Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May your new year be filled with room to run and squirrels to bark at!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is it bad having a little asphalt in your ears?

Google search terms that lead folks to A Little Brown Blog continue to amuse and sometimes perplex me. As I posted previously last March the information people are searching for is sometimes bark out loud funny - even if the humor is really only about missing punctuation (never trust a man who doesn't hunt teddy roosevelt). 

Here are some new highlights:
androgynous rower in a red shirt, possibly meant to be a woman in man's clothing
blog + awesome + mystery
chinese movie where there's a giant flying cat
crazy susan's chocolate chip cookie recipe
dacshund walking speed
decorating with prairie dogs
do dogs sense the presence of departed owners?
dog park fungus
is it bad having a little asphalt in your ears
mom said to put these panties on
monkey dogs banana bacon
never trust a man who doesn't hunt teddy roosevelt
what product dissolves dog poop
what's wrong with carmella
why people have poodle phobia

Amazon's Aunt Mildred Eco Tool

Amazon has just patented a new system for gift returns that allows gifts to be returned before they are even sent - poor Aunt Mildred. They say 30% of all gifts are returned and I know I am not the only pup who hates waiting in the car while my people stand in line at the post office. Not that we have an Aunt Mildred in our family, of course!

Soon people will be able to flag "high risk givers" like Aunt Mildred. Amazon will send an email alerting you to the threat of grouchy smurf lounge pants, a farting fanny bank, toilet mug, or mooning gnome.

With the click of your mouse you can covert any of these landfill items to a gift card, saving countless resources. I suppose the FedEx folks will be sad. Not to mention the gnome factory.

Better yet, they should allow you to donate your gift to a favorite charity like Homeward Bound Dog Rescue Minnesota.

Emily Post's great granddaughter says this gift return system is very impolite. I say burning through the world's resources to produce crap no one wants is even ruder.

OK, Boy#1 says he would love a farting fanny bank. And he says I drink out of the toilet all the time. Touché! Maybe a better example for him would be this page turner.

Or maybe 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Call of Duty: Road to Family Togetherness

Susan played Call of Duty: Black Ops for the first time with her boys. She will say I am a bad dog for sharing this private matter as she feels ashamed she lets her gentle-souled boys play such video games. She also knows that many mothers without modern day boys may judge her - she has seen the looks the neighbors throw over the fence watching them play with their big-ass nerf guns. She has thrown plenty of her own glares and tart words at her heavily-armed spawn as they combat crawl through her gardens.

I say a little dog park wrestling, chasing and gnawing is what keeps the pack civil.

Susan would rather they joined her playing Viva Pinata or Carcasonne. Although there is also a terrrible darkness to the totalitarian gardens of Viva Pinata and the conquering strategy of the abstract lands of Carcasonne. Heck, chess is nothing more than domination wrapped in cordiality.

Susan agreed to participate in Black Ops for a little family togetherness. It was that or go hide in her room for the rest of their tweenage/teenage years.

Honestly, I know Susan wanted to see what all the fuss is about. Was the game-play of a top-rated, first-person shooter really that much more compelling than other games, as her boys kept telling her? Would she be able to shoot people - rather than repel aliens, blow up jewels or feed pinata folk to other pinatas? Or worse, would she love it and have to eat crow?

It was a rough start. OMG, she was like a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest into a crocodile pond. And this was a friendly local multi-player foray- not a dog-eat-dog online forum. She made a pretty lame soldier  -- even for a Christmas newb (online label for folks who play for the first time after present-opening).

It doesn't help that Susan is very susceptible to motion sickness. She also has no sense of virtual direction and can't aim worth beans-- although must be said she was pretty heavily doped up on cold medication. She spent most of the time trapped in corners staring up-close at the textures of walls as she tried to navigate and find her family -- only to be constantly killed and sent away to re-spawn and start over. At least someone appreciates all the work that went into those textures.

In the end, she discovered she could hurl grenades (right bumper) and spray bullets (right trigger) to get some points -- OK, some "kills"-- and her boys were very proud of her. Things improved when someone showed her how to aim (left trigger). The family said it was great fun having Mom on the squad. And really, there is no higher compliment from tween and teen boys.

