Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ye olde dog days

Apparently, I mention the dog days of summer in a post every July. Last year, I tied it in to National Blog Something That's In Draft Week, or NaBloSoThaDraWe as you most likely know it. I may still have to do that in the next few days. After all, I'm nothing if not cyclical...

I always figured the phrase "dog days of Summer" had something to do with how dogs mostly just laid around in the shade or under the porch looking for relief from the heat. Thankfully, in these progressive times, we have Wikipedia. Else I may have gone my entire life thinking that and thus never knowing the true origin of "dog days."

According to Wikipedia, it has something to do with Sirius--not that satellite radio people--also known as the Dog Star. In olden times, people would sacrifice a brown dog at the beginning of dog days. Why brown? Well, that's what I'd like to know. Unfortunately, Wikipedia didn't say, which pretty much can be taken to mean no one alive today knows the answer.

On a related note, we had a brown dog when I was growing up. Just wandered up one day, which is how we got most of our pets. I named it Brown Dog--there was sort of a clever descriptiveness to it, I thought. We also had a pet named Whiskas. It was a cat. But I digress.

While sources differ on the exact dates of the dog days, they roughly run from early July through mid-to-late-August in the northern hemisphere on planet Earth. And so, these are they.

Maybe they also could be referred to as the Blog Days of Summer. Because it seems that while physically I've been doing lots, my mind has mostly been lying around under the porch hiding from the sun. Thus resulting in an even greater lack of blog posts than usual.

I figured that I would try and catch you up on all that's been going on in Bonetropolis the past couple of weeks with a series of bullet points. But then I thought maybe that sounded too violent, so I'll just continue in paragraph form.

Last week was the birthday of someone very important to my existence: he who bore me. We commemorated with dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Then Dad regaled us with tales of what it was like when man landed on the moon, which occurred the day before his birthday, coincidentally.

Sunday, they left on a two-week cross country trip to the Grand Canyon. Currently, they are in Flagstaff, Arizona. He called Monday from near Dallas. It was raining. "Don't you have some way of checking the weather radar on the Internet?" As if I know a secret trick no one else knows.

But I suppose it's kinda nice to feel like he still needs me now and then. They grow up so fast.

Speaking of, Nephew Bone has been doing well. He is walking upright with the skill of someone six weeks his elder. He'll be a year old three weeks from today! And I thought time flew before. Oh, and he also swallowed a leaf. Don't ask how we know.

Meanwhile, yours truly has just been doing the usual--work, sleep, running, pondering my eventual retirement from competitive Scrabble, and of course, golf. This past weekend, I came within 18 inches of my first ever hole-in-one. That would have been the single greatest moment in my life--not to be confused with the greatest nine minutes of my life.

So, that's the story from Bonetropolis. The dog days are almost over. Hopefully, my mind will soon crawl out from 'neath the porch of no ideas to once again frolic through effervescent fields of minutiae and skinny dip in streams of hilarity.

"Babies squalled as August crawled past old folks in the shade. The weather vane was stuck, and White Oak Creek would drop, when dog days came around..."

Monday, July 27, 2009

In and out of tune

I had a flat today.

Let me rephrase that.

Any mere mortal in my situation would have had a flat today.

I sensed something was amiss with my car last night. Thought a tire was going down. But when I got home, they all looked fine. Then this morning, I sensed it again. So after lunch, I went out and looked and found a screw firmly embedded in one of my tires.

I took it to get it fixed. The lady at the place (how's that for descriptive writing) was asking, "Which tire is flat? Is it completely flat or just low?"
"Oh no. It's not flat yet. But it's gonna be."
"Oh, do you have a sensor that lets you know the pressure is getting low?"
"Nope." Don't need one. Welcome to Preemptively Having A Flat Fixed 101. I'm your instructor, Bone.

I have always been in tune with my car. It's one of my talents. (The other is an uncanny ability to estimate crowds at concerts and sporting events.) I can feel the slightest abnormality and sense when something is wrong.

Maybe all guys have this ability. Maybe that's why we spend so much time in the garage. We feel comfortable there. We understand the car. If it's making a noise or something is wrong, we are usually able to diagnose the problem and either fix it or take it to someone who can. But if a girl is making a noise or something is wrong, well... that can be nebulous. Feeble attempts to fix the problem frequently only serve to make it worse. And you can't really take her to anyone.

