b Papa Dog's Blog: March 2006

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Name Baby Dog Invented for the Metal Colander

“The Honeycomb Bowl.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chasey Cheddar

“Chasey Cheddar” is the latest mystery phrase. Baby Dog started repeating it a week or two ago apropos of nothing apparent. I think the first time we noticed her saying it, cheese might have been under discussion, but after that it was totally random. After a while, we theorised that perhaps “Chasey Cheddar” was a character or story element in a book that has been read to her at daycare. Mama Dog kept meaning to ask the daycare lady about it and kept forgetting. She finally remembered this afternoon, and got a not entirely satisfactory reply. Daycare lady couldn’t think of any story that “Chasey Cheddar” might have come from, but suggested that perhaps Baby Dog was remembering that one of her little peers, Casey often has cheddar for lunch and has to be coaxed to eat it. This theory doesn’t entirely hold water, because every morning when I ask Baby Dog who she’s going to see at daycare, she lists off her classmates, including a perfectly pronounced “Casey.” It doesn’t seem logical that she’d turn it into “Chasey” in only this one circumstance.

So. Any guesses? Anybody have a Chasey Cheddar action figure or pop-up book?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Baby Dog Continues to Be Smart

Today we took Baby Dog to the physical therapist again. We really could have skipped the appointment, since the girl is most definitely walking now, but it seemed like the thorough thing to do, and besides she seemed to enjoy herself last time. Sure enough, the therapist quickly confirmed that Baby Dog’s motor skills are at an age-appropriate level and that she’s achieved all expected milestones. We actually spent more time talking about Baby Dog’s verbal skills, which thoroughly impressed both the therapist we saw today and the one we saw last time, who happened to pass by in the middle of our session. At one point Baby Dog was looking at a multi-coloured ball, correctly pointing out each block of colours: “Yellow, red, or-ange, green, blue, white.” The therapist said she’d never encountered a less-than-two-year-old who could do that. This is a child development specialist saying this, mind, so I hope you’ll excuse me for being extra insufferably proud of my genius daughter.

Yeah, okay, Mozart was writing music at that age, whatever. She’s genius enough for us.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sir, We Have Never Met Before, Is That Correct?

I asked Robert Runté to shill for me, so now I have to shill for him in return… Robert says:

“As part of a class experiment, I have posted a hoax web page (meaningless nondata) at http://people.uleth.ca/~runte/research/surveyresults.htm

“Using various 'black hat' tricks, my class and I have managed to move it up to #5 out of 13,300 Canadian web pages in response to the Google search on ‘Grammar Checker’ (quotes included); and to about #160 spot out of 313,000 on the whole Google WWW.
If anyone is inclined to assist us in our experiment, linking to the hoax page in your blog, web page or similar will increase Google's ranking of the site. I'm curious to see if I can push it any higher, and how long it will take to sink as the links date....”

There’s your shilling returned, Robert. Thanks.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Paying the Bill at Macy’s

Somehow or other, one bill managed to escape Mama Dog’s grasp this last week, a Macy’s bill from, embarrassingly enough, the last time she bought me some underdrawers. She noticed the bill on Saturday after post office hours, and saw that it was due Monday. Fretting ensued. Would she be able to convince them to waive the late charge by calling and saying it was in the mail? Perhaps we could take a side trip on our very busy social Sunday (two different birthday parties forecast) and pay at the Macy’s in Walnut Crick. “No problem,” says I, “I’ll just go to the Macy’s in Union Square over my lunch hour on Monday.” “That’ll take your whole lunch hour,” says Mama Dog. “I don’t mind,” says I. “Are you sure?” she asks. “That’s why I offered,” I replies. Except for the specific details of Macy’s, Union Square, lunch hour, and Monday, we have this conversation regularly.

This morning as we were rushing about getting ready to get ourselves and Baby Dog out the door, the subject came up again. I suspect that sometimes Mama Dog has reservations about my competence in the areas of certain practical tasks. I’m not sure where these reservations come from because I am assuredly competent, but she has them nonetheless. “When you pay the bill,” she asked, “will you get a receipt?” “Oh,” I said, in that smart-ass way of mine, “is that what you want me to do? I was just going to crumple up the bill and the cheque and toss it in the front door as I passed by.” (This may actually be where she gets her reservations; just a guess.) “No,” Mama Dog groaned, shifting to exaggerated literalism, “I want you to go to the payment office and present the bill and say ‘I should like to pay the balance owing on this bill’ and give them the cheque and get a receipt.” “Oh, okay,” I said, “let’s compromise; as I toss the wad in the door while I pass by, I’ll yell ‘HERE YA GO!’”

