Scavenger Hunt

Dear Andy,

You need to locate the following things for the blog:

  • A really good image plugin. The mojo that comes with WordPress is okay, but it’s klugey. Your AppleScript tool would automatically scale the image to the right size and it would even center it within the column. Imagine! Centering an image! You ought to be able to find a plug-in or something that works just as well.
  • A guide to widgets. It seems like most of the things you want to put in the sidebar(s) are easier to accomplish with widgets than with the scripts you were going to write. I know you’ve been busy but I bet there’s a master directory, like the one for plugins.
  • A menu package. Like Tigra Menus, maybe. You’re going to need drop-down menus under the masthead for site navigation (links to podcasts, the local Sun-Times archive, etc.) I think Tigra Menus requires that you leave empty space for the menus. Or actually, maybe there’s something even neater than simple dropdowns (wheels? I dunno).
  • Prolly a good idea to at least look around at message board software. A message board is definitely not a Phase 1 thing, but it’ll be easier to incorporate when the time comes if you start preparing for it now, when the site is still being designed.
  • An RSS solution. Feedburner, I think, is your default…but is it really the best choice? You’re still unclear on what, precisely, Feedburner will do for you. Apart from site metrics (which you’re not terrible interested in yet) and allowing the RSS feed to “travel” if need be. WordPress’ baked-right-in feed seems to be working well; already this non-public blog is getting way more search hits than the AppleScripted one you’ve had up for years. But on the whole, it’s time to get less dumb on this particular topic.
  • A calendar widget or plugin or something. Remember how you wanted to be able to have your upcoming appearances automatically populate into a little agenda thingy in Yellowtext’s sidebar? But you gave up when you discovered that (shockingly) iCal’s AppleScript support doesn’t allow you to retrieve the next (x) upcoming events without loading in the entire calendar and then sorting manually. I bet there’s a widget or something that hooks into Google Calendar or somesuch.
  • Maybe it’s time to get an Amazon partner thing. You’re hoping to use the blog to help people to find your books and stuff. Why not get an extra few pennies when they buy ’em by clicking your link? But hmm…probably a good idea to figure out how to make that work through Barnes & Noble as well. They’re giving the iPhone book a lot of play in their holiday catalogue and you don’t want to play favorites.
  • If you can’t commit to a specific design yet, at least decide on a theme generator or template. Again, I know you’ve been busy and I’m glad that you’ve been keeping a list of design notes. You’ve also chosen a great color palette. But if you’re going to have the Celestial House of Bandwidth open “wide” when the iPhone book is released, well sir, the first week of December is going to come up reallll quick.
  • Also a good idea to get an “post via email” solution going. You installed a kewl plugin that gives you full admin access from the iPhone, and that actually delivers 90% of the “post remotely” functions that you wanted. But the day will come when you’ll be glad you had basic email posting wired up and ready to go. I know you couldn’t get it working during the first couple of days but you barely tried.
  • Oh, and look for more Flickr plugins. There has to be a great one out there. You put lots of terrific content upon Flickr and what you’d like to be able to do is simply cross-post an album between the blog and the Flickr stream. As yet, you’ve wired up Flickr’s own “post to blog” feature (which doesn’t work the way a well-designed tool ought to) and you’ve stumbled across a bunch of Flickr plug-ins that let you embed an album. But I think the perfect thing awaits your discovery.
  • Ditto for YouTube functions and podcast plug-ins. Every month you have more video to link to (thank you, CBS) and maybe there’s a better way to do that than just to paste the stock YouTube embed. Something like a gallery or theater? Similarly, it’d be great to drive podcasts straight from the site. Make sure you’re backing a winning horse.

Okay, that’s pretty much it for now, Andy. I know you’ll be kicking into high gear on these things once the Leopard book is finished but it doesn’t hurt to make a list so it’s always handy. Plus, despite the fact that you’re keeping this beta blog low-key, folks might see this list and leave their own suggestions.

Your Pal – Andy.

The Words

So today’s Waypost of Progress on the new site design centered on just one word.

When I started up this redesign, the title “Celestial House of Binary” knocked on my door and strolled right in before I had time to say “Come on in” or change out of my Betty Boop wig. To be honest, I wasn’t in the market for a new blog name — the Colossal Waste of Bandwidth still had a certain jenny-say-what about it — but it instantly occurred to me that any title beginning with the word “Celestial” was pretentious and vague and both of those things would fit in quite nicely with my plans for the site.

