Thursday, February 23, 2006

Old Dog

I wonder what old dogs think about. I wonder what animals of any kind think about. Nearly every day on my way to work I see this old, white dog patroling the edge of the highway. He (or she) lives out in the country on a back road I like to take to avoid traffic. He looks fairly healthy, but his coat has lost its sheen and he could use some care and attention. He ambles along the end of his territory in no particular hurry. Just taking his time as if he's pondering some great scheme to ruin the neighbor's garden patch, or recalling the younger days of chasing rabbits and savoring soup bones. He looks like the kind that would stop to see you if you were to stop to see him. He'd probably walk over ever so slowly, smell your hand, welcome a pat on the head, then be off to complete his rounds.

There's something about the way he looks at me as I pass by in my truck. Those dark brown eyes lock with mine for just a few seconds as I hurry along my own path. He seems neither concerned nor pestered by my presence, and continues his walk just as soon as I leave.

But I see something in those eyes. Rememberance, maybe, of days now gone, of friends he'd known and lost, of fond memories when both he and his owner were younger, more limber, more spry, more agile. There's a longing in those eyes. A longing for times gone by, or for time to just get on with it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Pirate's Life for Me

According to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyworld, a pirate's life is downright inviting. Being drunk and slovenly is all right with pirates and you can even take a nap right there in the mud with the pigs. Plus, when you do awaken from your alcohol induced slumber, it's perfectly acceptable to fire your pistol, get in a fight or even chase wenches all over town. Who wouldn't want to be a pirate?

The movie of the same name adds further evidence that a pirate's life is full of boundless joy and adventure. And what young boy never dreamed of being a pirate one day, sailing the seven seas plundering riches from any who dared cross his path? Pirates have even been known to become baseball players in Pittsburgh and football players in Tampa, and in Oakland, too.

Why then, I wonder, that of all the images the industries could have conjured did the software and music moguls decide that it was bad to be a pirate? How can these educated leaders expect to stop the copying and distribution of their products if they call the perpetrators pirates? The term piracy doesn't villify anything, it romanticizes it. Our entire society romanticizes it for that matter. A carefree life. Easy riches. Man, who wouldn't want to be a pirate?

These days, of course, few of us own schooners that can cut through pitching seas at breakneck speeds of several knots (except for my neighbor, Rex, but that's the topic of another post). But CD burners and the software to power them are readily available. Which means that any of us can become pirates anytime we want, if we so choose. Now, before you think I'm encouraging copying software or music illegally, I'm not. I'm just saying it's pretty tough for anybody to resist getting a chance to fulfill the childhood fantasy of being a pirate when the tools of the trade are right there at their fingertips. Pretty tempting indeed.

You just can't stop somebody from doing something you don't want them to do by calling them a name that makes them grin with delight. No, moguls, go back to the boardroom and try again if you really want to quit chasing after copiers. It only works when you call them something disgusting, or something no one wants to be. In that vein, I suggest Software Saddams or maybe Music Maggots. But pirates? C'mon, who wouldn't want to be a pirate? Now excuse me, I have to go load my pistol, quaff a few ales and teach me parrot to swear. Aaargghh.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Snow, Birds and Crashes

It's been a mild winter again this year, but we did receive our first really measurable snow yesterday - four inches. It was the kind where the main roads are clear but the ground, the trees, rooftops are covered. Throughout the winter but especially during snows, I like to make sure there's plenty of seed out for the birds. I figure they have it pretty tough during cold weather, so I do what I can. This year, a large covey of mourning doves have taken residence in my yard and at times I've counted up to thirty birds. They are accompanied by a lively flock of finches, sparrows and other small fowl whose flittering movements make the doves seem like they're locked into slow motion.

I do have a bit of a problem with some of the smaller birds mistaking the picture window near their feeder as open air space. No one has gotten seriously hurt yet, but it may only be a matter of time. It's as if the birds realize a little too late that the tree they see is only a reflection, then they pull up just before impact, avoiding a fatal collision. Maybe I just need to put up a warning: "Danger. Not a Throughway." Well ... it's a good intention anyhow.