Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Part of Your Life that You Never Really Appreciate...

While I have been fortunate enough to not have anyone in my family close to me die, I have sadly had the experience of having to put pets down and let me tell you - it doesn't get any easier as another instance pops up.

We got Zeta, a white shepherd mix last year at the beginning of December as a rescued pet from a farm in mid-Missouriand who I had received an Email about. She has made an excellent addition to our family over the last 12 months. Very quiet, caring, unassuming and always available for a pet regardless of your location in the house.

In August Zeta began to lose some weight and we took her to a local vet that administered some medication for a tick-based infection, but between that and a sadly and wickedly-quick bout with canine hip problems, Zeta fell into a spin that she never recovered from. Shortly before vacation we had taken her to the Animal Medical Center that we got her from for boarding. When we returned to pick her up they were recommending that we use a towel to carry her hind quarters when walking for any distance and suddenly the bell of quality life was again tolling again for a canine member of our family.

The options with cases like this are never easy, and always expensive not only on the pocketbook but also on the lives of the pets and families involved. Surgeries, xrays, medications and more that insurances don't cover cost money and the prognosis regardless of the treatment would never make her whole. Once again, another glaring decision to be made.

I had her put down by a young Dr. named Ryan McCann on Wednesday this last week and - what can I say - it's a terribly crushing experience - again.

I brought the image below for Zeta and after the final shot was administered I set it under her head and told Ryan to make sure it was put with her.

Click Here to See It Larger...

It's just a little something for her to take with her to wherever the good folks go - Molly (our previous dog) and Gloria's Dad Albert are surely there waiting to show her some grand grass-covered hills, overflowing dishes of grub and a never-ending stick-throwing afternoon with a good man.

We love you very much, Zeta, and we thank you for the short but incredibly happy times that you gave our family.

Click Here to See More Pictures..

(Smootch on the head).

Mike's First Family Vacation....

I've never been one to take what amounts to a "real vacation" where you pack up, leave and go someplace for a couple of weeks on-end. I'm not sure if it's the basic "can't afford to be away from work that long", the ever-present fear of "planning to do nothing" or the overall fear of relatives I have, but that's all been put asunder this year.

I've done it twice in the last two months - first a 5-day Thanksgiving disappearance, then a whopping 12-day Xmas excursion with my family on a real away mission to visit people that haven't met my daughter yet.

I am complete satisfied - seriously. I see the attraction with the "going on vacation" thing and plan to do it at least once again next year. My thanks go out to all of my family members that made this holiday season such a showcase of love, caring and FUN - the smiles on my daughter's face meeting people she's never met, the ability to watch your family members grow into adults as the years go by - there really is nothing quite like it.

I'm certain that I'll come up with some great stories to put in here, but for now, color me satiated by vacation.

Friday, December 30, 2005

4th Horseman Alert: Hinkley Hi-jinks...

I was 11 years old in gym class when Mrs. Summerfield ran into the middle of our parachute romp and told us that President Reagan had been shot and rushed to the hospital. The blurry horrifying yet completely attention-harnessing power of the footage of the assault was on all of the recently-installed television monitors in the hallways and I can remember the silence of people with hands clinched to their lips -- waiting, pondering what would happen in the days to come.

Today, as I sat down to begin my own assault via blog on the last three weeks of my life, I saw on CNN.Com that John Hinkley Jr. will now be allowed unsupervised visits at his parents homes, along with other flexibilities because of his being apparently too insane to kill the President (he was found not guilty because of insanity).

Things like this really just make me feel like we're all being jerked around by the fact that personal responsibility has all but disappeared from our communities - I mean come on now: He tried to kill the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in an attempt to capture the attention of a very young Jodie Foster!

Talk about insanity - I can vividly remember when the television series Greatest American Hero had to change the last name of the main character, Ralph Hinkley, to Hanley to help ensure that people didn't somehow associate the assassin with the dude dressing up in tights and saving people from wittily-written trouble.

Feel free to chime in - I'd really like to know what YOU think about things like this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Hate of Fine Art...

At one time, I won an award in high school to a high-end art school in the Milwaukee area. The award sadly wouldn't have even paid for a half of any of the classes, but the gesture was nice. In my last two years of high school, I was thankful that I realized that being a full-time artist was something that was in the cards, but wouldn't make me a ton of money (oh, WWW where WERE you?), but it did help me to initiate a continued hatred of "fine art." So much so that I even did my first comic book story with that as the focus called "Art Appreciate Hunt".

It it, you basically have CPTMIKE searching high and low for "works of art" or "pieces" as they're called in the biz.

That being said, I found this note that is initiating once again my desire to power up a phaser rifle:

From the Australian Times:

"Great Art!

Performance artist Tomoko Takahashi, 39, working on a British government grant of the equivalent of about $8,600, gave an exhibition of inebriation in October at the Chapter arts center in Cardiff, Wales. Dressed in business suit and high heels, Takahashi drank a large amount of beer over a three-hour period, periodically checking to see how far she could walk across a narrow beam about two feet off the floor without falling. A Chapter spokesman called the demonstration a "powerful piece of art."

This, coupled with one of my favorite stories about a local college campus that paid almost $22,000 for a 12'x12' canvas that had been walked on by four different pairs of shoes in four different colors of paint should help you understand my sincere hatred for "fine art."