Then a commenter pointed out that I was only one letter away from retaining “CWoB” as the site’s initials, and suggested that I find another word to take the place of “House.”

“Damn you,” I replied, though in truth I was delighted that my next site-related project would be to write one single solitary word instead of mastering the art of WordPress theme construction.

I needed a new “W.” Ideally one that could fulfill the same role as “House”: something that meant a container or controller or somesuch. Lying on my sofa and staring blankly at the spider on my ceiling didn’t work out as well as I hoped (mostly I worried what would happen if the thing started descending) so I downloaded a Scrabble dictionary and scrolled to the”W”‘s.

Early candidates:

  • Wagon
  • Waypost
  • Waypoint
  • Waywode – Slavic military leader
  • Wairua – Maori tenet of spiritual wellness
  • Wallow
  • Waltz
  • Walkabout
  • Warbler
  • Wardrobe
  • Warehouse

And then I got more selective. I made it all the way to “Wellspring” before I added anything new to the list. The trouble is that even among those who had made it past the cattle call and earned an actual audition in front of Randy, Paula and Simon, there were no real “aha”s. They were either rather lame and non-catchy (“Wagon”), or they transformed the ironic pretentiousness of “Celestial” into actual pretentiousness (“Wellspring”) or else they fell afoul of the dreaded Renfair Syndrome.

Renfaire Syndrome: Unfortunate neurological condition in which you pretend that you thought that everybody knew what a Wyvyrn is (duh!), when in truth you chose that word specifically for the arrogant pleasure of having to keep explaining it to people.

By the end of this little adventure, I concluded that I could just turn the Colossal Waste of Bandwidth into the Celestial Waste of Bandwidth and call it a day. I get to keep CWoB, I communicate that I’ve done something new to the place, and if anything, I’ve actually intensified the mission of the original site.

After all, a Colossal Waste is simply a tragedy. A Celestial Waste of Bandwidth, on the other hand, is a mission from God.

Moving Along…

And here we see one of the advantages of using WordPress as your blogging platform instead of a homemade AppleScript app. I’m on the Acela train, about an hour from NYC (first-class car, thank you very much) and lookit me: I’m blogging.

I went and installed a special iPhone plugin that served a cool mobile admin page when the blog senses that I’m accessing the admin side from an iPhone. I had been slightly miffed that I’ve (as yet) failed to get blogging-by-email working but hell, so long as I have something that works.

I had one of those “life is good” moments a couple of hours ago. The Boston-NYC run takes you down the New England coastline. At sunset, as it happened. I had tjis week’s (unseen) episode of “House” going on the iPod Touch, dinner on the train was very nice, the views from my seat were quite pretty, and I was getting some nice photos.

“Life is Good,” I sighed. And it was.

Of course, later I realized that I’ve left my credit cards at home. But it was still a nice moment.

As Though Our Two Hearts Have Been Mashed Together As One

Okay.

This gentleman is a wonderful photographer.

No joke. He’s a real pro. His shots have a compelling, luminous quality. Strong portfolio. Good stuff.

But this has got to be one of the very worst ideas for a wedding photo ever.

(Third from the top.)

My second reaction is of course the inescapable metaphor.

“We’re stuck on the railroad tracks,” these faces say from the luminous photo on their sofa table. “That’s us. That’s our life together. Stalled and stuck on the railroad tracks. Ignoring the warning signs that should have been obvious to even a drunk-ass sea otter, to say nothing of all of the people — all of our friends and family, really — who are frantically shouting ‘Don’t do it! It can’t possibly end happily! It’s going to be a terrible disaster!!!’

“But for this moment, at least, we’re the happiest damned people in the whole ****ing world. Let us grab on to this moment! Grab it and hold it close and make it last forever!”

My first reaction is “Holy ****! You! You two idiots! Get off the train tracks!!!

The Stars-At-NIGHT! Shine Big-And-BRIGHT!!!

I got back from Houston on Sunday night. It’s now Wednesday and I think I’m just about done digesting what I ate over there.

Barbecue, ladies and gentlemen. Real, honest-to-God, prescription-grade barbecue. You might have heard an unrepentant flesh-eater to say “If God hadn’t intended for us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat, would He?” Well, if you had the pulled-pork sandwich I had for lunch on Saturday, you’d understand that this is no glib, defensive rebuttal.

