a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reading the Brits

SUMMARY: Flashback to Cal Berkeley Brit Lit class
Started by my response to someone's post on FB.

I took British Literature 1900-1945 to start my junior year at Berkeley. Because I love reading. Holy moly what a miserable set of books. I think I have finally physically expunged most from my life, long after I expunged them from the gray matter in my head. Could barely remember anything about them even after I forced my way through for the class, let alone all these eons later.  ... I did pull out a B+ but probably mostly because I could write. 

Oh--I do still have these from the class! 

Kept because it's poetry. I like poetry.

Ulysses: Kept because it'll be here when someone says they haven't read it
and I can say, "try it. Just...try it."
Not sure why I have the Ford book. Maybe I actually liked it? Must reread.

In recent stages of my ongoing adulting, I have wondered whether I'd have a different perspective on them now.  Possibly so. I wonder because Lord of the Rings was popular in my family home and The Hobbit was a good read but I tried and tried to read the first of the trilogy, bogged down, and surrendered the effort. I tried one more time in my mid-20s, possibly, determined to eventually get through it, because: classic,  and, wow: Love happened! Something switched on in my brain that my younger self couldn't yet process. 

Class books were--hmm, I have very little idea any more:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf).
  • something by... (C.S. Forester?)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper.
  • Probably George Eliot... something.
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford).
  • I think about 6 books total.

I wonder whether I still have a syllabus somewhere? Hmm.

[...2 hours later...]

Wow! Found it! So, the books I owned [and, yes, read] at one point:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford)
  • The Secret Agent (Conrad)
  • Sons and Lovers (Lawrence)
  • Selected Poems (Lawrence)
  • A College Book of Modern Verse:
    • Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (Pound)
    • The Waste Land (Eliot)
    • See TOC photos below for other specific readings
    • BTW, I shekled out $10.95 for this book! I just about died! Outrageously expensive! Currently, Amazon says: 1 used from $12.95  1 collectible from $24.95

Check it ouuuuuuut, duuude. Or not.  (I might reread the poetry selections, no idea whether I enjoyed them more than the novels, but probably did.) 

Have you read any of those novels? Or poems? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Gratuitous Recent Dog Photos

SUMMARY: [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday

Ears back or up


Spontaneous hug

Checking out ground squirrel hole

Human Mom took him away from an almost-caught squirrel. So rude.

Squeaky Snake

Teeter in agility class

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << <

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday T-Shirt Tales: Alaska State Parks

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: A shirt for a place I haven't been.

Side Note: I missed last Tuesday. Not deliberately. I wrote a quite long and personal account of a recently acquired shirt. Worked on it for a couple of days, rereading and re-editing. Added photos. Just needed to add one more sentence. Hit Return when I didn't mean to, so, unthinkingly and automatically, I used my browser's UNDO. And the whole thing vanished. Couldn't get it back. Thanks so much, Chrome or Blogger or whomever--I don't care who. Devastating. 
I'll get back to that one eventually. But couldn't face it or anything else again last week. Nor this week for that one. With single keystrokes such are entire histories changed or lost. Fortunately I have lots and lots of t-shirts to write about.

My parents started us out right: Traveling. Not overseas--just wherever we could get to by car and then camp. For weekends, or for vacations, which were usually not more than a couple of weeks.   But, by the time I moved out, I had driven with them across the entire width of the country five times. And my dad in particular liked to go places he hadn't been before, so we took different routes each time, mostly, near as I can remember. Including one 6-week across-and-back summer trip.  We hit so many state and national parks as we went! A habit that's hard to kick once it's started.

When I was in junior high or early high school, I made Dad a color-me-traveled map of the US on a large sheet of posterboard--an idea that I had seen in a magazine somewhere.  He immediately sat down and marked all states where each of the 7 of us had been (I'm arbitrarily in red). Later, they went cross-country twice more with my three youngest sisters, and he filled those in.

