Finding Ivy

Last night, Jenn and I had quite a little adventure. We had gone with Ted to see Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? at the Dryden and drove him back home. On the way back to Jenn's I spotted a dog standing in the snow off 490 near the Averill underpass.

Going back a few days, while Jenn was working at her studio, a woman came by and handed her a poster about a lost dog named Ivy [corrected1]. We see notices for lost pets and pay them little mind other than to hope the animal gets home okay. But Ivy was a rescued black Labrador retriever mix from a shelter in Kentucky. The reason we paid attention is sheer coincidence: Jenn's dog is also a black lab, and was also a rescue from—of all places—Kentucky. Ivy had just arrived and escaped from an Another Chance Pet Rescue foster family near Meigs and Monroe just a day after she arrived (they didn't know the dog's name so they named her Ivy … for all of a day, so obviously the dog wouldn't respond to that name.) The poster said that she was so timid that we should not try to approach her as she'd just run away.

Anyway, when we saw this black dog, we immediately thought it might be Ivy. So we got off at Goodman and went to go back to see off an overpass. But then I figured our best bet would be to get back on the highway, so after trying to remember the existence of the Byron Street entrance, we passed the poster on Alexander. I snapped a picture so we could have the phone numbers. We got back on but we saw neither the dog nor her prints. So we looped around again. This time, we found the tracks in the snow just behind the Spring Steel place on S. Clinton.

We called the people on the poster and they said they'd send their friends out. I had my headlamp from biking so I put that on and went up the embankment cautiously. I had noticed in the past I could see animal eyes in the darkness using the headlamp. After searching a bit, I found a pair of eyes looking back at me from under a tree near the building.

I went back and called again and really set things in motion. They called Animal Control to try and catch the dog, and sent a half-dozen people our way to help find her. One of the women affiliated with Operation Greece Pug Rescue and the officer from Animal Control arrived nearly simultaneously. We went up the embankment and found the dog—this time positively identified as Ivy. Unfortunately, she did manage to get away.

But she had been in the elements for about 7 days already, so she wasn't moving too fast. I watched her cross under Averill then continue to past Alexander before I lost sight of her, all the while fortunately staying in the snow and out of traffic. Jenn and I got back in the car and looped around again. We found Ivy just about on the entrance ramp. We stopped the car to call that we saw her, but she started running back. We followed her and tried to keep some distance, but she doubled back again and we lost her.

We got in touch with the Animal Control officer and one of the women involved. The officer provided a can of food for the dog and they were planning to set a live trap over night. We left and decided to see if we could find her again. We stopped in the Goodwill parking lot to look for tracks on Byron Street and found some, but no dog.

We got back to the car and called the woman from the Pug Rescue to say we were going home. She said that they had her—they actually caught Ivy. She was badly dehydrated, had hypothermia, and was on her way to the pet emergency center! It turns out she also had a laceration on her leg and a possible fracture.

A sickly black lab being carried by a volunteer.

Ivy gets rescued by a volunteer.

By today she was out of emergency care and it looks like she's going to survive. She'll need some more veterinary care in the coming weeks. If you want, you can donate through the PayPal link on the lower-right of the Another Chance Pet Rescue website.


1 2014-Feb-13: Correction: it wasn't her mom who gave her the poster, but her mom was present.

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Good Luck to Tieson

Back in January I got a dog named Tieson. Even back then I knew he'd be a handful. But, over the last 5 months or so, I worked on his quirks. I took him to an obedience class at Dogs At Play (75 Howell St.) which helped a lot. I figured out how to keep him from peeing in the house: I just kept him confined — at first to his travel crate (which he didn't seem to like too much) and then to the foyer which gave him a little more room to move around (which he seemed fine with.)

But there was always his Jack Russell Terrier tendencies. His high energy level was not a problem for me, nor was his desire for play and attention. But he needed someone who was always dominant. And that was the problem.

