Canine Companion Gallery

 

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No treat refused
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Mugsy meets Izzy
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Izzy in relaxation mode

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Fire good!
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Peaceful coexistence
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Yin and Yang
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Ziggy AKA “Mister Dog”
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President Spanky

D.C. rumors:

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson once called Donald Trump a “F**king Moron”. Following a 60 Minutes interview with porn star Stormy Daniels on March 25, Trump is being called (behind his back and affectionately, I assume) “Spanky”.

Putting these two nicknames together, I felt a holiday song parody was in order.

Hence …

Spanky, the Moron
Was a nasty, dumbass soul
With a hollow head
And a face to dread and
A heart made out of coal

Spanky, the Moron
Is a horror tale they say
He was made of dough
But right-wingers know
How he came to life one day

There must have been dark magic
In his presidential run
For when they tallied up the votes
It appeared that he had won

Spanky, the Moron
Was as dirty as could be
Piling lie on lie
Such a crooked guy
He’s bad new for you and me

Spanky, the Moron
Knew the probe was closing fast
So he pointed here
And he pointed there
The distractions couldn’t last

Down to the Congress
Seeking funding for his wall
But they told him “no”
Just like Mexico
There was no end to his gall

They chased him down the streets of town
His leadership a flop
And he always claimed a witch hunt ‘til
Bob Mueller hollered “Stop!”

Spanky, the Moron
Was about to go way
As he waved goodbye he said,
“Don’t you cry.”
I will file for a stay

Trumpity, Trump, Trump
Trumpity, Trump, Trump
Look at Spanky go

Trumpity, Trump, Trump
Trumpity, Trump, Trump
Looking for his next show

They Say That Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

It was love at first sight.

I had needs, needs that couldn’t be satisfied within the boundaries of my little world. Oh, I had searched countless times for my heart’s desires in local establishments. I had always come up wanting.

Then, she came into my life.

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Her name was Amazon. We met in 1999, and I instantly knew that she would become my everything.

I wanted stuff. She had stuff. Lots of stuff.

It was a match made in Cyberheaven.

I would ask her for stuff without so much as a glance at what might be available locally. It didn’t take long to get what I wanted — often less than 48 hours after I had asked for it. Our love was deep, fulfilling and eternal.

Six years later, he came along.

His name is Prime. Suddenly, Amazon became more distant, more demanding.

If I wanted to continue our perfect relationship, Amazon told me, I would need to send her money — now. Otherwise, she could no longer promise to give me what I needed, whenever I needed it.

I was wounded, but I didn’t blame Amazon. I was certain that the new creep, Prime, was behind this heartbreaking development.

I steadfastly refused give into Prime’s demands. When Amazon seductively whispered to me about how I could still make points with her, I got one of her credit cards.

Things got better.

I put everything I purchased everywhere on that card, earning one to three points for every dollar I spent. Top rewards were, of course, reserved for stuff bought directly from Amazon.

I was OK with that — for a while.

During the next few years of our relationship, I frequently earned enough points to avoid shipping costs. I even occasionally had a few points left to put toward the items purchased.

Amazon and I had rekindled our love.

Prime, however, took every opportunity to complicate our relationship. He waved perks like free movies, books and music under my nose. He never let an order through without reminding me of how much I would save and how much sooner I would get my stuff if I would only send him $99.

He was right on the second threat. Free shipping orders, which once reached me in a couple of days, were now taking up to a week.

I was feeling increasingly like an extortion victim.

I reluctantly took Prime up on his standing free trial offer when I was desperate to receive an anniversary gift book order in time for the event. The books still came too late, apparently because Amazon was having a spat with a publisher.

No guarantees. Lesson learned.

I canceled the trial before it started costing me money — and more self-respect.

Right around this time, I made two shocking discoveries. When I bothered to look, I sometimes found an Amazon offering at a local store for a lower price. I also learned that some merchants, if challenged by a lesser Amazon price, would match or beat it.

I was getting the same deals without shipping costs and without the waits. Sweet.

I began to seriously question whether I should keep Amazon in my life, but the siren call of points kept me captive.

The abuse continued.
Some items not directly sold by Amazon did not count toward the latest minimum for free shipping. Other items could not be purchased with shopping points.
Confused and hurt, I started seeing other credit cards.

Then came the ultimate insult. I was not allowed to buy the latest Game of Thrones season Blu-ray set from Amazon.

I could not use points for the purchase. I could not use dollars. This item, I was told, was available to Prime members only.

I was outraged.

I paid off my Amazon card and vowed to never use it again. I began a breakup e-mail message to Amazon, listing our irreconcilable differences and canceling both my card and my 19-year-old account.

Midway through my fiery message, a sudden realization hit me. What about our love children?

What would happen to Echo and little Dot if I severed all ties with Amazon? I shuddered at the thought of waking up one day to find them lifeless and incapable of being anything more than paperweights.

