Archive for April, 2012

Goodnight, Little Bear

04/23/2012

So at 4 PM today, my dog, Shadow D. Dog, went in to the vet’s for the last time.  We had to put her down after 15 good years with us.  She was the best damn friend not related by blood I’ve ever had, and certainly the longest.  To be honest, I’m pretty torn up about it.  Yes, she was “just a dog,” but damn it, she was my dog.  I don’t want this post to be one long sob story, so I’m going to share a series of stories that are fonder memories.  These thoughts are not necessarily in any order other than how they come to me.

When we went to get a dog the Spring of when I was 13, we got one from a rescue agency that rescued dogs from other rescue agencies (apparently, in Texas, rescue agencies fill up and will occasionally put dogs down after a year or two).  The woman brought out well over 20 dogs, ranging in size and shape.  I remember that when they first got out of her truck, I was drawn to a big, fluffy sheep dog.  It was roughly the same size as I was at the time and was awesome.  It also had mange, and my parents gently steered me away from him.  Then there was this little black and white dog that was tiny by comparison.  We were told she was a Border Collie, and her markings bore that out.  We didn’t realize at the time that in fact she was a Border Corgi (half-Border Collie, half-Corgi).  She just kinda strayed from the pack of dogs who were all being…well…stupid dogs.  She stood on her own (something we would later attribute to probably being raised with cats) and, as a result, stood out.  Because of her ears and her stature, she looked like a small bear (hence the title of this post).  We walked a number of the dogs, and we settled on this peculiar specimen.  On the ride home, we were trying to come up with a name for her, and we agreed on Shadow, in part because of my love for the book/movie “The Incredible Journey.”

We had Shadow a few weeks and we noticed that she had a chewing problem.  At the time, she was given reign of the house at night and she often chewed the spines of books.  This did not sit well with my parents, as we have a relatively large library (for those of you who haven’t been to my folks’ house, it’s got 9 book cases in the living room alone).  With a little research, we realized that Border Collies chew when they’re nervous and not exercised enough.  We also learned that five-mile runs are warm-ups for Border Collies…so we were a little nervous.  Thankfully, she had Corgi legs, so two miles was about her limit, and most of that at a trot rather than a run.  Once we sorted that out, a general peace was held in the Dalton household as there was no way I was giving this dog back.

Shadow cemented her place in the home, however, the following Thanksgiving.  I was sick as a dog (proverbially).  I slept all day, woke up for dinner, ate about four bites of food, and then went back to bed.  Shadow was a notorious beggar and if there was food, she was never more than a few steps away, looking at you with big, sad eyes.  However, this day, despite all of the delicious food (I assume, as my mother’s cooking is excellent, I don’t really remember much other than throwing up), Shadow stayed in my room at the foot of my bed all day.  I was informed of this a few days later when I was feeling better.  My mom fell in love with her then, because the dog was taking care of her baby boy.

In Texas, there are no leash laws (or at least there weren’t then), and in an attempt to help her get her exercise, Shadow was often let out in the mornings.  Across the street, there was a Bichon Frise named Jake who was also let out in the mornings.  Apparently, Shadow’s mind couldn’t differentiate between Bichon Frise and sheep (both Border Collies and Corgis are used to herd them), and one day, She ran across the street at full-tilt, lowered her head, and slammed into Jake’s ribs knocking him down, which is apparently used to move sheep in the direction you want.

Also, because she was unsupervised, Shadow would often come home covered in mud.  At the time, we had an in-ground pool.  When she would come home filthy, we would send her out to the pool, make her stand on the top step, and then clean her off as best we could without soap.  One day, she came home and immediately went to the back door.  We were all surprised because she’d just come in.  Shadow was let out, and she then proceeded to trot over to the pool unprompted, stand on the top step, and wait until someone came and cleaned her.  This is only made funnier by the fact that she hated water, as her short, Corgi legs didn’t aid her in swimming.

