Tags: soba


trip to Florida, vignettes

I realized that when I try to write a good narrative for a trip, it takes me forever and I never finish it. So this time I'm trying just posting some highlights:
  • Plan for leaving: pack up Thursday night, leave work at 3, grab Soba, and get on the road by 4 at the latest.  Actual: didn't finish packing despite only getting five hours of sleep and waking up early.  End up leaving at 6, and coming back at 6:30 because we thought we forgot fanlain 's phone.  Turns out we did have it, but we had left one of the lights on, so I guess it was good we came back.
  • Learned a bunch of geography on the way down: we saw some barge traffic on the [[Ohio]] and  [[Tennessee]] rivers (the latter of which we, of course, had to cross twice), passed by the [[Land Between the Lakes]] (formerly Land Between the Rivers, until the dams were built), saw the [[Red Mountain]] in Alabama, at the tail end of the [[Appalachians]] (though it was too dark to see the color).
  • Didn't stay in Kentucky long enough to experience their famous southern hospitality, crazy accents, fried chicken, or jelly.
  • I had trouble getting sleep at the LaQuinta in Nashville because of my feet hurting (and I had left my painkillers in the car), so I was up with Soba at 6 a.m.
  • We remembered that Soba doesn't like elevators.  She was a little iffy with the stairs, too, because her feet don't have a good grip on painted concrete, but eventually she learned to be OK with it.  I had a little trouble taking the stairs back up to the fifth floor, especially on not enough sleep and before breakfast, but I made it, which I think is a very good sign.
  • Visited the Grand Ole Opry (on the outside only) and also tried to find the waterfall from my second wedding.  The Opryland Hotel has been redecorated and expanded; I found a waterfall, but I'm not sure it's the right one.
  • Stopped at REI to buy myself a nice winter coat.  I bought a different jacket in Champaign, but it's way too bulky, if really warm, so I'll be returning it.  This one is very lightweight, and still feels pretty warm.  And it doesn't look too much like you're wearing a sleeping bag, even though you are.
  • Left Nashville way to late, so ended up driving really late and arriving at the beach house past 1 a.m. Central, which is past 2 a.m. local time.  Still trying to get back to a more regular schedule.  (Yes, we're on vacation, but it's annoying to have the sun set a few hours after you get up.)
  • Stopped for food in Dothan, AL at one of the three (!) Japanese restaurants there.  The sushi was better than what you get in Champaign, probably due to the proximity to the Gulf.


I took Soba for a jog today. It actually worked better than I thought. She's normally not that great about walking on lead and pulls a lot, mostly because we haven't spent very much time walking her since we got the electronic fence. But things are a lot easier when you're moving quickly "at her speed." She gets distracted by things (puppy? distracted? quelle surprise!), but usually a quick pull on the leash gets her back on track. There were only 3 or 4 times when she got really excited by something or just got tired of following and would stop and hold her ground. But it wouldn't last long, since after a while of looking at me, she'd realize "I don't actually want to be just sitting here — I want to run!" and we'd be back at it. Anyway, the stops were good for me since I'm not in great shape for jogging. And she's good and tired now — mission accomplished!

on the road

Our scheduled departure time of 2pm ended up turning into something more like 5, which was not entirely unexpected. Fortunately, we made good time on the drive, arriving at Memphis by 11:30 including a couple of pit stops. Soba did quite well on the drive, sitting calmly in the space that was left on the backseat after we packed everything but the kitchen sink into the Prius, and she didn't even bark at the Wendy's drive-through people. She was excited to get out of the car, though, and she was positively thrilled at all the new smells and sights inside our hotel room. She especially likes the low mirror that sits at her eye level; she spent some time checking out the puppy on the other side, so we think our suspicions are correct and she would like another puppy around.

Tomorrow's drive will be longer, but we're starting earlier and we're going to take her on a hike first, so hopefully it will go about as well.


Soba turned 9 months old today; she's been with us for a little over two thirds of her life now. We didn't give her a toy to celebrate this time — I gave her a couple of new toys earlier in the week, both of which are well on their way to destruction. We took her to the dog park instead. It's funny; when we first took her, she was one of the littler dogs in the park, getting put in her place by all the other dogs. But these days, she's among the bigger ones and she's not as scared anymore. She had a great time, chasing dogs, meeting people, and her favorite — taking a bath in a muddy puddle. We hosed her off before returning to the car, but I think she'll need a real bath later today.

on lack of wisdom

fanlain had her wisdom teeth pulled today. I expected to only miss a couple hours of work, but her recovery is slower than mine was 9 years ago, so I ended up staying home for the whole day. We're still trying to stop the bleeding so she looks like a little chipmunk stuffed with gauze, and sometimes it's hard not to laugh when she looks all sad and plaintive. But I try not to! I surprised myself by nearly fainting in the recovery room after seeing all the drugged out and bleeding patients. I guess being that kind of doctor is really out of the picture for me.