I remember several years ago when I was dating M, we had just left my apartment and before we got out of the parking lot, I stopped the car. She asked what was wrong. I said, "I think I have a low tire."

I did. It was almost imperceptible, but I felt it!

If only I were this in tune with women.

"Girls were a mystery that we couldn't explain, and I guess there are some things that are never gonna change..."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Short shorts

This post is brought to you by Nair. For men.

Well, as it has every Friday evening since the advent of the five-day work week--which based on everything I know was somewhere around the time of The Flintstones--the weekend has arrived. I plan to spend part of mine watching some of the British Open as well as the Tour de France. I figure that'll suffice for my monthly allotment of British and French culture.

After spending the past couple of months sweltering, including one stretch of twenty consecutive days over ninety degrees, we're actually forecast to have near record low temperatures this weekend. As in, it could drop into the upper 50's Saturday night. I'm going to do my best to avoid cutting the heat on. Just my little way of going green.

I would like to close today with three short and unrelated anecdotes. My ultimate hope is that these brief glimpses into my life will bring a smile to your heart, if not your face, and a sunniness to your disposition, if not your sky.

Anecdote #1: My new girlfriend
Yesterday at work, the secretary burst into the office and with urgency in her voice said, "Bone, come here, I found you a girl! Hurry!" Well, I figured something was up, especially after I'd recently taped a piece of cardboard over the sensor on her optical mouse which took her like ten minutes to figure out. But I played along. After all, she did say the word "girl."

So I got out to her office and she pointed to the TV. The local 12 o'clock news was on and they were interviewing a roller derby girl. Is it wrong that I was more than a bit intrigued?

Anecdote #2: More than just a few digits short
I probably should provide some background on this story. LJ--you remember him from my tales of Wolfgang & LJ, also known as The Darryls--does not have a cell phone. He's never had a cell phone. You might recall that he procured a girlfriend a few months ago. A couple of weeks ago while we were hanging out at his house, he got to texting his girlfriend with Wolfgang's phone.

Zoom forward to this week. LJ is out of town for a few days. He left yesterday. This afternoon I have the following text exchange with Wolfgang:

WG: You're not gonna believe what I'm about to tell you. LJ called me this morning.
Bone: OK. What'd he want?
WG: He wanted to know if I could remember the first 3 numbers of his girlfriend's phone number.

Remind me again why I've not turned their lives into a sitcom?

Anecdote #3: Know your Woodys
Last, and least, this one needs no explanation.

"I kinda wanna see that new Larry David movie. Even though I haven't been to the theater in about two and a half years."
"What's it called?"
"I can't remember. It's a Woody Allen film."
"I've never been a big fan. Woody Allen is in my least favorite movie of all time."
"Really? What's that?"
"White Men Can't Jump."

You just can't make this stuff up.

"Call my line, call me anytime. I'll be there for you. I've been searching high. I've been searching low. Baa-ba-ba-baa, baa-ba-ba-baa baby, don't forget my number..."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm a big kid now

Welcome to Restaurant Reviews, an all-new non-regular feature here on IYROOBTY. Today, I will be writing about the midscale Italian eatery and entertainment chain known as Chuck E. Cheese.

There is nothing like a kid's very first trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Why, I still remember mine like it was last week. And that's because it was.

Last Sunday, I ventured into one of Chuck E's 542 locations. My first impression? It was like Aladdin's Castle had started serving pizza!

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would come and get you out of the arcade and tell you it was time to go eat and that maybe you could come back later but there was never a later? Well, problem solved.

At Chuck E. Cheese, you can play and eat, then play some more. Kids of all ages can enjoy the fun. Well, except for the climby thingie, which apparently has an age limit even though there was none clearly marked. I really don't think there should be an age limit on fun.

Now on to the ratings:

Entertainment - 8.5 (out of 10)

Kudos for the number and variety of arcade games. There was also the climby thing and a giant slide. Plenty to keep you, er, your kids, occupied.

