Giving Up the Fight

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A discussion popped up today that made me aware of something that may make me kinda odd (yeah, big surprise right?).  Today is the Autumn Equinox, the day of the year that we pass the point when sunlight and darkness are equal; and the day when we pass from summer into fall.  Randomly, someone asked what would be our favorite season; and in all my normal inconsistency I couldn’t land on one.  All I could do was to throw the good and the bad with each offering.  Summer is that time of freedom and warmth, but it’s too damn hot.  The spring gives you that hope of the new birth and life; but the weather can’t decide whether or not it’s going to rain, snow, or burn.  Winters are frickin’ cold … except when they aren’t and it’s crisp and refreshing.  The fall reminds you that winter is coming, but the heat is gone too.  What I really found out when I challenged myself was that I like the transitions.  I like it when Winter is new and fresh.  I like it when Spring is clearly on it’s way.  I like when everything is grown and warm at the start of summer.  And fall … the start of fall … there is something special about that.

La Crescenta is going through a cool trend.  Mornings are in the 50s, with the fresh dew pooling on grass.  The Verdugos, after fighting off the La Tuna Fire, wake every day in low clouds and fog that dribble their way down the mountain sides.  As I watched the pup chase ghosts in the back yard, I sipped my coffee and breathed in the air.  So much of the first couple of weeks in the new house, I felt locked down, trapped by triple digit heat, and now I get to feel that nice mornings I thought this house would give me.

Fall also means the start of my marching band judging season.  I write this from DFW, sipping a wine on a layover to Memphis where my first gig happens tomorrow night.  I get to surround myself with kids busting their tail to put on great performances and wow me with artistry.  I get to judge with great people all, like me, focused on giving those kids the best experience they can get.

Yet the show doesn’t start until tomorrow night … and in the meantime … football.  Seriously, like starting tonight.  One of the cool things about flying into a show site at night is flying over the lights.  Over North Texas, Oklahoma, & Arkansas; I will be able to spy down on hundreds of little patches of field brightened up next to schools.  I picture each one breaking out in their own grand drama … rivalries, battles, touchdowns, losses, wins, cheers, tears, and life itself; played over over a game that so many live and die over.  From my aluminum chariot, twenty thousand feet above, I can see the scope of Friday Night Lights play itself out over and over again.

One of my favorite Indigo Girls songs uses the great line “summer’s beginning the give up the fight”.  Days like today feel like that.  Cooler, calmer, and building momentum, all in one.  Tomorrow the day begins with it’s fresh new Fall beginnings and all that lays in the road ahead to the end of the year.  Sure, I like the transitions better than the seasons; but who doesn’t like the hope of change.  So let the great transition begin, let the summer give up the fight, let the winter come what may.  Today is the start, and I am just fine with that.

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Crash Ending

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The end is coming to an old friend.  JPL’s Cassini mission (or originally named Cassini-Huygens in combination with a long since released probe) will end this Friday with a very quiet whimper nearly 900 million miles away from here.  Cassini is a two story tall orbiter that is currently racing it’s way towards the upper atmosphere of Saturn.  Nearing the end of it’s battery life, and with fears of potential contamination if the orbiter crashes into one of Saturn’s moons, the Cassini team decided to turn it’s child into the planet to burn up quickly in a controlled manner.  That time has come, and preparations are underway for the event.

Of course, with our luck, it’s happening at a really crappy time of day.

The path to Friday began so long ago, that some of the engineering reports still show the outline of taping typewritten words against poorly sketched graphs.  The first hint of what became Cassini were in a call for mission proposals in 1982; and was tagged with the 17th Century astronomer (Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered that Saturn had multiple rings, not just one flat disc) around 1984.  Yet it wasn’t until 1997 before the 2-1/4 ton, 22 foot tall orbiter was launched.  In fact, the run up in the last few months almost caused the whole mission to be scrubbed by an outpouring of fear over a potential launch failure – because Cassini was nuclear powered and folks thought that would mean fall out or a mushroom cloud or something like that, who knows, folks are crazy like that.

