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The Daily Bark: October 2005

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October 31, 2005
Happy Halloween. And happy anniversary to us. Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. Taking care of family made it necessary for us to take a rain check on our outside celebration plans. In fact, it was a fairly quiet anniversary, but still pleasant. We found time to watch some home movies, play some video games, laugh with the kids, take pictures and do the standard housework. Reminded me of the simple pleasures that come with a loving home. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me one.

October 30, 2005
Fall back. Well, we lost an hour... or is it we gained an hour? I always forget. The one thing I know is that the twice-a-year time shift always throws me for a loop. I have traveled to Japan, Hawaii and the East Coast. Each trip contained a major shift in time. Yet, I weather those shifts with little effort. This single hour shift will keep me off balanced for a week or more. I am sleepier, less focused. It is weird. It is also not fun seeing it get dark so quickly. Oh well. I have around six months to get used to it before the next shift.

October 29, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - Final Thoughts. By the end of the event we had done pretty well. Eagle won first in his class - Bred By Exhibitor. Roku won in his class - Veteran Dog 8 years and older. Rooster came in third in his puppy class. Result being three nice trophies and two first place ribbons. (Dyami came in fourth and also got a trophy.) At the event we frequently heard nice words about our kids, and Rachel's ability in the ring. It was fun hanging with folks we knew and the fact that several made large efforts to be there was greatly appreciated. Even after the fact, we are still receiving nice comments and getting pictures and emails. The only downside has been a series of illnesses. Rachel and I both have flus that have lingered on. Several of the pups also got under the weather... some more seriously than others. However all now seem to be heading back to health. Just wish everyone was feeling better. Still, the week was fun and has given us many memories. Quite an experience all around.

October 28, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - The hotels. The show was held at the San Marcos Resort. A very big place. The lobby was a full city block from the show area! The show was held inside a huge tent. It was very tight spacing inside, sometimes making it standing room only. It would have been nice to have had one speaker outside the tents so that folks waiting could hear when it was their time to show. We had made our plans to late to get into the main hotel. (Which was just as well since that hotel only allowed two adult dogs and one pup per room. And we heard they threw several attendees out!) We stayed at the Comfort Inn which was only around 15 minutes away down the main road. An easy trip, which went by a number of shops, fast food places and restaurants, including an Outback. The hotel was almost perfect. They had a laundramat, computer in the lobby (used when the laptop died), and a free full breakfast bar (eggs, sausage, french toast, cereals, juice, bagels and more). The room had a microwave and refrigerator. Only downside was having a room on the second floor. Was not fun running the kids up and down the stairs. Though it did show us how heavy footed Rooster was and gave him the nickname of 'stompy'. Since it was a handicap room, it had a very large bathroom which helped with feeding the kids. We also didn't have to spend a lot of time alone there. Victoria and Dan (Goose's parents) came by almost every night to chat, have dinner and just laugh about the day. It was actually nice to get away from the show area to get a true break. Would easily go back to these facilities for another show.

October 27, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - The laptop. This was going to be one of the longest trips Rachel and I had ever taken. I thought a laptop would make it possible for us to keep in touch. Truth be told, I have been thinking of a laptop for quite sometime. However all the decisions I needed to make in choosing one were dizzying. I asked a number of folks I know who are basically experts. Each gave me expert advice. Just most of it didn't match what the others said. I finally figured I could probably just buy one and be satisfied. So I did. The second night out I was able to pull it out of the box and set it up. It immediately found the wireless internet connection in the hotel. Great. The signal wasn't super strong, so I used the modem and a free test subscription to AOL to get online. Great. The next night I was on the web bringing up mail when the laptop froze. The only way to get out was to turn it off. Then it wouldn't turn on. When it finally did, it stated it was having software issues and had to start up as originally set. I figured this was fine, since it had started up fine from the box. However, when it came back up, it could no longer find the wireless internet. It also could no longer dial up AOL. I called AOL and after a half-hour wait to talk to someone and an hour talking to them, it was decided they didn't know the problem. The gentlemand stated that they had three other complaints from the Phoenix area, so perhaps the city was down. I am not sure what country the gentleman was in, but I believe if the Phoenix area was down, more than three people would have called. Then I told him the four letter error code I was getting. He could not tell me what it meant, and just said to call back tomorrow and see if I could log in. Then he asked if I wanted to upgrade my service! Luckily, I was able to download the photos we had stored onto cds and they are safe on our home computer. I have thought of trying to handle the matter by phone, but since I purchased it from a place that has a 30-day no question asked return policy, I will just return it. Quite sad. The problems had nothing to do with the equipment. It was the software. Though I must admit the finger pad was a bit too volatile. One friend has suggested an Apple laptop instead. I might consider it as long as it doesn't have all the problems the Macintosh's at the studio have.

