Saturday, December 27, 2008
Babirusa (butt disappearing into cave)
Mara (one ear flutter barely visible in cave if you crouched down at the right angle at the right moment)
Binturong (great exhibit where you could crawl under and stick your head up one of those clear plastic bubble right in there with the binturong, if it hadn't been hiding)
We had the perfect timing to see a sloth actually moving in one indoor exhibit but otherwise that one was all, like, saki monkeys and GLTs, which I have had enough of for a lifetime and never liked that much in the first place.
They did have some great tropical birds - but the main effect of that was just to make me think that my life would be richer if I could manage to give a shit about birds. Sadly, I just can't.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
But I was in luck - there was a city bus waiting at the corner. So I stopped and asked the driver if I was walking south.
He was all, "Uh..."
I finally got an answer by asking if it was the downtown direction or the Maryland direction, but he even had to think pretty hard about that one.
Monday, December 22, 2008
In the 1960s, faced with the possibility that her husband would be jailed for his activities in opposition to the Vietnam War, Carol Chomsky resumed her education: a doctorate would be useful should she need to become the sole family breadwinner.
-New York Times obituary for Carol Chomsky
Well, weren't those the good old days!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Panamanian Golden Frog T-shirt, on sale
Panamanian Golden Frog mug, on sale
Expensive black tights that I actually needed
A third package of Manatee Margarita chocolate, to ensure that I actually give away the first two.
I bought a dozen things that were actually gifts, so really, that's pretty good, isn't it?
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Uh, right... I realized after half a second that although the only other thing we get from "Department of Police" is traffic tickets, this was just a dog license renewal notice.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The publisher told her that she MUST have a website for marketing purposes, but provides no support for this at all, which is why I am doing it. My friend asked several times what to do about a 'buy' link, and they ignored all her emails.
Then, after the site was already done, someone looked at it and said "include more places to buy." They provided a link to their catalog, which includes a number of sites to buy the book.
One of those sites is Alibris, which in case you don't know, is a used bookseller.
When she inquired about this, she was told "it's a corporate decision." In other words, !%&$ you, author, and your sales numbers and your royalties.
This is just one of many stories I could tell but I will leave it at this: they will blame it on the economy and the web and people not reading anymore, but if the publishing business is collapsing, they have no one to blame but themselves.
It's a shame, really. I kind of don't want to publish a book so much anymore after this experience, but I really liked reading them, you know? It will be sad when they are gone.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
(Yeah, I just figured out why I haven't gotten the last few months of Cook's Illustrated.)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Dog tic-tac-toe at the dog club Christmas party - you know, like Downs are O and Sits are X.
Lilly was brilliant at this when we played, even though we ended up on the Down team which was always harder for her. It made me feel bad that her talents and skills are being wasted. Or maybe she prefers retirement? I don't know how to tell.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Dudley Zoo (UK) keepers strip for fundraising calendar
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I think where I should really apply is the company that programs that search agent. Even I could do a better job than that.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
So, yeah. What do they have to lose?
Friday, November 28, 2008
But I only just realized the depth of this. I realized that every time I try to decide whether I want to give them money for some new or additional service, the calculation doesn't just involve whether the service is worth X dollars to me. Every time, I also have to decide whether I want the particular service badly enough to overcome the fact that I just hate the idea of giving them any more money.
Really, I'm not asking for greatness. I just want them to run a business in a normal, average, mediocre manner, so that I can decide whether to purchase something solely based on whether it is worth the price.
Is that so much to ask? Just don't run your business so badly that people actually hate you. That is my advice.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm not sure why I started reading it, because I have never heard an old album by this group and have no interest in the new one. But I kept reading to the end, at which point, I wanted to run right out and buy - no, not the album, even though it was quite a good review. Instead, I couldn't believe that anyone could be such a good writer that he could get me to read 1700 words (I counted) about the new Guns N' Roses album, so I wanted to run out and buy one of this guy's books.
There is some kind of important lesson about writing here, but I can't figure out what it is, because I can't decide: Does this mean he is doing a good job as a reviewer or a terrible one?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
It was way too expensive, but I was sorely tempted to buy the ornament and hang it on the tree next to our only other celebrity-portrait ornament, the one with the Pope on it.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The artist hard at work
Originally uploaded by wombatarama
Having my arm autographed by Chris Onstad, author of the comic Achewood. Sort of a peak moment of my life, actually, and I am not ashamed to say it. Slightly embarassed, yeah, but not ashamed.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Perhaps the kidnapping of the other pumpkin was a red herring meant to distract attention from which pumpkin was really in danger?