Yet even after the flawless launch, it took nearly 7 years for the orbiter to make it to Saturn and begin the real work.  Later that year, it dropped the Huygens probe that made the first landing on another planet’s moon as it did so into the hyrdrocarbon slushes of Titan.  Since then, it’s made 294 orbits of Saturn, traveled over 4 billion miles, executed 2-1/2 million commands, collected 635 gigabytes of data, and snapped over 450 thousand photos.  In that time, it discovered the strange ‘hexagonal storm’ on Saturn’s pole; caught geysers of methane from the moon Enceladus, and raised questions of the vast oceans on Titan under it’s surface.  Voyager 1 & 2 both took a swing by the planet in the early 80s, but they describe those missions as peeling the first layer of an onion away.  While there are many layers left to go in learning about Saturn and it’s moons, they are many layers into this onion, and far deeper than anyone expected to go.  There isn’t a mission currently slated to head back to Saturn currently but some are banging around to peel back that onion even more.

As far as Friday goes, there really isn’t much too it.  Last Friday, Cassini began a full data dump, sending every bit of information in it’s memory banks back to Earth to make sure we have it all.  Monday, it gave a ‘goodbye kiss’ to Titan as it swung by the largest moon in the solar system one last time; and with it making the final course correction to head into it’s end.  Tomorrow around lunchtime, Cassini will take it’s last photograph – we aren’t sure of what yet.  Shortly after that point, a communication link will be made with the orbiter and will lock onto it through the end of it’s life.  Around midnight here, Cassini will make it’s last maneuver, a roll to point an instrument at the planet so that it can collect as much of Saturn’s atmosphere as it can analyze in the waning moment.

Friday morning, at about 3:30am Pasadena time (or just about when the rest of y’all are waking up out east), over the course of a little over a minute, Cassini will breach the Saturn atmosphere, increase it’s thrusters from 10 to 100%, give one last signal to Earth before it begins to tumble, and finally disintegrates into nothing but particles and gas.  Due to the time it takes for the signal to cross the nearly 900 million miles here, we won’t recieve that last signal until about 4:54 am PDT (or about 8am out on the East Coast, or 7am in the Central).

It doesn’t look us normal JPLers will be doing anything special for it.  It is a regularly scheduled Friday off on-lab; which is probably good with all the media traffic that we expect to have.  NASA will be live on YouTube and TV for the event, with live shots at JPL Mission Control (aka ‘The Center of the Universe’).  My friends and I talked about a Crash Party, but I guess it may fall through because people are expecting me to clean the house before then … plus how to you stay drunk until 5am when the bars close at 2.

It’s also a bitter sweet sad ending.  Cassini was launched in the middle of a number of NASA failures, and so many worked so hard to make it a success that it’s hard to see it end.  A common statement made was: “this mission was nothing but throwing toast in the air, and each time it came down butter side up”.  Now, they have to do what they have been hoping would never happen.  Still, it is better to say goodbye on our own terms, than see something end with nothing but questions.

So goodbye Cassini … and thanks for all the cool pics.

The La Tuna Canyon Fire

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YEAH FOR ME, a natural disaster looming over me made national headlines.  Whoppie!!

*cough* I mean ..

Labor Day Weekend 2017 will be remembered around these parts as the weekend of the La Tuna fire … and because the name sounds like some Spanish fish grill.  Raging up in the Vedugo Mountains threatening Burbank, Sunland, & Glendale; it is the largest fire within Los Angeles City Limits in history … because … I guess it kinda is in Los Angeles?  That area also included the Crescenta valley, where I live, and ironically where my dog lives too.  The fire was quite huge … massive … 7000 acres cutting across the Vedugos, raining ash, smoke, and allergies across a good swatch of SoCal.  It was so bad, brunch plans were ruined.  Heck, they even closed roads keeping people from happy hours or worse a good place to live stream the fire.

