Archive for July, 2009

Dog Celebrates Birthday!

Madison T. DogMadison T. Dog here. I hope you missed me.

It was my birthday on July 14th. I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want anybody to go to a lot of trouble. A little trouble would have been OK, just not a lot of trouble.

I was happy to let the day pass sitting out under the tree in the back yard sniffing  things or rolling in bunny presents, but Mom and Dad had other ideas.

They took me on a car trip!

We do this every summer because it’s so much fun to be near me 24/7.   I had a pre-trip bath and everything. Daddy took out BOTH middle seats in the van so that I could have all the room I could possibly want. The van was born the same year as I was, 2001. I have gray hair; the van has rust. It also rattles. To my knowledge I do not rattle, although my toes occasionally click against the kitchen floor. I find this quite melodious. Mom does not. Dad doesn’t mind. Dad and I do lots of things to please Mom.

I don’t remember exactly where we went or how long it took to get there because I like to sleep in the car, but the picture of me and Mom’s leg was taken at the Virginia Barbeque Company which, by my calculations, could be in Virginia. Mom and Dad enjoyed eating at one of the outdoor tables as we all watched the traffic go by. (I don’t eat barbeque or other people food except ice.)

Mt Joy, PA We stayed the night at a very nice pet-friendly B & B in Mt. Joy, PA on the first night. B & B stands for Bed & Breakfast, unless you’re a dog and in which case it means Floor & Kibble. And Mom brings the kibble.

Mom and I had several very nice walks around town. It’s a very old town and the houses and shops come right up to the road. There was just enough for us. Mom thought the planters downtown were very quilty, so instead of any good pictures of me, we have pictures of the dumb planters.

Mt Joy dishesThe next day we went walking around the neighborhoods. I am standing in front of my favorite house. The people must not like washing dishes. After dinner they stick them out in the flowerbeds.  We thought that was way cool. Doesn’t my foot look nice? Mom trims my nails and all the toe fur in between. I know, TMI.

WheelAfter our walk, we continued in whatever direction we were driving because Daddy had a great big surprise for us. He likes to do that. 

Here’s a hint of what we did next, can you figure it out from the picture?

OK, I’ll tell you. We went to Lancaster County to sniff Amish things! It was fabulous! They have very large dogs, called horses which I am mostly terrified of, except they smell SO-O-O delicious. Mom said that even if their presents were in the middle of the road, they were OFF LIMITS.  We had a great time looking at farms and fields and then we took a buggy ride! (That’s where the wheel over there came from.)

Mom & Me in the Buggy!BuggyRide2

Mom and Dad saw lots of interesting things out the windows of the buggy. Mostly I slept. We went down some very busy streets and out in the country too. Our Amish driver told us about the area and we saw people working in the fields, laundry hanging on the line, things growing, a lady pushing a lawnmower, and other fun things. If you ever get a chance to take a buggy ride, you should do it. I give it four paws up.

After Lancaster (pronounced LANG-kuh-ster) County we hopped back in the car for more excitement, like battlefields and colonial settlements. Those were all in Virginia. I am allowed in National Parks as long as I don’t go in any buildings and stay on my leash. Well, not ON it literally. My leash just has to be attached at one end to my collar and at the other end to somebody who wants to walk me around. That would be everybody. I make friends easily.

Hotel Monaco in Washington D.C.Our next stop was Washington, D.C. and I met more dogs there than any place else. We stayed at the very swanky Hotel Monaco a few blocks from the Mall. (Not the shopping kind, the other kind with grass and big buildings and monuments.) When I arrived they gave me a paper sack with my name on it, which I carried inside myself. there was a water bottle, pretty green poop bags (hint, hint), treats, and a toy in the bag. The bell person brought up a tray just for me with a food dish on it. He put it right on the floor. (Please don’t tell them I had a little drink out of the ice bucket; I just couldn’t wait. Mom washed it out real good.)  I also got my own doggie newspaper with my name on it.

They wrote my name on the digital picture frame in the lobby and took my picture so the humans knew the names of all the dogs staying at the hotel while we were there. They even put a food dish and a water dish just for dogs and I was invited to have whatever I wanted, whenever. I was also invited to Happy Hour. Everyone fell in love with me. Here’s Mom and I on the red carpet at Hotel Monaco. We traded off who carried the umbrella and who carried the water bottle. (It was really sunny and hot. You’re supposed to stand under the umbrella and drink the water.)

