Coffee heat rising

Love Under a Coyote Moon

Urban coyote

It was a long night.

The Human woke in the wee hours of the morning — very wee. The Dog dozed while its creature tossed and turned, worried and fretted, got up twice to gulp down various tablets: aspirin, allergy pills, whatnot. Turned on its magical noise-making lightbox and poked away at the little black pedals arrayed across its surface.

An incipient sore throat conjured visions of covid-19, God help us all! Is this just a residue of the choking fit that visited in the afternoon? Or maybe an allergy? Or…or…what?

I get up, stumble down to the medicine cabinet, and scarf down a Claritin. But…but…but…I’ve already dropped a Benadryl. Took  one of those along about 7:30 p.m., in hopes of staving off a not-atypical allergy-mediated sore throat and runny nose. By 12:40 in the morning it should have kicked in, and I don’t think it would wear off in just five hours.

Holy shit!! I’m coming down with the covid disease. Right? That’s gotta be it.

Sleep is now out of the question.

Couple hours pass. Waking hours. The Claritin does nothing.

At 3 a.m., I get up and drop an aspirin. But I know now I’m dooooomed! No question of it, DOOMED! What other explanation is there but covid covid fucking covid! Ten days before I could manage to prize free an appointment for a shot!

Is that not typical? I ask you: how typical is that!

Give up trying to sleep.

Along about 4:30 a.m., the Human is pounding at its little black pedals when we hear a noise. A weird noise. It’s coming from outside the bedroom’s east wall, loud enough to resonate through the slump block. Like…bleating.

A sheep? There’s a sheep out on the sidewalk?

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

Sheep? Seriously? Goat, maybe? Do goats bleat?

The neighborhood does have several remaining agricultural properties, land banks and tax dodges for their owners and pleasant rural-looking pockets in the midst of an increasingly gentrified zone abutting an increasingly tough and ugly slum. One person still keeps a few critters, among them an overgrown Vietnamese pig that has been known to escape.

Do pigs bleat? No…I believe in any language pigs oink.

Cat? Naaahhh…cats yowl.

Dog? Whatever this noisemaker is, it ain’t barking. Besides, if it were a dog, Ruby would be up and at’em. She’s profoundly uninterested.

Javelina? Hmmm… Javelinas make a kind of grunting sound, but I don’t believe they’re known to bleat.

Fox? Foxes can make a variety of interesting sounds, being clever little critters. But none of them sound like a sheep.

Delinquents? Since when have teenagers begun to bleat while TPing the trees?

“Ruby! Hey! Ruby! Wake up!”

Dog eyes the human wearily. Now what?

“Listen to that! What is that?”

Dog lifts head off mattress.

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

You woke me up for THAT? It’s a sheep, you ridiculous creature. Put away the freakish computer, turn off the damn light, shut up, and go to sleep!

Human continues to peck at the computer. Before long, the bleating ceases.

Not too very much longer after that, Dog stirs and notices the sun is bleaching the eastern sky. She arises and demands food.

Human and Dog stumble out to the kitchen, where Human sets a dish of food on the floor. Dog feasts, then goes on about its business.

As the sun marches toward the zenith, Dog and Human set out for their daily stroll through the neighborhood. As they pass the east side of the house, Human spots a skiff of gravel scattered across the sidewalk. The gravel top-dressing on the side yard is roiled up a bit, right outside the bedroom wall. A few doggy-looking footprints are visible.

And now by the light of day, Human remembers: It’s mating season for coyotes. This is February. Sonoran desert coyotes whelp in March (or thereabouts). The serenade we heard at 4:30 in the morning was the Song of Coyote Love.

This means two things:

  1. Soon we will have coyote pups abounding in the ‘Hood, wherever Mama Coyote can find a quiet and secluded place to den. A-n-n-d…
  2. This means Ruby-Doo will be at some risk for the next several months.

When coyotes are whelping, they try to clear their territory of other canids. This is because competing coyotes, as well as wolves, will kill the pups when they find them. A coyote actually will come over your wall to take out your dog.

And that means Ruby will have to be watched every time she goes out in the backyard. Over the next three or four months, she cannot be let outdoors alone to putter around, as is her wont.

Few years ago, a couple of my neighbors — a gay couple — were lounging in their living room having a cocktail before dinner. Their greyhound was perambulating around the backyard, where the men could see them through the living-room window. All of a sudden they saw a coyote come right over the back wall! Unfortunately, this was not the wiliest of moves: the animal was no match for an 80-pound hunting dog.