The lunch hour sojourn to Macy’s turned out to be entirely pleasant and even productive. It gave me an unaccustomed little pocket of free time in the middle of the day to actually think without irritating work-related interruptions. I was able to devote upwards of twenty minutes of thought to my next project, and managed to crack the problem with the narrative structure that’s been eluding me for the last five years. I think I’m almost ready to write the thing. Thank you, Macy’s.

It turns out also that I practically could have wadded the thing up and tossed it in the front door. There’s no payment office. You just pay at any cash register. No muss, no fuss. I was in and out and back to the office with a total elapsed time of only slightly over half an hour. I even had time to eat my lunch before the afternoon’s first irritation. I must try to get out of the office more often.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saturday Siesta

Yesterday afternoon when Baby Dog went down for a nap, Mama Dog took the opportunity to take a snooze herself. I hunkered down on the couch to read my book, leaving Doggy Dog to whine on the other side of the gate. Baby Dog’s toys were all over the floor, and I didn’t feel like cleaning them up; since many of them look to Doggy Dog like very chewable dog toys, that meant he stayed in the kitchen. I’m very into the book, but I’m also running on short sleep through the week. I’d only read a couple of pages when my eyelids started to feel droopy. I stretched out and dozed.

A while later, I was jolted awake by the sound of Halmonie trying to get her key to work in the door. As my head cleared, I realised the funny picture we presented; me sacked out on the couch, Baby Dog napping in her crib, Mama Dog asleep in our bedroom, and Doggy Dog twitching his hind leg as he dreamed on the kitchen floor. Each of the house’s four major rooms was occupied by a different member of the family sleeping away the afternoon.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Brolly II

Perhaps inspired by yesterday’s post – but more likely inspired by the continuing rainfall – Mama Dog spent some time today looking for a new umbrella. “I’ve never had a really good umbrella,” she told me.” I have. Best umbrella I’ve ever had. It was a big wooden-handled item from London Fog. I found it hanging on a bus bench in downtown Oakland one day in 1996. I don’t believe it was raining that day. I looked this way, I looked that. Nobody was around. According to maritime salvage laws (which I believe are recognised as transferable to bus routes), the umbrella was mine for the claiming. It was a great umbrella. Not very compact, but sturdier than any I’d owned before or since. I used to feel like a Secret Service man, escorting Mama Dog with the umbrella over both our heads as she ducked in to the car. All told, I had it for about three years. With a literary inevitability, I left it hanging on a bus bench in downtown Oakland. I hope it’s still ably serving the lucky person who found it.

Friday, March 24, 2006


The last couple of days being mostly dry, I assumed the rain had finally observed my repeated directions to go away and come again in San Jose. I went out this morning without looking at the weather icon in the newspaper, and consequently I didn’t think to wear my raincoat. When I emerged from the office in the afternoon to grab a slice of pizza, I was chagrined to find that there was a light but insistent downpour. I fortunately only had a block to go for lunch, but still I got quite damp on the way, and my recently shorn hair did little to keep the water off my face.

When it was time to leave for the day, I managed to come up with an old and long-neglected workhorse; the Emergency Work Umbrella. It’s been sitting under my desk for so long I’ve forgotten where it came from. I think it might have been left behind by my predecessor in 1997. I don’t recall the last time I used it; the raincoat is so effective that I rarely need an umbrella. Any storm big enough to get me wet in that raincoat would also come with gale winds strong enough to swoop me off like Mary Poppins if I opened an umbrella.

Once outside, it was clear that I’d need the protection. Again, the rain was light but pervasive, like a shower head set to a really fine spray. The umbrella was small and old, but I thought it would be up to the task. I popped it open and heard a peculiar clatter as bits of plastic from the handle dropped immediately to the sidewalk. The handle stayed on, and the parasol went up. There spokes were crooked and there were tiny little holes at their edges. Some water made it through, but for the most part I stayed dry. It would last to the BART station. Once safely underground, I folded up the umbrella and another bit of plastic fell off the handle.

Mama Dog had assured me that it wasn’t raining in the East Bay, but as I emerged from the BART parking lot, it started to spray again. I opened old Dobbin once more, and again another piece popped off. I tried to make myself narrower so as to fit in the space that seemed driest. Thankfully, there was no wind, as the umbrella was looking flimsier every time I glanced at it. I could just see the top popping off in a stiff breeze.

