Friday, September 30, 2011

The Best of Lunches

            “Alex, would you make a sandwich for me to take for lunch tomorrow while you’re making your own?”



            “I didn’t say I would,” he replied. “I’m still thinking about it.”

            “You’re a prince.”

            He sighed heavily and took two more pieces of bread out of the bag. “I guess.”

            I laughed as I went upstairs to bed.

            Today, lunch time rolled around and I took the brown paper bag Alex had packed for me out of my computer bag. The sandwich he had made for me was carefully wrapped in wax paper. I opened it, and smiled. The sandwich looked delicious, but it was the handwritten note tucked inside that touched my heart.

            “Mom,” it read. “Have a Great Day!  Love, Alex.” There was a smiley face under his name.

             When he was little, I would put a note in his Power Rangers lunch box so he’d know I was thinking about him while he was at school. It was a bittersweet day for me when he asked me to please stop sending my daily note; the other third graders were teasing him. I accepted that he was growing up, but I wished that my notes weren’t something that had to be left behind.

            What I didn’t know then was that 17-year-old Alex would make a sandwich for me and tuck a note into it to let me know that he was thinking about me while I was at work. I felt loved, happy, and a bit teary-eyed. Now that’s a special lunch!     

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hobbit Villages No Longer a Fantasy

            In the United States, building an environmentally friendly house will cost you a pretty penny.  “Green” building materials actually cost more to purchase than the standard materials used today. Add the difficulties of meeting building codes; you might as well give up before you start.

            In Wales, though, the situation is a bit different. Simon Dale, a 32-year-old man, was tired of paying his high monthly mortgage bill, so he decided to build his own home. He vowed that his home would be environmentally friendly and much cheaper than a conventional house.
His neighbors call it “Hobbit House.” A charming structure dug into a hill, Dale’s house is environmentally friendly and cost him only 3000 pounds to build. He and his wife and children love their new home.

Dale’s next project? Building a neighborhood of environmentally friendly homes nearby. Wouldn’t you like to live in a genuine hobbit village? It’s a fantasy come true!

Check out more pictures of the hobbit house: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2039719/Simon-Dale-How-I-built-hobbit-house-Wales-just-3-000.html

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Shameful Betrayal of the Public Trust

            I’ve been to professional conferences where the food provided by a catering company has been outstanding. Of course, the company I worked for at the time paid about $500 a day for me to attend. The lunches and snacks were a nice touch, but mostly I remember the speakers I heard, the “free” materials I received from vendors, and the useful information that helped me improve my job performance. Professional conferences can be great; I highly recommend going to them if your company will pick up the tab.

Sure, they look great! But would you pay $16 for one?
            Unfortunately, I have never been asked to attend a conference hosted by the U.S. Justice Department. I hear that they provide $16 muffins and $8 cups of coffee for their conference attendees. Is there something so special about any muffin that you would consider spending $16 for one?  I thought not.

Professional business conferences are run by companies that want to make a profit. The price to attend must be what companies are willing to spend to send employees. There must be enough attendees to make the conference worth having. Ridiculous expenses, such as paying a bakery $10 per brownie, must be avoided like the plague. In the end, the total expense of running the conference must be less than the total amount paid by the participants. What’s left over is profit. Profit is good.

In the course of 2 years, the Justice Department spent a whopping $121 million dollars on conference expenses. What’s up with that? It may come as a shock to you, but the U.S. government doesn’t run their departments as businesses are run. U.S. taxpayers pick up the entire tab for Justice Department conferences. Each and every penny of the $121 million dollars spent on $16 muffins came right out of your pocket.

Now we’ve been hearing stories just like this one for years. The government pays $20 for a hammer that costs you and me $5.99 at Home Depot. The government pays $8 for a cup of coffee that you and I can get for $3.50 at Starbucks. The government pays $16 for a muffin that costs you and me 75 cents at Publix.

The next time you eat a 75 cent muffin, consider the $15.25 extra that your government blithely spends for each muffin. You and I deserve to have that money given back to us.

But don’t expect that reimbursing taxpayers for outlandish expenses is going to happen anytime soon. President Obama thinks that more of your hard-earned money is needed by the government in order to solve the current economic crisis. I think not! I respectfully suggest that he immediately reduce spending by $60 million dollars a year by cutting out Justice Department conferences. Using taxpayer money to buy $16 muffins is a shameful betrayal of the public trust.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Will YOU be the one-in-a-trillion who gets hit by the falling space satellite today?

