Friday, June 29, 2007

"We Don't Know What Ignited The Fire" Police Said

Texas cops... for the win.

Man Bursts Into Flames After Being Shot By A Taser Gun

Quote - 'Officers used the gun after the man had poured gasoline over himself.'

Quote - '"We don't know what ignited the fire," police said.'

You've gotta be kidding me.

Maybe next time they can "subdue the supsect by throwing lit matches at him in an effort to startle him." - (thanks to Mr. Fed for that great line)

This is the same state whose first female governor is reputed to have said "If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for Texas schoolchildren”


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Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

I remembered this story after reading this thread over at the Octopus Overlords gaming forums.

I Walked into Electronics Boutique back in 2003 (nearly a year after the game Dungeon Siege was released, by Microsoft... which means a very wide release, it's important) and was browsing the PC games section, which was much larger back then. The store was very busy and there was a guy standing right in front of me browsing the same shelf.

A clerk came over and asked the man if he needed help finding something. The man asked if they had any copies of "Dungeon Siege". The clerk replied...

"I've never heard of it. We don't carry it."

I said, "Excuse me" and without moving my feet, reached between the clerk and the man to the shelf, where I pulled out one of their six copies of Dungeon Siege. I handed it to the man and said, "There you go." He thanked me and asked me if it was good. I gave him a quick review. The game is pretty and has a great soundtrack by Jeremy Soule and it's easy to get into. On the down side it almost plays itself and it gets boring and repetitive quite quickly. He said that sounded exactly like the light couple of hours of entertainment he was looking for, thanked me again and went over to the counter to buy it.

The clerk looked at me and said...

"Can I help you find something?"

I turned and walked out of the store.

If you work in retail sales, let me give you a bit of advice. Nobody cares whether you've "heard of it" or not. If you don't know, say "Let me look it up on the computer." or something. Anything. We didn't come to the store to hear your vaunted opinions on whether something exists or not and whether it's worth buying or not. We came to buy something. So shut up and sell it to us.

I went into an MDG computer store last year, with their flyer in my hand and the sales people swore up and down that the flyer was a misprint. They they had the nerve to tell me (I built my last computer from parts and my first job was as a sales clerk at Compucentre) that the PC I was interested in could not be connected to the Internet.

What? No seriously, what? I can connect my left sock to the Internet with the right equipment. Are these people on drugs?

I got the manager's attention and asked him about the flyer special and told him what I wanted. He refused to look at the flyer and said...

"I've never heard of that. We don't have that."

I turned around and walked out of the store.

I don't shop at Electronics Boutique or MDG any more. It's the fault of the sales clerks. And these stores wonder why they're losing customers to online retailers? Yes, I bought my last PC online. And it was a wonderful experience.

Nobody told me I couldn't connect my PC to the Internet.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

CIBC Lost My Bank Account

This story is so far out there, I won't be offended if you don't believe it. It happened to me and I still don't believe it.

I used to have multiple accounts at CIBC back when I became the sole owner of my tax business. My last partner left amicably, leaving all the clients for me. I can't imagine why I thought that was a good thing. Especially considering the caliber of some of my clients.


I rest my case, Your Honour.

Anyway I had this one business account that I only used for depositing client cheques during the tax season. The account went dormant for six months of the year so I made arrangements with the nice lady who helped me set up the account. Normally an account that is dormant for that long is suspended and the customer is notified. We put a flag on the account indicating that it was not to be suspended due to inactivity. It worked fine for several years.

One year, at the beginning of tax season, I went in to the bank to check out my balances and get some cheques. This was just before online banking became the in thing, so I had to actually go into the bank. Yeah, the Stone Age, I know.

I handed the lady my ATM card for my personal account, we did our transactions and everything went smoothly. Then I handed the lady my ATM card for the business account and things turned south quickly.

"I'm sorry sir but there's no account attached to this card.", she told me, with a smile.

Must be a glitch in the card, I thought. So I pulled out a business cheque and handed it to her. She clicked some keys and entered the account information using the numbers on the cheque.

"I'm sorry sir but this account number is invalid.", she said, with a smile.

Not one to be put off so easily, I pulled out the original account sign-up paperwork which I conveniently kept in my tax bag. I handed it to her and she went to get the manager. Again, with a smile. After a very long discussion and a lot of computer wrangling, they both came over to me.