Unfortunately, the corpse had been moved, no doubt destroying vital evidence, by the time I investigated. I was only informed of the situation belatedly, when we were out for dinner, and the Technical Staff realized that he'd forgotten to mention seeing a pumpkin smashed in front of the house as he drove by. By the time we got home again, someone had replaced it on the retaining wall.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The pumpkin in the last post (better view here) was gone when we went to blow its candle out last night.
It had gotten a lot of compliments from kids all night, and whoever took it had to walk up the stairs, and ignored the much lamer pumpkin that was right at the bottom of them:
I guess I should be flattered, but why did they leave the lid? I imagine a gang of inexperienced pumpkin thieves getting back to their lair and yelling at each other "I thought YOU had the lid!"
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
What do you suppose these people do when they need to swear? Do they suddenly sound like they were born in the Bronx?
My linguistics education tells me no, but my gut instinct has a hard time believing it.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There needs to be a word for that thing, where you end up lost somewhere on the internet after clicking too many links and searching too many terms and don't know how you got there, like you're waking up from sleepwalking. Googlewalking, maybe.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yesterday - after one week - I got a rejection letter. With actual original sentences in it, written and signed by a human being.
This is totally astonishing service. I wish I was a science fiction writer, it was such a pleasure doing business with them.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I wanted to write a haiku about this - it seemed like the perfect seasonal topic - but I couldn't get the syllable count right:
Breakfast in short sleeves
Fallen leaves on the table
Wasn't born yesterday
And... Lilly went for a morning walk! Lilly never takes a walk in the morning. I think she wanted to go to the fancy dog store. I tried to explain that they are not open at 8:30 but I think she is very cross with me.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
The next day, a man driving past pulled over and got out of his car to meet Rose, and told me that one of his pugs had recently passed away. Her name? Cocoa Pig.
I felt bad enough about that. And now today on Pug-a-day? King Snorkie von Squigglesworth.
I have to conclude that at least, I did not put an adequate amount of effort into this important subject.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Kind of bad weather for swimming. Fortunately, we never go swimming at the beach. Not so fortunately, we got home and found there was a power failure that fried our cable modem.
After lots of yelling on the phone, tomorrow I have to go try to get one, or else I can't really work. In the meantime we're hoping that our neighbor's wireless doesn't stop working. Thank goodness for people who don't worry about computer security.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So we have huge nasty economic perturbations AND gas lines; why doesn’t it feel like the 70s? Better graphics, I think. The society’s look-and-feel is set on perma-shiny, and even if we do see apple vendors on every corner, they will have signs they made at Kinkos. And the apples will be organic.
-James Lileks at Lileks.com.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
But just after thinking this, I noticed I was having trouble seeing a tiger at a distance yesterday. Which could have been a problem if it were happening somewhere other than at the zoo. I guess the survival value of eyeglasses outweighs their cost to vanity.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This seemed at first to work and I don't know where things went wrong, but in any case at some point I started to say 'no barking' instead of just "there's a dog."
Now, when she hears me say 'no barking' she immediately whips around and starts barking like a maniac. Apparently I am such an accurate predictor of dogs that need to be barked at that she doesn't even wait to see the actual dog.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
A waitress had just come and left, and all of a sudden there's Rose in my face. Unfortunately, all the waitress had brought at that point was napkins and silverware.
An animal that knows what a waitress does. It's a mind boggling concept.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Pugs in a fancy new shopping lane in fancy Bethesda.
We were supposed to go away this past weekend but canceled at the last minute due to a migraine. We went out for Sunday brunch in a strange new place to pretend we were on vacation. It was nice, but I don't think any of us were really fooled.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
As opposed to, "Hello?"
Seriously. We didn't even answer that way at the Reptile House, where outside people had no way of getting our phone number. Isn't this basic business etiquette?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Originally uploaded by Karl Kuchs
I've never posted a black pug with its chin down. Black pugs are much rarer. We keep meeting new pugs in the neighborhood lately, but never a black one. But Flickr has everything anyone could need, so here we are.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
But I feel kind of bad when she uses all that energy to run down the stairs after me when I'm getting a glass of iced tea and coming right back up to the office. Or when she leaps up in the backyard likewise when I'm just grabbing something and coming right back out.