Any chance he had to take his "rightful spot" as alpha dog, he took. For instance, if I was sitting on the couch to watch a movie and I invited him up, after a while he'd snarl a bit if I tried to pet him. If I persisted he'd eventually bite me. He was, however, a good and obedient dog, so I could just say, "get off" and he'd get off the couch (with a begrudging growl sometimes) and then I could call him over and (as long as he was on the ground and I was on the couch) I could pet him without any problem.

But I want a dog that is a companion, not a servant. And after he tried to attack a neighbor who came to trim the hedge row on my side, and after he attacked Ali and Lucy (the dog she and I have joint-custody of) I decided enough was enough.

I looked on the Internet and found Russell Rescue, Inc. who specialize in rescuing and adopting Jack Russell Terriers. There are only three contacts in the northeast and one happens to be in Irondequoit. I sent an e-mail and called but I got no response, so tonight I took Tieson to The Humane Society at Lollypop Farm (99 Victor Rd., Fairport).

Because of his history of biting, he's got an uphill battle. I think he'll get to a behavioral evaluation, but then it's up to him to not growl or bite. He's a pretty smart dog, but I hope he figures out that it's do-or-die.

Literally.

The house is now much more quiet with just me and my cat Pumpkin. But I am overall relieved. As I described to a friend, it was like living with a roommate you barely tolerate. Even though the good times were nice, there was a lot of tension and stress. And now I'll be able to sleep in when I want to because I'll actually be able to set the alarm clock rather than this:

6:30 a.m. wake-up call from my dog

The Tieson Alarm Clock

Good luck, buddy.

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Pure -isms

A long time ago, I wrote about political terminology, but I guess I'll give it another spin. Even then I was muddling political terms with economic systems and I'll do it again now. Actually, no: I'm pretty much just talking about economic systems. And pretty much just two of them: capitalism and socialism.

In my opinion, any purely applied economic system is doomed to its obvious point of failure. Pure capitalism leads to de facto slavery wherein a few people own all the necessary resources and everyone else is completely devalued (for instance, consider if one person or group owned all the drinking water — only those who owned water would have any power.) Pure socialism drains the desire to create as all of ones needs are met which, in turn, leads to economic collapse as there are no workers to provide the services.

As such, I think there are two viable alternatives: capitalism tempered by socialism, and socialism tempered by capitalism. At first blush they seem nearly identical, but I argue that there is a critical difference: how it affects personal priorities.

Let me start with a socialist system tempered by capitalism because, at this point that I'm writing, I think doing so will make a more interesting argument with a stronger impact. If someone comes up with a new idea, their socialist side asks, "how will this help people?" They'd tend to favor ideas that help people. Then — as their socialism is tempered by capitalism — an idea that really does help people will lead them to financial reward.

On the other hand, a capitalist system tempered by socialism leads one with a new idea to think, "how can I make money with this?" As such, they'd tend to favor ideas that make money. But tempered with socialism, ideas that are socially costly would necessarily be financially costly to those who manifest that idea.

I find myself frustratingly mired in the latter scenario. In particular, I tire of people telling me, "you could make a lot of money with that." I feel terribly alone making things that I think help people and not getting attaboy'd for that facet of it. When I build a tall bike, people never seem particularly impressed that it makes the world smile — that it makes everyone just a little happier. When I talk about some new bike safety blinker, nobody cares that it might prevent someone from getting hit by a car. [Yeah yeah, I'm on a bicycling kick.] All they seem to care about is money. And they think I am (or that I will be, or that I should want to be) rich because of it.

In essence, I'm mired in the same thing that burns the midnight oil of the anti-socialists: I tire of people lingering around waiting for a cash hand-out. I'm not some goddamned leprechaun with a pot of gold stashed away hoping you don't find it. I'm just trying to have fun. That's among the oldest and most tenacious of my philosophical thoughts (I remember arguing with my high-school guidance councilor that "having fun" was a valid life goal.) So I cannot believe in any alternative. Money is not everything. He who dies with the most toys most certainly does not win. And money can't buy happiness. (Ok, so that last one really is the pacifying aphorism.)