MMmmm Bureaucracy

I thought perhaps it was just that it was early in the morning and I needed some sleep, but I had to read this headline 3-4 times over just to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep at my keyboard:

"Cemetery full so mayor proposes solution -- outlaw death "

What's missing from this short but click-encouraging headline is that it's pretty much just the mayor of the town in Brazil, fighting the system by attempting to pass a bill that put's a monkey wrench into a set of existing laws in an effort to encourage change.

I find it terribly ironic that the city if world-reknowned for it's fertile soil.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Construction for Construction's Sake...

This morning while driving into work, I passed through another recently-completed intersection that is the centerpiece for one of the most recenty construction projects in our fine city. What I see are wider lanes, more traffic lights and one of the strangest things I've ever seen (look for a picture soon when I update this set): A giant high-tech pie-wedge cement median in the middle of what would have been re-claimed lane space for vehicles.

I understand the adding of lanes to each side of this main inlet/outlet for traffic.

I understand the replacement/relocation of stoplights and signage.

What I fail to understand is the insertion of this GIANT, impassable median in the middle of all this new lucious traffic-encouraging construction, that eats three lanes.

Obviously the picture will help immensely, however me stopping in the middle of the new intersection will not. ;) I'll get to lunch with a coworker sometime this week and get a picture of it.

What this also harkens to is the continual fad of creating a new theater, and then putting in what seems to be the most ridiculously small and ill-placed parking lot configuration next to it. We visited a new Gigantor 14-plex recently just a few minutes west of my house and for the life of me: I cannot figure out why they plan the way they do for this one or a variety of other theaters in our area.

What do YOU think?

Special After the Previous Special Collector's Limited Edition Edition Version - The Must Have Bonus Release

Hi - My name is Mike and I am a DVD movie addict.

One of the more recent and undeniably grating developments in DVDdom is the ever-growing instance of "Even More Special Edition Edition" DVD sets.

It's where even though there is a current, viable, watchable edition out and probably owned by people that have DVD players, studios are now "re-releasing" the movies in "All New Must See Because Everthing Else You've Seen is Shite" edition versions of the DVD. Usually these are filled wit extras ranging from full-length commentaries, to "never-before-seen footage and everything inbetween.

There are basically two ways that I've noticed this occuring in the last several years.

- Anniversary Editions: Sadly, Anniversary Editions, in almost every case, have become yet another chance for studios to whore out their merchandise and movies. Case in point: One of my favorite, all-time lovin' it movies is Jaws, for a variety of reasons, enough so that it's probably worth an interesting blog entry on it's own. Now for those of you that "have the movie" you'll also remember that last year was the 30th Anniversary of this piece of cinematic history and while a "widescreen collector's edition" was issued only two years ago, THIS one was offered last year. The problem? It contains only ONE MORE bonus set of interviews, and an original mono track for the film. Uhh, right. The even larger problem is that there are people that will buy this edition - thankfully I have been able to not take the plunge

- Sequel Subversion: This is truly the instance to hate DVDdom. In this case I'll be using the wonder of the Xmen films. All of them have been excellent DVD's to date, garnering a variety of follows from fan-boy comic readers, to people like my stepmom who thought she'd hate it and loved it. That being said, when a new/next Xmen movie begins it's hype-journey, it's time to issue the "1.5 Edition Xmen movie" which usually contains some very significant stuff that wasn't included in the original disc. This drives me insane. Imagine if the Xmen, Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, XXX, Punisher, Blade and every other comic-like movie decide to issue ".5" editions -- Doesn't that just suck?

I don't have a solution to this (other than to not buy) but know that you, the smart readers of the Internet will have some proposed solutions to help me out with this cellulodic sickness.

What say you!?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fourth Horseman Alert - Articulated, Animated Shakin' Ass Frosty...

Is there any way that my Christmas shopping experience can not be besmirched by the unforgettably tainting vision of Frosty the Snowman shakin' his ass at me?

Sadly, the answer is NO!

Whilst shopping in the local Michael's Craft Store with my daughter this evening, what before my wandering eyes should appear? Frost the Snowman, shaking his articulated, shiny-white-lighted 4-foot-tall bare ass at me.

Just when you thought it was safe to jump in the SUV and shop...

Saddle up, and prepare to count the fourth equestrian participant.

Half Home for Xmas - Follow-Up...

In a follow up to the recent adventure to a local Walmart, I was happy to see that a bit of the advice I'd provided was taken to heart. Now, instead of there being a post-vietnam vet era black Santa and a fully-functional white Santa, there is now a set of completely functional Santa's offering shoppers the opportunity to purchase the 5'8" icon of the holiday season.

Nothing Beats Toilet Humor...

I have been remiss in posting for what seems like forever due to work, vacation, family, etc. I find that when things go awry that a certain philosphy helps to pass the hours:

When in doubt, insert toilet humor.

With that said, I have a question -- What is it that noone can design a urinal that doesn't offer blowback?

With all of the engineering graduates in the country/world, how is it that noone can create a urinal, a urinal pad, or urinal cake that offers some degree of protection from the unwanted blowback of using the device to begin with?

This urinal is only one of many that I have encountered in my many travels and this too is another one that offers no protection/prevention whatsoever.

No matter where you "hit" the urinal, you either have damp pants or shoes, so does that mean you have to stand further away from the urinal so as to maintain a clear set of drawers and shoes?

What are your thoughts? Gotta' bit o' potty humor to share?