The Internet of Floof (IoF)

The Internet of Floof (IoF) (floofinition) – connecting devices to share information about animals, often focusing on housepets and their antics, or the love relationships between odd animal couples, usually through social-media postings.

In use: “On the Internet of Floof, it’s not surprising to discover dozens of posts a day about a neighborhood saving a cat in a tree, an old dog living on the street being saved and finding the safety and comfort of a home for the first time, or a pig raising orphaned kittens. Anything is possible on the IoF.”

The Stick

Carrying a purple canvas shopping bag — walking, because, you know, fitness and environment — was harder than he’d expected. He was almost home, but…whew.

He’d purchased more than planned. He’d gone for chips and a sandwich from the Safeway deli, but he’d added Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and a small bag of pistachio nuts, thinking he deserved these things, and the fare would be an excellent accompaniment to watching Game of Thrones.

Chastising himself because he always bought too much — no, not always, but frequently — no, not frequently, but probably fifty percent of the time — did that sound right? — was fifty percent considered frequently? — he set his bag down for a breather and wiped sweat from his face. Damn hotter than expected, damn hotter than seventy-seven. Felt more like eighty, even down here by the rushing creek, in the shade of the trees by Aqua, one of his favorite pubs.

His Apple watch — an indulgent birthday present to himself — confirmed his impression that he was right about the temperature. With a final deep breath and the stern order, “Press on with pride,” he bent for the bag and saw the stick.

The stick was on the dark grass beside the pitted, gray sidewalk. It seemed like an unusual stick even as it looked just like a stick.

He picked it up. Lacking bark, it was white, about an inch in diameter, although it was tapered, and seven inches long. It wasn’t perfectly straight, but close, and had three nubs where other branches once grew, but was sanded smooth.

Imagination fueled speculation about the stick’s uses. Although shorter and thicker than a conductor’s baton, he pretended he was conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony performing the Star Wars Theme Song, snapping the stick briskly left to right.

A loud crack broke his fantasy. While he processed that sound, a ripping noise followed. The pub, Indian restaurant above it, pizza place beside it, and creek disappeared, leaving a pulsing yellowish-white — ocher, perhaps — space in their place.

The strip was like piece of paper had been torn from the world. He gawked in appreciation and astonishment. The rushing creek ended at the tear, but then continued on the other end.

What the hell? Horror jumping through him, he confirmed that no witnesses were around, then gaped at the stick with the realization that the stick had probably caused this, and then began plotting his escape from this fiasco. He was afraid to try to use the stick to fix this mess. He’d probably just make it —

“Ahem.” The sound shook his core. Jumping and looking around, he saw no one, and then spotted a squirrel. Its dark eyes were narrowed in a way that he’d never seen in a squirrel. It was holding out one paw.

“I believe you have something that belongs to me,” the squirrel said. “Give it.”

Its voice reminded him of Patrick Warburton’s deep tones. “This?” he said. “The stick?”

The squirrel waved its black paw. “What else, numb nuts? It’s a wand, and it’s mine. Give it over before you do more damage.”

“How do I know this is yours?”

“Give it.” The squirrel’s voice rolled through the area like thunder.

Quaking, the man bent down and held out the stick with a trembling hand. “Sorry. I just found it lying there. I was just — ”

“Blah, blah, blah.” Snatching the wand out of his hand, the squirrel turned and flicked it, repairing the tear with another ripping sound. Giving him a side-glance, the squirrel said, “Idiot,” and then disappeared.

The man took a long breath. After a moment, he picked up his bag. “Press on with pride.” The best thing to do would be to go home, have a beer, watch Game of Thrones, and forget any of this ever happened.

Sure. Like he could ever forget this.


The Family & Dogs Dreams

After dreaming about games, weather, and being back in the military, my dreamscape rotated to family and dogs. None of the people in these two dreams, except my wife, are anyone from my life.

In the first dream, I was a white man in a black family. I was an adult and I’m not sure how I came to be part of that family. I liked them but felt a little awkward with them. Mom, a smiling, confident, attractive woman, kept reassuring me that I was part of the family. The others agreed, but with less enthusiasm. I was always there when we ate and watched television, but was normally sitting off by myself.

