Werewolf in the making

werewolAmidst a busy schedule with Eucharist, new school, moving house and work, we also welcomed Coco to our family – a little fiery chocolate Labrador.  She’s a little devil in disguise, but you cannot but help love her.  However, recent incidents have left me no way out but to put my creative mind thinking.

It’s not easy for three kids under the age of 11 to accept that a puppy this cute cannot play with them, without biting / scratching them with her small razor-sharp teeth.  As a result, we are now stockpiling bandages to cover finger and lower leg scratches.

Please understand, we are not condoning the dog biting the kids, but in the heat of the moment the dog may mistake a finger for ball, or attempt to tackle the kids from behind by attacking their legs.  It’s in her nature to hunt :-)

Yesterday my 5-year-old asked why the puppy is constantly attacking her, attempting to annihilate her stuffed animals and decapitate her dolls!

I was at first a little speechless.  I wasn’t ready to have this conversation.  Nevertheless, I owed an explanation to my little girl, since I was the one who brought this tiny monster into our loving home.

Probably a big parental fail, and something that I might pay for later when she attends shrink sessions to repair what I caused.  But, I decided to tell her that our cute little Labrador was in fact half a werewolf.

The horror on her faces was priceless, and as I started to elaborate about my werewolf theory, she did show early signs of fear or perhaps just utter disbelief.

I went on to explain that the scratch marks in her kennel are in fact from her transformation, and not Wolverine visiting.  Her ways of swallowing her food within seconds is a typical trademark of werewolves as they eat quickly not to get caught.

Another giveaway is the way she hunts down stuffed animals and dolls, practicing the early kill, and her tackling my daughter is to perfect her skill of bringing down running prey.

I honestly thought it was a good explanation, and went on to explain that the dog was cheaper than her siblings because she was half werewolf.

Needless to say, my daughter was terrified for a few seconds, until the little adorable chocolate Labrador laid down by her feet, looking to be scratched on her stomach.  And, I did allude to the fact that werewolves don’t harm family, and she’s family so will protect us from the evil monsters lurking in the night.

Amazingly, she did not have nightmares, but respects the puppy’s teeth a little more now.

werewolf puppies

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Taco Sunday

Our oldest daughter had her 1st communion a couple of years ago, and it was a fantastic joyful day with laughs, friends and plenty of food.  She was dressed like a princess looking amazing and I was standing on the porch with a shotgun fending off all the potential boyfriends – A dad has to take the necessary precautions!

Being the proud father of three, it was just a matter of time until the next in line had to go through the 1st communion as well.  Behold, my little man was getting ready and preparations started 18 months ago for his big day.

Beside the mandatory church teachings where kids learn about Big J, Heffe, prayers and important scriptures, they also need to be comfortable with wine and unleavened wafers (or tacos as I call them).

This is where we the parents come in.  Every Friday for several weeks before the big day, we practiced getting wafer and wine, ensuring he would a) spit it out or b)make funny faces and then spit it out.

tacowaferAfter the first attempt at the VERY small taste of wine (5-10ml), it was clear that he enjoyed the taste of wine.  So, no need to practice that step any further and we replaced the wine with Fanta.

However, the wafers are not exactly a delicacy among food critiques and are not my son’s favorite food source.  To encourage some involvement by my son with this process, I initially swapped the wafers with Doritos, and that seemed to do the trick.  Unfortunately he was utterly disappointed as I re-introduced these dried up wafers, which caused a few gagging moments and wafers were hitting the ceiling, windows and floor :-)

The big day finally arrived!

Sunday was his moment to shine.  He knew something was up that morning, probably because I was ironing his pink shirt and hanging up his new awesome suit.  He would be dressed like a true Kingsman.  And, the fact that I was wearing a suit too was probably a give-away + rest of the family was wearing fancy dresses.

Deep inside, I was fearing that he would walk off in the middle of the ceremony, when standing in front of the parish, or simply spit out the wafer as he did so many times at home.

Taco_TuesdayI kept reminding him it was Taco Sunday, so just be cool and do the stuff he learned.

