My Secret Is Out

There’s this concept online called crowdfunding. In basic language, crowdfunding is a group of people that buy into another individual’s/company’s idea. I mean buy as in money and buy as in you like what they are selling. I actually can’t tell you how I got involved, but believe me, it had to be something I saw online that made me say, “Wow!” I was working then, though money was tight, but what I saw made me say, “I’ve got to have this!” The problem was my spouse, who wasn’t my spouse at the time, but we were dating and living together. I knew that spending money on a watch was not going to fly. Yes, the first geeky item I pledged to was a watch. This watch connected to your phone and you got notifications. This was before smart watches were the rage. What I did was to first talk up the watch by saying how it could keep me from missing messages on my commute from New York to New Jersey. Well, that didn’t work, so I did what I knew was fail proof: it was an early birthday present to myself. While I was wheeling and dealing with my spouse on this watch, I went to a newfound website of geek items and saw another watch. This time, not only could I get notifications but I could talk into it. Dick Tracy here I come! Now, I’m talking about two watches. Well, I only have one birthday, so how could I get her to see things from my point of view? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, so I did the unthinkable and just kept my big mouth shut. The website that had grabbed my attention that I was not mentioning was Kickstarter. 
Kickstarter

Kickstarter
was started in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. The Kickstarter headquarters is located in New York City. Kickstarter is a very user friendly site for project owners and backers. Kickstarter responds to questions and problems about their site very quickly and you can communicate with the project owner by clicking on the comments section or emailing him/her through the website. The comments area is also a place to interact, not only with the project owner, but with other backers, during the course of the project.
Kickstarter has a global community of people from more than 220 countries and territories. Roughly 35% of successfully funded projects now come from outside the United States, as do 45% of backers. Together, these backers and creators use Kickstarter to reach across borders and shape culture into what they want it to be, rather than accepting it for what it is. And as ideas from different cultures collide with one another, they inspire new conversations, creative approaches, and cross-cultural connections.
 

Kickstarter Project Manager 
I will discuss the technology area of Kickstarter; however, there are many types of projects that you can back, such as films, music, and books. The Kickstarter site enables people to discover and back as many projects as they believe will become a reality. When a person, or groups of people, decide to start a project on Kickstarter they must first build a project page, which includes a video with a description explaining their project. The next step for the project owner is to provide information about their budget and a timeline from beginning to end of the project. The project owner must then decide what kind of rewards they will offer backers, such as a choice of item color or engraving the item with the project name and year. These rewards are given when the project funding reaches certain milestones. Project owners have to keep in mind that they pay for all of the rewards offered to backers. When project owners think about the funds necessary to bring their project to fruition, they must consider everything because Kickstarter will not let their project become a reality if the funding goal is not met. A very important part of the project is promotion. A project needs active promotion because a project no one knows about will never get funded. Kickstarter’s fee is 5%, with an additional 3 to 5% for processing payments. If the project owner doesn’t meet their funding goal, they owe nothing.

Kickstarter Backers
There are different tier amounts that a backer can pledge. When a backer pledges early there is usually a perk from the project owner as a way of thanking a backer for coming aboard early. The different pledge tiers not only tell you the item, but an estimated month and year that you will receive the item. The shipping information will also be listed in each tier box, along with any accessories that might be given. Once he/she has met the project funding level, the project owner will give their backers updates as the project develops through each stage. Backers like to know they’ve made a wise decision in backing a project and hate it when shipping has to be pushed back time after time. My experience with Kickstarter is that projects are always pushed back for different reasons. The project owners try to give realistic shipping estimates, but often a project of this magnitude is new to many of them and they are not prepared for the problems that arise. You, the backer, have to be aware that there are also scam artist that will go through the motions of creating a project, but once funding is met and they receive their money, you never hear from them again. There is really no recourse for backers when a project owner takes the money and doesn’t fulfill his/her part of the deal. Kickstarter backing is partially about being first to get an item that no one might know about or have even envisioned. As I stated, not all projects make it to the backers. An example of this was a watch that I pledged for my daughter. It was supposed to be the thinnest watch out in 2013. The company wasn’t able to make the watch because they encountered too many hurdles that they weren’t prepared for. I recently received a letter informing us that after liquidating all of their assets, there was no money to give to backers

Some might think this is throwing money away because these projects aren’t cheap, and if a project fails you can’t get your money back. I think of it like this: It’s no riskier than the lottery or going to the casino. You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. There is a certain rush you get as the months go by waiting for your reward to make it from the project owner’s vision to you.