            “Today is a good day to die!”

            “Oh, it is not either,” I responded to my inner Klingon. I did hazard a glance upwards, though, and shuffled a little faster from the back-of-the-parking-lot spot in which I had parked my red minivan. It was entirely possible my inner Klingon had more experience with space debris than I did. Klingons traveled through space, after all, and I was completely earth-bound.

            “Scientists don’t know where the space debris will land. The chances of it falling on little Lawrenceville, Georgia out of all the places on earth it could land, have got to be pretty slim.” I tried to pacify my inner Klingon with statistics. Unfortunately, Klingons don’t DO statistics.

            “Today is a good day to die!”

            “Stop saying that!” A student walking next to me dropped back a few paces. My guess was that I’d inadvertently yelled at my Klingon out loud. Oh dear. They’d be calling me “that crazy lady who teaches writing” if I didn’t knock it off.

            I reached the building and heaved a sigh of relief as I entered. I decided to take the stairs; I didn’t trust the elevators today. No need to take a chance. My inner Klingon rolled his eyes in disgust.

            I huffed and puffed up two flights of stairs to the writing lab where I worked. If I took the stairs every day, I’d probably lose a few pounds. I resolved to do just that, assuming that an out of control NASA satellite didn’t land on campus today.

            The lab wasn’t very busy, so I contemplated the historical implications of an object the size of a big yellow school bus smashing into the surface of the earth. I decided that it was quite possible that dinosaurs had been much more advanced than we had ever thought. What if dinosaurs had sent satellites into orbit millions of years ago, only to be destroyed when one fell back to earth? One theory about the extinction of dinosaurs was that a giant meteor hit the earth and caused a big dust cloud to form, making Earth an unsuitable place for dinosaurs to live. What if it wasn’t a meteor? Enough said, right?

            I could see that it was going to be a long day.  NASA had the technology to launch a satellite the size of a Greyhound bus, but they didn’t have the technology to figure out whether it was going to destroy a piece of Toronto, Sydney, London, or Beijing? What’s wrong with that picture? My inner Klingon rubbed his hands together in delight. As for me, I just wanted to teach writing, play with my puppy, hug my sons and my husband, and live to see tomorrow.

            I suggest you watch the sky today, and have a plan to run if you see a school bus plummeting toward you from on high. Living in modern times sure is interesting, isn’t it?    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fold.it Gamers Solve AIDS Puzzle

            If you’re looking for an example of “thinking outside the box,” look no further than Foldit. Foldit is an online collaborative computer game designed by researchers at the University of Washington. Players are asked to determine the complex 3-dimensional structure of proteins that cause diseases such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

            Sounds riveting, huh? Do you have to have a PhD in Microbiology to play? Actually, the PhD’s worked on figuring out the structure of a specific protein important to AIDS research for more than a decade and failed. It only took gamers, many who hadn’t taken a biology class since high school, about three weeks to create an accurate 3-D model of the complex protein. Wow!

            If you have a talent for visualizing and manipulating 3-dimensional objects, Foldit may be just the game for you. I’m sure you’ll find it more challenging than planting virtual crops in virtual plots. (Although I must say that Farmville can be very relaxing, if that’s what you’re seeking.) You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped researchers get one step closer to finding a cure for AIDS. Now that’s a game.

Check out the game: http://fold.it/

Read more about the AIDS protein success:


Monday, September 19, 2011

Obsolete English Grammar Rules (and other grammar rules not so obsolete)

            Do you still follow these 2 rules when you write? You’ll be happy to know that they are obsolete. You should forget them!

·         Never end a sentence with a preposition.

This ridiculous rule has made writing difficult for everyone for years. Winston Churchill once wrote this awkward sentence: “This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.” It doesn’t really make sense, but at least it doesn’t end with a preposition. You may now write, “This is the kind of arrant pedantry I shall not put up with” and not be considered a grammar ignoramus.

·         Never begin a sentence with the word “but”.

Actually, “but” is a great word to use to start a sentence. It signals to the reader that you are changing direction. Feel free to use the word “but” at the start of a sentence whenever you like. But be careful not to overuse this tactic; it will make your writing choppy.

