27 April 2007

The world's most bummed dog

Yep. That would be Jack. He's doing FINE, but he's not thrilled.

The incision is almost nonexistant. Although the vet says he should be on "light duty" for ten days, we're going to base his activity off the speed with which the wound heals.

He's already made it clear how he feels about the licky collar.


On Wolf Blitzer. Jesus, I want to smack that guy with a stick. And somehow, in past few months, it's gotten to a point where he's on CNN like fifteen hours a day.

(Yes, I watch CNN. I don't care if they're communists - they have more reporters and guests than FOX)

All day long, it's been Wolf yammering and trying to play "gotcha!"

"Did any of the Democratic candidates step on their cranks? Not yet! Maybe next time!"

"Let's talk to LTG Petraeus and see if we can get him to say something we can play out of context for four days!"

"Look! It's George Tenet! He's yelling!"

God damn it, major media outlets. You are charged with reporting the news, not desperately combing through interviews and haranguing public figures until they say something you can shriek about.

Facts are our friends, and they are damn hard to come by these days. This endless game of what-can-we-trick-him-into-saying virtually guarantees that no public figure will ever utter anything other than a carefully crafted talking points.

The downside of this is, of course, that all we hear are irrelevent leading questions answered by meaningless soundbites.

One of my favorite places to go for ground truth is the DoD's press site. I like to read transcripts, because I tire of letting agenda-driven media "interpret" what's already been clearly said. Last night I stayed up late and read the Inspector General's report on the Pat Tillman investigation (click on the link and it's over on the left sidebar). Long, but interesting. And every single day, even when some drug-addled whore has died in south Florida, they publish the names, units and general locations of the dead.

There are places we can look for truth, but increasingly, the mainstream media isn't a very good source. I keep the TV on because it lets me know when there's something happening I need to look into.

It takes work these days to try to understand what's going on in the world. But these are precarious times, and it's really our responsibility to compare and constrast the information we're fed.

Friday evening

It's been a week. Mr. Abby has been jumping through his ass. I've been trapped in a house surrounded by shouting Cubans. And I broke my coffee cup.

Fortunately, that's why they have meat, beer and beach music. He's picking up the meat, and I just made a beer run.

That's right - I broke out the cooler.

Now, all I have to do is tune in that groovy "Radio Margaritaville" channel on the satellite TV.

And, no beer for me until I pick up the pupster...

Misplaced trust

I felt bad dropping Jack at the vet. It wouldn't have been bad, but he was so happy. It was as though he was saying, Gee, Mom, thanks for bringing me to the place where the nice ladies fuss over me!

I'll pick him up this evening.

The Senior Dogs are thrilled. Hey - I drove away with him and came back without him, so it's fabulous in their minds.

26 April 2007

Not looking...(yet)

I launched the CMP carbine paperwork today.

I don't have the gat yet.


I hate waiting. The worst thing that technology has done, in terms of my (distinctly limited) personal productivity, has been the development of "online tracking." When I've got something in transit, I click. Then click. Then click click click.

Worse yet, the CMP has some sort of "E-store" setup wherein you can follow your order's progress. Oh man...

The postal employee swore up and down to me that Priority mail won't get it there tomorrow. I'd think not, given the normal swiftness of mail in Florida. So...no need to start clicking until late next week. Since I assume it'll be three or four weeks before they get to me, I should be a wreck in short order.

Just another day

Well, the stucco project from Hell continues. From the rate of progress, it appears I can expect large groups of strangers to be lurking around my house well into next week. Fabulous. Wouldn't be so bad, but they wander in and out of the back yard and leave the gate open, so I have to remember to check before I let the dogs out.

Took Jack to the beach, Casey for a brisk long walk and Sparky for a stroll. The youngster enjoyed himself - too bad it's his last beach visit for a little while. Tomorrow he's headed to the V-E-T.

I'm a big believer in spay and neuter, but that's gotta be uncomfortable. Particularly since I expect the other two to harass him mercilessly.