When I made it home, mostly dry, I knew the time had come to put the work umbrella out to pasture. For one thing, the button that opens it was one of the little plastic things that had fallen off on the way home. For another, the remains of the handle were now composed of sharp little edges just waiting to serrate an unwary hand. Give it to the umbrella, though…it held itself together through one last rainfall. The little umbrella that could.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Quick Post, Then I’m Finally Going to Watch the Season Finale of The Shield

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before; I totally forgot I had a doctor’s appointment today. Didn’t find out until Mama Dog called and said there was a reminder message on our home voice mail. My fault for not writing the thing down in my Filofax and then never looking at my Filofax even if I did write it down, but still – what’s the point of giving me a reminder call on the day of the appointment? I was all the way across the Bay with nobody to cover for me at work. I couldn’t have made it even if I’d heard the reminder first thing in the morning.

In other news: Baby Dog has taken to making incomplete clapping motions when she gets really happy or excited. Sometimes she does it one-handed. And yes, I did call it the sound of one hand clapping.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another Smooth Commute Day

Worst commute in a while this morning. Got to Rockridge not much later than usual. There was a crowd milling about the Station Agent Hut. Ordinarily that would attract my interest, but I had other things on my mind, so I went through the fare gates, up the escalator, and onto the – mostly empty platform. Mostly empty? That’s odd. The few people on the platform were all talking on cell phones. I looked at the overhead signs and saw a message flashing to the effect that West Oakland station was shut down due to police activity, and that there was no service to San Francisco. Lovely.

I pulled out my own cell and called Mama Dog. She had heard about it on the radio, but had no further information than I did. Less, in fact; she’d only heard that trains weren’t stopping in West Oak, not that service to SF was curtailed entirely. I wandered down to the station level and heard a bit of what the station agent was telling the milling crowds. Bus service was going to be set up in downtown Oakland. I stopped to ponder. I’ve been through situations like this before. It always seems that right when they finally get the bus service working, the train service resumes. Best to sit tight. I went back up to the platform and heard an announcement saying that bus service would be running from 19th Street station, and we should all take the next Fremont train there. That seemed as good a plan as any to me; I was leery of getting on a bus, but the Fremont train would at least get me two stations closer to San Francisco.

After a few minutes, a train showed up showing San Francisco as its destination. No telling what that actually meant, but I got on it anyway. The train operator was making announcements, but as is usual on a BART train, they were inaudible. I wandered from car to car, hoping to find one with the speakers turned up louder, but they were all a fuzzy little whisper. At the last car, I managed to stand under a speaker and by standing on tiptoe I could discern most of what the operator was saying. It was the same information over again; police activity in West Oak, no service to SF, buses from downtown. The only difference was that she was saying buses would be at 12th Street station (where the train was destined to go out of service), not 19th; good enough, that’s even one more stop closer. The train stopped and started, apparently bent on stretching the five-minute ride to MacArthur to infinity.

I noticed a woman with what looked like a walkie talkie standing at the end of the car, an ear to the speaker by the white phone to the train operator. She set down her bag and pulled out a reflective vest. BART employee. She announced the same information I had just re-heard, and her voice was if anything quieter than the crappy speakers. She walked up and down the car, whispering to the people she passed that West Oakland station was closed due to police activity, that there was no service to San Francisco, that the train would go out of service at 12th Street, and that there would be buses there to San Francisco. At least, that’s what I think she was saying. I could only make out scattered words as she passed by.

Somebody asked if she knew what the problem was in West Oakland. “The station’s closed due to police activity,” she said with a strange note of definitiveness. Like she honestly thought that repeating that vague pronouncement answered the question. Here’s a thing I don’t get – it’s like on 24 or any movie or show about terrorist threats or asteroids from outer space or whatever – the first instinct of Authority is to keep the public in the dark so as to avoid Mass Panic. But what possible harm is there in telling a train full of people what precisely it is that’s fucking with their morning commute? Do they think we’ll riot in the cars? Smash windows and loot one another? It really would be helpful to know whether the problem is a vagrant urinating on the third rail vs. a bomb leaving a smouldering crater where the platform should be. Like, it might make a difference to my plans for the rest of the day. Why not tell me?

