THE OMNI SHOW

Get to know the people and stories behind Omni’s award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS.

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April 3, 2019, 6 a.m.
Annette Fuller, Support Human

Anette Fuller joins the show to talk about storytelling, writing, and helping people — her passions. Her dog Conan does not join the show, but we’ve met him, and he’s awesome.

Transcript:

Brent Simmons: You're listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group's award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. Music.

Brent: I'm your host, Brent Simmons. In the studio with me today is Annette Fuller, Support Human at The Omni Group. Say hello, Annette.

Annette Fuller: Hello, Annette.

Brent: Annette, I started preparing for this interview as I often do, by looking at our company page, where we have little bios for everybody. I understood most of your bio except for the first sentence which read largely as gibberish to me, and I'm hoping you can explain. It says, "Annette lends her Rainbow Dash loyalty and Ravenclaw planning skills to the support team at Omni."

Brent: Now I know what a support team is, and I know Omni, obviously.

Annette: That's good.

Brent: It's the middle parts with the rainbows and the Ravenclaws. I might be the only one who doesn't what these things are.

Annette: I think you're probably not the only one.

Brent: Mark's nodding at me. I'm definitely the only one.

Annette: Rainbow Dash is a character from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It's just a super wholesome kid show, teaches about friendship. Rainbow Dash is this brash, loyal one. She would do anything for her friends. That's something that I really try to …

Brent: It's a thing with you.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: You're a loyal person.

Annette: Yeah, it's a thing with me.

Brent: Is Rainbow Dash also a pony?

Annette: Yes. She's ... Well, sort of. They're all ponies. There's Pegasi, unicorns and earth ponies.

Brent: Oh, sure. Of course.

Annette: You would totally get it if you saw the show. Highly recommend it.

Brent: Yeah, Pegasi have wings, unicorns, we know those. What's an earth pony? Just like ...

Annette: No horn, no wings. They're just really strong. They usually farm or ... Pinkie Pie is another one. She throws parties. They've all got their specialties.

Brent: Okay. All right, so got the loyalty of Rainbow Dash and the planning skills of Ravenclaw, which I just like the name of.

Annette: You're really the only person who doesn't get the Ravenclaw reference.

Brent: I'm totally… I know, I know.

Annette: Yeah, it's Harry Potter.

Brent: It's Harry Potter. It's one of the houses.

Annette: One of the four houses.

Brent: I can only remember Slytherin.

Annette: Slytherin's a good one, sure. You can get deep into it. There is a system for sorting into houses. You know, there's the official website for that, but there's also a psychological sorting system where you have a primary and a secondary house. I'm a primary Ravenclaw and a secondary Gryffindor.

Brent: Okay.

Annette: It's how you approach life. My primary Ravenclaw is how I decide what's moral and right to me, and why I do the things that I do. Then my secondary Gryffindor is how I do everything, which is usually jumping in head first, very passionate.

Brent: Oh, okay. The what and the how, sort of.

Annette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brent: What distinguishes Ravenclaw?

Annette: They value intellect, education. "All knowledge is worth having," is a quote from one of my favorite book series. "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure," is how one of the quotes goes from the Harry Potter books. I have a Ravenclaw purse and everything. I just really value knowledge. I think the more that we can learn, the better we can make the world.

Brent: Gryffindor is more a headlong, head rush type house.

Annette: Yeah, I'd say passionate. Loyal is another trait for Gryffindors. They're really into their community, and their friends, and boosting people up.

Brent: The others are Slytherin. The only name I can remember 'cause it's just so evocative of snakes, right?

Annette: Yes.

Brent: Which I imagine is a sneaky house. I don't know.

Annette: Cunning is usually the word. Yeah, they're pretty great actually. Some of my best friends are Slytherins, double Slytherins who have their circle of people that are their crew. They'll do anything to protect that crew. All their motivations are based on what is good for themselves and the people that they choose to be in their inner circle, which can be a really cool way to live your life. You can really get ahead that way.

Brent: It occurs to me that each of these different sets of attribute has positive and negative versions. The negative version of that is the mafia and you don't want that, right? Yeah.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: There was a fourth house.