The grey took after the coyote. It managed to escape over the wall as the two men watched in awe. The hound was unfazed.

A few days later, one of their neighbors happened to mention that, gee, he’d found a dead coyote laying in the front yard.

Welp. A corgi a greyhound does not make. Ruby would be no match for a coyote.

Coyote image: By Frank Schulenburg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46976005

PLEASE! Keep your dog under control

NOT your child!

Yeah, I understand: Your little “furbaby” and my churlish hound “just wanna pla-a-a-y-y.” But because you’re a bit stupid about your dog is not an excuse to put yourself, two (or more) dogs, and me at risk. To say nothing of putting your kids in harm’s way.

Just back from a quick morning doggywalk. Understand: my dog weighs 23 pounds, though she thinks it’s 123. She looks harmless…but no dog is harmless. No matter how vividly you imagine it’s your furry little kid and no matter how much you believe you’re a pet “parent,” it’s still a dog. It is not a four-legged child.

Even if you love it as though it were your child, it’s a dog. Even if it’s your only friend on this earth, dammit, it’s still a dog.

And dogs? They behave like dogs. They do not behave like two-year-olds, they do not behave like nine-year-olds, they do not behave like your thirty-year-old best friend from high school

They behave like dogs.

If you’re not willing or able to learn how dogs think, well…consider this: maybe you shouldn’t have a dog.

Absolutely NOT your child.

So we’re strolling along a neighborhood lane over in the direction of Conduit of Blight Boulevard. As we approach a corner, along comes a merry family group: two young boys, about 8 or 10 years old, zipping along on scooters as they accompany their dad, who is being dragged down the sidewalk by two large dogs, about 80 to 90 pounds apiece. Though both dogs are on leads, they decidedly are not under control: they are not at heel — they are pulling this guy up the road.

The instant they spot Ruby…well, you can imagine the doggy thought process:

Hey! Predator alert!

Dayum! That thing is coming at our pea-brained human pets.

Ruby, being a corgi, fears nothing. She sees these things as wolves come to stalk her own pea-brained human. She stands them down and prepares to charge.

Get it! Get that damn thing before it catches one of the brats!

I’m on it! KILL!

Nope. Still not your child.

Both dogs charge me and my dwarf pooch, which I immediately pick up off the sidewalk by way of (no doubt futilely) protecting her from the attack. She responds to the charge by trying to lunge at the guy’s dogs.

As he tries to set the brakes by hauling on the two dogs’ leashes, they drag him forward and pull him across the path of one of the boys’ scooters. The boy rolls helplessly into the mêlée and instantly is entangled in the leashes.

He tumbles off the scooter and face-plants on the sidewalk.

The other boy dodges out of the way with about half a second to spare. The dogs, confused by this distraction, stand down.

Mercifully, the first boy climbs to his feet, apparently unhurt, and hops back on his scooter.

The problem here — besides the obvious stupidity of the adult human specimen — is that even though these were big dogs, neither one of them was obedience trained. Nor, we might add, was the human: obedience training is a two-way process.  The guy had two big, powerful animals barely under control in the presence of two children.

You would think that a grown man, even if he doesn’t give a damn about some old lady and her puff-ball corgi, would at least consider the safety of his own children, wouldn’t you?

No. Because, one presumes, Americans are stump-dumb stupid about dogs.

All dogs, even small ones that you can pick up and carry out of harm’s way (maybe…) should be obedience-trained. When you get a pooch from the dog pound or the rescue society, the first thing you should do is take it to a vet for a health check. Second thing, which you should do on the same day, is hire a trainer to help obedience-train the animal and to teach you how to handle it. That’s a real trainer, not some salesperson down at the Petsmart. Ask the veterinarian for a referral.

When you get a puppy from some rescue or breeder, right away start learning how to teach the critter, humanely, to coexist with humans. Consult with your veterinarian or with a trainer about the first steps you need to take toward leash-training and obedience training the pup, and when. Then, when the animal is old enough, hire that trainer to help you obedience-train it.

And bear in mind…the first step to common sense is understanding that it’s not a child: it’s a dog.

How may I kill you? Let me count the ways…

Covid Vaccination: State of Arizona vs. Sanity

Here’s a bit of light amusement…

Couple weeks ago, I tried to sign up to get a covid shot through the Maricopa County/State of Arizona website organized for the purpose. After THREE HOURS of point-and-clicking through one already unavailable hour-long slot at a time, all the way to the end of June, I gave up.

