Saturday, August 30, 2008

Questions about recycled packaging - Answered!

I hope you don't mind me asking, but I'm really into going green and hope to use only recycled packaging, however some people may not like it and others may think it looks messy and unprofessional. Do you have any ideas or references into making recycled packaging more "professional"? I already use some recycled food boxes but my family thinks it looks sloppy. Please help if you don't mind.

I use food boxes in my packaging all the time — including McDonald's happy meal boxes. I use them and cereal boxes, as well as other packaged food boxes that use cereal box style cardboard (as long as the food is dry) - even soda pop cardboard. I flatten them, then cut 2 pieces exactly to fit inside the envelopes I use to ship my cards. I put the cards in between the two pieces then inside the envelope. The envelopes are 100% recycled paper - Kraft paper - that I buy from

When I'm not shipping something that is flat, I re-use the smallest cardboard box I can find to do the job — or a bubble mailer that I re-use. Sometimes I reinforce those with cereal box cardboard.

I have never had any complaints - in fact - I have received some really nice compliments about my packaging. I think people who buy the things I make are eco-friendly to begin with so they appreciate it. I do put a statement in my etsy seller's profile that I use re-used packaging, but I don't go into detail.

I really don't take to heart the concern some express about needing to have frilly packaging or making things look 'professional.' The vast majority of people when asked say they think what really matters is the content and they don't care what the packaging looks like as long as the item arrives safely.

That doesn't stop me from wrapping a monkey figure or a handmade box in tissue paper or raffia ribbon though! When I do make an effort to wrap a purchase like a present, I always re-use material — usually from Christmas and birthdays. Fortunately the vast majority of people who buy presents for me use non-Christmassy wrapping paper and tissue which makes it easier to re-use.

I also use butcher paper to wrap packages - you can get it from your local newspaper for cheap or even free. At some point, the paper on the huge rolls they buy is too short to run through their press, so they accumulate 'end rolls' of unprinted newspaper. You can call them and ask if they give away or sell their end rolls. Crumpled, it makes nice padding for items that aren't heavy. You can also buy rolls of Kraft paper to serve the same purpose. It's also inexpensive.

For heavy items like pottery, you still need bubble wrap or those plastic peanuts - I save all of that type of thing I get so I can re-use it. I've never had to buy them since they are so ubiquitous.

Basically, if you save all packaging material you receive, you can re-use almost all of it. The only things I throw straight in the recycling bin are materials that are soiled, stained beyond all recognition, or crushed to the point of being useless. For re-sued packaging materials like boxes and bubble mailers that have been around the block and don't look pretty, I wrap them in Kraft paper off a roll.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Little 'Chunka Beefins' now weighs 51 lbs at 16 weeks.

She's got quite a personality packed into her frame, and at 16 weeks and 51 pounds, we're all wondering how big that little Yookster personality is going to get.

She's talkative. I don't know if that's a newf thing, a thing she picked up from big sister Katy, or something she inherited straight from her original canine family, but man she has a lot to say.

From little yawns and yips to full on I'm-going-to-eat-you-for-lunch barks, she's one Noisy Newfy.

The two newfs do get along very amicably and lately Katy has taken it upon herself to groom little sister's eye boogers, which is really nice considering I think they're yucky and it gets old cleaning them out of her eyes 300 times a day. Well, it's not that often, but newfies do produce a lot of, shall we say, mucous.

Baby Yuki has a whole host of monikers now:

* Yookster
* Chunkins
* Beefins
* Crispins (she's always newfing it up with Katy, who mouths her, and since her puppy coat is not waterproof, the slobber dries to a crisp)
* Yookers
* Ukulele
* Uke-ular
* Yucky Yuki
* Yuckster

And of course, we now have the 8 paws of the Newfpocalypse instead of the Four Paws of the Newfpocalypse... and she hasn't even reached the Freak-Out Puppy Stage yet.

I'm sure that's coming... the time when we will watch on edge as she tears through the whole house at super high speed, running as fast as she can from one end to the next, using every available piece of furniture in her path as gymnastics equipment to show off.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tell me your favorite book..

