Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kicking It Old School With Mario

I am never one to brag, as everyone totally knows, but I personally invented and manufactured a super cool, portable gaming system this week.

It is a small, old school Super Nintendo controller with every single Nintendo and Super Nintendo game ever made snuggled neatly inside. Yes, SNUGGLED.

Oh, and it is able to plug into any computer in the world to let you instantly play them. Did I already mention that? Yeah.

I say "invented and manufactured", but I had a tiny bit of assistance from my friend Joseph.

I did the much more technical and labor intensive steps, like buying the parts he told me to. I reluctantly allowed him do some of the more menial tasks, like soldering the circuit board to the doo-hickies and knowing what the hell he was doing.

I also put myself in charge of the obviously hardest and most critical job of taking pictures of the process between bouts of pacing to the other side of the room and muttering while his soldering iron heated up.

The reason I built this with his almost negligible help is because as soon as I saw his prototype and played a couple old Mario games, I instantly knew I would not mind having one (needed one or would die).

I have not told Joseph yet, but we will totally make one for anyone that asks us for just $300 or $400 each. Call me.

But since Joseph himself actually came up with the idea and steps to build this, having made one for himself first, he warned me not to reveal his patented secret of connecting a USB Nintendo controller circuit board to a mini USB hub and mini 4GB USB flash drive that has every Nintendo game ROM copied on it, which I assured him I was not stupid enough to let slip.

I assured him the photos would be for our eyes only and you are the first to get a sneak peek!

This is the first USB Nintendo controller we bought that had a dead circuit board.
We were very careful to not test it before ripping it apart and spending an hour soldering stuff to it.

I kept asking Joseph how long he had owned his soldering iron, clip stand and circuit tester thingy. I pictured a 2nd grade version of him with thick glasses, held together with tape in the middle, as he was soldering his action figures heads together.

But he kept assuring me with vague responses that he has only had it "a couple years or so". I am sure he's telling me the truth and will still totally ask his mom the next time I see her.

The mini USB hub, after many minutes or hours, FINALLY soldered to the dead circuit board that was a wonderful loss of $10.

The good, working mini USB hub and the mini USB flash drive (the black dangly bit) with over 300 games of pure nostalgia and potentially time well wasted.

My Creation*. Made with brawn and steel.

(*With minimal help from Joseph)

Oh yeah.

After test playing a couple games, I brought it home to Austin and let him know how I had selflessly shelled out lots of my hard earned money and then had to use my massive arms to frighten and coerce a friend to make it. JUST FOR HIM.

I am never one to brag, as everyone totally knows, but I came off pretty awesome.

And of course, by employing the time honored tradition of male gift giving, I now have the dual benefit of giving Austin one of the coolest presents he's gotten, while I can borrow it every other day and forget to bring it back!

Now I just need to go over Joseph's house to help him with a server he's having trouble with. I guess that seems like a fair trade for letting him help me build this cool toy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Continuing Adventures Of Psycho The WonderDog

As it is advised in all abusive relationships, preserving some kind of evidence to show the authorities is recommended.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to use my phone and show our dog trainer a one minute video of our older Corgi running around the living room with the new puppy's teeth firmly latched around her throat, flinging around like some kind of furry, mutant necktie.

He said this was normal.

This is the same puppy who only barely and reluctantly pretends to respect our authority, because he knows we are his food supply. It's his begrudging "Give Us This Day Our Daily Kibble" prayer.

We missed a puppy training class last Saturday, because he was home recuperating from his injured leg, which everything points to being caused by flying on and off things three times his height.

When we showed back up at the regular place and time, we discovered they had rescheduled the class for bigger dogs without telling us. The gal at the desk looked at us a little perplexed that we did not psychically know they had switched class times, but said we could still join the class if we wanted to.

Play time had already started and we put Oliver down with the six other Labs who were about three times bigger than him. They were still pretty young ones and approached him with their regular, playful exuberance.

At this point, the police report states... kidding... at this point, Oliver responded with his own kind of exuberance that bordered on vile and reprehensible.

Amy and I just kept yelling, "he's not our dog!", but nobody was falling for it.

You probably remember the cartoon character Taz, the Tasmanian devil. When rushed by the other dogs, Oliver acted similarly, but spinning a lot faster and with a much more gravely voice. (He's 5 months old and his voice is already deeper than mine).

He then proceeded to chase all 6 Labs to their respective parents who looked at us like we just unleashed a rabid wolverine upon their little darlings. At the time, I told the dog trainer that Oliver sounded a little like a demon possessed T-Rex / Wolf hybrid.

He said this was normal.