Annette: Hufflepuff.

Brent: Hufflepuff. That's just fun to say. What are they like?

Annette: Their communities, I think, are bigger. They're more concerned with the world community, like how does humanity take care of each other and they usually are really warm-hearted people.

Brent: Well if there's a website, I'll have to find it for the show notes and figure out which house I would belong to.

Annette: Yeah, there's a Tumblr site that is all about this, this primary, secondary sorting system.

Brent: There's a Tumblr? Ok. Well if Tumblr is still up by the time I get to it.

Brent: What do you do here? You're a Support Human. I get the human part. What's support?

Annette: Anything it needs to be.

Brent: All right.

Annette: Yeah. Whoever needs me for whatever. I talk to a lot of our customers through email, on the phone, Twitter, forums, Slack. Anywhere they can reach us, I'm there trying to help out as best I can. I also view the secondary half of my job as supporting our teams internally. What can I do to improve communication among the teams and help someone else do their job more efficiently, or get them the information they need to work better or faster? That two-pronged approach to support is my thing.

Brent: Okay. As far as helping the users, you go wherever they are.

Annette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brent: I think that's the right approach.

Brent: When it comes to supporting your team members, does that often take a formal turn, like you're writing something up, or on Guidebook, which is our internal thing, or are you chatting and talking with people? How does that usually go?

Annette: Yeah, however would be the most helpful in that scenario. I definitely love writing internal documentation. I have a tech writing background and how we disseminate information is important to me. One of those things I nerd out on, so I really like to do that when I have the time. But my customers are my first priority, so I'll spend most of my day talking to them.

Annette: With co-workers, I think that team bonding is super, super important. The more that we care about each other, the better we can work together and support each others' goals, and see our apps become the best that they can be. I really encourage that and I'm always open to be a friendly ear. If anyone wants to talk about anything or just talk about life, we're all people. That's why we have this show.

Brent: Yeah, that's right. That's right. The bonding is not just good value on its own, but a team that bonds is better at supporting customers too, I imagine.

Annette: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Yeah, it affects our productivity and how well we're able to empathize with our customers. Empathy is a big thing.

Brent: I've had a few other jobs in the tech world, and worked on my own. I've never seen a company outside of Omni to value support as much as we do here.

Annette: Yeah. It's really remarkable. To be on this team and to be a support person on this team feels like a real blessing because so much of the company has their roots in support. A lot of people who are on different teams now, started out as support people.

Brent: Oh, right. Sure. Yeah.

Annette: Yeah. Everyone just has an eye to it. You'll see team members who will take on new projects specifically because they know that this is a sticking point for customers and they're just constantly advocating for the people who use our apps. That makes me feel really supported because so many teams have the customer as their first priority.

Brent: I've noticed too, in meetings, when talking over new features, or changes or whatever, whoever is there from support is very listened to, which is a good thing and probably, unfortunately, a rare thing.

Annette: Yes. Yeah.

Brent: Because of that empathy, I guess, and experience, they have a sense that this change made this way will actually be a problem.

Annette: Yeah. Definitely.

Annette: I think Omni is also unique in that people have been here for so long. You start working for Omni, you tend to stick around. People will be here for so many years and have such expertise on our apps that it really helps with that proficiency. Everyone wants to listen to you because what you're saying matters.

Brent: How'd you end up at Omni? Where'd you start? What road did you take to get here?

Annette: I was working retail out of college, and starting grad school, and thinking, "What am I gonna do with my life? I don't want to be a manager in a retail store."

Brent: What kind of retail was it?

Annette: I worked for World Market for a while.

Brent: Is that like a grocery store?

Annette: They sell furniture too. They sell food, furniture, clothes and jewelry. I was Jewelry Captain at World Market for a while. That was a big accomplishment. It was great, I loved organizing all the jewelry. It's my Ravenclaw coming out again.

Brent: There you go.

Annette: Yeah, and it was great, but I needed a career path. I had grown up around the dispatching environment 'cause my mom worked for a fire station. She was there on the paramedic floor. Sometimes I'd go through and do a tour of the facilities. I started applying to dispatching jobs, and spent a year in applications, and psych evals, polygraph tests. Just the whole shebang.