The sauce was wonderful but clearly, the chief source of flavor was the slow smoke. It was served on thick slices of coarse bread with slivers of cheese and chili peppers. with pork rice on the side.

Any sort of dessert was probably medically contraindicated but circumstances demanded that I add a slice of pecan pie to my tray.

It was a humble sort of barbecue joint, where you slide your tray across the counter before the kitchen cafeteria-style. I looked longingly at the range of desserts but then I remembered that a full mongoose is a slow mongoose. I was giving my talk right after lunch, and I was on just a few hours’ sleep as it was, so I let the pies alone.

We reached the till, and I reached for my wallet. But my arm was slapped…slapped!…by the user-group member who was acting as my Seeing Eye Texan at this venue.

I shot him a look. “All right, you son of a bitch,” I said. “Just for that, I’m getting dessert. And if you hit me again, I’m getting a tee shirt, too!!!”

But as so many people who post ads on Craigslist will agree, pleasure often accompanies pain. The pie was astoundingly good. I’m not a diabetic (yet) and I don’t test my blood glucose levels but if a dessert is so sweet that it temporarily causes your vision to go a little orange, that can’t be good, can it?

Anyway. The Houston-Area Apple Users Group talk was emblematic of the reasons why I love coming out to talk to user groups. The people were terrific, I got to swap my messy house for a nice hotel for a couple of nights, the food was out-of-this-world-ish in nature, and I got to spend a couple of days in a new city.

What did I talk about? The title came to me when I realized how unhappy Mac people seem to be with Apple all of a sudden. Behold, the first slide in my presentation:

Festivus In September

Yes, I did perform Feats of Strength. But the point of the exercise was indeed the Airing of the Grievances.

I Want To Be…A LUMBERJACK!!!

…Because this writing thing blows. Really. Today’s the last day I can make serious changes to my iPhone/iPod Touch book. Let’s review the ways the world changed today:

  • Apple released a firmware update. Adds one new feature that should go in the book somewhere (media files as mail attachments are playable within Mail; great way to spontaneously put a podcast on your iphone) but breaks third-party apps.
  • Yahoo! has decided to shut down its podcast directory. And here I went and talked about it in the “Podcasts” chapter.
  • Rogue Amoeba released an awesome radio-capture app. Actually they released it a day or two ago. But I had no idea that it existed until I was reviewing the chapter on capturing streaming audio and just needed to quickly double-check the price of Audio Hijack Pro. Well, **** me; this Radioshift app is multiple instances of awesome.

So sometime before, during or after my flight to Houston tomorrow I need to deal with all of that, plus a bunch of little things, before this manuscript turns into a pumpkin.

Again I salute the fine men and women of the United Parcel Services. Every single time something about my job bums me out to the point of changing my skin color temporarily, I realize that package sorters and drivers don’t have to deal with this sort of stuff.

Possibly (Hopefully) The Low Point

5 days until final book deadline. There’s a certain amount of shaving and showering that should be happening but isn’t.

The true sign that I’ve reached the end game (as well as the low reserves of my mental faculties) is when I must resort to lab rat methods of motivation.

Witness (metaphorically only, unless you’re that kind person who sent me the vintage moose head and the 802.11g antenna that appears to be sticking up behind its left ear is transmitting video from an embedded camera) the small dish to the left of my keyboard. This morning, it contained eight peanut M&M’s. It now contains three. Each candy represents a specific item on today’s punchlist that must be completed before I’m allowed to close my eyes and adopt any posture that invites or even risks sleep.

Yes, I both need a tangible reward for each goal met, as well as a visible indicator of progress and a clear marker of when it’s time to walk away from the keyboard and follow the orange pixies into their magic gumdrop forest.

It is very appropriate that I’ll be boarding a plane and fleeing this whole half of the USA on the day I submit the last bits of this book. I think I’m going to desperately need to spend 48 hours forgetting everything about my office and cocooning myself in a world apart where there’s a king-sized bed, maid service, and cheerful Texans eager to ply me with barbecue.

Acesulfame K

Rrgh. For a test blog, I don’t seem to be doing a lot of testing, eh?

My apologies. This is the final week of production on my iPhone book and I’m using up every last second I have to make it The Best God-Damned Book Ever Written. “Moby Dick”? “Great Expectations”? “The King James Bible (Special Edition With All Of The Naughty Stuff Outlined In Purple)”? Forget ’em. Toss them into the recycling because “iPhone: Fully Loaded” will without any question become the standard by which all great literature is compared.