Retirement and Dogs Part 20

I hope you have read the previous 19 blogs, because then you have an idea that there is something wrong with this dog. If you haven’t read any of the previous blogs, take a minute so you can understand why I say he’s a handful. I want to share with you how K, GG and myself deal with Mason.

I will start with K, because he pulled the wool over her eyes from the beginning. K was not a dog person at all, until I convinced her that GG needed company. I let her pick the dog, so she would feel a closeness to him/her. Mason was laying in a corner by himself while his siblings were all playing together. That should have told her something, but with her being a novice of dogs, and me not wanting to interfere, I didn’t say anything. Mason was sort of cute with his cross-eyes and fuzziness. K’s love for Mason didn’t come easy.

She wanted him out when he pooped on the floor and peed on the couch. We argued. She wanted him out when he barked all night. We argued. She wanted him out when he had anxiety and would run all over the house like every room was his bathroom. We argued. She wanted him out when he embarrassed her and got put out of Pet Smart dog training. We argued. She wanted him out when she had to spend money to buy 3 couches, a crate, and French doors to block into the kitchen and dog gates. We argued. I know you’re wondering how it is that he’s still here. He is still here because she went to Afghanistan and I knew Mason would bark whenever someone came near the house. That is the reason, and the only reason, he is still here. Mason is now 7 years old, and 2,555 days later, he’s finally got it.

K has come to love him and find him adorable. The biggest problem now is her begging and pleading with him to move over since he gradually weaseled his way up to the head of the bed so he can share her pillow. There is also the fact that he ignores us when we talk to him. We call his name, and he looks at you and turns his head. We can call him again and again and he will just ignore us. The only way to get him to respond is clapping your hands or making some kind of noise. Mason still stares at walls, which is a little strange to me. He stares at walls now even when the sun his shining. He is a dog that loves sunshine and warm weather. If it rains, thunders, lightening or snows his anxiety starts and he’s off into doggy mind land. The main thing is that, after all the arguments, money spent, begging and pleading, she loves him now. It was rough getting to this point, but we made it.

GG couldn’t stand Mason when we first brought him home. She would give me the evil eye if I touched him. When Mason came into a room she’d leave the room. GG would just look at K and I when we argued as if to say “You brought him here. I didn’t ask for him.” I think, after trying to get her to be motherly to him, Mason gave up and started trying to get her put out. Why do I say that? He’d go and hit her and steal her food and play with her toys. He’d hide milk bones and still does. Mason would do things and then sit innocently while we tried and figure out who did what. At night, going upstairs, GG would push him down the stairs and keep going into the bedroom. It was funny, but not so funny that we didn’t realize he could break a leg and cost us more money. It took her at least 5 of the 7 years to get used to him being here. She does her matador shuffle when she’s tired of him bothering her. The matador shuffle is her moving each of her paws like a matador in a bull-fighting ring. When she does that it’s on, and Mason better watch out. Mason still thinks he should be first, but I show GG love first. I can’t say that she loves him, but she tolerates him. I feel that one of Mason’s main jobs now is to keep GG moving. She’s 17 years old and I feel that he keeps her running and jumping.

I deal with Mason very incognito, because showing him too much attention in front of GG gets me the evil eye. He’s older and more settled into how he should behave. Mason is not a normal dog, and we know it, but he’s our abnormal big pawed Shih Tzu. I’ll surprise you with the next blog. Be safe.

