Sweltering

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the two days after Labor Day off to have some extra downtime and get a few things done around the house.

Little did I know that I’d be doing so during an historic heat wave.

We had some advance warning that it would be hot, but not how hot it world be. So we kicked off the weekend on Saturday by taking the doggo over to our friends’ house so he could play with their dogs and we could play in their pool. We got there on late morning and spent all day hanging out with them and their kids, having both lunch and dinner. It was great. I’d also been over there with the doggo the previous Monday to help teach their son Magic the Gathering. Domino had a great time, and he’s also learned that he comes home with us afterwards, as our friends fostered him several times before we adopted him. So I guess he knows we’re his humans now!

Sunday it got hotter, but we nonetheless hosted an outdoor gathering of a few neighbors, including a couple of new ones we hadn’t really met yet. (Their daughter got to come in to meet the cats.) It was planned to be a short event, and it was, because after a couple of hours we were all starting to melt. But it was a fun time despite this.

On Monday – Labor Day – the heat arrived in earnest, in time for us to have nothing planned. So we spent most of the day lazing around inside with Domino. Occasionally he wanted to go out, to almost immediately turn around and look inside with an expression that said “WTF is this?” Safe inside the air conditioning I did a bunch of small inside chores which made me feel accomplished. And around 9 pm I went out for my daily walk because it was down to 80°F/30°C and wasn’t going to get any cooler soon. It was okay, but still: Ugh.

It got up to 110°F/43°C on Monday and a little warmer on Tuesday, but maybe the most brutal thing was that it only got down to about 70/21 overnight, which meant things just never really cooled off. It also made me decided to take the week off from running, though I did walk in the morning instead. We also slept with the A/C on, which is no fun either.

Tuesday we both took the day off and drove over to Half Moon Bay, where we experienced what I’d read about the “heat dome” over the western U.S. which was (partly?) causing this heat wave: The high pressure zone has been compressing the marine air layer and keeping it from blowing over the hills to cool off the area, but the coast was still being cooled by the layer. And sure enough, it was 103°F/40°C as we went over the hills a little before 11 am, but had cooled to 70/21 by the time we got to the coast – only about 6 miles away. Pretty impressive!

We went to lunch at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, with a nice outdoor table, although we were disappointed that they didn’t have their roasted artichokes, which we found last time to be absolutely yummy. But as with last time this place has good food for good prices, a better value than your average brew pub. I also recommend their fries and Buffalo wings.

By the time we were done it was gotten up into the 80s even on the coast, so we had a short walk along the coast before driving back. (And noticed on the way that the Dunkin’ in HMB is closed – “temporarily” says Apple Maps, but all the signage is gone.) We treated ourselves to milkshakes at Rick’s on the way before getting home to release the doggo from his when-we’re-away room (also known as our guest room). It was brutally hot so that was about all we did.

The Pacific Ocean seen from the Half Moon Bay coastal trail.

Debbi went back to work today, while I did some chores around the house and then went and ran some errands in the Valley, including lunch at Falafel Stop. Took care of a couple things which had been on my list for quite a while, too, such as disposing of some medicines that have been bagged since we got the kittens in 2020. It was pretty ugly out, but the temps peaked at 100°F/38°C which did feel a little better than the last two days/

There was more I wanted to do this weekend, but between policing the dog (who is getting better but still lunges at the cats, and had an encounter with Jackson where Jackson gave him a good scratch on his nose) and recovering from the heat, I’ve just felt like sitting on the couch a lot.

The next two days are going to be a lot like today, and then it should finally cool off. Indeed, next week we should have highs in the 70s/20s, which is cooler than it was for most of August. Not quite fall weather, but then, it won’t be fall for another two weeks.

I am definitely ready for some fall weather, though.

Debbi and Michael in Half Moon Bay

Back to Boston

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in the Boston area, my first airplane trip since COVID started. I’m not going to say “my first post-COVID trip”, because COVID is still with us and probably will be for the rest of my life. Nonetheless, this trip did feel like a landmark.

It wasn’t a vacation, as I had to head back to take care of some personal business, which I’m not going to go into here. Originally I’d planned to be there for two weeks – July 19 to August 2 – but some of that business got truncated, so I ended up moving my flight earlier, coming home on July 28.

I flew JetBlue, which I’ve been flying for over a decade as they consistently have direct flights between the Bay Area and Boston, and they’re usually on time. My flight out left at 8 am, and the day before a friend posted on Facebook that the line at security at SFO had been insane, so we got up at 4:30 am and Debbi drove me up early. It turns out whatever had been the problem the day before was fine for me, and I got to the gate two hours early, the flight took off on time, and landed half an hour early.

I had massive anxiety about the plane flight ahead of time, even though as far as I can tell there have been negligible COVID outbreaks traced to airplanes. Staying masked for a 5-1/2 hour flight (even longer on the return trip) seemed implausible at best to me, if for no other reason than because I’d need to drink water regularly on the flight. I wore an N95 mask, but less than half the people on my flight were wearing any mask at all (and that was probably a pretty good rate, since I bet San Francisco and Boston have higher mask-wearing rates than most cities). Most people took off their masks to eat or drink, and, well, it’s really, really hard not to follow the examples of others, even when you know it’s not the smartest thing to do, and especially since the mask was starting to drive me crazy after a couple of hours (cloth masks are fairly comfortable, N95s are definitely not). So I took off my mask to eat and drink as well.

So I have a lot of sympathy for people who have to wear masks all day, and a fair amount of understanding for people who object to having to do so, as well as a fair amount of annoyance at people who blithely say or imply (usually through their tone) that that level of mask wearing is easy or should be globally expected.

Anyway.