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Visiting Friends in Ithaca and Seeing That 1 Guy and Willie B. at Castaways

All the stay-up-late preparation I had been doing led up to this trip to Ithaca. I stopped by to see my old friends Sean and Kelly — so long has it been, that they have a 3-year-old kid I had never met. Nonetheless, we picked up where we left off and had a nice time catching up.

Afterward, I headed to Castaways (413 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca) to catch the show there. The place is great to see live music. I can't think of a comparable venue in Rochester: it's laid out as one big room with the bar on one side and the stage on the other. Low ceilings and acoustic drapes keep the sound from being overwhelming. Plus, the people I met were pretty nice … I expected it out of Ithaca, realizing it was just an arbitrary opinion about the town.

Starting off the show, Willie B.MySpace link (a.k.a. Brian Wilson) played drums with some MIDI electronics. I was kind of disappointed because I thought his songs really don't go anywhere — I suspect he's better in a band such as Johnny DowdMySpace link which I really liked years ago (although I don't remember if it was this same guy on drums). Headlining was That One GuyMySpace link who was just fantastic. As I've described before, he plays a custom-made, 7-foot tall "magic pipe" which includes a guitar string and a bass string along with a bunch of buttons that control a synthesizer. As such, the gyrations necessary to play the magic pipe automatically affect a dance performance. Plus the sound is practically unclassifiable: it's cousin to jam bands, hip-hop, rock, synth-pop, and novelty acts — in degrees that vary considerably from song-to-song.

Although I didn't leave all that late, the two-hour drive won out against my stay-up-late practice and I had to pull over for a quick nap before getting home around 2:30 a.m.

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No Country for Old Buffet

Ali, Christina, and I decided to take a trip to Old Country Buffet (1512 Ridge Rd. W.) — coupon-in-hand — for some pre-drinking grease-soak. As it turned out, the food was considerably better than my extremely low expectations. In future visits, I'll be sure to stick to the simple stuff like fried chicken and mashed potatoes. But a discount is the way to go as $12-per-adult can get a little pricey, although drinks and dessert are included, although there are no alcoholic drinks — so taken all together, it's about as expensive as a hearty trip to the diner. But maybe a little better if you have food A.D.D. or something.

Plus — and let's be honest here — how could I avoid writing this when I had the whole "No Country for Old Buffet" title in my back pocket? I knew you'd understand.

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Burning Man: WTF?

Sondra and I got on the road on Sunday around 10:30 in the morning, headed for Burning Man. Once we picked up groceries at Smith's (1740 Mountain City Hwy., Elko, NV), we figured it might be possible to arrive just after midnight — a first time for both of us. As it turned out, we arrived around 4 a.m. or so. It was interesting to arrive then, but I much preferred arriving in daytime. We slept on the ground until dawn then hunted down a spot — Bonneville at 5:15 — which was pretty centrally located.

We got the tents and shade set up, then the dust storm started. It was not only a harsh storm by Burning Man standards, but it was relentless. It lasted until dark. We tried getting around to pick up ice and such, but it was nearly impossible to do so. The shade I built got blown down, having snapped two segments of 1/2" water pipe. Fortunately they were just extension pieces so I was able to make the shade again, only it was short enough to hit the tent.

We finally got out to see things at night. I got the chance to try Ecstasy for the first time. It was apparently quite pure (sometimes, I guess, Speed is added which makes one more interested in dancing, or Cocaine is added which makes it suck). I liked it a lot. It created a sense of empathy with others which allowed me to easily put aside feelings of annoyance with others. I tended to look deeply at people and feel bonded with them. Its other dominant experiential effect greatly reduced my awareness of minor bodily irritations — achyness from the day, for instance, but also irritations like holding a flashlight.

Anyway, I started getting tired quite late and decided to head back to camp. Unfortunately I got hit with irresistible tiredness and ended up falling asleep on the way there. I became aware of walking in the dawn and slowly realized that I was not, in fact, dreaming, but experiencing reality. I got back to camp and got some sleep. Tuesday morning I got up and hunted down my trike that I left behind — someone had found it and brought it to their camp on the Esplanade where I found it. The light tube got damaged and the backpack went missing — fortunately only containing some water and a dust mask.