The manager said, "I'm sorry sir, but we have no record of you ever having a business account with CIBC, not at this or any other CIBC branch. Are you sure the account was here?"

Calmly, I handed her the business chequebook and showed here where it said "CIBC" on it and then I showed her that the account sign-up papers were official "CIBC" documents. I suggested that she contact the nice lady who had set up the account for me.

Eventually she came back and told me that the woman whose name was on the account paperwork no longer worked for CIBC and that her records were "unavailable". Since there was no record in their paperwork or in their computer of the account, it must not have existed. The paperwork and cheques I had were irrelevant. Was there anything I she could help me with before I left?

I asked if an investigation could be launched and she explained that without proof on their end that there had ever been an account, no investigation would be undertaken.

"Have a nice day, sir."

I was staggered.

I did the only thing I could think of to do. I went over to T.D. Canada Trust and opened a new account over there. On the up side, there hadn't been an real money in the account when it disappeared.

"CIBC... If We Lose Your Account, It's Not Our Fault!"


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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Even The Dog Won't Eat It

Not long after the incident with the roast beef, Frodo had an experience that I'm usre he's never forgotten. I brought home some sushi for mom and I, and among the wonderful bits and goodies was some eel. Neither of us like eel. For some reason every sushi tray seems to include a piece of smelly eel. No one knows why. Not even Frodo.

He was dancing around the kitchen following the amazing smells coming off our sushi tray; tuna, salmon, wasabi, soy sauce. He was getting a little crazy. While I was trying to avoid him I accidentally dropped the container with the bits we didn't like in it. Included in those bits was a hunk of raw eel. The hunk of eel shot out of the little styrofoam container and landed on the floor right in front of Frodo, alias "Shop Vac". He inhaled the hunk of eel less than a second after it landed.

He froze, and then did something we have never seen him do before (or since). He spit it out. Keep in mind this is a creature that eats its own feces. He didn't spit out the tomato, the sock, the branch, the kleenex box or the eucalyptus leaves. We had to deal with the ugly aftermath of each one of those. Incredibly the tomato was the worst. It gave him the runs. Every ten minutes. For four days.

But the eel he spit out? You have to wonder what business we have eating something that even a dog won't eat.

Interestingly, Mom dropped one of her pills the other day. Frodo teleported from wherever he'd been hiding to the pill and gave it a sniff. I guess the smell of mouldly skunk and burning vomit was too much for him. He ran away from the awful smelling thing. (For those who think I am exaggerating the drug is called Cyclosporine and it's made from fungus.)

But you have to wonder. I mean, even the dog won't eat it?
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Roast Beef is Not For Puppies

I'll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on Frodo. Mom and I went out to the breeder in the country, to meet "puppy", an eight week old white Bull Terrier. The breeder told us that "puppy" was in the garage. She opened the door and I stepped in first. In the middle of the garage was a giant green bag of dog food. Sticking out of the hole in the top of the bag was a small white bum and a tail whipping back and forth. He'd found the mother lode.

The second thing Frodo did, after the breeder had pulled him out of the bag and set him on the garage floor, was pee indignantly. Then he wandered off to play with "Hammer", the breeder's massive German Shepherd. Hammer jumped in the pond. Frodo stood at the edge and glared at the water. Only after realizing that he couldn't reach Hammer without getting wet, did he turn his attention to us.

In those first moments, he made his priorities clear. Food, peeing, other dogs, then people. After 11 years his pattern hasn't changed. Neither has his taste in food.

His first experience with a roast beef was nearly his last. Dad pulled the juicy cross rib roast out of the roasting pan and set it reverently on the large cutting board on the counter. For some reason, Dad left the kitchen for a few seconds. When we went back in we heard a grief-stricken scream. I ran into the kitchen and saw that Frodo had pulled the entire roast off the cutting board and onto the floor and was digging in.

Dad doesn't usually charge. He's quite big and slow so charging isn't in his repertoire. But that day, he charged. His battle cry would have shamed a Scottish Warlord. Frodo looked up in terror and dropped the roast. Dad snarled something about killing and death and maiming and dogs of questionable parentage and breaking and smashing and beating. Frodo ran and hid under Mom's desk, out of reach.

