a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: August 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A bouquet of AKC dogs--

SUMMARY: Which would you pick?

I'm not a big AKC fan for various reasons, BUT their different breed groups were what I memorized as a child. I could recite all of the dogs in each group well into my college years.  (Somewhere in there, though, I discovered that the world contains hundreds of other wonderful breeds.)

This came around on FaceBook and I couldn't resist:

If you could own one dog from each AKC Group, which would you choose? This can be a breed you currently own, have owned or would like to own! 

(I add: Or you can expand your horizons and view the breed groups from around the world as consolidated in Wikipedia. Or from the widest-spread international organization, the FCI, who groups them differently than everyone else.)

  • Sporting - Labrador Retriever, from working/agility lines, not the overly stocky/chunky show type
  • Working - German Pinscher maybe
  • Herding - Blue merle Border Collie or Australian Shepherd or several others 
  • Hound - Maybe Irish Wolfhound
  • Toy - Maybe Manchester Terrier
  • Non-Sporting - Poodle
  • Terrier - Border Terrier or Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier or Parson Russell
  • Miscellaneous - The members of this class vary over the years as they become more widely accepted and moved into the other classes, and as other rarer breeds start to become popular.  From what's there right now, maybe a Norrbottenspets or Mudi
  • Foundation Stock Service - Not really a breed group. Mostly breeds who don't want to be AKC conformation dogs, is my personal thought. Maybe Sidney Thomson-- that is,  Kromfohrländer-- or Danish-Swedish Farm Dog or Kelpie

Saturday, August 11, 2018


SUMMARY: Expensive and lying around everywhere.

UPDATE Nov 29, 2020: I just uploaded all the photos you see here!) 

We here at Taj MuttHall (that is, Human Mom, 2 dogs, and Mr Fox No.12) have the following in the way of "high tech" gear used for communication currently or at one time:
  • A 2017 Macbook Pro that was working perfectly except for occasional extremely irritating and often challenging sticky keys (which Apple finally acknowledged in June was their problem), which I took to the Authorized Dealer yesterday for the warranty repair with a promise that it would be done by the end of the day, but it failed diagnostics, so they were going to try again, so I have no email, no applications that read my actual current data...like that. Back to the stone age. Only web-based apps for me today.
    2017: Brand new MacBook Pro, in Space Gray.
    Just out of the box with protective cover still on it.

  • This Mac Mini (that I am using in the interim and it is slowww and has no current software) from wayyy back. 
  • A Mac 512K ( that would work fine if it had a working floppy drive into which to insert the System diskette but I cannot get one of those, nor have the ones I have be repaired, which is why this original was retired).  It lives on in my attic and on Wikipedia.
    2004: My original Macintosh, 512K
    In 2004, it hadn't worked in probably 14 years.

  • A slew of Macs of various models who remain here only as ghosts.
    2009: Older Mac crashing. A lot.

    2008: My original Macbook, bought in 2000.
    I think it was a 1999 model. Lots of people at this event also had Macbooks--
    NONE were old enough to be black.
    This was still convenient for basic stuff but really couldn't run newer things
    And not long after this, it refused to power up.

  •  A 2011 MacBook Pro that works fine (although had been getting slower over time) but sometimes doesn't work at all, so it must sit in the corner and ponder its sins. 
    2016: The 2011 MacBook Pro.
    2017: 2011 MacBook Pro also -- odd things happened to screen
    And then it repeatedly started not starting up, or shutting down for no reason.

  • A 2011 MacBook Pro whose screen broke so you can see only the left 1/3 or so (actually handed over to a friend recently for homeopathic therapy (so I don't expect any cures any time soon)).
    2014: 2011 MacBook Pro with damaged screen--
    Note lower right corner--the colored arc is the crack
    Note whole right side of screen is slowly being eaten away.

  • A Windows laptop running Vista that I haven't needed in 2 years (my company provided it for some contracts) and that's likely well over 10 years old.
    2016: Windows PC (huge and heavy)
    with the too-too-familiar blue screen of death.

  • Another Windows system running I don't know what but probably more recent OS than that. It was my dad's and I have it to, in theory, be working on converting all of his vast numbers of Word Perfect files (all of his books and everything else are in this) to Word so the rest of us can read them.
    2020: Was Dad's newest Windows PC.

  • One home phone, the main line, with a wireless handset and a base with answering machine (digital, not tape) that hangs on the wall in the kitchen and does not have caller ID or any other such new-fangled features. I have a wired-to-the-wall-and-coiled-handset-wire phone in my bedroom also on that line. You would maybe not be surprised how many people say, "but I texted you!" And I say, "How--you don't have my cell number," and they look at me blankly and say, isn't this your phone number?  Yes... yes, it is.

