a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: July 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

CPE Day 2, Ah, Well

SUMMARY: Even fewer Qs, and no blue at all.

Welllll, Tika got six Qs in a row this weekend without even thinking about it but the wheels fell off the gocart today. She ended with only 7 of 10 (I had thought we had 8 until I just recounted), so only 2 of 5 today.

Boost also Qed in only 2 of 5 today. And NO blue ribbons! I can't blame it all on Chaps:

  • In Snooker, I ran it successfully with Tika for a Q and then (doh!) ran it incorrectly with Boost (thinking, "huh, this doesn't seem to be the way I ran it with Tika"--and a moment later, the judge's whistle blew). Sheesh! Since I picked an easy-to-get-through course rather than a high-point course, Chaps won, Tika took 2nd, and Boost got nuthin'.
  • Then in Standard, Chaps wasn't even entered and we still didn't get a blue ribbon--courtesy of each Merle Girl knocking a bar, so no Qs. We still took 3rd (Tika) and 4th (Boost) of 5 dogs. Brenn got the blue this time.
  • In Colors, Tika knocked a bar for an NQ, so two runs in a row with a bar down; Boost  had a great run and I thought that Chaps couldn't possibly beat our time but, yes indeedy, Boost's time was 15.65 and Chaps' was 15.16. Curses! So a 2nd and a Q for Boost.
  • In Jackpot, Tika just wasn't fast enough to get two dogwalks in the opening (halfway across when the whistle blew, so that's 5 points we missed) plus knocked a bar that we took twice (so minus 2 more points--and that's three classes in a row with a knocked bar). She did get the gamble for a Q and a 4th.
    But Boost was spot on, other than a couple of wider, slower turns trying to get her to the teeter in the opening. She nailed it! And she's really fast! She turned back to me on the approach to the gamble but I finally got her over the first jump and the rest was a breeze. I thought for SURE we had Chaps' number on this one.
    But, to hear Chaps' handler tell it, Chaps ignored her cues and did back-to-back tunnels all by himself in the opening that she hadn't planned on doing while she was trying to call him back to her, which actually turned out to work better than the course she had planned, and wouldn't you know it,  Chaps tied Boost at 49 points for highest in trial, but they were faster through the gamble for the 1st. If we'd had better turns to the teeter, we'd have picked up one more jump at the end for another point and the win, or possibly if boost would just dang go over jumps in front of her at the gamble. Jeez! We all talk about how Chaps seems to always know the right thing to do, but who knew that he could actually scout out the opposition and plan a gamblers opening on his own to get those high points!?
  • Finally, Jumpers, and it was very sad. I sent Tika off to the far corner to take 2 jumps and then beat feet across the field--she took one and skipped the next one, so off course. Boost then knocked a bar and decided not to take a tunnel, of all things! And so then I stood there for about 10 seconds, calmly saying, "Tunnel", and "look--tunnel" while she bounced back and forth in front of me in a frenzy.
At least it *was* much cooler today than yesterday, although still really dusty. Here's about my 8th attempt to wipe the dust off the score table. And we were working there all the time, too!

Thank goodness Boost won something in the raffle--another water-bottle cover toy (slip in an empty water bottle and then the dogs love the crinkling noises when they bite on it) and an ice-bottle bolster: Fill and freeze a couple of bottles of water and put it in the dog's crate on hot days. Will have to try it and see whether the dogs like it the next time it looks to be pretty warm.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

CPE Day 1 Not A Blue Day

SUMMARY: Hot. Qs. Ribbons.
It's 5:30 right now and it's 96.6 (36.1) in San Martin. It was hot. Being under cover in the shade was good, and the slight breeze that kept air moving was good, but it. Was. Hot. And being covered with horse arena dust didn't help. In my brown blue jeans. Brown black running shoes. Brown legs. Brown arms. Constantly wiping off the brown white score table.

Yech bleah. I still need to take a shower but I'm thinking of waiting for it to cool a few more degrees here at home, too.

I think the trial ran pretty well and people seemed to be in a good mood despite the heat. That always makes things more bearable. 