Alright, I am kidding a bit about a very dangerous and potentially deadly thing.  But I feel I have the right to because a) That was my happy hour that got ruined, and b) there were no reported injuries other than some cases of heat exhaustion.  At last report, only three buildings were damaged (all of them fully destoyed, but still only three).  The fire crews & police did evacuate people threatened; but that ended up to be only 1,400 people (remember there are literally millions of people in this area) of which to my understanding currently 90% are back home.  At last report, we are still under a state of emergency … but then again, the Starbucks is full of people going through their daily business.

And I do say “latest” and “currently” because the fire is still active.  There hasn’t been an update since last night, but at that time they said the fire was 30% contained.  But the ‘since then’ makes for a better ending to this blog … so bear with me.

For starters … it’s a good idea to pull up a map to get a feel of things here; to help here is an image of the burn area, but you may want your own map as well.

LaTuna

This map represents the fire on Sunday September 3rd.  Some key features here are — La Crescenta is to the middle right.  The red cross there is approximately where my house is (not because I am some important thing, just that  I was two blocks from a shelter).   Burbank is to the south … for scale, as the crow flies, that is about 4 miles between my house and downtown Burbank.  The white shaded area is the fire burn area. If you see the white line going through middle of it – that is La Tuna Canyon Road, the canyon where the fire started, thus the name.  The only ‘over the mountain’ route through the Verdugos other than Highway 2 (an interstate) to the east (and the right side of your pic).

As much rain as we had had this spring, it’s been a very dry and very hot summer.  Most of the last two months, the temps were in the 90s and 100s, and besides an occasional humid gloom from the ocean, it hasn’t been wet at all.  Like no rain whatso ever.  So all that growth that happened in the spring, now was dead, and itching to catch fire.

My experience with the fire starts with an ironic twist on Friday – a day off for me.  I never take the La Tuna Canyon road.  It could be scenic, but the 2 is way more scenic & usually faster.  But I needed to go to a part of Burbank under heavy construction (the Lowe’s not the IKEA) and through taking La Tuna wold be faster.  That was about 10am on Friday.  Within a couple of hours after taking that road, it would be closed for the fire, and is still not open.  I remember nothing of that drive that suggests that a fire was started, or looming, but it could have come quite quick.

Somewhere around 4PM as I was taking the pup out for his buisness, and smelt what smelt like a campfire.  A quick look around the skyline and there was a noticable plume of smoke.  By 7PM it was big enough, and pumping out enough smoke, that it was making the news.; but moreso on the Burbank side of the mountain.  The flames were visible there, and creating quite a Friday Night light show.  At that point, it was a novelty.

Saturday morning, we woke up to find out how bad it was.  By then, the fire had already spread to 5000 acres.  The winds were hard to the north, but swirling, causing the fight to be unpredictable.  It was mostly in unpopulated areas, and locations that needed a good burn, but a fire like this can spread, spread quickly, and be trouble if it goes where it shouldn’t.

The battle was fought by the LAFD and the US Forest Service – and they brought out some pretty big guns.  Most of the fire was off the roads, so ground units would have trouble.  So the fliers were flying.  There were two ‘super soakers’ in play; converted float planes that would fly to a lake or reservoir, and while ‘landing’ scoop up a few thousand gallons of water … the two would fly in tandem and hit the same location within seconds before heading back for more water.  Their path had them coming through every 20 minutes or so.  There were water drop helicopters too, but they seemed set up for very specific drops … almost like they had fire hoses sticking out of the bottom.  The real cool stuff happened when the ‘slurry soakers’ came through.  These are modified big jets — DC-9s, DC-10s, even a 747.  They were filled with a red slurry used as a fire deterrent.  In these conditions, they are used much like a fire line, putting down a place where the fighter intend to stand their ground … and they were clearly effective throughout the fight.

