It’s (Not) 2s Day

Drat! A day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes. I started off this morning writing a post to commemorate the 2/22/22 date but quickly realized I’d need a time machine to pull that off. Between yesterday’s blizzard and working on an upcoming post about Plato and geometry, I lost track of the date (a peril of being retired — dates don’t matter much anymore).

Not that I had anything date-specific to post about, and plenty of other bloggers did post, so no great loss. But having started, I may as well keep going.

Even if all I have are some very tiny treats.

Aren’t those tiny Milk Bones adorable? The box said they were mini, but I was still surprised at how tiny they are. I bought them a couple of weeks ago because it’s February, the month where BentleyMom flees to Florida, and I get to dog-sit my good pal Bentley for ten days.

The only downside is that, as just mentioned, it’s February in Minnesota, which my favorite uncle once called the “coldest, darkest month.” He was technically wrong about it being literally the darkest month — the Winter Solstice being more than a month behind us — but at this point winter and the short days have been getting old. Most of us have a serious case of fièvre de la cabine at this point.

Uncle wasn’t much wrong about it being the coldest month, though. By now the heat inertia that makes the first months of winter bearable has fallen prey to the reverse entropy of several months of cold, so there isn’t much relief. We’re at that point where, even on a bright sunny day, it’s still cold AF.

The bright sunshine is beguiling, but don’t be fooled. It’s almost 30° below freezing. The snow is crunchy, and ice is rock-hard!

Like right now. Not a cloud in the sky, but it’s +4° (Fahrenheit) out, which is one reason I’m writing a blog post rather than taking my morning walk. It needs to be at least +10° for that! It doesn’t look like we’ll see that at all today, but hopefully tomorrow it’ll warm up a bit (the forecast says +15°).

The sick thing is being at that point in winter where the plus and minus signs on the temperature really matter. Below zero is bad enough, but -10° (let alone below that) sucks all the balls in the basket.

The February weather is why the tiny treats. Between what age does to most of us and the inability to take decent walks, Bentley needs to cut down on the calories. (So do I, for that matter and for the same reasons.)

She can be occupied for up to 20 minutes trying to dig out the treat I jammed inside that bone, and she seems to enjoy the effort.

I see the ten days as a vacation for all of us. BentleyMom enjoying visiting her folks in Florida, Bentley (hopefully) enjoying hanging out with me, and even I change things up — less blogging, more reading and evening TV watching.

But I’m gored by the dilemma of the delight dogs get from treats versus the need to try to cut back, and who wants to cut back on vacation? Bentley is quite clear on the matter: Moar Treetz!

That’s why the tiny treats. And small bits of roasted chicken breast that I figure are both healthier and (hopefully) lower in calories than dog treats.

I love that wrinkled brow. She’s searching for tiny crumbs that fall out of the Kong. She wants every molecule of those treats!

Another problem with winter confinement is sheer boredom. Dogs (and many humans) are intelligent creatures. Sitting around inside is boring, especially if you’re not into curling up on the couch and reading. I’ve tried to interest Bentley in science fiction, but she’s too grounded for such fantastic stories.

To give her something to do, I cram the treats inside a hollow bone or inside the Kong toy I bought her. Part of the deal with the classic Kong is that you can put treats inside it. Most dogs figure out that throwing or dropping it can cause the treat to pop out, and it’s hysterical to watch.

(The original Kong, I think, is still one of the best dog toys ever, especially for a dog like Bentley who usually quickly destroys most toys. “Quickly” as in minutes. Bentley isn’t much into fetch, but dogs who are really love how they bounce around so unpredictably.)

All curled up under the blanket! She loves putting one paw, and her chin, on my shin while she’s off in doggy dreamland.

That said, like most dogs, she spends much of her day sleeping. Some dispute whether dogs dream, but her many muscle twitches, muffled barks, and eye movements, sure seem like coherent dreams to me (coherent for dreams, anyway).

There’s an old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie (which has always puzzled me, because dogs are always very honest). The prohibition is somewhat along the lines of not waking someone who is sleep walking, which I’ve never taken too seriously, but a stronger objection is that it disturbs REM sleep. On that count I try not to disturb her dreams.

Some of those dreams, though, are vigorous and active. She seems to be running and barking, even jerking violently sometimes. She can be kind of a ruffian on her play dates with doggie friends, and I hope that’s what her dreams amount to. I’d hate for her to be having nightmares.