The last story of her roaming the streets of Beaumont is possibly the funniest.  As most owners with a dog are wont to do, we tried to train Shadow to fetch the newspaper.  Problem: she’s a herd-dog.  In her head, we didn’t want our paper, we wanted all the papers.  We would often come out after letting her out to find 10 to 20 newspapers piled at the end of our walk.  If you’re in Beaumont and from our old neighborhood, sorry about that.  This was a behavior we tried to break her of, which I’m sure only confused her further.  “But you said you wanted these?  WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?!?”  I can hear her say in my head.  After we realized what she understood, we stopped asking, which was probably for the best.

It wasn’t uncommon to find small herds of frogs rounded up into circles with an ever-watching dog near-by in the mornings.  If one of the frogs tried to hop away, Shadow would circle and it would realize that there was a much larger animal prepared to nip it if it continued in its behavior.  The frog would then hop back into formation, and the dog would circle and sit back down.  Shadow was also notorious for herding children and our family if we took her for bike rides.  She would weave behind us to make sure we were riding in line and if we weren’t, she’d run up and force us over and then take up her position in back of the pack.  Come to think of it, she was probably the smartest damn animal I’ve ever known, and was probably smarter than most of my classmates in the Philosophy department.  I definitely got along with her better than most of them, at least.

When we lived in Texas, it wasn’t uncommon to leave her in the back yard for long periods of time (a couple hours).  Shadow also had the Border Collie tendency of digging.  My mother is a gardener, and she was less than pleased by this behavior.  We built a pen for Shadow behind the garage, and this was her abode while we were gone.  We nicknamed the pen, “The Cooler,” after the holding cell in “The Great Escape.”  She hated that damn thing.  She tried to dig out, she actually tried to chew out at one point.  One day, after about two years of its use, we realized she had learned to behave as we wanted, so we didn’t need The Cooler any more.  My dad and I took it out in a couple hours while Shadow lounged inside (Texas summers are…hot…in case you didn’t know).  After we were done, my dad came inside and said, “Okay, Shadow, Cooler,” to which the dog responded by getting up, looking sad and dejected, and trotting to the area the pen was with her head down.  As she rounded the corner, she saw that the pen was gone, and she was happy.  She actually smiled.

After about two-and-a-half years in Texas with her, we moved back to Virginia.  She handled the drive back like a champ, if not confused.  We got back in late August, and I’m pretty sure she was happiest when it began to cool off.  She had a thick coat, and I can only imagine that Texas heat was fucking miserable for her.  It was for me, and I’m only covered over about 60 percent of my body in fur.  A few Winters later, it snowed pretty heavily (about two-and-a-half to three feet).  Shadow wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed.  We let her out and she walked out, and promptly fell into a dog-shaped hole.  She looked around, undoubtedly confused, and then hopped up and over the bank in front of her only to fall into another dog-shaped hole.  This proceeded for several minutes.  She still seemed happy.  Apparently, in the snowmageddon of a few years ago, there were snow banks so high she could have easily walked over the four-foot fence around our yard, but she was content to have a change of perspective.

The dog helped me move out of my parents’ house and into my first college dorm, and then every one subsequent to it.  She helped me move a few times after, too, and she often came to visit when my parents were going out of town.

Shadow was a great dog, and I’ll never find one to replace her.  Not to say I won’t own other dogs, but none of them are the same, and I can’t expect them to be.  I loved that dog more than I like most people.  Maybe that’s a comment about some disordered thing in me, but it’s the truth.

I wrote a haiku about her when I got the news last week that this day was coming (I knew, in the hypothetical sense that it was an inevitability, but it didn’t become real until it was).  You’ll find it below, along with one of my favorite pictures of her.

Goodnight, beloved

Your memory lives on if

I am who you thought

Image

So.  With all that in mind, I love you, Shadow.  I hope there are sheep – or at least Bichon Frise – to chase in Heaven.

Love,

Your Boy

Super Powers

04/15/2012

Hey everybody, today’s post is going to be a bit of a departure from the norm, but may become a norm in and of itself.  I’ve always found the responses give to completely unrealistic hypotheticals to be a good way for me to learn something I may have overlooked in getting to know them (or, if I’m just meeting them, a good way to get to know them and the way they think).

