Is This A Post About Squirrels? Yes.

I know that there are a great many homeowners out there who dislike squirrels.  As a child I recall my own father hijacking my BB gun in order to pelt the arboreal rodents with a hail of BB fire in order to deter them from getting under our aluminum siding.  It didn’t really work of course.  That particular BB gun wasn’t really powerful enough to do significant damage at any distance further than three feet.  I’m sure those squirrels weren’t happy with the stinging bite of brass that harassed them, but they also weren’t really smart enough to correlate that pain with their attempts to live under our siding.  However that BB gun sat by the backdoor that entire summer, ready for action at the first sight of pesky varmints.  And that entire summer squirrels continued to try and pry back that loose aluminum until finally it was repaired, thus solving the problem and ending the crusade against the squirrels.

My wife Lauren and I have heard similar stories from friends and people we know who have had their own troubles with the bushy tailed acorn eaters, and as home owners ourselves it’s a problem we hope we never have to deal with.  For us squirrels have been a great source of entertainment throughout our relationship.  During our courting years I recall taking long walks around the neighborhood or hikes through the local parks and occasionally stopping to watch the antics of a group of scurrying squirrels.  When we were in college I remember one particular visit Lauren made to Rio Grande where we walked around the campus and came upon a small baby squirrel.  The little guy was doubtlessly scared and as he did his best to clamber up the nearest tree with his tiny squirrel hands he looked over his shoulder at us, raised his little tail, and pissed in our direction.  Whether it was out of fear, or to deter our chasing him, it was a delight!  Nowadays we enjoy watching the squirrels of our own backyard.  The frisky frolicking of spring time and the ridiculous manner in which squirrels pat the ground when burying their acorns in the fall, we are continuously finding the little bastards amusing.  Of course on occasion I have been forced to bludgeon to death half dead, semi paralyzed, squirrels who were not quite fast enough to outrun the great huntress Maple, our female puggle.  I have an efficient system for this though.  Using what I like to call my “Kill’n Shovel” I am able to end their mangled suffering with a quick whack and then make another pass to scoop them up and deposit them in a trash bag.

What I’d like to see is an in depth animal documentary about the typical neighborhood animals of the American Mid-West.  I want one of those nest view cameras in place in a squirrel bungalow in order to see just what they do up there.  I want to see how the crows and squirrels battle it out for tree space.  I want to know the daily struggles of chipmunks, and the dangers of feral cats.  I’d like to learn just how much of a threat hawks are to neighborhood rodents.  I want to validate my theories that raccoons have created a sewer based Shangri-La and built a society and economy based on banana peels and fish heads.  If nothing else, though, the squirrels.  I want to know more about the squirrels.  It just seems to me that there is a very interesting subject there just waiting to be put on film.  Oh, and the documentary should be narrated by Eric Idle.  Yeah, I think that would be perfect.  Mull that over.

Now someone write a letter to Animal Planet or Discovery Channel or whatever and get this going.

That is all!

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People I Know: My Wife

Dedicated educator. Loving wife. Frustrated puggle wrangler. Iconic woman. These are phrases I regularly use to describe my wife Lauren.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Lauren during one of her rare moments of relaxation, between grading papers and catching up on favorite shows from our DVR.  She was stuck sitting in front of our computer enduring the long drawn out process of updating her iTunes.  I made use of that captive, vulnerable moment in order to ask my wife the following questions and snag my first interview for this new section of my blog, People I Know.  The interview began somewhat distant, perhaps because I shanghaied her when she was least expecting it, and she wasn’t a fan of my impromptu interviewing technique.  Eventually however Lauren seemed to relax and really gave some insight into the life of this amazing woman.

Joshua: I just want to say first of all, that I’m glad I could sit you down here today Lauren.

Lauren: Why thank you, thank you sir.

Joshua: And second of all, I’d like to just say before we get into the questions that I love you very much.

Lauren: I love you.

Joshua: Ok, question one.  Where did you get your shirt from? It’s grey and has what looks like, water color flowers seemingly painted on it in a Japanese type of artistic style.