Since I talk to them all the time whether they understand it or not, I always say, "no wait I'll be right back."
I just noticed that now, when I say "I'll be right back," Rose does not get up and follow me.
This is what I love about dogs.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On Monday I finally crossed off my to-do list something that had been there for years, ever since we moved to this neighborhood. I took some pictures of this small vegetable farm that is around the corner from me.
This farm is only a couple of blocks from downtown Silver Spring office buildings, metro, etc. Every year I assumed the bulldozers were going to roll in and ugly McMansions would get crammed onto the lot and I'd kick myself for not getting the pictures. Just like I still kick myself that I didn't get pictures of the Orthopedic Truss company on Bonifant Street, or the artificial limb place on Wayne, or any of the other pleasures of urban decay that are rapidly vanishing from the neighborhood.
I don't know how much longer we'll be able to walk around the corner and buy figs, but at least I didn't miss out on taking the photos.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Actually it's a really spectacular fungus, isn't it?
We went to try to look at some tadpoles again. We perceived a lot of things swimming away faster than you could see them, and also a lot of little things jumping into the water before you could see them.
It was somewhat less eventful than the last trip. We used the GPS this time and didn't get lost, although I found the dirt road rather terrifying, and even worse was the HUGE bee-like insect that got into the car on the way back. I swear it looked like the nightmarish creature in this video.
Really, it's a lot better to go to the zoo.
Friday, August 15, 2008
It feels so good to make a resolution and stick to it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
If you asked me, I would say that I hated winter more than any time of year. But in reality if I were paying attention I'd realize August was the lowest point. I spent last August basically lying on the couch with migraines for the whole month. The year before that it was lady-part-problems. I spent a few previous Augusts lying on the same couch sick with stomach problems. This year it looks to be a reprise of the lady-part-problems.
It's not even that hot this year, so although I hate the weather, I guess that's not it. I don't know if it's the shortening days playing some kind of primeval hormonal havoc, my body crying out in protest at never getting a summer vacation longer than a long weekend, or what.
Whatever it is, I am not fighting it anymore. I will not bother feeling bad about not going to the gym. I will not resist the urge to take the pugs to an outdoor restaurant on a weekday evening and have for dinner a margarita and spinach-cheese dip, followed by a piece of cake covered in whipped cream from Whole Foods. I will not expect to finish any major projects, start any new ventures, or make any life decisions. I give up. Ambition, plans, and goals, see you in September.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Rose and Lilly at a free concert on Saturday night by the Dixie Power Trio. There are four guys in the band actually, and when asked, the answer was that they are the world's largest trio.
They played a song called Zydeco Dog that refers to a dog that wants to stay out all night. That's Lilly - we were out for at least two hours and we still had to drag her home. While Rose is all "Ooo, we're going home now? Really? Really?"
(More pug internet celebrity: this same picture on the website of our cool new local dog store, Living Ruff.)
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Just as we were finishing, the man at the bakery came running over. He had dropped a croissant on the floor, so he gave it to me for the pugs. For them, of course, this was like winning the lottery.
This is just how Lilly is, she's that lucky person that these things happen to.
I bet she remembers this and I don't have trouble convincing her to come next week. If the baker drops a croissant again I hope he does it sooner, though. It would have been nice to be able to eat my whole brioche myself.
Friday, August 8, 2008
"Let's be honest, Mexican food is pretty straightforward with variations on a cheese, meat and tortilla theme."
I immediately had to drop everything I was doing and write a curmudgeonly email which began "I know you've downsized the staff, but what's going on here, are you having the high school interns write the restaurant reviews?"
Seriously, this is Washington DC. This is an audience that has a high level of culinary sophistication. The existence of Mexican regional cuisines is not a secret nowadays, nor is the existence of dishes beyond Tex-Mex tacos and enchiladas. And surely it's not news to readers in an area with such a large Latino population that "plantains are a fruit similar to bananas."
I managed not to also comment on the style of the quoted sentence, so really, I did exercise some restraint. But, although I know from personal experience that it's the time of year when a lot of the grownup editors are on vacation, there's really no excuse.