I had signed up to volunteer to work at the sound stage in the Center Camp and I actually made it on-time, despite having not seen a clock in more than a day. I worked the mixing board and learned a lot about using a large board. The performances were not all that interesting, and the four hours went by quite slowly. That night was my night off: each year at Burning Man, it seems I take one day and get some sleep … Tuesday was it this year.

For the rest of the week, things were pretty much the same … relatively pleasant weather and total boredom. Somehow, Burning Man didn't quite happen — it was more like a mock-up of Burning Man where people camp in the desert but don't bother to bring any good art, or try to act with tolerance, or act like a community at all. It was quite strange.

I think "The Bummer" was the art piece that summed up the whole event. It was a 4-times-or-so mock-up of a Hummer vehicle. From a distance, it indeed looked like it was intended, but I had to ask, "what's the point?" I mean, okay: a big Hummer … umm … and? Up close, it was like a plywood clubhouse. It had no detail inside, and it was apparently just dimensionally correct on the outside. I really didn't get it at all — and that's pretty much what all the artwork was like. Some were better than others, but none that I saw exceeded a modest level of mediocrity.

Saturday brought another horrendous day of dust storms. Sondra and I decided to call it quits. We got things packed up in the slightly-less-bad storm that continued into the night and left around 11 p.m., just a bit after they burned the Man figure. By 5 a.m. we made it to The Lovelock Inn (55 Cornell Ave., Lovelock, NV) which had beds and showers. We got on the road on Sunday refreshed and made it back to Colorado by the next night.

Along the way we tried to think of anything good about this year's Burning Man: something specifically awesome — anything, in fact, like what we had experienced in past years. Alas, the only maximal adjective we could come up with is "worst", only qualified by "ever".

Thankfully, we escaped it.

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Rochester to Glenwood Springs

So I headed out on Wednesday night, stopping at Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) with Ali before saying our goodbyes. I drove until I got tired around Cleveland, then got up on Thursday and made it just inside Kansas. Of course, things took a downturn when the air conditioning in the Roadmaster gradually stopped working with a warning signal on the heating controls. At least I made it through the worst of it.

On the way through otherwise-dreadful Kansas, I saw a billboard for a GM dealership in Hays, about halfway across Kansas. Crap. I guess they do work. Anyway, I went to James Motor Works, Co. (108 E. 13th St., Hays, KS). I talked with Dan and they got me right in to check out the A.C. It turned out there is a leak (which I knew, having added more coolant before I left) and the ventilation system computer shuts things down when the compressor cycles too much. I got it recharged there — they were really nice and it was "only" $100 or so. Afterward I got a recommendation for lunch, and I went to Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company (117 E. 11th St., Hays, KS) right around the corner. I had a really good Oatmeal Stout and a great Patty Melt: a "beef patty topped with mushrooms, schmeltz (caramelized onions) and provolone cheese on buttered marbled rye toast". Mmm. I met this guy who happened to be from Colorado and we chatted a bit before I got back on the road.

I made it to Colorado around 2:30 p.m. and managed to snap a self-portrait along the way:

Self-portrait (sort-of)

See the wagon? To be honest, it's larger than it appears.

Unfortunately, my timing was such that I got to Denver at almost exactly 5:00 p.m. Yeesh. It wasn't too bad, but getting up the mountain took a while. I made it to Sondra and Will's around 8 and got settled in. We'll be leaving on Sunday morning in a little convoy for Burning Man. Hopefully in air-conditioned comfort.

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Sondra's Visit and a Tour of Rochester Bars

My best friend Sondra stopped in for the weekend (after [and before] highly annoying air travel). She was in town to wrap up things with her old house in Palmyra but we got to go out and hit the town. We started at my house then decided to change the scenery. I started out with Abeline Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) just in case it opened early, but it doesn't. So we decided to hit our old haunt, Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) Surprisingly it was closed — now this is … er … was no ordinary bar. I recall seeing people having beers out on the sidewalk as early as noon some days … typically more like 2 or 3 p.m. though. On this day, they were completely closed. As a substitution, we tried Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) but it was closed too. Same with Mex (295 Alexander St.) We gave up and stopped by Ali's to say hi before heading to The Distillery (1142 Mount Hope Ave.) which — being a restaurant as well — was certainly going to be open, and indeed it was.