As we lurched along, another passenger asked nobody in particular, “What’s the next station?” We’d been lurching along so long I’d quite forgotten, and judging from the blank looks around, so had everybody else. I looked out the window and got my bearings. Oh, right. We still haven’t made it one stop to MacArthur. The station agent announced then that the train wouldn’t be going to 12th Street after all. It was going out of service at MacArthur. Due to police activity at West Oakland. Etc.

When in the fullness of time the train finally limped into MacArthur station, we off-boarded onto an already full platform. I couldn’t guess how many trains had already emptied out here. I pulled out my cell and called Mama Dog, who took a look at SF Gate. Bomb scare at West Oakland, it said. No further information. Okay, then. I’d rather not go through a station with a bomb scare. See what I mean? Having just a little clue about the circumstances helps me plan the rest of my day.

Unlike the train speakers, the platform speakers are nice and loud. Even with the babble of several trains’ worth of people yammering on cell phones, the next announcement was clearly audible: “Bus service to San Francisco is beginning now.” Audible, yes; helpful, not really. These buses are to be found where? Last I heard, they were supposed to be at 12th Street. Do I still have to wait for a train? Or are they waiting outside for me? Most of the crowd seemed to think the latter; they started filing down the stairs to the station level. I was torn. Yes, I did want to avoid going through the Bomb Threat Station, but I also wanted to avoid being packed into a sardine bus. There looked to be a very long line ahead of me. I hesitated just long enough to hear the next announcement:

“The police activity at West Oakland station has been resolved, and service to San Francisco is resuming immediately.” True to form. Refer back to the second paragraph of this post. The bit about “I’ve been in situations like this before.” I looked back down the tracks toward Rockridge and saw two trains sitting there trying to decide which direction to go. Then the direction signs on the platform lit up: “10 car train to San Francisco” on Platform 4. I shoved through the crowd and made my way to the end of the platform. The crowd was sparser there and, miraculously, almost nobody was forming a line at the entry points. Everybody was standing around in clumps looking at their Boysenberries and talking on their cell phones. I stepped up to the rearmost entry point and was third in line. Since the approaching train was sure to be empty that meant the happiest news of the day: I was for once going to get to sit down on my morning commute.

The train pulled into the station, and the doors opened on an empty car. Not only did I get to sit down, but I got to site down on the seat next to the wheelchair area, the one with all the legroom. I pulled out my book and commenced to ignore the rest of the world. I barely even noticed when we passed through the Bomb Station. I arrived at work only an hour later and entirely unexploded. The bomb scare was evidently some idjit’s idea of a joke. And so begins another day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Today, Staccato

The plumber came to find out why our laundry sink backed up this weekend. He reamed the main line. Turns out there were tree roots growing into the underground line to the sewer. Short term: stuff’s working now. Long-term: it’s costing money.

Halmonie watched Baby Dog when I went out to get a haircut. I came back shorn to a quarter-inch. When I came in the door, Baby Dog turned around and stared, wide-eyed. “…Mummy?” she ventured uncertainly. She knew the person at the door had to be one of her parents, though it didn’t look like either one; something was just plain wrong. “Daddy got a haircut,” I said, and knelt down. “Remember we went to the barber once? Daddy has a fuzzy head now. Pat Daddy’s head.” She did that, and giggled. “Daddy!” she decided.

We went to Cody’s to get presents for Papa Pirate, whose birthday was today and Babies Whippet and Funkadelic who were born less than a week apart and are having a joint first birthday celebration this weekend. Papa Pirate got a book on birthday cakes. The babies are each getting the board book version of The Grouchy Ladybug, but don’t tell them that.

Monday, March 20, 2006

And All that Bumpf

Stop me if I told this story a couple of years ago....

Something reminded me of J today. She was the office manager at the place I worked at in Vancouver, a tiny little public information office in the Provincial government. There were only three of us; D the executive director, J the office manager, and me the secretary. It was possibly the slackest job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some slack ones. I’d arrive bright and early to open up the place, then J would come in and look at her mail, and then around 9 D would show up, toss her coat and bag in her office, then spend the first hour or so of the working day briefing me on what all I’d missed because I didn’t have a TV set. This was the early 90s, and it’s because of D that I know Kathie Lee Gifford’s son’s name is Cody. This information has not stood me in particularly good stead, but it was duly acquired in service of the Province of British Columbia. D also liked to tell me all about Murphy Brown, with whom she identified strongly though she was a good deal younger. She told me I was her Eldin. It would be a few years before I really understood what that meant, and I ultimately chose to take is as a compliment.