Probably the point I saw it at it’s most effective was the only point I was really nervous.  Throughout the fire, it was always on the ‘other side of the ridge’.  I could see smoke, the glow of flames, but no actual fire.  Sometimes something would spring up at the top of a ridge, but it seemed isolated.  Saturday night around 7PM I was sitting out with the pup, and saw how the flames were getting brighter around one edge.  Right before my eyes, the fire lept over the ridge, and started quickly to move down.  Within a minute or two, an acre around that ridgetop was aflame.  All I could think was that if much more of that fire crested the ridge, this whole side of the mountain could go up … and then the whole valley was at risk.  As I sat there and dreaded it, the lights of the super soakers crossed in front of the flames, and slowly the orange grew to black.  From that point on, the rest of the fire was fought on the other side of the ridge.

Still, that threat was enough to evacuate people on our side of ridge.  I freaked out a little when I saw that the evacuation zone ended just 4 blocks from my house; but a scout of that area this morning kinda cooled me off a bit.  The houses over there were much more surrounded by brush, much more on the up slope of the fire, and if the fire did come down it would have had to jump a drainage ditch … so I was pretty safe.  In fact, I was super safe through this whole adventure.  Most people were.

These battles were apparent throughout the day on Saturday, and continued relentlessly overnight.  Sunday’s winds changed to send it southerly; which bothered most of LA with the bad air quality.  However, the wind was now blowing the fire back towards where it already had burned .. and everywhere else was far from homes.

At 4PM Sunday, it was announced that the weather has turned ‘favorable’, and evacuations were lifted everywhere.  By 6PM, we could see what he meant … as the first rains in months started to move in over the mountains.  We awoke this morning to see our cars not covered in ash, but covered in water — rain had fallen, and fallen hard.  Smoke still rises from the mountain, but not in the great mushroom cloud plumes.  The air is still rough, my throat is scratchy, my nose is clogged, my eyes are crusty, but my house is still standing and my dog is itching for a walk.

So I am going to say we survived this fire … even if the brunch plans didn’t.

What I Really Bought

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So guess what, I’m in my new house.

Yeah, whoopedeedo, right?  I mean, I haven’t stopped talking about this new house in these blogs for a bit but come on, this is one of those ‘we made it’ posts.

Friday, the movers came and shifted me over to the new place (FYI – was a bit more than I suggested, cause never trust your own estimate, I guess).  Friday night, I spent the first night in the house.  Saturday was getting things in order to actually get a dog to live in the house.  Sunday, picked up the dog and he got the feel for the new digs.  Last night was our first night together … which was a bit rocky in part because someone had to get up a couple of times to growl at something … not sure what, because the windows in the place aren’t low enough to see anything.

The thing is … whenever you buy a place, you really don’t know what you bought until you get in there.  You can have all these grand plans, but some of them, if not all of them get thrown right out the window as soon as you get in there.

My main worry was if the pup was going to enjoy it.  He never really was happy in Boston, but then again, neither was I.  The pup, though, seems to be pretty happy with the place so far.  The back yard is smaller than the rental house, but he did get a little bit of stupid running around.  He likes the decks, and likes running up and down the thing.  There’s grass for him to eat, because he seems to like eating the grass for some dog reason despite me yelling at him not to (and despite him coughing it up right away).  He gets a bit of jump whenever the AC turns on, but definitely prefers it — one time he begged me to take him out to do his business, it was the heat of the day, and he couldn’t get the job done and back inside fast enough.  He’s not a huge fan of the all wood floors, since he gets no traction getting around corners (but that is probably the best part of wood floors in my opinion).  He’s scared of the toilet … there’s a reason for that, but it’s funny as hell to leave the statement “he’s scared of the toilet” without any explanation.

