Month: February 2018

Dog Alarm – Who’s Training Who?

My dog is a geriatric German shepherd, mixed with who knows what. Sixteen years old. She moves and creaks like an old lady. Unsteady on her feet and mostly deaf. But she still loves walks and table scraps.

Since she’s mostly deaf and often stiff-legged, I make adaptations for her. To call her inside at night, I flash the porch light a couple of times and open and close the screen door so she can see it. The neighbor’s probably think it’s a secret code.

She enjoys barking at inconvenient times, but never to let us know she needs to go out or come in. Instead, she paces the house silently or pants when she wants out.

This week, her bladder hasn’t been big enough to make it through the night. She’s okay when my husband wakes up at five o’clock in the morning for work. But, on the weekends, we don’t wake up early enough. She doesn’t bark and she can no longer climb the stairs to our room, so she finds a spot on the carpet.

I’ve had to use SpotBot. The best invention ever for dog owners. (Sorry for the shameless product placement.) It scrubs the spot in the carpet and vacuums up the liquid. Great on a floor that is mostly clean. However, on dirty carpet, it makes clean circles in the middle of the floor.

I analyzed my problem:

A dog with a small bladder:

And I formulated a solution:

Get a motion sensor to tell us if she gets up at night.

I checked Amazon but didn’t order online. For this emergency, I went straight to the hardware store. The only motion sensor I could find was designed to let me know if anyone came into the driveway. It would sound a remote alarm.

Good enough.

The alarm was so loud that my deaf dog ran for the door. It had choices for low, medium, and high volume, but the three were nearly indistinguishable. I decided not to put it too close to the bed, but still in my room (like a baby monitor).

I hoped our dog didn’t have a secret nocturnal life, like a cat. If so, we would be up all night.

Thankfully, she slept until morning. It was Sunday, so we slept past five o’clock, but I kept waking up in anticipation of the alarm. At six o’clock it went off.

I shot out of bed and raced down the stairs, just in time to see her in the place where I had used SpotBot the day before. (It’s like potty training a puppy.) She seemed relieved to have me open the door.

But, seriously, why didn’t she bark?

Instead of us training her, she is training us.

Now, if only I can teach my husband to shut the alarm off before he heads downstairs for breakfast.

For the Love of Cards

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Payday for greeting card companies. But, my husband and I have them fooled. We walk through the card aisle at Walmart together and read Valentine’s day cards. The funnier the better. If not for his grey hair and reading glasses, we would look like a couple of kids.

While security cameras capture our image we read the cards. We open the musical ones and dance to popular tunes. We press the buttons on dancing stuffed animals. They wouldn’t put a sticker that says, “Press here”, if they didn’t want the animals to dance. We haven’t shown up on “people of Walmart” yet. . . not that I know of anyway.

In the end, we say to each other, “If I were going to buy you a card, I would have gotten you that one.” We laugh and put it back on the shelf, before returning home.

I love greeting cards. Such a unique art form. A single picture and a few words to convey emotion. Usually a good emotion. I’ve never seen greeting cards that say things like, “Stay away from my daughter” or “I would have been there for you, if you hadn’t shown up three hours late.”

Funny cards are best of all. I tell my kids not to bother with boring flower cards for me. Sometimes I receive flower cards and appreciate their sentiment, but I love a good laugh. One year, my husband decided to get me cards with two talking dogs that had the most annoying voices ever. He enjoyed my cringing so much that he bought similar cards for several other holidays. I haven’t seen those cards on the store shelves lately. Hmmm.

I don’t remember so many holidays that required greeting cards when I was growing up. Christmas and birthdays. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. That was it. But, the card companies discovered the big business of cards for every holiday. Sometimes I feel guilty when my sisters send Halloween and Easter cards. Or Saint Patrick’s Day cards and Fourth of July cards. Just kidding about Fourth of July cards. I haven’t actually seen those.

Blank cards are great. They can be used for any sentiment or holiday. How many times have I selected the perfect funny card for my son, only to open it and read, “Happy Birthday, Grandma”? I have been known to cross out the words and write in my own. I put a happy face next to it and consider it part of the fun.

As I wrote this blog, I considered other occasions that card companies could capitalize on.

Congratulations on receiving 1000 Facebook likes

Welcome to Adulting

Sorry your computer crashed

Your PMS will end soon enough. Hang in there.

Here’s to binge watching Netflix.

Next time you are in Walmart, or the book store, or the post office (yes, the post office has gotten in on the action), and you see a couple of oldsters dancing to the musical cards, remember, we found free entertainment.

