Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New Contributor

Just a quick post to announce an additional contributor to the "Red Ink Comments" blog. His pen name is "tells it like it is". As a personal friend of mine I can vouch that this appellation is completely accurate since he always says exactly what he is thinking regardless of the consequences.

"tells it like it is" has made his first post today entitled "All About Excuses..." in which he, as usual, doesn't mince words. If you enjoy strong opinions strongly worded, read it now.

I hope to add more contributors as time goes on to reflect a range of personal opinions on topics large and small. I hope you will drop by regularly.

Dan Longiaru

Moderator and Contributor.

Garbage Nazi

The home life of the single person bears very little resemblance to that of the married, the co-habitating or the single parent with kid(s). For one thing, we singles are completely free to institute house rules which are alway obeyed because the author is only complying with his own rules. This freedom allows for a creativity and originality in developing procedures which those whose experience is limited to multiple-person households find hard to understand, let alone obey.

In my home I have a very simple and very common sense rule for kitchen garbage. The rule is thus:


Now what could be more straightforward than that, I ask you? Has there ever been a rule whose reason for being is more self-evident? Yet it is amazing how many of my friends, relatives and other guests in my home have problems conforming with it.

I have learned a great deal about the way the human mind works from observing people's reactions to this stricture and I find that they generally fall into one of three categories.

The first category includes those who immediately grasp the rule and comply with it unswervingly forever after. Those in this group are a distinct minority. I'm sure the motivation for their compliance varies with some perceiving the advantages of my system and others preferring not to argue with a madman. Either cause is equally acceptable to me as long as the rule is obeyed.

The second category consists of those who are genuinely perplexed by the rule. These need repeated admonishments to comply not because of any innate stubbornness but rather because they have simply never given much thought to the science of garbage-handling before. I tend to be patient with this sort of non-compliance since my experience has been that, once they grasp the fabulously positive benefits of this garbage-segregation regimen, they not only become enthusiastic adherents in my home, but adapt it in theirs and often become proselytizers seeking to spread their enlightenment far and wide.

The third and, unfortunately, the largest group are the willfully non-compliant who display their dysfunctional relationship with authority in reprehensibly passive-aggressive ways. While ostensibly adhering to the rule, they will question its purpose even though it has been explained to them a hundred times.

The challenge to the rule will generally unfold as follows:

The "closet revolutionary" will have an item for disposal in his hands (this type is overwhelmingly male) and will generally stand in front of the kitchen garbage can staring at it pensively for however long it takes to get my attention. Although tempted to ignore this cue for me to inquire into their dilemma, since I know what's about to happen, I will invariably respond simply to get the inevitable over with.

"Something wrong?"

"Well, I was just wondering..."


"Now promise you won't get pissed."

"I promise."

"I mean it's not that I want to be difficult, but you have to admit that The Garbage Rule is rather vague."

"It's not vague in the least, at least to those who genuinely want to comply with it."

"See, you're getting pissed."

"Not pissed, just worn out from incessant carping. So what's your question?"

"Well... is this wet or dry garbage?"

Here we go again!! These Rebels Without a Cause will never give up. Having been beaten back innumerable times in their frontal assaults on the rule itself, they eventually switch to guerilla tactics that involve undermining the rule by demonstrating that it is unenforceable.

"Now I know this may be too complicated for you to grasp, but the key distinction that you need to make is whether the item in question is actually wet or dry."

The defense attorney cleverly ignores my obvious sarcasm.

"It's wet, of course."

"Correct. And where are we supposed to throw wet garbage?"

"In the bag under the sink."

"Correct again. So what's the problem?"

"Well... you said the reason you separate wet from dry is to prevent garbage from stinking up the kitchen.

"Yes, so??"

"So.... this is a paper towel with just some plain water on it. It's never going to smell so why can't it go with the dry garbage?"

"First of all, the placement of wet garbage in the dry garbage might wet some of the dry residue in the can and cause it to stink. However, even if I conceded that the wet towel would not cause the dry garbage to smell, what's the problem with placing the wet towel in the wet garbage just to keep things simple?"

"Because if there's no reason to put it in the wet garbage, why have the rule at all?"

"OK, how's this for justification: it's MY house, MY kitchen and MY garbage receptacles!!!"

"See, you ARE pissed."

