Thursday, November 18, 2010

NCTE in Disney

Here's my artistic rendering of my coworkers and I all ready for our conference in Disney! Apparently I'm the Aryan coworker...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New York

Sometimes Alex's school asks strange things of him. For example, this weekend Alex and several of the other folks at CK Kung Fu found themselves helping out at the Rochdale Village Healthy Heart Project in Jamaica, Queens. You can see Alex in the video below at 0:09 seconds in. He's the tall guy in the back who looks very serious about "making a change."

I've learned to stop asking questions about what his school is up to and just chalk it up to community service and a good cause. Since he was already going to be in New York and he was asked to be in Jamaica by roughly 7:30am, we opted to make a mini vacation out of it, grabbed Nicole to watch Harper, and stayed in Times Square.

The hotel ended up being very nice (and very clean), although I remembered about New York's current bedbug crisis AFTER booking the room and had a few mini freakouts. I definitely checked out at least a dozen times. The good news is, there were no ill reports about the Belvedere and I checked myself (flipping up the mattress to check the cracks for critters while Alex rolled his eyes at me). In other news, if you're ever staying in NYC and are looking for a hotel in Midtown that won't totally destroy your budget, I highly recommend. It's a ton better than the last place I stayed and was over $100 cheaper as well.

Since Alex had to be to Jamaica ass early (and take LIRR to get there), he went to bed pretty much as soon as we got there. I, on the other hand, rounded up Chrissy and Kirsten and we headed out around midnight to see what was up in Hell's Kitchen. After comically waving at Chrissy through the door of the hotel because she REFUSES to set foot in any NY hotel after her own bedbug situation, we were off.

We ended up having dinner at a cute place just two blocks from the hotel called Vynl. It was trendy, fun, and decorated with Barbie dolls, a lot of candles set into niches in the walls, and 70s album covers.

All of the food and drinks were vinyl themed (ie - the Fiona Appletini, Purple Rain, and Santanagria). We shared some delicious onion rings, some dinner, and a few drinks. I always forget how expensive alcohol is in NYC until I get back in the city.

After doing some damage there, we opted to head to Therapy, a bar that Chrissy's friend Anthony works at. Turns out it's a ridiculously awesome gay bar. The only part that was a little weird was the co-ed bathrooms. Still not sure how I feel about that. Especially when I was washing my hands and was being chatted up by a beautiful gay British 20-something. It was a little bit surreal.

Therapy ended up being a lot of fun, although the drinks were lethal. I had something called "Love on the Rocks" which I just tried to find on their online menu and it's not there. Hmm. Interesting. We did a bit of dancing including an especially fun round of Lady Gaga songs, and Kirsten even got up and danced with one of the muscle-laden guys on stage. Apparently we closed the place, because suddenly it was 4am and it was time for us to make our way home.

Luckily I was close by, so I bid Kir and Chrissy farewell and walked the half a block beyond the 49th street subway stop back to my hotel. It turns out Kir and Chrissy had a rougher time than I did getting home. In the morning, Alex left early and I slept until 10. After I got ready, I texted Chrissy to tell her I was on my way to Queens to see her apartment and I would hurry so we could make our 2pm show back in Midtown. She texted back to take my time. Kirsten had fallen and knocked out her two front teeth on their way home, so they weren't going anywhere.


So of course I pick up the phone and call as I head towards the subway to get there and see the aftermath for myself. Turns out Kir is fine, now, but not two minutes after they left me, she missed the curb and faceplanted into the street. In telling me about it later, she said it was seriously the most painful thing she's ever felt. And judging by Alex's own recollection of having his teeth knocked out as a kid, it's pretty, pretty bad. The poor girl broke one of her two front teeth clean in half, and the other broke off at the corner into a jagged fang. All day long I was afraid she was going to pierce her lip and I was glad that she hadn't done that when she fell in the first place!

Long story short, since Kir felt awful and was tending to wounds, we ended up spending the day in Chrissy's fabulous apartment sitting on the floor in a nest of blankets talking and watching bad tv on Hulu. I got to meet Sri, see the painting that Chrissy did (the apartment is at least 6 different, fun colors), and catch up with two of my favorite girls. Eventually we got Chinese food, ate, and headed into Midtown to wait for Alex to return from Jamaica so we could go home. Kirsten was planning on riding home with us, but after Alex missed two trains back, she opted to take the Chinatown bus. While we waited, we sat in the one and only Starbucks in all of Manhattan without a public restroom. Of course. So a few coffees and waters in, we all had to pee. I actually didn't end up getting to until I was alllllllll the way back at my own house several hours later. Fantastic.

