Category Archives: Dogs

Riddle of the Week! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat)

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Good Evening:

Riddle: In the pictures below, do the humans receive the treats, or do their benevolent canine overlords?

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Answer: Yes.

Welcome to Duboce Park, where the local businesses acknowledge the importance of dogs to the economy:

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This fellow in black has quite a sense of humor. His pet human with the pink hat has just used that blue thing to throw the ball (small white dot in the distance). The dog ignored the ball. And ignored it. And ignored it. Finally, the woman went to fetch it, at which point her benevolent canine overlord with the impish sense of human promptly sprinted to the ball and snatched it away, forcing her to chase him.

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A dog with a sense of humor. More anecdotal evidence that domestic canines have minds.

Did you know that dogs like apple cider?

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Neither did I.

We grumble and groan. They have fun. So who’s really the intelligent creature?

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Feta with Honey-Apricot-Mustard-Thyme Glaze.

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Good Evening:

The original inspiration came from the New York Times, but no one in my family can resist experimenting with recipes. For us, cookbooks are less textbooks and more like collections of timidly proffered suggestions to ignore at our pleasure. The original recipe called for honey only as a glaze, but that didn’t seem quite flavorful to me.

Feta with Honey-Apricot-Mustard-Thyme Glaze.

Feta with Honey-Apricot-Mustard-Thyme Glaze.

Feta with Honey-Apricot-Mustard-Thyme Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz. slab of feta cheese, patted as dry as possible with paper towels
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon apricot preserves
  • 1 Teaspoon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a small oven-safe baking dish with aluminum foil, place the feta on the foil, and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese turns springy. Remove from oven.
  3. Preheat the broiler.
  4. Stir the honey, apricot preservers, mustard and thyme together in a microwave-safe dish and microwave it on high for 45 seconds.
  5. Gently spread the mixture on top of the cheese until you have an even layer.
  6. Stick the baking dish with the coated feta under the broiler for one minute, then remove and inspect.
  7. If the glaze has not started to bubble, stick the cheese back under the broiler for one more minute ONLY. That should suffice.
  8. Remove from broiler, let cool for a few minutes, and carefully use a spatula to transfer the cheese to a serving dish. Everything is hot, so watch your fingers!
  9. Serve the cheese with crostini and watch your friends annihilate the appetizer.

You may use a small wheel of Brie as a substitute, however!, you must use a whole wheel, not a cut wedge. The Brie must be covered entirely in that famous white rind or it will melt into nothingness.

Enjoy!

Vonn Scott Bair

The Fine Art of the Front Stoop on a Friday Afternoon at 5:30 p.m.

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Good Evening:

Or the front porch. Or the lawn chair on the front lawn. I write of one of the under-appreciated almost-neccesities of life.

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San Francisco, California, Friday afternoon, 5:30 p.m., 10 April 2015. Just the right amount of breeze, just the right amount of cool. Dogs and their obedient humans enjoy their daily joyful reunions, followed by the daily stroll to the park.

Watching the world walk by on a Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. with a freshly-arrived magazine to read and an iPhone at one side playing vintage Dave Matthews Band and on the other side a rather decent dirt-cheap red in a clean wine glass.

And the world strolls by.

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The occasional nod to someone walking home who looks at your clean wine glass of dirt-cheap red and seems to think, “That looks like a good idea.” Sometimes even a mutual hello with someone you do not know.

And that makes the front stoop, or the front porch, or the lawn chair on the front lawn, one of life’s almost-necessities.

It restores sanity.

Vonn Scott Bair

Answer: A Slice of Heaven. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Thirds.)

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Good Evening:

Question: What do you get when you combine the world’s finest creatures, their obedient human servants, perfect Saturday morning weather, and San Francisco’s Park Presidio?

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Turns out one finds a lot of ways to use Thirds in your photo composition. If you mentally divide your pictures into imaginary 9 rectangle (3×3) grids as I do, you can put your subject in a variety of spaces. In the above portrait shot, the dog stands in the middle of the imaginary lower horizontal line, and the armrests and human head all point to the pup. The next shot shows the same treatment in a landscape orientation.

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And sometimes a picture “thirds” itself–here it’s sky, headlands, bay and beach.

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The above shot also shows a comparatively rare phenomenon–the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin Headlands. Most of the time, the morning fog won’t lift until the sun is well up into the sky.

The next show proved tricky to edit, especially when it came to arranging the composition in the 3×3 grid pattern.

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It’s a little subtle. The taller woman’s head rests at the intersection of the upper horizontal line and the left vertical line. Meanwhile, the darker dog rests at the intersection of the lower horizontal line and the right vertical line. So you have that nice 45 degree diagonal directing your eye to the happy canines.

Of course, the dogs care nothing of any of this. It’s Saturday, their humans treat them as they deserve, and they get to hang out with their fellow furry superior critters. Just one heck of a good day for a dog.