J was a dotty older lady of the type being mocked at that time by the Kids in the Hall (and at an earlier time by Monty Python). She was impossibly cheerful and unfailingly dim, good-hearted to a fault and secretly filled with simmering resentments. She drew from an idiosyncratic lexicon, and had certain particular verbal tics that drove D crazy. For D’s amusement I started compiling a list of J-isms, and I sure wish I had that list with me today. One that comes to mind is “and all that bumpf.” Usage examples: “If you have time this afternoon, can you re-sort the brochures and all that bumpf?” “No, I didn’t do much over the weekend, just gardening and all that bumpf.” “Time to change the toner cartridge and all that bumpf.” In other words, there is no proper usage; it’s just some extra noise tacked on to the end of any sentence, like “y’know?” only odder.

One thing about J I recall with fondness is her devotion to the ritual of tea. Twice a day, promptly at 10:30 and 3:30, she would emerge from her office with a tray laden with teapot, sugar, milk, and cookies, and whatever pretence of work was then underway would screech to a halt while we had a thoroughly civilised tea break. In the unlikely event that someone from the outside world happened upon the office just then, they’d have surely been invited to join us. J, whose passion at home was the cultivation of orchids, really should have been the resident dotty old lady in a quaint English village in the 1950s, maybe in an Ealing comedy. How she ended up managing and office that did next to nothing I have no idea. Tax dollars at work and blogfodder many years later.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Briefly (Again)

Supper tonight was with N&C at Café Niebaum-Coppola in North Beach. No Francis sightings this time around, but the service was excellent and the food was really good, particularly dessert. Chocolate torte for me, panna cotta for Mama Dog (on account of they were out of the tartufo). Baby Dog was home being babysat by Halmonie, which was a shame since N&C haven’t seen her since she was teeny. Maybe next time.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Enid Blyton (Briefly)

One odd thing that Mama Dog and I have in common is that we both read a lot of Enid Blyton when we were little. Anybody else have a store of Enid Blyton memories? I’d tell some of my own, but I’m practically asleep at the keyboard.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A link

Once again I’m too pooped to post, but here’s a thing you maybe might could possibly have fun with.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Baby Dog’s Latest Amazing Trick

After a week’s worth of once-in-a-while coaching, our little twenty-and-a-half-month-old has learned to respond to the question “Where do you live?” with our correct street address. At first she just had the first two digits, then she got the whole number, then she managed to get the street name. Sometimes she’ll stop after the number and require prompting to say the street name, but I think she’ll rattle the whole thing off effortlessly before long. We don’t ever plan to have her wandering about lost and alone on the streets (of course), but if she ever is she’ll be able to say accurately where she belongs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hmm, I Want to Go to Bed Early; Should I Post or Send a Thank-You Email? I Know! I’ll Do Both in One!

Package from Big Sister arrived today! Thank you, Big Sister! Baby Dog was immediately taken with the I Spy book, though she doesn’t really get the I Spy concept yet. We’ll ration the rest out in the days ahead.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Three Walks Today

#1: After midmorning snack, Baby Dog and I sauntered out to see if we could find the kitties who live at the house on the corner two blocks away. We’ve been retracing this particular expedition every time I have a day off, with limited success. I see the cats frequently on the way home from work or when I happen to be walking by alone for whatever reason, but when I go out with Baby Dog they’re never there. They’re very friendly cats, and I thought it would thrill Baby Dog to be able to pet them. This past weekend, all three of us went out – Baby, Mama, and I – and though we saw one of the cats, it wouldn’t come close enough to touch. Baby Dog gave it her all, though. She’s seen me beckon cats and does a very good imitation of my method. She waggles her fingers and says “Psss psss psss” and “meow” and “kittykitty.” Unfortunately, she hasn’t figured out the part about making yourself small and still. Though she’s naturally small, she makes herself big and certainly not still, bobbing up and down with excitement. A cat knows better. Today, the cats were gone or hiding, so we made a loop around to see Pomo, the Persian that Doggy Dog once took a taste of. He was similarly absent, so we continued on home. Another thwarted mission, but Baby Dog walked almost the entire way; I carried her only to cross streets. She is becoming a skilled walker at last.