Lauren: Kohls. I got it from Kohls.

Joshua: And how much of your wardrobe would you say is from Kohls?

Lauren: 50%

Joshua: 50% ?!?

Lauren: Easily, yeah.

Joshua: Where do you buy your puggle’s clothes?

Lauren: Mostly Petsmart, but that one time we got that one outfit from Pets Pajamas.  It was really cute and expensive, but unfortunately it was too small, so we gave it to our friends Jeff and Mandy, who have a smaller dog.

Joshua: So would you say that Petsmart is the Kohls equivalent for pets?

Lauren: On the contrary, I would say that Kohls is the Petsmart for people.

Joshua: That’s actually a pretty good comparison.  There’s a whole lot of stuff at Kohls that you don’t really think about.  It’s more than just clothes.

Lauren: Yes.

Joshua: Here’s another question.  Who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?

Lauren: Michelangelo.

Joshua: And why is that?

Lauren: Orange.

Joshua: Fair enough.  Now, if you had to describe yourself in just seven words or less, and I’ll give you a second to think about it, how would you describe yourself.

Lauren: The TLC album Crazy, Sexy, Cool.  That’s it.  That’s all I need.

Joshua: Ha ha! I like that!  Yes.  Ok now how much time do we have for your iTunes update?

Lauren: (laughing) 34 minutes!  Please don’t interview me for 34 minutes!

Joshua: Sum up for us, what you do.

Lauren: Like right now what I’m doing?

Joshua: What do you do?

Lauren: What do I do? Like on the planet, or you want to know what I do for a job?

Joshua: What . . . do you do?  Paragraph, roughly.

Lauren: Here’s what I do with my life.  Of my waking hours 25-30 percent of my time is spent caring for my physical appearance and the appearance of my house as well as feeding myself and other people who happen into my home.  Food is really the number one thing that I think about and spend time on I have to say.  So about 30% of my day is all of that.  I spend a lot of time guiding young minds, much of my best guiding happens when I’m not actually doing my standard teaching.  I would say that I spend a good 10-15 percent of my time repeating myself for the benefit of those same young minds.  I think about the future a lot, I plan ways to horde my money, and I evaluate a lot during my day.

Joshua: What types of things do you evaluate?

Lauren: Did I do a good job on my lesson? Was dinner ok? Are we saving enough for retirement? Will I have enough gas money? What would taste good in two hours when I want a snack? Was the snack I made what I really wanted?  Do I look ok in this outfit?  Am I getting big chunky love handles, and how do I get rid of them?  Did I do a good job of buying pants that hide them?  Those things.

Joshua:  And my last question for you is this.  As an educator there’s a lot of education talk in the media these days and some heavy debate about teachers.  What do you think are some of the best fictional portrayals of educators in media.  Movies, television, fictional teachers.  Who are some of your favorites?  Top 5.

Lauren: I sort of hate fictional teachers. Though I really like Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Everyone always says Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, but I don’t give a crap.  Mr. Holland’s Opus, he was a good educator.  Also I often refer to that movie as Mr. Holland’s Anus on a regular basis, so that’s always a good one.  But in all honesty I don’t really pay a lot of attention to, or enjoy watching, teachers in movies.

Joshua: What about Mr. Kotter, from Welcome Back, Kotter?

Lauren: I never saw it.  But you know who I do like? Miss Lippy from Billy Madison!  Because some days I want to send the children outside to play dodgeball while I stay inside and spread paste on my face and do interpretive dance.  That’s all.

Joshua:  So just three fictional teachers?

Lauren: Yeah, and that wasn’t even a very good list.  If you gave me some time maybe I could come up with some better ones.

Joshua: No.  No time.

Lauren: That’s it.

Joshua: Alright, well I’d like to thank you for this time and I hope that your iTunes updates happen in a prompt fashion, that they don’t time out on you, and that in 29 minutes you’re listening to some good tunes.

Lauren: Thank you.