            William Safire reminds us that the following rules are still in effect, and you should follow them to the letter:

·         Never generalize.
·         Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
·         Remember to never split an infinitive.
·         Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

Now you have all the latest grammar knowledge you need in order to finish writing that Great American Novel on which you’ve been working. Hmm…that sounds wrong. lol

Check out these interesting and helpful sources:
Grothe, M. (2011). neverisms. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, p. 318.
Strunk, W. & White, E.B. (2000). Elements of Style (fourth edition). New York: Longman.

P.S. Strunk & White have also OK'd the split infinitive if it helps the flow of the sentence. Star Trek fans will be pleased to know that it is now acceptable "to boldly go where no man has gone before".

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tony Romo: Candy Coated Misery?

            Carrie Underwood emphatically denies that her hit song Cowboy Casanova was about Tony Romo. In a 2009 interview with an RTT News reporter, her exact words were: “I would never immortalize a guy that did me wrong. I would never give him that much credit.” Hmm. Really?

            I have my doubts, because I think the song fits Tony Romo perfectly. Why, you ask? Right up front, I have to tell you that I have never met the man. I have no personal interest in him whatsoever. I don’t care at all what he does in his private life, although I might advise him to refrain from ticking off someone who is liable to write an unflattering song about him. I am a Dallas Cowboys’ fan, though, and that’s where my interest lies.

Consider these lyrics:

He’s a good time cowboy Casanova; leaning up against the record machine 
He looks like a cool drink of water but he’s candy coated misery 
He’s the devil in disguise, a snake with blue eyes and he only comes out at night 
Gives you feelings that you don’t wanna fight 
You better run for your life

I see that look on your face, you ain’t hearing what I say 
So I’ll say it again ‘cause I’ve been where you’ve been and I know how it ends, you can’t get away 
Don’t even look in his eyes, he’ll tell you nothing but lies 
And you wanna believe, but you won’t be deceived if you listen to me and take my advice

Run, run, run away don’t let him mess with your mind 
He’ll tell you anything you wanna hear
He’ll break your heart it’s just a matter of time

            Now think about the Cowboys’ most recent game. It was last Sunday night against the NY Jets. For the first three quarters of the game, Tony Romo was at his best. The look in his eyes promised us victory. Did he deliver on that promise? No. What Cowboys’ fans got could definitely be called “candy coated misery”. We were pumped up, confident that our team was finally going to win a game. And after last season, we really needed it.

            We stayed loyal to Tony and the Cowboys all last year. We watched them lose game after game. We made excuses for him. Tony was distracted by Jessica Simpson and had lost his focus. Tony was injured and therefore wasn’t at the top of his game. Finally we had to resort to making excuses for the team. Tony Romo was out for the season.

            But Sunday’s last-minute loss was one broken promise too many for Cowboys’ fans. All we want is for Tony Romo to stop messing with our minds and breaking our hearts. Oh, we want to believe that he’s “the one” who’s going to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, but are we allowing ourselves to be deceived?

            I guess that remains to be seen. You won’t be seeing any pictures of me in my official NFL-gear Tony Romo Cowboys’ jersey for a while, though. I’m still a Dallas Cowboys’ fan, but I’m over Tony Romo. We need a REAL quarterback!

Read Carrie Underwood’s interview: http://www.rttnews.com/ArticleView.aspx?id=1155137

Listen to Cowboy Casanova: http://www.cmt.com/videos/carrie-underwood/437636/cowboy-casanova.jhtml 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Worst Job Interview Ever!

            In these days of high unemployment, even being asked to interview for a job is a wonderful thing. You put on your suit, check to make sure you don’t have bad breath or spinach caught in your teeth and you set off, full of hope for a bright tomorrow.

            Nothing’s going to keep you from getting this job. You have the answers to those difficult questions memorized. You can explain why you were laid off from your last job so you don’t come off sounding like a loser. You know exactly why the prospective employer should hire you, and all of those books you read and TV programs you’ve watched have helped you learn how to sell yourself. This job is yours for the taking.

            You show up early at the given address and wait in the car, breathing into a brown paper lunch bag, until the exact time arrives. You don’t want to look desperate by arriving too early, and you don’t want to be late. Being late is not good. You check the time on your phone for the 15th time and then climb out of the car.

