Month: November 2014

Das Boot.

“Boot” as in “boot,” not “boat.” My dog eats boots.  She has not, as of yet, devoured or even nibbled on a boat.  At least not to my knowledge. Perhaps if the boat were made of leather, she might give it a whirl.  Take a run at it.  Trip the light fantastic. 

Screenshot 2014-11-20 08.21.10This historic piece of boatbuilding?  A glorified chew toy for our Black Lab and whatever mix.  If I just turned my laptop’s screen to give her the briefest of glimpses at this bark and leather canoe, Wailea would begin blowing her saliva bubbles and dotting her head around with unnatural rapidity, birdlike.  She’d be on the verge of losing her mind.  Terrified, I’d loose my fingers’ grip on the MacBook Air, sprinting and gone from the living room before the laptop thudded on the carpet.  Running for my life. Aren’t I, more or less, made of leather?

Fortunately, I believe leather has long since fallen out of favor as a boat-making ingredient. That’s good for boat owners (and for dog owners showing their dogs pictures of leather boats).  Because my dog would eat every leather boat in the Marina.  It would look like the San Francisco Bay waterfront during the Gold Rush, littered with the remains of abandoned boats.  She would clean out a leather-made boat, removing every last edible or potentially-edible morsel, leaving nothing but the ribs behind.  This would be hard for me to explain to the good people who own boats near my neighborhood —

Screenshot 2014-11-20 08.17.50 On the other hand, for better or worse, as long as my wife leaves leather boots on the ground within Wailea’s reach, the boots are in jeopardy.  Real jeopardy.  Fantastic dog food blog fodder, if you will.

We are still working on training our not-quite-two-years-old pup to keep herself in check when we leave the house without her.  She has pretty much outgrown the chicken coop of a crate she’s had since she weighed 15 pounds.  Sixty pounds later, she practically oozes through the thin metal bars of the crate like that viral Facebook photo of the heavyset dude who gave himself six-pack abs with some kind of bbq grate contraption.  Or like these guys —

Screenshot 2014-11-20 08.11.13

When I head out for a few hours, I know the routine.  I think Lea does too.  Certain doors get closed, the contents behind the door off-limits.  Verboten.  Other items get lifted out of reach.  My baseball glove, for example.  Anything else is fair game. I have made a habit out of scanning a room with a quick spin of my eyes and weighing the odds that anything in paws’ reach will next see the light of day in a pile of poop tomorrow.  It’s not a perfect analysis, but perfect enough.  Usually.

Yesterday, I slipped out for a couple hours, and didn’t look closely enough at the floor of the garage. It’s a little dark in there, and the rainy/overcast conditions yesterday didn’t help my rods and cones.  So I didn’t see the fancy boots on the ground.

Wailea doesn’t suffer from 46 year-old rods and cones.  As soon as the garage door touched down, the girl must have gone straight to work.  Edward Scissorhands on the dinosaur bushes. A couple hours later, the rising garage door slowly revealed…what is that?  I literally couldn’t tell if the pile of shreads was the remains of her beloved penguin stuffy, or a live bird she had somehow managed to capture in the backyard, or maybe even fat rat remnants.  I stood leaning over the carcass.  Squinting my eyes in the still-dim light.  Pulling quick sniffs through my nostrils, trying to detect something organic.  Nudging it lightly with the toebox of my sneaker.  Then I saw a buckle.  Like one you’d see on a pilgrim’s hat.  Like the ones I’ve seen on a pair of my wife’s boots.  Relief that this was no dead rat.  Tightening larynx realizing that I had probably missed this potential food item on my way out the door two hours ago.  And that I would soon be in the dog house for my transgression. 

But at least I’d get some sixpack abs out of the deal.  Am I right?

Thanks for reading.

Fruit Fly Assassin.


We need to hire a hit man. Or a hit woman. We need to get someone, er, something six feet under. Dead. Kilt. Gone.

We need a Fruit Fly Assassin.

I have had it with these sonsabitchin’ Drosophiladae. I’m cool with an occasional little fella carving his little squares in the air above out compost container. That’s actually helpful — a sign that it’s time to bring the compost tin’s fermented contents down to the big compost bin in the garage. Thanks, little fella. I would even give him a gentle pat on the head if I could.