Beside the fact he refused to join the line of kids before entering the church, it was a flawless performance.  He bowed as he walked in.  He held his hands up for prayers. He sang along (mimed more accurately) and did superb when getting wafer + wine.  All-in-all an outstanding achievement.

gangThe most magical part of the day was when he discovered that his aid had come to witness his big.  They hadn’t seen each other since my son moved school, but they have developed a very tight relationship.  My son’s eye lit up like Christmas lights, and he ran to give him a big hug.  It was true love and admiration for his best friend.

My wife started to tear up and people walked up to them to comment on how much their bond was shinning out.  Smiles on both their faces and big hugs proved that they are brothers.

I’m so proud of my son.  He did an amazing job in church, and we had a great day with close friends … and plenty of food as always.

Congratulations my son!

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Coffee Greed – busted

old-starbucks-logoI normally don’t write blogs about news events or other media related activities, as I don’t want to get into lengthy debates with people.  But when something occurs that makes my pee boil, then I simply have to share my thoughts.  This discussion may perhaps be a little heated and biased at times, but it’s a way for me to debate this topic with my evil twin (in my head).

This latest attempt to seek easy money is making me disappointed in people’s greed.  How bloody stupid is this law suit!?  Starbucks Lawsuit – hot tamales.  A cop suing Starbucks for spilling coffee on himself.

And a cop of all people, who I deeply respect for their bravery and protecting people, should know that coffee is hot, given many cops drink it with their doughnuts (just a silly stereotype statement :-) )

OK.  Coffee is hot, although it is not necessarily hot enough to cause severe burns, unless you order it ‘extra hot’ at the counter.  If that’s the case, then the coffee is about 180 Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius), which is not the actual boiling point of water.

Don’t get me wrong, it hurts like hell to spill coffee (or tea) over yourself and can give you some nasty + painful burn blisters.  Here’s a little Mythbuster-like review of burns … not tried at home, but found on Google:

  • Most adults will suffer 3rd degree burns if exposed to 150 degree water for 2 seconds
  • Burns may occur with a 6 second exposure to 140 degree water
  • Burns may occur with a 30 second exposure to 130 degree water
  • A temperature of 120 degrees, and a 5 minute exposure may cause 3rd degree burns

In my humble opinion, this is just an attempt to get money from a large corporation for your own stupidities.

To state that it has impacted intimacy with his wife, resulted in surgery, flare-up of his Crohn’s Disease, affected his kids and caused him from not being able to do his job as a police supervisor is stretching the power of coffee a little too far.

And, do they really think it sounds realistic and generous that they reduced their original claim from $10 million to “only” $750K.  How do you even calculate that number?  …. DUMB ASS!!  Let’s break this down, another Mythbuster-like analysis:

  • $15 for dry-cleaning
  • Coffee purchase $2.45 (this would most likely be refunded by Starbucks on the day)
  • Embarrassing moment when dropping pants (Kodak selfie moment) – priceless
  • $2 for petrol to drive 5 miles round trip to get new clothes from the house (based on fuel consumption on my El Camino)
  • $10 for the ointment to rub on the affected area
  • $35 co-pay for doctor’s visit
  • Total possible compensation = $64.45

Shit happens. You spill coffee, you take off the clothing and put on cold water.  Why did he need surgery?

No wonder so many products and companies have weird disclaimers – it’s to prevent dumb ass people to make stupid claims.

starbucks troopersA similar case made the news a few years back and the judge threw out the case.  Just Because Tea is Hot!

Europeans laugh at the Americans when they read such articles and it does not serve well for the reputation of a great Nation and its awesome people.

Now, had the waiter throw the boiling coffee on him, by accident or intentionally, then that changes the game entirely.  Still not a $10 million claim.  But that was not the case.

Long story short, I fully support valid claims and lawsuits to help people who are truly affected by actions or events outside their control. They need to be compensated, especially considering the insane health costs that comes with even the smallest injury.

Lawyers need to review cases more realistically and not encourage outrages claims.  Would it hurt to perhaps challenge the “victim” by discussing logic with them first.  If the coffee is steaming and ordered hot, then be careful.  Once you take the cup, you are responsible for your own actions.

Unfortunately we have people who try their luck and who have equally greedy lawyers.  As such, judges need to take a stance against these claims.  It affects us all in the long-run (conspiracy theory) as prices and insurances will simply go up to recover the legal charges companies are fined with.

Be safe – Be honest – Be positive

(disclaimer – this post is not sponsored by Starbucks and I have not been offered payments to support the Starbucks engine – although I could use a nice tall Latte!)