#2: The visiting author and I took Doggy Dog for an off leash romp at Point Isabel. I’m not positive, but I think this was the first time I’d been out there with Doggy Dog since Baby Dog was born. Unless…hmmm. I think I have a vague memory of us being out there with the stroller once, so maybe we went when she was very little. Anyway, it’s been a long long time. Doggy Dog had a blast, running around, chasing other dogs (and not getting into any scary fights, happily) and going for a wade in the estuary. The visiting author had a rental with a GPS system which gave verbal directions on the return trip. “In 0.5 miles, turn right. Turn right now.” If you fail to follow the directions, it calculates the route revision and directs accordingly. I thought it would be funny if the robot voice had a little more personality, like… “Turn left now. No, left. Your other left. God damn it, I said left. Now we’re going to be late. Recalculating route. I hope you’re happy. In 0.1 miles, turn right. Did you hear me that time?”

#3: Just for its hell, Baby Dog and I took a late afternoon walk to Wally’s World to get Daddy some more 7 Up. It looked like rain was at last in the offing, so I bundled her up and carried her a lot to make the trip go faster. We still had time to stop and inspect flowers of various colours and listen to dogs bark in back yards. There’s a billboard on the wall adjacent to Wally’s that features, among other things, a picture of a laptop. I pointed and asked Baby Dog what it was. “Com-pu-ter,” she said. We walked that last block with Baby Dog holding my hand, the index and middle fingers of my right clutched tightly in her chubby left fist. As we came into Wally’s, this Isaac Hayes type was coming out. He gave us an avuncular smile in passing and said, basso profundo, “You got love for life, Dad.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Shall I Check Your Ba-Poo?

It doesn’t seem possible, given how verbal she’s been for so long, but apparently Baby Dog has been secretly (and unbeknownst to us) storing up even more extra language skills. Today’s shocking phrase: she toddled up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, “Shall I check your ba-poo?”* She makes no distinction between first and second person, of course, simply repeating back the familiar phrase she’s heard dozens of times from me, from Mama Dog, from Halmonie. I scooped her up and took her to the changing pad, where I found her diaper so sopping that it had soaked through to the inside of her polar fleece pants. If only she had thought sooner to ask so politely for permission to check my diaper.
*Which is the word she invented for diaper many months ago; it’s what we usually say ourselves.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Uncharacteristically Social Sunday

With Halmonie babysitting, this afternoon hearkened back to our days as childless social butterflies. Did we actually have such days? I guess we must have, what with all the hearkening.

We didn’t really intend to do so many things today…we just somehow overbooked. First we went to San Francisco, to the sort of place we never go to anymore (and never really went to in the days to which we hearkened), a hip and happening SOMA club. As befitting our status as calcified old social stalagmites, what brought us to SOMA was not some hot new band you’ve never heard of but a baby shower. One of Mama Dog’s orkers is “expecting,” is “in the family way,” is “in trouble,” as they used to say, and the boyfriend of the friend organising the shower happens to be part-owner of this club. Very strange venue for a baby shower; full bar lined with baby food jars for a taste test contest, balloons and streamers hanging from the exposed ductwork. It was raining pretty heavily and the day was CFC*. With the front doors open, the cavernous concrete-floored space felt like a draughty old castle. We were glad we hadn’t brought Baby Dog along. Mama Dog would have kept her bundled up the whole time.

There was a fine spread of food and I gamely hobnobbed to the best of my abilities, but it wasn’t until I looked in the back room and found a pool table that I was truly happy I’d come along. I haven’t shot pool in ages, and I’ve been hankering too ever since Charles’ last visit, when I was twice thwarted in attempts to get in a game. I shot a game of eight ball against myself. The felt was a bit nappy and the cue was a bit wobbly and my game was as rusty as you’d expect, but I did clear the table quickly, if largely by accident. Unfortunately, it was a dollar a game and I only had so many quarters. Plus there were two little girls waiting to play, so I gave the table up to them and went back to the party. Still, it was a nice little taste of applied physics, and it made me want to seek out a table near my office to spend the occasional lunch hour striving to regain my former level of mediocrity.

We headed back across the Bay and Mama Dog dropped me off Cody’s in North Berkeley, then went home to spell Halmonie. An old friend from New Orleans was doing a signing, and the Funkadelics were going to be there too. Baby Funkadelic spent a while sitting on my lap before the reading began. Papa Funkadelic expressed surprise; “Look how good he’s being! He never sits still like this for other people.” I flatter myself that I exude dadhood.

After the reading there was a Q&A period, then we all trooped off dutifully to get our copies of the book and have them signed. He also had one-sheet poster of the cover image, done up by some friends in LA and used in a postering campaign while he was doing readings down thataway. I got a copy of that, which is a nice memento though of course we don’t have anyplace to put it in our tiny little house.