I deducted half a point here because the football toss game stopped giving me tickets. And I was dominating, too! Also, Mario Kart was NEVER open.

I took away another point for the animatronics stage show which is going on pretty much the entire time you're there. I mean, it was interesting enough. I just think if those kids ever figure out that's just a bunch of metal and wires and not a real person up there, you're gonna have some crying kids. It'll be like finding out there's no Milli Vanilli.

Can I be completely honest? Going into the whole thing, I thought Chuck E. was really gonna be there. It's a little disappointing, that's all.

Food - 5.5

Well, there's pizza. And I think I saw a salad bar on my way to the restroom. Honestly, you don't even really notice the food so much. You just wolf it down as quickly as possible so that you can get back to the games.

Ambience - 8

Fun. Noisy. Laid back. I deducted two points here for the rude six-year-old girl who kept climbing onto the ramp and stealing my skeeballs then throwing them down the wrong lane. I mean seriously, where was her legal guardian? What a dark day for parenting.

Also, if the thought of forty kids running around mostly unsupervised all over the place bothers you, then that'll take the ambience rating down a few notches to about a... negative twelve.

Value - 10

Where else can you do a half a million things, all at a quarter to three? Oh, wrong slogan.

All games cost one token. Granted, each game lasts an average of forty-two seconds. But still, high marks for making things simple. Most kids find the ticket counting machine pretty fun, so you can usually kill an extra ten minutes or so per kid on that.

Then there are the prizes. We cashed in our tickets for a cool glider airplane, an inflatable hammer, and some Pop Rocks. At what age will I stop being amused by Pop Rocks? You might think it would have already happened by now, but apparently not.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. However, I would like to make a couple of recommendations. As I do have my very own blog on which I sometimes write restaurant reviews, I think I've earned that right. Number one, be sure to come well-stocked with hand sanitizer. Also, if they could like maybe put kids who steal other kids' skeeballs in time out or something, that would be great.

"You can hear the cries from the carnival rides, the pinball bells and the skeeball slides..."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Independence Day in Nowhere, USA

Now that the 4th has passed, I know Summer is just biding its time. All the days pass with unsettling rapidity, but none so fast to me as these between the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Before I turn around, September will be here. And let's face it, no matter what the calendar says, September was never really Summer.

The big news around these parts this week has been all about Nephew Bone. Last Friday, with little warning but much fanfare, he began walking upright. At the age of 10 months and 13 days, Nephew Bone took his first steps. Now he bounds around for five, eight, ten steps at a time with a perpetual smile on his face like he just discovered bubble wrap. The sheer and utter joy he gets out of life is a continual lesson for me.

My 4th of July was pretty low-key. I mean, I didn't climb any national monuments to hang a protest banner if that's what you're after. I've actually never even painted anything on a water tower. It's one of the great shames of my life.

I spent the entire day in a tiny town where I had no cell phone service. None. Not even on a hill. It was the cell phone equivalent of absolute zero.

At first, I was a little perturbed that I wasn't going to be able to check and see how my fantasy baseball team was faring. But in the end it wound up being kinda nice. To be completely unconnected and unreachable for an entire day. What a novel concept. I could foresee this becoming a regular thing... again.

We spent the better part of Saturday's daylight hours canoeing. Nine miles. Five hours. Surprised? Well, you don't get arms like these by lifting the remote.

It was actually my first time canoeing. I think I did OK. I mean there were a couple of times when we were facing the wrong way. I seem to recall some other canoers riding by and laughing. Then at one point, we had to limbo under a tree that had fallen across the river and for a brief instant there I wondered if the Bone name would indeed live on. But overall, it was fun and I didn't injure anyone, at least not to the point that it required medical attention, so I deem it a qualified success.

Saturday night, I enjoyed a couple of corn dogs at the local park while taking in a softball game between the hometown American Legion team and what I took to be a team of alumni--a slightly-to-moderately overweight bunch calling themselves The Legends. After the game, there were fireworks. Literally, not figuratively.

It was good to spend the 4th of July in Small Town, USA. Good to see flags flying in yards and a few houses even decorated with red, white, and blue banners. I grew up in a town not a whole lot bigger than that. And I spent many of those days wondering what I was missing in some big city in some faraway place. Saturday night, I didn't feel like I was missing a thing.