Brent: Wow, I had no idea it was so strenuous.

Annette: Oh yeah, it's rigorous.

Brent: Diligent. Wow.

Annette: Yeah. Trying to work for a police department, you would hope they do the right checks.

Brent: Yeah, true. Yeah, I just never even thought about it.

Brent: They all thought you're nuts, so …

Annette: Right. Well I passed my psych evals, but they were strange. The types of questions they ask you, it's nothing you would expect. It was just questions coming from left field. I guess I seemed normal enough to them, so I eventually got hired in my hometown.

Annette: It was an interesting experience. I spent six weeks as a police dispatcher. I learned that number one, I'm not cut out to be a police dispatcher. It's a very high stress job, I think, and it takes a specific type of person to be really good at it. Number two, there was no training program in place. I was really young at the time. I just ...

Brent: After all that diligence, there's no actual training.

Annette: Well at this particular police station, yeah. It was just hard to be thrown in the deep end. There were people on the team who were trying to help me out, but I really thrive in an environment where I have structured learning process, which is why I went to grad school. Yeah, it was tough for a while. At the end of that six weeks, I realized I couldn't make this my career.

Annette: When I left there, I was like, "You know, I really loved helping people on the phone." That's what stuck with me in that experience, was talking to people who were in distress, and just needed assistance. I found my volunteering opportunity at the Suicide Crisis Lines down in Los Angeles. I volunteered with them for a year and it was just one of the best experiences I have ever had of giving back to the community, and feeling like I'm doing something that's worthwhile.

Brent: Yeah, that's powerful. That's a big deal. For a year, I mean, whew.

Annette: It's not as hard as people think. Everyone's like, "Oh, I don't know how you did that," but you get training, which is great. They have really robust training systems in place for these programs, and you are actually taught empathy skills, which you don't get elsewhere. That's not an institutionalized thing like, "Oh, you're gonna go to college. Let's teach you empathy."

Brent: Got a major in empathy.

Annette: Right. They give you the support that you need in order to do that, and they make sure that you are focusing on yourself and not exceeding your own personal boundaries for ability to help people, 'cause it can be triggering and difficult, but the community of people who do that, who just pitch in and give up their time like that are some of the best people you'll ever meet.

Brent: Oh, I bet.

Annette: That made it just such an amazing experience.

Brent: People who truly need help, but it just has to be psychologically taxing, at least in some way to do that. I'm impressed anyway.

Annette: Thank you. Highly recommend it to anybody out there looking for volunteer opportunities. You'll surprise yourself at what you can do with a little bit of training and the connections are great. Once I did that, it was just an easy jump into support work as a profession because I just loved connecting with people in that way, I loved being able to offer something that will help them feel more comfortable, more secure, more confident. Support work does that if you're working for the right company.

Brent: You went into support work, I guess then next?

Annette: Yeah, I was doing tech writing at the time. It was kind of boring for me. Have so much respect for tech writing, but the long projects are hard for me. I can't work on a project for three weeks, I get bored. I'd rather have the fast turnover and momentum building of having a lot of interactions with different customers every day.

Annette: I got a job at iFixit, on their support team, which is a tiny little support team, just four people. But really just amazing values as a company, trying to help the environment, and I really found my footing there as a support person.

Brent: That's cool. From there to Seattle?

Annette: Yeah. Life goals.

Brent: What brings you up here?

Annette: #lifegoals.

Brent: Life goals, huh?

Annette: Yeah. It was always a goal of mine to move up here. My grandfather lived up here when I was a kid, he moved up here, and I fell in love with the area. It's just the weather.

Brent: The rain didn't put you off?

Annette: The rain is why I came.

Brent: All right, that had to be true for somebody.

Annette: Yeah. I think a lot people. You know if you stay in Seattle, you obviously can't hate the rain. Or if you do, then you're probably a really grumpy person.

Brent: Yeah. I've been here 33 years, so I guess I must be all right with it.

Annette: Yeah, and it's really not as bad as people think, right? In Los Angeles when it rains, it pours, and everything gets soaked. But here when it rains, you don't even need an umbrella.

