Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Monday, April 28, 2008

The tail waggng thing has got me flummoxed.

Apparently, if a dog wags his tail to the right, he's happy. On the other hand, if he wags it to the left, he's apprehensive.

But if I'm standing in front of the dog in question, is he wagging his tail to his right or to my right? This has not been clarified.

I tried it with Bao, anyhow. Bao wags his tail a lot. And he's usually happy.

Problem is, he doesn't discernibly wag it to either side. He just wags it, back and forth. Enthusiastically. Back and forth, back and forth, but neither to the left nor to the right. Just back and forth.

Maybe it's the first wag that matters. With Bao, this seems to be random. We did ten trials, with cookies. Fifty fifty. All happy wags.

Mind you, there are more important things in life. What is Barack saying about Hillary? What is Hillary saying about Barack? Will I ever find a literary agent to represent me?

All of which make the conundrum of tail wagging a welcome respite.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Swarms of bees, everywhere. You're walking along and suddenly you hear this low, humming sound. You look up and there it is -- a buzzing, pulsating swarm as big as a football, hanging from a limb a couple of feet above your head.

Bao is appalled. He looks at them and he looks at me and shakes his head as if to say, What have you done now?

As far as Bao is concerned, I'm omnipotent. The sun rises and sets at my command. Little kids think Mom and Dad are all-powerful, but then they grow up and that's the end of that. Dogs never grow up.

So the bees are my fault, too. Seriously, I do worry about them. You can psyche out a coyote or a bobcat, but you can't reason with an angry bee, although I've read they're less dangerous when they're swarming than when they're defending their hive. I particularly worry about the Africanized honey bees, which migrated into Arizona from Mexico a decade ago. These little guys take no prisoners. We need bees, I know that. But do we need killer bees?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dogs are creatures of superior intelligence. This is why they write their books with urine. They don't need publishers. They don't need agents. All they need is a tree.
My former agent has decided to pursue other interests.
She'd only submitted my novel to half a dozen publishing houses, and the rejections were actually encouraging. Interesting book, well written. Just not right for us.
That's finished, now. Mainstream publishers won't even look at an unagented manuscript. So I've got to find another agent to represent me, a task only slightly more difficult than splitting the atom or (for me) losing 20 pounds.
Agents are in demand. They pick and choose. They say, Send a query. This means, Summarize your 95,000 word manuscript in 25 words or less. Preferably less. So you send them a query. Maybe they'll reply, and maybe they won't. And of course, some of them are crooks. There are special web sites dedicated to telling aspiring authors which are which.
So that's what I'm doing at the moment.
Gotta cut this short. Bao needs to go out and add another chapter to his book. At the moment, he's got more readers than I do!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bao, Bandit and Gadget -- and I -- are all waiting for one of the presidential candidates to say something about animal rights.

My (human) friends tend to sneer. Human beings are more important than animals, they insist. Why,they demand, aren't you worrying about big issues, like abused children? Or battered wives?

Why? First of all, because human beings are animals. There's nothing all that special about us -- except for the gifted few of us who have evolved to an intellectual level at which they can operate the new Microsoft Vista system.

Secondly, animal rights are important. People who abuse animals also abuse human beings. The correlations are quite incredible. The man who kicks his cat beats up his wife and kids. Murderers, thieves and other perpetrators of violent crime are statistically highly likely to have also mistreated -- or even killed -- an animal. Margaret Mead wrote that the worst thing that could happen to a child was to torture or kill an animal and get away with it.

At the moment, animals are merely considered possessions, and only "worth" what it costs to replace them. In the eyes of the law, your air conditioner -- or even your suitcase -- is probably worth more than your dog. This is why people like Michael Vick get away with it. The dogs he tortured and killed were "only" dogs.
That's what the Animal Rights movement is all about. If animals had rights, the Michael Vicks of this world would be locked away for decades instead of months and the world would be a safer place for all of us animals.

So tell me, Hillary, Barack and John. What's your position on Animal Rights?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The desert is so beautiful at this time of year.

When Bao and I walk in the morning, the hummingbirds swoop down to drink nectar from the ocotillo flowers and whole families of quail march in single file along the tops of the walls while rabbits scamper to safety

We walk early, while it's still cool and the rattlesnakes are asleep.

Rattlesnakes are a worry. Luckily, Bao is unadventurous. He doesn't go looking for trouble. He doesn't chase rabbits. (Actually, I think he's a bit scared of the rabbits) Ever since he was a puppy, Bao has gone through life on a need to know basis. What he needs to know, he learns. What he doesn't need to know, he ignores.

They have a rattlesnake avoidance program for dogs here in Tucson, but it involves giving the dog an electric shock, and it operates on the assumption that one size (shock) fits all. My neighbor's dog trembled for a week afterwards, and he still sniffs under bushes where the rattlesnakes hang out.

They say baby rattlesnakes are the worst, because they don't know when to bite and when to retreat. I don't know We haven't seen a baby rattlesnake. I hope we never do.