Mama Dog showed up as things were winding down, and we went off to meet the Pirates at Picante. I had hoped we might do a repeat of a reading in Palo Alto seven years ago, when the whole crowd of us repaired for a meal afterwards (and where Mama and Papa Funkadelic first spoke to one another), but the Funkadelics had to get Baby Funkadelic home and the author was meeting his cousin for dinner, so it was just us and the Pirates. We didn’t even have Baby Dog with us, which was very strange. Usually we have the two girls in high chairs side by side. Having no child of our own with us at Picante left me feeling like I do when I go out without my case…like I’ve left something behind somewhere. We were very happy to get home and see our little girl again.

So, three seamlessly attended social occasions in one day. Not bad for tired old parents who think they never get out of the house.
*Cold…for California.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

New Deodorant Slogan

Mama Dog says:

Because Mitchum deodorant aspires to a product image of toughness (their name evoking Mr. Robert Mitchum), their slogan should be:

"If you try to stink, I'll kick your ass."

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Conversation I Had With Baby Dog at 4:30 This Morning

Baby Dog slept most of the way through the night but a coughing fit disturbed her around 4:30. Mama Dog went in to see her briefly, then came back to bed. Baby Dog was coughing again. “Did you give her water?” I asked. “Uh?” Mama Dog said, not really awake. “Did you give her water?” She made a noise that sounded something like “Ih.” Could have been anything. “Was that ‘yes’ or ‘no?’” I persisted. “Yes.” Baby Dog coughed some more.

I got up and went into Baby Dog’s room. She was curled around the sippy cup clutched in her hand, covers kicked off, sleeping, coughing. I gently pulled the sippy cup out. “Sip sip,” I said, handing it back to her. That always turns on some sort of automatic switch guiding her hands to the cup and the cup to her mouth. She sipped, then coughed some more. “No!” she exclaimed, thrusting the cup away. I took it and put it on the table. She cried out, “Covers on!” I straightened her little body and pulled the covers up over her. “Thank you,” she said, and went back to sleep. She still coughed a few times, but it wasn’t a coughing fit anymore. She fell into the sleep that’s still ongoing as I type this post.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Okay, I Guess I’m Not Quitting Yet

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Just as I’m feeling so thinly stretched and outly stressed that I can’t possibly manage to post one more night, something happens that’s just interesting enough to make me jot a few lines down during the daytime. The Embarcadero BART/MUNI station was shut down by a fire this morning. An orker tells me that there were at least a hundred fire fighters swarming around the station, three helicopters in the air, and all Market Street shut down as far as the eye could see. The interesting part (for me) is that late-rising Baby Dog made us so tardy getting out of the house this morning that I only missed this 9:30 fire by about ten minutes. It must have broken out about the time I was sitting down to turn my computer on. If I’d been just a bit later and missed the train I caught, I’d have been stuck in the East Bay for hours. Fortunately, BART’s up and running again, so I’ll be able to get home. Hope it doesn’t catch fire again before then.

In other news…sometime in the last while we discovered that Baby Dog knew our first names. The consonant sound that Mama Dog and I share in the middle of our names is kind of difficult for a baby, and it’s really fun to hear her approximate it. The funniest thing is she usually prefaces Mama Dog’s name with “Hey” (i.e., “Heymamadog”) because that’s what I usually say when I’m calling from another room. I ritually ask Baby Dog the names of all the members of the family. “What’s Daddy’s name? What’s Mummy’s name? What’s the doggie’s name?” Oddly, when I was doing that last night, the only name she wouldn’t say was her own, and that was the first one she knew.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

If I Find Myself in this Position Again Tomorrow, I Think It'll be Time to Admit I Have to Take a Break and End the Streak

Remember back when I had the time and inclination to write posts like this?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Too tired. Head hurts. Good night.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Poor Baby Dog

I kept thinking through the weekend that Baby Dog was getting over her cold. The fever was gone, and she seemed more active and playful, though her appetite was still diminished. Then last night she woke up crying several times during the night, clearly in discomfort but unable to articulate the problem. Nothing seemed to help, and in the end all we could do was let her cry herself back to sleep. Very very sad.