Someone asked me to tell them my favorite book. I have many, but tonight the answer I gave was Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice To All Creation.

It's written like a series of Dear Abby-style letters from sexually frustrated mammals, birds, and insects who ask "Dr. Tatiana" to explain some sexual oddity. For example, "Don't Wanna Be Butch in Botswana" writes, "I'm a spotted hyena, a girl. The only trouble is, I've got a large phallus. I can't help feeling that this is unladylike. What's wrong with me?"

The writer, Olivia Judson, is a talented PhD evolutionary biologist who conveys tremendous knowledge while writing at a level that is extremely graspable and freaking hilarious!

Used copies are the best $5 you'll ever spend on reading material.

She's got a TV show now too that has aired in the UK, Canada and Australia, but I guarantee you'll never see this one on American TV. It is over the top!

We'd much rather have our kids growing up on a steady diet of violence than sex and evolution.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Magpies recognize themselves in a mirror

Self-recognition, once thought to be an ability possessed only by select primates, has now been demonstrated in a bird — the magpie.

So they aren't mere bird brains after all say newspapers all across America today. The AP moved a story today about how magpies pass the classic 'mark test.' PLoS Biology, a peer reviewed journal, published the study. I haven't read it yet, but am eager to - just as soon as I get my other work done! It looks promising and in the meantime, I found a nifty video the research team put together showing the little guys in the test. You can view it at the very end.

In the test, individuals are marked with something, usually a dot of paint or a sticker, in a place they can't see on themselves without using a mirror. Half the time, the mark is conspicuous. The other half it blends in. For the magpies, stickers were used — highly noticeable yellow ones and inconspicuous black ones.

The birds scratched at the yellow ones and left the black ones alone. And, supposedly that means they can recognize themselves in mirrors and by extension have a sense of self — a self concept in other words. To be aware of oneself as an individual is pretty high-level cognition, very few species even have a clue.

I've written about the mark test before, back when elephants made headlines for passing the mark test. Dolphins also pass the mark test. You can read more about the elephants and the meaning of mirror self-recognition here.

Though they are from vastly different evolutionary lines, what these species all share is a significantly large brain for their body size. Why species develop big brains is an even more fascinating subject.

Until next time, enjoy this great magpie video.

It's just about enough to make me want to raise magpies. They do seem really smart — them and crows. But they'd make an even bigger mess than two newfoundlands. I think I'll leave the bird studies to the ornithologists.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is lowering the drinking age to 18 the right thing to do?

The presidents of some college and universities around the country have gained media attention lately for their supposed proposal to lower the national drinking age from 21 to 18. However, this is not what they explicitly want. Their initiative, called the Amethyst Initiative, merely calls for a reasoned debate about the matter.

The impetus for this, besides potentially making it easier on them to manage a mix of legal and illegal alcohol use on their campuses by lowering the legal age to 18, is the fact that the Transportation Department bill that created the age limit expires in 2009. Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984. It created a penalty of a 10% loss of a state's federal highway funding on any state that sets its drinking age lower than 21. That created enough incentive for states to set their drinking ages at 21. With that bill soon set to expire, the time is right to revisit whether it makes sense.

Of course, one of the first arguments that people opposed to the 21 age is that if you are mature enough to vote and fight in a war for your country then you are mature enough to consume alcohol.

People who are in favor of the 21 age point out that different things are legal at different ages. For example:
  • 12 - age at which a person can obtain a hunting license
  • 16 - age at which a person can get a license to drive
  • 18 - age at which a person can serve in the military, on a jury, vote and sign a legally binding contract
  • 25 - age at which a person can serve in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 35 - age at which a person can serve as the U.S. President
These ages were presumably chosen because they reflect the age at which a person is developmentally mature enough to handle the responsibilities that go along with the privilege.

Recently in WA, a 12-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed a woman hiking with her family. He mistook her as a bear and is being tried as a juvenile for manslaughter. Was he mature enough to obtain that license? He had one, so someone thought so.