One can never win with a personality disorder of this type. I blame the educational reforms of the 1960s and 1970s which de-emphasized rote memorization of the rules of an academic discipline. Instead students were encouraged to explore why the rules exist in the first place. A wit once noted that people educated in this way aren't able to get the right answer but they can explain how they got it wrong. In kitchens, as in math, one should first master the rules before questioning their legitimacy. The alternative is to almost pass out from the stink emerging from the typical kitchen garbage can whenever it's opened.


All About Excuses... (By Guest Contributor "tells it like it is")

So tell me why is it that people feel the government is at fault for the way the economy is? Oh that's right its the banks fault!
Well to tell you the truth it's your faults! the government or the banks didn't tell you to take out home loans for more then what you can afford or to live beyond your income per month did they? so who's fault is it now? doesn't any one look out for them self's anymore?

I haven't seen any one on the news saying "Well I did this to my self for living beyond what I make so here's the keys to the house and SUV I'm going to live in a box" Oh I know it's the banks fault for tricking them into buying a 400,000 home when they both only make enough to own a 100,000 home.

Is this how it went, your at the bank with your spouse and the bank person said, well you and your spouse only make 42,000 a year combined, but no fear we can make it look like your making 55,000 a year and get you in to that 400,000 house you've always wanted just sign on the dotted line please, so now your in debt 6 feet over your eye balls and paying back a monthly mortgage payment that is just about what you bring home and when it all comes crashing down it's the government or the banks fault?

Its funny how people look at life as if it only revolves around them and not how it effects the big picture. You people F'ed up the economy not the system.
You only make so much per month and still have the balls to max out your credit cards and when you can't pay your bills it's time to blame the government or the banks for telling you in advance that if your late on your payments we're going to charge you allot more in interest or take your stuff!
It's ok you can cut up your flat screen you paid 3 times as much as it's worth cause you didn't save up for it and bought it on CREDIT and feed that to your kids when they get hungry.
Oh yeah don't let me forget that not only did you buy a house you can't really afford you went out and bought a 40,000 SUV cause you think you have the right to own stuff you can't afford.
If you can't pay for everything but the house and car in cash then maybe you shouldn't HAVE IT !!!

In this life you only deserve what your can afford! there is no such thing as "you have the right" to anything other then to be free so don't F it up for the rest of us cause you think you have the right to things your can't afford.

What kind of roll model are we if this is how we look at life? it seams a good part of society lives for right now and not for tomorrow and hides behind "it's not my fault" and or "I have the right"
I would just like to see people taking responsibility for there lives and stop blaming the government! they have enough to worry about with out having to manage your personal finances.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

families r 4 understanding

Those who know me know I'm not a family-oriented kind of person. Actually, I'm kind of like the monster in that classic Bugs Bunny takeoff on horror movies: the only thing that scares me are people. Particularly frightening are those who share the same gene pool with me. I am always fearful that relations will expect a reprieve from my usual tendency to treat everyone with an equal indifference. I have never accepted the received wisdom that demands special treatment for family members. (I guess that's why I'm still single and am happy that way.)

I am not a complete misanthrope however. I freely acknowledge that sometimes only a relative possesses the commonality of nature and nurture to be capable of reading my mind. A cousin of mine is a case in point. We seem to share the same brain when it comes to humor. I can occasionally be sardonic and satiric in expressing my views. (OK, I'm ALWAYS sardonic and sarcastic.) My cousin not only complements these tendencies, he anticipates them as well. It can seem as if we're working from a written script, so perfect is the timing and interaction between us. In fact, it's all spontaneous.

For example, he and I recently exchanged text messages concerning tickets I had available to a Yankee game. Typical of our mutually shared enjoyment of going on endlessly about nothing, this exchange went on for several days when two or three messages would normally have exhausted the topic. The result was a comic bit in which Abbott and Costello meet Monty Python's Flying Circus.

I now present, with minimal editing, this interchange. Some of it may seem incomprehensible but that is precisely the point of why I offer it here. Sometimes only family truly understands us, especially if our thoughts are just a little weird.

Dan: May have tickets to Yankees game on 8/9. Wanna go?

Cousin: hello cousin dan, that depends on whether or not the yankees are going to win

Dan: They will lose as they always do when I attend. Hopefully it won't be a rout.

Cousin: i need a full weather report and description of snacks please

Dan: Hurricane conditions. Bread and water.

