bull I had when I lived in the Dredge House. When I first moved in, Blake came over one day with Easy E, his 80-pound pit and said he knew a guy who was getting rid of a brindle pit. Was I interested? Well yeah! Who doesn’t want a tough dog?

So we went to collect him. He was chained to a tree in this guy’s front yard and I actually walked up and took his chain off, put a lead on him and walked him back to my truck. The dog immediately took to me. He was beautiful too. I named him Weiland after the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, because they were very relevant in my life at the time.

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The Lonely Life of a Battered Dog

My dog Daisy is quite possibly the sweetest dog ever to have lived. I mean besides your dog, okay? For reals. She’s totally sweet and submissive, and – well, I’m out of adjectives. She’s a damn dog. But yeah, she’s sweet!

Sweet DaisyAnyway, we rescued her. And – as you guessed – the previous owner was abusive. Why is that so often the case? She has no visible scarring or anything superficial. It’s all mental. Her psyche is just totalled. Like a subaru left on a train track. We’ve had her for a couple of months now and I’ve not raised my hand to her once. Even though she tries my patience like a Rubik’s Revenge. And it’s not because she’s bad. She’s not. In fact, just the opposite. But she’s got driven into her head so deeply the thought that I’m going to beat her, that she won’t even come to me.

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The Great Dove Hunt of 2007

My Pop and I packed up and headed out early Friday morning, the last day of August, heading west. We followed my buddy Stout and his brother David out to the deer lease for opening day of dove season. Wait, that should be capitalized. Opening Day of Dove Season.

So we got out there Friday night and got everything unpacked and settled in at the lake house. We then sat out on the patio and tossed washers for about two hours while drinking beers like we were in a contest. The point of all this was to do as little as possible. To get away for a weekend out into the country – to do as little as possible… To disconnect. To unwind. It was so nice to be able to become one with nature. And the birds. The boids.

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The Amazing Squirrel Incident

Gah, what a weird night. I left my Pop’s house the other night just before dark, and as I was crossing the railroad tracks, I saw a car parked in the gravel by the road with two women standing outside of it. One was on a cell phone, and they looked distressed. I made the ‘ok’ motion with my hand and the one not attached to the phone shrugged and pointed down to the ditch. She didn’t wave me on, so I pulled in to check up on them.

I get out and say, “Can I help you ladies?” The other hung up and turned to me. “There’s a squirrel laying over there in the grass. I think he’s injured real bad.” Oh. I see. Good thing I pulled over for you. Sigh.

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Trapped on Animal Planet

The weirdest damn thing happened today, and though I’m not certain these two events are holistically motivated, I can’t well explain their connection.

You all know me as an animal lover. My custom title on the awful forums is “Defender of the Dog”, based on my interactions with a certain person who’d brought harm to my loyal hound. (Someone else bought me the title, in case you were wondering.) But yeah, I love animals, and save them when I can. I don’t step on crickets. I go out out of my way to rescue the ladybugs.

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Good Night, Hunter.

Back in the cry room. I can’t cry in the other room. I have to be by myself. I have to allow myself this grief. But it hurts so damn bad.

I’ve tried the lesser reasoning – “He’s just a dog.” But that doesn’t do anything for me. He was such a big part of my life for the last five years. He was the best dog I’ve ever had; so smart, so sweet, so protective, so entertaining. But tonight he had to go.

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The Great Canine Collision of 2004

Saturday, before I left the house, I let my dogs out in the back yard. Being a relatively nice day, I decided to step out with them for a few minutes. I was admiring the weather and the scenery (I live on a beautiful green belt). I have a fence that’s almost entirely see-through in the back, being made of what I call dog-wire. Much like chicken wire, but the wire is thicker and forms larger rectangles – great stuff for keeping dogs in but maintaining a pleasant appeal. It’s a very rustic looking fence, and – wait… You didn’t come to read about my fence…

Anyway, I saw a rabbit through the fence and decided it would be nice to let my dogs chase it away down toward the creek. My dogs are some fast mother bitches, but never have they come close to catching one of these rabbits. Well, I opened the gate and my dogs tore out like bullets, running right past the damn rabbit. They love to run in the greenbelt, where they can really stretch their legs and run for five or six hundred yards in each direction.

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And Justice for Dog

Wow, I’m sitting here trembling with adrenaline and excitement.

The guy I initially thought did this turned out to be out of town at the time it happened. Bummer. But that also restores some of my faith in humanity and – more specifically – my neighborhood. I’m glad to know I don’t have to worry about my neighbors like that.