It's hard watching a parent cry, but my dad wept as he solemnly carried the mangled roast beef to the trash. Later, when Frodo dared to show his face, my father explained loudly to him that "roast beef is not for puppies!" I would have laughed out loud if Dad hadn't been so upset.

Frodo has never stolen a roast beef again. I can't imagine why.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sometimes the Funny Just Isn't There

I'm sitting here, looking at my cheat sheet of funny story material and none of it seems funny to me. A week ago half of these topics would have made me laugh out loud just thinking about them, but this week I just can't find the funny. It's like my imagination is broken or something.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have writer's block. I think writer's block is about as real as Santa Claus. Either you can write or you can't. If you can, it doesn't turn off. There's no handle on the creative faucet. I can write, I just don't find anything funny right now. I could go on all day about serious stuff right now, but the funny just isn't coming.

So one night a rabbi, a lawyer and a camel walk into a bar...

See? Imaginative, yes. Funny, no.

Off-topic: Last night I was talking to Dan of "Even the Fish Couldn't Stand the Smell" fame. He went fishing last week and he was reminiscing about our famous fishing trip together. He's a very big man now (he works in construction) and he told me how he was the biggest guy in the boat. This brought back memories of my dad in the boat, sitting near the outboard, the back end of the boat dangerously low in the water, the bow sticking up into the air.

I remember one morning when I'd refused to go out with Dan, James and my Dad in the boat because it was going to rain something fierce. They were mighty hunters who didn't fear a little rain. They went anyway. So of course, as soon as they were as far away from shore as they could get without leaving the Province, a monsoon started. I waited and watched. Soon their little boat appeared. My dad sat in his position at the back, the back end mere inches above the waterline. James and Dan sat miserably in the middle, bailing for dear life. The boat looked like a bathtub. The rain pounded down on them mercilessly. I stood, dry and warm in the cabin doorway and laughed at them the entire time.

I guess that day, the funny was there.

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Previous Story: Sorry Buddy

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sorry Buddy

If I had to choose a phrase to describe my life until now, "Sorry buddy" would be the top contender.

Of course, those words were spoken by my father. Over and over again. The same guy who spilled paint all over himself and exposed himself in public and even rode a bronco during a funeral also had a singular talent for inadvertently maiming, smashing or otherwise incapacitating me. There were the times he backed up the car while I was only halfway inside. The times he closed the trunk/door/oven on my fingers. The times whacked me with a fishing rod/ladder/two-by-four.

Each of these occasions was followed by a, "sorry buddy."

One time we had far too many people staying in our house for some reason, so I ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor downstairs. Dad came through on his way to the laundry room and before I could shout, "No!" he stepped on my head. He stopped and looked down, just as I looked up. All I saw through the stars and tears was an expanse of blue underwear above my head. High comedy.

I think the best "sorry buddy" moment ever happened while we were finishing the basement. We were nailing up runners for the suspended ceiling, so dad was standing on a small stepladder. I stood behind the ladder and handed him tools and nails. We had a whole surgeon and medical team thing going on. He'd say, "nail" or "hammer" and I'd hand it to him. Eventually he stopped looking and just reached behind himself, knowing I'd be holding out the appropriate item. This worked well for a while, until he got confused.

I was standing behind him on the right. He thought I was standing behind him on the left. He reached for a clip with his left hand and threw the hammer down with his right. The arc of his throw put the hammer head squarely between my eyes.

There was a terrible ghastly noise in my head. When the noise stopped I realized I was lying on my back, on the floor. Dad looked around and saw me, realized what he'd done and said, "Oh! Sorry buddy."

Someday I'm going to have a little guy of my own. We'll be working together and I'll inadvertently injure him. He'll look up at me with tears forming in his eyes and before I can help myself, I'll turn to him and say, "sorry buddy."

Then my failure will be complete.

Next Story: Sometime the Funny Just Isn't There

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Excuse Me Sir, There's a Tree in Your Car

Given the tremendous amount of time I've spent at the mechanic's this past week, I thought a car story would be in order. For those who are wondering, there are problems with my rad, thermostat, muffler, flex hose, catalytic converter, motor mounts, steering pump and oh yes we mustn't forget... my head gasket. Jim got the car running again, after three new rads (At their expense, not mine. Thank goodness.) and he tells me the car could last two weeks or two years, there's no way to tell. I guess I'll just drive it into the ground ha ha. I only paid $2500 for it and I've gotten 3 years & 3 months so far, so I can't really complain.