I asked what "not normal" might look and sound like, so we could keep an eye out for it.

I know Corgis are from Wales, but Oliver reminds me of a short, drunk Scot who is so self conscious of his height, he spends his life getting into fistfights.

"Hey, look at me! I'm a cute, normal puppy!"


Do not approach. Call authorities immediately.

Today he decided to unleash some more of his exuberance on the world by rushing to the neighbor's fence and at their yipping, yapping, completely naive and in for a surprise rat-breed of some kind. The kind with little bows. A small meal for a rabid wolverine.

When Oliver discovered he could not rip the wood planks right off the fence, he tried burrowing next. So, we set up a doggie fence further up the yard, so he could not even get to the neighbor's fence. This modular doggie fence / pen has served us well for years with Chloe, our normal Corgi.

But like the Velociraptors who never hit the same part of the electric fence twice in Jurassic Park, Oliver set about to negate this so called doggie fence with this frightening precision and strategy:

1) First, he hit the doggie fence full force with all of his massive 12 pound frame. This somehow magically knocked it over for the first time in 4 years and he was back to trying to rip planks off of the wood one.

2) Next, he hit the now reinforced doggie fence full force with all of his massive 11.5 pound frame (calories burned). It did not fall over, but was skewed enough to now burrow under, which he did. We immediately covered Chloe's eyes and rushed her inside, because this had never occurred to her in 4 years to ever try herself and we did not want Oliver giving her ideas.

3) Lastly, Oliver rushed the now steel and titanium plate reinforced doggie fence and suddenly revealed that he never meant to hit it in his previous attempts. What happened next is hazy and reports vary, but the word "flying" was used more than once.

Oliver is 9 inches tall and the now obviously useless doggie fence is about 2 feet tall. We theorize that he might have cleared his body and then clipped the top with his feet, but we're not sure. This would account for making it over the top and landing on his back, though.

Amy asked if I thought sedatives would work and if so, how many should she take.

But as humans, we are much smarter than these common beasts and I assured her that the quickest solution is to just simply ask the neighbors how much money will it take to get them to move.

In a few weeks, Oliver goes in to get "fixed". (God, I hope that *I* never get that broken.) We'll see if that takes some of the wind out of his sails. Or Red Bull out of his wings or whatever.

I hate to imagine paying lots of money for an electric fence, just to admit "Clever Boy" when he finally gets passed it and we end up finding a cute little doggie bow in his next poop.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thumb Wrestling With Your Teeth

Amy and I found out today that with a little preparation and careful planning, giving your 5 month old puppy his prescription medicine is barely any more difficult or stressful than the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Oliver originally only needed medicine for a cold, until Friday night. That is when he was enjoying the regular daily display of his superpower of leaping 5 feet through the air, straight onto the 3 foot high couch back, spin midair, somehow without touching down, and back onto the floor.

That might not seem terribly impressive for a lesser animal, like a cat, but Corgis are the unwieldy tractor trailers of the canine world.

He is only a foot long (hot dog joke goes here) and 9 inches tall. I am not great at math, but I am pretty sure that is the equivalent of me taking a running leap onto the roof of my house and back down.

Our son Austin used to jump off things twice his size when he was a kid. (Admittedly at 5 years, not 5 months) and had similar results.

Little ones must spread their wings and fly at this age, as a time honored passage where mother nature gently teaches them how to really hurt themselves.

Austin had 3 separate casts by the age of 6 (yes, they let us keep him) and Oliver had his first x-rays last night.

His mild limp from Friday night progressed to the point he could not walk and finally screamed out in pain while he was trying to lay down and he wouldn't stop crying and shaking for several minutes, so they told us to come in.

Luckily the x-rays showed no broken bones or anything out of socket (Corgis are prone to hip dysplasia, but he's too young for that), so they diagnosed soft tissue injury and prescribed an anti-inflammatory, some pain medicine and not flying off of things 3 times his height.

Chloe worried about her lil' bro after he went to doggie ER.

I got home about an hour ago and Amy asked if I could help give him his pain medicine, which is when we suddenly found ourselves trapped within an alternate universe "Two Stooges" movie.

First, we discovered my "healthy lifestyle changes" are compulsive and borderline OCD, when I said I didn't want to try to hide his pill in a piece of hotdog, as I loudly and uncontrollably blurted out, "they're toxic, they're poison!"


So, we tried peanut butter and after a couple unsuccessful tries, we have most of it cleaned off the cupboards, stove and front window.

I was CLEARLY told my job was to hold him like a baby and cradle him while she made sure that he magically projectile spewed the pill from the back of his throat onto the front of the fridge.