            This interview is at the home of the employer, because the position is for a personal assistant. The home is impressively large, located in a wealthy neighborhood. It’s a far cry from the one bedroom apartment that you share with your sister. Here, the paint isn’t peeling and the grass isn’t dead. It’s a good sign that your first paycheck probably won’t bounce. Assuming you get the job, of course, which you will. You have to.

            You ring the doorbell and listen to the chimes play Dixie. Oh well. Having money doesn’t mean you have taste, and the fact that your prospective employer’s doorbell sounds like the General Lee horn doesn’t matter. However, there is no answer.

            You wait and after five minutes slowly tick by, you ring again. When there is still no answer, you resort to knocking loudly. Another five minutes go by. You don’t want to be impatient; he’s obviously not home. You go out to your car to wait, reasoning that you’ll see a car pull into the drive when he arrives. A half hour goes by, then 45 minutes. If you didn’t need this job so badly, you’d leave and figure that the employer would call you to reschedule. You decide to wait another 5 minutes.

            Your prospective employer is now an hour late.

            Finally, it occurs to you that someone might be outside and not have heard the doorbell. At this point, you figure it’s worth looking. You step out of the car, clutching the folder with your resume and references, and decide to head around to the back of the house.

            You’ve been to botanical gardens that aren’t as nice as the landscaping around this home. It must be nice to live here. You sigh wistfully. Your life would be perfect if only you could afford to live like this.

            As you round the corner into the back, you get your first glimpse of the patio. Your mouth drops open. There must be a name for the gorgeous structure between the back door and the kidney-shaped swimming pool. Your mother called the 16 by 16 concrete pad off the back door of the house you grew up in “the patio”. This was a lanai or a veranda or something else equally exotic. You decide to Google it when you get home.

            You think you can see someone sitting at a table up near the house. No wonder he didn’t hear the doorbell. You smile. He really does need a personal assistant; you really need a job. You step forward briskly, calling “hello” as you go. It surprises you that there is no answer, but the man on the phone had sounded elderly, so maybe he was a bit deaf.

            You climb the stone steps and you can see that there are two people sitting at the table. Your “hello?” now sounds like a question. There is still no answer, and you have your first inkling that something may be wrong. You step forward hesitantly, and when you’re six feet from the table, you know what it is.

            You drop your folder, and your papers spill out onto the stone floor and begin to blow away. You don’t even notice. Your attention is completely focused on the tableau in front of you. The woman, much younger than the man slumped across from her, had a hole where her heart used to be. Blood, now dried, had streamed down the front of her white Versace blouse and pooled in her lap. You swallow to keep from depositing your breakfast on the ground and approach her. Maybe she’s still alive. You notice the minute scars from an excellent facelift when you gingerly check her neck to see if she has a pulse. She’s older than you first thought. You snatch your hand away; she’s cold and there is no pulse. There’s no swallowing it now; you turn away and vomit in a nearby planter.

            You’ve been avoiding looking at the elderly man across from her. You know there’s no hope for him. The gun he’d used to blow out his brains had fallen to the ground next to his chair. His hand dangled in the breeze, swaying in a parody of life. You’re feeling creeped out and sick. You reach for the cell phone in your jacket pocket and call 911.

            As you sit on the stone steps and wait for the police, your thoughts ramble incoherently. You worry that the police will blame you, although it was clear from the setting that the man had shot his companion before killing himself. You’ve watched enough TV programs where innocent people are accused of murder to be a bit fearful. Then you wonder how long the police are going to keep you here. You want to go home and take a shower and brush your teeth. You dig through your bag for a breath mint, but it doesn’t take away the puke smell. There is an impression of the dead woman’s cold skin on the tips of your fingers where you touched her. A shiver runs down your spine.

            An hour later, you are allowed to crawl back into your car. The police now know everything about you and have promised to be in touch with you later to get a formal statement. You’re really looking forward to that. Not.

            As you drive away, a few home truths occur to you. First, you probably didn’t get the job. Dead people tend not to hire personal assistants. Then you think that it’s a good thing that you hadn’t been hired by these people a week ago; you might be dead now too. You might not have a job at the moment, but at least you are alive. The clichĂ© “Money doesn’t buy happiness” pops into your head and for the first time in your life, you understand what it means.