(The title of this post is stolen from my famous writer friend Beth Harpaz, who forwards around terrible newspaper stories under this heading.)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
(Note to local photographers: pug pictures are better without accompanying humans. Lilly and Rose were on another local blog a while ago, but I didn't link to it because unfortunately I was in the picture too.)
Monday, July 28, 2008
“There’s nothing new, is there?” Albert asks. “Stealing gas, OPEC, high prices. It’s like the Seventies are being recycled.”
“Yep,” I reply. “First the kids started wearing bell bottoms, growing their hair long, and sporting mutton chop side burns. But when Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow started to become cool again? Oil shocks and economic collapse were sure to follow.”
“I just hope disco doesn’t come back,” Albert says.
“You and me both.”
- Waiter Rant
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Lilly, neighborhood pug Henry, Rose. With Henry's family's kid and a bunch of feet and legs. On the plastic grass field in downtown Silver Spring, at what is supposed to be a party to say goodbye before they fence it off and start building a building. Although actually it looks like any other Friday night on the green, which always attracted its own party.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The pugs paid no attention to them at all. Yeah, Rose is mostly blind, but she didn't even react to the soundtrack. I think Lilly perked up the first time a dog barked, but that was it.
The only part that interested them? When I unwrapped the plastic wrapping around the DVD boxes - they ran over, thinking that it was the sound of some kind of food wrapper.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
(Roscoe's dad works for Archie McPhee, which is a great place to shop if you need to take your mind off of sobering topics like life and death.)
Addendum: and if instead you want another Roscoe post that will really make you want to cry, click here.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Seriously is this dog cute or what?
A bunch more pictures from this session on Flickr. Just Rose, because Lilly won't go for a walk in the morning unless Not the Mama comes with us, and he wouldn't, so they were sitting home reading the paper together.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I wrote to them to point this out, but apparently they have decided it was not important enough to run a printed correction. In contrast with the following:
· A Reliable Source item in the July 1 Style section incorrectly described Kansas City Barbeque in San Diego as the site of the scene in "Top Gun" in which Tom Cruise sang "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Kansas City Barbeque was the site of the scene in which Kelly McGillis played the song on a jukebox, but Cruise's singing scene was set in a different bar.
Yup, that's clearly more important than scientific facts about nature. Who could argue?
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Pug with its chin down - Montreal.
It's that irresistable Gizmo and baby again.
Doesn't matter how uncomfortable it looks, gotta have that chin down on something.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Now, Lilly was trained in agility at an impressionable age, which is a sport in which dogs basically jump on, walk all over, and jump off complicated pieces of furniture. And, even younger, she learned from the cats that on top of the back of the living room couch was the best place to lie. And now that we have a table in the living room she does occasionally get up on top of it - she can walk onto it pretty much directly from the couch.
But it was only a few days ago, after nine years of living in this house with this furniture, that for the first time it occurred to her that if she jumped up on a chair, she could reach something on the dining room table. I don't know why she never realized it before or what inspired her at that moment. But I guess the next step was an easy one. I don't even have any idea why she thought it was useful to be on top of the table to watch Rose - it certainly doesn't put her closer to her. I don't know what the advantage of the aerial view might be.
Whatever it was, though, everything has changed. I fear our lives will never be the same.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I just put batteries in all the dead watches and started wearing them again. It's really cool. All I have to do is look at my wrist and I know what time it is. I don't have to dig in my pocket for my cell phone and push a button. It's so easy! What will they think of next?
Friday, July 4, 2008
Just a nice head-tilt from Rose for the Fourth of July. We went to a local block party looking for a holiday photo op, but there really wasn't anything suitable. I don't know what I was expecting - even if I could figure out how to hold a pug up to shoot with fireworks behind her, it was the middle of the day.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I am hereby officially refusing to buy any book reviewed this way. And not just out of annoyance. I actually LIKE the genre. So why would I want to take the advice of a reviewer who apparently thinks that the genre is crap? Obviously we don't like the same thing, never mind the possibility that the reviewer actually has no idea what standards are applicable.
While I'm at it, let's include any book where the publicity makes a big point out of the fact that the author's previous books were not mysteries, implying that s/he is a REAL novelist.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
We think this is a wood frog. The Technical Staff has been to this pond at different times of year, without me, and seen many adult frogs and many tadpoles. I got to see this in-between one.
