Archive for February, 2008

Barley’s First Day of School

Yep – you read that correctly. Barley boy had his first day of doggy school this evening at the Twin Cities Obedience Training Club, and it was a pretty predictable evening. Jason let me be Barley’s handler for the evening, which meant that I was in the ring, trying to get Barley to do tricks. The important tricks like: sit, lay down, listen to your name, walk normal. He loved every minute of it! Except he wasn’t too thrilled that he wasn’t allowed to play with the other doggies… he even started to whimper at the beginning when we wouldn’t let him play.

Barley is ready for school.

Our boy is good at the following: paying attention to all other dogs and humans who are not Jen, pulling on his leash, and sitting or laying when you have a treat in your hand.

Our boy is bad at: paying attention to Jen as she’s frantically waving treats in his face, listening to Jen as she tries to get his attention.

Barley gets his homework out. He is such a diligent student.

Of course, Jason and I (being trained animal behaviorists) had critiques of the instructors and lessons. Mostly, it was a good class. But we think they’re trying to classically condition some behaviors (think Pavlov’s drooling dogs), and we’re just more used to operant behavior training techniques (think rat presses lever, gets drug). Also, they seem completely against punishment, but everything we’ve learned in graduate school would suggest that punishing a behavior is the quickest way to stop it. We’ve been doing a combination of reinforcing behaviors we like (e.g., giving a treat when he sits after we say “sit”) and punishing behaviors we don’t like (e.g., growling at Barley when he does something we don’t like). Anyways, since our dog is not yet perfectly trained (I suspect that is mostly due to us not really working with him), we’ll take the help.

And that means that Barley’s got 2 FULL SHEETS of homework for this week. Man, doggy school is tough!

Jason helps Barley with his homework.

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February 26, 2008 at 12:02 am Leave a comment

winter warm up?

Let’s hope it lasts. Now that skiing is over and it’s almost March, I have no desire to wait for the bus in -15 degree weather. I’d much prefer the 20s-30s we had this weekend.

Yesterday I began training for a half-marathon that I’ve resolved to do this year. I’m not sure which half marathon I’ll run (if I can actually make it that far), but I’m hoping that this will get me in shape for the wedding. Not to mention, it’s good to get out in the warmer weather.

Today was beautiful, and we took full advantage of that with a trip to the doggy park. The park near our house is amazing. It lines the Mississippi and there are miles of off-leash fun to be explored. Much of the park is wooded, but there’s a little beach area along the river for doggies that like to swim (fortunately, Barley is not one of them). Barley had such a good time – we could tell by his wagging tail. He played with a bunch of dogs, and one of them was even a Barley-look-alike! We decided that Barley is sort of the geeky indie kid in the bunch (he takes after Jason) – he’s never quite in the center of action, but is always paying attention to what the other dogs are doing. Sometimes he’ll join in with their chasing and wrestling, but he’s mostly pretty aloof.

Barley looooves the doggy park.

So does Jason.

After our trip to the dog park, I cleaned out the vacuum cleaner (because it was completely clogged) and then vacuumed much of the house while Jason brewed beer in the garage. I went on another run with Barley late in the afternoon and then headed to my aunt’s house to have dinner with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and my grandparents who are visiting from Milwaukee. I came home to find Barley looking uber-pathetic and tired… I think I wore the boy out.

Jason’s brew set up in the garage.

I think he’s tired.

February 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment

you thought you’d never have to hear about it again.

but you were wrong… the bowling obsession continues…

Ian and I high five for good luck.

Today was the first Thursday in about 4 months that I’ve actually gotten enough sleep to make it through the work day. Why? Because our bowling league is over.

Our bowling teams: Little Lebowski’s Urban Achievers and Mark it Zero.

And good thing, too, because I’ve got some serious deadlines to meet – 3 manuscripts all need my attention before next Monday, and they are on things I know nothing about… like rodent neuroanatomy. Yeah, that’s right – you can divide their already tiny little rat brains into even smaller sections. It wouldn’t be so tricky, except that their anatomy doesn’t quite match up with human neuroanatomy, and why even bother with rats if we can’t translate what we’re doing to humans. So my quest to understand the rodent brain continues… wish me luck.

Strike! Let’s hope that I can feel this good about my manuscripts.

Anyways, it was a long day, but I came home to find a great surprise: Jason made guacamole! Delish!

Mmm… Jason’s homemade guac!

February 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm Leave a comment

San Francisco, part two

As it turns out, church, the zoo, AND fisherman’s wharf did not prove to be too ambitious for the Davis-Ross clan and their Minnesotan visitors. Yay!

First, church: St. Joseph’s Parish is a very old and very beautiful and the priest gave a pretty good homily. Peter was an angel in church – he was so quiet, and he managed to keep himself entertained through the entire mass.