But we are way past the cute, living in concert with nature, we are all God’s creatures phase. We are officially in the Rod Steiger in the Amityville Horror Attic Attack Besieged by Flies stage.


Yesterday I lifted the fancy cardboard box top containing a leftover fancy chocolate cake from dinner this weekend. I was salivating, even, at the prospect of topping off a bland lunch with a slice or 3 of said cake. Apparently, fruit flies are attracted to leftover chocolate cakes. And human saliva. When I cracked open the lid no more than half an inch, a couple flew straight into my mouth. Which was open, because I guess I was making the “oh man I can’t wait to eat this” face.

I staggered backwards, cursing, coughing, and causing my dog to run downstairs to hide in her crate. I was a little shell-shocked by the sudden ambush, and the part of my hypothalamus that controls hunger had yet to be overcome by the part of my brain that manifests a proper response to disgust. And so, still trying to call up the intruders clinging to my epiglottis, I lunged back at the fancy cake. I guess I was trying to evaluate, in my compromised state, whether the cake was still edible. I don’t really know, it was like an out-of-body experience for a few desperate moments.

I regained my senses, calculated the embarrassment factor if quizzed by the emergency room doctor as to whether I had “eaten anything unusual recently,” and slammed the lid shut. To the extent that you can “slam” a fancy cardboard cake box shut.

Then the part of my brain that conjures up bloodlust, vengeance, murderous inclinations, vaulted to the fore. Through the tunnel vision of my blind rage, I saw that the Mini Dyson was within arm’s reach. So I spent the next several minutes jumping around the kitchen, sucking the little bastards into the plastic nozzle. With the “MAXIMUM” button pushed in. I wasn’t messing around. Typically, under calmer circumstances, I cannot reach the flies clinging near the tops of the cupboards or hanging upside down from the ceiling. Like the old ladies who lift Volkswagens off pinned children, my adrenaline fueled superhuman leaps. I could have put my head through the ceiling if I wanted to. I mean, I got up.

My flyocide didn’t do squat. This morning they’re right back there. Laughing at me, most likely. Damned things reproduce at such a prolific rate, they probably multiplied even while I was foolishly trying to decimate their ranks with my plastic vacuum.

I’m man enough to admit when I am beyond my depth. I’m officially there. So we’re calling in the big guns. I’ll be publishing a Craigslist post, titled “Need Fruit Fly Assassin to Murder Chocolate Cake-Eating Flies Who Flew In My Mouth, Rod Steiger-Style,” forthwith. Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading.

The Great Twitter Purge of 2014.

Screenshot 2014-11-18 09.04.39

Well, nothing really “great” about it, let alone “Great” with a capital “G,” but I feel better. 

I just scanned through the 2,000 humans, corporate entities, and digital personalities I follow on Twitter.  Over the past few months, I had grown weary of hitting my head on the 2,000-follower limit imposed by Twitter.  On dozens of occasions of late, I was smacked down by Twitter when I clicked the “Follow” button on someone new.  Gave me a digital headache.

Now, I suppose this 2,000-follower limit (hereafter, the “2FL”) is intended to prevent fake people from artificially inflating their own questionably-purposed Twitter follower count.  But this policy is akin to a dark blue-suited unspeaking stranger standing next to me at a cocktail party, slapping away my right hand as I am just about to greet someone whom I’ve never met before.  I have hit my alloted limit of friends, and can’t add another one to my life. Actually, a tighter analogy might be if the prospective new friend is blind-folded, and doesn’t even know I’m standing there, but is reaching his or her hand outstretched, waiting for a grip from another new friend.  Unless that other new friend is already being followed by the blind-folded friend.  And if that is the case, and if the blindfolded prospective friend has also hit his or her 2FL, then the dark-suited stranger will slap away the blind-folded person’s hand. 

I believe I have this right. 

Net net, seems like anywhere you look (or, um, can’t look because you’re blindfolded; so maybe it’s more anywhere you look regardless of whether you can see in the direction you look), the result at this stage is the same:  Somebody is getting their hand slapped.  Probably several somebodies.  Several hand slaps.  If the room is large enough, it just might be a continuous gaggle of hand-slapping.  Could even sound like hearty applause. Except the only person who will actually hear a slap is the person whose hand is slapped.  They can’t hear any others’ hands being slapped.