But Dad can complain. Oh my can he ever complain. Way back in '87 Dad bought an 86' Caprice Classic Brougham with only 8000 km on it. It was a dealership runabout car so it was in very good condition. It weighed in at 3528 lbs. and was painted Battleship Grey. That's right, it was the M1 Abrams of luxury sedans. A veritable tank.

And I drove it like one.

We call the undeveloped area south of the city, "The Country" even though it's not true wilderness. It's mostly farmland and dirt roads though, so it feels like the country. I was out with the car, in "The Country" and I got to one of those roads that becomes impassable during wet weather. I figured I had nothing to fear. It hadn't rained in at least a week and I was driving a tank. No problem.

I got about 50 meters in before I realized I wasn't going to make it. Sighing, I put the Caprice in reverse and started churning dirt. Of course, the car was riding lower on the way back, thanks to the deep tire treads and the cars tremendous weight. So I scraped up quite a bit of mud and shrubbery into the undercarriage. I got out successfully and drove away, happy that I'd avoided a potential disaster.

Since Mom and Dad were leaving for Florida in a few days, I thought it best to make sure I put the car through a really thorough car wash before going home. The car was spic and span and Dad was happy that I'd been thoughtful enough to wash it for their trip.

After they arrived in Florida, I got a phone call. It was Dad. The Caprice had apparently started leaking transmission fluid so they'd stopped at a mechanic. While the car was up on the hoist, the mechanic came back and said the famous words, "Excuse me sir, there's a tree in your car." Apparently I had run over a sapling while backing out of the mess on that country road, and it had gotten caught in the undercarriage. The tree was removed, the transmission lines were repaired and everything was fine.

Dad however, was livid. I learned my lesson.

Actually a few years ago my cousin and I were driving his father's car out in the country and... I'm sure you can guess what happened.

Yeah, we took it to the car wash before bringing it home. This time, I checked for trees.
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Previous Story: Frodo and the Old Nazi

Monday, June 11, 2007

Frodo and the Old Nazi

I just have to share a little story about what happened last night. You need to know that my miserable 97 year old grandfather now lives with us and that my miserable 10 year old Bull Terrier Frodo hates him more than he hates the neighbor's cat. Frodo has a collection of stuffed animals that he carries from room to room and bumps us with, so that we'll play his favorite game. It's called "Pull." Yes, it's as simple as it sounds. What can I say, he's a Bull Terrier not a Border Collie. Sometimes if Frodo is feeling diplomatic or especially sorry for something, usually a garbage bag tearing or theft of food incident, he will leave one of his stuffed animals as a peace offering.

Last night, Dad and I were watching "24" when Grandpa wandered through on his way to bed. He closed his bedroom door. After a minute, the door opened and Grandpa hurled out one of Frodo's giant brown bears. Then he closed the door and went back to bed. We started laughing. Of course this was terribly inappropriate since several people had just died horribly during the episode of "24" we were watching. Somehow it made us laugh even harder.

Sometimes I wonder about our family, I really do.

Another time, my cousin James stopped by just as I was letting Frodo out to do his business and we ended up taking Frodo for a walk around the block. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring bags for collecting Frodo's poop. I hoped he wouldn't need to poop but he started giving off signs like he was about to hunker down and I shouted at him, "NO! No pooping!" He was determined though, so I forced him to hold it until we got over a sewer grate and I shouted, "Poop now! Poop now!" Frodo obliged, sending his little nuggets splashing into the storm sewer below.

For the next year, every time we walked over a sewer grate, Frodo had to stop and try to poop. After ten years we still can't train him to not bark when someone comes in the house, but after one incident, he was sewer trained. Go figure.

I can't wait 'till I have kids.
Next Story: Excuse Me Sir, There's a Tree in Your Car

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Friday, June 8, 2007

The Time I Almost Got Run Over by a Bus

Ahh, high school.