Keeping up with Technology

Keeping up with Technology

Seems like I’m always looking for technology before it is ready. Later, I am surprised to learn that it has caught up to my expectations, and no one told me.

Case in point, my daughter suggested using Google Keep. It’s a list keeper that manages everything in online so that I can see and edit my lists on my phone or computer. I was carrying around a notebook with the lists and reference material (half my brain).

Worked great until I left it at the grocery store. I didn’t notice it missing until someone e-mailed me. “I have your notebook”. Kind of creepy. It had half of my brain, and some sensitive information.

Several years ago, I tried to put all of this information on my phone. A virtual notebook. I used Excel spreadsheets and synced them online. The result was clunky and awkward. Never mind. I like paper. I can touch paper and don’t mind carrying it around like a security blanket.

This isn’t the first time I expected too much from technology. Back in the ‘80s, I had a handheld computer. My parents owned a Radio Shack store and when the TRS-80 Pocket Computer came out, I was ready. It had 64KB of memory. Keep in mind, 1MB is 1000KB. So, six percent of a megabit.

I decided to put the periodic table of the elements onto the new pocket computer. Yes, I was that kind of geeky teen. Halfway through, I ran out of memory. I guess computers couldn’t hold that much information after all. No need to waste time trying.

Another time, before automatic bill pay, there was a service called Check Free. I tried to write a description of this service for this blog, but it confused my daughter so much that I just cut it.  Suffice it to say, the service was clunky, confusing and flawed. Before that I ordered checks to print from my computer, complete with perforated edges to feed through the printer.

I didn’t use Facebook for a long time. My kids both had accounts. When my son went to college, I would have my daughter creep on him while I looked over her shoulder. Finally, when she went to college, I had to get my own account for creeping. For a long time, my profile picture was a crazy llama because I didn’t want Facebook to have a picture of my face. Now, most people reading this blog clicked on a Facebook link to get here. No llama.

When I’m not watching, technology catches up to my expectations. But, how will I know?

I need to find young people to hang around. They seem to know. I can complain about technology and they will recommend a solution, just to shut me up.

Seems like a solid plan.

Old Time Bloopers

Old Time Bloopers

People of modern times may think bloopers are a recent invention. They’re not. The name may be new, but early newspapers reported “curiously worded advertisements” for all to enjoy.

The January 3, 1884 edition of The Leadville Daily Herald reported these from a London paper.

“Mrs. And Miss May have left-off clothing of every description. An inspection is invited.”

Oh, my. I hope the inspection is of the clothing and not the ladies.

 “Wanted – A nurse for an infant between twenty-five & thirty, a member of the Church of England & without followers.”

Sounds like a pretty old infant. I’m not even sure what “without followers” means. Couldn’t be referring to Twitter, could it?


The January 16, 1896 edition of the Aspen Daily Times also reports items from a London paper.

“Annual sale now on. Don’t go elsewhere to be cheated – come here.”

“For sale – a pianoforte, the property of a musician with carved legs.”

Is this some kind of fancy peg leg?

“Mr. Brown, furrier, begs to announce that he will make up gowns, capes, etc. for ladies out of their own sinks.”

“Bulldog for sale; will eat anything; very fond of children.”

Is eating anything a selling point?

Old time bloopers went viral. These same bloopers showed up in the Fort Collins courier, February 4, 1897 and The Ouray Herald, February 14, 1901. Going viral took longer back then. No Share button. These items probably appear all over the country. Maybe the globe since they come out of London.

When I read the historic newspapers, I see things that look like bloopers. But who can tell with their odd humor and word usage?

From the January 6, 1884 edition of the Leadville Daily Herald, in a note about the need for a preacher.

“A live young man is needed for the onerous and multiplied duties of any Leadville pulpit.”

As opposed to a dead young man? And the word “onerous” won’t entice anyone.


Also, from the January 6, 1884 Leadville Daily Herald,

“- Detroit Michigan has a dog oil factory. The product is used by consumptives.”

I don’t even know what dog oil is. I Googled it and I still don’t know. Did they somehow use oil from dogs? Maybe I don’t want to know.

From the January 8, 1884 edition of the Leadville Daily Herald,

“Don’t forget that John Harvey has a fine lot of sleighs and cutters, which he is selling very low.”

And then there are articles which apparently seek to expand the public’s vocabulary.

The January 21, 1888 edition of the La Plata Miner includes the following phrase in an article about a murder.

“charging him with the crime of oxuricide (the killing of one’s wife)”

Why not just say the killing of one’s wife? And, did this happen so often that they needed to come up with a word for it?

Nice to know, as a writer, when I make a bloober. . . blooper. . . I’m in good company.

Because once the word has been pressed to paper, it lives forever.