The story takes a turn though. I got home from work a little early today and let my dogs out. While they were in the back yard and I was doing some dishes, I heard Hunter barking his ass off. Then I heard the whine of a dirt bike, tearing across the green belt. This is pretty common. Then it got louder and louder, and then slowed until it was right behind my fence. Hunter had stopped barking for some reason, and was just standing there growling at this kid as he sat there looking into my back yard. (I have a fence made of dog-wire.)

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Gracie, the Iranian Sandalhound

I haven’t had a puppy in so long I almost don’t remember what their breath smells like. But now again, I’m constantly reminded. Gracie was thrown in a dumpster by someone who didn’t want Gracie, and when my uncle went to take the trash out he saw Gracie in said dumpster, and thus now Gracie belongs to me. How anyone can throw a dog away is beyond me entirely, but I’ve tried to look at this from two sides.

The one side is the obvious: someone was a heartless asshole who hates animals and has no love for anything other than himself. He threw a little bitty Iranian Sandalhound puppy into a garbage dump to be killed by trash and dumped in a foul-smelling pit. Anyone who could do this should be shot and thrown into a garbage dump to be killed by trash and dumped in a foul-smelling pit.

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My War on Wasps

I hate wasps and hornets. They piss me off. I respect them, because – unlike ants – you have to piss them off before they sting you. But I still hate them sons of bitches. They all live up under the eave of my house thinking they own the place, and they dive bomb me when I’m trying to relax in my pool with a beer.

What I want to know, is how the hell do they know how to sting? It’s obviously inborn behavior, but it’s still a mystery to me. At what point in their lives do they become aware of the fact that that stinger on they tail is a weapon? No one teaches them that shit. They just know. And some wasps die after they sting you. So what’s the point of stinging if you know your ass is gonna die? screw that.

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Prejudice Dogs

My dog loves people. Just about anyone who comes to my house is immediately accepted and loved, and treated like family. This is not the case if he feels threatened, or if my wife is home alone. In those cases, he’s in attack mode anytime anyone comes to the door. But under normal conditions, my dog is super friendly and is ready to play rope tug with anyone who comes by.

Everyone but Mexicans.

I don’t know what his deal is, but on Thursdays when those guys come to mow my lawn, Hunter goes apeshit. My main man Aaron owns his own landscaping company, and sends his boys out once a week to mow my lawn for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love these guys. Sometimes when they finish up, I invite them in and give them beers. But my dog don’t like it one bit. I guess he thinks these guys are there to kill us all.

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Superstitious

I hate superstitions. I think they are the stupidest hogwashical bullshit I have ever heard of. I will attempt to give you a few examples. Number one, the black cat crossing your path. It means bad luck. This tells me that at some point in history, a man was walking and a black cat crossed his path. Shortly after, he was attacked by a mountain lion or a dinosaur. Key: He either lived to tell about it or someone was with him. If he lived to tell about it I say he was lucky as hell. And to have the hindsight to realize that “Hey that was bad luck. It must have been the black cat that crossed my path a couple days ago.” Gotcha.

Number two: If you spill some salt, you have to throw some over your left shoulder. (or is it right?) This tells me that someone had an incident shortly after spilling some salt. And then realized it was the salt spill that had caused his bad luck. Right. So it happens again in his future and he decides to throw some over his shoulder, then discovers that doing so prevented another instance of bad luck. But if nothing bad ever happens, how do you know it would have? And what if you can’t remember the proper shoulder? Does it become even worse luck? What a brilliant guy! This holds no more water than a colander with me.

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I should really be moving.

We close Friday. We start moving Saturday. That is, of course, after the former owners of the house actually move out. They start moving on Saturday, so as per our contract, they will be leasing the house from me for one day. Would it not make sense to save everybody the time and money, and just move the hell out on the day of closing? I despise the thought of moving boxes in while they are moving boxes out. Therefore I will be waiting until they finish before I move my boxes in. Eff all that. My luck, they would be grabbing the boxes I just brought in and moving them out. So I’ll wait. The pain in the major ass is that that leaves me with only two full days to move everything from my apartment in Carrollton to my house in Flower Mound. Two days may seem like a long time to you, but I will present the following arguments in contradiction:

  • I have a lot of shit.
  • The second day of my two days to move is a Monday. No one else can or will get off that day to help. I will be moving by myself.
  • I have a lot of shit.
  • I still haven’t packed.
  • I have a lot of shit.

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