I think if people are considered mature enough to use a tool that can be used as a deadly weapon, as both guns and cars can be, they are effectively considered mature enough to be in control of who lives and who dies, surely a grave decision. When a person votes for president they affect who gets to decide what to do with out country's most deadly weapon — nukes. Is anyone mature enough to make that decision? I don't have the answer to that, but I think it's absurd that people are considered mature enough to decide that at age 18 but not mature enough to drink a beer.

As a psychologist I know maturity and good judgment do not suddenly become fully developed once a certain age is reached. It's highly variable. Some are ready to make decisions and handle their consequences earlier than others.

That's why I personally am in favor of lowering the drinking age to 18, the age at which people are adult in the eyes of the law. It's arbitrary but at least in line with what is commonly considered 'adult.'

Perhaps the answer is to require a license to consume alcohol prior to a certain age. In order to obtain the license, the individual must take courses in the effects of alcohol and pass a test that measures whether they understand the consequences of drinking too much, how much impulse control they have, and whether they know how much is too much. I'd support that as a compromise, but really I see no good reason to not lower the drinking age to the age of majority.

You can learn more about the college president's initiative here: The Amethyst Initiative
And you can learn more about the research behind what effect increasing the age limit to 21 here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Day in the Life of Newf, Jr.

Above: Yuki stands not so much in the shadow of the huge tree, but rather in the shadow of her big sister. Hero worship like this happens every day.

Left: Towels are not utilitarian objects used to mop up drool. They are toys — chew toys. It's okay to take a break to pose for the camera.

Bottom: Cardboard must be properly processed before it's sent to the recycling center. That's a large oatmeal container. Her knuckles are now the size of Mr. Field Notes' knuckles and she's growing real jowls! Jowls that need to be mopped up.

Best Tips: How to make a successful blog

If you want to make a successful blog - say one that has hundreds or even thousands of regular readers/subscribers - you've got to solve a limited number of problems:

*starting a blog

*topics to blog about

*building a readership

*keeping motivated to blog

  • Figure out what is the purpose of your blog.
You'll see the most ease of keeping a blog if its purpose fits with your passion in life. The purpose of mine is to educate people about psychology, science and animal behavior — which is convenient because it's also my passion.
  • Know your passion - not what merely interests you. You'll need to write about what you're passionate about to stay motivated to keep a blog. Choose a name/URL for your blog that reflects that passion.
Field Notes of an Evolutionary Psychologist works for me and I chose to add Field Notes to allow me to write about a wider variety of subjects. Field notes could be written on anything! Newfoundlandnews came about because really, it was the addition of Big K that made me think a blog would be fun and would get me excited about writing a dissertation. The real purpose of my blog only unfolded later.
  • Get signed up with a blog host site that fits with your needs and HTML skill level.
I chose because it's free and requires no familiarity whatsoever with HTML which is perfect for me since although I like learning new languages I really have no interest in talking to computers in their language.
  • Install a free stat counter.
Ones like and allow you to spy on who visits your blog and what they do. You're not going to be interested so much in who visits your blog but in how many visit and what they do. It allows you to observe their behavior which is useful information. You can use it as a barometer of your blog's success and your effectiveness in 'marketing' your blog. Those free stat counters will tell you everything you need to know - how many people each day visit, how they get to your blog, how long they stay and what they click on when they're there. You want a lot of readers who stay a long time and if you're trying to use your blog to drum up business or to further educate, you want them to click on links.

  • Your passion.
You may be passionate about primates, like I am, and know enough about them to write something everyday about them, but figuring out WHAT exactly to choose on any given day is a whole other matter. I usually just pick the first thing rattling around in my head that excites me - or I pick the first thing that has been thrust there. It could be some quirky thing I saw one of the dogs do, some interesting science news I read, or even something idiotic I see on TV. There are lots of ways science and psychology gets used inaccurately in mainstream media and that is perfect ignition for a post.
  • Develop many interests. You can use those varied interests for quick posts when you're pressed for time.
I resort to dog posts and other piffle when I don't have time to develop an educational post. I still try to make the dog ones educational though! You can see an example of that here.
  • Observe the world around you.
By paying attention to what's going on in the world, your house, your neighborhood, your city, school, park, alley etc., you will find things to blog about.