October 26, 2005
A day off... due to illness. Arrived home last night with a throat on fire. Little sleep over night. Woke with no energy. Notified the studio, and stayed in bed resting. Checked studio emails every 90 minutes to keep things running smooth. Saw the doctor. Said it was sinus infections. No doubt a left over from Arizona. Speaking of which... we are keeping an eye on various young ones who attended the Arizona dog show. Several have signs of illness from minor to scary. All seem to be on the road to recovery, so am glad. Hope the antibiotics kick in soon...

October 25, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - The People. Actually, in some ways, the Nationals should be known as Great Dane OWNERS Nationals. As with most dog shows, it seems folks are more interested in the people there than the canines. Heck, at some shows they refer to the four-leggers as 'livestock'. The show had seminars, dinners and parties. None of which allowed you to bring your dog with you. Already websites are posting pictures of the event... and almost all are pictures of the people. I never seem to understand how dog-show-folks can have so little interest in their specialty. If you were to go to a collector convention or a trade show most of the talk and photos would focus on what was seen there (comics, products, etc.)... not "who" was seen there. I got to see folks chat about who they were with, who was handling so-and-so's dogs (never mentioning the dogs), who was missing, etc. I almost never heard anyone mention how nice certain entries (dogs) looked. In fact, about the only thing I heard the people say to the dogs was "shut up!" At one point, someone noticed I was wearing a 6stardanes T-shirt. Suddenly folks were asking if I was "Rachel Cawley's husband". I admitted it and answered questions and accepted compliments from around a half dozen people - not one of whom asked what my name was. I was simply "Rachel Cawley's husband"; the person she had come with. However, it was nice to be noticed at all. Since we were not staying at the main hotel nor the rv grounds behind it, we had set up in a small green area behind the main tent. When I mentioned the area to someone looking for Rachel, I got several blank looks. Finally one commented, "oh yes... that area way behind the tent". The tone was akin to referring to a homeless camp. Afterwards, I went back to the 'shanty town' behind the tent and chatted with some friends who were as interested in their dogs as we were. Only at a major dog show can someone who loves dogs feel out of place.

October 24, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - The Dogs. Of course, being the Dane specialties, the show was around 99% Danes. What was nice was to see the number of natural eared Danes increasing. There seemed to be some in almost all the colors. In fact, more and more folks were commenting on how "nice" it was to see the ears kept natural. At least one fairly prominent breeder mentioned that they were considering going natural on all future litters. Of course there were still plenty of cut ears to see. As usual, some looked nice, some were wilted, some flat and many taped. There were even a few over one year olds still using support. No doubt their owners were hopeful that "eventually" the ears would stand. (I remember when we were that "hopeful" aka "naive".) And as mentioned there were more than Danes. Seems most breeders have at least one non-dane to keep the balance. I saw fluffy lab types, bald crested things, boxers and other assorted canine companions. Generally the dogs were well behaved. There were a few rowdy types who seemed to bark at anything going by. I laughed at how some folks 'grumbled' that their dogs had been scared by one barker or another. The owners then worked hard to keep away from the noisy pens. Even our Kele got spooked at one pen of Fawn Danes who always charged and challenged any passer-bys. But we kept taking her by them so that she learned that they were penned and could not hurt her... and so she would not be spooked every time a dog barked at her. Several Danes spent their time destroying the mats or other items within reach. More than once a howl went up with all the dogs in the area giving voice to song. Generally it was a song of loneliness as most of the Danes were left in their pens for hours on end, some almost all day as their owners frolicked elsewhere. But more on that when I'm back tomorrow talking about the people.

