Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Wellesley venture aims to reinvent athletic gear

Practicing for the hurdles event.
Check out the cool collegiate-y athletic products--running shorts, tees, a neat bag to hold your spikes-- at Wellesley-based Tracksmith, co-founded and headed by Matt Taylor. It's a new venture that I learned about in my daily reading of the Boston Business Journal. You all know how entrepreneurial I am, so I like to keep up.

I like the look, the products, the golden hare logo--and the fact that not one, but TWO dogs grace Tracksmith's office as I write. It's very cool that all of the products are made in the U.S. That would satisfy my girlfriend Kiki's owner, who insists on US-made gear. The company offers five products right now, only for men, but envisions a women's line in the future. I took it upon myself to suggest some dog gear. You know, there really aren't any good portable water bowls, and an athletic singlet would look kind of cute on me.

Being rather interested in creatures who run, I chatted with Matt online about the logo, and he most promptly replied: "That's Eliot, the hare. We wanted something classic that would feel timeless now and 30 years from now." As for Tracksmith, he says, "We wanted a name that felt established and substantial. And that speaks to what we're doing. Obviously, 'track' is a serious part of running, and 'smith' speaks to the craft and quality of our products."

Given that my forte is running, and considering that my parents are a longtime marathon-crazed dad and a newly-crazed mom, we plan to be checking out Tracksmith's gear pronto. And if by chance the company needs another dog tester, I'll be happy to sign up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not the New York Thymes! Homophone pears at the nation's greatest newspaper

This canine knows how to use his canines.
(That's a doorstop with a weighted base I'm gnawing.)
Being the product (virtually) of a professor dad and a journalist/librarian mom, it would be criminal if I were not sensitive to the subtleties of the English language. So, while I am considered an ELL (English language learner) student—yes, I get the unnecessary repetition there, but such is eduspeak—I do know my living room mantel from a kingly mantle.

Not so the New York Times. Or is it the Thymes?

In two stories, one on July 9 and another on July 16, writers used the word mantle when they meant mantel. It's not the first time—or the only pair, or should I say pear, of homophones to be confused. Besides, shouldn't someone be checking?

Mom tells the story of an intern at her old paper who made the laughable, yet horrifying, error of writing about the Fabulous Four as "The Beetles." Fortunately, an editor caught that one. But forgive that callow youth? Never.

The question: does anyone else notice? Does anyone know the difference between homophones and homonyms? What about homographs? Does anyone care that a "morning" dove is really a mourning dove? Or should we just call them pigeons and forget about them?

In case you wondered, dear reader, ranting indeed is a family trait.

Here's some help: homophone: two or more words with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homonym: two or more words spelled the same with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homograph: two words spelled the same but pronounced differently and with different meanings

But what due eye no? I'm just a canine. And if you discover the homonym in that penultimate sentence, I'll gladly share my bone. I've got a pear of them, anyway.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Hound-iquity? Wellesley dog launches idea for new hound-walking app

If my parents had OutSider, they never would have tried
to get me out on a walk last night. I knew t-storms were coming.
Ok, I'm thrilled that Wellesley-based Mobiquity worked with The Weather Channel on a new app called OutSider for runners that helps them figure out the best time to run (see the Boston Business Journal story here). Not only am I tired of Mom agonizing over windspeed, direction and temp, I'm hoping they'll work on something for dogs.

Specifically, for dogs who do not wish to encounter thunderstorms, rain, or large German Shepherds on their walks.

That would be me.

The app also might note the location of nearby puddles with water decent enough for drinking (I'm not picky) as well as pinpointing optimal locations to rest on one's route. It also might highlight establishments that allow dogs (Wellesley Books) as well as those that provide water and treats (again, Wellesley Books, and thank you, Pinnacle Properties).

I'd be able to advise on all the above. In fact, I'd be able to make better predictions than The Weather Channel, having predicted this afternoon's thunderstorms last night when I refused to get out of the car at my favorite location, Wellesley Books. Mom and Dad knew that something big was up then.