The White House

Here we are in front of the White House!


The CapitolWashington MonumentHere we are stopped for a second in the middle of the crosswalk so you could see the Capitol Building behind us. See how long my tongue is? It was really hot outside. After I had a drink of water Mom poured some on my head to cool me off. (That was pre-crosswalk.)
We walked over to the Washington Monument and it is very tall, especially if you don’t clear 3 feet with your ears perked. 
We also looked for the Madison Monument, for obvious reasons. No luck.
Hope you’re having as good a time as I am this summer.
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(By the way, she Twitters too. And she’s on FaceBook, whatever that is.)

July 31, 2009 at 4:38 pm 21 comments

Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilt Challenge

PPQs on display
Jannett Caldwell and her daughter Sandy Powers came up with one of the best ways I’ve seen to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. Not only did they challenge their guild, the Ladybug Quilters of Newark, DE, to create Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts for us, but at the guild meeting I attended last month they displayed the quilts pinned to a clothesline at the front of the room. They didn’t stop there. They wanted to award a Viewer’s Choice for the best quilt donated. Guild members voted with dollar bills (and some higher denominations too)!

Ballot BagsYou’ll notice that there is a small paper lunch sack clothes pinned behind each Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilt. Guild members stuffed dollar bills into these clever “ballot bags” and raised a tidy sum for the AAQI.

Thank you for the beautiful quilts (some not shown in photograph),  for the additional funds you raised for Alzheimer’s research, and for this great idea!

July 20, 2009 at 6:11 am 9 comments

Airline Security: I’ve Got A Plan, Game Show!

TSA I hear a lot of complaints about the TSA checkpoints at airports, but I figure they must know more than I do about what is a terrorist threat and what isn’t, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. I fly a lot, and while it’s an annoyance to reconfigure my carry-on and my clothing to pass through security with the least amount of hassle, I’m happy to do it. I figure they’ve got my back.

Besides, I have a plan. And I’m harmless.

Before I get to “security” I take my phone out of my pocket and put it in my purse. My belt comes off and goes in there too. Ditto with a scarf and any lightweight clothing (fleece, sweater, etc.)  I might happen to have on because by time you get to the metal detector you’re only allowed to wear stuff they can’t ask you to take off in public.

Removing as much as you can before you ever get to “the line” is a stress reducer. I locate my plastic bag and throw in my lipstick, the one thing I carry on that qualifies as a liquid or gel. (Actually, I’ve heard lipstick doesn’t count as anything potentially dangerous any more, so I suppose I could actually leave that in my purse. But I am NOT tempting fate for a tube of Cherry Blush that I’ve been toting around for 18 months past the time they stopped making that shade. Talk about irreplaceable!)

Boarding pass and driver’s license in hand,  I approach the podium. Smile. This has to be the worst job in all of Screenerdom. Talk about boring. The only perk is a chair, and the nifty light they get to shine on your license. Fifty per cent of the person’s job is redundant. They have to check the boarding pass against the driver’s license and  then somebody else farther down the line has to check the boarding pass AGAIN.

Immediately after the podium, my drivers license and my boarding pass go in my back pocket. I’ve accidentally sent the boarding pass through on the conveyor belt far too many times to make that mistake again. Just so you know, this really gums up the works because they can’t let you pass through the metal detector without a boarding pass. And you cant’ retrieve the boarding pass yourself because it’s already on the “other side.”  Somebody has to get it for you and for that to happen you need to communicate its location in a loud voice the screener 25 feet away while everybody is listening to how stupid you are because you can’t quite remember where exactly you put it.

So tuck it in your pants pocket. Handy, but not in your hands, as you’ll need those for other things. Here are my other tips:

Know Your Bin Requirements
I’m a 3 for most seasons and a 4 during the winter. I need one for my laptop, one for my digital projector, and finally one for my shoes, lipstick, and light jacket. If I have to wear a coat, it covers the shoes/plastic lipstick bag, and that’s not permissible, so I up my bin usage by one. In some places that want to look at digital cameras and camcorders, add another bin.