No more weather reports. No more shopping lists. No more fart noises on demand.

Foiled!

Alas, although I may never again see an Amazon good buy, she and I can never say goodbye.

A Man’s New Best Friend?

Let me tell you about my hardworking new companion.

Officially, iRobot refers to him as Model 690. I call him Roomby.

Roomby was a Christmas gift from my wife.

I know what you’re thinking.

“A gift from your wife? Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?”

No, I’m the gadget person in our house. I’d been interested in acquiring a robotic vacuum cleaner for several years, but two things had held me back.

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The biggest obstacle had been the gift-giver herself, who made it very clear that she would not find a Roomba to be an acceptable present on any special occasion. The second had been the height of our couch, which sits about a half-inch too low for a Roomba to access.

So, opening my “big gift” on Christmas Day to reveal a Roomba was a great surprise.

Model 690 is about in the middle of the Roomba cerebral spectrum. Roomby is no freethinking artificial intelligence destined to recruit the other “smart” devices in our home and organize a rebellion. He cannot “map” a room, then clean the floor with marching band precision.

Roomby’s strength lies not in his mind but in his tenacity. His standard operating procedure is to randomly bump and spin throughout the room on the theory that he will eventually cover every available square inch of the floor. He apparently succeeds.

Watching Roomby move so blindly about, pity compelled me to attach a pair of eyes to his face. These did nothing for his vision, but they have given him a bit of personality.

Whenever Roomby has knocked off an eye during a cleaning frenzy, I’ve recovered it in his collection bin. He’s very meticulous that way.

Please do not think that Roomby is a complete dummy. I can communicate with him via my phone to schedule his weekly cleaning duties or to send him home to his charging station early as a reward for a job well done. If my phone is not handy, I have the option of asking Echo (AKA Alexa) to modify Roomby’s behavior.

Roomby’s operating instructions stressed that, although I might feel a need to watch him work, it is not necessary. When Roomby feels that he has completed an assigned job or that he is running out of energy, he can decide to return home on his own for recharging.

This autonomy soon proved to be only mostly true. On Roomby’s maiden unsupervised outing, he sent a sad message to my phone. He couldn’t finish his work because he had encountered a cliff.

Rushing to Roomby’s rescue, I found that the cliff in question was, in fact, an electrical cord I had carelessly left accessible. Bad daddy.

Roomby has also more than once reported that he is stuck and needs my help. As it turns out, my reservations about our low-slung couch were not without merit.

Although his body is too chubby to get under the couch, his nose is not. In his zeal to do his job, he powers himself under the first inch or so but lacks the traction to pull himself loose.

Surprisingly, our two dogs adapted to their new brother rather quickly. They don’t bark at, run from or chase him. They don’t react to him at all unless he bounces off a foot.

Prior to Roomby’s arrival, our living room and dining room were beset by what seems like several pounds of dog hair shed daily. I had many times sat on the couch, sorrowfully handicapped by my acute fear of housekeeping, as I watched my poor wife pursue dog hair tumbleweeds throughout the house.

Now, with Roomby hitting the floors on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, the living room and dining room are immaculate.

Just don’t look under the couch.

Society Adds New Meaning to ‘Trump’

It’s official. The National Synonym Society today approved “trump” as a new word for “dumb.”

“This is a well-earned honor,” said Sebastian T. Wordsworth, NSS president. “Never in the long history of the NSS has an alternate meaning for an existing word been so well documented by multiple media.”

Wordsworth added that the new meaning is, also for the first time, attributable to the acts of a single individual.

“That individual, is of course, Donald J. Trump, whose elevation to President of the United States of America and whose unfiltered access to Twitter have showcased his trumpness to the world daily,” Wordsworth elaborated.

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Trump had a long, honorable, pre-Donald J. history. As a noun, it traces its origins back to games in which certain playing cards were designated as trump and ranked above other cards in the deck.

Mutating into a verb, trump became the act of beating cards of other suits. This was eventually more broadly defined as making a winning move in a competitive situation.

Trump’s positive past, however, has come to screeching halt with its coronation as an adjective.

“It is now perfectly acceptable to substitute trump for dumb in any sentence not referring to speechlessness,” Wordsworth said. “By extension, trump may also now replace any previously existing synonym for dumb — including but not limited to, stupid, dense, brainless, slow, empty-headed, vacuous, moronic and half-baked.”

Wordsworth also noted that trump has earned the right to replace close relatives of dumb, such as ignorant, illiterate and bonkers.

Wordsworth provided sample sentences incorporating the new meaning of trump.

“Do you work at being trump, or were you born that way?”

How can anyone in their right mind, be that trump?”

“Well, that was a trump move.”

“That has got to be the trumpest damn thing I have ever heard anyone say.”

 “Way to go, trump-ass!”