Some of us lived far enough away from our school that we took the city bus every day. There'd be a whole gaggle of us noisy, rowdy kids waiting for the extra buses the city put on the route.

Actually that reminds me of one of the most offensive things I have ever seen a bus driver do. The bus was late, and I don't mean by five minutes. For some reason we'd waited almost half an hour for the bus to arrive. The bus driver was a lady I'd never seen before. At the first main street an elderly man got on the bus and used a transfer. The transfer ticket was expired by about two minutes. The bus driver told the man he'd have to pay cash, use a ticket or get off.

He refused. He claimed that he'd been waiting at least twenty minutes for the bus and that it was her problem because she was late. She snarled, "We run a ten minute bus service! Pay or get off!" Several of us came forward and told the bus lady that we rode that bus every day and she was in fact between twenty and thirty minutes late and that the gentleman was not trying to stiff her. She stopped the bus and screamed at us to sit down and shut up or she'd throw us off the bus.

We sat down and shut up. The gentleman decided to handle things diplomatically and paid cash for his fare. Problem solved. Or not. He sat up at the front and continued talking to the bus driver, insisting that she was being unreasonable and unprofessional. He asked her for her driver I.D. number.

She freaked. She stopped the bus, opened the door and screamed at him to get off the bus or she'd call the police and have him arrested for assault. Everyone else on the bus was too scared to do anything so we just sat quietly and waited. The gentleman picked up his cane and calmly got off the bus. We spent the rest of our bus ride in stunned silence.

We never saw that bus driver again. Thank goodness.

But I was going to tell you about the time I almost got run over by a bus.

The usual crew after school was waiting for the bus. Included in the crew was Sara Gale. I happened to be standing next to her and noticed that her lip looked different that it had the day before. I thought about it for a while until it hit me. Of course I was too stupid to keep it to myself. Just as the bus was coming I asked her loudly, "Hey, did you shave your upper lip?"

Oh boy.

The next thing I knew I was on my back in the middle of the road, my glasses were broken and the bus brakes were squealing. The bumper shadow stopped just over my head. Apparently she'd punched me right in face and sent me sprawling into the path of the "yellow peril".

For the record, it was my fault and I was entirely in the wrong and I deserved worse than I got.

Next Story: Frodo and the Old Nazi

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Time I Almost Died

To quote a Denzel Washington movie I really shouldn't have watched or even know about, "I want to tell you about the time I almost died."

It was in high school, so of course it involves a nerd. But not just any nerd. As someone famous once said, "Some people are born nerds, some acheive nerdhood, and others have nerdiness thrust upon them." Chris Mclean was born clutching a pocket protector. He was a king among nerds. He had the uncontrollable acne, the mad scientist hair, and wore the same two pairs of pants (one white, one blue) every day for the entire four years of high school.

To top it off, he was insanely smart. His IQ was out there in Einstein land. Don't get me wrong, I was a nerd in high school, that's why Mclean and I ended up together in the "gifted program". But I was an amateur nerd compared to him. If my sources are correct he's now Dr. Mclean, Professor of Physics at McMaster University. If Canada ever runs a Manhattan Project, I'm sure he'll be the first scientist they call.

But back then we were just goofy teenagers with no idea in hell about anything in the real world. Chris and I, we lived in our heads. He lived in a world of particles and waves, I lived in a world of language and drama. So of course, in order to draw attention away from my own nerdiness, I bullied him mercilessly. Sad really, but what can I say, I was an idiot back then.

One of my favorite pastimes was throwing his gymbag out the window. He had this huge blue gymbag with a metric ton of books in it, so it made a very satisfying dent in the grass when it landed, especially when tossed from the second floor. Not only would he explode in a spectacularly entertaining way, but if I was lucky, some teacher on a lower floor would notice and call the Principal's office, starting an investigation that would eat up at least half an hour of boring "learning" time. If I was tremendously lucky, I would become the center of attention for the rest of the day, sitting in a desk in the hallway or outside the Principal's office, gleefully explaining why I was there to every passerby, the story growing wierder and crazier with each telling. Ahh... high school.

Anyway I was going to tell you about the time I almost died. Once at the end of the day, Chris Mclean, Rob Williams, Chris Traini and I happened to leave by the same door at the same time. Rob and Mclean were buddies and Chris T. (as we called him, I'm sure you can see the pun there) wanted to see if Mclean was going to lose it, since I'd been harrassing him all day. Of course, Chris T. kept to a minimum safe distance.