I've since traveled by car to places I hadn't been with them, and then to top it off spent several years in the '80s flying around the country on business. Seldom managed to see much of anywhere, but by golly I'd landed in airports and stayed in hotels and attended meetings in a whoooooole lotta states.  Also spent two weeks in Hawaii, twice. I didn't keep careful track (doh!) but I am quite confident that I have now set foot in 49 of our 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

I didn't update the map; it was his to do or not.
I have that map now, though. Frozen in time.

Happened to be wearing it
in 2015 to check out the
ballyhooed presence of the
Hello Kitty bus selling
Hello Kitty snacks. You can see
the extreme long line out behind 
my head. I took photos
and went home. 

But: I have not yet made it to Alaska. Someday. It's on my Bucket List. My parents made it, finally, in their retirement years.

And one of my sisters went twice, I believe.  She is generous with gifts and astonishingly aware of what people like.  When she returned from a summer visit there in 1998, she handed me this beautiful blue --of course--t-shirt. To wear for inspiration to get me up there.  And it does remind me, every time I wear it.

It’s one of only three t-shirts that I believe I’ve ever had for places I haven’t been, out of the 250-plus that I remember having over the years. That means I have to get there eventually, right?  

Friday, September 11, 2020

Air Quality this afternoon

SUMMARY: In case you were wondering.
Backfill: date

Smoke gets in your...lungs

SUMMARY: Fires and smoke are bad all up and down the west coast. Under siege for 4 weeks.
From facebook: consolidating a few of my posts and my comments on others' posts.

Some days the smoke is worse than others. Some days it's above a cloud layer, which makes everything an eerie or even scary yellow to deep orange. Other days it's right in your back yard, and you might smell it even if it's many miles from the source.

My back yard on the 9th.
Everything inside and outside bathed in
sickly yellow-orange.
Relatively tame compared to many.

At 5:00 PM on the 9th. Sunset not until 7:30. 
With a large window
over the sink (visible) next to a 
sliding glass door and another sliding 
glass door to my right.  Spooky dark.

On the 9th, my facebook feed filled with photos of those creepy, apocalyptic skies up and down the west coast. So many friends--one friend commented that she logged in to post her photo and when she scrolled through and saw that everyone was posting them (from goopy yellow to deep red), she didn't bother. And no matter the color, it was dark. Like, after-sunset kind of dark. Had to turn on lights in my house to navigate safely. Spooky. Pretty much everyone shared similar discomforting emotions about the colors and the darkness. And so dominant that it made multiple front-page photos in the San Jose paper. 

Two days ago, only moderately bad air quality first thing in the morning, but got worse. Next day, upper 90s to lower 100s. This morning...

Woke up dreaming I'd been walking the dog and was out of breath. Woke up and breathing harder than normal. Not gasping for breath or even panting--but AQ was around 240--so time for a hit off the old inhaler. And I had left my windows cracked a few inches just for the coolness, hoping that the screen and 2 layers of curtains would reduce particulate matter. Apparently not so much. Also closed the windows.

I had been averaging 50,000+ steps/week since chip's death, but between the heat and the air quality the last 3 1/2  weeks, it's dropping precipitously. Zorro is going nuts not going for walks. But even he is mostly staying inside lately, on his own.

So I recomposed some lyrics for all of us.

Oh give me air, fresh clean air, under starry skies above.
Don't smoke me in.
Let me walk through the wide open country that I love.
Don't smoke me in.
Let me be in a place where it’s easy to breathe,
Listen to the murmur of tall unburned trees,
Make me S.I.P. but I ask you please,
Don't smoke me in.

If you look at the airnow.gov map (https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/) for the EPA's sensors for the entire mainland U.S. for this morning, it's kind of pretty . Like holiday lights. Or... erm.. alarms and warnings. So many fires up and down the western states, and depending on the winds and inversion layers or whatnot, you don't know which fire's smoke you're receiving. Personally, I like to be introduced before I inhale something.

