My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Poll

It's a good one.

Dust off your thinking caps (did you like the snarkiness that I just assumed that your thinking cap was dusty and therefore unused?) and peer into your crystal ball.  You need to look into the future.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Selling Out

You may have noticed a slightly different look to the blog in the last couple of weeks.  Yes there are a lot more Amazon.com ads then there were previously, but this also coincides with the complete lack of other ads.

I used to utilize Google Adsense to run some ads on the Deaf Dogs blog, but they had some issues with the way that my ads were viewed.  As it turns out, having a loyal cadre of followers can bite you on the ol' backside when it comes to Google Adsense.  They seem to think that you're up to shenanigans when most of the ads are viewed by the same handful of people.  After a while of this pattern, they decided to remove me from their program forever.  Bummer.  You can't fight the Google machine, it's just the way it goes.

I sell out, that's a given, so what to do?  Well, the next (and possibly only) avenue now for the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes website to harvest its burgeoning millions is Amazon.com.  If you see something interesting from Amazon.com on the website, go ahead and get it.  You deserve it.  But you only deserve it if you go through my website.  Use the "Search Amazon" box on the left hand side.  Do it.  Do it now.  Don't ask questions.     

And if you happen to be doing a little shopping online and plan on purchasing something from Amazon.com, please go through my humble little website, I'll be most appreciative. Again, use the "Search Amazon" box on the left hand side.  It will certainly make you a better person.  

I'll try to remind you to conduct your Amazon.com shopping through the site again in the future.  I'm also planning on reviewing some books and albums I've recently purchased (and enjoyed) and putting links on the website.  Coming soon....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Job Of The Week

Since I don't really have a full time job, I spend a decent amount of time looking through the local online classified section to see what kind of employment opportunities there are for me in the area.  There are always some very interesting jobs being advertised, and as such, I'd like to start a regular series, hopefully weekly, that I'm gonna call the "Job Of The Week".  In it I will highlight the most unusual or interesting job that I can find in the classifieds on a given day.  I may also select the job for which I feel I am most completely unqualified. 

Please note that this is a real job copied verbatim from the Grand Forks Herald online job classified website.  I have highlighted the most relevant portion, and for the record the position is for "Part-Time Grain Tester".    
Part-time evening shift! Great opportunity to put some extra money in your pockets. Approximately 20-25 hours/week between 12pm and 8pm with few weekends. This is a long term, year round position paying $10/hr. Responsibilities include standing on top of rail cars and running probes deep into trains to do testing. Must be in excellent physical condition as the position will require heavy lifting. Must have a valid drivers license with a clean driving record. Great for students over 18 years old!!
How do the trains feel about all this?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where The Wild Things Sleep

At night when it's time for the family unit to hunker down for sleepy time, our two dogs, Shaak Ti and Tito, could not be more different in their sleeping proclivities.

Shaak Ti sleeps on the floor next to Alycia in a small bed with her Costco blanket that was given to us when we adopted her (yes it's been washed since then, many times).  We actually tuck her in every night, wrapping her up in the blanket so she's warm and cozy.  On chillier nights, she'll actually wake Alycia up in the middle of the night in order to be re-tucked.  Shaak Ti isn't the problem here.  As usual, Tito is the problem here.
Perhaps it's just another manifestation of his angst against me, or perhaps he's still bitter that my arrival years ago caused his eviction from sleeping in bed with Alycia.  In any case his main motivation seems to be a) annoying the crap out of me, and then secondarily b) getting a good nights sleep.  He generally ends up sleeping in his doggie bed in the office or in his doggie bed near the dresser on Alycia's side.