At dinner that first night, Susan admitted she now understood why they said it was a great game insofar as it was exciting and fun to play in a pack. And they grudgingly admitted that the realism of many of the locations/characters sometimes made them uncomfortable too. (The morality of video game subject matter is for another post.) But as I lay there watching for supper crumb showers to fall, I can say that for the first time, the family discussed Call of Duty intelligently and peacefully. It was a nice moment of family togetherness.

It made me want to have thumbs so I could join the squad too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post Christmas Musings

I love the holidays because my pack is happy and home. And I got a smokin' bone from my vegetarian Dave. He loves me.

For my non-Minnesotan readers, this year's Christmas was our snowiest ever. Weatherman Paul Douglas says:

"At least 4.6" fell at MSP International, bringing us close to 34" for December. Remarkable. Welcome to the snowiest December on record; modern-day statistics go back to 1891. Normal December snowfall? 10". Right."

And it is beautiful! Crisp blue skies today. The boys are out sledding. I am hoping for some extra walks. For now, I am removing the stuffing from my b-day present while Susan types.

If you are looking for some chuckles, invite yourself over to play with our new Xbox Kinect. Otherwise known as the Xbox KicktheCat -- ha ha ha! But honestly, what idiot animal would stroll into a zone where Dave is flailing around learning dance moves? My abs are more toned from laughing. Don't worry cat lovers, Stuart is fine. Just miffed.

For those of you just back from Pluto:

"Kinect brings games and entertainment to life in extraordinary new ways without using a controller. Imagine controlling movies and music with the wave of a hand or the sound of your voice. With Kinect, technology evaporates, letting the natural magic in all of us shine."

This is what Xbox says you will look like playing with your Kinect.
OMG, it is so much more hilarious looking than that.
Picture grownups dancing to Lady Gaga.
And we have a tiny living room full of furniture with a wood floor.
Very dangerous.
I suspect our medical deductible will be tapped out soon.
I will post real photos soon.

This was the Year of the Coaster at our house. Everyone got everyone coasters. Too funny. The furniture thanks everyone.

Susan remembers the Year of the Wine Kit back in the seventies. You could make buy a kit and make wine in your own home with some jugs, tubes and packets of yeast or some such thing. Sounds pretty nasty to me - but you have to remember Susan's folks were on a tight budget so Gallo gallons were the wine to beat. Susan and her sister knew that their mom had gotten a wine making kit for their dad. And their dad got the same winemaking kit for their mom. Much hilarity ensued at present-opening time.

I hope next year is the Year of Peanut Butter. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Demon Dog

Yes, that is my tongue.
It doesn't quite reach to the bottom of a jumbo Skippy peanut butter jar.
But that doesn't mean I don't keep trying.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wastebook 2010

There was much jubilation in our house today when it was discovered that one of Dave's projects WolfQuest made it onto the Republican's top 100 worst examples of government waste - #23, in fact. WolfQuest was right behind the Vidalia Onion Museum (#22) and trailed a salamander crossing project in Vermont (#15).

 Papyrus font always makes me smile and think of Daughter Number Three.
Senator Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2010 was no doubt meant to be a scathing review of government excess. But to me, it reads like a list of 100 Things I Definitely Want to See and Learn More About.

Now I want to visit the Neon Museum in Las Vegas (#3). If I am in DC, I wouldn't object to a potty stop at the newly renovated Marion Park dogpark (#32). I'd love to take a spin at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (#41) in New York. Who wouldn't want to stroll the new beachfront promenade in Pascagoula, MS (#74) or ride an electric bus in Maryland (#73)?

Thank you Senator Coburn for this wonderful list. Sometimes I wonder about my country. But this list reaffirms my belief that the USA is a fine place full of curiosity, compassion and culture.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rudolph the Regular Reindeer

Thanks to my friend Chris 
for pointing me to this video 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art Hound Postcards and the Best Blizzard of 2010

Nothing says "I Love You" like Art Hound postcards.

At least that is what I am hoping since my Susan said no one except me wants a knuckle bone for Christmas. We are also working on other Art Hound craft items. Top secret until after the holidays - but I'll let you know if any of them turn out.