Barista Moments

A few barista statements that I found while searching for coffee temperatures, based on an interview with a Starbucks barista; Extra Hot Coffee – why?

1. When it’s cold outside. “When I worked at Starbucks in North Dakota, the temperatures would reach -30F plus wind chill, so drinks cooled down QUICKLY if taken outside/ordered in a drive thru,” Morgan wrote.

2. When you are ordering a milk-based drinks. Creamers, even when steamed, can cool down the temperature of a coffee. Tell the barista you want the milk steamed to 180 degrees, and it won’t negatively affect the taste of the espresso or coffee.

3. When you don’t plan to drink the coffee right away. If you want to enjoy your coffee at work but there’s a convenient Starbucks location closer to home, ordering it extra hot will keep it warm during the commute.

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Brief History of Cinco de Mayo

Thanks to George Stephanopolous and ABC News, they have created a short movie explaining the history behind Cinco de Mayo and what a massive business this has turned into.  In essence, it’s a celebration of the Mexican beating the French army … who wouldn’t celebrate such a victory over the frogleg eating, brie producing and wine drinking French republic who attempted to Second French Empire.

To me it’s a Mexican version of the Irish Paddy Day, with a single purpose – drink, eat and party.  Many people suddenly develop Mexican heritage, the same group of people who only a few months ago claim to be Irish.  I have no doubt this is an important day in the Mexican history, but many of these celebration are turning into tourist traps and drinking parties.

Viva Mexico!

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Games of Lip Reading

I simply had to share this awesome creation from the cool Bad Lip Reading team – well done guys!

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City Girl n’ Skulls

walkingdeadreadyHere we are, living in the wilderness of Bear Mountain, about one mile from civilisation and the stress that comes with it.  Surviving in these surroundings takes skill and perseverance.  We are committed and we will adapt to our new life.

Thankfully we have the necessary means to survive; over-sized SUV (4×4 of course), Apple gadgets, 8 garden machines, misc. KitchenAid appliances and plenty of popcorn.

Cone on wilderness!  We can take you!

Or so we thought.

My lovely South American flower called me at work, in a frantic state, bursting out she had found a skeleton. More specifically, a human skull.  She demanded that I returned to our Casa del Muerte to inspect the remains of this unfortunate soul.

Strangely, all while looking to buy the house, and throughout the many visits, we never actually met the wife.  So, the remains could be that of his missing wife!?

Instead of calling Grissom and Co., she decided to call the local Sheriff Coltrane to inspect the remains.  What if the killer was still at large and maybe this was a living dead scenario. She simply had to get this crime of the century solved.

Not too sure how I could help with cleaning up a crime scene in our little forest.  I would either get attacked by a bear or Bambi, pee my pants and then man-handled by a skunk.

Anyway, our amazing trooper quickly arrived to inspect the crime scene, only to discover that the actual skull was the remains of Bambi’s relative.  Nothing on the cranium, beside a few teeth, may have resembled a human.

The happy law enforcement officer smirked at my wife, took a picture for his scrap-book or mug shot catalogue, and then quietly drove off.  No sirens :-)

It was a happy ending to a crime filled morning for my rebel wife.  She was shaken and stir-crazy after that experience.  She still demanded that I came home to save the damsel in distress, but I had to save the World at work … or so I think.

combat heelsA few days after this ordeal, the missus went for a stroll in the jungle again, in her combat high heels and new hunting dog (10 week old labrador), only to twist her ankle as she stepped into a groundhog tunnel, slipped, landed on the puppy who peed on itself out of fear.

I think it’s fair to state that her days of exploring are numbered.  The Disney forest we live in is not a place for a city girl.  She pretends to be the female version of Grylls, but it’s more like Miss Congeniality in the Jungle.  One day we can go trekking – trekking in the nearest super mall jungle.

Wish me luck as I’ll be the one who gets lost!

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Failing to connect to work

cisco-logoNothing worse than working from home and not being able to connect to the company network using Cisco AnyConnect.

I was recently working from home, but encountered really annoying error when launching Cisco AnyConnect “Failed to initialize connection subsystem”.  And, the help section in the Cisco desktop application is not helping – it’s actually slightly ridiculous.

Thanks for the internet I found the solution … thanks to one of the awesome tech dudes.

