Friday, March 22, 2013

Animal Husbandry

Another thing I thought I would do at some point after I retired was get a dog.  Up until 2004, when my last dog went to doggy heaven, I always had a dog - and a cat.  My last two dogs were wonderful companions and lived to be 12 years old. I fed them basic dog food, trained them to  sit, stay and come (sort of). Gave them their shots and brushed their teeth myself.  Took them backpacking and hiking with me.  And attended to emergencies (like when one of them got too intimate with a huge bull while we were hiking and ended up with a 3” by 3” skin-flap-wound right through to the muscle. Fun times.) But that was pretty much it.

Now there are so many expectations to dog ownership. (Note I didn't say “parenthood”. I just can't go there. Those of you who see that differently, please do not report me to the ASPCA.)  Now you practically have to put them on a list to get them into a good doggy preschool and, as a recently-viewed pet food commercial opined: attend to their needs - physical, emotion, social (and one other need I can’t remember  - maybe spiritual - we’re not far from that folks). Although I did refer to my dogs as Canine-Americans, I just can’t live up to current expectations.  Plus, and probably most important, I don't know how much traveling I'm going to be doing as an ongoing thing, so the timing is just not right.

So I'm thinking about these things when I see a little ad about a desert tortoise adoption program. Eureka! I think. Just at my skill and commitment level, I think. When I was working, I assisted with collaboration on the recovery of the Mojave population of the desert tortoise and learned a lot about them.  I’ve run into a few out there in the natural world and marveled at their ability to survive on so little.  So I go online to check out the details. And find that there are six steps to the requirements, including numerous yard modifications -  not to mention the things you are supposed to grow for them to eat (yes, store-bought produce is inferior for these guys). I don’t put that much effort into feeding myself. And my frontscape re-do (to create habitat pleasing to me) is yet to get underway. Geeez, I think. I don't even measure up for a tortoise.

So I guess I’ll be leaving the animal husbandry to the 4H-ers for now. I wonder how long one can wait to get a pet to reap the live-longer benefits that supposedly flow from pet ownership? At some point, it is just a little too late. I’ve got awhile before I get there though. I think.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

One Small Step. A Giant Leap

… into cyberspace.
I’ve been doing comparison looking (teed. e. ous) into tablets.  I want to have something to take with me when I travel so that I can keep in touch a bit and have access to information. Particularly for my upcoming trip to Nepal which will involve many, many hours on airplanes and in airports.
I have this weird bias: if it appeals to soooo many people (like McDonald’s), how good can it be? Hence, I resist. I figure I’m just paying extra for a brand name when some less expensive, off-brand would suffice. But I have several friends who are enthusiasts (and don’t eat at McDonald’s) so I included the apple’s in my research. Try as I did to avoid the i, I succumbed (to the mini).
And I can see why it is so popular – easy, easy, easy. I even synched up with my desktop. On my own. Needed fewer hints than getting through a game of spider solitaire. Of course it would probably still be sitting in the box if my visiting friend (a former engineer) hadn't gone shopping with me and then hooked up a wireless router (magic!) so I could use the thing at home.
And for many of you this may just be in the same category as this post: Revelations Probably Already Known to Others (August, 2012), but I feel as though I have crossed a new threshold.
Maybe I’ll see some of you on Facetime (although that fun-house-like camera was obviously tested by young people. It's kind of a sobering experience for us semi-oldsters).
P.S. (a couple days later): Oh. And if you hear me referring to Siri as though she is my new BFF, please stop me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Feel Weird

Probably a combo of too much caffeine on top of jetlag. Just got back from a five-day trip to Florida for a family wedding. First time I’ve flown since I stopped working. I used to travel every three weeks or so. Got used to it. Sort of.  Sounds more glamorous than it is. That cosmopolitan feeling wears off after about six months (although I never got tired of cool hotels in the center of hip DC neighborhoods I never could have afforded to live in).
Traveling for pleasure is a lot more … uuhhm ... pleasurable. No stress worrying about  whether your package of training materials arrived  or whether you will get in on time to get the room set up for the early morning meeting. No need to check the smartphone to keep up with emails.  It’s easier to go with the flow and just let it happen. And I was traveling with my mom who uses a wheelchair at airports because of the walking distances. What a gig.  Long security line? No problem. Go directly to the head of the line. Priority seating? Yep. First on. Royal treatment. All for a few dollars in tips. I’m surprised people don’t take advantage of this. (You didn’t hear that from me.)
And there is also the post-trip “let down” (not that I am not glad to be home). A weekend of events and socializing with family - functioning in groups - is immersive.  The tide just floats you from one thing to the next.  
I’m the oldest of 15 cousins. Quite a few of them, and their children (my second cousins – yes, I looked it up) most of them in their twenties, plus a couple little ones, were there – along with my Aunts. We don’t get together much as we are scattered across the country. It was really good to spend time and to catch up on the trivial and the important. Yet not enough time one-on-one to really dive in.  Just enough to make me wish we were closer geographically. That little bittersweet taste lingers longer when not facing an onslaught of work-related things to deal with.
What is the same though, is the first-day-home feeling. It was the equivalent of 2 o’clock in the morning when we got to my house, so I still have that time-warped-weird-sleep-fuzzy brain that used to be all too familiar. Throw in no real exercise for five days and lots of eating, and you have quite the travel hangover. When I was working, I’d just go to work and stumble through. But with nothing distracting me now, I can really feel it.
Finally, this trip made real just what I got myself into with traveling to Nepal in April: four times the travel hours that this was. Yikes. I might need to adopt the work -travel mode for that trip: don’t think about it - just do it. And make sure to have spare batteries for the noise-cancelling headphones.

P.S. It's a day later and I can still feel it. Weird.