I later watched the Democratic candidates debate. Good lord, there's some weirdos in that pack. Then again, the same can be said on the Republican side. I was underwhelmed, except when Hillary went on a bit of a tear about killing the shit out of anyone who attacks us. I have always believed she's a little meaner than she lets on - gotta play to the base. I'm not about all the rest of her positions, and you know I'm sick of the Clintons, but I don't think she'd be one to fuck with, in the military sense. That retired Senator from Alaska, Gravel, stole Kucinich's "crazy cred," though. Wow.

I have to have Jack at the V-E-T at 0730 tomorrow, so a smarter woman would hit the rack. I, however, just cracked open a frosty cold A&W rootbeer, so that's not gonna happen too soon.

Just for Dave - The Dog Beach

See! You all ask - I do my best to please! Behold - a cute picture of a puppy on the beach!

We're making this beach a regular trip, because it's a DOG BEACH. One of my goals for Jack is to get him well and thoroughly socialized. So packs of dogs and people are a good thing.

This was taken on an afternoon when we had it all to ourselves, though. He has real toys, but I left his retrieving toy in the Jeep, so we used a water bottle. Then, because I hug trees, we threw it away.

We took all three to the dog beach the other evening. Everyone ended up in the water, even Casey (who normally avoids water past her knees). The camera did NOT make it on that trip - the madness level was just too high.

Dogs? Guns? Assholes in DC? Gator attacks?

We talk about lots of things here at Bad Dog Central. Since this is MY megaphone, of course, I get to do that.

But I'm curious - what would you like to see more of here? More random dog pictures? More of me ranting about the current state of affairs with Iraq and Afghanistan? More pictures of horrible things I've done to firearms with my own two little hands? More bitchy comments about Florida? More personal stories about shitting in a combat zone and jumping naked off bridges?

Feel free to let me know. Some days I scratch my head and think, well, I suppose I'll just serve up more bitching about the dogs. Can't make any promises, but I do aim to please.

In which I confess what I WILL miss about Florida

During my oh-so-brief trip to DFW last month, I did notice one thing that's going to bum me out about this move. People there seemed to wear real clothes.

Now there isn't much nice to say about Florida, but the pretty-much-year-round dress code of sandals, shorts and untucked shirts has grown on me. You can wear sandals anywhere here. I've seen people walking into church wearing sandals.

I had to see someone about a thing this morning, and I felt I should look mildly reputable. So I put on a nicer untucked button down camp shirt, excessively casual beach khakis, and shoes. I paused for a moment, though, "I don't want to wear shoes," and swapped 'em out for sandals. Love that.

Heck, I've gotten to the point where I really only wear actual shirts when it's a social requirement. There's nothing I can't do around the house and yard wearing a sports bra, and as long as I occasionally shave my armpits, a tank top will work in 98% of the other places I go.

It's probably a really good thing I took the job offer in Texas that involves a casual dress code, because matching up pieces of "outfits" for the office environment is a skill I never had much of a grasp on, and I've happily let tumble away while being here.

Although I may be expected to wear real shoes there.

25 April 2007

Politics AND religion

Well, it doesn't make for acceptable dinner conversation, but we need to briefly address this: Wiccan symbol OK for soldiers' graves

Good. Not a moment too soon.

I don't give a shit if a servicemember wants a damn smiley face or paw print or the Skoal Bandit on their tombstone.

You take that oath, that long-ass plane ride, you go on that bad-feeling mission and come home under a flag...I'll chisel the damn Boston Red Sox logo on your headstone myself.

The only thing to disapprove of about this story is that it took legal action to make it happen.

The VA sought the settlement in the interest of the families involved and to save taxpayers the expense of further litigation, VA spokesman Matt Burns said. The agency also agreed to pay $225,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

Huh. If the VA hadn't decided to be a pain in the ass about this, that would have paid for...well, the real good prosthetic legs, it appears, go for around 40 grand. So that's five of these babies, and maybe the extra $25,000 could have paid for...I dunno...nicer chairs in the waiting rooms in some VA hospital in Nebraska.

Way to use those tax dollars, VA! I mean, who could argue with you about fighting over a headstone symbol?

By the way, obscure symbols that the VA had already decided were OK include:


Or we have this one:

That's the Church of World Messianity.