I was reminded on this trip of why I prefer to see wild animals at the zoo:
1. There's no missing the highway exit and getting off in the wrong place twice.
2. And no wondering why a man who owns TWO car GPS devices, and usually insists on using them when I don't want to, would have left BOTH at home.
3. And no missing a short cut and then finding that the road for the usual route is permanently closed.
4. And no going back to the short cut to find that that's even more closed.
5. And when you finally get there, no boot-sucking mud or poison ivy without the option of buying cold drinks or resting in air conditioning.
Another picture of this guy, and some nice moss, on Flickr.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I failed to do so, and thereby, had a relevation: I just figured out the real reason why mp3 players and downloading music and so on are better than CDs. It's because the music on your mp3 player is always there, in alphabetical order.
You younguns reading this, you probably don't even know what I am talking about. You have probably never spent ten minutes of your life trying to find one thing on an unorganized shelf of hundreds of objects that have music on them.
Friday, June 27, 2008
From the web page of Guiding Eyes for the Blind:
"A dog will take advantage of you if it thinks it knows more than you do."
From the dog dentist:
"If you would feel safe to chew on it yourself, then it's safe for your animal."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Well, I took the pugs to an outdoor concert on Saturday night, and, looking around at the people, I figured out what the problem was. Because I suddenly noticed a generalization that has been simmering in the back of my mind for, oh, maybe a year: Women's clothes right now are appalling.
Mark my words: This is one of those periods in history when people are going to look back at the photographs of themselves that are taken now, and are going to be absolutely mortified by their attire.
Trust me. I lived through the seventies, I know what I'm talking about.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Well, I discovered that they have installed new machines, labeled with great fanfare about how you don't need deposit slips and envelopes. What you have to do instead is:
Type in amount of check
Hit another button to continue after reading instructions to endorse the check and smooth it out
Insert check, facing in the correct direction, flat and smooth enough to go into the machine
Wait while it is scanned in
Hit another button to answer whether the number you gave is the correct amount
Wait while they process it
Hit another button to say you want to deposit another check
Repeat for each check.
I think that was all the steps.
Hello? How is this easier than filling out a deposit slip in the comfort of my home and sticking one envelope in the machine? When did I volunteer to work as a bank teller for free?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This is how: When Lilly's in the backyard and I stand at the back door and yell "Cookie," she will usually come inside. Sometimes, though, she's more interested in what she's doing, and a cookie's not enough incentive to stop.
But, if I then yell "Meatball!" she comes running.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Front and back, with five foot tall human for scale.
(Click on the pictures to see close up.)
Goodness, that big squid makes your hips look large, even before you eat it.
As for the taste test: It was a very nice texture for a dried squid treat - not too hard to chew. But it was too sweet.
Another interesting point: Not only is Big Squid illustrated with a picture of an octopus, the only cephalopod in the ingredients is cuttlefish.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Here is a good example of poor quality pug wrangling: The person who is off-camera holding the bag of croissants should have been A, behind the photographer, and B, not so danged much taller than the dogs.
More pictures of the pugs' trip to the beach, in at least one of which you will be able to identify the same error, on my Flickr page (link over there to the right).
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
It's hard to solve this problem because I am not interested in clothes and hate shopping for them. Nothing fits right, everything costs more than I want to pay, and despite being not interested in clothes I am very opinionated about how they look.
I've decided that the solution would be a service which, when I arrive at a shopping mall, takes away my car keys, and refuses to give them back until I return carrying bags full of purchases. They must be careful to check the bags for cheating if the mall has a bookstore - only clothes count.
In the meantime, we're about to head for the beach for the weekend, where there are a lot of outlet malls. Wish me luck.
Monday, June 9, 2008
On Saturday night, I went to the Bark Ball, a black tie fundraiser for the Washington Humane Society, to write a story. I have so far spent most of my career in journalism sitting in my home office talking on the phone, and otherwise have been a zookeeper for the past several years. The result of this is that I have virtually no respectable clothing.
I tried on some dresses belonging to a coworker (resulting in much joking about female animal keepers all owning one dress between them that gets passed around in the rare cases that we need it). I went shopping twice. I finally realized that buried in my closet I had one dress that would be just barely suitable and also not cause me to pass out in the near-100 degree heat.
It was discouraging but not surprising to discover when I arrived that some of the dogs were better dressed than I was.
(Pictured: Faith Buttercup, in a dress her owners brought back from the Virgin Islands. She gets a new dress for the ball every year.)