All great literature will fail by comparison, but it’s good that these other writers keep themselves busy and have some sort of goal. Don’t you think?

So there are two immediate priorities going on with the Celestial House of Binary (BETA):

1) Create a somewhat awesome new WordPress theme. Workin’ on it. I’ve found a couple of neat tutorials and starting points (thanks in part to a public call for same on MacBreakWeekly) that have given me a big leap on this. I’ll post links later.

I’ve also worked out the color scheme, based on a page of comic book art. I photographed the page, handed it off to Flickr Toys’ Palette Generator, and bango: I immediately had a CSS stylesheet with those colors all locked and loaded.

2) Figure out the best way to wire up the RSS feed. My homebrew blogging app has a long list of weaknesses. One of the biggest is that although it observes most of the ginchier web standards (like RSS) it’s still bloody invisible to the search engines and trackers and other mechanisms that folks use to find stuff on the Web. It’s off on its own island somehow and I’ve no idea why.

Case in point: I did my usual egosurf on Technorati and as usual, Yellowtext posts on the Colossal Waste of Bandwidth are nowhere to be seen. But posts here on the Celestial House of Binary pop up immediately.

This is discouraging for Yellowtext. Dammit, it’s been online and RSS-ified for something like five years now, and it’s been linked all over the place. Whereas Ihnatko.com has only been live for a few weeks, with no word-of-mouth at all.

So before I tell people to come on down to Ihnatko.com (for all your badland RV sales and service needs), I wanna make sure that the RSS system is as studly as it can to be.

Mmmmm…okey-doke. Then Feedburner, I guess? I’ve looked at this service as a technology pundit and I’ve looked at it as an author with a longstanding blog and now I’ve looked at it as someone starting up a new blog, and each time the site tells me the exact same thing:

“Feedburner has something to do with hosting RSS feeds. The thing that it does, whatever it is, will work out for you in the long run. Honest.”

Feedburner desperately needs an “elevator pitch.” That is, if you have an idea for a movie and you want to get George Lucas excited about it and you’ve got an hour of his time, well, awesome. But in reality,

(Yes. The reality of getting a chance to pitch a movie idea to George Lucas. I regretted that as soon as I typed it. If only there were some way of un-writing that before you all read it. I can only apologize and move on.)

…But in reality, the best you can count on is having ten or twenty seconds between the time you realize that the man standing next to you in the elevator is the guy who did “American Graffiti” and “THX-1138” and “Star Wars” and even “Radioland Murders”, and the time one of his goons pulls your sweatshirt over your face NHL-style and shoves you into a fountain in the lobby.

You can’t sell nothin’ without an elevator pitch: ten to twenty seconds that will engage enough of someone’s interest that they’ll want to hear the “real” pitch. FeedBurner’s site lacks those critical ten to twenty seconds.

Well, I’ll figure it out. Next week. When the book is done and the birds are singing in the trees and the bacon is once again hot, crisp and flavorful. Until then, I am stuck in my office, singing showstopping numbers from the classic musical “Showboat” and feeling like the most miserable bastard alive.

Whistle While You Smirk

You can tell that a project is going well when you’re pleased to be busting your ass. Case in point: my iPhone book, which is in its final week of writing.

It’s coming out great. It goes its own way and it justifies its existence in the marketplace and it’s going to make a lot of iPhone owners really happy with their purchases. Of both the iPhone and the book.

Oh, and iPod Touch owners, too. It would have been great to be one of the first to market but good God! The iPhone is a completely different beast today than it was two months ago.”iPhone Fully Loaded” won’t be the first iPhone book but it’ll probably be the first one to reflect the actual state of the world, not the one that existed a week or two after the release date.

Among the benefits: the evening after Apple announced the iPod Touch, I laughed and laughed and then I went through the manuscript, looking for places to change “iPhone” to “iPhone or Touch.” A couple of phone calls to the publisher and the marketing will reflect that it’s full of tips and techniques for Touch users. First to market!

So today I finally bit the bullet and canned Chapter 8. It was…interesting,  but it was kind of just sitting there between chapters 7 and 9. I looked at its place in the structure of the book and suddenly remembered a much more interesting topic I’d come up with about a month ago, when the book was “locked.” But I had to put it aside, because I couldn’t insert a new chapter at that point without completely disrupting every chapter that came after it.