For me, getting in there made me acutely aware how much work I had to do.  There’s a lot of work ahead this week, and a heck of a lot of money to be spent too.  I mean … I have way too much stuff for this house.  Seemingly every nook and cranny was stuffed with cardboard boxes.  The trouble with this is that means you have to create routes and paths to get to things.  Like … a bathroom … or my underwear.  On that subject, I am in a bad way when it comes to putting clothes someplace.  The closet in the room I am using as a bedroom is hard to get into regularly since the (queen) bed is a little too big for this room to open the closet door completely … and before you ask, no I am not getting a smaller frickin bed, it’s not worth it for this closet.  The other bedroom has a much easier to access and bigger closet … but no shelves.  The hanger pole is also buckling from the weight of my wardrobe too.  The solution will require a trip to IKEA … which will be the fourth for something for this house (and believe me, will be a blog on itself).  It means building all that too, but with four pieces of IKEA things built already, and six more to go when it isn’t too hot outside, I should become a pro of Swedish engineering soon enough.

That and I will need a kitchen at some point.  I mean, I have a fridge.  I have a microwave … that is not aging well.  I don’t have a stove.  And I will not last without a dishwasher.  So, that debt will come along sooner rather than later.

In the end, though, this is all logistics.  It’s all steps towards making a house a home.  The purpose of which is to figure out why I want to be here, and I had a moment Saturday morning.  Sleeping in, I got up around 7am, just as the sun breached over the San Gabriel Mountains and cast it’s golden glow onto the Vedugo Mountains no more than 5 miles in front of my house.  I know the sun did this, because I watched it.  Surrounded in all those boxes, unassembled furniture pieces, and not enough motivation to get to work … I enjoyed the first of what I expect to be hundreds and hundreds of beautiful sunrises.

Maybe that’s why I had such a productive weekend .. I could see for the first time what I really bought, and it was more than just closets and walls and AC and grass.  It was that view that I will get to see for a long long time.

From One Procrastination To The Next

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Tomorrow marks the last great step towards fully locking myself down to California.  Somewhere between 8 and 9AM a moving two guys & a truck show up at my house in Montrose, those two guys put the stuff in the truck, and then the truck & two guys come with me the four blocks to my house in La Crescenta so they they can take the stuff from the truck into said house.  I mean, I could have said “Two Guys & a Truck” are moving me, but that just sounds like an advertisement for a moving company (that I just happen to be using).  Bear with me, this all sounded a lot funnier in my head. I mean … this is funnier if you folks know common names for moving companies … but then again … … I give up, I’m tired.

People tell me how stressful moving is.  I’d believe them if it was stressful for me.  But since this is about the fourth move I did a household move in the last 5 years, I think I would know if I get stressed or not.  Each time seems to get a little less stressful, because I think each time I get a little bit lazier.  If you want to know my secret to being so low stress on a move, it comes down to two things:

  • Hiring Movers
  • Procrastination

Hiring movers is the big thing.  First of all, you don’t have to cash in a single favor from someone with at truck.  I mean, if you ever wanted to test a friendship, tell someone you need them to haul furniture.  Sure they may say ‘beer and pizza’ but for one, how do they keep the beer cold if the fridge is moving, and for two guess what happens when the guy needs to go pick up the pizza – that’s right, you keep working.

Besides, movers just do everything faster, easier, and better.  I’ll probably end up spending about $300 for the work they will do tomorrow, but I don’t have to lift anything.  I don’t have to carry anything.  I don’t have to sweat about breaking anything.  It all just goes zip zip zip and into the truck, and zip zip zip out of the truck.  It would be more awesome if I made them pack and unpack everything but I didn’t even unpack everything from when I moved in this January.  Seriously, if you ever had to move, consider getting movers to do everything for you — you may think you can do it better and cheaper, but I am telling you — ever ten dollars you spend will seem like getting an hour of your life back.

Procrastination … well, that’s part me being funny, but there is madness to my method.  The worst part about moving is the ‘endless in-between’.  Trying to decide what to pack and when.  I mean, if I put my microwave into a box last week, how would I be able to cook my hot pockets all this week?  Or more importantly, how was I going to get stupid drinking $40 bottles of wine if I packed up my Red Solo Cups already?  Waiting as long as possible to do my packing meant I literally had all the comforts of home, in my home.