    2020: Kitchen1998 model wireless phone. Note antennas everywhere.
    Note there's no window for displaying phone numbers and such. Just how many messages.  
    Well, the base isn't wireless--connects directly to phoneline in wall.
    Handset is huge and heavy.

  • One office line that's for work, nominally. Internetz come through there. Has a pretty modern phone with a limited display (and digital answering machine) and also TWO bases and wireless handsets--very handy to have the extra one in the living room during the recent years when that's where I was working because of my back. And bluetooth if I could figure out how its new-fangled ear piece works.

    2020: Office phone 2013 model. Little window displays all over.  
    Handset is thinner and lighter, and the keys light up.

  • A printer...  a printer for goodness sake... that's also connected to the interwebz and is wirelessly operated, which is also very convenient from the living room or from my renters' phones. It's also a scanner and a fax. I got it to replace my old dead fax. Ask me how many faxes I've sent or received in the last couple of years. (Hint, fewer than 1.) 
    2020: HP all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax, 2013 model. Wireless.

  • My regular flip cell phone that my so-called friends deride regularly. 
    Flip phone compared to inherited iPhone (next photo).

  • An inherited iPhone 4 with an actual service plan that isn't being used, following my model for Netflix (sure, I'm paying every month, because someday I might use it) and Dish Satellite (sure, I'm paying every month, because someday I might use it). 
    My first iPhone/My first smartphone

However, since I successfully cancelled my Dish subscription this past week, I think I'm going to bite the proverbial technology bullet and get a new cell phone.

What's the world coming to?

UPDATE Nov 29, 2020: I *did* go get a new cell phone--iPhone of course!

(AND--I just uploaded all the photos you see here! You're welcome!  I have photos of many of these but not easy to post at the moment, so tune in later.)
Nov 2018: Shot this photo of my first iPhone next to the 2 latest models.
Immediately after which I bought the model in the middle.
Much bigger but thinner and I think lighter.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Bell-Ringing Dogs

SUMMARY: A trick we've worked on occasionally.
Backfill: Dec 18, 2018

The command is "Smash".

Friday, August 03, 2018

Going to the Fair Ain't What She Used To Be

SUMMARY: With occasional appearances of Mr Fox No.12.

I loved visiting the county fair when I was younger. Miles and miles of livestock from the tiniest decorative chickens or rabbits to the largest long-horn cattle and draft horses.

Food vendors of myriad confections, from cotton candy to pepper steak to garlic fries (and ice cream!) and everything in between.

Winners and participants of nonlivestock competitions: Saliva-inducing canned goods, perfectly hand-stitched clothing, rainbows of quilts, woodworking, metalworking, photography, people's carefully curated collections of curiosities, table-setting examples.

Hawkers of fantabulous whoozitzes and whatnots that you might not see anywhere else.  And of course the carnival rides and games, gleaming, glistening, shining, glowing, in a thousand colors at day and oh so much at night. 

The Santa Clara County fairgrounds used to have a field/racetrack/grandstand, too, that drew crowds for whatever was going on at any given hour.

But--probably largely through receding interest as the agricultural Valley of Heart's Delight became Silicon Valley--the fair gradually became a shadow of its former self. Wasn't helped along by management who decided to raze the grandstand/field and all of the livestock buildings and facilities some years back, and then couldn't come up with any sort of replacement that was acceptable to the neighbors or general residents of Santa Clara County.

But--we went briefly yesterday anyway. The entry arch is the same one that has been there as long as I can remember.

Yesterday was LGBTQ day/night at the fair, as they try to draw in new audiences. So there were a lot of rainbows to put us in a cheery mood. It was a good start but didn't last long and was spotty the rest of the time.

We weren't thrilled with the entrance, even. So I'll start by complaining, apologies--it gets better (I think). We went yesterday because the fair's web page said $1 entrance all day Thursday. When we got there, it wasn't, and when I got home, their page no longer said that.

And they had the entrance very poorly laid out: Big sign pointing to "Entrance" which was a long maze of fences set up to contain a huge line (no line when we got there), and as we headed through towards the end of that, we saw people coming back in our direction and discovered that the ticket booth sat  *outside* the maze even thought it was right next to the far end of the maze where the ticket takers were. So we had to walk back along that maze (neither of us feeling physically at our best), then walk back down alongside it to get tickets, then walk back out alongside it again and all the way through it again, so I wasn't feeling charitable before we even got inside. I wasn't grumpy enough to ask one of the guards to just move part of the fence for us to walk through--wish I had. Oh, well.

OK, mostly I won't complain more; I'll just be wistful as we go.

Mr Fox No.12 came along but didn't have much to say. He said he thought that speech was generally free in the U.S. of A. but based on the condition of this location, it seems to be a little under attack, he said. He stayed low in case of sudden mass shootings in the area.