We had a couple margaritas and caught up with stuff as we often do (except over the phone usually). Next stop was Solera Wine BarMySpace link (647 South Ave.) where we met up with Ali. The three of us split a couple bottles of wine and two of their delicious cheese boards. It was getting late by then and we tried Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave., a.k.a. "Bullwinkle's") but it was closed — as rumors go, I'm pretty sure it's done. [I'll have to stop by Betty's house at some point — which is coincidentally not far from where I live — and find out the deal.] So we headed back to The Flat Iron CaféMySpace link (561 State St.) but it wasn't open yet — and by now it was closing in on 11 p.m. As a consolation, we checked out this ultimate dive of a country music bar called Sandra's Saloon (276 Smith St.) As places like this go, the bartender and owner was a kind woman and the patrons kept to their own. It was actually quite nice, and the band was really good, too.

To wrap things up, we stopped by Abeline Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara). This time it was open, and by now the band had finished. We chatted with the bartender a bit and tried their absinthe. Alas, it was more like a licorice liquor than absinthe — flavor-wise it was pretty close to what we'd had in the past, but mild-hallucination wise, not so much.

Sondra had to get up early to make her flight: as in, leave the house at 4:30 a.m. So we said our goodbyes before crashing at my house. In a tale for another day, she did eventually make it back to Colorado.

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James' Big Lebowski Party rocked

I headed over to James' place and a few of the people from MEETinROCHESTERMySpace link had already arrived; Ali had a few things to do first so she got there a bit later: not long after Mr. Lebowski was in seclusion in the West Wing.

Anyway, The Big Lebowski is still great. The whole slacker philosophy of The Dude warms my heart: pretty much a hippie, but without the glom-on Communistic need-more-than-they-are-able whinyness that turns your average free-living hippie into a damn dirty hippie.

I opted to dress up … I don't think anyone else did beyond maybe a Hawaiian shirt. I approximated the Dude's look when he's introduced: sniffing quarts of cream in the grocery store while wearing slippers, boxer shorts, and a terrycloth robe over a dingy T-shirt. When I stopped for wine I almost paid by check for effect, but it came to more than $0.60.

After the movie I ended up staying very late — generally hoarding the conversation to be all about me and what I've done in the last few years. I guess people were interested, but I was being pretty conceited about it and didn't really pay much attention. Well, save for the fact that nobody really tried to change the subject. Most people stayed until at least 11 or so, but I left James and Ken around 3:30 or so.  Yeesh.

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Two most excellent years with Ali

Today is Ali's and my second anniversary together.

To celebrate, we decided to go to Rooney's Restaurant (90 Henrietta St.) for a fancy meal. I was fortunate to have discovered a postcard under the computer that reminded me they had a special chef coming for the week so I made reservations a few days early. [Can you imagine that?: reservations. A few days early. In Rochester. Who knew?]

The guest chef was from Brasserie Georges Lyon (30, Cours Verdun Perrache, Lyon, FR) and had set up a special French menu. We started with the Lyonnais salad — a mesclun salad topped with chopped bacon and a poached egg, perfectly matched to the mild vinaigrette dressing. For dinner, Ali had the beef tenderloin over mushrooms with mashed potatoes — the beef was spectacular and the potatoes were deliciously prepared with a massive amount of cream. I ordered the Lyonnais pike quenelles — essentially puréed pike made into a soufflé and floated in a puréed lobster-and-mushroom bisque. Although the word "purée" doesn't sound all that appetizing, the meal certainly was. We even got dessert: Ali the crème brûlée and I the flourless chocolate cake. Both were amazing.

Afterward we headed back home. Unfortunately this was the start of a flu-like illness that kept Ali home all weekend, so I was left on my own while she rested.

In the end, though, I wonder how we can keep having such great anniversaries. After all, we have a lot of them to come.

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