So, in light of the above, I messaged a couple people and asked the following question: What are your top three desired super powers and why.  Some of you were better about responding to the first part than the second, but I appreciate it anyway.  I’m hoping those of you that did not will expand on your reasoning in the comments, and, of course, if I didn’t message you about it, I’d love to see your three in the comments as well.  Hope you enjoy.  Each section will be followed by “-end-” to let you know where their reasoning ends and my commentary begins.

Jon M. responds:

1) Aquaman: i don’t know how to specify the “power” here, but Aquaman, despite being a lame superhero has the greatest powers of all time. Flight is for suckers. the sky is blue and empty. the only way that flight becomes worthwhile is if your peers can see you fly and envy you. that’s stupid. the abilitiy to see, breathe, maneuver and survive underwater at all depths and pressures is tops. Swimming is like flight, except that there’s still so much of the world that remains unexplored. there are cave systems and creatures and depths left untouched. you can still see beauty and mystery in the world and you don’t need external human validation. Also, it’s apparently a big deal that james cameron has built a new submarine from scratch, dove to the bottom of the mariana trench and found nothing. imagine how great it would be to walk on the floor of the sea and to see nothing, or see something, and to decide what to do with that information.

2) Reference: to this day, i imagine what it would be like to have the power of infinite reference. the power goes as follows: at any time, i can pull up a floating tv/movie/computer screen that plays back specific moments in history. “that’s not what i said” becomes obsolete when you can show that exact moment to the person you’re talking to. i haven’t quite figured out the flaw to the power. there needs to be specific limitations, lest the power simply be omniscience after-the-fact.

3)shape shifting: not to be confused with Mimicry, shape shifting would allow for appearing differently. nothing else. Shifting to the appearance of someone else (not necessarily a real, corporeal form) for an extended period of time would be amazing. you could become a person, animal or fictional character. but only visually. if you transformed into a bird, you would have to learn how to maneuver your body to fly. if you transformed into a fish, you would not be able to breathe underwater because you would not have gills.

i suppose if i wanted to take this less seriously, i’d just make myself God. Power 1) Omniscience. Power 2)Omnipotence. and Power 3) Omnipresence. but for some reason, i think that all superpowers require a limitation in order for them to be appreciated. This is why Marvel comics faltered so hard in the late 90’s/early 00’s. They kept trying to introduce new characters/mutants with new powers. but in order to make them competitive in the already crowded/oversaturated hero market (and to hope that these new characters started new moneymaking franchises), these powers became almost too powerful. so out of respect for the question, all three of my powers have limitations in addition to power.

-end-

First, I appreciate Jon’s requirement for limitation on super powers.  I agree with him, which is one reason I’ve never really liked Superman – a superhero so powerful that we have to make up a weakness for him/her is lame.  I also love his argument for Aquaman.  Aquaman gets kicked around a lot, because, let’s face it, he’s useless when it comes to fighting crime (yes, yes, I know the reboot made him more badass and awesome).  But the powers themselves are cool.  Maybe he just sucks at using them?

Shape-shifting in such a limited form is a really interesting concept.  I think I like that better than mimicry, honestly.

Robyn C. responds:

1) telekinesis. Laziness means not having to get up to get the remote. Wrestling the last garlic knot away from someone becomes much easier. And if I try hard enough, I can fly without wings or whatever.

2. Invisibility. Makes people watching easier. Or just watching sexy men get naked in locker rooms.

3. Flight. Because I wanna be like a fuckin’ dragon.

-end-

For those of you that don’t know Robyn, she does have dragon wings on her back…so…I’m not terribly surprised by #3.  Though, honestly, I’m not really surprised by any of her responses.

Stephanie J. responds:

Beast Master: because being able to turn into any animal can encompass [virtual] invisibility, flight, inhuman speed and strength, and a slew of other powers. Not to mention how awesome the whole “I’m a bobcat” part would be just in itself.

