Monday, June 23, 2008

And That’s How John McCain Lost My Vote

I enjoy traveling for work, but sometimes the actual travel portion of the trip can be a real pain in the rear. I went to Canada last week, and the flights in both directions made me so grateful to be home. For the first leg of the way out, I was seated between a large man who kept trying to read my book and a woman with a screaming infant. And when the infant wasn’t screaming, her two toddler brothers across the aisle were. As we were landing, one boy kept yelling “There’s an airplane!” every time he saw one. Which happened a lot, since we were AT AN AIRPORT. I really wanted to grab the dad and tell him to shut the kid up. But I didn’t.

On the way back, all the drama happened in Minneapolis during the layover. First, the plane was about 20 minutes late. No biggie. When the plane landed, we were told they’d get everyone off, clean the plane, and get us loaded; it would be about 15 minutes. Nearly 15 minutes later, we were told they’d decided to change a couple of tires first, and that we’d be boarding in about 15 minutes. Then there was a mechanical problem; it’d be about 15 minutes. Then they found the problem – a switch in the cockpit that starts the engines – and they were working on it; we’d board in about 15 minutes. And then we did board. And the pilot came over the intercom and said they couldn’t fix the switch, they had to replace it; it’d be about 15 minutes. Then we were told that the route the maintenance guys would normally take around the airport to get from the supply building back to us had been blocked by a VIP taking off – he couldn’t tell us who, but he could say it was a presidential candidate – so it would be another 15 minutes. They finally got the part to the plane and managed to replace it. Then the pilot announced that they were calling around the airport because the ground crew had disappeared and we needed someone to move the jet bridge and back us away from the gate; it’d be about 15 minutes. We finally took off a bit more than 2 hours late. Thankfully, the grinding noise coming from the engine on my side of the plane stopped when we hit cruising altitude...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Love My Pet Sitter

After a frustrating search last summer for pet sitters, I’d given up and was boarding the dogs when I had to travel. One of my friends referred me to a new person a few weeks ago, so I gave her a call. It turns out she’s perfect for us. She only works part time at a “real” job, so she can spend extra time with the dogs if they need it. She’s also willing to spend the night at my house, which was a large part of what I needed in a pet sitter. She doesn’t have a problem with short notice, which is good. She charges less than the PetsHotel, and she doesn’t charge extra to refill the cats’ water bowl. And the absolute best part is that both dogs really like her. On her first visit to the house, Duncan ended up curled up against her on the chair. And surprise of all surprises, Mikey actually came out on her first visit and let her pet him. On her most recent visit (just to remind the dogs who she is before I went out of town), Reyna was very excited to see her. I spoke to her last night (did I mention I’m in Canada this week), and she said the dogs were doing fine. They met her at the door and let her in with no problems. She said they were acting a bit mopey, which is pretty normal for my first evening gone. Especially since Reyna always tries to guilt me when she sees the suitcase. I’m so glad I have a new, reliable pet sitter. That’s really a huge load off my mind.

It’s a Miracle!

After last summer’s multiple miserable attempts to fix the air conditioning in my truck, I’d been thinking about taking the truck to a different mechanic. What held me back was the cost. But when we hit 100 degrees earlier this month, I knew I couldn’t wait. I took the truck to a shop that specializes in air conditioning, and they said they could fix it. For a small fortune, of course. After so many “we fixed it, oops, no we didn’t” from last summer, I have to admit, I didn’t fully trust this quick “we’ve fixed the problem on the first try, guaranteed.” But you know what? They were right. The A/C works great. It comes on, it cools the truck, it stays on, and doesn’t change temperature randomly. I love it. I miss my small fortune, but it was worth it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Delicate, Yet Tough

This Saturday the Raleigh PD K9 unit had a fundraiser at the PetSmart near me. One of my friends suggested that it would be cute to take the puppies to the event and have their pictures taken with a K9 officer and his dog, and then the pictures would be given to their adoptive parents. The rescue folks thought that was just a great idea, so I took them. Lucky took a great photo, looking right at the camera, but Hart couldn’t decide if she wanted to look at the dog or off to the other side.

Normally at events like this you get a Polaroid picture, but these guys did much better. One of the officers brought his digital camera, laptop, and photo printer with him. He would take the pictures, edit them on his laptop, and print out a 5x7 while you waited. It was great. When I mentioned that I’d expected a Polaroid, he said that’s what the original plan had been, but he’d vetoed it. He said he hated getting those cheap pictures, especially when technology was such that high quality pictures could be printed on site. What could I say – he was totally right.

Because I thought it was a cute idea, too, I took Duncan with me so he could have his picture taken. I didn’t bother taking Reyna for a couple of reasons, one being that its too hard to carry two puppies and handle two dogs, and the second being that Reyna’s patience would have disappeared about three minutes after we got there. She doesn’t handle intense heat and boredom very well. Not that I can blame her for that...

When we got there, Duncan seemed to be doing fine. After we'd been standing in line for the pictures for a whole three seconds, though, Duncan started kicking his back feet out. I realized the pavement was probably too hot for him and moved him to the grass. After the pictures, he literally ran over to where a tent had been set up to keep the volunteers in the shade. He was very popular while we were waiting – and I was doing my best to pimp out the puppies – and made lots of new friends. I also had a ridiculous number of people comment on how big he is. Of course, compared to the police dogs that were there (mostly GSDs, one Belgian malinois), he was huge. After getting our pictures, he high-stepped his way at a very fast clip back to the truck. It took me a second to get the door open, considering that I was juggling a puppy, his leash, and the keys. As soon as the door was open, he tried to jump in. Unfortunately, we’d both forgotten that I’d moved the puppies’ crate to the middle of the truck right near the door, and he didn’t have the space he needed. The poor guy was stuck, half in and half out of the truck. Based on the yelping, I think that’s when a rather tender part of his anatomy hit the rear bumper, which was extremely hot. So I tossed the puppy I was holding into the back of the truck, got my arms under Duncan’s rear end and hoisted him into the truck. Poor guy, he went straight to the front seat and watched me load the puppies, dancing a bit in the seat, trying to get comfortable. What was interesting to me was that, while it was definitely hot outside, none of the other dogs were showing signs of being uncomfortable while walking in the parking lot. I checked him when we got home, and all parts were fine. Nothing burned or blistered. In his picture, he looks like he really could be a police dog. But not on hot days, since his tootsies are apparently too tender to handle the heat.