Jason shows Peter the monkeys.

Second, zoo: The San Francisco zoo was pretty darn cool. They had all of the big animals that are crucial to receive my stamp of approval – giraffes, apes, bears, tigers. The only thing we missed was the elephants… and most of the big cats were in hiding (after the December tiger attack, they haven’t been available for viewing, but will be back out tomorrow). Anyways, we had a great time! Peter was so attentive and his uncle J was excited to tell him all about animals. I think Jason wished that there would have been a bigger snake/frog exhibit so that he could have really showed off his skills to Peter, but I’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to impress the little guy as he grows up.

Kevin and Peter check out the giraffes (they were my favorite).

Third, fisherman’s wharf: After the zoo, we drove straight to the wharf to spy on the sea lions at Pier 39, and check out Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from across the bay. Fisherman’s wharf is pretty cool to walk around, but a bit touristy. And, it was starting to get a bit late, so we decided to head out of the city. We stopped at another brew pub for dinner, but I suspect this one may have been a chain. At least Jason was happy.

Jason and I on Pier 39 (check out the sea lions in the background).

Monday, we rented a car and headed up to Healdsburg to meet my friend, Mandy, for lunch. We had a delicious lunch in wine country, followed by a stop at the Bear Republic Brewery (what can we say… Jason has a brew pub obsession). Next, we headed to Ukiah for another brew pub experience and more chatting with Mandy. Once Jason was satisfied that he had been to enough brew pubs for the day, we headed to Saracina – the ranch where Mandy works and lives. It was probably the most relaxing part of the trip – check out the pics – how could we not be relaxed with all of that beautiful scenery around us? And, the guest house was incredible – like something out of a magazine. Mandy made us a delicious dinner, and we drank a few glasses of wine, and I proceeded to fall asleep on the couch.

Jen and Mandy at Saracina: 2east 4eva.

Tuesday, we drove back to San Francisco (of course, we stopped at a brew pub for lunch on the way). Our flight out was a bit delayed, but we made it home. It was a -70 degree change in weather for us – 60s in San Fran followed by -10s in Minneapolis. Brr.

J and I in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
More pictures are here:

San Francisco 2-2008

Or, view Amy and Kevin’s photos here.

February 20, 2008 at 11:26 pm 2 comments

San Francisco, part one

We made it to San Fran safely, but not without a little chaos. Remind me to rant about flying later.

Yesterday, we met up with Kevin, Amy, and Peter and headed to Ano Nuevo State Park to see the elephant seals. The weather here is beautiful, making the short 1-2 mile hike even more fantastic. The scenery was amazing – especially for those of us who don’t often see the ocean – and we got surprisingly close to the elephant seals (as in, 5 ft close).

Jason and I at Ano Nuevo State Park

Check out the elephant seals in the background.

Hanging out with the Davis-Ross family is especially fun… Peter is absolutely adorable, smiley, well-behaved, happy, etc., and Kevin and Amy are pretty great parents (aside from being fun on their own – but it’s all about Peter now, right?). It’s amazing to see how much Peter has changed in the few weeks since we met him at the Minneapolis airport. He’s much bigger now and has greatly improved his crawling skillz. (yes, skillz with a “z”). He giggles and plays and eats solids with his own two hands (although, to be fair, we didn’t have the opportunity to really put these skills to the test last time we saw him).  Have I mentioned how absolutely adorable he is!?!

Peter gets to know his Uncle Jason

Today, we headed down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the fishes. Jason was disappointed that the great white shark that was on exhibit was no longer at the aquarium, but overall, we were pleased. I think Peter was amused by the sea creatures, too, and he was sooo good all day, despite not having a nap. We ate lunch and walked around near the aquarium (on the beach!), and then headed back to Mountain View. We ate dinner at a nearby brewpub – the Tied House – and I give it 2.5 stars (out of 5). It was okay, but nothing overly impressive.

The Ross boys hanging out in Monterey

On the agenda tomorrow: church, downtown San Fran, and the zoo. A bit ambitious? Stay tuned.

More pics are here:

San Francisco 2-2008

February 17, 2008 at 1:42 am 1 comment

bragging about bowling for the last time

That is, unless any of you want to go bowling sometime so I can show off my moves. No? Oh well.

We finished the season strong as our 5th place team (out of 8 teams) beat the 3rd place team in 2 out of 3 games. Blame it on our high handicap (we actually have the least number of pins knocked down in the league), but it’s still a win. I managed to get a 153. Not too shabby.

February 14, 2008 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

We’re leaving for San Francisco tomorrow

… and I cannot wait! (especially since we may have the opportunity to wear -gasp!- a t-shirt with no jacket). (oh yes, and we also get to see this cute little guy – who wouldn’t be looking forward to that?).

February 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

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