My sister Katy took the opportunity to drive up to visit as well, bringing my nephew Ivan along, and they picked me up at the airport. We all crammed into my Dad’s townhouse. Fortunately said house has excellent air conditioning, because the first week of my visit had highs in the 90s and awful humidity every day.

It was good to visit with them and my Dad. I haven’t seen Dad since he visited me the fall of 2019, and it had been even longer since I’d seen Katy and Ivan.

I might have mentioned that we’ve been doing some work on the beach house we own on the south shore. “Some work” undersells it considerably, as in a sense we’re making up for several decades of deferred maintenance. On the bright side we have an excellent general contractor managing the project, and I finally got to meet him and see the progress firsthand. The really large chunk of work has been finished and now we’re on to the large-but-smaller pieces. As big an effort as it’s been, it’s going to be awesome when it’s done.

One of my tasks was to help my Dad buy an iPhone, because his flip phone uses the 3G network which Verizon is discontinuing at the end of the year. That went reasonably smoothly, and he seems to be picking up the essentials of using it pretty quickly (though he might not entirely agree). But then, he’s been using an iPad off and on for a few years, so he had some familiarity with it.

Originally, Katy, Ivan and I had planned to go to the Red Sox game on Friday, but we all bailed because of the heat. We’d eaten dinner outside several times and I’d wilted after about an hour, and couldn’t see myself making it through a 3-hour game. It turns out we missed an historic game, as the Blue Jays won 28-5, which is tied for the 4th-largest run differential in the modern era (since 1900). How often does one get to see something like that? Oh well! Hopefully whoever bought our tickets we either a Jays fan, or really wanted to drink a lot of beer.

Over the weekend I drove down to visit my in-laws, whom I also haven’t seen since the Before Times. I got to see all three of my niephews, and all four of the dogs – three of whom are new since our last visit. It was a nice quiet weekend other than chasing the dogs around.

Katy and Ivan had left by the time I got back – and of course while I took a bunch of pictures with the in-laws, we completely spaced taking photos with the three of us. Oh well!

I had some more tasks to do during the week, and also hung out with my Dad a bunch. I was happy to see it rain Monday evening, which finally cleared out the humidity and took a bunch of the heat with it. I also drove back Tuesday night to meet our contractor for dinner, which we both enjoyed. I ate out a lot on this trip, but was able to eat outside almost all the time.

I took a late afternoon flight home on Thursday, because I just didn’t trust dealing with getting up early, catching the T, and getting through security in time for one of the morning flights. Fortunately everything went smoothly, except that the plane took off almost an hour late due to general weather issues across the country, and didn’t land until about 1:30 am east coast time, so I was basically dead by the time Debbi picked me up and we got home.

We took the next day off and went out for breakfast, and then had a pretty quiet day otherwise. Domino-the-labradork is slowly adjusting to living with us: His personality is coming out as he gets more comfortable, and he is slowly getting less aggressive or excited around the cats. Progress!

I took COVID tests on both Friday and Monday, and both were negative. I decided to just work from home all week out of an abundance of caution, and will take another test at the end of the week. Maybe I got away with it.

It was a good trip, although holy cow Boston you can keep your summer humidity. Hopefully next time I can go back for a proper vacation, and Debbi can come with me.

Introducing Domino

So this happened:

Domino sitting in the kitchen

Domino is a black lab mix, about a year and a half old, maybe 50 pounds? (My guess is he’s 55-60.) (ETA: The vet says he’s 45 pounds!) He had a rough early life: He was abused as a puppy, was rescued and had at least one surgery (one rear leg is stunted and we think has a pin in it so he can’t bend the knee), then was sent to California where he was adopted and returned three times. Our friends Chad and Camille fostered him in between, so they got to see him grow up, and he became friends with their two dogs.

After he was returned the last time, Debbi decided to pursue us adopting him. He’s going to be more her dog than mine, because while I like dogs, I’ve never really wanted to responsibility of a dog (which is rather different from the responsibility for cats). I’m going to help, of course, but she’s primary.

He arrived with the name “Dominoes”, but we decided to drop the plural.

We brought him home a week ago, having picked up a couple of crates, beds, food, toys, bowls, and a leash. Understandably he was tentative at first, but he seemed to trust us, and he got more comfortable over the next few days. We even took him with us to pick up dinner!

Domino in the car

Integration with the cats has been… bumpy. Maybe because he doesn’t have much experience with cats, we’re not sure. He barks at them and sometimes lunges at them if they get too close. But sometimes he does the “I want to play” crouch. He’s slowly getting better but there’s a ways to go. We’ve been keeping him on a leash inside to control his lunges.

The cats’ reactions have been varied. Jackson pretty quickly decided the dog doesn’t impress him, and he quickly returned to his normal habits. He’s had a couple of close encounters with Domino, but no one’s gotten hurt yet. Simon by contrast has mostly kept his distance, and spent the first couple of days mostly under the bed. Edison is somewhere in between. All of them have been figuring out Domino’s habits (he sleeps in a covered crate, he spends most of the work day in the dining room with Debbi, etc.), which I think has helped them be more comfortable.

Domino gorked out on the couch

I think Domino has accepted us as his humans. Debbi has been taking him for a walk in the morning, though he is a low-endurance pupper and I doubt I’ll be taking him on my runs any time soon. He is enjoying the back yard, though, and his favorite game seems to be tug-of-war. Sometimes he just gleefully runs around the yard with a kong in his mouth.

So it’s an ongoing adjustment. I’m hoping he’ll eventually chill out enough that the cats will lie with him, or at least play a bit with him, but I’ll settle for him not going after them, even if there’s some barking. We’re doing some training with him on Saturday, and there will be more in the future.

In any event, we now have this big ol’ labradork in our family.

Domino lying on the lawn
(Just ignore the drought-browned grass)