Then I learned that Banner Hospital was running a vaccination show. They want you to go to the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Surfaced at their site and found it very easy to navigate. Got an appointment at 9 a.m. on February 16.

Sounds copacetic, right?

Well…no. Now this evening (yeah: SUNDAY NIGHT, when there’s nobody to talk to you even if you knew where to find someone) in comes this little gem, sent from (we’re told) the Arizona Department of Health Services:

Thank you for your interest in the Arizona vaccine management program.

Email Address to Login: frazmbzlle@gmail.com Please click this link to set up a password and complete your registration: https://azvacpat.b2clogin.com/azvacpat.onmicrosoft.com/oauth2/v2.0/authorize?p=B2C_1A_PasswordReset&client_id=9c8378fa-3e13-48f9-bef3-daf117f2ef96&nonce=defaultNonce&scope=openid&response_type=code&prompt=login&redirect_uri=https://podvaccine.azdhs.gov

Thank you, Arizona Department of Health Services

Disclaimer – Mobiles / Tablets are currently not supported. Please use Computer / Laptop. For best experience use Chrome / Firefox browser.

Oooohkayyyy… Realizing this is something come to haunt from the County and not a new hoop-jump for Banner Hospitals, I dutifully go to that link and find a demand that I confirm a password, indicated as ******* (actually, it’s a series of dots, but you get the idea).

I did create a password during the late, great fiasco, but since I never got anywhere, I crashed out of their system. If I saved their nuisance password, I have no clue where. I try to find it in the emails and files I saved, but there’s no clue.

WTF? I was never able to make an appointment through their effing impossible website. So why the hell is the effing state of Arizona pestering me with this??? If in fact it IS the effing state and not Banner.

Well… Banner sent an actual appointment confirmation, showing the date, time, and place to show up. So, since that indicates a degree of organization to which the state seems unable to rise, I’m gonna assume said confirmation, which I printed out and stashed in the car, is the real deal and this…this THING from the goddamn state is just another chimera.

Arrgggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, I realize it’s a BIG JOB, trying to inoculate everyone who is not an antivaxxer nut in a county the size of Los Angeles. But…you know… what a state government, like the federal government, is supposed to do is manage large numbers of people in large-scale operations.

For the love of God. Ruby the Corgi could do a better job of wrangling the sheeple than this! 😀 😀 😀

Bum’s Paradise

Having taken to walking the pooch twice a day on mile-plus rounds of the ‘Hood and the Richistans (upper and lower), of late I’ve found myself noting the amazing number of places where homeless folk (who abound in our parts) could pass the night without harassment.

Most of these people are pretty harmless, except that they steal. Apparently few of them have the energy to commit a rape (except for the guy who jumped over one family’s back fence to show off the family jewels to a couple of toddlers…he was a little strange…). They rarely heckle women. Their burgling skills do not often rise to the level of breaking and entering. At the park, the poor souls just sit there and zone out, far as I can tell. They will, of course, take anything from your yard that’s not red-hot or nailed down, by way of peddling it to support their drug habit: bicycles, trikes, children’s toys, decorative plant pots. And at any rate, one would just as soon not host uninvited guests in one’s side yard, especially since some of them will leave a bit of a mess at their campsites.

The tide of bums that came with the extension of the light-rail boondoggle up Conduit of Blight Boulevard has receded a bit, of late. Dunno why. My guess would be that either the city has finally heard the nonstop complaints from outraged neighborhoods (hah! fat chance!!) or maybe the lightrail has stopped forcing people to get off at the end of the line, up at the intersection of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way. Over in the Richistans, a well-connected and ambitious neighbor led a charge to make the city install gates on one of the alleys. That alone seems to have interrupted the invasion: apparently that alley was a Bum’s Highway, and now that passers-through can’t get to where they want to go via the neighborhood short-cuts, they stick to the main drags.

The main drags are surely where they congregate. Between Conduit of Blight and the freeway, sometimes I’ll count 10 to 15 panhandlers begging for handouts along Gangbanger’s way. If you try to go into the Walgreen’s at the corner of Main Drag South and Conduit of Blight, you’re likely to be swarmed by a crowd of panhandlers — I will no longer get out of my car in that store’s parking lot, nor will I visit the Albertson’s across the street at that intersection. One reason for that is that the city has kindly installed a meth clinic on Main Drag South, a few blocks to the west of Blight. Users ride the lightrail up to M.D. South, walk over and get their fix, then loiter around the convenience market across the road from the clinic, where they dig through the trash and pester customers for handouts, and hover around the parking lots and bus stops near the intersection.