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Retirement and Dogs Part 19

I sometimes wonder if Mason thinks he is a human because he stands on his hind legs a lot. He is the only male with three women and there are times when he thinks it’s all about him. A example is when it’s hot he lays in front of the fan thinking of only his comfort. He pushes GG out the way when they come in from outside because he wants to be first in. It’s all about him. Then when he has weather anxiety if we want peace we had better all get in the bed while he’s going through his episode. I’m counting GG with K and I because she is a female. Mason ways definitely remind me of some of the men I know. These men have limited consideration and a me first attitude. Here are more reasons where I can compare him to some men. He likes to sleep on a pillow next to one of us, but it doesn’t stop there he has to stretch out. I mean stretch out like you have no room to lay flat. You have to lay in your side. I can here K some nights pleading with him to move over. He wants to be in charge of GG, like he wants her to chase him, and when their food is put down, he likes to eat it first, and leave GG only what he doesn’t want. When GG happens to eat first, or he decides he wants more after she starts eating, he tries to sneak up behind her to snatch her food. K and I watch as he saunters behind our chair to come up behind her. It is funny because he actually thinks he’s doing something. We can dress him in different outfits and he doesn’t mind, but GG? She’s not having it. She somehow gets the clothes off, or she will just lie there like a lump of clay. One day, while K was in Afghanistan, Mason got out while I was looking in the mailbox. I had on my pajamas because it was a lazy day for me. A UPS truck drove by the house and Mason took off behind it. The UPS truck made a left turn and Mason was on the truck’s tail. I’m running down the street in my pajamas and slippers yelling, “Mason!” Of course, he didn’t stop. I haven’t run in years, but I knew as much of a headache as he is, I couldn’t explain Mason getting out and chasing the UPS truck, and me not running after him. I ran out of gas chasing him for a block and a half. Okay it wasn’t far, but to me at that time it was like a marathon. There were people out looking at me running down the street like a crazy person, however, when they realized it was Mason I was chasing, they understood. You see, Mason has gotten out before, but instead of me, it was K who was in her pajamas falling all over the yard out front trying to catch him. He’d let her get close, and then take off in the other direction. She had slippers on so when he would cut to the opposite direction and she tried to catch him, she’d fall on her butt. It was funny, but now that it was me being embarrassed , it was no longer funny. Our whole neighborhood knows of Mason because he is so loud that they can’t help but notice him. The other reason they know Mason is because when one of us is walking them, he is usually pulling us down the street while he tries to get after a squirrel. The particular day I was looking like an idiot running down the street ended when the UPS truck stopped and Mason stopped running. I think he realized he was not at his home because he was looking all around. When I finally got to Mason and picked him up, he was shaking. I guess he was scared. I didn’t care that he was scared because here I was in the street in my pajamas. I know he didn’t understand, but I used a few choice words on him from the time I picked him up until we got home. I tell you, Mason is going to get us killed. GG is nothing like him. If she was, I’d be crazy. I mean, she did have her moments, like wanting to play all the time until I’d have to go sit in my car to have some peace of mind. She has more sense than Mason, and she doesn’t follow him when he’s up to his antics. There is an opening where the gate and the gate door come together. Mason will go out the opening and run around to the front door and bang on the door. GG just stands there. What we used to do when he got was to open one of the car doors, and he’d jump in thinking he was going for a ride. When we brought him back, GG would be standing at the door, and as soon as Mason was put down, she’d jump on him. I guess she was trying to tell him something, but it took a long time for him to learn. Mason is older now, and the only thing that has changed is he no longer runs all over the place. He just goes to the tree out front, and then comes to the front door and bangs. I have stated this before just like a boy takes a little longer to catch on to things so true it is for boy dog too. I was supposed to blog about how each of us deals with Mason, but he ran out the back and came around to the front today, so while it was fresh on my mind, I decided to share some of his antics with each of you. Be safe.