But his preferred place to begin the evening is underneath the bed directly under my head.  Thus he's in the optimal spot to not only spread his fluff and dander into my allergy prone sinuses but also to keep me awake with his noisy bedtime routine.  I like it to be quiet when I'm trying to fall asleep, and I know he knows this.  Regardless of my bedtime, 9:30 or 11:30 or anytime in between, he doesn't crawl under the bed until I get into bed.  He may be evil, but he ain't dumb.  This is fact.  Anyways, Tito's bedtime routine follows these precise steps:
  • Step 1: Engage in oral Yoga exercises and stretch lips, gums, and tongue, by executing a series of loud licking and smacking drills.
  • Step 2: Clean, massage, and explore/re-explore male dog parts and surrounding environs with great enthusiasm and vigor.  This step involves grunting, smacking, licking, and general rustling noises. 
  • Step 3: Savor the flavors obtained in Step 2 by loudly smacking and licking lips, gums, and tongue.
  • Step 4: Repeat Step 1
  • Step 5: Clean, lick, and chew (like a tough piece of ostrich jerky) on right hind foot.
  • Step 6: Savor the flavors obtained in Step 5 by loudly smacking and licking lips, gums, and tongue.
  • Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 on left hind foot, right front foot, and left front foot.
  • Step 8: Crawl out from under bed, stand as close as possible to where John is trying to sleep and scratch at collar and jingle metal tags.  Don't actually itch anything, just scratch at the collar for as long as you can.  Make it jingle, make it jangle, make it tinkle, make it rattle, anything to keep John from falling asleep.
  • Step 9: Crawl back underneath bed, focus on staying directly underneath John's pillow.  
  • Step 10: Repeat Steps 1-9 as many times as possible, preferably until midnight or 1:00 am.  
  • Step 11: Sleep
  • Step 12 (optional):  If you notice John get up in the middle of the night, wait until his return to bed, then repeat Steps 1-11.
As you can imagine, this drives me nuts, which I'm pretty sure is his prime objective, except for maybe Steps 1-3, which likely would be executed regardless of his situation.  Alycia sleeps like a stone and has no trouble falling asleep as the Tito commotion is happening.  Alas, I must suffer through his rancorous orchestra by myself until I can finally drift off.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Family Trip To North Dakota- Part II

Here is more of the photo essay from the family visit to North Dakota.
We headed up to Cavalier, North Dakota to visit the Cummings Family Estate and played a little golf at the Cavalier Country Club.  We were able to petition the President and Board of Directors of the Country Club to allow a one time waiver of their usually strict "No Floppy Hats" rule so that my Dad could play.  Here he tees off with his driver on the 105 yard, Par 3, 8th hole.  
Father and Daughter pose on the deck overlooking the western boundary of the Cummings Family Estate.
No trip to North Dakota for the Potato Bowl Festivities is complete without a visit to The Sons of Norway for their annual Saturday morning potato pancake breakfast the day of the big game.  Mmmmmmm....potato pancakes.  
You also have to have a picture in front of the big moose statue at Cabela's. 

A good time was had by all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Family Trip To North Dakota- Part I

The family came out out to visit from San Diego last month, Pops, sister and brother-in-law all came out for a rollicking good time.  It was my Dad's second visit, but the first time for my sister and brother-in-law, and they all seemed to have a good time.  Here are some photo highlights (Part I).
Dad was bad, Professor Cummings is mad.
He gets a talking to.  Behave, don't let this be you. 
One of our favorites from the University of North Dakota Museum of Modern Art.  OK, maybe not a favorite, but one of the few pieces that didn't cause us both to say "what the crap is THIS?"  It's just simply a seal drinking through a straw.  Riiiight.

The folks at the Museum of Modern Art were very, very nice and chatted with us for quite a while.  The thing is that I really don't "get" most modern art.  Oh well.  If you're thinking that we went to see a modern art museum because we're super smart, hoity toity types, you'd be way off.  We went because it was raining and we couldn't play golf that day.  
We took a hike through Turtle River State Park, just west of Grand Forks.  It was even lovelier than it looks in the picture, and there were tons of magnificent things for the pups to smell. 
Three generations of well dressed Chappell family members.  Their respective signature attire: floppy hat, plaid shorts, lots and lots of spots.  It's almost like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad....almost.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Leaf Machine

It has been an absolutely beautiful fall here in North Dakota.  Warm pleasant days and cool nights have abounded and there hasn't even been much of a frost yet (I actually have to get out in the garden and harvest tomatoes today).  But even though it has been a warm fall, the trees have shed most of their leaves and littered the ground with their arboreal remnants.  Not to fear though, with a little raking from Alycia and I and the help of the leaf vacuum machine from the city, leaves disappear like soda through a straw. 
This is the leaf machine (in yellow) attached to a dump truck in front of our house.  There is a crew of four rakers/vacuumers who follow along and assist with the process. You're required to rake the leaves into piles on the front berm and then - Viola!!! they magically disappear.
 
The leaves get sucked up through the black tube on the left (and then I think they get shredded) before being propelled through the horizontal tube on top and into the dump truck.  It's an entertaining process to watch, though admittedly I had to shoot these pictures from the front porch rather surreptitiously so I wouldn't look like a weirdo taking pictures of the leaf vacuuming workers. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Is The Dog Doing?