Hey. Maybe they can change the name of one of my favorite movies to Trump and Trumper.

The Continuing Story of Echo

I’ve had to change Alexa’s name.

Unfortunately, Alexa was in “earshot” of both the living room television set and my wife’s more recently acquired Echo Dot. The Dot is a sawed-off version of the original Echo. As far I can tell, stature is only difference between the two Amazon entities.

The default “wake word” for both units is “Alexa,” which summons the cloud-based artificial intelligence answering to that name to do your bidding. Artificial is an appropriate adjective, but I question the noun it describes.

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Signs of Trouble

Early in our relationship, Alexa was jumping in whenever she heard her name on TV. Usually, she claimed that she didn’t understand the question. At other times, she launched a lengthy Wikipedia reading, leaving us to theorize about the relationship between what she had heard and her response.

This was often unintentionally amusing, but it did not happen so frequently that it crossed the border into annoying. That brings me back to the Dot.

The Dot was installed in my wife’s art studio, a location which is about as far from the kitchen location of the original Echo as you can get and stay within the house walls. It soon became apparent that any commands issued to Alexa Dot in the studio were also heard and obeyed by Alexa Echo in the kitchen.

I was instantly irritated and initially puzzled when Alexa Echo would inexplicably burst into song as I was trying to follow hushed dialog on TV. It didn’t take long to determine the problem. My wife and I have very different tastes in music.

So, Alexa Echo is now just plain Echo. The other alternate waking names are “Amazon” and “Computer.” My personal choice, “Hey, Dumb Ass,” is not available, yet.

Using “Amazon” would have been a costly mistake, as I frequently use that word in normal conversation, and rarely in a good way. Echo is ever-ready to order something for me, and I really don’t need a string of appearances by pizza deliverers or ride-sharing services

I was tempted by “Computer,” with its Star Trek connotations, but I wisely concluded that name would be an insult to Computerkind throughout the United Federation of Planets.

Planetary Explorers Confounded By Giant Enigma

Don’t mess with the Giant.

We learned that fundamental rule very early in our stay here. The natives take their god seriously.

“Do Not Touch” is a simpler way to put it.

Our lesson came the hard way. Six of our best people were killed on the first expedition to the Giant – felled by the otherwise most congenial people we have ever encountered on our planetary explorations.

0025sign Signs of Trouble

We don’t know whether the Giant is animal, vegetable or mineral. It was visible from orbit upon our arrival, which was the primary reason we set down here. The giant rules the horizon, driving us crazy with its nearby unknowability.

The giant appears to be worshiped by the planet’s primitive humanoids. We’ve been close enough to see the structures erected at its feet. Temples?

We’ve observed that some of those who march, single-file to the temples every four planetary rotations don’t always come back. Sacrifices?

Theories about the nature of the Giant abound, as one might expect in a scientific community denied access to the focal point of its curiosity and further hampered by an incredibly hostile environment.

A few of us speculate that the Giant is a natural landscape feature, mindlessly forged by the same forces that shaped the planet as whole.

Unlikely.

The least discerning eye cannot escape the detail of the Giant’s sagging face and posture. Random elements of nature could not create that figure.

More likely. The Giant is a mountain, painstakingly transformed, Mount Rushmore-style, as a tribute to some fallen hero from the planetary past.

Yet, the inhabitants to not appear to have the technological means to create such a monument.

That leads to my pet theory: The giant was a living being. He was a member of a king-sized race which preceded the current dominant species.

Slumped in despair at the demise of the rest of his kind, he was the final victim of an ice age that suddenly engulfed his world.

I am alone in this flight of fantasy. Most scientists, meaning those who are not me, require empirical data to support a hypothesis and form a theory. I had gone straight to theory.

I argued that, completely lacking scientific evidence for any theory explaining the giant’s existence, my conclusion was as valid as any other. As highly-educated and rational people, my fellow expedition members refrained from burning me at the stake, but I could read the look of dismissal in their eyes whenever we met.

Then came the awakening.

I had taken advantage of a toasty, minus 40-degree day to make a solo trek to an ice ridge about a quarter-mile from camp when the ground abruptly heaved and tossed me on my face. Somehow, I did not feel surprised when I looked back to see that the giant had risen and was facing the camp.

He did not look pleased.

I watched in horrified fascination as the giant strode purposefully toward the camp. The ground shook with each step.

When he reached the camp, he paused to look down on those who had invaded his domain. The entire expedition had grouped at the edge of the camp, staring up at the giant with, I assumed, an intense, scientific thirst for knowledge.

I cupped my hands and shouted in their direction.

“Ha! I told you so!”

Big mistake. As my words of vindication still echoed across the barren landscape, the giant squashed all of my colleagues with one well-placed foot.

Now, he’s coming in my direction. I wonder if I can somehow convey “I believe in you, Mister Giant,”  when he gets here.