Working on her suntan. Seriously. She moves around with the sun. She even found a spot on my bed in the sunshine.

We weren’t stuck inside the entire time. The week was okay (Bentley Time started on a Monday), especially Thursday and Friday, but a nasty cold front moved in on the weekend.

It was worse than just cold, though. It was so warm on Thursday and Friday that the snow and ice melted, plus the cold front pushed a bit of precipitation ahead of it. Very wet snow, even rain, which produced a lot of water that the cold front turned to ice.

Suddenly the whole world was a skating rink. Taking Bentley out for a quick pee, I just slid down the incline of my driveway! I envied her having four paws. At my age a “slip and fall” is no joke.

Bentley and the mirror test. With training she seemed to sort of kind of recognize herself. She occasionally seemed to glance at herself.

Those who study self-awareness in animals often use some form of “mirror test” — does the animal recognize itself in a mirror. Most animals don’t. Generally, dogs don’t. Often, they’ll get excited the first time they encounter a mirror (my puppy Sam sure did), but, because there’s no smell or sounds from the image, they often quickly lose interest (Sam, once she got over it, never found it interesting again).

Fellow dog-lover and online friend, Tina (of the Diotima’s Ladder blog) suggested a kind of explicit training. Sit in front of the mirror with the dog and use touch to try to connect what the dog experiences with the image in the mirror. I bought the mirror you see in the photo above to try that.

I think I got her to recognize herself. Maybe. She does seem to understand reflection, I’ve often seen her looking at me in the mirror, and I can’t tell if she doesn’t quite understand her own image or just totally doesn’t care. Given she recognizes me in the mirror, I’m leaning towards just doesn’t care.

§ §

It was a nice vacation, got a lot of reading done, and taking Bentley for walks got me back into it for myself. Between winter weather and some joint issues, I’d let my daily walks slide (aging sucks; try to avoid it).

Unfortunately, having gotten started again, now the weather is keeping me inside again. It’s currently up to +7°, and that’s likely today’s high. My uncle was right; February is awful.

§ §

[400+ words deleted] I had a rant here about how increasingly disappointed I am in Apple (adding to my increasing disappointment in WordPress and major longtime disappointment in Google), but I decided to leave that for another post. Or not even. What’s the point, really? Unless we all band together and refuse to put up with the crap, the crap will continue.

Which is exactly why most movies suck these days. No one really cares enough to demand better.

I tried to watch Red Notice on Netflix the other night but bailed after 40 utterly pointless and infantilely stupid minutes because it was killing too many of my brain cells. The whole Ryan Reynolds schtick is beyond old at this point, and as likeable as Dwayne Johnson is, it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the stupid cliched pointlessness. Gal Gadot has always been kind of a zero in my book, so I was the opposite of engaged or even interested.

I used to talk about how modern movies are often nothing more than a string of cliched icons strung together — cool moments taken from other stories and made into a pointless scrapbook of a movie. Add to that utterly infantile writing, a fault I’m seeing more and more.

That was Red Notice. An utter waste of time, a nothing of a story, and written by an infant. Even by Netflix standards it was a piece of shite.

[Damn. There went the word count again. Blame it on fièvre de la cabine. I am seriously looking forward to Spring!]

§ §

Stay warm, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

14 responses to “It’s (Not) 2s Day

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Bentley is seriously adorable in her “it’s too cold out” sweater:

    Judging by the tail wagging when I put it on, she apparently likes it.

  • Katherine Wikoff

    Bentley is adorable!❤️ And I’m with you and your uncle on the February issue. At my house we call it the long dark of Moria😂

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I actually had to turn on the air conditioner down here this week. It’s breaking 80F during the day. Although it’s supposed to get cooler by Friday. I’m actually not ready for it to get warm again this fast. Although it’s good not to be dealing with all the hard freezes we had last year. And as always, the temperatures you guys get would utterly shut things down here. Anyway, hope you get relief soon.

    I’ve seen Red Notice in the lineup but wasn’t particularly drawn to it. Good to know I wasn’t missing anything. At this point, for most of the stuff Netflix pushes, I wait until there’s a decent population rating it on IMDB or somewhere similar before deciding whether to invest time. I used to use Rotten Tomatoes for that, but sometimes they only have critic ratings and I’ve been burned by a few of those.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ah, this is just normal winter for us. If anything, global warming has taken the length and depth out of the season, but my uncle was right about February on the account that it just gets old around now. But the equinox isn’t far off, so relief is on the way.