Brent: Yeah. Up to Seattle. How'd you end up at Omni? Did you move to Seattle having had a job waiting for you? Or you're in Seattle first?

Annette: No, we took a leap of faith. Yeah, we moved up here and my husband left his job in California. I was still working with iFixit, but it was remote work and that gets tricky tax wise, so they were like, "We can't do this right now." I was like, "All right. I love you guys. I'm gonna miss you, but let me look for that next best team."

Annette: I stumbled on the job posting for Omni and it just was a perfect fit. This was actually the first job I applied to up here and I think the only job I applied to 'cause the process moved along quickly enough that I just landed there.

Brent: Craigslist ad?

Annette: No, no.

Brent: I always ask that and half the time it's true.

Annette: Yeah. I think my sister found one of her best jobs on a Craigslist ad.

Annette: No, Omni posts their job postings, I think in some strategic places to get people to look at them. There's a community called Support Driven, that we've been to some of their conferences. They just really care about support as a profession, and what it can do for products and for customers. They have a job board. I was like, "These people, they know what's up. I'm gonna look on there and those jobs are probably a step above the rest." I was right.

Brent: You've been here for a couple years?

Annette: Yeah. It'll be a couple years this summer.

Brent: You mentioned going to graduate school. What'd you do there?

Annette: Yeah. I got my MFA in Creative Writing. I majored in ...

Brent: MFA, Master's of Fine Arts?

Annette: Yes. Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I mastered in long-form fiction, so novels mostly. It was an amazing experience.

Brent: As a kid, had you wanted to be a writer? It was true of me, certainly.

Annette: Yeah. Ever since I was 13, I think it was that year that I read the His Dark Materials trilogy. It's The Golden Compass trilogy.

Brent: The Golden Compass. I heard of that. They made movie and everything.

Annette: Yeah. Yeah, there's actually a new adaptation coming out too, like a BBC adaptation.

Brent: Oh, cool.

Annette: Yeah, I'm really excited. There's another book coming out in October with this tie-in trilogy. It's like my childhood has woken up again and just seized me. It's great.

Annette: I read those books when I was 13 and they just shaped everything about who I am. They espouse humanism and just how do we be good people, good stewards. I realized that this is how you get to people, you write books that reach into their soul and teach people who they are on the inside. I wanted to do that and I've been writing ever since.

Brent: Oh, that's great, the power of stories and books especially. I love books.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: My notes say the Island of Misfit Toys.

Annette: Yeah. My MFA program is unusual in that it accepts genre fiction, so we have professors who are crime writers, or horror writers, and they don't turn up their nose at people who write genre fiction. A lot of us in the program feel like we're misfits because we wouldn't fit in at a traditional program where they only write literary fiction.

Brent: That's rare for MFA programs?

Annette: Very rare, yeah.

Annette: I think it's getting less rare, but there's still some room for improvement there at all the MFA programs. But it was just a great program where I found my tribe and so we call ourselves the Island of Misfit Toys. We call our residencies Nerd Camp. Everybody gets together for 10 days and just has this big party basically where you're nerding out about the things that we all care about, which is words and stories.

Brent: What other authors do you really like?

Annette: Phil Pullman, obviously. We've already talked about him. His writing is so evocative and amazing. I love Jacqueline Carey. She's got a few series that just really hit me in the feels. Harry Potter, of course.

Brent: Oh yeah, I'm sure.

Annette: Yeah. Garth Nix, the Sabriel trilogy, The Old Kingdom Chronicles is just so good. N. K. Jemisin, oh my gosh. Her fantasy is… it just makes you cry, it makes you angry. It just is so evocative and powerful. I'm really glad that she's out there writing what she is because fantasy needs more voices like her.

Brent: Cool. Are these all young adult writers largely?

Annette: No, actually. It's funny you ask that. N. K. Jemisin I think writes mostly adult. Phil Pullman, I guess would be considered YA.

Brent: The lines are just so blurred now.

Annette: They are. They really are.

Brent: Well because so much YA fiction is just so good.