Here are the steps that were suggested and which resolved my connectivity challenge:

  1. Close the Cisco AnyConnect Window and the taskbar mini-icon
  2. Right click vpnui.exe in the “Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client” folder. (I have it in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Cisco\Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client\”
  3. Click on the “Run compatibility troubleshooter” button
  4. Choose “Try recommended settings”.
  5. The wizard suggests Windows 8 compatibility.
  6. Click “Test Program”.  This will open the program.
  7. Close
  8. Some people may need to repeat the above steps for vpnagent.exe. That is the local service that supports the client user interface.

To be honest, this only took a few minutes and I was able to work again.  And, I believe this is now added to Windows 8.1 patch.

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…and they all cried

moving-fishThe realization of our move to another ZIP code has come to fruition, as the kids had their last day of school (now old school) and had to mentally prepare to meet a bunch of new kids Monday morning.

We had tried to negotiate with the school about keeping the kids at the school until end of the school year, for the simple reasons of stability.  And, the fact that we were driving them to/from school every day.  Our son has Down Syndrome and for us this move could potentially regress his development, and surely it would in the child’s best interest to stay in the known environment.

Yes, we know we moved to another ZIP code and that this normally involves moving kids to a new school unless you are willing to pay for tuition.  But, we wanted to do what was right for the kids.

Anyway, this post is not about the educational battle, but the fact that we all cried!

My wife had organized enough snacks to feed a small village and had scheduled a farewell party with the teachers.  There were hugs, presents, dancing, more hugs, friends departing each other, contact details being shared – it was a realization that we were part of the community after all.

Parents were hugging us too, and even the teachers were getting emotional.  After all, we have some great kids and have been with the school for over 3.5 years.  Kids had participated in school sports, activities and birthday parties.  It has been an awesome experience to be part of that community.

educationAs we were getting ready to pack the car, our son’s aid (Mr. T) walked our son to car.  It was clear that he was affected by this departure.  They had developed a bond beyond aid/student, and become close as brothers.  He had bought him some awesome shoes.  Some days they had dressed alike and they had so much fun together.  He alone has been the reason we wanted to stay at the school, and he can take full credit for the amazing development of our son.  Of course the other teachers did an awesome job too, but this relationship was special.

The aid wants to be part of Christian’s life going forward.  It was just not something he said.  We could tell he meant it.  I even heard him say to my son “I’ll be here for you forever.  You have taught me more about life than anyone”.

crying-manDude!  that made me bloody emotional, which is awkward when I want to have a tough appearance with my ginger full beard and cool shades.  A tear rolled down my cheeks, but I caught before anyone noticed.

Now a chapter has been closed, but we start writing a new book.  It’ll be awesome to meet all the new people and make new friends (again!).  The kids will have an amazing experience and it will be a positive opportunity for our son.

It is our responsibility as parents to stay in touch with the friends we made, and encourage our kids to feed those relationships too.  They made friends for life.

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Rise of Coco

coco2I swore 2 years ago that, when our male Labrador passed over the rainbow bridge, we would not replace him and that we would not get any other dog when our St Bernard dies either.

It’s a lot of responsibility to have a dog(s), and you are bound to them all the time.  They depend on you.  This restricts you from doing stuff too spontaneously, as you have to plan ahead with a dog sitting and that’ll cost you extra.

Being the head of the family, I succumbed to my family’s constant pressure and we invested in a new dog.  It takes a big man to admit defeat and I’m not a big man :-)  I’m under the thumb just like any other dad / husband in the World.

Here’s the insane bit, as if getting a new dog wasn’t crazy enough.  We drove 3 hours to see and pick the dog from the litter, then 3 hours back.  And, bring on asylum insane, we did the same trip two weeks later to pick up the puppy.

Drumroll …. and we love her :-)

She was really well-behaved the first evening.  It took her a little time to sniff the house, considering she lived in a breeding box (4′ x 4′) before, and now she has 2700 sq. feet to cover.

We decided to place her in a dog kennel for the night, with blankets, and she was snoring away … at least until 2am.  At that point she woke up and realized she was in a strange place, with strange smells.

It was as if she screamed “Why am I in this prison?  I did not chew the shoe!  I need my mum!  I’m innocent of whatever crimes I’ve committed.  Why this cruelty?