Then Mom announced we were buying a new car. Cars were my thing so I was enthusiastic. That pleased Mom. She let me led the car-shopping expedition. We ended up buying a blue BMW M4 Cabrio. Mom made the choice, and it surprised me. It’s not a family-oriented car. I asked her with astonishment, “Are you sure?” Mom, always relaxed and in-control, said, “Yes, Michael, and you can drive it.”

My next dream found my wife and I taking care of dogs for several people during a holiday. Quite chaotic, I ended up driving another guy’s car. The car belong to my friend, Dominic. I was also taking care of his dog, Drew. Drew was a big, goofy, not-very-bright white canine who was always loping off to do something. There were several other dogs, but the were always where they were supposed to be, and not getting into trouble.

Lots of things were going on. It was a holiday weekend. We had guests and a big dinner party, the weather was unpredictable, and the dogs kept running off. All but Drew would return. I’d always need to look for Drew.

The big meal ended and we were cleaning up. I had a huge, clear bowl. It’d been used for spaghetti with sauce. Now it was a mess. I kept scrubbing it, per my style, to get it clean. I finally was almost finished

I was baffled about where my car was. Drew disappeared again, and I had to find him. I was exasperated because nobody else was helping.

The dream paused. I said, “Okay, everyone is accounted for except Quinn.” Quinn is my real-existence cat who passed away last November. “I haven’t seen Quinn in a while.” I worried about him being okay. Then I remembered that he’d passed away.

I couldn’t find Drew. One of our guests said that she thought Drew was at his home. I decided to go out to confirm that. As I went to leave, I saw that my wife was cleaning up the house after the dinner, but she was using the big, clear spaghetti bowl that I’d clean as a trash can. That upset me. I told her that I’d cleaned it. She brushed off my concerns.

I drove Dominic’s car out to his place to check to see if Drew was there. I felt bad about using his car, which was a 1960s muscle car, but it was too vague to remember exactly what it was. The car used a lot of gas, and I was worried about using all of his gas. His place was a mixed-used community with a train station, supermarket, fitness center, and townhouses. I went to Dominic’s townhouse.

The townhouse was large and luxurious, with a number of sprawling staircases. The family was home. They’d just gotten back. So was Drew, except he ran off when I went in. There were several other dogs. I decided to walk them while looking for Drew. One dog was very intelligent. I said, “Do you want to go for a walk?” The dog immediately went to the door. I said, “Let’s use the other door.” He turned, went up the steps to the other door.

We left through that door to take a walk and find Drew, but we ended up in the fitness center. The fitness center had a lounge where fit, attractive people were watching the news on television. Through glass walls, I could see into the fitness center where rows of people were exercising.

Finding another way out, I took the dogs for a walk. When I went outside, I found Drew cavorting around the lawns. He’d gotten dirty, of course. Seeing Dominic, I greeted him and chatted. I wasn’t sure if Drew had been at our house during the weekend and was trying to clarify how Drew was at his home. Dominic waved off my questions and concerns, telling me, “Drew is fine. Drew is Drew.”

I walked the dogs across a park and remembered that I had Dominic’s car and had forgotten to tell him.

After walking the dogs, I came across Dominic’s family. They were under the building, in  a plaza, relaxing on a blanket and looking out on the scenery. The plaza was open on all four sides. Mammoth pillars held up the train station and the buildings. From where they were, the trains could be watched as they arrived and departed. Past that was a rolling green countryside

I said, “You know, this isn’t actually a bad place. It’s got everything you need right here.”

Dominic’s wife said, “You know, we were just talking about it, and thought that this is the perfect place for people like you.”

I said, “Who are people like me?”

That’s where the dream ended.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I thought I’d offer something light for the heavy part of the week, the thick middle often called hump Wednesday. This little ditty – no, not abut Jack and Diane – makes a simple plea. I just want to feel the day, feel okay, and know I’m okay. It is a song with a refrain that offers other possibilities. I use to sing, “I just want to eat a cake, eat a cake, eat a cake, today.” You know what I mean.

Here’s Ingrid Michaelson with “Be OK” (2008).


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