Friday, February 24, 2012

My dog is walking trademark infringement

I fear that my dog and I may soon come under attack from the CAT Police.

No, not the kind with four legs and whiskers, but the kind that will send you nasty letters if you improperly identify their products and services in weekly columns — a little group I like to call the Copyright And Trademark Police.

I received such a warning letter after improperly identifying my favorite beverage, SoBe Lifewater®, as two words apparently not meant to be used together unless identifying the specific brand of "enhanced water," VITAMINWATER®. My bad. Lesson learned.

The letter did come as a bit a of surprise though. To my knowledge, that column had only reached a very limited portion of the otherwise large audience which has the pleasure of reading my thoughts. So how did the CAT Police track me — in rural mid-Missouri — down?

Not only do I now live in fear of being placed in Smith & Wesson handcuffs (to be trademark correct) and tossed into a small cell papered with logos, but I now have a constant awareness of branding and the improper uses.

"Can you hand me a Sharpie," I asked my male counterpart last night.

When he handed me a MARKS-A-LOT®, I ducked and covered awaiting a helicopter drop of CAT policemen. Looks like I lucked out that time.

Apparently, I luck out a lot. As do many Americans.

The young lady in the fast food drive thru deserved more than a warning letter as she handed me a bottle of Pepsi last week when I had clearly stated "Coke" into the speaker.

Trying to wrap my head around all the various trademarked and copyrighted words and phrases out there makes me need a TYLENOL®, or is it actually Advil® that I take?

Just when I thought I was safe, I grabbed a HI-LITER® highlighter and got back to work, until I made a mistake and needed some Wite-Out®, but all I had was a bottle of Liquid Paper®. Darn the luck.

Giving up, I grabbed some Kleenex®, but I probably should call it tissue as it could have been Puffs®, and headed home for a good cry. Trying to live life the properly trademarked and copyrighted way was stressing me out.

The next day I started fresh, but still curious as to what other violations I could be committing, I hopped on Google — and it actually was Google, not a similar search engine.

Learning that The Man and I had inadvertently named our 90-pound pooch after a trademarked brand of elastic bandages, I raced home to verify that the CAT Police weren't holding him as collateral for my arrest.

Finding him where I left him, asleep on the couch, I grabbed a few zip-close bags — I say that because I'm not sure they were Ziploc® — I rationed what food we had left in the fridge.

Looking down at the floppy-eared pooch, I realized we had but one option.

"How do you feel about witness protection?"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Babies, babies, the magical fruit

Babies are fabulous creatures. The way they smell, the noises the make, their constant need for your attention, it's mesmerizing.

They're like the magical fruit. The more you're around them, the more you want one (that is, if you're a professional gal like myself).

It's becoming frighteningly more and more apparent that somewhere along the lines, I put my career, lifestyle, male counterpart and love for my fur babies above having children of my own. And Facebook won't let me forget that fact.

My life has spiraled into some formula and diaper driven frenzy. Gone are the days that my Facebook newsfeed was occupied by sorority stories and fraternity fibs. Gone are the photos of 10-carat diamonds the size of my head and the reception photos that followed.

My refrigerator is a testament to the direction my life has, or maybe hasn't, taken. Save the dates and wedding invites have now been hidden behind giant, flower beanies and pacifiers.

Babies are everywhere.

My friends were adamant that I (and the rest of the world) see the latest photos of rolling, feeding, crying, laughing and smiling. For awhile, I did a decent job of keeping my distance, not ready to admit that my friends were becoming parents, until a few days ago.

Call it "baby fever" or "the toddler trance." Whatever you call it, it made me succumb to what ended up a five-hour drive back to where I grew up.

Recently, (OK, so six months or more ago) several of my childhood friends became parents. It was a regular baby boom.

Crumbling under the pressures of Facebook and photos on my fridge, I had to meet the little buggers — hence, my trek across the Midwest.

After two full days of nothing but pure baby bliss, I headed back home to my apparently unusual life thinking I'd stifled the calls of babies everywhere, for another six months at least.

Boy, was I wrong.

Three days later, and a few weeks ahead of schedule, The Man's family welcomed a little one.

No matter how professional or opposed to traditional lifestyles I try to be, I've made sure that 7-pound 8-ounce bundle of joy is pictured all over my Facebook — and fridge.

While I may not be ready for the full-time gig of human burp rag or personal swing just yet, I'm not opposed to the idea of babysitting. I like knowing that after I have just fed them an entire bottle and spent what should have been nap time as play time, that I can load them up and send them back to Mom. (Sorry girls.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's OK, I admit it, I'm the crazy dog lady

Daily News Column for 2-10-12

My grandmother has Facebook.

While that may not be such a shock to some, it helps if you know the woman.