Active fires as of Sept 11 from https://storymaps.esri.com/stories/usa-wildfires/
Many caused by a rare thunder/lightning storm mostly on Sunday Aug 16. Worse, it was dry.
Reported August 19:
"Over the last 72 hours, there have been some 10,849 lightning strikes throughout California, state officials said. As of Wednesday afternoon, 367 major fires were burning statewide, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom."

 About 170,000 people were evacuated in those few days; although many were allowed back fairly quickly, more were evacuated in other areas.  With all of this-- is it no wonder that talk of COVID, which had been maybe 70% of facebook, has been completed replaced by news like this. I'm just consolidating a little of nearly a month of an ongoing facebook stream of fires and destruction and evacuees and smoke and HEAT! that made it worse.

So now you may return to whatever you were doing, and I hope it's sunny and smoke- and fire-free. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

T-Shirt Tales Tuesday: Believe In Your Selfie

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.

And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Photographing myself plus a pun. What's not to love?

Historically, for photos of me taken on my own camera, I've used either human tripods ("stand here, hold my camera, aim to see the top of my head down to my waist...") or built-in timers -- usually 10 seconds, which often isn't sufficient time to get into the perfect sexy position.  

1975 Photo-by-human-tripod:
Hey, we're all dressed up, please take our photo!
Oh by all means make us as tiny as possible,
 surrounded by meaningless messy darkness, please.
(Before I learned to be more specific...)

2008 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Get the camera set up, push the 10-second timer, 
and get back into position to lean casually against the railing...
didn't quite make it.

With my first small digital camera in December, 2003, it became easier to hold it in one hand at arm's length, aim it at myself, and click, hoping to get what I wanted, although I preferred setting it somewhere and using the timer. At least with digital I could immediately see whether I had achieved the ideal artwork (unlike small film cameras).

But if I wanted more than my head and shoulders, and some of the background, too, and decent quality, it would have to be the DSLR. Which also has a 3-second or 10-second built-in timer. And then a rush to get into position and look casual. Heh. Ha.  

Finally after enough frustration, in 2010, before leaving on a long driving vacation, I bought a remote shutter release. Allows me to set up the camera, compose the shot, get into position, compose myself, and simply press the button in my hand. Love it. But I don't often carry my DSLR or a tripod around.

When an iPhone came into my life not quite 2 years ago, suddenly I could hold it at arm's length and see myself to compose the shot.  Nifty indeed, although it's designed for a one-person head shot, really. Hard to get more than that. And, although it has a timer, it's hard to just set it down somewhere and move away from it like I could with the regular pocket digital cameras.

If I want more than just my face, there's always the Mirror Selfie strategy.

2019 Mirror Selfie. How about if the camera is *here*?
What about over *here*? Or maybe over *here*?!?!

Fact is, I like having photos of myself doing things and going places. (As a kid, I often resented people taking my photo. But I liked seeing them as long as I didn't look too terribly ugly.) So I have taken photos of myself (sometimes with friends or dogs) for a long time.

2012: Nice Canon digital pocket camera--could actually get more than just my own face
when held at arm's length. By then I understood how to [usually] get my composition
when staring at the camera lens. Can't get this wide a shot with the iPhone in selfie mode.

The act of taking your own photo has been around as long as cameras, but holding it up in front of you and snapping yourself was still a novelty in 1995.Surprising to note that the term "selfie" itself didn't appear in any paper or electronic medium until 2002, although the person who used it said that it was commonly used slang by then. 

In any event-- in 2014, while walking through Target, I noticed this delightfully soft, lightweight, clever shirt making a pun on "Believe in yourself." At the time, I had no t-shirts related to photography, and this shirt said: Time to rectify that. So I did.

Since then, I've taken only one selfie (that I've found so far) with me in this shirt (setting the camera on a nearby table). Crazy, right? In 2016 with a friend at In'N'Out Burger. Not at the fascinating place where later in the day we spent three hours taking photos. Nope. Doh. But, well, here it is.