Art Hound postcards

If I was famous, I would become an entrepreneur and fill Boy#1 and Boy#2's college funds to the brim. I might harness the new economy like that couple Daughter Number Three blogged about a week or so ago.They made a cool Star Wars alphabet book and put it online for free viewing. Then, if you wanted to, you could make a donation to their baby's college fund. For donations over $15, they would send a printed booklet of the alphabet book as a thank you. Pretty cool way to keep it all tax free and not get George Lucas all huffy. Apparently, it was a wild success. As the dad Brandon writes

"Holy cow, internet. A ginormous thanks to everyone who donated to Tycho's college fund during our December donation drive! Due to a crazy overwhelming volume of donations, we've achieved our goal at lightspeed, and have closed the donation drive far ahead of schedule."

But since I am just a dog lacking opposable thumbs or an income stream, I'll stick to what I do best - snuggling and letting my boys rub my belly.

But why all this time for crafting? Why the Best Blizzard of 2010, of course. Two - count 'em - two snow days to keep my Susan and the boys at home baking, crafting, playing video games and even getting caught up on laundry. Not that I give a hoot about laundry or video games. But I get great company so I having been howling "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"

This is the Blizzard of 2010 in progress.
I am over by the tree hoping a squirrelsicle falls.

When all was said and done, it was a foot and half of snow.
I do miss lounging on the deck chair.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Tofu Pudding

I know, I know. Dogs can't eat chocolate -- so how is it that I recommend all these chocolate delights? Because they make my people soooo happy! And fat - especially with a dollop of whipped cream. And happy, fat people are 80% more likely to take me for a walk. (Boy#1 reminds me that 85.8% of statistics are just made up.) So I say, bring on the chocolate desserts.

This pudding recipe is fabulous because it doesn't require cooking. Just whirr it up in a blender. It is best chilled and saves in the fridge nicely. My family says this pudding is silky smooth and you would never know you are eating tofu. It can count as protein if you eat too many vegetables and not enough meat, like half my family does. Well...they do eat enough cheese to keep a family dairy farm in business...but I digress.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Chocolate Tofu Pudding
2 twelve-ounce packages Mori-Nu Silken Firm Tofu or Mori-Nu Lite Silken Form Tofu
1/4 cup white sugar
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5.25 ounces (half a bag) of melted Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips (or other melted chocolate)

Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Put all the ingredients in a blender- or in a mixing bowl and use a hand blender. Blend until smooth. Chill for best flavor. Dollop of whipped cream is optional. Long dog walk after dinner is a must.

Stick to good chocolate, I am told.
Lite Tofu is tasty... but requires less dog-walking, so I don't support it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serious Walk

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Carmella of the North

We woke up this morning to a glorious snowfall and brilliant blue skies. It really was a perfect six inches. Fluffy, easy to shovel (I am told) and arriving on an unscheduled Saturday morning. 

It fell steadily last night with no wind or ice -- although the news was still excited as ever. But I have noticed that as soon as any weather pattern moves in, every media outlet buzzes with dire predictions. Snownamis. Snowmageddon. "Whatever happened to snowfalls?" my Susan grouses every time.

Boy#2 (age 11) has a theory that human beings are wired deeply for stress. Back in the cave days, they had lots of things to worry about. "Now," Boy#2 muses, "we worry about little things like they are big things. Like homework. Or we make up stuff to worry about. Like zombie apocalypses." I think the weather is often that way for people. I also think people yearn for weather events that let them cancel all obligations without guilt and give them permission to just snuggle in for a few days.

This snowfall was hardly that. But it did get folks out with common purpose. They fired up their snowblowers, shovels and neighborly good will to clear the walks and roads so everyone could get on with their weekends. And it looks gorgeous!

My sultry Kentucky days are but a dim memory. I've been in Minnesota long enough now that I believe that I am true northern dog now. 

The trick is to keep moving.

This is my neighbor Johann. He is built for the North. 
I am built for jumping.
My Susan is six feet tall.
So you can see the power of the springs in my legs.
 All this is not to say that I don't love summer best of all.