Define Your Goals
As I see it you’ve got three major goals and don’t get your heart set on achieving all three.
1. The least amount of time spent in your stocking feet walking on a surface that has already seen a billion toes (socked and barefooted) before your tootsies ever came out of your shoes.
2. The fastest re-assembly of your personal possessions into the jig saw puzzle that is your luggage.
3. The security of your high value items strewn amongst total strangers from one end of the security line to the other while you are otherwise distracted. I have seen people mistake someone else’s laptop for theirs, that’s why I put that lovely scratch on mine by dropping it against a cement wall. (Stickers with your name on it work too.)

Personally, while the floor thing really creeps me out, I concentrate on the fastest re-assembly which actually minimizes “floor time” and decreases the time my valuables are up for grabs.

Establish the Order of Extraction
I’ve got a rollerbag, a large computer bag/purse that sits on top of it. And, I’ve got 5 things to locate, remove, and throw in my bins while the line and me are moving. This means I have to roll my bag as I dig around for things and remove them while pushing my 3 bins along, cafeteria style. Here’s my preferred order of extraction:  coat, lipstick, laptop, projector, and finally shoes.

Establish Bin Order
Here’s where my plan shines. Remember that the first IN the x-ray machine is the first OUT. Also remember that the longer your stuff stays in the bins on the other side the greater the chance that they could fall off the conveyor belt, the more real estate you have to control, and the more other passengers hate you for taking so much time to put all your stuff away. Bin order trumps all. And remember, bin order has nothing to do with order of extraction. Here’s how I do it:
Step #1: Coat and lipstick in 1st bin.
Step #2: Projector and laptop in the next two bins.
Step #3: Remove purse from top of rollerbag and SEND THE ROLLER BAG THROUGH FIRST! This really pays off at the other end as I have something to set my purse/computer bag on to re-assemble.
Step #4: Purse goes next. Just hold back the bins and ignore the eye-rolling of the other passengers.
Step #5: Whip off your shoes at the very last minute and throw them in the first bin with the lipstick and coat and send those puppies through.
Step #6: While standing on your tiptoes, try to either place your stocking feet somewhere nobody else has ever thought of standing or dance around as if  the floor were hot coals while you push through the last two bins (laptop and projector).
Step #7: Grab your boarding pass from your back pocket and, when permission is given, smile and boogie through the metal detector.

Reconbobulation AreaOn the Other Side
Heave the rollerbag off the conveyor belt and throw it on ground. Jam the purse on top. Grab your shoes and try not to think of where your feet have been as you wedge your feet back into them and put your jacket back on. Throw the lipstick anywhere in the purse; you’ll find it later. Snag the laptop and projector and cram those into your purse and roll your way out of security to find your phone and belt. With practice the entire process can resemble a ballet, or controlled chaos.

This picture was taken at the Milwaukee airport by Norma B. of West Bend, WI who carries a camera and knows how to use it! (Well done, Norma!)

Here’s the really cool part. Would this not make the best reality/game show? Contestants compete in teams, with each player going through security with a different set of liabilities, selected at random from common categories: Clothing, Electronics, Luggage,  Questionable Materials, and a Wild Card.

OK, so let’s say the first contestant has to wear a wet suit and carry a camcorder, backpack, insulin supplies, and a screaming baby. Pitted against them is the second contestant wearing a hooded down parka and snow shoes, carrying a CB radio, steamer trunk, breast milk, and crutches. And so it goes. Each foray through security is timed. The team with the best all-around time actually gets to fly to some cool vacation spot.

Or, this could be played like the “reality” talent shows that spans an entire television season with the same contestants each week receiving increasingly more difficult challenges to carry through security while celebrity judges eliminate the less organized at the end of each show. Taping would take place in a different airport each week  to take advantage of the quaint regional rule interpretations.  Losers have to walk home. The Bonus Round could be played in another country where the security people don’t speak English!

Remember, you heard it here first.

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PS: Just ordered a TSA-freindly bag. Now my laptop can stay in the bag during screening. That’s one less bin!  Plus it’s on sale and then I used a coupon code for 50% off of the sale price! Hurry! Offer ends Friday (7-17-09) at midnight. For details, see my “other” blog: Find A Quilt Teacher

July 15, 2009 at 8:04 am 57 comments

Ami Simms

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