She ate my pants!

As an animal lover who is training to be a psychologist, I know a bit about animal-assisted therapy. I know that pet ownership has a lot of physical and psychological benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, for example.

After extensive empirical study, I have come to the conclusion that CATS lower blood pressure. Dogs, or at least puppies, do not in any way lower one's blood pressure. They in fact turn peaceful, animal-loving, vegetarian yoga practitioners into raving, homicidal maniacs, thirsty for blood. I told a friend earlier that I'm ready to strangle this animal with the shredded remains of my sanity.

Aunt Rhonda, I no longer feel bad about taking your money.


The Dog Days of Summer

As you may or may not have noticed, today is in fact, June 21st, the first official day of summer and the longest "day" of the year. And as it happens, I have just the thing for the occassion....

Meet Juliet. Oh, but fear not, gentle reader, this cocker spaniel puppy that looks for all the world like a black lab is not a new addition to my household. I am merely "puppysitting" for a week while my aunt and her family are on a cruise.

I have never before had a dog. Sure, when I was a kid we "had dogs", but they were always outside and I never had to feed them or anything. They were more like mobile garden gnomes. Also, I've never considered myself to be a "dog person". There are a lot of things I don't like about dogs. They slobber. They get in your face. They eat poop (and then get in your face). All this and more made me a confirmed "cat person".

Then, I met a precious few well-trained dogs, and I realized that "dog" does not equal "slobbery, barking, hyper, jumping-up monster that pees on the floor constantly and walks around with its nose in your crotch". I became intrigued with the idea of having an animal that was trainable, and would do tricks and come when called. (My cats usually come when called, but sometimes they just sit and stare at me like I've clearly gone insane.) Having a puppy for a week seemed like an excellent way to test-drive the dog ownership idea.

I've learned so much, and I've only had her for a few days. One, dogs are a lot of work. Not an unreasonable amount of work, but they're not cats. Also, I would never want to have my own dog without also having a yard. Since this puppy is not completely housetrained, if I need to go somewhere, I either have to take her with me or put her in her crate. I hate leaving her in the crate during the day, so I usually just take her with me, but there are some places she can't go (like, yoga class, for example). It'd be much easier if I could stick her in the backyard and feel confident that she's enjoying her little doggie self and not leaving a mess on my rug.

Also, cocker spaniels are not the brightest breed of dogs. And Juliet is not the brightest cocker I've encountered... She's incredibly friendly and would be worthless as a guard dog. She loves everyone, all the time. But, well.... I have french doors leading out onto my balcony. I put her out on my balcony for a second so one of my cats could make a dash to the safety of the "no dog zone". When the cat was secure, I opened the door to let Juliet back in. But since she could still see me through the glass, she was totally confused and just kept pawing at the glass on the (open) door. I had to actually step outside and get her to follow me through the doorway into the house. Einstein, she is not.

I've also dicovered that Juliet is a very inconvenient name for a dog. I end up calling her "puppy" most of the time. Interestingly, she has a schedule, sort of. I let her out of the crate in the mornings and we usually make it outside before having a bathroom accident. When she comes back inside, she's hungry and hyper. She eats some breakfast and then runs around like she's on fire for about an hour and a half. Since a dog's mouth is like it's hands, she likes to bite things a lot. I also think she's in the puppy "chewing stage". I don't like to be bitten, but telling her not to bite is like telling me not to breathe. So I try to redirect the biting to something appropriate, like a toy. This has been largely successful, and I'm always suprised at how well it works. She entertains herself, mostly by running around and chewing on things. Then it's another bathroom trip, after which she naps off and on for the rest of the day! She gets up and follows me around the house (I can't leave a room without her coming with me), and she'll wake up and chew on more things sometimes, but mostly she just sleeps until mid-afternoon. When Max gets home from work, she gets very excited again. In the evenings, we like to take her to the doggie play area in our apartment complex, where she can run around without a leash and be a WonderMutt. Then it's puppy bedtime and the cycle starts all over again.

My cats are terrified of her. She's pretty scared of them, too. But slowly, some of them have started to investigate. Odin, our big orange cat (he's my profile picture) is also the head honcho, and he's made several expeditions. He usually waits until she's asleep and then sneaks up on her to do some recon. Yesterday, he got close enough to touch her head with his nose. She was asleep, of course. Even after she woke up, though, he didn't rush back into the "no dog zone". He just sat there, sizing her up silently. It's very difficult for Juliet not to run up to him and sniff all over him, but she reads his body language I guess and just lays down, figeting and trying to inch closer without getting too close. This "showdown at the OK Corral" has happened several times. Maybe they'll be friends by the end of the week, but I'll be happy if I can just get my cats to forgive me! I'm pretty sure Dante and Cleo have voted me off the island.


A con called A-Kon

A while back, I referred to Scarborough Faire as a "human zoo". If Scarborough is a zoo, then A-Kon is a circus!