Welp, I realized that if I dumped the current Chapter 8 — which was damned-near complete — this new topic could slide right into its place. And nobody would have to spend two days renumbering illustrations and callouts because of an inserted chapter.

It was lots of work but damn, it’s much better than what I had there before. If the project were going poorly, an element that requires only 20 minutes of thumb-twiddling would feel like torture. As it is, at the end of six hours I was no farther along than I was when I started, vis a vis the number of completed chapters. But I couldn’t be more pleased.

Q&A: “Is Mankind Inherently Good Or Evil?”

Q: Is Mankind’s basic nature to be good, or evil?

A: If those are the only two choices, then “good,” definitely.

I sense a disturbance in the Force which corresponds to thousands of voices crying out with information…information that they can barely recall, from a single college Philosophy course that they barely passed. Blah blah blah Hegel blah blah blah Kant, etc.

Philosophers! Morons. All of them. Except of course for the once who have tenured positions with prestigious universities. Now that’s a sweet, sweet scam worthy of a Corleone.

And save your “But are you a good person because that’s Man’s nature, or merely because you fear the repercussions that come from breaking the law?” This comment only demeans you. Plus, it doesn’t address the question. The question isn’t “Am I, Andy Ihnatko, good or evil?” — I suppose I shouldn’t comment publicly on that one, due to pending litigation — but “Is Mankind?

Here it is: as a species, we have consistently voted for Good over the course of the last, what, 40,000 years or so. Witness the bulk of human society today. Overwhelmingly, communities (call them governments, call them tribes, call them nations) are based on observance of the basic principle of acknowledging other people’s rights and freedoms.

So yes, if someone sees me fiddling with a 160 gigabyte iPod Classic on the subway, thinks “This treasure can be mine with a simple investment of a little bit of pushing and a little bit of running away very fast,” but notes the presence of a police officer nearby and does nothing, that’s a point in favor of an evil nature held in check only by threat of punishment. But the fact that there are laws against theft and multiple bureaucracies to prosecute and incarcerate those who aren’t on board with that means that Society, as a whole, trends towards basic goodness.

I mean, we take this sort of thing for granted. If Humanity were evil, we’d take for granted that any property of any kind was simply up for grabs, and if you like your wealth or possessions, you’d better be prepared to defend them with force.

Notable exceptions abound — viz civil warfare in the Congo and banks that charge its own customers a fee for withdrawing their own money — but clearly, all empirical evidence proves that regardless of the generation or the locality, humanity’s basic nature is Good, not Evil.

That’s completely settled. Let’s hear no more of this.

Finish Him!!!

Had a brilliant idea today: a “Mortal Combat”-style fighting game in which all of the combatants are not particularly noted for being physically intimidating, to the point of downright milquetoastery.

Playable characters include:

  • Eddie Deezen
  • Mr. Bean
  • George Costanza
  • Pee-Wee Herman
  • Paul Lynde
  • Rick Moranis (as Louis Tully from “Ghostbusters”)
  • Larry David
  • Woody Allen
  • Dr. Smith from “Lost In Space”
  • Milhouse Van Houten
  • Don Knotts (as Barney Fife)
  • Don Knotts (as Ralph Furley) (Unlockable player)
  • Niles Crane
  • John Waters
  • Arnold Horshack
  • Clark Kent (in the presence of Lois Lane) (before she learned that he’s Superman)
  • Charles Nelson-Reilly
  • The black guy from “Designing Women”
  • Moby
  • Arnold Stang
  • The middle guy from “Blue Man Group”
  • Mel Cooley (from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”)
  • Matthew Broderick
  • David Spade
  • Dick Cavett
  • Patton Oswalt (as Spence on “The King Of Queens”)
  • Patton Oswalt (as himself)

Most common fighting style: lots of slapping, not many shots landing because combatant has his other arm wrapped around his head, eyes clamped shut, most of upper body twisted as far away from fight as possible. AKA Boku Nerd Floating Monkey-Style.

Typical fatalities: Curling up in defensive fetal position and accidentally tumbling off of fighting platform; crying so hard that combatant passes out from dehydration; dropped asthma inhaler.