But when that failed (succeeded) 3 times, my cradling him like I was CLEARLY told to do was suddenly now "wrong". I am not pointing fingers or naming names, but it was another individual in my marriage other than me.

After one more try with him less upside down, and holding his mouth shut, he finally swallowed it.

And that finally allowed us to search once more for the original missing white pill, which somehow completely vanished before our eyes onto the white linoleum.

We eventually discovered that the mostly dissolved pill did in fact disappear off the floor, having completely splattered on my shoe, now making it the most disgusting thing by far to land on my work dress shoe, presumably until Oliver figures out a way to poop on it. While running passed and laughing, I'm sure.

So now we are trying to follow the doctors orders (Rx: Twice a day, somehow stick the genie BACK into the bottle) by not letting him run or rough house too much. But he has not gotten to play with Chloe at all for two whole days, so I just now gave them a few minutes to play gently.

Gently was rapidly upgraded to NOT gently, so I didn't let it go too long. I don't know if other dogs do this, but Chloe and Oliver have an adorable game they play that is just like one of our popular human kids games.

It is called "thumb wrestling", where the winner pins the loser's thumb (neck) with his own thumb (teeth).

And I am way less concerned with the Wild Kingdom overtones as much as I am with a 13 pound dog who could barely walk on three legs 12 hours ago always pinning the 30 pound one.

He seems to be perking back up a bit.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who's In Charge Here?

I keep forgetting to not seek out new reasons to look and feel old, so I am constantly hounding Brittany and Austin to hurry up and produce me cute grandkids to spoil and send back home to them.

Amy's much more thought out and reasonable reply to me on this one is, "shut up".

Tired of waiting for an excuse to get up every two hours in the night, we went out and bought a puppy.

When we first met him at the adoption agency, we knew right away that his more laid back personality would be a perfect match for our first Corgi, Chloe

We found out afterwards that this was because it was not his real personality.

Exhausted for 6 straight hours by much less deserving couples, by the time Amy and I arrived, his real personality was safely hidden away from his future parents and their desire to open up their hearts (wallets).

Perfect example of Oliver pretending to be normal and not criminally insane

Chloe and Oliver have a game they play, where he gets her to chase him, growling and barking full blast around the house for a few minutes. If Oliver could speak, he would call this "pretend I am not in charge".

Since Corgis have only bodies with feet and not legs like real dogs, their top speed is only about 65 mph.

After a few minutes of this, Oliver will stop suddenly, growl and bark back at this menacing behemoth 3 times his size and Chloe is rudely brought back to reality. This is his way of saying, "let's get back to the topic of me taking over everything in the world, starting with your house".

The literature assures us that they will acclimate a lot more after another week or two.

Who knows, after two weeks, we hope to even see - assuming Oliver has not eaten them - where the cats have magically disappeared to.

I am joking of course.

I totally hope he ate them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Metal Tube of Death

Getting an MRI is just like a Disneyland ride, if you take away the fun and motion and add extra claustrophobia. The part about spending all your money to wait in line for and hour and then being shoved into a tight confine you cannot escape from is still there, though. Even the "taking off your pants" part is the same, if you've ever been kicked out of the magic kingdom.

"Magnetic Resonance Imaging" is what Wikipedia says it supposedly stands for and they are similar to x-rays, but take much higher quality pictures. A much newer method, the procedure did not even come about until a full 60 years after x-rays were invented, when our technology reached the point that we could finally combine medical science and sadism.

Unlike x-rays, they give you earplugs, a panic button and offer you sedatives. That part is not a joke, believe it or not.

Since my shoulder injury has not changed in 4 months, my doctor suggested taking the space age pics. They shoved me in the metal tube, the exact size and shape of "not a big person" and the tech came over the internal speaker to say, "just lie back, close your eyes and try to enjoy it", which I thought was awkward. But that was quickly forgotten.

After reading the Wikipedia article, the nearest I can figure how it works, is once you've been inserted into the metal tube of death, they flip the switch and start with little people banging on the outside with hammers, Darth Vader farting into a bullhorn and a full blast skipping CD of Metallica. Don't get me wrong, I like Metallica, just not the same note over and over.

I actually have had quite a few MRI's over the years, so I am not sure why they are bothering more and more as I get older. I'd like to think it is not simply because I am increasingly concerned with my mortality and so I cannot stop thinking how similar it is to the "buried alive in a coffin" scene in Kill Bill 2, but I'm no psychologist.

"Just lie back and close your eyes..."

But I suppose I'm grateful this pseudo-science exists. Here's hoping the quarter a million dollar a year salaried doctor can progress passed telling me, "yup, you got a shoulder ow-ee".