October 23, 2005
The Great Dane Nationals - Driving. The trips both ways were pleasant, if tight. I felt like the Clampetts going to Beverly Hills. The van was packed with so many items, including Rachel, I and four kids, that there was little room to move. We hit rest stops, and as usual, found the rest stops in Arizone to be nicer than the ones in California. Traffic was generally light, so we made good time each direction. The trip out was pretty much uninterupted. On the way back to California, we took time out to visit the dinosaur statues and get some pix of Kele with the T- Rex. Luckily, the trip is not a standard route for me, so it was fun checking out sights. Passing the windmills made us recall an earlier trip in which Hoss was so fascinated by the spinning "men". Then there was the empty grandstand that not even folks in Arizona could remember what it had been built for. Finally there was the spread of Phoenix. It now takes almost a half hour after leaving "the city" before you finally get past the sprawl of new malls and homes. Also saw the price of gas drop around 20-cents per gallon from the trip out to the trip back. Overall, a pleasant travelling experience for all.

October 22, 2005
Just returned from the Great Dane Nationals. It is the once-a-year, major event of the Great Dane Club of America. This year ot was held in Chandler, Arizona. We had a great time and brought home three ribbons and three trophies. We had the good luck of having the family of one of the recent litter spend the week with us, making things go smoother and happier. (Hey, Victoria and Danny!) The first day even saw the appearance of two other pups from the recent litter for the futurity. (Hey, Robert, Jamie & Fred!) The next few barks will be about our experiences on the drive, the new laptop, the city, the people at the show, the dogs at the show and more. See you then...

October 15, 2005
Heading to the Great Dane Nationals in Arizona. Reports begin on the 22nd.

October 14, 2005
It is front page news on some papers in Los Angeles - a new actor has been chosen to play James Bond. In some ways it is a tribute. Few fictional characters can command front pages in a world of hurricanes, earthquakes and faked press conferences. In my younger days, I was huge fan of 007. Saw the Connery, Lazenby and Moore films enough times to have much of the dialogue down pat. Enjoyed the first Dalton film. But from that point Bond lost its allure for me. Trouble is, Bond, as creator Ian Fleming, portrayed him was a gentleman on the outside, but quite different inside. He was a womanizer, killer, boozer and smoker. As an agent he was a "loose cannon" prone to take unnecessary risks. In the 1950s and 60s this was quite exciting. The contrast between the gentleman spy and his actions created the aura that made the character and films so exciting. By the 1980s they began to worry about Bond looking politically incorrect. I still recall Rachel's initial recoil when Connery complimented a pretty lady and then slapped her on the rear. As the new Bond films emerged the character softened as the world hardened. Today, Bond's "bad boy" traits are pretty much common practice. The constant satires from the 1960s (from CASINO ROYALE and GET SMART) to the present (AUSTIN POWERS, CODY BANKS) have diluted the effect of the gadgets, outrageous villains and action scenes. What is left? The producers are planning a remake of CASINO ROYALE (Fleming's first book of Bond) for their new actor. The idea is to use the film as a way of introducing the younger Bond. Trouble is, in Fleming's first tome, Bond appears pretty much as he was. In later books the character became more bitter about the world and his profession, but this was only hinted at in the films, and usually only in an attempt to ground the character. I will be interested to see if anyone (actor, director, producer) can really bring Bond back to life. The era of Bond is over, with the exception of nostalgic romances or silly comedies. I am not sure a new Bond can find any footing in such barren terrain.

October 13, 2005
Well, filled out my absentee ballot. And I'm not quite sure if I voted well or not. When it came to local candidates, only half filled out statements for the voter's pamphlet. And each said about the same thing - we need new and stronger leadership. I was surprised to even find the incumbents making such statements. Then there were the ballot measures. Some I understood enough to know exactly which way I stood. Others, were so convolutedly written that I wasn't sure if I should vote yes or no. The opinions in the book were of little use since each side of every issue stated a vote for their position would mean less government and better treatment of which group the ballot measure was about. Even on issues where I had an idea of where I stand, the description of the ballot measure and the pro/con statements made me uncertain which position matched mine! I seem to recall in my teens there was a law that was passed in California mandating ballot measures be written in plain English. I guess it went the way of the ballot initiative that made English the official language of California. It may be offcial, but I certainly don't hear it as much... and I'm not sure the folks who write these ballot measures and opinions are the best example of it. Yoda is easier to understand.