Joshua: Any final words?

Lauren:  Thrombosis.

Joshua: And that is all!

Puggle Profiles

It occurred to me that I now have over 50 some posts on this blog and yet I have not once written about my dogs!  What about your wife? You might ask, well she can talk for herself, the dogs can not.  My lovely wife did contribute to my Oscar picks post a few months back, and I’ve been working on some other ideas for a collaborative topic we could work on together but she is a busy woman where as I have nothing better to do at the moment.

The two puggles in their terrifying halloween costumes

We have two puggles (that’s half pug half beagle for those who might not be down with the half-breed lingo) and they keep us regularly entertained with their shenanigans.  I decided the best way to introduce the world to my dogs is to write up some quick file cards for them, you know all the pertinent details and information which might be found in some secret data vault somewhere, or used by secret spies in their dossiers of notorious figures.  So without further ado, let’s crack open the secret puggle files and see what threats they pose to the international community!

Maple on the hunt . . . for people food

NAME: Maple Zombina Witsaman

AGE: 5 years

SEX: Female

WEIGHT: 25 lbs.

BIO:  Maple is the eldest of the pair of puggles in the house and undeniably the leader of the pack.  Maple enjoys her leisure time and is more than willing to spend a day sprawled out on any cushioned surface.  Her laid back nature should not be taken at face value however.  An athletic hound, Maple enjoys the outdoors and her long naps seem to super charge her energy levels.  At a moments notice Maple is ready to embark on extensive walks or to perform some serious sniffing around in the backyard.  Of the two puggles Maple is the most blood thirsty.  She views the small woodland creatures that reside in her backyard as godless intruders infringing on her liberty and she has been known to take drastic measures to push back against these wild things that dare show themselves in her presence.  To date Maple has a known kill count of 3, and her bloodlust doesn’t seem to have yet been quelled.  Though Maple enjoys regular playtimes and canine socialization, she prefers the company of people and will more often than not try to lounge with her human family members rather than Falkor or other dogs.

CODENAME: B-Grr, Kenny Doggins, Tiny Dog

SPECIALITIES: Sleeping, hunting, seek and destroy missions, chew toy demolitions

STRENGTH: 6

SPEED: 9

INTELLIGENCE: 8

FIREBLAST: 8

RANK: 8

"Puppy dog eyes" is Falkor's only expression.

NAME: Falkor Keanu Witsaman

AGE: 2 years

SEX: Male

WEIGHT: 23 lbs.

BIO:    Falkor is the youngest of the puggle pair and still has a great deal to learn about the world, thanks to Maple he is learning several life lessons the hard way.  Falkor is young, playful, and energetic.  If there is any opportunity to play Falkor will dive right in.  His constant prodding and goading often gets on the nerves of Maple, who generally wishes only to sleep.  When he does manage to agitate his comrade enough it usually erupts into a wild bout of chasing and barking throughout the house.  Falkor is not the brightest dog, and more than once his wild running and determined tail chasing have lead him straight into a wall.  Though Falkor is often curious he finds many new objects to be frightening and approaches them with measured caution.  Not gifted with the same instincts as Maple, Falkor has no interest in hunting and killing rodents he is more of a pacifist who prefers playful wrestling and chewing on animals of the plush variety.  Falkor is very friendly and enjoys meeting new and different dogs when he visits the dog park he literally has to be dragged away from the rest of the pack when it comes time to leave.  Though generally sweet and calm there was an incident early on when Falkor accidentally nearly bit through his master’s thumb as he overeagerly chomped down on a treat.  Just further proof that though puggles can look cuddly and cute, they should not be dealt with lightly.

CODENAME: B-boi, Dum Dum, Lee Min

SPECIALTIES: Rope tugging, bone chewing, evasion expert, poop eating

STRENGTH: 8

SPEED: 8

INTELLIGENCE: 5

FIREBLAST: 8

RANK: 7

So there you are those are my two ferocious puggles and as a bonus I leave you with this video I put together of one of their epic chase sessions!

That is all!