Once inside,  you betcha we spotted this right away.

We sat on a bench in the shade--it was warm, not super-hot, but my delicious but drippy dipped cone called for sitting and ice creaming and talking.

Next up: The large animal building (not a barn--those are long gone. This is a repurposed building that used to hold other exhibits and vendors). We walked through, but all the lanes between rows were closed and most of the animals were tied up facing the other way or sleeping on the far side of the pens, so that was quick and dull.

No.12 says that he saw more interesting sheep than these up in Oregon and Idaho, he says. He did scare one into moving suddenly, though, when he tried to jump off my neck when i leaned forward to take a photo. He thought that was pretty entertaining.

What sheep do when their neighbor kicks sawdust in their face.  [Nothing, apparently. Maybe he was keeping an eye on Mr Fox. Made me smile, though.]

Be glad your neck wrinkles aren't like these.

[Dangity ding dong, I just realized that all of my photos have Mr Fox No.12's signature on them because I neglected to turn that off in my smallification dialog. Darn it.]

Pretty much all the sheep, goats, and pigs that we saw looked more like this: Plump and sleepy and uninterested in giving us photo ops. Didn't they get the memo?!

Here, all the animals were projects of 4H or FFA or the like, so they were also educational projects, meaning that educational info put together by the kids lined the pens.  Perhaps without much proofreading.  But I always learn something.

This is pretty much what all the cattle looked like to us.

A quick glimpse along the pig row of the large animal building. Those are exhibitors in the middle; we couldn't walk through there.

I'm definitely sad when I go these days because it's even less than a shell of what it used to be. Don't know whether that was entirely inevitable or as a result of management over the last decade or two. This is the main entry plaza, first thing you go through. Bare.  Not many vendors of any kind anywhere.

(My sister, an avid Society for Creative Anachronism member, said that they used to provide demos of fighting and other medieval activities here in this plaza until they realized that, even on Saturday and Sunday, their group made up about half of the people actually in the plaza.)

The "competitions" hall held the usual remnants of what used to be huge displays of photos, collections, table settings, crafts, sewing, canned goods, etc. Some nice things still, and I like looking at them.  But I sure wish there were more.  Everything done pretty much by youth (K-12), now, not much in the way for adults to participate in. There are some delightfully talented young people out there, though, and that always bodes well for the future, I think.

I did like the socially conscious quilts, including some sections from the AIDS quilt and one beautiful and moving one for the Sandy Hook shooting with the names as part of the quilting. (All but the AIDS quilt also done by "youth".)

And this--

The quilt took me back to the '80s and early '90s, when they were just figuring out what was going on, and there was so much stigma, and so very, very, very many people, particularly here in the San Francisco Bay Area, dying. Frightening times.  I'm so glad that we've made progress on all those fronts.

Read more about the quilt at aidsquilt.org.

(This chart is from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. My feelings were more of remembering how hard the times were back then, viewed now from a distance, and relief that things got better. Still not perfect, but so much better.)

(My fair-going friend points out that things might not be as much better as they appear.)

So--back to the fair in general: Just a few of the things in the competition hall (which was also pretty sparse), but some beautiful items to regard. Look how that honey glows!

This is a painted gourd. (For exhibit only, not in competition.) "Miniature Garden Gourd House on Stump" by Iris Gach.

As a collector of dragons (and some other random things, don't cha know), I've always liked looking at people's personally curated collections at the fair. Like these piggies.

Outside, between the buildings, spray-paint artists were hard at work. How DO they do that directly out of spray cans?!
(Wolf. Purple. Love both.  Ooooowwwwwoooooooooo!)

Displays in the other exhibit hall were the now-usual bugs, reptiles, and Dianetics, and not too many of those, either; hall mostly empty.

One part of one of the old exhibit halls was set up as the Wizard's Challenge, which provided giant chess, giant checkers, a bunch of other giant games and toys, and this delightful giant bubbles station.  Dip, pull, and stream, and wowwwwww giant bubbles!  You could even capture a nearby friend in one!

Friend was having miserable back spasms and my hip was none too good, so we didn't stay all that long and didn't see all that much of the fair.   Didn't make it out to the carnival part, although that was our original goal for photos. Supposed to be larger this year, and if it goes well, it'll be back next year. Or, if not, there are other fairs within easy driving distance for future reference.

Instead, we quickly called it a day and headed over to Applebee's for dinner. My salmon and veggies were very good; certainly healthier than anything I'd have eaten at the fairgrounds. And one can't beat the air condition and the great companionship as two old (ahem, barely middle-aged?) friends talk up a storm. We always have things to talk about, and that is just plum wonderful.