Expand your view. Browse. Look at lots of different things briefly.

Rifle through a newspaper, magazine, click and surf around other blogs and websites.
Flip through a book. Channel surf. Go on a walk - down alleys, in new places.

Seek the new - it's novelty that inspires and excites. Ideas are never just going to pop into your head. You've got to actively put them there.
  • Choose one story to tell.
For your blog to be worth reading, you have to tell a story. To find the story, the important thing is to notice something interesting, which is a lot easier if you make a habit of observing the world around. Picking which one to actually run with and make a story out of is a challenge. I usually just pick the first one. After you've chosen a topic — think about it — then write your perspective on it. If you don't think first, you'll have to do it while you write and it will take 10 times as long. And you want to avoid that if you want to build a readership.

HOW TO BUILD A READERSHIP: # 1 - Create great content.
  • Post often.
You will lose readers fast if you don't regularly post new, fresh content. Before I took a break two months ago, I had easily 200-300 people a day stop by. That plummeted to 50-60 when I stopped blogging altogether.

If you're just starting out, aim for every 2-3 days. Once you get rolling, ratchet that up to once a day, 6 days a week. Later you can add more, maybe post twice a day or several times. You're only limit is time.
  • Tell a story.
You've got to have great content to get people coming back. A story has a beginning, middle and end. Good ones start strong and fast and suck you in. The middle provides depth and detail. The end let's readers know what they've learned.

The best stories are told with good, basic writing. This means correct spelling and grammar, tight sentences that are to the point, transitions between ideas, and descriptive adjectives to create imagery.

Even better blog stories are illustrated with photos.
  • Embed images.
Choose photos that are relevant, clear, crisp, colorful and sized so that there is enough text visible around them to fit at least 3-4 words on each line. That helps readers move through a story and get to the end of your post. Obviously I've screwed the pooch royally on this post! Longer posts may need several pictures or graphic elements. Space them a few inches apart so readers don't scroll to far without running into another image. Alternate where you place the photos - sometimes flush left, sometimes flush right, rarely center.

HOW TO BUILD A READERSHIP: # 2 - Promote and market.
Once you've got the content part nailed down, you've got to help people find it.
  • Comment on other blogs.
I spend time commenting on blogs nearly every day. Why? It's fun to share opinions. But also because when a comment is left, the blog owner or other readers may click on the comment to see the blog that made it.

You'll get people to click back to your blog more often if you leave comments on blogs that get a lot of comments. It means they have more readers who could potentially click back to yours. Leave insightful comments, even questions — and if you're feeling bold — pointed ones, aka the snarky comment. That will get people to click back faster than anything. Just don't be a jerk, and whatever you do, don't leave spam comments.

You'll also generate more back clicks if you leave comments on blogs that write about similar topics. Soon, you'll be reading & commenting on a network of similar blogs. After a while, you get to know a blogging community this way. My network, and readership, is mostly academics and artists. I could expand that by searching for other like-minded people, such as gardeners.
  • Put links to your blog in your emails, other websites and online communities you participate in.
You'll be able to tell how effective these various methods are at generating traffic to your blog if you use the statcounters. Commenting on other blogs has been the most effective for me.


You will have days you don't have anything you think is worthy of a post. You'll have days you think you don't have time to. Although it's true that those are the only 2 legitimate reasons not to post, they aren't good enough reasons to file a story. If you want to have a successful blog, you have to be productive and keep the quality high.

Readers, loyal ones especially, will forgive you if you have crappy content days. But they will not forgive you if you don't even publish.

Can you imagine if your town's newspaper just didn't put out the paper one day because none of the stories were 'good enough' or the reporters didn't feel they had 'time to write a good enough story' that day? It never happens.