So eventually Kir got on the bus home, Chrissy headed home, and I met Alex at NY Penn where we grabbed NJ Transit back to Hamilton and then drove home from there. Thank god for Nicole and Matt because after that long day, they had dinner waiting for us at the house. I have never been so happy to see two people or sleep in my own bed. And of course it was nice to be able to go without worrying about Harper.

So all in all, an eventful weekend.

And this week things really haven't calmed down. We've already had dropping the girls off at Mom Mom's and had Harper's first puppy class. Tonight is dropping Harper off at Arlene and Rob's for his staycation with the girls while we're out of town, followed by rushing Alex to the airport to make his 8:30pm flight to las Vegas to visit the Macs courtesy of the best fiancee in the world. Then tonight I pack for a 530am meeting at Keith's house for a 6am ride to the Philadelphia airport for our flight to the NCTE convention in Orlando. Don't worry, I have my mouse ears packed!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ghetto Hamster Ball Shakers and Laps Around the Kitchen

So it turns out that crate training a new puppy is one variation on my own private hell. At 10:59pm outside of the crate, I have a sweet, loving cuddly ball of puppy fluff that likes belly rubs and nuzzles my arm to be petted.

At 11:01pm, after going into the crate willingly, settling down, and seeming perfectly fine, my sweet boy morphs into a meth addict hopped up on caffeine and speed — barking, whining, and whinging like a lunatic, digging at the crate, chewing up his bedding, etc. This would be fine if it was a short-lived thing, but unfortunately, unless he's already tired, all his puppy energy comes pouring out in a deluge of noise and fury that can last a good two hours if he's really into it.

This is my artistic interpretation of how crate training is going. I call it "Daytime Harper/Nighttime Harper."

In all seriousness, Harper is learning rather quickly and we're proud of him, but we have had a few interesting nights.

So, in an attempt to snap him out of his frenzy, I decided one night to make a makeshift "shaker." When Logan was a puppy, the "mean lady" (aka dog trainer...more on this later) suggested putting nuts, bolts, loose change, what have you into a glass or plastic jar and shaking it once at the dog to snap him out of a negative behavior. Mom used it to stop Logan from jumping up. I was thinking this would work to snap Harper out of his barking frenzy and allow him to calm himself down.

This idea of course came to me at about 2am after quite the stretch of puppy ridiculousness. In an attempt to take him by surprise with my new negative behavior stopping device, I opted to try to make a shaker with what I had available on the second floor. After a few pathetic attempts with an empty glass, a vitamin container, and other items in my bathroom, I decided to borrow the sugar glider's hamster ball. I filled it with the odds and ends left over from hanging pictures — small nails, picture hooks, etc — and a handful of loose change.

I sat on the steps in the foyer near the crate and when Harper started at it again, I shook the ball to make the noise and firmly said, "Quiet!" Scared him shitless and he stopped. Barked again. Repeat. Barked again. Repeat. It seemed to be working. I could almost hear the bewildered wheels turning. He even started to calm down. I was sitting on the steps in the dark holding my hamster ball and feeling quite smug,...until the frenzy started. He's barking, I'm shaking and "Quiet!"ing, and the best part? the hamster ball has small holes in with every shake, I'm losing nails and pennies and hangers like mad. Alex took a nail to the foot the next morning...I just acted confused and walked away quiety. "What nail? I have no idea what you' la la la."

Eventually after a while I went back to my tactic of ignoring Harper's nonsense and let him settle himself. Next on the list of things to try is water bottle spray to the face. With my luck, he'll like it.

Luckily we've learned about stuff that does help —Kongs stuffed with frozen cream cheese or peanut butter, and letting him play with other dogs until he falls over in exhaustion. I've even resorted to doing laps around the yard on the leash, and Sunday when it was too cold, I opted to put the leash on him indoors and walk in figure eights around the island and the couch. Alex thought it was sort of hysterical that I wouldn't put down my corona while I was speed walking an uncooperative puppy indoors. In retrospect, that is pretty comical.

We start puppy school with "the mean lady" which is my Mom's coworker's nickname for dog trainer, Pat Hoffman. I personally think she's pretty awesome, and can't wait to take my little guy to puppy kindergarten to get him some learnin'. Parent orientation is on 11/9, and puppy's first class is 11/16. More on how this goes in about 2 weeks!