There it is

I'm looking at a manila envelope on my coffee table. In it, the Civilian Marksmanship Program order form, a copy of my passport, a copy of my Garand Collectors Association membership card and a copy of my most recent DD214.

Now, the rule is the form cannot arrive on Friday. But - the maniacs are out there, and if it's not in the first batch they open on Monday...well, that could significantly delay things.

SO - I'll take my happy envelope down to the PO tomorrow and send it Priority, I think.

Good lord willing and the creek don't rise, my little piece of history may even show up before I take off for Texas.

Look at 'em. Ain't they beeeeyoootiful? Somewhere in one of these boxes, one says, "Abby."

(pictures shamelessly stolen from the CMP carbine sales page)

[insert scream here]

[continue scream].............................................

[still screaming]

OK. Oh Lord. I just broke my coffee cup. Slipped right out of my hand and landed on the tile. There were shards. And coffee everywhere. I was on the phone with MC and I was just dumbstruck. I mean...it's my coffee cup. And now it's broken.

"You can call me back," she said, gently.

I cleaned up the mess (it had been full at the time of its demise).

RIP, German Sherpherd cup. I loved you, and we could have spent many years together, being happy.

However, I realize I need to move on. I can't allow the loss of the G. Shep cup to totally paralyze me. So I walked to the cup/glass shelf and tried to pick a stand-in. None of Mr. Abby's cups would do - a coffee cup is a personal thing. Here's Option 1.

I'm just not feelin' for Baghdad Bob. This was my run-up to war coffee cup. It's also too small. Let's see Option 2.

Ahh....no. I hate the goose cup. I don't even know where it came from. And it, too, is small. Let's have Option 3.

This is it. It's my stand-in until I get the next at-home standby. I'm not nuts about the handle shape, and it's another small cup, but I liked my Minnesota gun club very much and it will do for now.

I'm sorry, I need to go stare at the shard of the G. Shep cup and cry now...

Just over a month...

Til' Abby is outta here. I cannot wait.

The Slumlords (who are really pretty nice folks) have been trying to sell the duplex we live in for...well, eight or nine months? Problem is, in addition to the bottom having totally fallen out of the Tampa real estate market, this particular structure is...in need of demolition.

Those of you who've been reading for a while remember the roof leak.

And the water heater. Just in case, I'll repost the water heater picture here.

So apparently, all that aside, they decided they should STUCCO the place. Yeah. That'll help. New stucco will look great when the roof collapses.

So people have been hammering away (literally) at the exterior all morning to remove the heavy steel bars that cover my windows. Yes. The bars.


This entire undertaking will probaby stretch into tomorrow, but I'm hoping that'll be it.

24 April 2007

Cheeky monkey...

I just glanced out into the kitchen and saw Jack gnawing on something. I peered at him, then hollered at Mr. Abby.

"Hey, hon? Did you give the puppy pizza?"

"Huh? No."

Little bastard put his paws up on the stove and stole the last nasty slice of a nasty frozen pizza. I caught him trying again (to see if there was anything good left?) a couple minutes later. I believe I made my point about that being unacceptable.

I take them to the dog beach, I let them play in the water, I throw toys. I don't even complain when my Jeep smells like beach and wet dog. And this is how they pay me back! Oy vey!

Generally pissed off

I find I'm incapable of breaking down all the various war-related domestic news and addressing each topic individually these days. In all honestly, I'm disgusted past the point of speech. I just want to spit.

So I'm just going to open CNN in a second window and bitch my way down the page, more or less.

We've got these Pat Tillman/Jessica Lynch hearings going on. Jesus Christ. I am occasionally forced to wonder if the Army can do anything right. I used to not understand the purpose behind the echelons of command that are packed full of field-grade and above officers and senior NCO's making slideshows. Now I do. We have to do something with these people to keep them off the actual battlefield, or all our soldiers would instantly die. If a rifle company commander had his head as far up his ass the people in the decision-making chains on these two incidents...

Seriously - what fucktard thought the appropriate thing to do with the Tillman incident was lie with great creativity? Friendly fire happens, folks. Always has, always will. The appropriate thing to do would have been a release stating simply that Tillman had been killed "during combat operations," then a private meeting with the family to explain that it had been a friendly fire incident. I might not have even gone that far. KIA. One of the honorable fallen. Examine the situation to see what we can do to ensure it doesn't happen again, then keep marching. End of story.