Vonn Scott Bair

Street People in San Francisco, Saturday, 13 September 2014. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity)

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Good Morning:

Saturday morning had me up and running early, performing chores. For starters, I bought breakfast for the actors, directors and playwrights participating in a 24-hour theater festival (where you write, rehearse and perform a set of short plays in 24 hours, and yes it can be done). No matter where I went up and down Market Street, I saw something like this:

Market Street Near 7th, 13 September 2014

Market Street Near 7th, 13 September 2014

At 7:00 a.m. on a weekend morning, San Francisco’s homeless are still asleep on Market Street. Something so obvious to me now to which I had been so oblivious before: old age. Our homeless population has aged before our eyes and now they have to cope with advancing years.

Powell & Ellis, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Powell & Ellis, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

And with age comes increasing physical disabilities. Oblivious me, I had never noticed the canes and wheelchairs before.

Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Sutter & Powell Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Sutter & Powell Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Market Street, near Stockton and 4th Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Market Street, near Stockton and 4th Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Polk Street Near Fulton, San Francisco, 12 September 2014

Polk Street Near Fulton, San Francisco, 12 September 2014

San Francisco has one of the largest gaps between the richest and poorest in America, and that gap becomes most obvious early on Saturday morning.

All photos taken Saturday, 13 September 2014 (except for the last, 8:00 a.m., 12 September 2014) with my point-and-shoot, cropped, edited and converted to B&W using iPhoto.

Vonn Scott Bair

San Francisco Candids, 6 September 2014.

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Good Morning:

Recent miscellaneous candid shots of San Franciscans living their lives. All photos taken with my point-and-shoot, some of which required heavy editing.

Buskers, Haight near Ashbury, 30 August 2014

Buskers, Haight near Ashbury, 30 August 2014

Relaxation, Yerba Buena Civic Center

Relaxation, Yerba Buena Civic Center

Orange.

Orange.

Heavy Metal, Market @ Stockton Street

Heavy Metal, Market @ Stockton Street

Chocolatiers with Samples, Market Street near Grant, 31 August 2014

Chocolatiers with Samples, Market Street near Grant, 31 August 2014

Sidewalk Vendor Next to Burger King, 8th & Market, San Francisco, California

Sidewalk Vendor Next to Burger King, 8th & Market, San Francisco, California

Skateboarders in Front of City Hall, San Francisco, California, 5 September 2014

Skateboarders in Front of City Hall, San Francisco, California, 5 September 2014

Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese

Woman & Dog, San Francisco Civic Center, 5 September 2014

Woman & Dog, San Francisco Civic Center, 5 September 2014

A Bit of a Tangle in Duboce Park

A Bit of a Tangle in Duboce Park

Have fun this weekend.

Vonn Scott Bair

Dogs and Their Humans (Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue)

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Good Evening:

This week’s Challenge posed serious, uh, er, um, uh, challenges.

I hadn’t thought of pictures as containing/producing dialogue among themselves before. It took quite a bit of thinking before hitting upon the notion of how playwrights such as yours truly use dialogue in the theater. Among other things, we use dialogue to yield contrasts among characters and/or conflict. Here is the first contrasting, possibly conflicting, pair of photographs for your consideration. I used my point-and-shoot digital camera, editing the shot slightly in iPhoto.

San Francisco Homeowners & Renters with Their Dogs, Duboce Triangle Dog Park, San Francisco, California, 30 August 2014

San Francisco Homeowners & Renters with Their Dogs, Duboce Triangle Dog Park, San Francisco, California, 30 August 2014

Now for my second picture, taken on the 21-Hayes bus with my iPhone 4, unedited. Hey, there’s a contrast right there.

San Francisco Homeless with Their Dogs, Hayes Street Behind the Civic Center, San Francisco, California, 29 August 2014

San Francisco Homeless People with Their Dogs, Hayes Street Behind the Civic Center, San Francisco, California, 29 August 2014

How many contrasts can you spot? There exist a few, and perhaps I haven’t detected all of them.

Vonn Scott Bair

Puppy Love in Duboce Park (Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’)

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Good Evening:

A warm summer’s late afternoon in San Francisco, when the evening breezes have just awoken, always presents a wonderful opportunity to take your best friend or friends to the dog park at Duboce.

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Of course, humans have their own version of puppies (known by the scientific term rugrats), and a few of these also got the chance to enjoy the fine weather, their two- and four-legged friends, and try a few new things.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Dogs Beat Humans at Soccer! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra)

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However, Good Evening:

I have given myself an extra challenge for this week’s Extra Challenge: anything I post in response must portray soccer.

My first photograph seems to depict yet another boring shot of San Francisco’s Civic Center (cloudless skies are so dull!), but look closer:

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The City has added an extra in honor of the World Cup; miniature soccer fields for very young children.

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However, the first competitors I saw using one of the miniature fields were not children, they were a very small dog and his obedient pet human, engaged in a vigorous one-on-one contest. I can’t say that the skill level displayed by the antagonists reached World Cup standards, as witnessed by this human whiff that still sent the canine in the wrong direction.

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But when the ball went straight, the dog went straighter and faster. Which should surprise no one, as dogs have extra advantages at soccer that make them better than humans.

