a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: It's a New Year (Again) and Here We Are (again)

Friday, January 07, 2011

It's a New Year (Again) and Here We Are (again)

SUMMARY: Huh. Well. Am I done with agility? And facebook? And everything?
So, I had a great time up in the mountains. In my friends' beautiful, comfortable cabin with beautiful, cold, powdery, freshly fallen snow all around. They're fun people, and gracious hosts, and the food was good the whole time (I took some and cooked some, too). And the dogs were happy, got exercise, slept in the evenings instead of pestering me. Hiked probably 13 miles total (in the snow) in two and a half days; felt good.

Then I came home.

House is a cluttered mess. Even with all the cleaning and organizing and putting away I did while cleaning up before putting out christmas decor (and parts really do look pretty nice)...

fact is, it's a cluttered, dirty, half-finished-projects galore, mess.

The last many months, I've been winnowing out and tossing stuff into boxes and piles to get rid of, and mostly doing so--freecycling and giving to friends and family (I mean, most of the stuff I have is not junk--I've just become overloaded with good stuff and I really need to be much choosier about what I keep--anyone want a Hamilton Collection numbered collectible unicorn plate?)--

But SO MUCH STUFF and it's SO hard to winnow out. I've done the easy winnowing.

And it's hard to find time to work on the projects that take longer. 15-20 minutes a day, or 7 minutes, or whatever your favorite GET ORGANiZED NOW guru suggests, is all well and good, but finishing the kitchen stripping and painting is not a 15-minute task. It would take weeks of disruption in 15-minute bits. Can't bear the thought.

So then I read this article (titled in the local paper) What Life Was Like in 1995, in which 600 high school students gave up social media for a week. No facebook, no texting, no email, like that. They had to actually (gasp) call each other on the phone if they wanted to communicate; some had never done that.

I've been saying for a long time that Facebook is a huge time sink. Didn't mean to get caught up in it. Did. I get so much interesting info, and sometimes assistance when needed (or reciprocate it), and even useful info, as well as tons of laughs. But a big time sink anyway.

So I said, no Facebook for a week! (Two days ago now.) I'm actually liking it. Even though there are some aspects I miss. (And I haven't given up Prolific, the word game available through FB.)

Harder to give up email. Work and pretty much every community I'm part of uses email to communicate: 98% of invites for parties and activities come through email, and no one's going to stop and call me alone. Plus work. Plus the online services I use, and so on.

As someone pointed out--no blogging in 1995. Yeah--but when did I first start dinking with finchester.org? August 1998, I believe. And the Bay Team site around May, 1997. And I used to spend a LOT of time in those two places. Now it's mostly blogging and photos, because it's SO much easier to update those places!

I obviously haven't given up blogging or photos.

So then. Tuesday night, first full evening home after vacation. Agility class, first time in 5 weeks! It was cold, but not nearly as cold as the snow. Dogs were, as usual, excited to be going. Only 4 of us showed up for class (others sick, spaying dogs, whatever), so I got to run both dogs all evening, which is good for them and also probably for me.

Good to see my agility friends.

But, you know what, all through class I kept thinking, "Been there, done that. So what, it's agility. It's just like every other class--Tika's a model of 2o2o contacts and consistent performance; Boost is fast and eager but knocks bars and we don't communicate well at least once per run. And its going to be like this forever and ever and, so, big whoop, why am I here instead of at home, making my house more livable? Or reading a book, like I used to do in the old days? Or doing a jigsaw puzzle, which I used to do all the time but not in 10 years? (I got one for xmas this year, even.)"

Just totally blah.

This morning I did my weekly weigh-in at Weight Watchers and I've reduced my weight 10% from where I was in October--only about 6 pounds to get back to where I was 2 years ago (and for many (although not all) of the preceding 20 years). Feels good; clothes feel good, I feel good.

I'm doing some contract work at Apple; the project is interesting and worthwhile, the team members are great; I'm feeling good about my contributions.

The days are getting noticeably longer already--I was out in the yard with the dogs all the way until 5:30, cleaning up leaves, tossing the toy for them. That feels good, too--we're on our way (eventually) into spring and then summer.

I dunno, mixed feelings about where my life is and where it's going.

Gotta go now--time for a Bay Team conference call about worker compensation (at trials).

Happy New Year again, ya'll.


  1. Hey, love the new blog header photo! Snow and fur a-flyin'.

    I have a "throw everything in and maybe some day get around to sorting/organizing/tossing eventually" room. Fortunately the room has a door to hide the mess.

    Not too long ago I watched a documentary about a similar topic, "Disconnected",a small group of college kids who decided to go without computers for a month. Interesting watch. Don't think I could do it.

    Glad you haven't given up photos or blogging!

    Sounds more and more like a break, however long or short, from agility may be in order... After so many years in a sport I can totally understand the need for a change.

    Hey, I used to love doing jigsaw puzzles too!

  2. I have stacks and stacks of jigsaw puzzles, many of which I've bought in the last 10 years or so, and so have never done. I actually gave away half a dozen or more in the last year on freecycle.