Listen, guys, hint one. Bad shit cannot be made into good shit. The best thing an organization can do with bad shit is make it go away. The best way to do this is with a short, factual press release to defuse the situation. We then take all the details (no, Major, we don't HIDE them), and put them somewhere where they can be found. Ideally, we've already got a policy somewhere (written well in advance) saying that to spare families excessive pain, we do not publicize fratricide, although each and every occurance is reviewed for future improvement.

And Lynch? Good lord. I do not understand the number of people who seem to despise this young lady. Actually, I do - I simply choose to believe they're retarded. Listen - training wasn't up to snuff, NCO supervision was apparently not up to snuff, they were saddled with one of those officers the Army apparently doesn't bother training for a combat environment (because said officer's "branch" is not a combat arm - in the Army, this means these people are immune from hostile action. Betcha didn't know that).

Anyway, she is not the one to blame for this. I've never heard her claim to be anything other than what she was, and I have several times seen/heard her try to deflect any praise to those soldiers she was with who did fight like tigers.

The Army is the most Public Affairs-challenged of the services. Once upon a time I worked in PAO for the Marine Corps, and I am not full of it when I tell you that the Corps has it right, and the Army is eight kinds of fucked-up.

You know, back in PAO school, when we had our separate classes by service, the Marine instructors used to beat into us that our policy was (with the exception of anything that included the word "nuclear") "maximum exposure, minimum delay." The media asked, we answered. They wanted a subject matter expert? We found one. Might be a lance corporal, might be lieutenant colonel. The Marine Corps gambled that the American Public loved its Marines, and would forgive them their errors if we told them the truth. For the most part, that works.

Long ago the Marine Corps admitted that the country doesn't need the Corps, the country wants the Corps. And their entire PAO stance is geared toward that. The Army...discourages its frontline people from talking to the media, makes the embed process painful, and (as it does in oh-so-many ways), adds layer upon layer of useless staff paperwork and obstinate field grades to the process of getting information out. It's infuriating.

Here's the thing that Army PAO officers don't understand, apparently. Nobody on earth likes staff officers. The only thing more stupid and evil than a field-grade in a staff role is the processes that officer creates and the bright ideas he has. Sir (or Ma'am), if every single thing you do is not geared toward getting ground truth (and "ground truth" doesn't come from a brief) to the American People as quickly, painlessly and often as possible, you are wrong. Don't try to spin, you're not good enough. Don't try to get God and everybody to sign off on your new plan so you get "maximum visibility" for your next OER. Just make it your absolute mission every day in the war to get the truth to the people. And yes, you have to use the media to do it.

Soldiers are every bit as fabulous and amazing and brave and goodhearted as Marines. It drives me nuts that the Army PAO machine is so terrified of having a PV2 smoke on camera or say "the wrong thing" that their stories don't get out as well as the stories of their Marine brethren.

Tillman and Lynch - both decent soldiers done wrong by their Army. Do better, Army. We're watching.

OK. Next. Harry Reid.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.

I don't even know what to say. We can argue. I can say the surge is pretty definitely accomplishing something, but since it's not even in full swing yet, we don't really know if it's going to do the trick or not. I can say that last I checked, we don't base long-term strategy on a week's headlines from a combat zone.

Or I can say what in the Hell is this asshole talking about?!? Harry Reid is from Nevada. I thought people in Nevada were fairly sane. Can't you recall this guy or something? Jesus H. Christ on a stick. We've got the Speaker of the House meeting with the actual Forces of Goddam Evil, and we've got the Senate Majority Leader randomly declaring defeat because...I don't know. Because the President is a Republican? Because he truly believes he's been elected to orchestrate a defeat? Tell me, tell me please, that one of the most important positions in our government is not held by someone who thinks a particularly bad VBIED is cause for surrender.