October 12, 2005
DVD Extras... and the lack of them on animation. It really gripes me when I see articles about how classic animation releases have so much trouble providing extra features because "nothing exists" or "the talent is gone". It is especially irritating when they are discussing such releases as the first seasons of SCOOBY DOO or JETSONS or SUPER FRIENDS. While it is true there are a good number of the folks behind these series who have passed on, there is still an army of talent around. I sometimes refer to these folks as the 'lost generation' or 'forgotten generation'. These are the folks who began their careers in the late 1950s when the golden age was fading. They toiled for years on various projects from all sorts of studios. They are the ones who kept the industry going for those who would come into the business during the 1980s and begin building the new golden age. While the golden agers have passed on, this 'forgotten' crew is beginning to retire. For example, on the series mentioned above, not only is one of the producers still alive, but numerous writers, directors, designers and others involved with the creation of the series. Sadly, the dvd companies fall back on having voice talent or film historians for commentary. Of all the folks who toil on a series, and this in no way is meant to slight the enormous skill of the craft, the voice actors often have the least amount of creative or developmental input. And why ask a historian for a second hand account when you can ask the people who were spent every day, sometimes for years working on the same project. At the studio where I work, we have no less than a dozen folks who have a connection to those series. But, as mentioned, they are the 'forgotten' ones. It is yet another book I think is worth doing... should time ever allow it.

October 11, 2005
While talking with friends the other day, several mentioned how some of today's creators seem to forget that there is a team of artists, writers, directors, production and such that help get their shows out each week. At least one joked at how often they got a 'thank you' from the creator. The joker has worked with the creator for nearly three years and never gotten a personal thank you. The best one can hope for is the generic "I want to thank everyone who works so hard for this show" speech given at award ceremonies, interviews and other public occurances. However, the fact is animation (and probably most entertainment) has never been about teamwork. From day one it was Disney or Terry or Fleischer. Then it was MGM or Warner Bros. Eventually it became Hanna-Barbera, Filmation and Nelvana. Despite the army of talented people making the shows, only one really shines in the spotlight. Those who desire the shine enough, will eventually head out on their own. But these new creators/studios are really no different than the creatures that spawned them. It is that way in so many worlds. In the military there is great talk of Generals, but one seldom hears of the privates. In politics you hear of the President, and maybe a few Senators. But for the most part, few would know the name of their local representatives. It is sad that teamwork seems to work best when the team is annonymous.

October 10, 2005
Governor Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that will allow cities and counties to pass local laws making it mandatory to spay or neuter specific breeds. Nicknamed the "dangerous dog legislation", it was created as an answer to Pit Bull attacks. But it has an ominous undertone that will allow any local government to ban the breeding of any breed it considers dangerous, and will most likely be discriminatory to the larger breeds. After Pit Bulls, we can expect local politicians to pick on anything from Akitas to Dobermans to German Shepherds to Malamutes. Basically anytime a news item appears where someone is bit by a dog, expect that breed to be pinpointed for extinction. And that is really what this law is talking about: government assisted genocide. Responsible breeders, dog clubs and owners will now be in a continuous battle with local authorities to protect their breed. This bill is typical of a state government that tries to look good instead of doing the right thing. Months back, when there was a movement to outlaw unnecessary surgery on animals (cutting ears, tails, etc.), the government backed down because of concern it might drive away the dog community money. If the fear of not being able to change ears or tails will chase away the dog people, imagine the impact of not being able to breed at all! Sadly, this falls into the same line of the gun control cliche, "if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns". Hence, if you outlaw responsible breeders from creating pets and show dogs, only irresponsible breeders will have dogs to sell. Sounds like time for an initiative.

October 9, 2005
A very long weekend, so am really tired tonight. Will just say that Talon has found a home. We think he will be very happy there. That ends the search for this litter. Now we are down to the two we are keeping - Kele and Rooster.

October 8, 2005
Last night, was awoken by a sensation of someone in the room. Someone who is not alive. I have had them before. Guess some might call them 'ghosts'. The first one I vividly remember was a night when I felt the paws of a loved cat walking up the bed towards my feet as she had done for years. But I had been forced to give up this cat several years earlier. I often think it was a sign that she had died that night. There are times when I glance in my rear view mirror and seem to see for a split second one of our kids who is no longer with us. I have even thought I saw them through a window that looks onto the deck they often played on. So it was last night I felt the spirit of one of them. I was asked if they had said or done anything. And the answer was no. It was merely the feeling that they were there in the room. Kind of like when you wake in the morning and know all the family is there. You don't necessarily see the whole family. You just know they are there. It is odd how those we love and lose, never really go away. Charlie Chan said it is "impossible to miss someone who will always be in our heart". Rachel commented that she heard when you find a penny on the ground it is a sign that someone long gone is thinking of you and has sent a small token to you. No wonder finding a penny is considered good luck.