Now, that does mean I am going to have a long and difficult night getting everything ready tonight for the move.  It won’t help that I will have the pup in boarding to not get in the way of anything … won’t help because a) I need to make the round trip to get him to boarding in LA rush hour traffic, and b) I won’t have him waking me up at 2, 3, or 4 am to look at the raccoons outside, so I will probably fall asleep early and oversleep tomorrow.

I’d like to say by Friday night I should be ready to settle into the new home without a care in the world but … well … Brewers are playing the Dodgers tomorrow, so I am putting off unpacking for baseball.

So yeah … from one procrastination to the other.

Top-Ish Lists: Early Overrated Eclipse Photos

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You would have had to been in a coma or something to miss the big celestial event that happened yesterday.  Across North America, a total solar eclipse darkened our skies on a pretty much incredible day practically everywhere it could be seen.  I watched the event at work, but JPL was well south of the totality – we had about 60% coverage by us.  Still, since we are a NASA center there was some interest.  Out on our Mall (the large open area in the center of the Lab) the crowds gathered and stared skyward with our flimsy paper glasses and a few solar telescopes.  JPL’s research tends not to be solar (with most of what we do looking at either Earth or Mars); so we weren’t the big attraction for the event.  Still it was a good time, and a happy place to experience everything.

What I did love was all the great pictures that are out there from all over the country.  From shots by amateur astrologers to great photos from NASA itself, there was so much out there that in the early hours to love.  In a race to share with you, I thought I would make a Top-Ish list out of them.

The rules, because there are always rules – this time its more about covering my own ‘eclipse’ then establishing boundaries, you’ll get what I mean:

  • I don’t own these photos.  I pulled them from public locations and sharing them at no cost to you.  If you look for a given photo and it doesn’t show up, it’s likely because I got in trouble for sharing it.
  • Only those photos I can verify the source for are included
  • They have to be from the yesterday’s eclipse.  So, no ‘artist renderings’ or shots from some other eclipse event at any other time or location.
  • This is based on my rash decisions as of 24 hours after the event … not sometime in the future when possibly other cool pics came out

So here we go … in order of ‘None of your business what order it is in’ here is:

The Top-7ish Aug 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Photos Mitch Found on the Internet Without Much Searching

1) Great Ball of Fire

Credit: NASA SDO

Eclipses remind us all not just that the things that swirl in space can move across one another every so often, but reminds us what is behind those things.  The sun, with all it’s simple gifts of light, heat, and an awesome tan … is a furious ball of fire.  In the early moments of the transits, NASA picked up this shot.

 

2) Last Glimmer of Light

Credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA

One of the things that always intreagues me about eclipses and other celestrial events is that as much as we understand these things, people of old didn’t.  The way the sky grew errily darker.  The way the sun seems to shift and change just because something is in the way.  This shot embraces that idea.  Taken over Madras, OR as the last bit of the moon moves in front of the Sun, it seems like there is a fight to show one last hint of something before it all goes dark.  I can see those from simpler times reacting to this, and changing everything they know and believe.

 

3) View From Above

Credit: NASA

Taken from the International Space Station, this shot is of the shadow the moon cast on Earth.  That black spot?  That’s what happens when something blocks out the sun.  From up here you can see how much of the planet was covered by that shadow, how many people could see it.  It was just that big!

 

4) View From Below (aka Orbital Photobomb)

Credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA

The last photo was taken by ISS, this one is taken OF ISS.  A composite of multiple exposures, the line of black dots going across the sun is none other than the International Space Station.  You get up close and you can see the solar panels & structure clearly against the sun.

 

5) Across The Sky 

Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Speaking of composite images, this is a series taken over Ross Lake, in Northern Cascades National Park, Washington.  The progression nicely shows how over time the sun goes away and comes back.

 

6) Panorama

Credit: NASA Langley, Harlen Capen and George Homich

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Better in it’s full spectrum, this shot helps to see how the sky is affected, and how awesome the eclipse can look at the right angle.