Fukkit. Harry's worn out, folks, so let's call it a day. Afghanistan is also hard, so let's throw in the towel there. We've had some folks in the Horn of Africa for a while, and there hasn't been a formal Declaration of Victory there, either. Bring 'em home. We've some Guardsmen on the borders, but we've still got illegal aliens, so the Hell with that. Send them home. Let's dismantle the Border Patrol, too. Poor guys, probably wish they had more time to barbecue with their families. Coast Guard pulled a huge cocaine bust recently, so we're obviously not winning the War on Drugs either. Mothball the cutters and eliminate the DEA.

Aren't you glad this guy didn't have any power when we were fighting the Civil War? Or after Wake Island fell? What would Nancy Pelosi sound like speaking German with an Alabama accent? Harry Reid would've taken one look at the disgraceful lack of mittens at Valley Forge and immediately began holding talks with Cornwallis and Burgoyne

I just do not know, people. Our soldiers and Marines (and sailors and airmen) are amazing. Most of our military leadership is sharp, flexible, clear-eyed and willing to keep adjusting fire to maintain momentum.

But our political leadership is disgraceful. Our Republicans are still on my shit list for the amount of time it took to admit we were on the wrong track. And the Democrats...I just don't get it.

What I heard from the 2006 election was, "do it right. do it better. finish it." I did not hear "let's lose. let's give up. defeat is the goal!"

Maybe I heard the wrong thing. Sometimes I wonder. Maybe I just missed the memo when our country lost its collective mind and gave up.

Oh well. I'm still pissed, so I'm going to go run around the park or walk a dog or something.

23 April 2007

Good people...and a Bright Idea

National Amusements is a company doing something good for our servicemembers.

The company, which operates more than 1,500 screens worldwide, said from April 17 through April 30, all active service personnel and their dependents will enjoy free admission and free small popcorn and fountain drinks at all its US theater locations.

This is a nice thing. Hell, I think movies are expensive, and we're two adults. There are junior enlisted guys out there with kids who might get to take the family to see a flick they otherwise couldn't afford to attend.

National Amusements will continue to show a little love even after the big promotion ends. Every little bit is appreciated.
As of May 1, the company will institute an on-going military discount price police for active service personnel, the company said; the special military program pricing will be $7 for general admissions and $5 for matinee and children.

Good stuff.

In related news, I'm still waiting for the retroactive gas-card giveaway to everyone who's served in Operations Iraqi and/or Enduring Freedom, or in support of. Hell, we keep hearing it's a war for oil.

Not to mention that with the rising cost of gas, handing a free-gas card to everyone on active duty (which could include mobilized Guardmen and Reservists) could really help keep us meeting our recruiting goals.

We could even sweeten the deal by extending that free-gas pass after active duty, for a period equivalent to the total number months the servicemember spent in a designated Imminent Danger Pay country.

Not only could we spank the recruiting goals, but Congress could authorize more people in uniform (oh yes - our military is too small, and Congress is entirely to blame for it) and we'd have zero trouble pulling them in. I might be on to something here...

Just an idea, Guys at the Pentagon. But you can use it. I won't even demand credit.

Setting the conditions

So, in my ongoing attempt to let you all know far more than you want about the mundane details of our Bad Dog lives...

We've located a realtor in DFW who's married to one of Mr. Abby's future colleagues. Since I'll be the one headed out there first, and since my cellphone is the only phone number of ours that won't change with the move, I get to communicate with her.

(Keep in mind, of course, that my social skills are so lacking that I normally do not communicate with anyone on behalf of our family. It's better that way)

So I sent her the Exhaustive List of Criteria. We're going to have to locate a house by the first week of June, then arrange for closing so the Man, the Beasts, and the Children will have someplace to live when they show up. The List is...impressive. There are lots of homes for sale in the greater Fort Worth area, we can actually afford quite a few of them, and so we figure offering details about our desires will help us see what we want.

At the end of the List, after such important matters as yard requirements, flooring, bedrooms, bathrooms, and such, came the one I knew would be difficult. There will be, Abby declared, absolutely no homeowner's associations or anything of that sort. None.

So, the World's Cheeriest Realtor called me.

"Well, lots of the homes here have HOAs," she explained. "But we should be able to find something. I didn't want one, and managed to find something, so..."

"Good," I said. "I like to grow cherry tomatoes in pots on my front step. And I might want to put out some concrete yard gnomes."