Cousin: what is the point spread ?

Dan: 300000 to 1

Cousin: how much is a cup of beer and how far measured in linear feet is the nearest restroom from our seats

Dan: $8 million. 1 parsec. U do the math.

Cousin: is there any time travel or shifting of our molecular structure involved?

Dan: Yes.

Cousin: jumping jehosophat

Cousin: is there any thinking involved, i don't want to have to let loose a thought bomb in the ninth

Dan: None whatsoever. Wud I bring u to anything that required thinking? Give me some credit.

Cousin: I wasn't thinking

Dan: LOL

Cousin: will we need to bring oxygen due to the extreme elevation of the seats

Dan: Re O2: da bronx ran outta O2 in 79. So it depends on how long u can hold ur breath.

Cousin: will george steinbrenner resurrect himself for this game ?

Dan: God I certainly hope not!

Cousin: perhaps that's what the jews had in mind when they spoke of the second coming...

Dan: Steinbrenner the Messiah? That's mashuggah! (sic)

Cousin: What are the exact time coordinates?

Dan: 2:05 PM EDT LET SSST MWQ1 U1 (editor's note: LET = Local Earth Time; SSST = Standard Solar System Time; MWQ1 = Milky Way Quadrant 1; First Universe.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Guilty Pleasures of a Consignment Shop

I am moving soon to a new condo in South Florida and I need to buy some furniture. As most people who live on the Gold Coast do in such a situation, I decided to check out some consignment shops. These establishments are hardly unique to SoFL but I firmly believe there are more of them per-capita than in any other region of the country. The reason for this is simple and somewhat depressing: the Gold Coast is Death's waiting room.

As one of the undisputed retirement meccas of the nation, Florida has more than its fair-share of people in their "declining years". Obviously this means a plethora of homes full of clothing and furniture that eventually become unneeded by their owners. Much of these items wind up on the selling floor of consignment shops

A few minutes drive from my house is a truly gigantic example of this business. It is stuffed to the gills with... stuff. Bedroom sets, dining tables, living room ensembles, paintings in every style and in every conceivable kind of frame, vases, clocks, sculptures, garden gnomes, desks, lamps, books, magazines, jewelry; all of it sitting rather forlornly far from their owners' intended location.

Not long after I stepped into this surreal environment I began to experience a strangely enjoyable sadness. Towards the back of the store, between an enormous Louis the XVth bed complete with royal blue hangings and a Swedish Modern liquor cabinet, was a wall unit that reeked of particle board and faux Mediteranean pretensions. Upon its terminally 1970s shelves were a series of neatly stacked boxes that I recognized immediately.

"Reel-to-reel tapes!! I haven't seen one of these in decades."

I pulled one of the boxes and opened it up.


Inside was a 7 inch Sony reel in mint condition. Taped to the interior back of the box was an index card with neat writing on it listing the items that had been recorded onto the reel. It listed a broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, the soundtrack from some television program and a recording of a Broadway show LP (that's a vinyl record for those born after 1980).

Home recording in the 1960s and 70s was an expensive and onerous procedure largely pursued by those who were once called "audiophiles". Undoubtedly, the man who had owned this collection (there is no possibility, given the time period and its social mores, that it belonged to a woman) had the interest, time and resources to pursue this hobby with seriousness and dedication. So why did he give them up? I doubt that he surrendered the collection because he bought an iPod. No, I'm afraid the decision wasn't his but rather his next of kin.

I wondered, as I replaced the box, whether he ever thought his precious collection would wind up lost amid the detritus of thousands of other anonymous donors when he was painstakingly cataloging his collection? And if he had, would he have continued doing so?

I continued walking amongst the cacophony of items, every one of them with a prominent price tag dangling from it, wondering about the lives and eventual fate of those who had once owned them. I could no longer look at them as commodities for sale; all I could see were incoherent fragments of people's lives. Most poignant were the enormous and expensive bedroom and living room sets, once proudly displayed as symbols of wealth and success, now too out-of-fashion to be of interest to those with houses large enough to hold them, and too massive for the modest homes of those looking for a bargain.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself, lost in delicious thoughts of other people's mortality and the ultimate futility of their energy and effort, when The Lecture started. Whenever I'm behaving badly and enjoying it too much this voice starts up in my head. Freud would say that's my superego talking. It was called my conscience in a more innocent age. I prefer to call it Mr. Nanny.

