Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tightening up with our dogs during the pandemic

I recall vaguely that some people in the far north, perhaps Eskimos, described the coldness of the night in terms of dogs.  If it was a three or four dog night; that meant it was really cold.  Getting by with one or two dogs was more tolerable.  It has been cold outside here, below freezing most mornings, but up in my study it is warm enough, sleeping in my lounge chair, covered by whatever blankets I feel comfortable with.  But Jessica, my Irish Terrier, has her own opinion about that.  Perhaps it has some relationship to the coldness outside, but she has been determined to sleep on top of me at night.  She was getting me trained in that respect in the recent past, but when I hurt my shoulder, it was not tolerable for me, and she had to leave me alone.

But my shoulder is a lot better.  Last night was typical.  My term for telling her I intended to get to sleep is “nap.”  “I’m going to take a nap, now Jessica; so, don’t get in my lounge chair.”  She warned me she had a plan by ignoring my words and getting in my lounge chair anyway.  When I was ready to go to sleep, I tipped the lounge chair up gently and slid her out onto the floor.  She watched me settle in and then pawed my arm indicating she wanted to get into my lap.  I said, “okay,” and reached for her, but she wanted to play hard to get, moving away when I reached for her.  At last, I said in annoyance, “Go away, I’m going to sleep”, but just as I began to doze off, she raked my right arm with her nails.  “Go away,” I said again, and tried to get back to sleep.  After a few iterations of this, I was no longer sleepy; so, I turned the light on and read on my Kindle for a while, Ignoring Jessica’s unhappiness with me.  

As soon as I was sleepy again, I put my Kindle away and the next time she messed with me, I jackknifed forward, grabbed her forward legs up close to her chest and pulled her up on top of my stomach; which was her goal all along; so, at last she was ready to go to sleep for the night.  This isn’t to say there wasn’t a lot of shifting about on both our parts.  My ribcage in the area most associated with my left shoulder, while not as sore as it has been, will complain if Jessica is lying on it for too long.  Also, Jessica prefers spending a lot of time parallel to my left leg with her head toward my feet, which is okay because it is my right leg that has the damaged knee cap.  And so, we sleep.

Waking up this morning, some of my joints and other structure felt a bit uncomfortable, but after loosening up with some dumbbells I felt okay.  I don’t have the usual morning headache and in retrospect I enjoyed Jessica sleeping on top of me.  When she was young and squirmy, she didn’t like being a lapdog, but now, when she’s in the mood (or perhaps shortly after she’s been trimmed and its cold outside) she does.  So perhaps it is a coincidence, but when the temperature drops down near freezing outside, I am having one-dog nights.

But as our sleeping arrangements are getting sorted, I wondered about the introduction of a Ben-like Ridgeback.  What would he be wanting to do while Jessica was annoying me by playing hard to get when all I want to do is sleep, with or without her sleeping on me?   And, if he got to close would Jessica wake me up with a growl or a bark?  Of course, he would get used to that eventually, and steer-clear if he could, but he would have to walk by the lounge chair to get to the water dishes.  

In the past this was less of a problem inasmuch as I spent most nights sleeping on the floor, but I’m creakier than I used to be and wouldn’t be able to sleep on my left shoulder at all.  The lounge chair is fine.  My shoulder and I have gotten used to it.

Now, with this hiding out because of the pandemic, not being able to get back into hiking quite yet because of medication changes and weather, Jessica, Duffy, my Schnoodle, and I have been living in a closer relationship than in the past.  I thought they might feel a bit of cabin fever being restricted to the house and yard most days, but not so.  They like it fine.  I have been more attentive to what they want and need, and they like that more than fine.   

So, what would happen if we added a Ridgeback to our mix?  I looked over at Jessica just now and she is lying on a blanket in morning sunlight watching me.  I wouldn’t be the only person to look at (Duffy does a lot of sleeping, and Jessica ignores him most of the time) if we had a Ridgeback.  

And no matter how fixed our situation is now, it would be just as fixed, albeit arranged differently if Ben, our last Ridgeback, were still alive.  Ben was easier to live with than Jessica has been.  Then too, if the weather stays cool at night, and my shoulder heals a bit more, perhaps I can sleep on the floor again, from time to time, and if there were a Ridgeback to keep us company, I could have a three-dog night if I needed one.


Monday, January 2, 2023

On those given to much reading

From time to time, I watch videos by Michael Vaughan on his Booktuber channel.  He recently committed, along with some other booktubers to avoid buying any more books until he read 500 of his own books, presumably most of which will be unread although rereading is permissible.  I wondered how fast he could read and, in another video, learned that he counted the books he read in 2022 and the number was 60.  It doesn’t seem possible that he will meet his 500-book commitment. 

I wondered how many books I read in 2022.  For pure enjoyment and with no literary interests, I’ve been reading mostly detective/thriller novels and I’ve made note of which one’s I’ve read in a little yellow field book.  I counted and discovered that I read 82 in 2022.  I also read books that didn’t fall into that category, some in my own quest to read books that won awards and some for other reasons.  I commented upon those in a journal.  I found 24.  So, 106 in 2022, and while I did read some I’d already read on Kindle, I bought a lot of new ones as well.

Michael Vaughan has some sort of job.  He takes time to make his weekly videos; so, he may never do much better than 60 a year.  [However, in subsequent videos he reports finding a few more.  He is up above 71 now, and because he feels disorganized in keeping track of his reading, despite having a reading channel, he resolved in 2023 to become more organized 😉].  

Michael Vaughan in his last video of 2022 reported the last book he read in 2022, Deathworld by Harry Harrison.  Per Wikipedia, Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was an American science fiction author best known for his character The Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973).  Vaughan had read other Harrison novels, but not yet Deathworld.  He said it was a lot of fun to read.  Looking for something a lot of fun to read at the moment, I downloaded it into my Kindle.  It was written in 1960.  (Harrison died in 2012 at age 87.)  

Always on the lookout for anthropological and evolutionary implications and theories, I was struck by one in Deathworld.  The main character, Jason, a talented gambler, has just arrived on the very hostile planet Pyrrus: “Jason’s eyes opened wider as he realized she was very beautiful – with the kind of beauty never found in the civilized galaxy.  The women he had known all ran to pale skin, hollow shoulders, gray faces covered with tinges and dyes.  They were the product of centuries of breeding weaknesses back into the race, as the advance of medicine kept alive more and more non-survival types.”  [I subsequently read Deathworld.  It was okay, a light-hearted read despite a lot of death, but I'm not tempted to read Deathworld ii, and subs.]

One thinks of H. G. Wells The Time Machine written in 1895 in which he envisioned evolution turning humans into beings with large heads and weak bodies (the Eloi) as well as the more beast-like Morlocks.  The Eloi were apparently descended from Britain’s upper class and the Morlocks from the lower.  When I first read that book, probably in my teens I took it as an incentive to work-out with weights and pass my strength and Marine Corps inclinations along to my descendants, alas. :-)

As to Harrison’s 1960 prediction, yes, we are attempting to keep alive our hitherto non-survivable kin, but the work being done in genetics may be able to eliminate the passing along of the genes that made them “non-survivable.”  So perhaps they would not be doing damage to subsequent generations.

We as a species are moving awfully quickly.  If the Gaia hypothesis, conceived by the British chemist James Lovelock in the early 1970s has any validity" our world may know of an impending invasion by an alien species and be rapidly getting our species ready for it.  And if Gaia is true, perhaps it will, being in its best interest, end California's drought (where Michael Vaughan and I both live).  So good, so far, this season.