Now think of all the stories that are in the paper. They aren't all universally interesting or well-written, and most aren't even illustrated with photos. But they're there. All the news that's fit to print. Rubbish! It's all the news that fits, prints.

You should adopt the same attitude with your blog. Decide how often you publish (your readers will figure it out and adjust their visits). Decide the minimum length of a story you'll write each day (space your posts will fill). Then — fill it. Even if it is just a photo. At least put a caption in that explains what the photo is. I'd bet before you know it, you have a post.

That's basically all you need to know to make a successful blog. Just remember to blog about your passion. Tell a story well and with photos. Do so regularly, and save some time to read and comment on other blogs. If you set aside just enough time each day, and turn these tips into habits, you will have a very successful blog indeed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Paper Factory Grinds to... a Halt

Today was an exciting day in the rag trade. Good stuff was going on at the newspaper as Mr. Field Notes writes about.

Back at home, I momentarily suffered a setback in making paper. Naturally it coincided with 4 big orders I need to complete this week. Midway through one batch, I couldn't get the blender to start up again. I don't what happened to it - whether the water seeping into it shorted out the wiring or the frequent, heavy demands wore out the motor or something else entirely. While I finished pressing the pulp I had already made, Mr. Field Notes fetched me a new one. I marveled at its pristine condition, but put the old carafe on the new body and pressed on.

The sheets I made turned out beautifully — more richly fibered lunaria pod paper.

The other setback was more comical: Mr. Field Notes' ear protector muffs broke when he put them on. My dad sent us two pairs of the type of ear muffs used on shooting ranges so you don't go deaf during target practice, but more relevant to us - so we don't go deaf while I make paper. I use Smith & Wesson; he uses Winchester. The plastic piece that attaches the padded ear cover to the headband snapped right off his as he put them on.

He found some old-fashioned ear plugs but not before joking around by wrapping the earmuffs to his head with a towel - walking head wound style.

The finished product looks something like this:

That's baby Yuki up there being a cute little Busted Stuff model. She's 15 weeks old now and about 45-50 pounds. And, yes, she has busted some stuff - nothing big. We've got a bunch of squeaky toy critters in sick bay waiting for operations.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blue-Eyed Lemurs: Or why gentlemen prefer blondes.

Each month on etsy I debut a new monkey made out of eco-felt and created to resemble a real species of primate. The August monkey for the Monkey of the Month Club is the blue-eyed lemur.

The monkeys are decorative ornaments that can be used year round. The felt is made by a company, the Kunin Felt Group, that makes it out of 100% post-consumer plastic bottles. I call them OrnaMonkeys.

The blue-eyed lemur is a species of lemur that is unique among primates in two regards:
* They have blue eyes.
* The males and females look different.

Their blue eyes arise from a recessive gene that also gives rise to blue eyes among humans. So far as I know, the blue-eyed lemur is the only other species of primate beside humans to regularly have blue eyes. Blue-eyed lemurs are a subspecies of black lemurs. When they mate, something they are able to do, the offspring usually have brown eyes.

I don't know why taxonomists decided to give the blue-eyed ones their own 'sub' species status, but it's a little silly really. The only thing that separates the two is the color of their eyes. It's as silly as designating all blue-eyed people a subspecies of Homo sapiens, except that people aren't endangered and lemurs are.

Taxonomic designations have real conservation consequences. The blue-eyed lemurs are considered critically endangered, which is more serious than simply being endangered. It means they more desperately need habitat protected and those rules enforced. Designating them in a special category might translate into more attention, stricter laws, tougher enforcement — and more money for their conservation.

But what is really cool, in my opinion, is not their blue eyes, but the fact that males and females of this species look radically different. All males are completely black. All females are reddish and have light faces. This pattern, known as sexual dimorphism, is more typically seen in birds where the males are brightly colored and the females are drab brown and hardly distiguishable form other species of bird. When birdwatchers go out birdwatching, they're usually looking for males - they're flashy and far easier to identify.