Annette: Yes. Yeah, the quality out there is astonishing. I primarily write YA, but I'll read anything. But I just love the pacing of YA and the stakes, the life or death. These characters are usually teenagers and everything is life or death for them. That raw power of emotions really gets to me and resonates with me.

Brent: As a teenager, as I recall, everything felt like life or death anyway.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: That's cool.

Brent: Are you publishing anything yet? Still working towards that?

Annette: Still working toward it, yeah. My last novel manuscript that I finished was a post-apocalyptic, which the market is not really into right now, so I shelved that and I'm working on an urban fantasy. Eventually, when I have a manuscript that's good enough, I'll seek a literary agent and try the traditional publishing route.

Brent: Successful writers often say that it takes some number of novels before they finally reach that point.

Annette: Yeah. You got to put in the work.

Brent: Yeah. It should be no mystery to listeners, I've mentioned before that we do a pre-interview, right? So we talked a little bit earlier. I asked you at the end if there was anything I should be asking you about that I hadn't. The answer actually was religion. I should probably have some kind of disclaimer up front that obviously Omni has no official religion. We have a diversity of religious and non-religious, I guess, viewpoints here in the company. We're not trying to push anything on anybody, but I want to talk to you about it because it's a big part of you and it fits in with everything. You are a ...

Annette: Pagan.

Brent: Okay. Particular, specifically ...

Annette: I'd say Celtic Wiccan.

Brent: Okay. Tell me more about that.

Annette: Yeah. Pagan is the umbrella term. There's a lot of different types of paganism. Maybe some things that I would consider paganism, the person that practices it wouldn't. It's just very amorphous. It's not an organized religion. That's kind of the point. It's what you want it to be, individually. For me, it is polytheism, so belief in many gods instead of one. I work with and worship the Celtic pantheon of gods, which you don't hear much about. They're not Zeus and Hera, and all of them.

Brent: Are they similar to the Norse gods?

Annette: Similar. Yeah. There's some overlap definitely, but I think the Celtic ones are less well known. Ceridwen is probably a name that most people have heard. I think they're ... No?

Brent: No.

Annette: I think they influenced a lot of fantasy that we're all familiar with. Like you see Lord of the Rings. There's a lot of Celtic god elements in there that I think influenced his writing and the way that he wrote Galadriel.

Brent: The elves are clearly Celtic demigods or something, anyway. Right?

Annette: Something like that, yeah.

Brent: What are some of the aspects of this?

Annette: Well again with the disclaimer that it's different for every pagan out there, I think it's about learning to be a good steward of the earth, being environmentally friendly and taking care of this planet that we are blessed to have, and taking care of each other. Really trying not to perpetuate harm in any form. Just be a good person, take care of the people and the planet that's around you, and that is the same as many other religions in that respect.

Brent: You pay attention to the phases of the moon, the cycle of the seasons.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: Male and female duality. All this kind of traditional stuff.

Annette: Yeah. I don't dance naked in the woods. That's what a lot of people think about pagans, "Oh, do you go dance naked in the woods?" I don't do that.

Brent: Is there a church of some kind that you attend? Or how does that work?

Annette: Yeah. It depends on the type of pagan that you are, like if you were a druid, you would probably worship with a grove. With Wiccans, it's usually a coven. It's a small group of people who get together to celebrate our holidays, our holy days.

Annette: We'll do like full moon rituals. I have a coven that's based out of Los Angeles. Oddly enough I found them after I had moved up here to Seattle, but we do Skype sessions. Every dark moon, we'll get on Skype and we'll all talk about something that's appropriate to the season.

Brent: That's just a remarkable image, because paganism is in many ways, it seems to me, celebrating things that we've celebrated for thousands of years, the passage of the seasons or whatever. But you're also on Skype.

Annette: Yeah. Celebrating technology too.

Brent: That's just cool. Humans are part of the natural world and what we make is also ... Like beavers make dams, we make Skype, I guess, right?

Annette: Yeah. Neil Gaiman does it really well in American Gods. The way that humanity has evolved and developed all these technologies created new gods in his mythos. You have the new gods of the techie gods. I forget which ones they are, but it really perpetuates this idea that what you believe in has power.

