Techno Pout 

Gadgets for a grouchy man

Gadgets for a grouchy man

Saturday, I woke up grouchy. I didn’t have any particular reason. There’s no strife in the Jowers house, the cats aren’t shedding any more than usual, and it’s a documented, scientific fact that all my hormone levels are within normal limits. Even so, I woke up Saturday with an urge to bite through my own teeth and break 2-by-4s over my head.

I tried to think of ways to beat my sorry attitude back into shape. Maybe I could go to the batting cage and try to knock the guts out of about a hundred balls. It was raining, though. That meant no outdoor hitting and no chance of booking an indoor cage. So I decided to take a spin around the Internet.

When I got to, I found what I needed—the Dream Kanji Zen Alarm Clock, which, according to the manufacturer, will stimulate my inner growth and raise my awareness in a variety of positive ways.

You might be wondering, “How could an alarm clock do all that?” Well, it’s all in the chimes, bubba. When wakeup time comes, the clock “sounds a single strike of pure tone chime, which resonates for nearly a minute, then pauses for about 3 1/2 minutes to allow for dreamwork and personal affirmations in the alpha state.”

Clearly, some dreamwork could do a grouchy boy some good. For instance, I once dozed off during the movie Thursday and dreamed that supermodel Paulina Porizkova tied me to a chair and had her way with me. Of course, I woke up and realized that it was actor boy Thomas Jane who was getting all the action. Still, I gained a little insight into the positive value of dreamwork.

I’m not so sure about personal affirmations. I’ve been in a lot of houses where somebody has stuck affirmations all over the mirrors, the refrigerator, the kitchen cabinets.... The affirmations usually say things like, “I am young, thin, and beautiful.” Not to be unkind, but there’s always evidence around the house that the person who wrote the affirmations is no more young, thin, and beautiful than I am the reincarnation of Mickey Mantle. Hell, if I could wallow around in bed and affirm myself into being the starting center fielder for a playoff-bound Major League baseball team, I’d never have another grouchy day.

Anyhow, once the Zen clock has given you your dreamwork and affirmation time, the chime frequency accelerates over 10 minutes, eventually hitting a four-second interval, which provides a “progressive awakening.”

That’s well and good, but if the dreamwork and affirmations were really doing their job, I’d be out of bed, dressed, and looking for adventure in less than a minute. The Zen could wait.

While I was at, I found another fine device: the Catfinder+. You put a little receiver doohickey on your cat’s collar; then, when you can’t find your cat, you push the button on a remote, and the collar starts beeping. The Catfinder+ costs $39.95 with one receiver. Extra receivers are $19.95 each.

Understand, I tolerate my own personal cats well, and I wish all pet cats long, happy, and productive lives. But I did wonder: If a cat gets lost, do you really want to find it? Frankly, I’ve had days when I hoped the Jowers cats would get lost. Then again, when cat Sassy mangled her foot in the backyard fence last summer and I had the world’s best excuse to euthanize her, we spent about a month and well over a thousand dollars getting her foot fixed. So I guess it comes down to this: I can’t let my pets suffer, but if aliens abducted ’em tomorrow, well, I might just send the aliens a thank-you note.

If it were left up to me, the Catfinder+ would include a little taser gun, which could be activated by a second button on the remote. That way, when cat Sassy jumped up on my desk, I could zap her down. Or when cat Ivory tried to steal a piece of turkey off the platter at Thanksgiving, I could teach her some manners.

Of course, some psychotic animals are immune to taser-gun training collars. My neighbor Paul had to put one on his incorrigible lab, Apollo. Apollo, in his youth, would break down fences and doors, just so he could join the neighborhood animals and children in a game of chase. After Apollo nearly caught some of his fellow creatures, Paul put him in dog reform school. Apollo graduated with a four-level shock collar. Level one was a reminder, level two was discomfort, level three was tooth-tingling pain, and level four was lights out.

The only problem was, levels one through three had no effect, and level four only made Apollo close his eyes and shake his head. Last time I checked, Apollo was living comfortably in a special doghouse that looked like a recycled bank vault.

But back to the Catfinder+ (which I assume is an improvement over an earlier Catfinder). The thing only has a range of 50 to 80 feet. By my reckoning, that’s about the same as a bell.

Of course, you can attach the Catfinder+ receivers to stuff like your car keys and wallet. Then you might just get your money’s worth.

Visit Walter Jowers’ Web site at, or e-mail him at


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