It's not all that different for these blue-eyed lemurs, except that I think the females look flashier.

There are loads of theories about why males and females look different. Most are variations on sexual selection - an evolutionary mechanism Darwin proposed as a compliment to natural selection. Sexual selection is an evolutionary process whereby male and female mate preferences diverge over time, either because males prefer and select lighter females to mate with or because females prefer darker males to mate with. It’s a bit like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes! Over time, the females get lighter and males get darker.

No one knows just why gentlemen prefer blonds and ladies flip over dark haired men, but one intriguing theory (at least for the human pattern) is that light hair is more typically seen among children than adults. So, light hair signals youth and is a desirable quality in females since it means they have a lifetime of reproductive potential ahead of them. That's why gentlemen prefer blondes. What's interesting, and provides some measure of support for this theory as it applies to these lemurs, is that males are born reddish like females and only darken to black with age. I don't know of a good theory about why females prefer darker males let alone whether they actually do, but there is some reasonably good evidence to suggest that men really do prefer the fairer sex.
* * * * *
The blue-eyed lemur OrnaMonkeys are for sale on etsy. They all come with a fact sheet so recipients can learn about the monkeys. The Monkey of the Month Club makes a wonderful Christmas gift. Memberships go on sale in early October.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Newfoundlands wreck your home.

Newfoundlands wreck your home.

That's the title of one of our favorite YouTube videos, but the thing is, the video just shows this cute little puppy - about Yuki's size - who chases a cute toy around. Nothing in the house comes even remotely close to being so much as briefly out of order.

Maybe the headline was prophetic - for as we well know with TWO of them - that Newfoundlands *do* make their mark on your home.

Little baby Yuki has certainly made her mark on Katy's home. Often running her yap as she's doing over there on the couch while playing with her toys - I mean - Katy's former toys. Bark. Bark. Bark.... BARK! BARK! BARK!

The placid scene of the two of them above happens every time Mr. Field Notes leaves - they both run to the big comfy chair at the front of the house to watch him walk away down the sidewalk. It's pretty much the most peaceful thing they do when they're awake.

The rest of the time - it's PLAY FIGHT CLUB mayhem.

Katy would rather lie outside in the sun - when it's 100 degrees - than come inside and deal with her little sister's antics.

At least, that's how I took it when I tried to get Her Royal Newfyness to come back inside after a noontime yard break.

She had already done her business and there were still plenty of plums outside to go off and eat. Huge shaggy black dog is so tired of sister that she'd rather pant and go crazy hot than to come inside where it's air conditioned.

Only after baby Yuckster went outside and fished around for her own plums did Big K finally truck back inside, presumably to remind the baby that she is the Reigning Queen of the Plums. And that's exactly what she did - she launched into baby sister's ear when she came too close while I was grooming off all the dirt, grass, and dried God-knows-what Katy put all over herself while being a big stubborn head outside. I guess she read today's headline in the paper: Being a jerk is legal, court says.

She really is a very good dog, very obedient - to the point she will not eat a treat you have put in her paws until you say it's okay - well after any other dog would have gobbled it. She's just got this mean streak that flairs up when being groomed.

The baby? It's too early to tell, but there's plenty to talk about how the training is going in the next installment of Newfoundland News.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A long overdue post about... MAX

A few weeks ago today, our spaniel Max died. That picture is my favorite one of him, taken when he was a much younger guy.

I thought I'd tell a few anecdotes about the little man and highlight some fond memories.

Max was a real character. Everyone loved him. He was universally friendly, which of course helped out a lot on walks. Kids really loved petting him. I'll always remember the day we bumped into a bunch of 3-4 year olds just coming out of daycare. They swarmed him and Max ate up the attention. He really, really loved kids and was so patient with them. They grabbed at his eyelids and he didn't even flinch, just kept wagging his merry little butt off. One saw his handmade, handstamped leather collar that read M.A.X. and wanted to know what it said. Another exclaimed, "He's wearing a BELT!" It was so funny. I had not until that point ever noticed that his collar really was a belt. Kids. You gotta love 'em.