I said it, and I do like to grow cherry tomatoes (even though the last time I did it Casey ate them all off the bush a day or two before I could pick them). But mostly...I just hate the concept.

I grew up in the midwest, where we likes us our property rights. The idea of some group of lawn fascists trotting around bitching about my bird feeders...I think it's best for all involved if we end up with a non-HOA place.

I recently perused HOAs on the internet to get a sense of what sort of "covenants" they had. Ick. Beyond all the shit about the color of your home and seeking permission to plant/prune/cut foliage... One place had a clause, and I didn't bookmark it so I can't route you there...basically, it said you could not have any lawn ornament in your front yard exceeding 12 inches in height (unless, of course, you petitioned the Lords of the Manor). You could, however, have whatever sub-12-inch lawn ornaments you wanted if you had a properly planted flowerbed and the ornaments were confined within it.

That would tempt me mightily to find a souce for 11.875-inch plastic flamingos in a various bright colors and carpet my flowerbed with them.

I don't think I have the appropriate sense of humor for an HOA, so I'm just not going to look at those houses.

By the way - I don't have any lawn ornaments. Nor can I imagine ever putting one in my yard. But you know what? I buy the damn place, I certainly intend to preserve that as an option.

Good news for my boozehounds

Now, if the major media outlets spent more time letting us know about this kind of thing...

Adding ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits -- boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found.

Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Fruity drinks as health food? Out-freaking-standing.

Now, I know you're thinking, Abby, we know you drink beer. And we know you drink wine. And we know that the voices in your head have, on occasion, caused you to drink scotch. But fruity drinks?

Oh, yes. Life is far too short to avoid the yummy, boozy drinks with umbrellas. Now, I rarely have the opportunity to drink umbrella drinks - I do not, much as I'd like to, live in a beachfront tikki bar (although if my entire life doesn't fall into line in short order, that's always on the table).

But when the opportunity arises, I believe firmly in the fruity drink. Now, I'm not into orange juice, and I generally dislike peach schnapps (are you seeing the options narrowing?). Frozen drinks are...well, I find they get tedious. And a little tequila goes a long way.

So where does that leave us? Lots of places, really, but I have an affinity for the Singapore Sling. It's red, and fruity, and because I ran across it somewhere in Asia, I have happy memories associated with it.

Little did I know until I ran the Google search that the correct recipe for said drink is shrouded in confusion and is the topic of discussion among the sort of people who discuss that sort of thing. Check out this lengthy discussion.

Huh. Well, it's been a while since I last ordered one, but as I recall, the good ones are a deep red.

Anyway, go get yourself a fruity drink with an umbrella. They're good for you! If you have suitable companionship available, find a bar that has a patio and some torches and consume your entire RDA of fruits from a large, silly glass.

WLSR - broadcasting in my backyard

That would be "Loser Radio," perhaps better known as my super-creepy across-the-back-fence neighbor.

Dude's probably in his 40s, balding, and apparently unemployed. I haven't had any reason to believe he's done anything gainful in the entire time we've lived here. Nor can I see any evidence of anyone else living there.

Dude drinks a LOT of beer (I run past his trash cans - I know these things), and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if he sells a little pot (traffic patterns lead me to thing drugs, clientele leads me to think marijuana). He's trashy and creepy, but seems friendly enough.

He used to wave and try to strike up conversation. Cheerfully encouraging Casey to do her snarling police dog routine whenever he leaned over the fence put a stop to that, though.

Problem is...the music. Pretty much every evening, it's loud. I mean like all my windows and doors are shut and I can hear it loud. And it's normally 70s-era guitar crap. Once in a while something I recognize, but often just chords. There's a possibility this is a guy with his own guitar who can only play two or three chords. I just don't know.

Friday and Saturday nights it's super-tiresome. The same thing, played again and again, punctuated only by the sound of him dumping another crate of glass empties into the outdoor trash can.

It annoys me, but really, given our neighborhood, it's just one of those things. But occasionally he pulls something a little odd.

I swear he was just broadcasting Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill." WTF? It has occured to me that a well-placed round in the electric meter that faces our yard would provide at least temporary relief, and I can't imagine the other neighbors would rat me out. Food for thought.