Fed up with Grandpa always having first dibs at the latest photos, video and life updates of our family, the woman who had never used anything more technologically advanced than a flip phone decided she would use a computer for the first time to learn the operations of Facebook.

Following a few brief posting problems and message mishaps, miraculously, she managed to master the basics and only required a few troubleshooting sessions – although sometimes I think she just used it as an excuse to call.

So a few weeks ago, when the dinosaur of a Powerbook she was using – still solely for Facebook – crashed, we each got a bit behind on the others life details.

Finally managing to talk Grandpa into getting her a new computer, she was up and running as if she’d never missed a day in Facebook world at all.

After announcing her return for all to see, she initiated a chat session with me. Can’t say I ever saw that coming, but I couldn’t be prouder.

There I was typing the next big news story, catching up on “The Big Bang Theory” and having a conversation with my grandma, who was five hours away, all at the same time. It was fabulous.
But when she shared some unsettling news via cyberspace, things got a bit deeper than I think Mark Zuckerberg or even Jeeves prepared for.

“Stella’s dad got ran over and killed a few days ago,” she typed.

Being the dedicated – some say crazy – dog owner that I am, the news was a shocker.

Let me be clear. For those of you who do not know, Stella is the 9-pound love of my life, princess of my house Shih-Tzu.

In fact, without my grandma and grandpa, she would be none of those.

Growing up, their house was always full of the little furballs, so it was only fitting that when I moved into a place of my own I got one too. Enter Stella, the puppy of their beloved pet.

Though I don’t know much about the male counterpart to Stella’s existence, or his owners, I do know that if it weren’t for the same stubbornness that got my grandmother to learn Facebook, Stella would have been theirs.

Since meeting her doggy daddy’s acquaintance, the poor pooch suffered a nearly fatal attack with another, much larger, dog. As if that wasn’t enough to make me oh-so grateful at the way our situation panned out, Grandma’s latest message sure was.

For those of you who understand the love, joy, companionship and comfort dog ownership brings, you know what I’m trying to say, and that is how I not only owe my grandparents an incredibly large thank you for giving me the gift of the best dog a girl could get, but for allowing me to make sure she had the best life she could get.

In my lap as I write this, I try not to imagine what her fate would have been had she gone as the pick of the litter to live with her dad and his owners. And I don’t imagine my life without her in it.

Dogs are wonderful creatures and if you have the chance, and the heart, I highly suggest you allow one to change life as you know it. There are plenty who live unimaginable lives and are just waiting for home with love and lots of treats.

Friday, February 3, 2012

May the force be with you

 Daily News column for 2/3/12

I'm convinced that Sam's Club is really a front for the Death Star and the grocery section is the hub for their tractor beam.

Reaching into the fridge for a beer and coming out with a vitamin water, The Man had finally hit his patience limit with my lack of concern for our food shortage.

No beer, no paper plates and no beef.

"I'll get some stuff tomorrow," I said.

I wasn't worried, I had Pop Tarts and SpaghettiOs stashed in my desk at work, just in case Darth Vader and his storm troopers chose to invade the Daily News.

The next day came with a phone call.

"Let's go to Sam's tonight," The Man demanded.

I was beginning to think he was concerned that letting him starve was part of my evil plot.

As with any trip to the Death Star, we couldn't just race in at light speed, we had to have a plan to combat the dark side.

"We're setting a limit, right now," The Man said. "Let's try to keep it under $100 this time."

His eyes suggested blame for the extra carton of chocolate chip cookies and bottle of wine that found their way home with us last time, even though I told him several times that a pack of Ewoks had been following us through the store.

They're so darn cute, it had to be them.

Grabbing a cart near the entrance, we huddled together in hopes of avoiding the Jedi mind tricks coming from the employees stationed in the entertainment section. Power in numbers they always say.

We made our way to the paper plates and beer without any added aversions.

With less than $100 worth of items in our cart, we were near the end of our list when I grabbed some cans of tomato sauce, spun around and noticed my male counterpart was gone.

Leaving the cart, and beer, unattended, I expected the worst. Was it a Wookiee or had Princess Leia made a pass? Either way, I was left with a very heavy cart to push through the store.

I weaved through the Milky Way and Snickers galaxy and past the rebel alliance just in time to spot The Man.

Cradling a 10-pound tube of ground beef, it was clear I'd met my match.

"That's going to put us over our limit," I said.

Waving the stick of meat back and forth, while making light saber noises, it was obvious that the dark side had him.

"Use the force," I begged. "Put the meat back."
It was no use.

Succumbing to the power of the produce tractor beam, I found myself clutching a giant pork loin, headed for the checkout.

—Megan Tilk is a reporter who also writes a weekly column for the Boonville Daily News. She can be reached at or through her blog: megantilk.blogspot .com.