"You could lie on a riverbank. Or paint your name on a water tank. Miscount all the beers you drank, back where I come from..."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The simple plans of mice and Bone

Sunday night brought an unexpected visitor to casa de Bone. I was downstairs on the couch when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye darting in front of the staircase.

A mouse! In my house. Eww!

After an involuntary full-body shiver, I went over to investigate. At which point, it ran back behind the entertainment center and presumably into the utility room. And there's no hope of finding it in there because, well, you could lose a small child in there.

After another full-body shiver, I pondered my next move. I didn't have any mouse traps or other rodent-inhibiting devices. In all my years of living on my own, this is the first mouse I've had. It was like 11:30 so I wasn't really up for a Wal-Mart trip at that point. Besides, I figured why pay $2.49 for something I should be able to do myself.

Well, it turns out that virtually all my knowledge of mice comes from Tom & Jerry cartoons, so I decided to pay my good friend Google a visit. Using what I learned spending a couple of minutes on there along with knowledge gleaned from years of watching MacGyver reruns, I began to construct my very own mouse trap.

My crude-but-efficient homemade trap consisted of some cardboard, a small bucket, an empty toilet paper dispenser, and a shelf I had left over after I put my DVD case together a few months ago. I have debated whether or not to share a picture of my invention with you here, as I've yet to file a patent application. With that in mind, I would just ask that you use great discretion as I unveil for the first time in the history of blogging, a photograph of my homemade rodent capturing mechanism.

Behold, a mouse's worst nightmare:

Not bad, eh? (This is where I pause a few seconds with a proud, cheesy grin on my face to allow you to admire my handywork.) I mean, what rodent brain could outwit this marvel of human ingenuity and resourcefulness?

Since I am fairly certain most of you have never seen anything like this before, let me explain how it works. Ideally, the mouse will run up the black piece of wood to the first step, then up the cardboard to the second step. It will a then enter the toilet roll dispenser on the left side to reach the a piece of delicious feta cheese which I have strategically placed on the right side. (Do mice like feta? That's all I had.) However, little does the mouse know that I have left the dispenser teetering on the edge of the stairs so that the weight of the mouse will cause it to go tumbling into the bucket. And down will come mouse, feta and all.

And so, the trap was set. I retired upstairs to my bedroom, barely able to sleep knowing the rodent was scurrying around, but at least it was downstairs. Wait, mice can't climb stairs can they? Don't answer that.

Monday morning, I hurried downstairs with great anticipation, fully expecting to find the trap sprung and my mouse problem solved. Unfortunately, it was just as I left it. Disappointed but not defeated, I left it in place and hoped that maybe something would happen while I was at work.

No dice... or mice, as the case may be. (I think the main problem is that there were no MacGyvers where he had to catch a mouse.)

Unable to stand the thought of sleeping another night in my rodent-infested abode, I broke down and journeyed to Wal-Mart. I purchased some kind of twist-and-set traps that enclose the mouse so you don't have to see it, and also some of those sticky pads.

I set one of the traps in the utility room and placed four of the sticky pads in various hot spots I thought a mouse might go. (That got me to thinking about prepositions because a teacher once told me a preposition is anywhere a mouse can go. So I lost a few minutes there. But I digress.) That was Monday. This is Wednesday. Still no mouse.

So the commercial traps didn't work. The homemade trap didn't work. Or did it? Because while I haven't caught the mouse yet, I also have not seen the mouse again.

Here's what I'm thinking. (You may want to sit down for this.) Do you remember that anti-theft device for cars, it was called The Club or something? And in the ad, it said when theives see The Club, they move on to another car.

Well my friends, that's exactly what I think has happened here. I think that mouse came out of its hole Sunday night, saw this intimidating yet magnificent contraption, and said, "(Expletive) this (expletive), I'm going to another house!"

I have just invented The Club, for mice. The ultimate rodent-deterring device.

At least I hope that's what I've done. Otherwise, my next option may be to don some pied clothing and start playing a horn.

"Come on, babe, can't you see? I'm the Pied Piper. Trust in me. I'm the Pied Piper. And I'll show you where it's at..."