Out of 10 runs, we brought home only one blue ribbon today. And this is CPE! I had hoped for more. The issues were:
  • Both my dogs are competing in the same group now, so even if one of them gets a blue, the other won't.
  • Both my dogs are competing against the Amazing Chaps who always competes with Tika  for fastest time/highest points, and now both dogs are competing against Chaps, so....
  • If I make one mistake in handling, boom, we miss the blue ribbon.
  • Tika's just not managing to keep up with Chaps in speed. Dang these young dogs. ;-) (Chaps is two and a half years younger, but until the last year, that didn't seem to matter much.)
What we got was one 1st, four 2nds, one 3rd, and three 4ths (out of 5 to 7 dogs).
Tika Qed 5 for 5; Boost 3 for 5.

The rundown:
  • Standard: Both Qed, Tika won, Boost 2nd by 2.5 seconds--could have something to do with me overcalling her when trying to wrap a jump and pulling her off it, so we had to make another pass at it. Also, Chaps wasn't in this class.
  • Wildcard: Tika Qed and 2nd (to Chaps, by 3.5 seconds! Nothing major in our run, I don't think, just some hesitation and wide turns. Boost knocked a bar and was less than a second slower than Chaps--could be the stopping-on-contacts thing that we do.
  • Full House: This is the class I love and always go for Highest Points At Entire Trial with both dogs. Both dogs Qed. Unfortunately, with Boost I bobbled a weave pole entry, wasting time, and so for our last 5-point jump, the whistle blew as Boost took  her last stride towards it. So 4 points behind, yes, Chaps, giving Boost 2nd place and I think 2nd highest in the trial. As for Tika-- (a) Handling error took her on an odd & confusing & time-wasting path, and then (b) she left me to go sniff at something on the ground in the ring that the previous 2 dogs had also gone sniffing at and even eating. I managed to get her back, but we Qed with the only minimum points needed, ouch!
  • Colors: Tika Qed and 2nd place, 2 seconds slower than Chaps. Boost--I tried a serpentine and thought she was committed but moved apparently too soon and she took an off course jump, so no Q.
  • Jumpers: Both dogs Qed, but handling errors also pulled both dogs past a jump (different one for each) that I had to rescue and bring them back around. So TWO dogs beat us--Chaps and Brenn (I've talked about Brenn beating us before, too). Boost 3rd, 1.5 seconds behind Chaps and only eeeeeeek 0.1 seconds behind Brenn; Tika 4th at 3.5 seconds slower than Boost!
And there ya have it.  I thought the courses were pretty good--challenging without being impossible, yet fairly smooth even so.

Weather Underground says "Tomorrow is forecast to be Much Cooler than today." (Which, at the moment, seems to be a predicted 88 F (31.1C). We all sure hope so!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Batman In 3 (Not D)

SUMMARY: A rare staying up almost all night experience, with photos from the Batman movie opening at the Cupertino AMC.
The final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman series, starring Christian Bale, opened today--that is, at 12:01 A.M.

Now, I love Batman. He was my favorite comic book hero as a kid (when I wasn't temporarily swooning over Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern). I still have my '60s-era Batman trading cards (no, they're no worth very much) and this poster, which my understanding dad bought for me when I couldn't walk past this little funky shop somewhere in New York City.
 I still have my Dark Knight Frank Miller graphic novels. (Well--that was after I was all growed up.)

Still, that is not normally anywhere near enough to get me to the midnight opening of a movie. All that sleep disturbance, all that arriving hours early to stand in line for the best seats, all the crowd.

BUT the AMC theaters were offering all three movies in one evening, leading up to the third one at 12:01 AM. Just so happens that I really liked the first two. And, oddly, just so happens that I didn't remember that much about the first two and the third was billed as following after their plots pretty closely. So, what the heck.

I found a friend to go with, I bought the tickets in advance, I showed up 2 hours early and we were 3rd in line. Our line never got very long. Turns out that they had sold out the two other three-movie showings and had added this one at the last minute. Not surprisingly, it didn't sell out (probably everyone had given up and gone to some other theater).

I would also say that our average age was more than twice the average age of everyone else in line or at the shows. (Random people in line.)