October 7, 2005
Well, the pups are nearly 3 months old. The three still here are showing real differences. Talon, is taking after his mom (Luca). He is a bundle of endless energy with a mouth that won't quit. Kele is looking and acting more and more like grandma (Star). She loves to zoom around and is already 'cheating' at races by knocking her siblings to the side. Rooster is just like dad (Eagle). He is sensitive and gets his feelings easily hurt. Physically, Kele and Rooster are the most different. Kele is long of body and gazelle like in her running. Rooster is a little tank, who clops around the wooden deck like a clydesdale. Of course they are still young enough to go through a lot of changing in both dimensions and looks. For example, the mask that gave Rooster a bit of a raccoon look has now completely separated and now looks more like two black eyes. One thing for certain, they have reached the weight that picking them up is no easy task... but at times the urge is too strong and I still do.

October 6, 2005
Last night was one of those scary nights that both worry and irritate me. As I was driving home, I could see a huge plume of smoke rising in the East. I worried if there might be a new fire growing near our home. I went back and forth on our only news radio stations. Both stations are owned by the same corporation. Some competition. Well, one station had wall to wall coverage of the President's speech (in which he once again said he won't change his mind about our troops in Iraq and gave no plan as to how we will exit the situation.) The other radio station was giving traffic reports and playing taped interviews with various agencies explaining how all the fires in the Los Angeles area are now contained or put out. It wasn't until I was nearly at the bottom of our mountain that one station reported "hearing" about a fire somewhere in Riverside. It took them nearly two hours to discover a 10,000 plus acre blaze that was threatening to close down two of the major freeways in Southern California. If our monopolized media cannot even locate a major fire around 60 miles from their station, what luck will they have locating other news when it happens. Too bad our fire wasn't connected to Hurricane Katrina. Seems if anyone 'burps' in New Orleans it is considered newsworthy. Not to mention the string of updates about whoever the current hunter is that is trying to capture an escaped alligator.

October 5, 2005
Accepting humor. While at an event, I was reminded that not everyone can be accepted doing humor. In a group I work with, there are a number of folks who crack jokes and kid each other. The rest are generally considered serious. There are many in the studio who think of me as a 'funny' person. When we are together we crack jokes and discuss humor and even spice up each others projects. After all, I have done physical comedy in costume, performed in front of an audience on the Jungle Cruise, and written comic strips. Yet in my group, I am not considered one of the funny folks. If I crack a joke, I will be told to 'stop' or be told I am acting 'like a freak', or get those looks as if I just farted. It is similar how some artists are typecast as action or humor artists. When they try to switch genres, there is a strong resistance. I am not sure why people are so quick to assign another person as 'funny' or 'unfunny'. But they do.

October 3, 2005
Disneyland with the folks was a total success. They particularly liked California Adventure due to there being so much to see and much less people than Disneyland. Also of great help was Rachel's spirit of fun. Her sweetness was a big reminder of why she is so important to me.

Tomorrow, I head off to a business seminar. Will not return home until the 5th. Back then...

October 2, 2005
Parents are in town for a visit. They arrived the 1st via Amrak (nearly 6 hours late). Have been catching up on sleep along with memories. Have been reminded what remarkable folks they are. Tomorrow, Disneyland. When I worked there as a character, they often came into the Park to have breakfast at the restaurant which used to be at the start of Main Street. It changed its name many times before vanishing. They haven't been to Disneyland since the mid 1980s. We'll also hit California Adventure. One of their requests... to see characters. I'll try.

October 1, 2005
October is here, and the major fires in Southern California seem to be getting under control. Of course the only fire the media is concerned with is the one North of Los Angeles. In fact, one news service stated that all the fires in Southern California were contained and had caused only slight damage. This is while the Burbank and the Thurman fires were destroying hundreds of acres, several homes and injuring people. This is while a major California highway is shut down. This is while thousands of people have been forced out of their homes. But the fire North of Los Angeles is doing fine. It is times like this that the whole media monopoly situation really burns me. Only a handful of stations (tv or radio) in Los Angeles are owned by local companies. Very few are independantly owned. This means folks in New York are decided what is important for us to know. This means folks in other states are calling the shots of how much local news is key. I recall a time, not much more than a decade ago, when news that happened in Los Angeles was instantly covered by most of the local stations. Now it seems they get their news off the wire, with little regard for local standards.

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