Brent: Interesting. I haven't read that. I've read … Good Omens, I think?

Annette: Oh, that one's good. Yeah.

Brent: That was a good book. Yeah.

Brent: Were you raised in this tradition or is it something you came to later?

Annette: No, not raised in it. Back when there were Borders Books, remember the Borders stores? I loved them. I would go every Friday night with my best friend. We'd got to Jamba Juice and then to Borders, and we would just browse the books for hours. I found this book called Where to Park Your Broomstick.

Brent: All right.

Annette: It was an introduction for teens to Wicca as a religion. It just had the right way of approaching the subject that this is about being a religion, it's not about some froufrou, magic, witchcraft stuff. This is a belief system. The way that it approached the topic respectfully really resonated with me, and so I started dabbling in it, and then just went full tilt and told my parents. It took me a month to tell my parents and they were like, "Oh, it's cool. It's just a phase." Here I am, this is still there.

Brent: But it's like coming out of the closet, right?

Annette: Out of the broom closet, yes.

Brent: Broom closet, yes.

Brent: Honestly, I heard that earlier in the pre-interview and I was just hoping to get you to say that again. But the fundamental values here are still about humanism and stewardship of the earth, which is absolutely critical, especially in the 21st century when the bigger we get, the more of an obligation we have I think to take care of things, 'cause we can just wreck stuff carelessly.

Annette: Yeah, humans have a lot of power. How we leverage that power is gonna determine our future. Sure.

Brent: Is storytelling a big part of this tradition?

Annette: I think it can be. Certainly my way that I practice because I have Scott's Irish heritage, so I've always really felt drawn to that. The Celts were all about an oral tradition, so they would pass on their history and their knowledge through stories. I think that's just in my blood.

Brent: Yeah, it sounds like.

Annette: Stories are the way we connect to each other, and the way that we feel things, and how we interact with the world and understand our place in it.

Brent: You know, it occurs to me that the Marvel universe might be kind of a modern gods thing, right?

Annette: Yeah, how did you know?

Brent: Magic of the pre-interview.

Brent: You're a fan of Marvel?

Annette: Oh, the Marvel cinematic universe is just one of my favorite fandoms. It's amazing. I am probably going to annoy a lot of comics fans and say I haven't read them. I'm just into the movies and they are fantastic. I re-watch all of them leading up to the next movie that comes out and Scarlet Witch is my favorite. That's actually part of my email at Omni.

Brent: Oh, Scarlet Witch, who debuted in Age of Ultron.

Annette: Correct. Yes, which you only know 'cause of the pre-interview.

Brent: Exactly.

Annette: Yeah, she's great. I think she just had such a traumatic past, and was able to overcome it, and rise to the occasion, and decide to do the right thing for humanity. I have a lot of respect for characters who can do that.

Brent: I think my favorite is Thor, just because he's aware of himself, and he's very, very funny.

Annette: Oh, yeah. So campy. I love all the Thor movies.

Brent: Marvel. Do you pay much attention to the DC stuff?

Annette: No. Not a whole lot. Yeah, Wonder Woman was great. We definitely need more female super hero movies. Captain Marvel was fantastic. If you haven't seen it yet, you totally should. I guess I'm a one-trick pony. I find the one thing I like and I stick with it. Marvel just got me right from the beginning, that first Iron Man movie.

Brent: Oh yeah.

Annette: Iron Man 2 was the first movie I ever saw with my husband in theaters and we started dating. It has a special place in my heart.

Brent: I remember for years just being so worried about Robert Downey, 'cause he's about my age. The first time I saw him, I would have been pretty young and thought he was amazing. He and a few other people are the actors of my generation, Johnny Depp, and a couple others. But man, Downey went through a really, really rough period of time, and appears to have bounced back.

Annette: He's amazing.

Brent: He really is.

Annette: And such a fabulous actor. Just everybody who works on that franchise, they pick amazing people.

Brent: Yeah, and amazing writers like Joss Whedon.

Annette: Yeah. Yeah. I love Cabin in the Woods. I mean, everybody loves Buffy, right?

Brent: Yeah, sure.