Telepathy: because I’d like people to have no avenue for denial when I tell them things about themselves they’d rather not acknowledge.

Green Thumb: I like plants…I’d like to be much, much better at not killing them.

-end-

Regarding telepathy, just because you know they’re lying and they know they’re lying doesn’t mean they’d be any more willing to acknowledge it without a playback method maybe?

Would Beast Master include the ability to change into protozoa or something that small, or when you say “virtual” invisibility, do you mean like ants?

M-A-T-T responds:

Telekinetic, telepathy, green lantern

-end-

Love to hear your reasoning if you have the time.

Matt R., or as he will now be known, The White Bombadier (specifically in reference to #3 below) responds:

1. Flight – I could go anywhere, anytime.
2. Super Speed – Again, the ability to go anywhere but in a short amount of time.
3. Whatever Gambit has the makes him blow up cards – you never know when you’ll need some light demolition.

-end-

I find it interesting that two of your powers are related to travel, and the third, destruction.  The answer you were looking for in regards to Gambit’s power is the ability to turn the potential energy in an object into kinetic energy. *pushes glasses back up*

Lawton C. (though the last initial is probably unnecessary.  How many Lawtons will you meet in life?) responds:

ability to fly
indestructability (at least at times when I wanted it)
telekinesis, or at least the ability to accurately direct a projectile to any point I can see

-end-

Again, love to see some explanation.

Elizabeth C. writes:

1. Telekinesis – similar to Xavier. I feel as though it would give me a lot more understanding about how other people felt if I was debating something (which I’m not really sure that it would be morally ethical to really reach into their minds and feel that for myself, but since this is a hypothetical I won’t loose sleep over it). Also I feel as though my smarts would increase. And I’d ace every chemistry test I’d ever have to take.  This might increase laziness but eh….
2. Ability to change form – similar to Mistique/Tonks? Disguise is always useful. Also in a more mundane manner – I’d never have to deal with the bullshit hair problems that many women deal with. If I want curly hair I have it, no time wasted.
3. Control over the way things grow. And I’m not just talking plants. If I could grow steel (create molecule bonding?), that would be awesome. Also rocks. Growing rocks would be cool.

-end-

By the way, your superhero name is now Petrosaurus Desidiosus.  Don’t get mad when you translate it.

Christine M.:

1. Teleportation, so I never have to buy plane tickets again
2. The ability to turn things into chocolate, because it’s delicious
3. The ability to speak and understand all foreign language, for when I teleport around the world so I can really enjoy my visits

-end-

Again with the travel.  #2 may is either brilliantly creative or a still-creative-twist on a children’s moral story where you’ve replaced “gold” with “chocolate,” which may have been done already (in which case we’re totally not trying to infringe on any copyrights, Internet).

B:

1. Teleportation. This is more important to me than flying because it’s so instantaneous.

2. Complete and total Indestructibility. Anything from getting shot to passing through the sun. This would give me the ability to explore everything I want and protect those who need help.

3. Selective omniscience. I don’t want to know everything at once, but I want to know the things I want to know. For instance, if I’m curious about how a combustion engine works, I would just know. Things I don’t think about would be irrelevant.

-end-

Would you only be able to teleport to visible locations a la early The Incredible Nightcrawler?  Or would you end up traveling through some alternate dimension a la late The Incredible Nightcrawler?  Or would you just teleport?

Bear R.:

Teleportation for sure. Shapeshifting is cool. Super strength would be useful. I’m already indestructible and have extremely heightened attractiveness so I dont need to adjust that.

-end-

So modest, too.

Lucas H.:

1. Regeneration/Healing – (like Wolverine or Deadpool) To be able to go out do thing that I know will hurt, but wont stop me would be awesome. I like the idea of invulnerability, but it leads to a level of arrogance and boredom. The loss of emotions like fear and pain would lead to a kind of detachment that could be crippling.