Max had a lot of nicknames. These are my favorites:
Zam Zam (Max said backwards and twice for effect)
Osama bin Dog Head (He earned his terrorist moniker, more than once.)
Butt Breath (He thought poop was a delicacy, among other reasons for this one.)
Maxy Pants (His leg fur fringed out so much it made it look like he wore fuzzy pants).

So, the terrorist part - Max. Let me present for your review:

Exhibit 1 for the Evidence
Christmas 2002 - I think. He helped himself to the Christmas presents which had been (so we thought) safely hidden away in the office. He tore into them and ate about a half pound of espresso beans. For 2 days straight he quite literally bounced off the walls. He was like a meth head on speed. Running. Running from one room to the other - for no reason. Treating the furniture like obstacles on a course. 2 days straight. Then he crashed and slept. And slept. And slept some more. He came away unscathed. But, boy was that *weird* and quite a sight.

Exhibit 2.
Christmas 2003 (?) Jumped onto the dining room table while no one was looking and ate the chocolate truffles. Enough that we needed 3 people to hold him down and pour hydrogen peroxide down his throat to make him throw up. Not fun.

Exhibit 3.
Christmas 2004. Jumped up onto the table after Christmas dinner, again while no one was looking, after the meal and helped himself to ALL of the leftover Swedish meatballs - my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Oh he was so proud of himself.

Exhibit 4.
When Mr. Field Notes left for Japan for the first time, Max developed 'stress colitis.' That's what the official vet's term was for him getting the runs every time Mr. Field Notes left for more than a few days. This Japan trip was the absolute worst. I don't know why I decided one night to put Max in the bathroom for the night, probably desperation for not wanting to clean diarrhea off the carpet one more time... I figured it'd be easier to clean up off of vinyl. I never anticipated that he would smear the shit on the walls *and* cabinets, but he did. In copious amounts. It was horrible. The Maxy de Sade...

These are only the most egregious of his Class A felonies. His rap sheet would have been much, much longer had I included every incident in Max's career as a criminal. I left out all of the many incidents of vandalism, notably the very expensive SPSS disks (for computing thesis statistics), the hand carved ostrich egg, and his penchant for chewing up cloth.

He also had numerous assaults on file. He was such a little biter. If he got a hold of something he shouldn't have, he would NOT let it go. Man was he tenacious. We got bit often when trying to take stuff away from him. Bribes were the only thing that worked, and they only worked when they were better than what he had - which in his mind - was hardly ever.

But he loved, loved, loved lots of things. Going for walks, getting into the car to GO! He loved rides. He'd hang his head out the window every time - long, fuzzy corkscrew ears blowing in the wind. He loved going to the bank drive through - they'd give him biscuits. Any drive through might have them. He was an optimist.

And games - GAMES! He loved playing CHASE. He'd fetch, but never return. You had to chase him. And he LOVED that. Keep away was the best.

He also flipped for games of HIDE & SEEK. He was both really great, and really bad at playing hide 'n' seek. Mr. Field Notes would go hide in a closet, behind a curtain, on the other side of the bed.. anywhere. I'd tell Max, "Go find your daddy!" And then he'd run all over the place from one room to the next, often looking 3, 4, 5 or more times in the same room or spot. It was so fun. When Mr. Field Notes would hide under the bed covers, it'd be so obvious where he was. But not to Max. He would finally think to look there and then when he realized that's where the daddy was - his frantic enthusiasm would kick in and he'd dive into the sheets, tossing them with his nose, digging out 'the daddy' and then wagging his butt off when they reunited. It was the best.

He would always great us at the door with a toy in his mouth when we got home - even if we were only gone for 5 minutes. He loved big, monster sized toys the absolute best - especially his mammoth rope bone. Although he had monster balls the size of cantaloupes chopped of when he was neutered, he still humped his toys like a drug addict on X.

Max - he was a real character and a very well loved.