Friday, January 31, 2003

Cleaning Up Pet Goop...and a Rat !

Patch is my first dog (I'm 32 years old) and as I was cleaning up after him today it reminded me of a progression that I've got in common with other first time pet owners. Besides Patch we also have two cats, Aura and Garibaldi. When we first got them and the job fell to me to scoop out their litter boxes, I was pretty disgusted with the whole process. I'd hold my breath while scooping the cat poo and urine clumps into a double grocery bag, then hold the whole thing at arms length when I took it straight outside to the rubbish bin.

Ah...the old days :) As many first-time parents will know (so I've heard, anyway) you quickly lower your "Eeeeewww !" threshold and get used to whatever you need to do. The cat boxes are a breath of fresh air compared with what I'll cheerfully pick up these days. When a Great Dane poops at the dog park, you grab the ol' inside out grocery bag, make sure there's no holes in the bottom of it, pick up the material in question (as much as will fit in one claw-like hand), flip the bag inside out, tie the knot and drop it in the provided bins with speed, accuracy and skill.

Well, today I know I graduated top of the class in the Picking Up Disgusting Things With An Inside-Out Baggie when I was summoned by our friend Vicky who was in a panic because the decaying body of headless, fetid, three-months-buried rat had been exhumed by their dogs and placed lovingly on the back porch. She saw it, screamed, ran inside and wouldn't go back out to save her life. Scott was working too far from home and could I stop by and dispose of it ?

"Not a problem !" says I, Master of the Disposal Arts. And I speak the truth, because it was no problem at all - hand in the bag, up comes Ratty, flip the baggie, pull the handy string provided, throw it away, wash hands and eat the lovely lunch provided to Brave Heroes such as myself. I even pretended to chew on the bag to see if I could make Vicky sick.

In four short years I've gone from barely being able to stand little cat poops to cheerfully extracting blackened, decapitated rodents. See, men can learn something.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Downloading Music

There's lots of good music avaiable freely and legally on the web. I just found Amazon has a lot of good music for free. Click on "Music" in their list of stores, then click "Free Downloads".

Sunday, January 26, 2003

The Church

Now's as good a time to any to point you to the site I run about my favourite band: The Church. They've been together over twenty years and you may have heard The Unguarded Moment or Under the Milky Way during the 1980s. Well, they've done a lot more than that - look at my Church site to find out more about them.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Adding Links

I've signed up on to maintain a nice list of links for this blog.

Writing to old friends

Now that I have a wireless connection to my laptop I'm having a great time sending emails and ICQ'ing to/with old friends. Having a wireless connection is really liberating, and makes being on the 'net feel like part of my regular daily activites instead of something I need to go to the office to do. I'd recommend it to anyone - I bought my equipment from Don't forget to check xpbargains, dealcatcher and hotdealsclub (all .com, of course) for coupons. There's usually a $5 off $35 amazon coupon around. OfficeDepot and Staples frequently have coupons at the 50-100 dollar level too, which is around the price level this stuff costs.

Thursday, January 23, 2003


There's the clown, y'see, called "Flup" and he's involved in a scandal concerning open-toed sandals. What did the newspaper headline read ?


Actually, when the evening edition came out they'd changed it, since alliteration was against the evening editor's principles and they found out that Flup had actually damaged the flip-flops. The headlines now read:


Some mornings I just think of these things.

And just so we'll all learn something from this, you can read about alliteration, rhyme and other literary devices at this web site about them.

Patch's Website

It must be fairly high up on the "stupid things to do with the Internet" scale, but what the heck. Our dog, Patch, now has his own website ! is the place (or it will be, once more content gets posted) to find out all about our wonderful Great Dane.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Booking Hotels Online

I've just helped my wife find a technique for getting good hotel prices - see if you like it.

She trains people to use software at Veterans Administration hospitals and has a fairly tight budget. Interestingly, the budget is fixed at $100/night, whether she's in Los Angeles or the corn-blessed expanses of Amish country. What she aims to do is find a good hotel as close to the V.A hospital as she can. Now Yahoo! Travel has the best prices we've found, but their search engine is a little lacking; for instance she can't ask for all the hotels which have available rooms on a certain day.

So here's the method we use:

  1. Go to and enter the address of the hospital (or wherever you have to be)
  2. Click the "nearby businesses" link in the top right of the screen, and choose "hotels"
  3. Now you're looking at a list of hotels close to the address you asked for.

In another window (you did know you have more than one browser window open, didn't you ? Press Ctrl-N to do it quickly) go to

  1. Go to the Hotels section
  2. Enter the address, and the dates you'll be staying. Do the search.
  3. Travelocity is now showing a list of available hotels near that address.

Between these two windows you should be able to pick a nearby, cheap and available hotel. Travelocity has traveller reviews of hotels. I'd advise calling the hotel on the phone (you may need to find them on their own website, i.e,, to get a phone number, since the sites we used don't like you to use the phone instead. See if the hotel will give you the same rate on the phone - we do this because she's often booking for multiple people in multiple rooms, each with different needs, and it's really time consuming to do this through Yahoo...much easier on the phone. Be prepared for a rejection though - those rates are "Internet Only" for a reason and many hotels won't honor them over the phone.

OK, that's my advice for the day.