Thursday, September 03, 2020

1952 San Francisco and Yosemite

SUMMARY: From a GI's perspective on the way to Korea. 
Backfill: date

My dad loved Yosemite. But the first time he saw it was Armistice Day, 1952, while waiting for the final leg of his trip to the Korean War.  As he was a New York City born-and-raised young man, I'm doubtful that he ever went west of the Mississippi before that, and other than a year at college in Michigan, not certain [without going back through his personal history] whether he'd ever been much west of the state of New York. He was an explorer, though: Discovered the mountains and hiking and climbing and camping in late high school and more in college and never went back to city living. Never one to be shy about travel, or any suggestion of somewhere new and different to explore, would get him moving.

Not sure that he felt that way about Korea, but-- bypassing that--

The draft scooped him up in 1951, and in November of 1952 he began the long journey to Korea--stopovers in Chicago and Denver and Oakland to refuel the plane before landing finally in San Francisco for a two-week layover in a camp in Petaluma.

Mom kept all of his letters home, and decades later he assembled them with commentary into a book.  Some excerpts from that first week in California:

We arrived in Frisco via Greyhound Bus from the airport. We bought our bus tickets up to camp, and then walked down Market Street at about 8 A.M. Finally gave up on walking, after being stopped by a number of people who said we really should take a tour to see the city [1], and bought some sight-seeing tour tickets. While waiting for the tour start time we went for a ride on a cable-car. The ride went from Powell and Market streets over the top of Nob Hill, by the Mark (Hopkins), through the edge of Chinatown and then back again. Had views of Alcatraz, the Oakland-Bay-Bridge, and some very nice houses.

Got back in time to take the tour, and had a pretty good time. Saw a lot of the Sights, and a lot of Real Estate. I wasn't impressed by San Francisco's zoning restrictions and rental policies as we were told of them by the tour bus driver [2]. And prices; wow!! Twelve to fifteen thousand (depending on location) for a five room attached bungalow.[3] And there isn't much room in either front or back. The plots are usually 50x70, or smaller.

The tour is over and we're having lunch on Fisherman's Wharf at DiMaggio's (Filet mignon). 


[after settling in at the camp]


We were fortunate, Armistice Day was on Tuesday, so we were given passes from noon Saturday until 0800 Wednesday. We spent those days touring: saw Muir Woods, Yosemite, and Devil's Postpile among other places.

He likely has more photos of this trip, but immediately at hand I have only this--

"Road to Yosemite Armistice Day 1952"

I'm not sure where exactly this photo was taken, but the road to Yosemite no longer is one lane without guard rails.  I remember Dad saying that parts were still unpaved. 

Dad told me in 2015 when we were discussing his photos:

On the Armistice Day Weekend in 1952, four of us GIs rented a car to go to Yosemite and Devils Postpile. The roads into Yosemite (Rte 120) and through Tioga Pass were single lane roads, with places to turn out to let other cars go by. Included with this is a photo showing a short stretch up in the high country.

I believe that the Sierra Nevadas made a lasting impression on the man who had already climbed a few of the highest peaks in New England. The eight highest there range from 5,000 to 6,300 feet (1520- 1920 m) above sea level. But the fifty highest in the Sierras range from 8800 to 14500 (2680-4420 m) --none more than about 200 miles from sea level at the coast).

I think he couldn't wait to get back to the Sierras and Yosemite when we moved to California less than 10 years later. And again about 8 years after that. We went many times as a family.



[1] they must've been in uniform

[2] my dad's frustration and anger about ill treatment of black people was well established by then--and not too many years later that caused him (a white male) to resign from a job he loved otherwise.

[3] Today, the median price for a home in San Francisco is $1,310,500. I'm not sure what Dad meant back then by a "5-room" bungalow--was that bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, and--?  And I don't know what size home today's median price will get you, but likely not much more than a 2-or-3-bedroom attached house with little or no yard.

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << >>  Visit Cee's Photo Challenge blog; lots of blogs. <<

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Tuesday T-Shirt Tales: Mixed Breed Dog Club

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Back before agility and AKC both fixed and ruined it all.

Bought in 1998. Still wear it.

