Screen Time

We decided years ago that our household would have one TV.

This was supposed to bring us closer together, but in recent years it usually meant bitter confrontations over who would control the remote. Evenings were the worst, especially when my wife wanted to see something and the kids wanted to play video games. Watching somebody steal cars in Vice City or kill terrorists? Not her idea of a good time.

Well, now that kids are out of the house things are easier — except on nights like Sunday when ABC’s Galavant was going head-to-head against the Patriots – Colts game. I don’t have to tell you what I wanted to see — but since I’m the world’s greatest husband, I watched the game in another room on my iPad.

So, it’s not a one TV house anymore — and the temptation to retreat into the solitude of a personal screen feels like a risk. This brings me to my advice for newlyweds: treat your house like the one with a single TV; your time together is too precious to be spent separated by your tastes in television. Marriage is not Netflix,  and you didn’t sign up for whatever you want, whenever you want it.

And hey, since we’re on the subject, a word about Galavant. I really tried to like the show, but the one episode I saw was hideous. If you need an example, watch the number “Oy! What a Knight,”  whose tired schtick was as stale as week-old challah. The jokes are about as good as that one.

Antisocial Media

Much is made of the noxious atmosphere in blog and newspaper comment sections. “See,” say critics, “this is what you get with anonymous comments.” That may be true, but people who sign their name aren’t any better.

Take Facebook, for example.

News outlets have gotten in the habit of posting stories to their Facebook site, and the posts often get hundreds of comments — many of them amazingly insulting and abusive. Here’s a sample from a story a local TV station posted about a couple accused in an animal abuse case:

comments

Let’s be clear: abusing animals is abhorrent to me, but the people in question haven’t been convicted of anything, just arrested. We’re not just throwing the accused into the stocks, but lining up the villagers to hurl tomatoes at them.

Can’t they moderate this stuff? Of course — but I’m told it would be impossible due to the huge number of comments. Filters can be set to screen bad language and individual complaints can be fielded, but a full-time commitment to Facebook comments isn’t something a local TV station can afford.

You could argue that comment abusers are violating Facebook’s terms of service and that page owners are not responsible. That might be technically correct — but if your name is at the top of the page, it’s not that simple.

How Cold Is It?

It’s so cold that the milk froze before I could get home and bring it into the house.

milk

Good Fences

There we were, me and the dogs, out for a walk one recent evening when I practically jumped out of my shoes. Two very angry dogs charged out of the darkness and came directly for us — until they reached the invisible fence line.

They stood at the edge of the yard viciously barking and snapping. Both me and my dogs were rattled and I impulsively yelled, “Fu*k you!” This was not just pointless, but stupid. Dogs don’t understand fu*k you, and if the owners heard me? That’s not the sort of thing that makes for good neighbors.

Some people will disagree, but invisible fences can be a bad idea. The way they work is that dogs wear a shock collar triggered by proximity to a buried boundary line. In theory, you should be able to train the dog (with pain, by the way) to stay on your property and turn off the system. Few people ever get to that point.

And there are inherent problems. Like if your a dog is wildly aggressive toward strangers and other dogs. Or if your dog learns that the rewards of escape outweigh a mildly irritating shock. Or if your dog is so frightened of being shocked she ends up fearful of leaving the property on a leash with you.

One dog in our neighborhood has learned that if it leaps high over the invisible line it can avoid a shock. Would you trust your fence system to keep that dog safe, ever again? No, me neither.

It takes a lot of time and skill to make that sort of training work — and it’s far beyond the capabilities of the average dog owner. Let’s hope none of those invisible fence dogs are lost or injured or end up biting someone. And if that does happen, don’t blame the dog.

The Snow Report

Well, a month ago I claimed it wouldn’t snow this winter because of the new (used) snow blower in the garage. That was just me being cheeky — but now you’ve got to wonder.

snow blower

Here we are, a month later, and there still hasn’t been enough snow to use the damn thing. This has caused me to do something I haven’t done since elementary school: wish for an epic snowfall.