I woke up to the intense winning and pushed my wife out of bed.  She had promised to look after the puppy, with our now 11-year-old daughter, and she stumbled down the stairs to be with the puppy.  I could get some more sleep :-)

To my amazement, she’s actually well-behaved.  I have to say that as she’s our dog.  But, she eats well, sleeps better and is getting a lot of exercise from chasing the St Bernard.

The 9-year-old St Bernard is shell-shocked with the arrival of this little chocolate-colored labrador, who chases her tale and bites her paws.  She’s slightly apprehensive about letting the puppy cuddle up with her, and not too sure how to play with such a small thingy.

She has already bonded with the kids, especially my son, and is chewing their shirts and socks, much to the amusement of the kids.

It’ll be fine.  It’ll take some time for the family to adjust, but we love her already.

Just one minor problem – she has already attempted to steal my corner on the family sofa!

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Surviving the Party

diy birthdayYou want to make your child’s birthday special, no matter how old or young they might turn.  My wife and I are no different.  However, we also have a budget and don’t just splash out on insane Sweet 11th kit; professional dancers, DJ, party decoration, catering, etc.

Nope – we go the DIY family realistic budget route instead, doing a lot of the activities and food ourselves.  We generally stay away from crafting our own decorations, mainly because I tend to cut the pieces too small or get frustrated and tear them all up again!

Our daughter recently turned 11 and as she decided to invite her closest friends over for a sleepover.  I assumed it would be 2 girls, but somehow we ended up having 5 girls volunteering to celebrate our daughter.

Not a big problem really.  We have a nice big basement, and we simply needed to prepare it by getting rid of the biggest spiders and tidy up the toys that had been scattered around by our 4-year-old wonder kid.

  • Outdoor Christmas lights does wonders to any room
  • Party City has some good cheap paper decorations
  • Christmas table-cloth looks good on any occasion
  • Praise the plastic cup and paper plate inventors
  • iMac in the corner pumping out Now! 53 tracks, with screen saver, kick-starts any pre-teen birthday party

Within a few hours, the basement looked pretty awesome if I had to say it myself.  All we needed now was the screaming pre-teen girl invasion.

What do you feed a horde of 5th grader girls?  Easy guys!

Doritos, Cheesy Puffs, Brownies and chicken & beef fajita party.

Feeding-FrenzyIt turns out that the snacks were extremely popular, and within seconds of putting the bowls on the table, a hurricane of fingers started to dig into the snacks – picking the bowls clean, and asking for more.  I have been to the reptile section in the zoo seeing alligators rip into their meat lunch, but nothing compares to pre-teen feeding frenzy.

The girls headed back into the basement after dinner, and started to listen to strange YouTube video/songs, screaming about cute kittens, and singing along to the new Annie movie.  It was awesome to see how these girls had so much fun, but scary that I could not hear anything for several minutes after emerging from the basement.

That evening we had our very first outdoor camp fire with the girls, while roasting marshmallows.  We had to keep feeding the sugar rush and the girls loved sitting outside chatting (giggling) about awkward potential boyfriends – or just talking about who the other girls liked.

Bedtime was approaching, mine that is, and I was hoping the girls would turn down the music humming from the basement.  My eyelids were getting heavy when relaxing on the sofa, and it was only. 10.30pm.

I’m not too sure when the girls finally collapsed, but I do know that my wife was awoken around 1am by two girls suddenly standing in our bedroom saying they couldn’t sleep.  I’m confined my wife thought it was the ghost from ‘The Ring’ standing in our bedroom, and I’m sure she screamed, but I slept right through that event.

Another early morning, as I had to prepare breakfast for the masses, consisting of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and juices.  Sounds easy, but not when you have to feed an army of kids.

Then they went hiking in our little forest and visited the neighbor’s farm, bringing back all kinds of lovely smelling animal sent and poo footprints on the tile floor.  Oh well, they had so much fun and that’s what matters the most.  I had warned all the girls that they might step in dog poo, and to be careful, but somehow that advise was completely ignored within a few minutes.

I think they have agreed to make this a regular event, so have to prepare mentally for the next sleepover party.


Happy birthday to my lovely daughter!  Hope you enjoyed your Bday party.  Your parents (us) survived another pre-teen invasion :-)

… I’m too old for this shit!

scavenging

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