Even before I adopted Amber, my first dog, I knew that I wanted someday to train an Obedience Champion. But, in my naivité as a first-time dog owner back in the '70s,  I didn't know until a member of the local AKC dog training club told me: "If you wanted to compete, you should've gotten a purebred."  I felt insulted and angry. And that was that. I  washed my hands of AKC. 

That same year (1978), Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America was founded to allow AKC-rejected dogs of any kind to compete in Obedience and Conformation.
MBDCA was an instant hit: All that pent-up desire from owners of non-AKC breeds and mixed breeds and otherwise unpedigreed pups. Affiliates grew up across the country. 

I had no way of knowing about it and, in any case, the California affiliate (MBDC-CA) wouldn't exist for another 15 years--which happened to be the year Remington was born. How convenient!

Unaware, Remington and I started basic pet obedience classes, and then my instructor told me about MBDC-CA. So! Yay! We began training in earnest with a private instructor.  A possible Obedience Champion dream come true at last! We were [almost] good enough to start earning legs [qualifying scores towards specific titles].  

Most of ours scores were not nearly this good--I got a bit of a vibe of "how sweet that people are bringing out their mixed breeds" from this judge--but I wasn't going to turn down a close-to-perfect score! [We also started competing in agility in 1996]

Demonstrating tricks at the MBDC-CA picnic: 
Jake Shake
Tika "Bang!"

A bonus: The club hosted several events through the year, but in particular their annual picnic with a smorgasbord of fun and games, and of course too much wonderful food. Someone in the club demonstrated advanced tricks, which inspired me to push further into that fun activity with Rem.   Later, for a couple of years, Rem and I demonstrated our tricks repertoire to inspire others. 

The MBDC-CA cemented some of my nascent friendships, expanded my understanding of dog sports and organizations, and gave us a chance to just have fun with our dogs and friends in relaxed, dog-friendly camaraderie.  

Meanwhile, something else that I initially had no idea about had begun only 10 years before MBDC-CA's founding. It would, directly or indirectly, lead to the collapse of most of the MBDCs a mere 10 years after I started training Remington. Yes: dog agility (mid-1980s).  

Obedience was interesting but pretty low-key, and Remington wanted more more more! And so did I.  We tried tracking, too. And "Circus Dog" classes. And then my original obedience instructor told me about another thing -- dog agility. Went to a class, loved the look of it, was accepted for training, and ...  I had no idea what I was in for. Among other things--a rapidly growing collection of new friends with purebreds and mixes all with a common love of dogs and, now, agility.  Even though clearly Obedience would be my main thing.

A year after I started agility with Rem, Jake came home with me, so then I had two mixes with whom to have fun at the annual MBDC-CA picnic. One year, Jake won the hot-dog diving contest (bits of hot dog in a bowl of water) almost before the timer could start the stopwatch. The club's monthly newsletter reported everyone's titles and achievements and new puppies and the passing of old dear friends and activities. An eager, active, close-knit, and successful organization, with dogs earning obedience and conformation titles left and right.

Of course I have no photos of me in the MBDC-CA t-shirt at one of their events, but at agility competitions, we'd gather for photos anyway.
Here, four of us wore our MBDC-CA t-shirts. (Me with Tika and Jake.)
Arlene (to the left of the sign) and I became good friends outside the world of dogs.

But something was happening--I began to lose interest in competitive obedience, because: Agility. And other people began to lose interest in competitive obedience, because: Agility. People wanted demos of agility and articles about agility. evvvvvery body, it seemed, was doing agility. 

And then, the finishing touch: AKC, under pressure from a huge agility community and other growing dog sports (or possibly to tap into all that money that wasn't going their way), made it possible for mixed breeds to earn AKC obedience and agility titles. The purpose for MBDC had nearly vanished; only conformation remained as a unique draw. Fewer and fewer people came out for MBDC events. Fewer and fewer people had interest in doing the work to keep the club running.  In 2013, it folded completely, as did all but one affiliate across the country. Long after I had ceased interest in obedience.

I appreciate that it existed at all, at the time that I needed it.


References for fun:

So long, and thanks for all the fish