February 10th, 2010

Daywander

Boy, I've never been gladder that I no longer live in Baltimore. Local snow totals there went well over 40 inches, which is pretty scary. Right before we moved to California, we had a freak late-season storm (it was mid-March!) that dumped 24" or so, and the movers had to dig a path between the van and the front door. We got about 8" here across the last two days, but it was a slow and steady fall that I blew out of the driveway twice, as our little mini-blower won't chomp that much snow in one gulp.

The neighborhood is now a winter wonderland, which is great as long as you don't have to go anywhere. City government is currently throwing a raging tantrum because we told them to stuff it when they demanded a huge tax increase, so they're not plowing anything, and have turned half our streetlights off. There will be no familiar faces there after November, trust me.

But if you ever wanted to live in a palace on the slopes of a mountain, here's your chance: A house right around the corner from us and probably 1500' from my front door went into foreclosure, and you can now get it for $690K, and probably less. It's a weird house, once the most expensive in the neighborhood (originally listed at $1.2M!!) but whoever built it put all the money into interior touches like marble columns and art niches. (Check out those stairways!) The exterior is plain as can be, and the house does not look anywhere near as large nor as luxurious as it actually is. Great city lights views off the back deck, and you get a free beehive in one of the pines close to the street. We walk the dogs past it almost every day, at least when it's not a winter wonderland here. The bees are courteous, as bees go.

Dogs, yes. Tomorrow afternoon we take QBit over to Sunrise Kennels and blast north to Denver with the other three, for the Rocky Mountain Cluster Dog Show, a 4-day all-breed yapstravaganza. (QBit is not show-quality, but is still Lord of the Pack.) Carol has shown Aero intermittently over the last two and a half years, but this is the first time we have ever tried to show more than one dog at a show. And we have three. Yes indeedy, Dash makes his debut in the 6-9 mo. Puppy Dog category, with Aero and Jack competing in Open Dog. ("Dog" in dog show jargon specifically means "male dog" and "bitch" is an ordinary word without any negative connotations.) Carol is in the laundry room even as I type, touching up Jack's hairdo. Aero is next. (Dash's turn was yesterday.)

The show is actually four consecutive one-day shows, and thus four opportunities to win points, with four "major wins" on the table. Aero has one major win and six points. He needs a second major win and another nine points to be declared a champion. Given that there are at least four points at stake each day, Aero could come home the champ we always knew he could be. In fact, although very unlikely, Jack could do the same thing, even though he has neither points nor major wins to his credit. He would have to grab all points all four days, which would be something of a grand slam for a dog who is about 15% larger than most judges would like him to be. Sure, we'd prefer Aero get the points, but we're curious to see what Jack can do. He's always been something of a "practice dog" in the past (I learned to handle in the show ring by showing Jack two years ago, and Carol practices grooming on him) but he's never looked better and could do well, especially if Aero shies away from the judges, as he often does.

There is always a bichon frise grooming area somewhere in the vast cattle pens of the National Western Complex, and that's where we'll be. So if you're in the Denver area and have some time on your hands, come see us. Watch for the blinding white off the dogs, or the glint off the top of my head. Early is better, and ring time for bichons is 9:30, unless I misrecall.

We still need effective "query by humming," as the formidable David Stafford once put it. Carol and I don't watch much TV, and what we watch consists mostly of Weather Channel forecasts. Every so often they'll play a piece of music I like during a forecast, but they don't say what it is. There's supposedly a list online, but January wasn't added to it until last night. All through January I heard a rousing piece that sounded like John Williams movie music, and vaguely familiar at that. I quickly memorized it, and whistled it for several people, to no avail. Finally, the list went live last night, and I discovered that the mystery song was in fact a John Williams piece, composed for the 1988 Summer Olympics. Amazon sells a DRM-free MP3 for 99c. In less than 90 seconds, I had it on disk and it was coming out my speakers. They had my dollar. Everybody's happy.

Heh. That ain't tricky. That's the way you do it: You sell an unencumbered MP3. No, that ain't tricky, that's the way you do it: Get a dollar fer nuthin'; stampin' bits is free!