Archive for the Shouldn’t have happened Category

The Naked Canadian Guys

Posted in Shouldn't have happened with tags , , on July 5, 2010 by samsondoggie

What is it about the 4th of July that brings out odd behavior among middle aged white guys?

We were watching the second to last episode of Mad Men – where Peter attempts to black mail Don Draper (is this only the first time?). Our television is in the den, and in lieu of a real adult couch, we use a futon. We’re splayed out, when all of the sudden, the motion sensor light comes on. Samson goes nuts. Susie jumps. It is a fat naked white guy, running across our back yard, along the cement court, and then up the stairs to our driveway.

I’m outside right away. Samson is too, and he’s in pursuit. I’m out early enough to get a good look. He’s one of those young fat guys, with shiny skin unblemished by odd spots, funny bumps, or too much hair. Still gross, of course. He seems to have something in his hands. Maybe he had to take his clothes off outside. He’s well beyond the steps by now. Samson is barking at the edge of the perimeter of his electric fence. He’s pissed, but he’s not going to take a shock for this guy. That is when I see the flags.

The next naked guy is running down my alley, wearing some kind of shiny hat. He has a large German flag – maybe six feet by four feet  – strung to a long pole. There is another guy, also in the buff, right behind Continue reading


I Had Jury Duty

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on July 8, 2009 by samsondoggie

When it is your time, its really just very simple.  I opened the letter from Durham County, standing at the mailbox in my front yard:

You are required to report for jury duty at 8:30 am, Tuesday, June 9.   

Now, I am not one of those people who wants to get out of jury duty.  Actually, I think I understand the reasoning that says that every citizen should have to fulfill the obligation to make up a “jury of one’s peers.” So my first reaction is not what you might be imagining.  It is not, “hey, I definitely can get out of this.”

Maybe that reflects poorly on me in a world where the law is, first and foremost, a business.  Maybe I am some kind of dunce to want to participate in a system whose very practitioners seem willing to move beyond its ideals.  Well, bully Continue reading

A Natural-ness

Posted in Shouldn't have happened with tags , , , on May 14, 2009 by samsondoggie

I knew one thing: I didn’t want to waste my summer sitting behind a desk, hoping for a big chance to write a draft of a constituent letter for Congressman.  I knew I didn’t want to deliver Chivas in the Dirksen Office Building for a hyper Cuban ex-pat with a grudge. I knew that I didn’t want to work for the “Electronic Industries Alliance,” or the “National Association of Corn Extruder Processors,” or the  “Americans for Responsible Recreational Access.”

After two years living in Washington, DC, I knew that those jobs did exist, and that plenty of absolutely bored people got totally snockered at a K Street happy hour after working there.  Then they stumbled onto a Farragut West metro and fall asleep in Falls Continue reading

Mac is Tired

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on February 10, 2009 by samsondoggie

I was excited when Rosie stood on the pew and whispered into my ear, “Mac comes today.”

Indeed, it was true.  Susie met Phyllis in Greensboro at a lunch place.  They had made an arrangement to hand Mac off, to share the driving and accommodate everyone’s schedule.

She’ll be at our home through Wednesday afternoon (back in time for the game.)

When I got back, later on Sunday, from a 43-mile ride that made me more familiar with my limitations, Mac was in our living room, monitoring a game of Monopoly.

“I will trade Rosie a dark green for a purple,” John says.  If you know Monopoly, then you realize the problem with this transaction.  It is like predatory lending.  Someone has to keep people from being hurt.  In this case, it is John who wants to make a foolish transaction.

“Oooh,” says Mac, “Pennsylvania for Baltic.  I don’t know if you should do that, little boy.”

Mac folds her arms and looks out the window as she says it.  I am thinking that she has great patience to sit and mediate.  Then again, it could be that she is merely unable to get away from our large pink couch.  It is deep.  It can swallow even the sturdiest back.

Either way, monitoring the game is a good job for an adult.  For a Mac.

This evening, I’m again the one out and about.  I get back and its story time. Rosie is trying to read about the Tortoise and the Hare.  John is reading to Mac.  Yet Rosie is livid, she’s been waiting for Mac to read for ten minutes and that never panned out.

“Forget about it,” Rosie says, throwing her heels down upon the bed.  It’s a lot of madness in 28 pounds, made all the more daunting by being cloaked inside a Superman costume.

Mac is tired.  She was browning some onions, and that wore her out.  And, earlier, she was on the phone.  Walking down the steps from the driveway in the back wore her out, too.