A-Kon is a very, very large (mostly) anime convention held annually in Dallas, TX. As you may or may not know, I am not particularly fond of anime. My general response to it is the same as my response to pretty much all other things TV - "Meh". It's okay. Some of it looks cool. I've just never been sucked into a series like some people have. Adding to my aversion is the group of anime fankids, some of whom actually call themselves "otaku" (a very negative word!) in a misguided effort to embrace all things Japanese. I can rant about the otaku thing later. My main beef with these fankids is that they watch a lot of anime and therefore believe that they know a lot about Japanese culture. In my opinion, this is similar to a Japanese person watching a lot of "Looney Tunes" and assuming they are now an American cultural expert. The whole idea is preposterous.

Now, for all these reasons, I had never been to A-Kon before this year. A friend needed some help running a Hobbytown USA booth at the convention, and offered to pay me a meager hourly wage for my trouble. Being an unemployed graduate student, I leapt at the opportunity to earn a few extra buck$. Thus began my descent into madness...

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned At A-Kon:

1. Tolerance. If you try to force your views on others, they might try to force their views on you. Just let that guy wear his gold sequined speedo, and be glad you don't have to wear one, too:

(Notice Jesus in the background there?)

2. David Bowie was really awesome in "The Labyrinth":

3. Never forget the people who made you who you are. Even international celebrity plumbers still have time for their fans:

4. Everyone likes to play dress-up sometimes, even old guys:

5. When you actually face bullies, you often find they're not so scary after all. Believe it or not, Darth Vader's really only 4'2:

6. Sometimes, a man just wants to be a chokobo:

Luckily for you, I didn't photograph any men dressed as women, women who should've dressed, or furries. Believe me, they were all there. VG Cats has a great comic about it. To quote Scott, in places, it was "a sea of shame and pity". There were plenty of "Sailor Beefcake"s, and I do pity the thin nylon that was no doubt permanently damaged by "desperately trying to hold back a tsunami of flesh".

Also lucky for you, I cannot easily convey to you the sheer volume of pure, distilled nerddom I experienced. Being quite the nerd myself, I admit I was utterly unprepared for a dork barrage of that scale. My weirdo meter stayed pegged the whole weekend.

Hey, do you know what "yaoi" is? I didn't. It's, get this, male homosexual anime porn. And there's a HUGE market for it, apparently. Suprisingly, more people buy yaoi than yuri, which is the girl-on-girl anime porn. Now, to me, the words "cartoon" and "porn" don't mix, but if I were to temporarily allow that idea into my universe, I would assume the lesbian stuff would be more popular than the gay guy stuff. And I would be very wrong. Oh, and let's not forget "hentai", which is just plain ol' normal anime porn, if there is such a thing. I think at least 90% of the DVD retailers at A-Kon carried some variety of hentai/yaoi/yuri, along with their selection of "regular" anime stuff. I was truly shocked. I guess you can't exactly buy that stuff off Amazon.com...

All that aside, I actually had a good time. I wouldn't have paid to get in, but the experience was worth having. I enjoyed just sitting at the booth (behind the safety of the table!) and watching the freak-show go by. Some of these people are really creative, and clearly spent a lot of time on their elaborate costumes. Also, almost all the people I encountered were polite, if a bit weird. There's always the occassional sick-o, and somehow they always find me, but that's definately not a phenomenon that's specific to A-Kon.

AND... I got stuff! A beautiful pair of hairsticks that I just love:

...and a Yoshi plushie, which is the cutest thing ever:


'Twas brilling, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe...

Soooo, for my birthday, I got a lot of really cool stuff, but the item that will no doubt have the greatest impact on you, dear reader(s?) is my new digital camera! But not just any digital camera, I got a Canon PowerShot A540! It's super-cool. I won't bore you with all the details of its spiffiness, and why it's so cool. Just be content in the knowlege that it is in fact awesome, and that my very specific birthday request with detailed instructions were followed by my parents to the letter. *Sniff!* It makes me proud to know I raised them so well!

Also, my friend Olivia, who is a graphic art guru and all-around web expert, taught me some cool new tricks to use in conjunction with my photos! Now, I can do stuff like this: Meet Dante!

Pretty cool, huh? No more pictures stuck up at the top of the blog where they don't make sense!

I also got Paper Mario, a really cool game for the Pink Cube of Power. If you've never played this game, you should check it out. Everything in the game looks like paper cut-outs, but 3D at the same time....um, it's really not something that can be easily described - you just have to see it for yourself. This guy, Hooktail, looks really cool in the game:

I also got to go to the salon and do girly stuff. And Max's family gave me some very nice kitchen equipment, which I really wanted, a blender and a digital kitchen scale. My friends were puzzled, but I was stoked. What can I say? I like to cook!

For my birthday, some friends and I met at the Flying Saucer in Addison for expensive snobby beer (my favorite kind!). It was great! I drank some great beer, saw some great friends, and got to fill up my social meter without traumatizing the introvert in my life!

That's it for now. I'll finish what I started before I go, though:

Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, and the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tugley wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He came galumphing back.

"And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brilling, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.