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  4. Wow, I don't know who says you can strip and paint a kitchen in 15 minutes spurts but that's crazy talk. It took 2 of us 3-4 days or so including all the prep work, cleaning, picking out colors, buying supplies etc. It was totally worth the time but my kitchen was pretty horrible.
    Going through stuff and getting rid of it takes time but I think it's so worth it. I wish I'd put some time into all these years but at least I finally did it. So much easier and faster to find things and enjoy the things I really like and not have the burden of all the rest. I'm incredibly picky these days about what comes into my house. I didn't even want to take a flyer from somebody at the agility trial today.
    I never quite got the hang of Facebook, I post there very rarely but I can see it has it's purpose in limited doses. Maybe when you start back with it just give yourself a time limit? I can see how it would be easy to lose a bunch of time there without realizing it.
    I wonder as well if you finished some of your projects at home if you'd feel more enthusiastic about agility rather than feeling like it was stealing you away from more important things. I'd give up Facebook way before I'd give up agility but that's just me.

  5. I think it's normal to feel conflicted with how we spend our time. And to feel nostalgic about previous, more "simple" times...I know you've toyed with letting agility go for awhile now...maybe it's time (notice I don't think it's time for you to give up blogging, cause I'd miss you!) to give it a break...but the dogs will demand you do SOMETHING active with them. Even so...the big projects are overwhelming to everyone...sounds like you need us all to show up and help that stripping and painting process. Paint Party!!

  6. @Elayne: When I actually list what I think is important in some kind of priority order, facebook is way at the bottom. But I think its appeal for me has been: It's easy, it often gives me something to laugh at, it's often instant feedback, and it's a simple way to be part of a community without having to go out and round up some friends. But, yeah, really, I don't think if I died suddenly I'd be thinking, "dang, wish I'd stayed on facebook all week!"

    @Dawn: OK! Wallpaper stripping and painting next weekend! All you blogger volunteers on the spot! ;-)

  7. Is there a different dog activity that might appeal to you? My Tika (25 lb BC mix) discovered lure coursing at USDAA Nationals in Kentucky, and now I am trying to find/create opportunities for her to do it on a regular basis. Her status as a non-sighthound mutt makes it more difficult, but I am determined to make it happen. It's the OPPOSITE of agility: no training required, you just let the dog go and they get to chase stuff. There is an all-breed/mixed breed lure coursing club in the San Diego area--not close to you, but at least in the right state...

  8. Thanks, Amanda. San Diego is about an 8 hour drive from here, so it might as well be in another state. Parts of Nevada would be closer. ;-)

    I thought Tika would love lure coursing, but it terrified her. Boost did a couple runs with some encouragement and we got I think a gold and a silver medal for our efforts because she's fast, but when she realized that I wasn't running, too, she showed no further interest. And that was that for my ticket money for 2 years at nationals.

    Boost seems to like herding, but frankly from the seminars and one lesson I've taken and watching the competitions, I don't think *I'd* like it. I like being physically active with the dogs. Same problem with lure coursing and flyball--dog gets to have all the fun. And of course herding lessons are a minimum of an hour's drive from here, and two or 3x (or more) the cost of agility lessons. Hmmm, if only I had my own ranch--and sheep--

    I used to like teaching my dogs tricks. Still kinda do, still working on some from time to time. That's not much of a workout usually, and it's not that social, which I do like about agility.

    Tika loves going for hikes off leash, and I like it, too, but that's a minimum of an hour drive from here. (And she still wants to play with me when we get home.) Still, I do consider whether I want to try selling my house and moving over to the east bay just for the parks. But Boost is only so-so on hiking--she's always asking "are we ther yet?" and "where's the toy/can we play tug with the leash?". Although she loved the powdery snow! For 6 miles, we couldn't get her out of it onto the broken, compacted trail. Now that's REALLY hard for me to find. (Back to almost Nevada, and only 3-4 months in the winter.)

    I'm kinda liking the idea of the nose work thing, although I haven't actually tried it yet (although we've always played "find it" scent games). It's like a trick, with rules and titles! :-) Guess I'm just too lazy--or busy--to want to drive an hour or more for a class in anything on a regular basis.

    And people like Mutts and a Klutz do agility and skijoring and flyball and has discovered that her different dogs really react differently to the various activities, so she focuses on things that the specific dog likes.

    Good luck with your lure coursing pursuit. There were plenty of dogs at the nationals who couldn't get enough of it in the years I was there.

  9. *@#%^$ I just spent 20 minutes typing a long reply and then google complained about it and poof, away it went. The short answer is no because now I'm pissed. (Not at you--at google/blogger for not letter me have my text and at myself for knowing better than to type long answers in places where I can't save them as I go. Crap.)

  10. Not sure if you already saw it, but your longer reply did indeed make it through after all.

    But I've had that happen, too, from time to time -- **so** annoying.

  11. Oh, whew! Thanks for pointing it out! I hadn't noticed.