I think what we are witnessing are the differing reactions to Mac’s condition among our children.  John is older.  He has spent more time with Mac.  He has more maturity.

Rosie can’t remember Mac from two years ago.  She’s just discovering her right now.  And, what she discovered even a month ago isn’t all there anymore.  Rosie had a bad nightmare last night.  She was crying that her mother was sick. She really doesn’t want to play with Mac anymore.  She wants to be left alone by the whole situation.

I think, maybe, that Rosie is crying about Mac.

crazy guy

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on October 13, 2007 by samsondoggie

It was just after Rosie came home that I had “The Incident with the Dog and the Guy at Night.”

Before I tell this story, let me set the context. My daughter is a very light sleeper. Maybe its a product of how she came into the world. I do not know. But heavy tooth brushing is often enough to wake her up. And yet, she lives in a house with one the barking-est dogs around. When we got Samson, they told us he had one issue. They called him “Sir Yaps-A-Lot.” Because, he barks so much.

So, if you make noise, you might wake up Rosie. And that will unsettle Susie. And if you make enough noise to get Samson’s attention, everyone is going to wake up.

Back to my story: There was this guy.

He would let his dog roam all over our yard at night. It happened again and again. Every time it happened, it woke up Samson. I guess it mattered because then Samson would wake us up. It was always the same: I’d look out the window. There’d be some guy just lolling around in the street.

One night, I decided that I had taken enough of this.

The “guy” was outside on the street. He was tall and skinny. He was standing in a shadow, outside of the pools of light cast by the street lamps. He had on jeans and some sort of synthetic polyester vest. The kind of thing you might get at REI. He had a leash in his hand. So I guess he had picked our yard out, for special, to let his dog roam free.

I could not see his dog, but Samson was yelping and barking. It was way after midnight. I threw on a pair of jeans, went downstairs, and out into the front yard.

Our yard is terraced. There is a front porch, then an intermediate level, and then the street level. I stood on the intermediate landing, about twenty feet away.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy? Do you know what time it is?” I shouted.

Now I could see that his dog was in fact up on the middle terrace, about forty feet into our yard, doing his business in our ivy.

I was more energized than I would have expected. Maybe it’s different when you are on your own home turf. Whatever it was, I was not holding back.

“Why don’t you go s*** your dog on your own yard?” I asked him, speaking in a voice loud enough so that my neighbors could understand the nature of this confrontation.

I was fighting the good fight. It wasn’t just me against ‘this guy.’ It was me against the people who don’t bag their poop, against the huns who trample on the efforts of people to have nice homes, who flout good manners…

“Go home!” I was hot. “You know, while you are at it, bagging your own poop in your own yard, you ought to think about doing it during the day. Because a lot of people are sleeping at night.”

The guy was really defensive. “I do have a job,” was all he would say, in kind of a reedy voice, as he called his dog and left.


For about 18 months, we have been planning to redesign our kitchen. It is a great project. We are going to double its size by moving our eating area out onto the back porch. We have a good architect. We have come up with a great kitchen cabinet scheme with the staff at orange big box.

The orange big box designer is named Michael. He’s in the AIA. He’s kind of distractable, though. But he spends lots of time, and somewhat effectively, working to make little things better in a cabinet plan. Right now he is designing a place in our kitchen to hold our dog bowls. How great is that?

Susie is driving home. Michael calls her on the cell phone.

“Susie,” he says, “I am on my lunch break. I was thinking it would be great to see your kitchen, to get a better idea of the space.”

Orange big box does not send designers out to homes. Rather, they have an assistant photograph the kitchens and then the designers draft plans with the pictures. Its not a great system.

“That would be great,” says Susie. “Do you know where we live?”

She tries to spell it out for him, but its clear that he actually understands without much in the way of directions.

“I used to live there!” he says. “I used to walk my dog there all the time. Which house are you? Are you beside the crazy guy with the dog?”

“Kevin doesn’t have a dog,” says Susie. Kevin is the only guy on our side of the street who is young enough to be labeled “crazy” in a semi-threatening way. The rest of the ones nearby are women or 95-year old men.

“Are you beside that white house on the hill?” he asked.

“No,” says Susie, “we are the white house on the hill.”At that moment, Susie turned into the driveway in our backyard. The wheels hit the gravel. Rosie woke up.

“I have to get off the phone, Michael,” she says.

