This morning I had to be the mean neighbor.
Usually, believe it or not, I’m the nice one.
I won’t call the POA (Property Owner’s Association) on you if your propane tank isn’t “camouflaged” by lattice. (Because, you know, white-painted lattice blends in with nature more than a white-painted tank.)
And there is no way in the reality of this vast universe as we know it that I could care less about whether your trash can sits outside. (Unless you’re using it to store a dead body, in which case I might take issue with the smell. But I’d talk to you about it before calling the Authority.)
Need a cup of sugar? I’m here. Some eggs? Look no further. A Percocet? Well. I’m not going to discuss it in a public forum, but call me. We’ll talk. (It’s the suburbs — we understand pain.)
But this morning, I was not in the mood to dole out coffee, farm products, or prescription drugs. My generosity ends when you let your dog piss all over my world.
On a daily basis.
Look, I’m human. I have dogs. I understand that you can’t always control where they pee when you’re walking them. But remember this? Remember my nice little mailbox planter I worked so half-assedly to complete in a semi-finished, it’ll-get-me-by-for-now sort of way?
Every day, this old man walks by with his golden retriever. And it’s a mean golden retriever. (I know — that’s like a depressed Richard Simmons or Kurt Cobain singing pop music. It just doesn’t seem right.) And every day, he stands there while his retriever raises his leg and pees on my mailbox.
And it drives my dogs crazy.
So today, I was in the garage slapping a coat of polyurethane on my desk. I’ve given up on waiting for a non-humid day. And, sure enough, Gramps and Kojak come ambling along, and there he stops. The dog doesn’t initiate it — he does. Like he’s saying, okay, Fido. Here’s where you pee. It ticks her dogs off. Hear them barking from inside?
All I did was stand up, back sweats and all, sponge brush in hand, and say, “Really?”
He was startled, like a kid caught stealing baseball cards.
He gave the leash a tug and ambled on.
I knew he knew.
And this battle, I’ve won.
I’m not really sure why I just went into all that, because that’s not really what I sat down to write about. I guess I’m still breathing in the sweet fumes of victory and clear gloss lacquer. Ah, the problems of the privileged.
What I sat down to tell you was something about which you might already be very well aware. But, in case you’re not, I wanted to expand your horizons and help make your life a little easier.
See, while the internet is a reliable distractor, providing us with ample writings, videos, and more time wasters than it’s possible to count (like this here blog), it also provides us with ways to streamline these distractions so we’re more efficient in the ways we avoid actual work.
Enter Google Reader. It’s a nifty little tool that combines all of the blogs you like to read in one, compact space, so you no longer need to sift through email subscriptions or remember to visit individually bookmarked sites to catch up on each one.
All you need is a free Gmail account, and it’s yours.
Then, you just go to google.com/reader, paste your blog URLs (like http://domestiphobia.net) into the “Add a Subscription” window, and you’re set!
The reader will list all of your subscribed blogs in the left-hand column and automatically track what you’ve read and haven’t read.
Tip: If you don’t like how narrow the reading pane is, just press the “f” button on your keyboard, and you’ll be able to read the blog posts full-screen. If you move your cursor to the top of the page, a hidden navigation bar will drop down. Press “f” again to exit full screen.
If you read more than one blog, I highly recommend you start using this little gizmo. It takes about 2 minutes to figure out, and it’s allowed me to be a lot less productive by helping me read and keep track of significantly more blogs on a daily basis.
And that is a beautiful thing.