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Humans have to use both of their legs not only to run, but to control the ball. Dogs are faster than humans and can use all four of their legs solely for running, as they maintain control of the ball using their faces. My family had one English Bulldog named Robert who according to our car’s speedometer had a top running speed of 42 mph (!) and a wide flat face that gave him glue-like control over a ball. He also possessed the natural instinct of a good soccer player to keep his body between the ball and his human opponents. We never get the ball away from that dog.

If dogs could learn the virtues of putting the ball into the net and stopping penalty kicks, humans would have to give up the sport.

Vonn Scott Bair

Six-Legged Treasures (Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure)

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Good Evening:

Six-legged treasure? Well, if dogs are four-legged treasures, and so are your kids, then dog + kid = 6. And since my family’s first four-legged treasure, an English Bulldog named Archy, saved the life of my family’s first two-legged treasure (yours truly), not once but twice, I think six legs is a great idea.

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Both pictures taken on Valencia Street this afternoon, cropped to a square format, otherwise unedited.

Vonn Scott Bair

Fur-Bearing Treasures, Or Is It Fur, Bearing Treasures? (Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure)

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Good Morning:

Say hello to a treasure named Porkchop:

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Porkchop is a French Bulldog, and like others of the flat-faced, squat-legged dog breeds (English Bulldogs, Pugs, et cetera), Porkchop can accelerate from zero to “Whoa! He’s really fast!” a lot faster than you might think. Porkchop also likes to play a game very popular among domestic canines, called “Let the Silly Human Get Really Close and Then Run Away Really Fast Before the Silly Human Can Attach My Enemy the Leash.”

But as you can see, his babysitter had attached his enemy the leash. For that, she had me to thank.

Here’s Porkchop ignoring that unfortunate young woman after yet another escape.

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But then he saw me.

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Porkchop decided that I was superbly qualified to shower him with petting and affection. And I am superbly qualified to shower a dog with petting and affection: I’m human, and I have at least one hand. So I gave him a good petting and rubbing, whilst covertly holding him until the babysitter could catch up with us.

But dogs do constitute one of the great treasures of a human’s life. Herewith I present more of them. I cropped most of the shots, but did not apply any filters.

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Vonn Scott Bair

San Francisco Civic Center, Thursday Afternoon.

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Good Afternoon:

The clouds and fog broke, split, scattered and evaporated today, for the first time this week. To celebrate, a large number of San Franciscans seemed to get the Friday Flu a day early (well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day; they probably planned to take that day off as well). The temperature in the Civic Center area felt like 70 degrees F; the City had just finished installing new soil and grass, so why not give the turf a workout?

Two Dogs with Their Pet Humans in Front of the Library, 13 February 2014

Two Dogs with Their Pet Humans in Front of the Library, 13 February 2014

Family Time, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

Family Time, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

In Love, Civic Center, San Francisco, CA 13 February 2014

In Love, Civic Center, San Francisco, CA 13 February 2014

Bicyclist @ Rest, Civic Center, 13 February 2014

Bicyclist @ Rest, Civic Center, 13 February 2014

I used The 30 Shot for all of these, and one thing I’ve learned is that the technique works best on distant subjects because I have a much better chance of getting the shot (all of these pictures are cropped, but I didn’t use any filters). I discarded about two-thirds of the pictures I took today because the subject was too close and I either missed completely or the angle looked weird.

Of course, some people were stuck working:

Back to Work After Lunch I, Market Street, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

Back to Work After Lunch I, Market Street, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

Back to Work After Lunch II, Market Street, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

Back to Work After Lunch II, Market Street, San Francisco, 13 February 2014

Infrastructure Work, San Francisco 13 February 2014

Infrastructure Work, San Francisco 13 February 2014

At about 5:10 p.m., I spotted these two couples heading home.

Two Couples, San Francisco Civic Center, 13 February 2014

Two Couples, San Francisco Civic Center, 13 February 2014

Vonn Scott Bair

Fantastic Forty-Niner Fan Family! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Family)

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Good Afternoon:

Even the Chihuahuas want San Francisco to beat Seattle tomorrow.

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Vonn Scott Bair

The Resurrection of Jake! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected)

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Good Evening:

Jake was one of the Upper Haight’s great characters, human or otherwise. An all-white English Bulldog known as “The Mayor of Haight Street” whose pet human works at Blade Runners Hair Studio, Jake served as the store mascot, sitting at the entrance and watching the world go by with absolute phlegmatic calm serenity. Nothing could upset him, and Jake became such a famous fixture that when he finally shuffled off to the Great 24-Hour All You Can Eat Free People Food Buffet in the Sky, the San Francisco Chronicle published his obituary. For that matter, so did I.

I never expected to see anything like him again.

I should have known better.

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Say hello to the resurrection of Jake the Bulldog (you can also say hello to me; that’s my reflection in the glass). The rookie looks about one year old, and he has some very big paws to fill, but he already knows not to move from his spot, so I think the kid has potential.

Vonn Scott Bair