Dan, you know what you're doing right now, don't you?

I'm enjoying myself, that's what I'm doing.

Don't be coy. You're having a heck of an attack of schadenfreude.

Well, how bad could that be? Any time a German word is needed to describe a state of being, we're probably talking about something very profound.

I'm afraid not. You only use it to impress other people with your erudition. It's meaning is hardly complimentary since it describes the pleasure someone gets from the misfortunes of others.

Oh, lighten up already!! I'm not really enjoying myself. I'm just kinda feeling good because this store reminds me that everyone winds up in the same place eventually, regardless of their lot in life. It just reassuring to know I'm not the only one.

That's still schadenfreude!!

So what? You know why the Germans came up with a name for this feeling? Because so many people have it. I'm in great company.

Just because it's common doesn't make it right. Isn't there a more enlightened moral you could learn from this place?

Of course.

Like what?

Like changing my will to force my heirs to hold onto my stuff.

I don't think you get my point.

Or at least making them bury it with me like the Egyptians did.

What about realizing that having things isn't quite as important as you think it is?

Are you nuts?? The only mistake these losers made was in not buying enough. Their things got so old nobody wanted them anymore. The moral is redecorate every five years.

You might not feel this way when your turn actually comes. Then you might have some regrets that you didn't value your time more than the process of acquisition.

What are you, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come??? You know, I'd have a schadenfreude orgasm if some misfortune would befall you at this moment, so why don't you just shut up for awhile?

I forced myself to concentrate on some truly horrendous imitation Baroque paintings nearby which terminated The Lecture, at least for the moment.

Is it really schadenfreude when you don't know whose troubles you're enjoying and when you might be making up the misfortune in the first place?

Doubts about my innocence crowded in on me. Mr. Nanny had clearly done his job: I immediately vowed to reform as I resumed strolling around the store.

Then I came upon a prominently displayed desk of enormous size that clearly had graced the Executive Suite of some medium sized company in the 1940s.

One day he's the boss of 400 employees. The next he's getting his veins filled with formaldehyde. Easy come, easy go.

God I love shopping!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Quest for the Ebbets Field Flagpole

"OK, which of us is getting out to take the pictures?"

"Well, since you're driving, I'll do it."

My friend got out of my car and strolled towards the Ebbets Field Apartments, a private apartment complex on the site of the legendary ball park.

We were a few blocks east of Prospect Park in Brooklyn in what I used to euphemistically refer to as a "questionable" neighborhood. It was a scorcher of a day in July and there were only a few people around, all of them dark-skinned. In the bad old days of NYC's past I would have been very nervous watching him get out of the car in such a community with a Nikon camera and then start taking pictures of a plaque that provided the only formal tribute to the site's illustrious history.

Today my old urban reflexes were largely absent due to many recent experiences that have taught me how few truly unsafe places there are in New York these days. There is no doubt that some of this is due to a sea-change in the city itself. Activist and interventionist policing, heroic efforts to stabilize the housing stock of the outer boroughs, a huge influx of motivated immigrants and the terrible events of 9/11; all helped create an environment where the racial and social polarities of my youth have largely been extinguished. I find the City today to largely be full of people who consciously appreciate what their metropolis offers them and respect their neighbors for also choosing to be there.

But I'm sure my positive experiences are also due to the fact that two middled-aged, greying white guys running around the distant and unfamous corners of the city while investigating forgotten history is a sight that definitely reeks of eccentricity, if not outright lunacy, and onlookers may simply not know what to make of us.

A very familiar look of perplexity crossed the face of a young mother with a stroller as my friend passed her, focusing the camera to get the shot of the plaque we had come so far to see. He and I love to deride the "train nuts" who frequently accompany us on rail fan trips as they drool over the ancient equipment used on such occasions. As painful as it may be for me to admit, we might be engendering the same response in others as we execute our "field trips".

Today's itinerary included searching for any remains of the long-lost and lamented ball park enshrined in the memory of every Brooklynite born before WWII. There is precious little still extant. When it was torn down in 1960, replaced by the aforesaid apartment complex, some seats went to Hart Island for an inmate ball field, some lights reused to illuminate Downing Stadium (now also demolished) on Randall's Island, and the partly smashed cornerstone went to the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown. The seats have long since disintegrated from exposure and lack of maintenance and I'm not really sure what happened to the lights.