Makes Sun City look good, doesn’t it?

Well. No. Not yet, it doesn’t. But there’s still Fountain Hills, Prescott, and Patagonia… 😉

So anyway, back to the point: Yesterday afternoon I’m counting. Since we often walk through the Richistans after dark (yeah, I know. But a] if someone is going to pounce you, they’ll pounce you in broad daylight as easily as after dark; and b] well…ahem… Make my day!), I’ve noted the number of nooks, crannies, shrubs, unused spaces in carports, pony walls that hide space from street view, and the like.

When SDXB and I spent three months backpacking and camping through Alaska and Canada, we rarely stayed in campgrounds, unless we’d bummed a ride with someone who was given to spending time in those places. Most of the time we just set down wherever we happened to be. Occasionally we would set up camp in parking lots — and interestingly, no one would stop us or roust us. So I’ve developed an eye for decent places to camp in urban settings.

  • Oleander hedges with enough space between them and the yard’s fence to fit a sleeping bag
  • Empty carports
  • Side yards with no motion-sensitive lights over them
  • Pony walls that create comfy hiding spots, right out in front of God and Everyone
  • Vacant properties
  • Alleys

The alleys here are long, perpendicular flophouses. The bums use them not just to camp in but as toilets of convenience. And on pickup day, they’ll go through the trash before the trucks arrive, looking for credit-card statements and other documents that they can sell to identity thieves.

We passed six such alleys, which in theory could accommodate dozens of bums in peace and quiet. In the low-rent section, the original alley right-of-way included an alcove for trash cans behind each residential lot. The little strip of alley behind my street has about a dozen of them. These provide comfy, semi-private hideaways for the weary traveler. They make convenient outhouses, too. And just in the mile and a half circuit that Ruby and I traverse on a routine doggy-walk, there are forty eight properties with comfortably dark side yards or pony walls that block the view from the street.  In addition, some months ago a house caught fire, rendering it uninhabitable. Apparently the residents had no insurance — or maybe setting fire to your shack whilst cooking meth renders it uninsurable, I dunno. That place has been abandoned, apparently with the furnishings intact: a perfect bum’s hideaway!

In addition, the neighborhood fly-by-night nursing home entrepreneur (Yes: Tony the Romanian Landlord found a new money-making gambit!) had bought and converted a big old ranch house on the northern end of Lower Richistan, right before the covid plague struck. His client nursing-home operator shut it down, evidently trying to cut their losses in time of covid, and so that house stands vacant. To his credit, he keeps it maintained…but with a quarter-acre backyard, covered patios, and an empty carport, it still is a perfect site to throw down for a night.

So that’s about 60 potential campsites. Just on a walk that doesn’t even cover a tenth of the neighborhood’s area.

Think o’ that! No wonder the place is overrun.

 

 

 

The Ineffable Impossibility of Covid-19 Vaccination…

Speaking of prepping, as we were yesterday, this morning I tried (again!) to make an appointment through the Arizona Department of Health Service’s web portal for covid vaccination. Here’s what happened:

I went all the way through DHS’s appointment calendar TO THE END OF JUNE — and even tried a few dates in July — and for every single search got a “no events open” reply. Either the system doesn’t work, or they are 100% booked through the beginning of July. And, presumably, beyond.

Each search requires 11 clicks-and-waits. Over and over and over. So to search through to the end of June requires 1,837 clicks-and-waits, only to be told “NO” about 30 days a month, for all hours of the days and nights.

If something comes up that you have to leave your computer and attend to something else, to return to the search you have to jump through the ENTIRE SERIES OF SIGN-UP HOOPS AGAIN. The system doesn’t remember anything more than a few slots of data, so you have to plod through that whole rigamarole again to restart your search, filling in dozens of slots and replying to irrelevant and intrusive questions.

How hard do you suppose it would be for DHS to post a calendar showing when the next available dates are? If such a thing exists, it’s not evident on their website.

By the end of June, the plague probably will be over. So presumably if you live that long, you won’t need a vaccination — that’s some comfort. I guess.

How hard, really, would it have been to simply fund dry ice containers for pharmacies in each ZIP code? Having been through pharmacy school, surely the employees at these sites would be clever enough to understand how to keep the vaccine frozen, and why. Yes, it would be expensive. But it couldn’t cost much more than funding a laughable, almost unnavigable website and paying legions of healthcare workers to staff centralized sites that are open 24/7.