      Sturgeon’s Law and the massive need for content (and the low-quality standards of most viewers) all combine to make Sturgeon’s ratio worse than ever. But at least we get things like Black Mirror, Russian Doll, LD&R, and many others to leaven the loaf.

  • Anonymole

    We had a room in a house (work-out room) with one wall all mirrors (not our doing). Our Labrador would freak when we both went into it. She’d see me /there/ and see me /here/ and back and forth and start barking at the both of us. She never did get used to it.

    I caught Two’sDay on the day, still 200 years to go, though, really. (Humanity will never make it.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I wonder if a whole wall of mirrors seems like a window to them (and they totally get windows), so right there is you and there “outside” is another you. Probably very confusing to a dog!

      I’ve long wondered what kind of map of the territory dogs form. Is it just a connected graph of the paths they know, or do they (as we do) create a 2D spatial map of the territory? The question for me is, could they realize there exists a shortcut from one point to another even though they’ve never gone that way?

      Walking Bentley this past time, I may have answered that question. At times, because she was getting cold and tired, she was focused on the direction of home, which was completely out of sight across a busy street and through a patch of woods, but she kept looking that way and obviously wanted to go that way. (Which was impossible, no path, and we’d certainly never gone that way.)

      On other occasions, because cold and snow, I drove us to close by locations where there were sidewalks (not ubiquitous in my almost-rural suburb, and the streets are salty during winter) and a reasonably short path we could take, a loop around a block or so and back to the car. But in both cases the far end of the loop was the closest point to home, and at that point she wanted to head home. She didn’t seem remember we had to get back to the car and seemed to think we were now walking away from home (and she was cold and getting tired). Poor thing really didn’t want to keep doing that.

      But anyway, I think they must have a good 2D map of the territory, which is especially amazing given she’s spent maybe only a couple of months total at my place (in times scattered over years, many weekenders and the annual 10-day February thing).

      I do wonder where the human race will be in 200 years (let alone 1000). I don’t have high hopes.

      • Anonymole

        “Let’s take the shortcut…”

        A curious thought. Wolves are incredibly territorial. And no doubt “know” where they are. Then again, maybe not.

        I wonder if rats are the same. Surely there have been studies on such things.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Wolves and rats, two very good points. Seems like rats running around in walls would almost require a 3D map. Good point, too, about studies. I’ll have to explore that route. One of these days. Real soon now,… (How is it that I’ve got as long a TODO list as an idle retiree as I did when I was working??)

  • diotimasladder

    Geordie and Bentley ought to trade climates! It’s supposed to get up to 85 next week here in Tucson. She could ditch the sweater…on the other hand, maybe she likes looking cute in it. 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I definitely could use a way to transport some (but maybe not all) of that up here!

      Bentley is so spoiled that she’s like Goldilocks. Doesn’t like it too hot or too cold. When it’s really hot and sunny out, she often slows down while in the shade of a tree and then speeds up while in the sunlight to get to the next shady spot. When she gets too hot, she just lays down and won’t move until she feels better, poor thing. (Part of that is that she needs to lose a few pounds. We’re hoping to lean her up for summer.)

      I can’t quite figure out if she likes dressing up or just that it signals a pending walk. Maybe some of both. Her tail gets a-waggin’ when I put it on. She seems to like snuggling under a blanket, so maybe she likes wearing her own personal blanket!

      • diotimasladder

        Could be a comfort for her, having her own personal blanket. I know Geordie usually gets too hot under blankets, but it does seem to comfort him when he’s scared. I guess there’s a reason they have thunder blankets!

        Or it could be she likes it for the same reasons we do—just nice to have a little something to take the chill off.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Ha, yeah, Geordie has a much higher body-to-fur ratio than short-haired big-bodied Bentley! When she’s with me, I spend a lot of time on the couch reading (even more than normal, I mean), and her favorite spot is “in the cradle” between my legs. With a blanket on colder days, she eventually does get hot enough to move to the floor and lay on her back for some belly-cooling.

        Some are into that whole “weighted blanket” thing, and I can see its appeal. There is something comforting being smothered under a heavy blanket. Could be dogs feel it, too (if it’s not too warm).

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