So I blame my digital behavior this morning on Twitter’s 2FL.  In order to let new people into my digital life, I’ve had to, well, let a bunch of others go.  As in, “Grab your personal digital effects, put them in your digital cardboard box, and exit the digital premises forthwith, escorted by two burly (albeit digital) security guards.”  Digitally frogwalked right down the digital staircase, and deposited on the sidewalk.

I had no choice.  Or if I did, it was a Hobson’s Choice at best.  A whole series of Hobson’s Choices.  And now I have a pile of roughly 300 digital carcasses just lying there, dizzy and confused.  They did not deserve this shoddy treatment, this sudden twist of fate. 

Well, as it turns out, some of them maybe did deserve to be caught up in the Great Twitter Purge of 2014. 

You see, there is this mildly creepy website called Goodbye, Buddy! that will let you know exactly who “unfollowed” your Twitter account recently.  I haven’t been on the site for years (really, I swear).  On this shameful list, I found a number of Twitter handles that professed to be THE world-beating expert on search engine optimization (apparently my Twitter account did not need optimization), corporate recruiters (probably couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up), leadership coaches (probably figured I was not coachable), inspirational gurus (I’m good on the inspiration front, thank you), the Molokai Visitors Bureau (that’s OK, I was not planning on going to Molokai anytime soon), an ad agency where my little sister formerly worked (little sister, I sincerely hope that you didn’t push the “Unfollow” button when you were still working at said agency!), several professional DJs (this particular exodus en masse I cannot explain), etc.

I wish i had the diplomatic chops to leave it at “etc.”  But alas…I do not.  And for some strange and admittedly childish reason, I am slightly offended by a few former Twitter followers of mine who, I imagine, crept out under the cover of darkness, thanking their lucky stars to be free from the constant inane chatter that spews from my Twitter feed.  (Kind of like this blog post.)  For example, I noticed that the Union Street Ice Rink unfollowed me.  Now, we have just scheduled our annual family pilgrimage to this rink, combined with a couple other families, to boot.  Maybe we’ll cancel the reservation, and take our clumsy splits-on-ice elsewhere.  I’m sure some other rink would have a better appreciation for my 8 year-old’s James Brown imitation (the dancing, not the singing).

Another example: Red Bull.  Red Bull? First, it is odd that a huge brand with 1.77 million Twitter followers would follow me.  While I have had a fair amount of interaction with the Red Bull brand for business stuff, that interaction has been more with the San Francisco Red Bull folks.  I don’t think the local guys hold the keys to the master Red Bull Twitter handle at HQ.  Although one of the local guys does appear on my Goodbye, Buddy! blacklist, and he’ll have to live with that.  Or rather I will.  Well, one of will.  Maybe both.  But one business contact of mine who I suspect did have the Red Bull Twitter keys at one point left the company some time ago.  I suppose he could have hit the “Unfollow” button on Red Bull’s Twitter dashboard on his way out the door, but I doubt it.  Plus, he still follows me on his personal Twitter account.  This one’ll have to remain a mystery (for now).

In any event, I’m done with The Great Twitter Purge, at least for this year.  For those of you I had to unfollow, please accept my sincerest apologies.  Unless you unfollowed me first, in which case, serves you right.  The rest of you are safe, at least until my next visit to Goodbye, Buddy!  Could be 15 minutes from now, could be one year from now.  And for those who fear the slice of the digital ax arcing through the air towards their digital heads, there is salvation:  I’m at @kjbeadling, and you know where the “Follow” button is. 

Thanks for reading.

The Gift of Adversity.


I had an epiphany at 75 miles per hour this afternoon. 

I was hurtling back home to San Francisco after a couple travel baseball tournament games in Manteca.  About a 90-minute drive, depending upon how willing you are to risk a speeding ticket.  My eldest son, Max, has been playing on this particular baseball team for about a year.  The spring season was all-in, culminating in a family trip to a very cool tournament last summer in Cooperstown.  For this fall season, we decided (Max included) that he would focus principally on soccer.  Fall is generally and rightly regarded as THE time of year for soccer.  That meant Max had to sort of demote himself to a “practice player” on his baseball team.  The team stocked up on several new players, many of which I know nothing about.  Except that they all elected to put baseball first this fall season. 