So for dogs whose fear of thunderstorms, fireworks and giant shaggy creatures make them too fearful to venture out, I propose a new app called InSider that monitors the quality of one's sleep, prompts humans to move one's various beds into the sun (or the closet, in case of rain), and arranges in-home playdates with nearby pups. Put me on the creative team for that one, too.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Storm effects: Thunder, fireworks, trees down and a rescued kingfisher

Young male kingfisher in his personal transport.
I wish I had Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs. After two days of me pacing around and drooling, Thursday's crazy storm put me into an even bigger dither than usual. Then Friday, somewhere around here, fireworks. Lots of them. Loud. Honestly, what is it about people and loud things? If they were born with ears as big as mine, they wouldn't need to make so much noise. It's enough to make me vow to never venture forth from behind my chair again.

My favorite crossing guard at Oak and Bacon streets fared worse than I yesterday when a gigantic tree—actually just one giant part of it—crashed and flattened both cars that were parked in the driveway. Even though her dog and I never liked each other, she always has been kind to me.

On the way home from gawking at the crushed cars, Dad noticed a bird hopping in an unusual way near the soccer field. Upon closer inspection, it was a young male kingfisher, who had an injury to his neck and leg. I stood sentinel while Mom tried to find an animal control officer on duty, to no avail. I refused to leave my post until help arrived, which, by chance, it finally did. A neighbor walking his dog offered to go home and get a box, which he did, having thoughtfully poked airholes in it first.

The kingfisher captured, Mom took it to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, where it was to be ferried off to an animal hospital for care. Staff there thought the bird might have been injured by the storm, too. It's predicted he'll recover. I don't know about me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Early warning: thunderstorms predicted for Wellesley

Tail falling? Take my advice and take shelter in the basement.
I first predicted these t-storms yesterday afternoon. When Rebecca at Wellesley Books asked "Where's The Beast?" when Mom arrived there Tucker-less, and learned that I was in the basement with my tail between my legs, she was kind enough to check the radar for confirmation.

"Closest is in the Adirondacks," she said.

Exactly.

So I'm hearing all kinds of rumbling now, and am writing this from my basement couch. In short,  prepare for a storm later, late this afternoon. I'll give the all-clear when it's over.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vintage dog items for a good cause

Check out the sale of some canine-related tchotchkes on One Kings Lane to benefit a Los Angeles-based dog rescue.

Among my favorites, this set of German Shepherd clothes brushes—to remind me of the brushoff I gave the giant, live one in my neighborhood this a.m.

Singing lessons for diva dog wannabes?

Inspecting my friend P—'s chickens after my performance.
"You should teach him how to sing," said my friend P— to Mom, his ears still ringing, perhaps, from my seemingly endless series of mournful bays that echoed off Morses Pond the other day.

P—had witnessed my homecoming greeting/hounding to Mom from across the waters of the pond to the cove nearest home, where she had thoughtlessly left me for what seemed like hours on end.

I actually think I sing pretty well. Perhaps P— meant I should learn to sing on command, but then, he should know better. I don't do anything on command, or even upon suggestion.

Take my latest round of lessons, so-called, from a perfectly well-meaning, competent, kind and endlessly patient trainer. Mom had recommended that she read Herman Melville's short story, Bartleby the Scrivener, as a kind of "get to know your pup" prerequisite. I'm known to my closest pals as "Tuckerby" —not Tucker B., as some have thought—given my likeness to the story's protagonist, or antagonist would be more like it.

Yes, I prefer not to, just like Bartleby. For example, a good percentage of my lessons involved having me sit as an entree into the next activity. Now, believe me, I know how to sit. Quite well, in fact.

However, I preferred not to, with ideal consequences. As my humans became more desperate, the treat quality would escalate. I would stand there, acting like I hadn't a clue about anything. Begging would ensure—that wouldn't be me on my knees, but Mom. I, of course, would hold out for the best treats, which might take the entire 45 minutes, or I might not give in at all. One or two sits during a session were considered monumental feats.

Lessons were supposed to be an hour, but nobody could stand another 15 minutes of my recalcitrance.

One lesson focused on me getting into the car. Now, I love the car, but again—only when I'm ready. So I gave in, finally, one week, and returned to the training session for next steps. But when it was time to really leave, or so Mom thought, I did the logical thing, which was to refuse to get in. Finally, after I exhausted everybody, the series of "lessons" ended, to the gratitude of everyone involved.

So, singing lessons? I think not.