Every day I check the forecast with the perverse hope that we’ll get dumped on. Even my prayers have not worked. They go something like this:

Please, God, send us a hellish storm that incapacitates the area. We are an ungrateful people and deserve to be punished with at least 18 inches of snow, preferably falling during the overnight hours…

Not sure if that will work, but just to cover all bases, I’m following the example of Park City Mountain Resort  and seeking members of the Ute indian tribe to help bring some snow. I’ll let you know if anyone replies to the ad.

The Medium is the Message

While reading the TU’s online obits this morning — at 53, that’s what you do — an interesting advertisement appeared at the top of the screen. It was for a Clifton Park business called Among Angels, and the ad offered to “Help you connect with those who have crossed over.”

Interesting. And nice ad placement, by the way.

One way they offer to connect you is through an Angel Circle, a group activity where participants are guided by a medium. The website says,

While not everyone will necessarily get a message, everyone will experience the wonders of spirit communication, and discover that death is not the end but merely a doorway though which we all must pass!

Again, interesting.

Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me wants to believe there is some sort of spirit world — but my rational brain always comes down firmly with the skeptics.

A lot of money has been paid over the years by people who want to get in touch with dead loved ones. Maybe there’s something to it — but do note the disclaimer way at the bottom of their website: FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.

Eat My Ass

Years ago I wrote a couple of blog posts with references to eating horses.

This was way back in the Albany Eye days, and even though I was just joking, some people responded quite angrily. Maybe they didn’t like the links to horse recipes from a Quebec supermarket chain — or maybe they simply had no sense of humor — but the bottom line is that you don’t have to drive far from here to visit a place where they eat horse meat. Don’t blame me!

I was reminded of all this when Modern Farmer, the agri-hipster magazine based in Hudson, featured donkeys in their winter edition, including a story called Donkey Delicacies. Unlike in Albany Eye, this was not meant to be funny, but a serious overview of donkey eating. As you can imagine, the online version of the story got some colorful responses. Here’s my favorite:

Why would you have all these articles glorifying donkeys talking about how great they are and then feature an article about the different ways you can eat them? It’s fucking disgusting and shows how incohesive the journalism on this site truly is.

So, how do you really feel about that donkey story?

Obviously there’s a lot of cultural bias when it comes to food. I may be fond of cows but don’t think twice about eating them. Who the hell would eat a dog? Lots of people in China, that’s who.

Hey, it’s complicated. We could talk about this all day, but, I gotta go because I’m cooking up some homemade sausage. That’ll do, pig.

In Ireland with a distant cousin

Waiting for Dick

An actual conversation while watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve:

“God, this is awful. When do they drag Dick Clark on?”

“Dick Clark is dead!”

“Well that will really be something if they bring him out, then.”

‘Tis the Season

No, that’s not a head in my refrigerator, it’s a standing rib roast that’s been in there dry aging for a week. But it does look sorta like a head, doesn’t it?

head

It’s the main course for our family Christmas celebration on Tuesday 12/30, delayed almost a week because that’s when my son flies in from California. The Marines had important work for him to do that kept him away from us on Xmas.

The result is that the holiday feels like it’s never going to end.

Don’t get me wrong, I freakin’ love Christmas, but I swear to God it’s going to kill me. It seems that ten years ago I was a much more resilient merrymaker, able to eat, drink and party with greater abandon. Now? It takes much longer to recover from holiday indulgences.

But nobody said Christmas would be easy, did they? Consider the Maji, travelling through the desert for the original celebration of Christ’s birth. Their difficult journey — on stinky camels, probably — is thought to have taken six to eight weeks. Next to that, driving to Syracuse is a piece of cake.

So enough of my ungracious Christmas kvetching. Celebrate until it hurts this season and understand that in the pain you will certainly gain.