Retirement and Dogs Part 18

GG being bad tearing up a training pad

This is as ferocious as Mason gets

I wanted to talk to you about the difference between GG and Mason. I wasn’t a dog person always and can’t say exactly how it happened. I know I don’t like cats, because to me they are sneaky animals with beady eyes. No offense to the cat-lovers, it’s just my preference. I’ve had three dogs in my lifetime and they were two different breeds: a lab and Shih Tzu. The first dog, the lab, I left when my relationship ended. GG, my first Shih Tzu, was gotten because I was lonely and needed company, and Mason, my other Shih Tzu, I got because I thought GG needed company. I’ve wondered how many people get dogs to soothe some kind of paternal emotion they have, since having a dog is like having a child that can’t talk. I have also come to realize that some dogs are more intelligent than others, and their personalities can be quite different. It has nothing to do with their breeds, but has more to do with their personalities, like people. There are book-smart people, and people who need a little more patience for them to get it. I have found with GG and Mason that there are teachable dogs, and some dogs that need waaaayyyyyy more patience than I have. GG took a weekend to learn to use a training pad, while it took Mason four years, three couches, two baby gates, a crate, and french doors before he got the message. GG is a clean freak. When she poops or her water is low, she comes over and barks like crazy until you get up and follow her to whatever needs to be taken care of. Mason couldn’t care a bit about cleaning up anything after him. GG tries to keep her food on her mat, while Mason will drag his food to any corner to hide it for when we can’t afford to feed him. When GG gets tired of walking, she will step down on her leash to say, “that’s it for me, take me home.” Mason wants to keep walking so he can disturb the neighbors with his barking. GG isn’t afraid of thunder, while Mason is afraid of rain, snow, thunder, and lighting. You get the picture – he only likes sunshine and warm weather. Mason is on medication because of his anxiety. I didn’t have to take GG to any pet training for her to understand commands, but Mason was taken and put out of a training class. I haven’t figured out if Mason is a protector or just figures barking should take care of everything. There have been a couple of occasions when I have been walking them, and a big dog had gotten out of his/her yard. On one of those occasions, GG started to fight with the dog, and on another occasion, she just stood there hoping – like me – that someone would come get this dog. On both occasions, Mason just stood and barked, no protection whatsoever. I am not saying GG doesn’t have bad habits, because she does like tearing up training pads when she doesn’t get her way. GG hardly barked before Mason came – it was like she discovered that barking gets attention. I do know that she got all her bad habits as a result of Mason. I kept Mason because his barking gave me a sense of security while K was in Afghanistan. Mason does have his good points, but right now I can’t think of any. Really. He did grow out of being cross eyed and can be lovable at times. The point is, just like kids, these two are as different as having a boy and girl in your house. Think about a boy and girl and how different they really are in personalities. When you compare dogs and kids, is there really that much difference? I look at my floor and there are toys all over the place from GG and Mason playing, and when my grandkids come over, my floor has this same look, except I can have my grandkids pick up after themselves. My final thought is that GG and Mason are as different as a boy and girl, and dogs are about the same as children. Want to start a conversation? Email me at anitadpowell@gmail.com. Don’t forget to checkout my other blog, uniquethings.blog, and visit our store at uniquethingsonline.com. Be safe out there. My next blog will be about my problem child Mason.

GG and Mason makes the same mess as my grandsons.

Retirement and Dogs Part 17

Mason showing the squirrels his ferocious side

I told you in my last blog about the dislike between Mason and the cats in the neighborhood. The cats just can’t stand Mason. When we pass them, they look at us with their sneaky, beady eyes, and with tails in the up position. Mason, on the other hand, pretends not to see the cats by turning his head in the opposite direction. There have been times when a cat has been sleeping under a bush outside, and Mason decides he has to go under that bush. When this happens, I pull him back on the leash while he barks and the cat screeches. The squirrels outside in front of the house are also enemies of Mason. The squirrels stand on their hind legs in front of the door, which drives Mason crazy. Mason runs back and forth in front of the door, barking. The squirrels are quite bold to me to stand there like that. Mason, as you can tell, just has a personality that animals love to hate.

One day, K called from Afghanistan to tell me that she wanted us to buy a house with the money she was making. I was tasked with managing the money and finding a realtor. I found a realtor, and started looking online for a house in Florida. We didn’t want to deal with snow or excessive cold in our old age, neither did we want to do stairs. Do you know the effort that goes into walking upstairs? When you get old, it’s a little top much effort, though doctors will call it exercise. I call it a Bengay hurt. I saw online that in Florida, there were a lot of houses being sold through the bank. This is called a short sale, where the owner and bank have a arrangement to sell, which is usually low because the bank just wants to get some of its money back. Banks are not in the real estate business, and therefore they will sell houses at a discount. Five years ago, Florida had plenty of short sale houses. I was warned that short sale houses are sometimes ruined by a disgruntled owner. I had a great realtor who looked out for us. There were pitfalls I needed to be aware such as Chinese drywall. Chinese drywall was used in building some houses in Florida because it was cheap. The downside to Chinese drywall is it smells like rotten eggs.

