Sunday, December 31, 2006

In Cold Blood

So I need to confess to something... I'm a murderer. Yup, that's right. I hate to admit it, but I'm a cold-blooded killer. Last night, I violently took the life of one of God's little creatures. A small field mouse that somehow found its way into our home.

For the last two weeks its been an escalating war. I first caught sight of him while cleaning the house for a party at the beginning of December. I'd been kneeling under the table when I felt something brush past me. The little sucker scared the me half to death. I turned and chased him across the kitchen only to watch him take sanctuary under the fridge. I grabbed the broom and swept behind the fridge, not thinking beforehand just what I'd do if he came running out. Nothing happened though. Next I moved the fridge which succeeded in sending him scurrying into the adjacent bathroom. I quickly shut the bathroom door and tucked a towel under it to buy time to formulate a battle plan. Armed with my broom and a large plastic bowl, I laid siege to the bathroom. But again, nothing happened. Baffled, I waited until the first party guest arrived and had him help me do another sweep of the bathroom, but the mouse had somehow made his escape.

That's when the mouse droppings started appearing. First in the pantry and then under the sink. The job of finding and disposing of the droppings somehow got assigned to me. Soon I decided to do some major reorganizing. Throwing away anything he may have gotten into. Moving the easily accessible stuff into safer cupboards. And securing everything like pasta into extra ziploc bags. I also made room for mouse traps... lots of them.

Melissa picked up the traps from the store. She started with the humane ones that claim to catch mice unharmed so you can release them into the outdoors. Newsflash people... they DON'T work. Days went by and we caught nothing but turds. Our mouse had quickly realized the plastic boxes with swiveling doors were trouble and stopped wasting time on them, choosing instead to go straight for our packaged goods.

I followed up Melissa's purchase with some plastic snap traps. Our pantry and the cupboard under the sink looked like mine fields, with traps strewn every which way. These proved to be mere obstacle courses for our gladiator mouse. I tried baiting with everything from cheese, to crackers, to peanut butter, to nuts. I must have repositioned the traps some twenty times. Nothing worked and the droppings continued. I grew weary of obsessively checking the traps only to find them empty with nearby fecal matter taunting me.

Late one night, I opened the pantry and caught the furball sliding down the shelving affixed to the door. He slipped past me (startled and frozen in my tracks) and into the living room. With plastic bowl and broom in hand I went to work again, moving all the furniture in sight. I spent over an hour cursing loudly and scouring every inch of our front room, but to no avail. Damn mouse bested me yet again.

That's when the gloves came off. I went for the industrial-strength, heavy duty traps. Huge plastic, glue-filled trays (about 4 inches by 8 inches) that claimed to be the end-all and be-all of mouse traps. They were pre-baited, but I wasn't taking any chances, so I topped them off with crackers. The traps were everything they were made out to be. Three hours after they were set, our fourteen day siege was over. I came downstairs around 10pm last night to find our mouse sprawled across one of the glue trays.

Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Mr. mouse was hopelessly stuck, but very much still alive. Not only that, he was... cute. When I picked up the tray, I was horror-struck to see him contorting his body in every which way vainly attempting to free himself. It was horrible. I felt like I was torturing Stuart Little. I fooled myself into thinking I might be able to free him, so knife in hand I went out to the backyard. They weren't kidding when they said this stuff was heavy duty though. My effort to scrape him off the glue pad only seemed to be making things worse. That's when I grudgingly resigned myself to the hammer. I slid the tray into a plastic bag in an attempt to censor the cruelty. I thought a little blow to the head would put a quick end to his misery, but instead lil' Mickey screamed and kept squirming. I hit him again and he screamed again. Aghast, I forced myself to hit him a couple more times just to make sure he was gone.

Thoroughly disturbed, I slipped the tray into a garbage bag and we laid the little mouse to rest in our trash can. Melissa said a few parting words and we tried to forget about the whole ordeal, but I'm haunted now. Visions from childhood plague me... the Rescuers, the Littles, the Secret of Nimh... even Jerry. Nostalgic mice are coming out of the woodwork of the past to exacerbate the guilt... and it's working. I don't miss the mouse poo, though.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Beard

So I haven't shaved since the end of July. Why? I guess I'm not quite sure. I stayed pretty clean shaven all summer while working at my firm, so perhaps it was a reflexive reaction to the tyranny of frequent shaving.

I'll come right out and admit it. I've never been a big fan of the daily shave. It chafes. While I was a student at BYU (where the honor code requires men to be clean shaven) I even got myself a "beard card" (a shaving exemption requiring a doctor's note). The official line was that I had a mild case of pseudofolliculitis barbae and so my doctor "prescribed" me facial hair.

Left to my own devices, I typically shave every week or so. My current beard started out as nothing more than pure laziness. As I wrapped up my summer work, I jumped on a number of home improvement projects and shaving just wasn't a priority. Once I'd made it past the "sandpaper" stage (usually a week and a half or two), Melbo stopped complaining (er... as much). From there, the beard just gained momentum. It became something of a conscious undertaking. I decided if I was ever going to just "let it all go," now was my chance. I had no looming interviews, no clients to impress, no events to oversee, and no weighty Church callings to live up to. It became sort of self-perpetuating. The longer it grew, the more curious I became to see how long it could get.

Five months long now and my curiosity has been satiated. Maybe if I was tending a lodge in Alaska I'd have more patience, but as things stand now, enough's enough. So as part of Melissa's Christmas present, I shaved this weekend. In stages of course.

The first left me with lambchop sideburns that hung two inches past my jaw (of which there is no photographic evidence). Then I went to the biker bush (this was a big hit at Church). And finally I scaled back to the well-trimmed goat. I'll probably stick this out awhile. While growing a beard is fun... it's suprising what a little shave does to Melbo's libido.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kiss of Death

So it seems as though my support can be the kiss of death, politically speaking. For the second time in two months a presidential hopeful that I've liked has dropped out of the run for the presidency. Two months ago it was Mark Warner, a centrist Democrat from Virginia, who cited family considerations as the reason for his decision. On Saturday, it was Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, another centrist Democrat, who claimed simply to be facing up to the political reality that he didn't have enough support this cycle.

While I'm sad to see Bayh go, I certainly understand his decision. Running for president these days is a pretty brutal undertaking and declaring an intent to run when he didn't think he could win would be nothing short of masochistic. The Democratic field already has its heavyweight contenders in Barack and Hillary, its second fiddles in John Edwards and Tom Vilsack, and its also-rans in Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich (with Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson sandwiched up there somewhere in between). Perhaps it really is best for the relatively young Bayh to avoid the damaging shrapnel that tends to fly during presidential primaries and instead begin plotting for '12 or '16.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Guess Who's Back... Back Again...

So the well's been relatively dry at the ole' blog of late. Finals this semester were absolutely miserable and my inspiration has lagged as a result. Beware though, it's five days removed from the hellfire now and my senses are beginning to return. I've got a lot of posts simmering on the backburner and more than three weeks of vacation to waste away (uninterrupted by travel mind you... Melbo is about to pop and the doc's advised us to stay put).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Peter Bis Revisited

Earlier this year I posted about an intriguing fixture up on Capitol Hill, a homeless man named Peter Joseph Bis that sits greeting passerbys making the trek from Union Station to the Dirksen, Hart and Russell Senate Office Buildings. Yesterday, our local NPR affiliate did a short segment on Peter that I thought some of you might be interested in.