Mclean loudly declared, "Fuhringer! Get lost right now, I am not up to dealing with you." Everyone stopped to see what I would do. I walked up to Mclean and shouted, "Gee-chee!" while poking him in the belly. High comedy. He turned purple. "Fuhringer! If you touch me again, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!" Chris T and Rob started backing away and giggling nervously.

There was no way I could resist. I very slowly and gently poked him in the belly and quietly asked, "Gee-chee?"

Unlike Captain Kirk's "KHAAAN!" shout, Mclean's scream could in fact be heard in space. His face twisted into a rictus, he dropped his gymbag and he charged. What choice did I have? I ran. With Rob shouting, "RUN!" and Chris T. lauhghing his guts out at my imnpending doom, Mclean hurled himself after me across the field, his fists flailing inches behind my head. He caught the back of my shirt and started reeling me in. I was dead meat.

Until he slipped on a patch of wet grass and fell. I am alive today to tell this story only because of bit of moisture and some bad sneaker tread.

And because I kept running.
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Previous Story: If Animals Could Talk It Would Be Scary

The Best Thrill Ride Ever

This news item is awesome and wrong, hilarious and horrifying. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Best Thrill Ride Ever. Words just aren't adequate, so here's a picture.

Image Hosted by

Yes, that's a guy in a wheelchair, jammed in the front grill of a semi truck.

On the highway.

Going 50 miles per hour.

Quote - "Calls began pouring in to the Paw Paw post of the Michigan State Police around 4:00 p.m. The first call came in with a woman telling dispatchers, "You are not going to believe this, there is a semi- truck pushing a guy in a wheel chair on Red Arrow Highway!""

I am in awe of this guy. He now has the best campfire story ever.

Quote - "Police say the 21-year-old man was un-harmed and unfazed by the incident. The young man was quoted as saying, "It was quite a ride.""

This guy is a master of understatement.
Next News: "We Don't Know What Ignited The Fire" Police Said

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

If Animals Could Talk It Would Be Scary

No, really.

I was thinking about If Animals Could Talk To Me and it occurred to me that if animals could really talk, they'd probably tell us off. Think about all the trouble we've caused them.

Like my friend Travis' cat, "Mio". Of course we mercilessly call it "Neo" which upsets Travis' wife and then we don't get invited back for a while... ahem. One time while we were playing Settlers of Catan, Jeff decided to pick up Mio and rub his anal glands on my head, like a roll-on deodorant. Obviously I didn't enjoy the experience and I said so. Now imagine if Mio could talk. What would he have to say about being used in such a humiliating way?

I'm sure it would involve language that would get this blog marked as Not Suitable For Work. He's a cat, they can kill with a glance. A talking cat would be too dangerous to live.

On the other hand, imagine if dogs could talk. Imagine how many biting incidents could be avoided if a dog could say, "Excuse me but if you keep poking me with that stick, I'm going to shove it up your ass."

It reminds me of this demented hungarian dog my grandparents used to have when they lived out on the farm. Grandpa used to kick and beat the dog, so by the time us kids showed up it was pretty much ready for the kill. We used to dread the run from the car to the house. Of course one time, right there with my dad standing next to me the dog decided he'd had enough. I was the closest and smallest target. He rushed me, so I turned and he clamped his jaw firmly on my bum.

If you've ever had a slavering, insane dog clamped to your bum, then you know true terror. I had to lay on the dining room table while everyone looked at the bites on my bum and my wounds were cleaned. Yay for iodine on the bum.

My point is, the whole thing could have been avoided if the poor dog could have expressed itself with words. Although I suppose, it expressed itself just fine. After all, I did get the point.

Right in my bum.


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Blogger bots have no sense of humour. For five days this blog was locked by The spam bots declared 'Popular Fiction' to be a spam blog. Apparently the bots didn't appreciate my brand of humour. Eventually a real person looked at the blog and unlocked it. I'm sorry I was unable to post, but things are back to normal now. Thank you for your patience and I hope you continue to enjoy reading 'Popular Fiction'... as long as the bots leave me alone.

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