My realtor informed me of which places were good ones, and which were a money pit. She found us a place in a great neighborhood with not too many kids. You have to remember that all this was done over the phone and emails. I didn’t go down even once to see the place. I trusted my realtor, and hoped I did the right thing.

K finally came home, and we drove to Florida with GG and Mason. We were beyond excited to see the Florida house. We found hotels that accepted dogs, and he was still an embarrassment. If he heard any noise in the hallway, he would started barking, and wouldn’t stop. It was a hotel, so there was always noise in the hallway. When we took him out, we had to try to find an area where there weren’t any dogs or people. That all took time and patience, which we were short on. When you get to the development, you have to turn right past the cows. Yep, there were cows at the beginning of the development.

Finally, we got to our new home. It was very nice, more than we expected. One day, while walking GG and Mason, we decided to walk to the corner store, which was past the cows. When Mason saw the cows, he started barking and running back and forth his usually antics. What happened next blew my mind. The cows starting moving toward the fence where we were. They were just looking at Mason, and as we walked, the cows walked sideways along the fence with us. It was a sight to see. I didn’t have a camera with me the one time I needed it. I’ve surmised that maybe Mason is a Dr. Dolittle, an animal that can attract, gather, and be a leader of other animals. OK, maybe that’s a bit much.

The house has a fenced-in patio and pond out back. The ducks and sand cranes can walk to the fenced-in patio, which again drives Mason crazy. They come and just look at him running back and forth, barking. On each of these occasions, GG would sometimes join in or just go in the house. K and I are usually trying to get him to shut up because we haven’t heard any barking from any other dogs. There are plenty of dogs in the development that are probably better controlled than Mason. because you don’t hear them. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Be safe out there, and be sure to check out my other blog, Uniquethings.blog, or visit our store, uniquethingsonline.com.

When he’s at his quietness

Retirement and Dogs Part 16

Guess who snores the loudest

I hope you have gathered from my previous blogs that there is something wrong with Mason. I mean, how can one dog cause so much havoc in a family? I experienced none of this behavior from GG. K went to Afghanistan for a little less than a year, which left me and GG against Mason. Mason actually thought he was the man of the house. When it was time for bed, he would get in K’s spot in the bed and put his head on the pillow. Can you imagine turning over and knowing that spot should be empty, and opening your eyes to find Mason stretched out? GG, meanwhile, is lying on top of the covers at the foot of the bed like she’d been taught. Mason wasn’t having any of this foot of the bed on top of the covers nonsense. I would put him at the foot of the bed, only to wake up and find him there, lying next to me and sometimes with his paw straight up in the air. I couldn’t get a break. GG was not only giving me the evil eye, but now she was ignoring me when I called her. What could I do? Stay up all night to keep putting him at the foot of the bed?

I left for work before 5am in the morning, so I couldn’t take them out until I got home. I had read that, when you leave your dogs, you shouldn’t acknowledge them, you should just walk out the door. When you come home, you then acknowledge your dog as soon as you enter. Well, when I left, he would start barking and jumping on the door. I felt sorry for my neighbor because, every morning that I went to work, he had to listen to Mason’s mouth. I sometimes would stand outside the door to see if he stopped once I locked the door. Nope, Mason would still be jumping. I wonder how long after I left before he realized I wasn’t coming back. They say girls mature faster than boys. I guess that goes for dogs too.

When I came home and opened the door, I would acknowledge GG first and then Mason, but most of the time I had to bypass Mason because he would have knocked GG to the side so he could be picked up first. I would take them out as soon as the hello’s were done, and of course the mess was cleaned up. The problem was the summer because people were out. This meant I had to spend as much time trying to dodge people as walking them. When I had no choice but to pass a person, Mason would slow down and start running in circles, so now I was tangled in the leash, and GG would just sit there looking at me as if to say, “You got him so you deal with him.”