What is Shaak Ti doing right this very minute?
If you guessed napping, you're the big winner.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Worldwide Readership???

One of the super cool tools of this blogging website is all the reports and metrics that you can produce to see the who/what/when/where/how of your readership.  Just the other day I looked at a report for the last month that listed the number of page views and which country they originated from.  The list looked like this:

United States - 131
Russia - 32
Brazil - 29
Canada - 22
South Korea - 19
Malaysia - 19
Nicaragua - 19
Lithuania - 18
Portugal - 18
Indonesia - 13 

Who are all the folks reading my blog from foreign lands?  Are you real people, or just super intelligent, and well read spam-bots trolling for spamming opportunities?  If you happen to be reading this, I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It Happens

Sometimes the most engaging and informative articles are also the ones that make you cringe just a little bit.  This is one of them.  And sometimes when the subject matter is taboo in society (and in sports) it makes it all the more fascinating, in a train wreck-can't avert my gaze kind of way.  Article is courtesy of ESPN.com

It Happens

I would not recommend reading this over your morning cup of coffee and breakfast bran muffin, though that would be oddly ironic.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gnew Gnome Home

After a long year or so hibernating in their moving boxes, the garden gnomes sent us a text message from their gnome phones to let us know they were fully acclimated to the new latitude (the defining factor for gnome living) of Grand Forks, North Dakota and ready to be unleashed unto the world.  So a few weeks ago we had a small, private afternoon ceremony and placed the gnomes in their new homes, among the blueberry and strawberry bushes in the backyard.

We've started getting the garden ready for winter by adding leaves and lawn clippings around many of the garden plantings.  The leaves insulate the delicate blueberries and strawberries, even though they're supposed to be able to to survive in our winter, we give them as much help as we can to get them through the winter. 
This is Fredrick the Garden Gnome in his new garden home, amongst the blueberry bushes and strawberry plants.  Notice his new, and super awesome, mushroom umbrella.
This is our new gnome addition, Alycia named him Furkel (the gnomes all have a name that starts with "F").  It's kind of hard to tell since his bottom is covered in leaves, but he's actually pooping.  Yes, that's right a pooping garden gnome.  It's a special kind of garden gnome called a Caganer and is a traditional Catalonia nativity decoration.  It is also rumored to be a good luck garden denizen - fertilizing the earth with his magical and mystical poopings.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stop Injecting Your Kids With Junk

I came upon this minute-long public service announcement from some governmental authority down under.  It's a BIT over the top, but in a way enormously funny.  Just think of the heyday that the various industry groups, politicians, trade associations, and "concerned parents" would have if this ad were ever shown here in the US.  They would have a field day, and would all line up and compete to be the most offended party involved. 

Australian Public Service Announcement

I can just see Bill O'Reilly interviewing the chairwoman (it always seems to be a woman named Marcia) of the Americans For Fast Food Family Values or Moms Against Meal Manipulation (that would be a good acronym) who'd decry the ad as an attack by the hatemongering left-wing media against good family companies like McDonald's and Burger King. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Leaves and Stuff

It's fall here in North Dakota and it's beautiful.  I take Shakk Ti on extra long walks every afternoon and just amble along the Greenway and watch the river (which is really high due to recent rains) and feel the cool wind pull the leaves from the trees.  There's nothing quite like leaves rustling as they tumble across the ground. 

Shaak Ti loves it as well since it's the height of squirrel activity, they're scurrying around making winter preparations.  She gets to run and bark and bark and run, pulling me along and chasing them back up their trees.  It's good fun, and good exercise for both dog and human. 
The park near our house.  Slowly cooling temperatures have allowed for the traditional leaf color changing, contrasted with last year where it got very cold very suddenly and many trees dropped their foliage quickly, without the requisite change to yellows and oranges and reds.  This year is very different.   
The back yard.  This wouldn't be much of an exceptional picture if not for the fact that I mowed this yesterday evening and it was fully leafless.  This is the leaf accumulation in less than 24 hours.  Impressive.  It goes without saying that we have more fall leaf raking chores on our dance card.  
The front yard, same story.  This was totally clear yesterday evening.  Notice how the Grandmamobile stands as a silent sentinel over the yard.  It makes me feel safe.