2. Telekinesis – (like Cable) being able to manipulate objects with my mind would be extremely helpful in the day-to-day. Especially when you are working on some thing and you need a “third hand” or you cant reach something. It would also be helpful when stuck in traffic because having to wait for some group of morons to learn how to merge is aggravating. Just lift your car and head home.

I have a tie for third. I like both of these powers, but would be happy to have either (and disappointed for not having the other).

Create Pocket Dimensions of Infinite Holding – Just awesome! Never have to take a bag anywhere and you could go anywhere and have your stuff on hand at all times. Who wouldn’t want this ability?!

Instant Learning -Like in The Matrix (but without the plug up). The idea of being able to learn/understand/use any thing/concept/skill that see or hear could prove to more useful in life, but I only want it just cause.

-end-

Dude, great list.  I love the answer about the pockets of infinite holding.  Would you be creating infinite space or simply accessing another plane?

Katherine M.:

1. ability to pause time – just because there is never enough time
2. invisibility – so I can play tricks on people and explore anywhere I want
3.Teleportation – just because it would be very useful and money saving

-end-

I see you and your sister think alike regarding #3.  Would pausing time pause time for everyone or just you?  And would pausing time also pause space for everyone but you/those you choose or would space continue as normal without time?

Itinerant Intolerance:

I’d like to be able to change states of matter, like solid to liquid, liquid to gas, etc.  It’s just neat.

I’d like to retain images perfectly.  Better than so-called photographic memory.

I want to be able to read and understand things instantly.

The last two are because they’re of the mind, and that’s kind of my style.

-end-

Another well-thought list.  I do think I’d get bored being able to read/understand instantly, though.  It might reduce the need for thinking things through.

Alright, I’ve asked questions and posted the responses of others, I suppose it’s only fair that I share my list (though I am tempted to just steal a couple from the above lists because they’re so well-reasoned).  These are listed in no particular order.

The ability to teleport, preferably long distances, but I’d accept even just places I can see because if you get far enough west where it’s flat, that’s still possibly more than a mile a jump.  I would prefer being able to just jump rather than the alternate dimension option, as there are shadow creatures there who are trying to murder me. *pushes glasses up*

I’d like to be able to absorb and recycle force/energy – kinda like Gambit’s powers, but also kinda like invulnerability (at least to physical attacks).  I would be able to absorb, say, a punch or being hit by a car and then store that energy (possibly for only a limited amount of time) and transfer that energy 1:1 for some other purpose – maybe add the energy into a punch of my own (making my punches about 1.5xs the power of normal people, since, y’know, I punch at like .5xs the power of normal people now) or take being hit by a car and use that force to be able to jump a ridiculous height or distance (though, I suppose a possible flaw with this would be that I wouldn’t have super healing or a super healthy [is that the right word?] body, so landing might kill me…but…I don’t know).

I would also love the regenerative powers of Wolvie/Deadpool.  Much like Lucas, I appreciate that there would be physical consequences which wouldn’t be there with true invulnerability, but I would be able to recover from them so much faster that it would be worth doing.  I wouldn’t necessarily want the whole “survive decapitation” or “be brought back from a drop of blood” (I don’t care that that took a wish from the Red Witch, it was too far), but I’d like to be able to be badly injured/killed in “normal” ways (bullet to the heart, heart regenerates and starts again – ’cause, y’know, that’s not too far).

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my friends, and for those of you that know each other, I hope you like piecing together who’s who.

Friendship

04/03/2012

So, over the past two weeks or so, I’ve been very fortunate for a number of reasons.  This post will address one of them.

I’ve had a lot of Heavy, Deep, and Real conversations (HDRs from here on) with some really close friends and some pretty good acquaintances.  The term is one that my dad introduced me to (I think) regarding conversations of substance on any range of topics.  They’ve been pretty awesome for me, and hopefully the others involved.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to those of you who read this and are brutally honest with me and allow me to be brutally honest with you because it’s stuff like that that keeps me going.  It’s all I can ask of friendship, even if hearing something isn’t always easy.

So, again, thanks.