It was fun watching all the batman tshirts go by, though. Out of hundreds of people, noticed only a couple  with anything like a costume.  (All photos are a bit soft because I shot w/out a flash.)

(I was shooting randomly; turns out the friend I went with knows this guy.)

(These guys weren't really hunky guys in costumes. They were hunky guys wearing, like, one-sided costumes tied around their necks .)

They handed out souvenirs: A poster and a fancy lanyard to each person. Except, well, we were the add-on show, so they didn't have enough and we had to pick which we wanted.
I picked a poster--not sure why, it's going to go into a box in the attic with my other Batman poster--and my friend took a lanyard, which I forgot to get a clearer shot of later.

Da-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da...Bat!Man! theater entrance. Oh--we were the "6:01" show and the *real* shows were at 6:00 (digital and IMAX). They had to make us 6:01 to be able to tell it apart from the 6:00 show.

After all of us who'd waited in line filed in, there was almost no one in the theater.

We thought we'd be having a semiprivate showing, here, but in fact it finally did fill up at least 2/3 full. And everyone was pretty well behaved all the way through all three movies. You never know with a cult crowd. Likely because there was no beer involved. People applauded and cheered when decent but scared people did decent things or the cavalry showed up, and of course at the end of each film, that sort of thing, but it was kept to a minimum and so added to the pleasure of the experience.

After the first movie--so about 8:45--people were pretty active, got up, moved around, talked animatedly with friends, checked their email and facebook (all the blue glowing faces), like that:

The theater had cool wall lights. You start noticing these things after you've been there for 4 hours and are going to be there for another 4 or 5.

For the first movie, I had a hotdog, can of caffeinated diet coke, and split a large popcorn. Got through the second film on a bottle of water. But after that--so now 11:30, waiting for the third one at 12:01--I decided I needed more caffeine and more popcorn. And--you can tell my brain was getting dopey--I bought a "large" bag of skittles for $4.50. Actually it was free because I had money saved up on my discount card.

People were still mostly functional at that point, but not so much up and around. The seats stayed pretty full during that time.

Quite a few took the opportunity for some shut-eye. You can't really see the ones who had their feet up on the chair backs as well as the guys down front napping.

So, at midnight, there were not only our hard-core three theaters who had sat through the first two movies, but three other theaters with just the 3rd movie playing. No wonder that, at shortly before midnight on a Thursday, they still had people waiting in line 12 deep or more at every single one of the dozen or so cash registers at the snack bar.

As for the movies--I still really liked the first two. Third one, not so much. Acting still good, and it definitely kept me awake, but, really, kinda ho-hum on the plot, and I think it was because the threat and situation were SO unbelievable (yeah, OK, so I'll buy a multimillioinaire in a bat costume) that I couldn't get worked up over it. And I didn't really get the villain, Bane. Read up on him afterwards, and the wikipedia description is so much more interesting. The two possible love interests, there wasn't much there. Maybe too many characters. I dunno. Anyway, it was good but I'd have maybe said two and a half stars out of 4.

Commented to my friend that the hard thing about immersing oneself in movies like this is that it's sometimes hard to get back into the mindset of everyday life--in the movies, Batman and everyone else are making life-and-death kinds of decisions and wading into trouble up to their necks over and over, and we have to go back to, oh, hohum, have to make this deadline for work. It seems so mundane.

Driving home at 4 a.m. (which was weird--this is about the time I'd normally be getting UP for an out-of-town agility trial), I was thinking to myself (because to whom else would I think it?), you know, the other thing about films like this is that weird shit like this doesn't happen in real life. You don't really get pychopaths in masks killing dozens of people just for the heck of it.

And then, minutes after that thought, the news came across the radio about that shooting at the midnight Batman show at a theater in Colorado. Some psychopath in a mask, shooting dozens of people just for the heck of it. Terrifying. That could've been any of us, any theater. Just random.

I'm appalled that the experience that for me was a fun, campy way to spend an evening turned out to be such a nightmare for them. That kept running through my head as I tried to get to sleep. I was very glad, after all, that my own life continued to be mundane. What a weird world.