Sunday, January 30, 2011

Got Common Sense?

Got Milk?

You've all seen the popular milk slogan. It's one of those advertising slogans ("Just Do It," "Fly the Friendly Skies") that become ingrained in the language. Or so I thought.

As a hobby/stress-reducer/creative outlet, I make cards. Handmade, one-of-a-kind cards featuring cool old stuff from the 40s, 50s and 60s. There's something so fun about rescuing a beat-up old text book from the 50s and turning it into something cool and new. After I finish a batch of cards, I put them on Etsy, via my "store" called paperlunchbox.

For some reason, textbooks of the 50s and 60s are quite fascinated with milk production. There's a story in nearly every book I have talking about the dairy. So one day, when I was making a batch of fun cards from the 50s, I created a milk-related card. 

On Etsy, each item for sale has to have a name. I try to make my names sound fun, clever and interesting. Damn you, advertising degree! So when it came time to name this card, it was an easy one ... Got Milk.

That was six months ago. So imagine my surprise when I received an email last week from the California Milk Board's lawyer in Sacramento telling me that I was using their trademarked slogan without permission and I needed to cease and desist at once or risk facing legal action.

Seriously? For my $5 homemade card? And keep in mind that the title "Got Milk" doesn't appear anywhere on the card itself ... it's just the name I used to title the card.

So I changed the listing title of the card. Would it be "Milk Sucks?" Or "F@$% You California Milk Board?" Ultimately, I calmed down and went with "Milk Time."

Has our world so lost touch with common sense that it's come down to this? I'm one guy. Cutting out pictures by hand from textbooks that would otherwise be destroyed. Having a little fun. And trying to make five bucks. What a threat I must be to the corporate milk folks.

Geez, I hope Dick and Jane don't come after me, too. Or Sally ... I've heard she's really a hard-ass when it comes to legal matters.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How Many Cats is Too Many Cats?

In a word, FOUR. 

For as long as I can remember, we've been a house with three cats. The trio we currently have include Fuzzy (a bushy-haired gray cat we originally named "Einstein," because of his hair ... but sadly, his intellect was not quite there and thus the switch to Fuzzy) ... Mookey (a black-and-white tuxedo cat who is so big, he looks as though he could have eaten another cat) ... and Squink (one only female cat — black, slender and rules the roost).

A few years ago, a friend of Kate's was frantic to find homes for kittens that had been born — unbeknownst to them — in the garage. Suckers that we are, we let her bring one home. He was very tiny and very sick. After a pricey vet visit, Lisa had to literally nurse him back to health, with hand-feedings, bottle feedings and daily medication. Poor little guy. We honestly thought he was a goner. But no, Gato (as we eventually named him) was a tough little cookie. As he grew, he deviled the other cats, especially Squink. It got so bad that the two of them couldn't be in the same room. Eventually, our friend Shannon (another cat fancier) agreed that Gato could live with her. And then there were three.

When Kate was first starting Whitworth in September and it looked as though she'd be in an apartment by herself, Lisa's sister couldn't bear it. "She needs someone to love," she said as she went to the cat adoption place in Spokane. That's where they found Beatrice, a tiny black kitten, full of piss and vinegar! "Bebe," as she was nicknamed, and Kate had a wonderful five days in the apartment. And then a dorm room opened up ... Bebe moved to Vancouver ... and it looked as though we'd be back to four cats again.

But by this time, we also had two chihuahuas who are not big fans of new cats — or any cats, for that matter. So bailing us out once again, Shannon decided Bebe would be better off with her. God bless that Shannon!

And here we are again with three cats. While we love the furry little buggers, we've already decided that since the kids are gone, once the cats die out ... (I know, don't boo, they have to go sometime!) ... they will not be replaced. 3-2-1 ... and someday, none.

The moral of this story? Even if you love cats, four is one cat too many. Don't believe us, ask Shannon. She tells people she has three cats plus one "foster cat." Cat people think alike.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tales from the Road

As the year 2010 comes to an end, I can't help but think back to the two round trips Lisa and I made to Colorado in late August.

Driving there the first time, taking Kate to school (see previous post) was fun. Everyone was excited, full of optimism. We spent the night in Park City, Utah, at a Marriott  Resort literally steps away from a chairlift. Summer price? $140/night for a room that had to be at least 1500 square feet. Just for fun, we looked up the December price for the same room ... $950 + tax. Yikes. Got on the road the next morning and marveled at the change in scenery. Hours (and hours and hours) later, got to Greeley and the nightmare ... um ... magic (again, see previous post) began.

On the way home several days later, the trip had a much more sad, somber mood. We had just left a tearful Kate and decided to drive straight through. It's amazing how fast you can go in Wyoming when no one's around! Got to where we could hit a rest stop or do a fast food drive-thru in less than two minutes. Eating in the car is an acquired skill, one at which we now excel!

Roughly two weeks later, after learning about Kate's feelings towards her new school, we decided to drive back and get her. This time, the mood took on a rescue mission vibe. We enlisted the help of Kate's dear friend, Jackie, to go with us. Family friend Shannon baked us cookies, we stocked up on water and off we went ... leaving around 1 in the afternoon with the intention of arriving at Kate's dorm between 8 and 9 a.m. the next morning. Mission Impossible: Greeley.

This is the segment of the trip that I most remember ... for all kinds of wacky reasons.

Somewhere near the Idaho/Utah border, Lisa suddenly realized we were very very low on gas. Late at night, in the middle of nowhere, frantically fiddling with the navigation system to find something — anything — in the area. Finally did, and not a minute — or mile — too soon. The best part? Here, at this gas station time forgot, at well-past midnight, there were two huge tables out front selling flip flops, slippers and other "gift items."

In the dead of night, with Lisa asleep in the passenger seat, Jackie asleep in the back and me at the wheel, we came around a huge hairpin onramp turn, where I-80 becomes I-84. At the bottom of the turn, in the middle of the road ... one big-ass deer. I swerved to the left, hit the brakes and did a quick prayer. The van stopped, literally, a foot or two from the deer, who gave us a good stare, then ran off. Stopped hard enough to wake Lisa up and toss Jackie around in the back. If that doesn't get your heart pumping, nothing will! No sleep for me the rest of the night! 

We saw thunderstorms and prairie dogs, big mountains and big rigs. And when we rolled into Greeley at 9 a.m. on the dot, this phase of the drive was over.

Then, after picking up Kate, emptying her dorm room, withdrawing from school and having a series of unpleasant "chats" with the swim coach and athletic director, we were off for home. Tense, but happy. Knowing deep down that we did the right thing. And the one stop we'll never forget? "Little America," somewhere in the middle of Wyoming. To call it a super-sized truck stop is not nearly enough. This place was a small city unto itself. Cafe. Restaurant. Grocery store. Souvenirs. Playground. Hotel. Gas. Car wash. Bathrooms. You name it, Little America had it. We enjoyed lunch, 50 cent cones (one of the services they tout!) and a visit to the restroom. In the middle of nowhere, it was nice just to be out of the car for an hour. 

Yes, that's a trip I will never forget. And one I hope to never repeat! Here's to a healthy, happy and amazing 2011, wherever the road may take you!