I guess its fortunate, at least for the flow of the conversation, that I am standing in the backyard. She hands the phone to me.”Talk to Michael about how to get to our house,” she says.

She’s a bit exasperated. I want to ask — why is Michael coming over?

“Adam,” says Michael, “we’re talking about how to get to your home.” There is an edge to his voice.

“We are the white house.”

“Adam,” says Michael. “Did you ever remember a time when there was someone out in the yard, at night, with a dog?”

I do remember that time. I still remember the guy, or at least his frame. How could I forget that moment. I sometimes talk about it, because it was an unusual moment.

For Michael to mention it, though, forces me to examine the possibilities of his question.

I feel dread. I like Michael. I have enjoyed learning about the difference in stains, wood finishes, maple or cherry, knobs, and all of the other details that make a kitchen work on a design level. Now I realize that I knew him before, in a compromising way.

Now we can laugh about it. Its just one of the wrinkles in our kitchen project. I told our contractor about the situation. He said that in his neighborhood, people get shot for doing things like that at night in other people’s yards. I think it bothered Michael a lot, because he did have bags.

nifty guy

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on December 12, 2006 by samsondoggie

I am a nifty guy. The kind of nifty guy who demands a superb handheld communication device.

Yep, I must admit, those shiny treos and blackberries have been catching my eye for quite some time. Now they are nifty. They don’t just make calls, they have calendars, they have sotware, they’ve got a whole bunch of stuff. Some of it, I don’t even care about — like maybe I can do without sending emails. I need a calendar, though. Carrying around a thick dateminder is fine, but why have both a phone and a calendar? Why not be nifty?

I’m not one to be caught paying too much for something like that, though. I prefer to spot a value. I found just such a value, on a blackberry 6710, on ebay. I think I paid $19.

Now, unfortunately, it is hard to set up a blackberry. You have to attach your serial port connector to the scsi device, and then attach a series of chargers, before establishing your pop3 connection. Ugh, I hate it. So when my blackberry came, i let it sit there.

I am going on a trip tomorrow, though, so I need my phone. I had to get down to business. I open up the box. Its been up in my office/smelly workout clothes room for quite some time. Its in a box, next to my We are the World Live Aid album. (You have one, too, right? With Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers?) I open it, and immediately I see that this is going to be harder than I wanted. It has battery chargers for the handheld port and for travel, and the chargers have four different outlet choices — US, UK, European, and, I don’t know. The only one I can figure out is the handheld port charger. I install it in my computer. It has to go through the serial port connector, pretty fancy.

It powers up. There’s a little lcd picture of an hourglass. That’s a good sign. My blackberry is that it has an amazing keyborad. It has the entire qwerty set up. Deluxe. Funny, I bet there is going to have to be some strange method for dialing numbers. Or that I have to enter the numbers and then save them as names. That is going to be a real hassle with no numbers. Back to the manual.

Whoever wrote this manual, they deserve to read their own dreck. Yech. “A wireless email solution”, what is that? Right, I know its got email, that’s nice, but it does a hundred other things. Like make phone calls. Where is that section? I page through. Gee you can send emails or recieve them or set up forwarding. Great, but I want to make phone calls. Oh here it is–list of applications, page 21.

The blackberry 6710 provides a variety of email choices.

Er, no phone.

If you ever find a value like this, with your own nifty guy instincts, tell me.

I’ve been misquoted

Posted in Shouldn't have happened on December 6, 2006 by samsondoggie

“Help me. Anyone will do,” says the reporter. He is definitely desperate: “You’ll do fine. I just need a comment about this proposal from the banking commissioner.”

Its 4:10 pm on a Friday. I can believe that anyone will do.

“Its a guideline, not a law. Do you think this will stop a predatory broker?”

Hmmm…I guess I can answer that.

“Well, I suppose its not going to stop brokers so much as other people, who are less incentived by volume. Right, it might influence investors holding the mortgages long-term, it might influence perception of these products. Definitely, it makes sense for the commissioner to be worried about this, because there’s a safety and soundness issue.”

So in the paper, it runs:

A critic at the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina says, “Its not going to stop brokers.”

I was upset. I found myself seeking empathy from some prisoners during a conversation at Orange County Prison later that night.

I asked Alvin and Alexander if they ever got made to look bad for something that they really didn’t mean.

“Nope, not me,” says Alexander. “Just got to keep your head down,” added Alvin.

Great. Not even prisoners are willing to think that they ever get a bad rap.

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