Annette: But Cabin in the Woods was really smart. It was like the Thor movies, very self-aware, and that got kind of meta, but just that storytelling of “I'm gonna tell you this intelligent story, but it's still gonna appeal to you on a comedic level and an emotional level.”

Brent: Cats and dogs, what do you have?

Annette: Yeah. I have a cat and a dog. Gabriel is our cat. He was a dumpster cat. He's nine years old, but when we got him, I was in college. One of my college roommates came home, she's like, "I have a box of kittens. They were in the dumpster!"

Brent: Geez. Wow.

Annette: We all adopted them. I got Gabriel and he's just a sweetheart. He loves to cuddle. He didn't have the proper cat training because they were taken from their mom so young, so he cuddles a lot. He'll let you pet his belly and he doesn't swipe at you. Yeah, he's really the ideal cat. I don't know how I could top it.

Brent: My cat would let us pet his belly half the time. We just didn't know on any given time which way it was gonna go.

Annette: Yeah. The roll of the dice.

Brent: It's a trap!

Annette: Yeah, Gabriel is not super happy now that we have a puppy in our lives. Conan is not even a year old and he's already over 90 pounds.

Brent: Geez.

Annette: Yeah. He's a Bernese Mountain Dog and he just has so much energy right now. He'll chill out.

Brent: And the heft and the muscles to go along with it too.

Annette: Yeah. We're waiting for him to grow up, because they're really lazy dogs. They might not even need a walk a day when they're adults, but right now if I don't take him on at least two walks a day, he gets really agitated, and wants to play, and I've got a toddler in the house, so that can get a little… like a juggling match and be like, "No, honey. Don't walk on the floor right now. Conan's going to run into you."

Brent: Conan outweighs your toddler, surely by quite a bit.

Annette: Oh, definitely. Yeah.

Annette: Yeah, I can't pick him up anymore and I can definitely still pick my daughter up.

Brent: How big is a Bernese Mountain Dog gonna get?

Annette: Probably 120, 130 pounds.

Brent: Wow. Geez.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: That's a whole lot of dog.

Annette: It is. Yeah. Oh, but he's such a goof. He's a love ... He just wants to cuddle with everybody. He's a lap dog, which can be a problem with that much weight. But if he sees a new person, or a new kid, or a new dog, he just is frantic to get to them to say hi and receive pets.

Brent: I've met him. He's extremely friendly.

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: That's cool. Is that kind of dog like a kind of a shepherd or… ?

Annette: Sort of. I think that they were bred probably for farms in the mountains. I think his primary drive is to check on things like, "Oh, those animals are in their pen, these kids are playing over here. Everything's fine, running smoothly." Then they're also used as drafting dogs, so they'll pull little carts with loads in them.

Brent: Oh, okay. “Bernese,” is that an alpine thing?

Annette: I think so because their sister breed are the Swiss Mountain Dogs, which is the type of dog that Molly has. The Swissies have short hair and the Bernese have the really long coats. His hair will just float in the breeze, little tumbleweeds of Conan hair, and land in my coffee.

Brent: What's your daughter's name?

Annette: Senga.

Brent: Senga. That's not a name I've heard before.

Annette: Yeah, it's a Scottish name, and it's actually Agnes spelled backwards.

Brent: Oh, sure. Why not?

Annette: Yeah.

Brent: Agnes doesn't come up too often as a name either.

Annette: No, it's not super popular right now.

Brent: Well, thank you, Annette. How can people find you on the web?

Annette: I am on Twitter. My handle is @rainyday_writer.

Brent: 'Cause you're a writer and you like the rain.

Annette: Exactly. That's exactly it. Eventually I am gonna have an author website as well, but it's not up yet, 'cause a kid and a dog.

Brent: And a cat.

Annette: And a cat.

Brent: Don't forget Gabriel.

Annette: And a husband.

Brent: And a husband. Yeah. Whew. You're busy.

Annette: Yes.

Brent: I'd also like to thank our intrepid producer, Mark Boszko. Say hello, Mark.

Mark Boszko: Hello, Mark.

Brent: And especially I want to thank you for listening. Thank you. Music.