Max chose to put it second

He worked so hard to make the baseball team in the first place — think hitting balls off the tee for weeks, at night, in the backyard after dinner, with a headlamp on, until his calloused hands bled.  That experience alone, make the team or no, was worth the price of admission.  I never worked hard for anything until I was probably already in my 20s.  If then.  So to see Max out back last fall in the pitch black, ping ping ping the sound of his bat in the throw of his headlamp’s light?  Pretty cool. 

But there are consequences to choosing one thing or another.  As a practice player, Max would not be playing in tournaments.  He would regularly miss practices.  And the practices he could attend, he typically showed up 30-60 minutes late, arriving on the heels of a soccer practice down the 101.  Other players would make every practice.  And they would be there early.  And they would show up at every game, hungry to play every single inning. 

Max’s voice would be conspicuously absent from the dugout, as he basically left vacant the spot he worked for — harder than anything he’d ever worked for before.

Interesting choice.

Today marked the first time Max was available to play in one of his baseball team’s fall tournaments and his coach invited him to come.  Hence the drive to Manteca this morning.  The morning after Halloween.  After cutting himself off at a fistful of Halloween candy and getting to bed earlier than he otherwise would.  Max was fired up, warpaint on his cheekbones, ready to go.

Only it didn’t happen.  As much as I had tried to manage our expectations — Max is the only practice player; everybody else has put in their time and worked hard — neither of us was prepared for the consequences today.  Max never played so little as he did in his team’s two games today.  The times when he would generally be popping out of the dugout racing to his spot on the infield?  Those times never happened.  The times when he would step up to the plate, ready to get on base anyway he could?  None of those times happened either. 

He was crushed.  I was crushed.  I tried desperately not to let my bubbling anger show on my face.  I refused to catch his eyes when he looked for me, peeking out of the dugout.  I didn’t trust myself enough; I was afraid he would see my strong emotions and adopt them as his own, uncertain as he was as to how he should deal with this unfamiliar dynamic. 

In the aftermath of the second game, I found myself melodramatically hurling my large cup of Coke into the trash can.  I muttered (probably louder than just “muttered”) a number of F-Bombs I couldn’t help but sprinkle into my neck vein-bulging rants.  Directed at no one in particular, just expressing my frustration.  I don’t know that any of the other parents heard me.  I hope not.  But at the time, I didn’t care.  I was angry, disappointed, embarrassed, confused.  My adrenals were squeezing and it took everything I could muster not to say something stupid to someone who would not forget what I said and which I could not take back later.

There are times when a 90-minute drive is the best medicine. 

After Max vented in an age-appropriate way (fewer F-Bombs), he suddenly fell asleep.  Warpainted cheek pressed against the window.  And was snoring out loud within only a couple minutes.  He had never played less than he played today, but he was exhausted.  Drained.  From his little jelly head trying to figure out what to do with this.

Then it dawned on me. 

His coach had given Max a gift.  The Gift of Adversity.  I don’t know whether he intended to bequeath this gift or not.  But that doesn’t matter.  The best thing about sports, about travel baseball and soccer, about the daily existence both of our kids are currently navigating, is the innumerable opportunities to handle and manage adversity.  Everyone gets knocked on their ass, over and over again.  Everyone gets knocked onto the canvas.  And with your saliva-dripping cheek on the threadbare canvas, you have just two choices.  It’s simple, really–

(1) Stay down. 

(2) Get back up.  Now.

I think Number Two is probably one of those key things in life. 

Max got punched in the gut today, effectively.  And I’m actually thankful for that now.  I get to stand over his prone body, put my hand on his back, and ask him:  “You have two choices, my boy.  You can stay down.  Or you can get back up.  Now I’m going to walk back over to our corner, step through the ropes, and watch.  I’m here for you either way.  But it is your choice.  Not mine.”

Here’s hoping he chooses well.

Thanks for reading.