After that miserable night, it was clear that Baby Dog had to stay home from daycare. Halmonie came over to watch her while we were at work. It turned out to be just as rough a day as it had been a night. Baby Dog cried all day, wouldn’t eat, and didn’t want to play. She just curled up and cried. Halmonie finally called Mama Dog, who called Doctor Chuck-Morris, and got us an afternoon appointment. Diagnosis: ear infection. No wonder. She prescribed some amoxicillin and advised plenty of fluids, which was the one thing Baby Dog was reliably taking anyway.

When I got home, Baby Dog was curled up in her crib, Halmonie leaning over and whispering to her. I said hi, but the little girl didn’t even look up. I’ve never seen her in such sad shape before. We brought her into the living room and laid her down on a blanky, where she cried and asked repeatedly for us to squeeze Piggy (which makes him oink – she usually can’t manage to find the oink button herself). Squeezing Piggy is one of her comfort mechanisms, and she asked for it over and over. We were all sitting around her, shaking our heads sadly, when all of a sudden Baby Dog sprang up and toddled over to the coffee table to cover. It was like a switch flipped. One moment she was sobbing, curled up in foetal position, the next she was full of vim if not quite in the usual amount. No idea what made the difference, but I was glad to see it. Maybe the amoxicillin finally kicked in. She even ate a little cottage cheese and fruit for supper.

We put her to bed after supper with a little dose of Baby Tylenol, and she’s been sleeping soundly ever since. Fortunately, I’m home tomorrow anyway so she can stay home again. I hope the antibiotics do their work soon. It’s terrible to watch your child in such discomfort.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscars 2006

So the Oscars are over for another year, and as usual the show blew. Not just because I failed to place in my own Oscar pool, but in the usual way the Oscar show blows – by being long, slow, and boring. Poor Jon Stewart, meeting the same fate as David Letterman and Chris Rock. There’s something about that show that makes it impossible for really funny performers to do what it is that makes them funny. Why is it that only determined middle-of-the-roaders like Billy Crystal emerge unscathed? Maybe it has to do with preconceptions. When Billy Crystal hosts, nobody expects any risks to be taken, and nobody’s disappointed by the resultant blandness. The one moment of life in Stewart’s performance came after the one real moment of life in the whole show – the Three 6 Mafia’s (sanitised) performance of “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” When the song won the Oscar, Stewart drolly observed, “I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp.” That one ad lib had more wit than the whole night’s worth of somniferous scripted comments. Oh well. Too bad he’ll probably never get a second chance.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

Baby Dog was so lassitudinous that she spent the afternoon in her crib, listening to her stuffed butterfly playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” over and over again. In the late afternoon her temperature was up to 103, and we were fretting about calling the doctor. When darkness fell, I noticed that the moon was visible out of our bedroom window. Thinking (correctly) that might cheer her up, I picked her up and walked her over to show her. As I picked her up, she said, “Play?” I took that as a cue and, after a look at the moon, set her down in the living room. She took a tentative look at her stuffed lion, then a less tentative look at one of her books. In no time, she was toddling about like normal, chattering happily and playing with her toys and books. She ate a reasonable supper and by 8 p.m. she didn’t seem hot to the touch anymore. She’s sleeping now and maybe the worst has past.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Another Perfunctory Post

Baby Dog was still sniffly and coughy this morning, but since she wasn’t feverish and since we didn’t really have another option, we took her to daycare. They called in the afternoon to say she’d developed a fever, so Halmonie was dispatched to take her home. By the time I got home, she was sitting listlessly in her highchair but still picking at her food and listening intently to her tunes. Illness can’t keep her from calling out requests. “Fun fun fun?” she asked. “T-bird?”

Mama Dog and I went to the drugstore and bought a vaporizer and various patent medicines. Baby Dog had a warm bath, a dose of baby Tylenol, and is sleeping with a soothing steam in the air. Whatever she has, it doesn’t seem to be as bad as the two bouts with croup, so we’re hopeful she’ll be well in the morning.

Oscars in two days. If you haven’t entered the pool but want to, let me know.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Should Have Posted When it Was Slow at Work Today. Oh Well.

Looks like Baby Dog’s coming down with a cold again. And it looks like I have to take the garbage out and get to bed.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Baby Dog Walks Just Fine

We took Baby Dog for her consultation with the physical therapist today, and guess what? She’s perfectly fine. As we’d suspected would happen, she started walking before our appointment finally came up, and the PT pronounced her a little low in muscle tone but perfectly on target for a baby who just started walking a month ago. We’ll go back in a month if we think we have a need to, but all in all it was a clean bill of health. No more worries there, yay.