January 27, 2009

Cats vs. Dogs

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , at 11:33 am by Andrew

The Colorado legislature is considering a new regulation that would require cat owners to license their pets, the same way dog owners currently do. One lawmaker pointed out that cats now outnumber dogs and that we should stop viewing and treating felines differently than canines.

Here, here! We have a cat, and I’m excited she’ll finally enjoy the same liberties as her peers on the other side of the pet aisle. Here’s what she and I will be working on this weekend:

Freedom of Speech: My cat doesn’t meow all that much, probably out of a fear of retribution or lack of self-esteem compared to the dogs that have long-dominated this great country. I’ll be building her confidence, but the simple fact is that it’s difficult to hear, literally and figuratively, the voice of cats over the din of dogs. To replicate the rights enjoyed by dogs, I’ve set up a speaker system so that my cat’s voice can descend upon the neighborhood at all hours of the day and night.

Eminent Domain: I’ve always admired a dogs’ ability to claim any domain as its own, eminently confident of their ability to relieve themselves wherever they see fit. Needless to say, I’m excited my cat now has that equal right. I’ll be taking her all over town, on trails and in people’s yards. I know I’ll beam with pride when her rights emanate all over everyone’s domain.

Of course, in this category, a cat’s…how would you say…freedoms are not nearly as prodigious – in size and impact – as that of a dog’s. So I’ve been feeding her horse-portions of animal by-product, grain fillers and corn meal. Soon, passers-by will stop and take notice of my cat as if she were a dog.


January 22, 2009

A Plea to the Tooth Fairy

Posted in Parenting tagged , , at 9:11 am by Andrew

Everett, our 9-year-old, lost a tooth more than two weeks ago while we were in the car. Maddeningly, by the time we arrived home, we had lost it. Everett was upset, of course, mainly because he feared he’d miss out on the Tooth Fairy. I told him not to worry…that he could write Ms. Fairy a note that might be a suitable replacement for the tooth.

And then the two weeks passed. I reminded Everett a few times, and he was eager to write it, but I guess even 9-year-olds get busy. Finally, last night, I reminded him again as we were brushing teeth before bed. His eyes widened, he spat out his froth and bolted out of the bathroom. He quickly returned with this note:

Dear Tooth Fairy,
     I am sorry to tell you, but I lost my tooth in the car. I hope that will not lower my prize.

There you have it. Short and sweet. No excess pandering. Admits his mistake, makes his plea and gets out.

And it worked. Everett received the standard take in the Dwyer house: one dollar, plus a variety of foreign coins (this time from the U.K., Hong Kong, Somalia, and Australia).

Perhaps the best news is that his tooth was saved from a life sentence of being packed into a ziplock bag or tooth-shaped plastic container and stuffed in the back of an underwear drawer. Now the lucky tooth can roam free the open carpet in our car with the herd of plastic treasures and assorted food stuff. Blue Skies Ahead, fair tooth!

January 20, 2009

Inauguration Thoughts: Home from School

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , , at 10:59 am by Andrew

I struggled with the decision of whether to keep the kids home from school today to watch this special event. On January 20, 1977, as a first-grader, I was lucky enough to be sick and home with my mother. We watched the Carter inauguration, and even as a 7-year-old, I was amazed by it all.

Pomp and circumstance too often get a bad rep, probably because we’ve crippled them by trotting them out for every imaginable occasion and non-occasion. But every ounce of pomp on inauguration day serves as a civics lesson, whether you’re 7 or 70.

That 1977 moment wasn’t lost on me, and in 1981 I convinced my parents to let me stay home from school to watch Reagan’s first inaugural.

So, with all this romanticism, you can bet I let my kids stay home, right? Surprisingly, no. For one, every classroom has a television these days, so I know they will all see some of it in school. And watching such a moment, surrounded by classmates is a civics experience of its own. Two…I’m taping it.

We’ll watch the mesmerizing coverage over a dinner of Cincinnati Chili, with an inauguration dessert of Ben & Jerry’s Imagine Whirled Peace ice cream. Cheers!

Inauguration Thoughts: D.C. Wonders

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , at 9:10 am by Andrew

Among the many, many extraordinary elements we witness during an inauguration, one that I take special note of is just how special Washington, D.C. is as a town. Every city has its charms, but Washington is unique, of course, as the nation’s capital. And I think that uniqueness is under-rated.

A city like New York is fawned over for its uniqueness, most often by its own residents. Despite New York’s remarkable gifts, its reality fails to live up to its praises.

Not true of Washington. While D.C. features far too much academic conceit, it pales in light of the historic wonder of the town. In fact, the historic power trumps all else in the nation’s capital. A visitor or even its longest-tenured resident can be routinely swept up by the power of the people and ideas that have graced the District.

I was lucky enough to spend six years in D.C., from the age of 18-24, and witness the inauguration of George H.W. Bush and the 1st inauguration of Bill Clinton. And I’m proud to say the significance was definitely not lost on my youth. It was a spectacular experience, and I regularly look back on it with extreme fondness.

January 16, 2009

Two New Words!

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , , , at 8:14 am by Andrew

I learned two new words this week. Well, not really learned. I’m still not sure what they mean, actually. But they’re new words to me, and I’m sure, in time, I’ll come to understand and love them. Perhaps they’re new to you too, so let’s begin the learning!

The first new word was uttered by none-other than President Bush. During his farewell news conference Monday, he reflected on his eight years with the White House press corps. He talked of his respect for them and then said this: “sometimes you misunderestimated me.”


Misunderestimated? I’m familiar with misunderstood, underestimate and misinterpret. I looked it up on dictionary.com, and it told me “no records found.” OK, so it must not be a traditional word. Our President is a trailblazer, and maybe he has access to new intelligence. So I turned to urbandictionary.com, the source for all things new, hip and slang.

Bingo! I found not one, but six definitions. Here are a few for “misunderestimate”:

1. A word made up by Bush. A bushism.
2. A bushism presumed to mean to seriously under estimate.
3. To fail to adequately lower expectations. Accidentally coined by Bush.

Bravo! I will never again misunderstimate you, President Bush!

Onto the second word. Incredibly, I didn’t hear this just once, but repeatedly from commentators and various media personnel. The word is billionwithab. I know…what a crazy word! I turned to dictionary.com, but found nothing. No worries, because I knew Urban Dictionary would hook me up.

Nothing. Not even the cool and hip had heard of billionwithab. So, taking a cue from the kids in the national spelling bee, I turned my attention to context. How had billionwithab been used?

Surprisingly, nearly every instance had something to do with money. For example, “Madoff bilked investors to the tune of $50 billionwithab” or “the goverment bailout will exceed $700 billionwithab.” Another commentator said “the federal deficit in ’08 is pushing $900 billionwithab.” 

I’m sensing a trend, aren’t you? Based on context, I’m thinking “billionwithab” is used to quantify things, usually money, when an accurate accounting just isn’t possible – or desirable. That’s why the term is so commonly associated with government spending…or anything remotely related to credit default swaps.

[Side note: “Credit default swap” is another great new phrase. Just yesterday, William told Everett, “I’ll credit-default-swap my Manny Ramirez card for your Albert Pujols.”]

Well, I guess this all serves as yet another reminder of the joy of lifelong learning. And I’m not misunderestimating when I say there are a billionwithab new words out there for me to learn!

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