            Your sister meets you at your apartment door. “Did you get the job?” she asks hopefully. She wants you to be happy, and she knows you won’t be happy until you’re working again.

            “It was the worst job interview I’ve ever had,” you answer, giving her a hug and refusing to let go. “The absolute worst.”


Monday, September 12, 2011

The Facebook Trifecta

            “Do you think that too much Facebook time is unhealthy for kids?”

            “Well, duh,” my husband answered. 

“No, really,” I responded. “There’s an article in the LA Times today titled ‘Too much Facebook time may be unhealthy for kids’.”

“It MAY be unhealthy for kids? That’s rather noncommittal. What does the LA Times say is unhealthy about Facebook?”

“Apparently, spending a lot of time on Facebook leads to personality disorders, paranoia and even alcohol abuse.”

“Nothing in there about not having enough time to study or sleep? That’s what I think the problem is with habitual Facebook users. And the people who play those FB games – you know, Mafia Wars, Farmville, CafĂ© World – they’re totally addicted.”

I frowned at him. “What are you implying?”

“Feeling paranoid? I hear that’s a sign of spending too much time on Facebook.”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous. I can quit anytime I want. Besides, I’m not a kid.”

Chris bit his lip to keep from laughing. “That is true. You’re not a kid.”

I huffed. “You’re impossible! I’m going to go harvest my crops.”

“Avoidance of social situations is a personality disorder,” he called after me.

“You’re going to drive me to drink!”

“Ding, ding, ding! And there we have them all: personality disorder, paranoia and alcohol abuse! The Facebook trifecta!”

“That’s not funny,” I mumbled, taking my IPhone into the bathroom where I wouldn’t be disturbed. “At least my Facebook friends love me….”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Political Correctness: The Usual Rubbish?

            When is it politically correct to be politically incorrect? Let me take a guess…um…never?  Take for example a recent advertisement for a senior anesthesiologist in Britain. First of all, the job appears to be a nightmare that no one in his right mind would ever consider taking. A stellar example of the horrors of socialized medicine, the National Health Service (NHS) was looking for a sucker who “would be required to work with 37 consultants, 21 registrars and almost a dozen ‘senior house officers’. The successful candidate to the post, which had ‘education approval’ from the Royal College of Anaesthetists, would also be expected to help establish a teaching programme and workshops for junior doctors.” Salary wasn’t published, but you know that the NHS isn’t about to pay even a fraction of the amount a person with those qualifications should receive. And that’s not even the politically incorrect part!

            No, the politically incorrect part was the statement at the very bottom that assured all applicants that the NHS strictly followed “the usual rubbish about equal opportunities etc….” Yes, this is funny and you are allowed to smile if you don’t work for the NHS. If you work for the NHS, you are expected to put on that British stiff upper lip and denounce the advertisement as a plot by some mad person (who obviously works for the NHS) to undermine the reputation of the NHS system. Given the fact that the NHS’s sterling reputation is already pretty tarnished, this is definitely of paramount concern to the NHS top echelon. You got it – it’s a big deal requiring expensive investigations (paid for by British taxpayers) and considerable dishing out of blame. Somebody’s head will roll!

            I, for one, am weary of having to tread carefully through the complicated maze of political correctness. I salute you, unknown NHS saboteur. Thanks for making me smile.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Presidential Candidate Dog-Walking Test

            Are any of you as underwhelmed as I am with the current crop of presidential candidates? As I listen to the rhetoric, I find myself thinking that I wouldn’t hire any of the front-runners to walk my dog.  Some of them would get distracted by something shiny and wander off, leaving poor Wreck to fend for himself. Others would “forget” to return my dog to me when they were finished walking. The rest – and you know who they are – would ignore the law requiring pet owners to scoop the poop and dispose of it in the proper receptacles.  The result of this particular problem is obvious. We will end up with piles of doggy doo left where other American citizens will step in them. If you can’t trust a presidential candidate to walk your dog without leaving a mound of poop on the sidewalk, how can you trust him or her to be an effective president?

