Bringing Up Pup

I run into some of the same people every morning on my walk from the Civic Center subway station to the office. I walk on the same side of the street because it’s cleaner than the other side. I’m also a creature of habit. And so are a lot of people I’ve discovered.

For the past two months I’ve encountered a man walking his Welsh Corgi pup. The dog is so beautiful he looks fresh out of a dog fancy magazine. Just looking at him makes me smile. I can’t help it. Like the Queen, I’m a sucker for a Corgi. I love the breed.

At first the six-week old pup didn’t have a clue how to behave on a leash and dashed in all directions all over the street with part of the leash in his mouth. I stopped and told the owner what a gorgeous pup he had. He grunted.  Welsh pup

Every week in the mornings I’d see them together and every time the pup wriggled and mouthed his leash. Mastering a straight line wasn’t in his arsenal of behaviors. And why should it? He’s a herding dog, and if you must put him on the street, he’s going to herd people.

On my way home one afternoon I saw them. I stopped and petted the beast.

“You’ve made my day,” I said.

“I’m glad we could do that for you,” the man said with  zero expression.

This has continued for two months. Each week  the dog gets bigger and more confident on the leash. Gone are the zigzag walks, sort of, and the munching on the leash, but now he strains and pulls out in front of his owner. What can you expect in only eight weeks?

This morning on my way in, I saw them coming at me as I crossed the street. I smiled. But this time the man smiled back.

Now that made my day.

Calvin says, “I’m hurt. How could you? That mutt has no nose like mine, doesn’t bay, and lacks the character that I have. What are you saying by this?” beagle

 

 

The Perfect Halloween Dessert

There’s a new ice cream shop down the block from where I work.

It’s one of those pop-up stores, the kind that appear overnight out of nowhere.

The store used to be a shipping container. It’s been recycled to house a counter, some odd-looking machinery, a menu board, and a couple of servers.

Four unique flavors of ice cream are posted every day.

For example,  Apple-Quince Streusel,  Strawberry with White Balsamic, Earl Grey with Milk Chocolate Chips. 

Making a choice takes time because all the flavors beckon you and they all sound luscious.

However, you’re forced to choose at least one and stick with it because there’s no sampling of the other flavors. That’s because the ice cream is made on the spot in front of you in less than 60 seconds.

It a ghoulish affair with special effects. Perfect for Halloween.

The recipe of your flavor is poured into a metal receptacle, which is then attached to a mixer with fierce-looking handles.

Then the fun starts. The server puts a lid on the container, turns on the mixer, and in an instant it’s swallowed in swirling fog.

Very apt for San Francisco.

What it is is liquid nitrogen. It’s used to churn the mixture into ice cream.

Hmm.

That’s my ice cream in there.

Sixty seconds later, you’re presented with two scoops in a cup.

You’ve never tasted anything like it.

The flavors are a taste sensation in your mouth and an adventure your palate won’t soon forget.

And you’ll be back the next day for more.

Liquid nitrogen and all.

Calvin says, “What would churned kibble in liquid nitrogen taste like? Forget I asked. My taste buds don’t want to know.” 

The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

What Dr. Cal Lightman Taught Me About Relationships

Esther’s heart pounded in her chest. Sam was dreamy. They were eating dinner at a funky, out-of-the-way bistro he had selected. Never mind that it was by the highway. The conversation flowed over the cheap wine, the chemistry was heating up, and Esther already envisioned herself in a wedding gown. Finally the man for her.

If Dr. Cal Lightman, the central character of the TV show Lie To Me, had been in the restaurant, which I doubt, he would have noticed right away that Sam wasn’t as interested in Esther and she was in him. In fact, by the time their overdone steaks had arrived, he had cooled towards her, but she hadn’t noticed. His pupils weren’t dilated, his smile didn’t crinkle the corners of his eyes, and under the table his feet were pointed in the direction of the exit. Lightman would have said, “Doomed before dessert.”

Lie To Me is about observing body language and micro-facial expressions to bust bad guys. It’s good. You need to watch it. It’s valuable education. Based on research by clinical psychologist Dr. Paul Ekman, the show will give you critical insight into what the behavior of others is telling you.

Whether you’re looking to become the hottest marketer in your company or find Mr. Right, you need this.

The body speaks louder than words. Secret Service agents know this. Actors know it. And now you, too, can know it.

Want to know quickly what someone is thinking about you?

Check his feet. If they’re pointed at you, in a parallel line, he is positively engrossed in your every word.

If his feet are angled away from you and pointed in the direction of the exit, change the subject or run.

How do you know if the guy you’re dating is interested in you?

See if he leans in with his head when you’re talking. That’s one good sign.

If he talks to you with little expression on his face, or if he keeps a football stadium length between you and him, call a cab quick and high tail it out of there.

So what do you do to become an expert in these clues?

Watch the shows. Not only are they entertaining, but you’ll have a leg up on everyone else.

Calvin says, “Beagles come fully loaded knowing this kind of stuff. It’s all wired into our noses.”