A bunch of memorabilia is still in private hands; the result of an auction held on April 23, 1960 for the benefit of the Little League in the then still-standing stadium rotunda.

And, oh yes, there is a flagpole.... I think.

After walking over to the front of the apartment complex's garage and photographing the large sign which broadcast the development's name, my friend returned to my car to show me the prizes we had obtained from this expedition.

As I previewed the pictures in his camera's rear screen he pulled some papers out of his backpack.

"So do you think we can check out the flagpole?"

"What flagpole?"

"The one that used to be in Ebbets Field. I did some research and I think I've figured out where it is.""

A half-hour later and we were staring at our destination in disappointment. There was a flagpole in front of the American Legion hall but it couldn't have been the one from Ebbets Field. An artifact of such importance to Brooklyn would at least have a plaque or two commemorating it. This one sat unadorned in the middle of a lawn.

We both jumped onto the Internet. A mere 20 minutes later we had definitively determined that the flagpole was sitting either in front of the Canarsie Casket Company, a VFW Hall or a church somewhere on Utica Avenue.

We headed south on Utica until its southern terminus with no sign of our goal.

Where's the friggin' flagpole??

Just like an Agatha Christie novel where Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple trade theories concerning the murderer's identity with a denizen of Scotland Yard, we took turns trying out scenarios that might explain the disappearance.

"I think the casket company must've sold it when they went out of business. Probably a secret deal to a wealthy collector who wanted to remain anonymous. I bet it's sitting in some Emir's palace in Abu Dhabi or somethin'."

"How'd they remove it without anyone noticing?"

"He's an Emir! He's got tons of money. They just pretended they were taking it away to restore it and then never brought it back."

"That's ridiculous. I know what happened: some fanatical Dodgers fans decided to rescue it when the casket place closed. So they dress up like commandos in blackface and black outfits, they go there in the middle of the night and use equipment invented by the CIA to remove it without attracting any attention."

"OK, if you're so smart, where is it now?"

"In an abandoned subway station of course! No one would ever find it there."

"Nah, it's in the Emir's front yard."

Actually, the abandoned subway station theory was pretty clever but I wasn't going to admit that. I mean, my reputation as an authority on NYC trivia is at stake!!

We continued to debate our respective theories as we drove back north along Utica Avenue retracing our steps. Then we passed a church that looked like a recent occupant of an older commercial structure.

"Hey, I wonder..."

I turned around and double-parked in front of the house of worship. My friend took one look at the building and grabbed his phone.

"That's it! That's the same building in the background of this photo of the flagpole. See??"

He handed me the phone. Sure enough, the pediment of the structure I was parked next to looked identical to the top of the building behind the flagpole.

"OK, but where's the flagpole???"

I looked around for any clue that the flagpole had once stood in this location.

"Hey maybe those guys'll know somethin'."

I pulled up a car length or two until we were parallel to a parked car with two formally dressed young men in the front seats. I rolled down the passenger window and shouted over to them.

"Excuse me, but do you happen to know if this building was ever used by a casket company?"

The two men looked at each other with that familiar "look at the crazy white guys" expression.

"I wouldn't know. We're with the Church."

That much I already figured.

"Well, do you know if it was ever used as a VFW hall?"

Their faces brightened and they nodded vigorously.

"That's what it was when we bought the building."

"Was there ever a flagpole in front of it?"

More puzzlement.

"I don't think so."

What does that mean? How could you not recall a flagpole?

"Well, thanks anyway, you've cleared up part of the mystery."

We then resumed our northwards trek. The streets of Brooklyn were packed and we moved at a glacial pace which gave us plenty of time to put the pieces together.

"I think all three places we've been looking for were all in one building. First it was a coffin maker; then a VFW and then a church!"

"But how could those guys not have noticed a flagpole sitting out front?"

"I told ya: the Dodger fan commandos removed it so secretly that everyone just forgot it had ever been there!!"

"Oh please, you and your commandos!!!"

A few days later the current whereabouts of the flagpole was finally revealed - maybe. My friend did some more research and found an article in the New York Times which stated definitively that the flagpole had been moved to the grounds of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

"But why was it moved there?"

"The commandos got worried that the flagpole wasn't safe in the abandoned subway station so they reassembled it in the cover of darkness at Borough Hall."

