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

Wombat bows to technological progress

I just had the urge to listen to a particular album in the living room, where the least primitive technology we have is a CD player.

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


Some of the fruits of yesterday's interviews/research:

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


A dog is eating, and a pug, who is not getting any of it, is about to burst into tears.

This is Japanese pug Bamu - more here. Don't worry, there was a happy ending.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Remember the trip to the beach? I bought seven pairs of pants - a new world record - but I continued to be unable to buy anything like a shirt or a dress.

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

General Announcement to Pug Dogs

I am unable to imagine a circumstance in which, having asked one pug to vacate the kitchen, I would need that pug to be immediately replaced by another one. Therefore you may safely assume that the request applies to all pugs in the vicinity.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I just walked Rose to the ATM outside our back to deposit some checks. I had filled out a deposit slip, remembered to bring a pen to write on the envelope so I didn't have to sneak a dog inside the bank, and expected it to take ten seconds.

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:

Press "check"
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

Fine distinctions

At the beach we bought some freeze-dried meatball treats that the pugs are crazy about. I know what you're thinking - since they'll grab anything remotely edible and swallow it whole in about five hundred milliseconds, how can I tell the difference?

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

Boston Tea Party

I don't know who I stole this from, I am sorry, I wish I did so I could see more of their pictures. But it really needs to be here and to be looked at again and again. Mmm, I feel calmer already.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Snack

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

Lesson in pug control

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

Sloth and relaxation

Baby Sloth Box Home
Originally uploaded by carnegieho

We're at the beach! Regular blogging will resume next week. In the meantime, here's another baby sloth in a cardboard box.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Help Wanted

As noted in the previous post, I have no decent clothes. Working at the zoo was perfect because we had uniforms, so I never had to decide what to wear. And at first, working as a writer was perfect because I was always on the phone, at home. But now, I am fairly regularly having to go out in public for work. It's rarely a formal ball, but there are lots of situations where you just can't wear a ratty pair of shorts and a webcomics tshirt.

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

Party Animals

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.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My dysfunctional relationship with a certain institution

As I mentioned in this post, I took this temporary job at the zoo hoping it would cure me of wanting to work there.

It worked. It's no fun anymore. It's gotten to the point that the management has sucked all the joy out of it.

So, I had come up with various plans to really dive into trying to make a full-time thing out of writing, now that I have a year's worth of respectable clips to send around. I have scary plans for a book proposal. I have a lot of projects I want to get started on.

I even decided to quit the job a little early, because now we're overstaffed and they really don't need me anymore.

So on my last day, it's 4.15, and I say, hey, I'm leaving a little early, what are they going to do, fire me?

The phone rings. It's another curator - one that I have always wanted to work for - asking if I could temp for him till the end of July.

I asked various questions about the situation (hours, computer access) assuming that I'd be able to say, oh sorry, I can't keep up my writing gigs if I do that, but thanks anyway.

But he was desperate enough that he told me the answers that I wanted to hear.

So I stammered and he said think about it and call me next week.

I DON'T want this job. I especially don't want it right now. But I would have killed for it at any number of times in the past.

I'm going to say no, after taking a couple of days to come to terms with it, but it's not easy. Are they ever going to stop &*%$ing with me????

You can't make this stuff up. If I put this bit of timing in fiction, I'd be told it wasn't believable.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A cry from the Dark Ages

Blogging is temporarily suspended until electricity is rediscovered in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Important Discovery

I believe I am very close to determining the answer to what I believe is a question for the ages: What is the value of an idea?

My editor at the newspaper pays $75 for a story that she assigns. But she pays $100 for a story if I come up with the idea for it.

Therefore, an idea is worth $25.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking about this harder. What if this really proves that an idea is worth 1/4 of whatever a whole project is worth?

The idea that all ideas are worth exactly the same amount is pleasing. And I'll bet it would make intellectual property litigation a lot simpler.

But maybe the latter theory is more plausible. And I'm equally pleased by the statement it makes that at least 3/4 of anything is in the execution, not the idea.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Deadly... deadly cute


With apologies to the lolcat haters. Just be thankful, this blog could have a LOT more pictures of baby sloths if I didn't control myself.