            This is not a new problem. Former presidents have left considerable quantities of poop behind them when they left the office. Nixon may have always cleaned up after Checkers, but he left Watergate doo-doo for others to clean up. Clinton’s lab Buddy left tiny piles compared to the hills left by the impeachment hearings. President Obama is working on building his own Rocky Mountains of poop with his Socialist agenda, notably Obama-care and redistribute-the-wealth economic policies. It won’t be enough for our next president to carry a small plastic grocery bag in his pocket; our next president will have to carry a shovel and a 39-gallon heavy-duty trash bag with him wherever he goes!
            We need to elect a president we can trust not only to walk the dog and clean up the new poop, but who can also clear away the smelly old poop. That’s a Herculean task! Are any of the current candidates prepared to take on this job? I haven’t seen any signs that they are.

            So who are you going to vote for in the primaries? Or perhaps more to the point, which one of the candidates would you trust to walk your dog?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Ghost in the Pipes

            For the last 13 years, I’ve simply taken it for granted that my house was haunted. The weird noises, the rattling pipes, the things that went clank in the night – all of that clearly added up to “ghost”, right? Right. What else could possibly cause those phenomena other than a ghost?

            The spirit and I got along pretty well, I thought. Yes, he (or maybe she) was noisy at times. The rattling chains consistently followed the flushing of a toilet, a washing machine cycle, or the shower being turned off. My ghost definitely had an affinity for the house plumbing. I would smile and wonder if Moaning Myrtle had left Hogwarts in order to take up residence in my house in Georgia. Sometimes, I’d even talk to her when nobody else was home.

            Yesterday, a leaky faucet in the kitchen sink brought our ghost face-to-face with the nemesis of all spirits who live in water pipes. John, a professional exorcist/plumber, replaced the leaky faucet and then tackled the ghost haunting the pipes. A few quick twists of his wrench and the spirit “decided” to move on. There was none of the fuss that other exorcisms seem to have, at least from what I’ve seen on TV. It was a bit disappointing, to tell you the truth.

John claimed that the noises had been caused by high water pressure in the pipes. Once the pressure was turned down, the noises vanished. Of course that’s what he would say. He wasn’t going to admit to being a ghostbuster, was he? By finding a scientific excuse for the noises, he avoided having to respond to skeptical clients who would simply refuse to believe that their plumbing had been haunted by a spirit. I can’t really blame him, but I wish he had been honest with me. I would have liked to have known more about the ghost who had lived with me for so many years.

            So now I live in a ghost-free zone. I know that John made the right decision when he exorcised our ghost, but I kind of miss the rattling and clanking of the pipes. Goodbye, my spirit friend. I wish you all the best.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What NOT to Name Your New Puppy

            “You have to stop calling him Little Turd!”

            “He IS a little turd,” Alex responded, giving the puppy he was holding an affectionate squeeze.

            “No, he’s not,” I insisted.

            “You just finished cleaning up a whole bunch of little turds in the dining room,” Alex pointed out.

            I eyed the puppy with disapproval. Unfortunately, he was so darn cute that I had trouble keeping my face stern. “I admit that we’re still working on the whole housebreaking thing. If you had taken him right outside when you got home from school, I wouldn’t have had to clean up anything.”

            “Don’t try to blame the little turds on me. I didn’t leave them there. Little Turd did.”

            That was undeniably true. “You still have to stop calling him Little Turd. He’s starting to think that Little Turd is his name.”

            Alex laughed, kissed the curly hair on the top of the puppy’s head, and gently put him on the floor. “No, he’s not. Watch.”

            He headed for the stairs. “Come, Wreck,” he said, gesturing to the puppy. Wreck sat down and scratched his ear with his hind paw.

            “That’s great, Alex.” I hid a smile.

            Alex muttered under his breath. The only part I could actually hear was “such a little turd.”

            The puppy’s ears perked up. He stood up and stared intently at Alex.

            “Come, Little Turd,” Alex sighed. Wreck trotted over to him and draped himself across one of Alex’s shoes. The puppy gazed up at him adoringly.

            “Now will you stop calling him Little Turd?” I asked.

            “I guess so,” Alex decided reluctantly. He bent down and picked up Wreck. “But I still think he’s a little turd.”

            Wreck happily licked Alex’s cheek. He obviously didn’t care what Alex called him as long as he could be near him.

            Apparently, I was the only one who cared. I did not want to call my dog Little Turd for the next 14 or 15 years. I would take on the challenge of retraining both the boy and his puppy. I would win this one.

            Wouldn’t I?