My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Uncle Godefroy

I was only in New York for about 36 hours but I still found time to head up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see how they were taking care of a family heirloom:

Me In Armor (400)

Honest to God, I can’t tell you how many times I had to haul that thing to the other side of the rec room just so me and my sisters could play bumper pool.

We got more than a $2000 writeoff when we donated it to the museum, which was great but honestly Mom and Dad were happy enough just to get it out of the house. They offered them the bumper pool table, too, but I guess the Met just doesn’t know real quality when they see it.

I don’t know much about Uncle Godefroy. One story says that he did extremely well as an officer in the French cavalry. Another says that he just rented the suit for the day so he’d look like a big deal in the painting.

Well, whichever…my hat’s off.

Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)

Sooo…any progress yet?

A bit, sure.

No. Not really.

I thought it’d be easy to set up WordPress so I can post from my iPhone (post via email, actually, but hey, details) but although I have yet to invest so much time and burn so many calories that it’s become an endless gavotte of pain and humiliation, we seemed to have missed the exit for Easytown quite some time ago.

The deal is that I just set up a Super-Duper Double Dog Dare Extry-Top-Secret Email Address for WordPress. The blog software logs in and checks for email from time to time and through patented Keebler Elf magic, any email sent to that address eventually becomes a blog post. I just need to give WordPress the login info for that account.

Naturally, I want this to be a brand-new address that only one person knows about. Otherwise, this blog would provoke most of you to wonder what, precisely, “C1al1s” is, and why I’m so excited to tell people that their prescr1pt1on for it is ready.

(Though maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty. People complain that I don’t update my blog nearly frequently enough. Using my spammy .Mac email address would solve the holy crap out of that problem.)

But it doesn’t seem to be working. What WordPress needs is a simple button there on the Options page marked “Check Address Now.” All’s I know is I’ve sent an email to MagicEmailAddress@YeahRightLikeImTellingYOU.com and it hasn’t turned up on the blog and I assume that WordPress checks for new stuff more than, say, once every 18 hours.

Garlanded in victory from that adventure, I enabled Flickr.com’s “Post To Blog” feature. I post a ton of stuff to my Flickr feed.  In fact, my experience with Flickr is one of the many things that pushed me to finally move past my homemade blog app; it’s close to being a “proper” blog and I found that I really liked the features.

Welp, that was easy as cake. A piece of pie. Whatever, I can click a button in Flickr named “Blog This” and by golly, it blogs this.

Still, the results are sub-perfect. There are only two size settings for the picture: too small, and too big. And the style sheet for Flickr’s built-in captions is somewhat diffle-binked because the line spacing is way too big.

That’s not a big deal.  Seems like the problem will go away if I unleash som Preying Monkey-Style CSS-Fu on it. And most of the work on this site will be about editing style sheets.

Indeed, that’s why I switched from the fancy-schmancy theme I downloaded from WordPress’ theme gallery to the arse-ugly default one. My final layout is going to be all custom anyway. Why pretend? Embrace the ugly.

So, yes: to get Flickr to post photos that fill the width of the column, all I need to do is redesign the whole thing so that the default width just happens to be the width of a Flickr JPEG. Simple!

A Pitcher of Gimlets




A Pitcher of Gimlets

Originally uploaded by andyi

Another HDR. I seem to be in some sort of color-profile hell. I wanted intense colors, but while it looks great on my desktop. in Safari it’s a little too intense and in Firefox it’s too weak.

Why is it that Firefox doesn’t give a damn about profiles? There’s that. The Safari problem, I think, lies with the fact that the image went from 16 bits to 8 when converted to JPEG.

I really hope this “digital photography” technology catches on some day, but unless they finally iron out some of these fundamental bugs I really can’t see much of a future in it.

(Update: But on this brand-new iMac, it looks perfect. Go figure.)

Shimmy Shimmy Shake



Shimmy Shimmy Shake, originally uploaded by andyi.

“NO! BAD dog!!!” I heard from behind me.

And I hadn’t even paid the lady $20 or anything.

No, she was calling after her pooch, who had bolted away and lept into the pond. I helped her haul the beast out and gave him an approving glance as he shook his fur and went on his merry way.

Anyone who’s ever been a little kid can appreciate his thought processes. “She can yell at me for jumping in the pond,” he was thinking, just before going airborne. “But she CAN’T order me to feel as hot and miserable as I was before I hit that cool, cool water.”

Disturbingly, my next thought was “You know, the cops can yell at me…”