 

7) Totality

Credit: NASA

Totality in an eclipse is defined as the moment when the moon completely blocks out the sun.  In as such, all that can be seen is the massive solar corona.  In more poetic terms, it is the point where the moon seems to be burned alive leaving the blackness of it behind.  This is the totality as witnessed over Idaho Falls, ID.

 

I am sure we will see more great photos to come out in the weeks and months to come.  As folks get their hands on Photoshop, they surely will either enhance this great event – or ruin it by turning it into a meme.

Regardless, I hope you had a chance to experience the eclipse, and it was an enjoyable event for all.

Pupdate — The Vermin Watcher

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Movers will be arriving next week to make the official transition back into homeowner status.  To be honest, I’ve been putting off work to make that transition.  In part because it is easy to wallow in that ‘buyer’s remorse’ mindset when you got a fair bit to do to make the move (without having loads to do that is).  Yet I am going to be ready to make the move just to get the pup there; more than anything, I am ready to get that little jerk someplace new.

Over the seven months we have lived in Montrose, I have seen good things develop in Auggie the Doggie.  Early after our move, he struggled a bit, and acted out in ways that made me wonder if he was really adjusting well.  Having all the travel I had scared me a little, but it actually was a good thing.  While boarding, he is around other dogs, their smells, and their noise.  While he doesn’t interact with them directly (legal reasons), just having exposure to humans who are me and strange dogs (who surprisingly aren’t me either) seems to have calmed him some.

That’s to say, it hasn’t been a smooth ride in the rental house with the pup.  The front room of the house has two sections of floor-to-ceiling windows, one set having slat windows to open up and let air in.  The pup loves hanging there to watch the world go by.  The slatted window especially because anything comes near gets a good sniff.

Problem is, Montrose, it turns out, is a vermin-friendly town.  More like, there is a high number of little creatures walking around outside.  It’s not uncommon that folks let their cats roam free, and … well … of course … dogs and cats are like dogs and cats.  Also, racoons frequent the neighborhood too.  I think possums may come around, but I can’t always tell.  Regardless, there is a very popular dividing wall between my house and the next one over.  It’s perfect for any creature to crawl up to make it to the next street full of garbage cans and yummies.  This wall, just also happens to be no more than two feet from the slatted window.  So … let’s say Ricky Raccoon is out for his nightly crawl around, and moves up the wall.  Auggie the Doggie notices him and gives a friendly … erm … more like ‘bat-sh*t crazy’ … hello.  Since this is night time, and I’ve usually fallen asleep on the couch with a glass of wine in my hand, you can guess my reaction to the pup’s observations.

Thing is, he would head over there anytime he smells something.  So let’s say he is out and about at 2AM; guess who he wakes up in the effort to give that friendly hello.

Not just that, the rental doesn’t have air conditioning.  It’s been well over the 90s for most of the summer, and when the wind isn’t blowing (or I have to keep the damn slatted window closed because I don’t want him tearing through the screen to get at whatever is out for a walk), the house stays hot for most of the night.  I don’t know about you, but it can be very difficult trying to sleep when a panting dog is doing a vulture impersonation watching for vermin at the edge of the bed.

So I have had to kennel up Auggie at night more often than not these last few months.  This is something he generally puts up with, but he has his limits – especially when I am around (even if I am sleeping).  When he decides he has had enough of the kennel, he’ll start to whimper, and won’t stop until I let him out or he whimpers himself out (which can take sometimes two to three hours).  I’d like to say he only does this when I am trying to sleep in … but more typically we are talking 2 or 3AM.

Like today.  Not only did I have to deal with him ‘saying hello’ out the window at 11PM, the whimpering got underway at 2:30am … and I’ve been up since 3am.

When we get into the house, there are no low windows for him to yelp at things.  There is air conditioning for him to sleep easily.  And there is all the reason for the pup to make it through the night without waking daddy.  Maybe that means he won’t get the vermin interaction he’s had the last few months, but dangit … I’m ready to get a little shuteye.