"No, the Feds found out that the Emir had it and insisted it be returned otherwise we would invade to reclaim it. The Emir relented once the Feds agreed not to disclose that he had ever had it."

"Oh please, you and your Emir!!"

But here's the weirdest part of this story. Although we both saw the NY Times article definitively mentioning the flagpole's current whereabouts, neither of us have been able to find the reference since!!! So I can state definitively that I still have no idea where that flagpole really is.

I'm currently pricing two round-trip tickets to Abu Dhabi.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sam and Frodo - or the Case of the Missing Brains

Meet my permanent boarders, Sam and Frodo. That's Sam on the left and Frodo on the right. They'll be 2 years old in September and I adopted both males from one litter in December, 2008. They are, without question, the most even-tempered cats I've ever come across. They have never lifted a paw in anger at anyone. (That doesn't mean they didn't leave my hands and forearms full of scabby lines while "playing" when they were kittens.)

Here's an example of how non-aggressive they are. Since I spend a lot of time far from my home in New York, they frequently stay with my friends Robb and Jo. They live in a two family with Robb's parents who have three... no, four.... wait, maybe it's up to twenty now.... cats of their own. (Robb's Mom and Dad have very big hearts and they can never say no to a homeless feline that decides to take up residence with them.) Naturally, some of these residents resent the intrusion posed by Sam and Frodo. On one occasion, while the Brothers Longiaru were peering out a screened window, one of the cats from next door approached on the outside and started hissing at the boys. Sam and Frodo kept looking at each other and then back at their challenger as if they couldn't figure out what the other cat was trying to do or what the proper response should be. So they just sat there, bemused.

Although they were clearly given an extra helping of heart, they were a little short-changed when issued brains. They have always yearned to roam free on my 1 acre Ponderosa. Thus every time I head for the door on my screened patio, they are always somehow right there hoping to slip out for a quick jaunt in the fresh air. If I wish to enter, all I need do is scratch the screening outside of the door frame where they can't see the source of the noise. When they run over to investigate, I rush inside and close the door. I've literally done this hundreds of times, sometimes several times a day, and they are still falling for it.

They also have a fascination for the interior of my dishwasher which remains undimmed although they have investigated it 8452 times to date. Every time I open it to add a dish or two they have to put at least their front paws on the door and poke their head around the spokes with an expression of wonderment on their faces. Once in awhile they used to jump in completely to really get a close look. Luckily they've gotten big enough where fitting their legs around the spokes is no longer an option.

But the award for all-time stupid behavior goes to Sam. About a month ago late one evening I started to hear a continuous and blood-curdling shrieking emerging from somewhere near my house. It was the sound of an animal in great distress and it went on so long that I finally hauled out my flashlight and headed for the patio door to investigate. Once on my patio I could also hear the sounds of a coyote pack behind the continuing screaming of whatever animal was nearby. The most likely scenario for all the noise was that a coyote had gotten a small animal (like a cat perhaps?) and was tearing it to pieces or whatever coyotes do to their prey. I turned on my flashlight and pulled open the door, my eyes trying to spot the source of the trouble. And then Sam ran out between my legs!!!

"Sam!! SAM!!!! Get your ass back here IMMEDIATELY!! Do you want to be coyote dessert?? SAM??? GODDAMN IT!!!!"

And where did Sam head? Right to my decorative and expensive plantings around the house where he began happily munching away. He decided to risk it all for some greens!!!! Naturally I ran after him but just as I would reach for him he would scoot a dozen or so feet further down the plantings and resume his snack. This was repeated I don't know how many times as we slowly worked our way around the entire house. And all the while the shrieks "in extremis" continued unabated. Finally, when Sam had obviously had enough to rid himself of any and all hair in his digestive system, he deigned to let me grab him and throw him back on the patio.

Now that I think about it, maybe Sam wasn't so dumb. He never left the safety of the perimeter of my house during his entire excursion. And of course, my continuous proximity, enforced by the presence of predators, insured no coyote would come within 100 feet of him. Hmmmm... if he had thought this out in the split second he had to make his escape then maybe I'm the one whose a little short in the brains department.

I mean, what if they're only pretending to be dumb so I'll wait on them hand and foot on the assumption that they're too incompetent to be left to their own devices?

My God, I'm being manipulated by my own pets!!!