The other crazy thing about walking him was that he seemed to know where every dog lived. We would be on the sidewalk walking, and he would creep up to their door and stop waiting for a dog to show him/herself. Sometimes, I would have to  drag him from the front of houses. I think people felt sorry for me and tried to go the opposite direction or keep their dog from in front of the window or door. I was just embarrassed by his antics. Mason and the neighborhood cats were also an issue. The cats would walk in front of the door or window, which started Mason barking. When we were out walking and I had no choice but to walk in front of a cat, Mason would look in the opposite direction of the cat and pretend he didn’t see the cat. I know if I saw the cat he saw the cat too. He’s a punk, all bark and nothing else. I don’t like cats, and on one occasion when walking GG and Mason there was a cat across the street chasing a squirrel. The cat stopped trying to get the squirrel when he saw Mason, and he put his tail up. I was like, ‘Oh, shit what do I do?’ I had no choice but to keep walking toward home. The cat was taking a few creeping steps in our direction. The only good thing was that the punk Mason pretended he didn’t see the cat and kept walking. I hope you enjoyed this blog. The next blog will be about Mason and other animals. Be safe.

Retirement and Dogs Part 14

Mason my problem child

The tension in the house was at a all time high. My partner, K, wanted Mason out, and so did GG. I just couldn’t do it. My partner and I were arguing at home, but that wasn’t enough, so she’d call me on her way to work to argue some more. It was crazy. Sure, I could have her find a home for him, but I came to need him. You see, when she decided to go to Afghanistan, I would use Mason as a watch dog. He was probably three years old. Mason did not let anyone walk past the house without barking. The person could be two blocks away and he’d start barking, so it was somewhat comforting to have him at home. I did understand that he was a good watch dog from afar, because as soon as someone saw him they would see this little Shih Tzu with a big mouth. Mason couldn’t leave now, so if K’s intention was for me to do something with him, that backfired on her. I know what you are thinking: why not just find him a good home with kids, and an adult who would be at home all day, or a senior. I don’t know why I was so against it, except that I didn’t see anyone keeping him for long, and he’d end up in a shelter somewhere. We paid a good amount of money for him, plus three couches and French doors to keep him in blocked into the kitchen, and a crate. We are not rich people so the expense of Mason was enormous. GG still had very little interaction with him, but he continued to try to get her to play tag with him. My spouse would watch all kinds of dog training shows and nothing worked. He was untrainable. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, my partner took him to Petsmart for dog training. I didn’t attend, and my partner said he was a embarrassment. Mason wouldn’t follow any commands, and even pooped on the floor. He barked at all the dogs, and was a disruption to the class. Untrainable. She was, in so many words, asked not to bring him back, and maybe he would benefit from one-on-one training. We just couldn’t afford anything else that pertained to Mason. There did come a time when I thought “Mason has to go.” He was costing us a fortune. I was only given the cold shoulder by GG, whenever he came near me. What I mean by “cold shoulder” is that I’d call her, and she’d look at me and turn her head. Again, I couldn’t get rid of him with my partner leaving. What would you have done? I did my best to deal with him and stopped arguing. She was leaving, why should she care? I don’t know how many of you take your dogs to the vet, but it’s expensive. The vet we use cost $300 just for shots for one of them, so that was doubled. The groomer is $160 for the both of them, and there’s no tax deduction for it. I’m telling you this in case any of you are thinking of getting a puppy. I couldn’t believe one dog could do so much damage, not just to our home, but to my relationship with K and GG. The biggest problem was that we were both working, and Mason more or less had to teach himself. He was like a latch key kid on his/her own, while his/her parents were at work. GG didn’t care for him and was happy, being the only dog, so teaching Mason wasn’t one of the things she had any interest in doing. I was in unfamiliar territory because I didn’t have any of these problems with GG. GG learned quickly how to use the weewee pad and not destroy the house. When people came to my home there was no smell. They didn’t know I had a dog until the person saw her. Mason on the other hand had us buying stock in air freshener companies, we were buying so much of the stuff. You think that’s it, not by a long shot. Be safe and look out for part 15 next week.