Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dale here:

Solar energy is a great alternative fuel source for many things: cars, calculators, houses. Most of these have a mechanism for using an alternate fuel source when the sun isn't out. What I need is an alternative mechanism to turn OFF the solar-energy source on my dog when the sun is 5:30 in the morning. Let me describe what happens in my apartment every day at about that hour.

5:29 Dale peacefully sleeping, dog peacefully sleeping (I assume. Dog may be creating nuclear fusion, but at least she is doing it quietly).
5:30 Dog receives mysterious solar signal from 8.1 light years away and springs to action. Dale still peacefully sleeping, which puts serious crimp in dog's plans.
5:31. First clicks of claws on wood floor. Dog stations herself next to bed and, when Dale does not intuitively leap into air, leash in hand, and propose a quick marathon, dog begins little skeeter-one-foot-in-reverse, inch-forward-with-maximum-claw-clicking dance. Click, skeeter, repeat.
5:35 If Dale has managed to ignore this call to arms, dog adds whining/panting soundtrack.
5:39 If Dale has not responded with sufficient enthusiasm, dog turns herself into the canine spatula, inserting nose under Dale's inert body and lifting. Whining, clicking, skeetering continue.

Now, I do not oppose the 5:30 out of some theoretical dislike for mornings. I have very good practical reasons for not wanting to go outside at such an hour. Among them:

1) I do not think very clearly at 5:30. I may look in the mirror before going out, but I will not register anything that I see. Thus it is very likely that I will meet the neighborhood with no pants, hair displaced entirely to one side of my head and vertically aligned, and different socks.

2) I am being tugged by an 16 lb. animal who believes she can stop a moving car. Usually it is my steel-like grip of traffic and physics laws which keeps us from ending our walk on the underside of an SUV. At 5:30, the only thing I have a steel-like grip on is my bed as Sancha tries to pry me out of it.

3) When I do start to come to, I frequently notice that there are a lot of other people out in the park at this hour. Are they groggily being dragged by their dogs? No. They are running, pushing strollers, doing tai-chi, and otherwise achieving more before they head off to what I assume to be super-productive jobs than I usually accomplish in a week. This is not good for my self-esteem.

4) Once Sancha has done what she needs to do and I am back home, it is now 6AM and I have absolutely no reason to be awake and no intention to do so. But when I return to bed I have to start my sleep cycle all over, which cuts to zero the chances that I will be a functional human being again before noon. At which point I have to take the dog out for a walk, and I encounter the people mentioned in #3 now taking their lunch breaks (power-walking with their Power Bars), which is just about the final stroke of death to my self-esteem. In order to restore any sense of human worth, I am forced to stay up until 3 AM, which then makes it REALLY annoying to find a dog's nose under my kidneys just two and a half hours later.

5) When I do wake up for the day at whatever shameful hour, I have very foggy memories of what I did and did not do during wake-up #1. Did I feed the dog? Brush my teeth? No major harm from brushing my teeth a second time, but Sancha's increasing girth suggests that she is taking advantage of my morning doubts. When I do wake up with a very clear memory of feeding the dog, I often notice that I also have a very clear memory of, oh, say, buying a miniature Dachsund that turned out to be a rat and then accidentally leaving the store without paying for a knit stocking-cap and then donating it to a tapdancing homeless person in a Detroit Tigers jacket. Sancha knows just how to point out the logical fallacies in this actually having happened, making the connection to the impossibility of self-knowledge or objectivity, and somehow I end up feeding her again.

Well, I know this is an exercise in futility as Sancha can't possibly use the computer, but I just felt like getting it off my chest. The days are getting shorter, at least--I might get until 5:32 tomorrow!

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