22 April 2007


I read Ambulance Driver from time to time, and always wonder why it isn't more often. I wandering around there this evening and followed a pointer to Babs The Nurse.

She writes some good shit. I have some nurse readers out there - y'all especially should check her out. I came in on this post, but read around - it looks good.

Pure unadulterated irritation

We know that Abby has to use a laundromat to achieve clean clothes. Well, I can (and do) occasionally use a bucket, but for real laundry...it's the laundromat.

I used to use the Outdoor Laundromat, which is kind of exotic and interesting, while at the same time maintaining the tradition of tackiness that's so important to such businesses. However, the combination of biting insects, inefficient dryers and some really creepy clients moved me a couple of miles to City Wide Laundry.

City Wide changed owners last fall. A younger gentleman bought the place, spruced it up and kept it clean and in good order. He appeared to have just one employee, an old fat woman. City Wide takes in laundry as well as offering facilities to do your own, so both Young Guy and Fat Lady were always busy. Normally, they managed to do client laundry and keep the place tidy while staying out of the way of those there to wash clothes. They were chatty - it was a pretty good place to do laundry.

So I started going there. I spend anywhere from $12 (if it's just me here) to $35 (all three kids, towels, beach towels, bedding) per trip.

My last visit was last Friday during the day. It seemed there was a new employee. A younger gal, quite pudgy, rabbit-mouthed, coke-bottle glasses, red hair, perpetually stunned look. She was obviously still figuring out the required rhythm of the place - she had laundry stalled in several stages and was slowing down the whole process.

That was not the problem. Her child was the problem. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the slightly Hispanic-looking small boy (maybe 3?) racing around the building, screaming, touching things, climbing on folding tables, pushing carts and generally being underfoot, belonged to her.

After a while, a Puerto Rican guy showed up (I know he's Puerto Rican because it says so on his tricked-out Honda Civic). Ahhh, I thought, here's Dad to pick the little bugger up! Well, no. Here was Dad, with McDonald's bags. Passing out lunch led to the wee little beastie continuing all his earlier rampaging, but with a fucking hamburger that he seemed to enjoy smearing on every available surface. After lunch, Dad proceeded to hang out with a buddy in the parking lot while El Nino carried on terrorizing the laundromat.

I was pissed. But I wrote it off. I'm like Gandhi that way. You know...easy-going.

But then I returned today. Same setup, minus the hamburger but with more patrons. Well, and add it an elderly couple on bicycles that I can only assume were Mr. Puerto Rico's parents. It was a regular old family get-together at the laundromat. Fuckkit. I'm taking my average of $22 a week and going elsewhere. I don't need that shit.

C'mon, people. I don't like your children. I don't think they're cute, and I don't like to have them pestering around while I'm trying to do something.

I don't bring a 12-pack of beer and carton of cigarettes to Chuck E. Cheese, then sit around cleaning my guns in the middle of the Skee-ball games. Why do you do the reverse?

Seriously. There's a Kid World, and a Grownup World, and an Everybody World. Friendly's, Red Robin, Chuck E. Cheese, Disney World and the like make up Kid World. WalMart, McDonald's, parks, zoos and beaches fall into Everybody World. The rest of the country is Grownup World.

I'm not saying kids shouldn't appear in Grownup World, but it's our world, and they're guests in it. If I see your kid in grownup world, I assume you're socializing him. Which means I am counting on you to snatch that little rugrat up by the collar and square him away if he's racing around in the bank. I expect to see the white-knuckled-forearm-pinch coupled with the Mom Look Of Death when Junior is getting his tantrum on at Jiffy Lube.

I'm going to make this real simple. Kids are fine. They're certainly necessary, since we can't have grownups forever without having some kids around. But childhood is a transitory state. It's a process. The goal is to get them through childhood and into adulthood.

So Kid World needs to stay over there on the other side of the tracks. Grownup World needs to remain just that - a place you take your kids to teach them to be grownups. Workplaces, business and the like are not fucking Gymboree. Stop it.

Good lord. I'd go to the Green Iguana and have a drink, but I'm concerned it might be "cartoon and balloon day."