I'm dreading the switch to Daylight Saving time. It's funny, because when I first heard it announced, it sounded like a great idea, and it brings us closer to my oft-stated ideal of year-round DST. But times have changed, and these days I am up before sunrise. It is just getting to the point when it starts getting light around the time of my alarm, and of course, by Sunday, that will all be screwed up again. "Stupid farmers."

fanlain and I are trying to make plans for Spring break. Seeing as there aren't any eclipses this year, we figured we'd stay in the country and take a road trip with Soba. I thought it might be nice to go somewhere warmer and with a beach so that she can learn how to swim. However, we're faced with several difficulties. First of all, the places within a (long) drive that might be plausible beaches are within Texas and Florida, both of which give us pause. Then there's the concern that many nice beaches aren't as dog friendly as one might hope (at least if one were, say, a dog owner), so this definitely merits more research. And the last problem is that, although I'm a bit removed from the undergraduate culture here, I heard some rumors that heading to the beach for Spring break is not an entirely original idea and some college kids might have similar plans. I guess we'll figure something out.

hide and seek

I was reading something on the computer and noticed that I couldn't see Soba and the house was all quiet. I went to investigate, went all around the main floor and couldn't find her. "Soba?" Immediately, I hear a big crashing noise as Soba barrels down the stairs and pounces on me. She was playing hide and seek!

going where the weather suits my clothes

Wednesday night, as we were having coffee on the patio of Café Kopi, my colleague remarked that this literally the last few hours of pleasant weather we were going to have this winter. Indeed, at midnight it turned to rain, which became freezing rain by yesterday afternoon, and now we're in a full-blown snow-storm. Soba had been mostly cooped up at the house, driving us a little nuts with all the extra puppy energy, but today she's finally decided to brave the snow and has been running around in it... for brief stints.

Anyway, there's only one way to respond to weather like that — go to California! I'm spending the weekend plus Monday in the Bay area. That is, assuming I make my flight. Fortunately, I'm avoiding connections and flying straight out of O'Hare (this meant that we had to fix our second car so that fanlain could use it over the weekend.) United canceled the morning flight to Oakland, but mine is still on the schedule. Of course, that all could change, and I could even get stuck in the snow on my way to Chicago. Well, my plan is to leave right after my class and see if I'll make it. Unless all my students decide to skip class today...

first halloween

This was Soba's first halloween. And in a way, my first, too. I (obviously) never went trick-or-treating as a kid, and up till now, we've always lived in neighborhoods where people don't go asking strangers for candy, for who knows what kind of stuff college kids will dream up. But our neighborhood, we were told, was a prime destination, with people coming from all over town to visit. My colleague who lives five doors down said that he had something like 80 kids last year, when it was pouring out!

So we stocked up, and then I got worried and had fanlain stock up some more, but our turnout was lackluster. We probably saw 30 or 40 kids all together. One thing we didn't take into account is that my colleague lives on a main street, right by the corner of the more expensive subdivision, while we live on a smaller side street. But it sounds like the turnout today was lower in general than people were expecting, not really sure why. So we have way too much leftover candy; I hope my students tomorrow come hungry...

Soba did pretty well today; she jumped at the door when the kids came and then wagged her tail madly as we held her back while the kids got their candy. One little girl was a little scared so fanlain had to go outside to give her candy. Other kids were excited to see a puppy. And we met one girl who said that she used to spend a lot of time in this house, back when her friend lived here. (Upon probing, it seems this was the kid of the original owners, two before us.) I wonder what she thinks of us.

I had this funny experience at lunchtime. I saw a kid walking along sporting a tie-dye shirt and a beard with dreadlocks. I thought to myself that he looked a little out of place, and it took me a few seconds to realize that he was in fact wearing a costume. I guess I'm still a little fresh out of Berkeley.

"where dogs meet to sniff each other and bark"

We took Soba to the Urbana dog park today. I was a little worried because last weekend we visited fanlain's coworker's house, where Soba reacted to meeting four boxers (two adults and two slightly older puppies) by yelping, tucking her tail between her legs, and hiding behind me. She eventually came around after playing with just the puppies for a while, but I was thinking the dog park would have many more adult dogs, so she might be overwhelmed. But it turns out she held her own pretty well, she went running with big and little dogs alike, and had a blast. She did get bitten a few times, and after a while she figured out that it's not a good idea to keep taunting dogs who growl and snarl at her. I guess it's an important lesson for her to learn, and she still had a great time overall.

I think I'm starting to understand parents who are protective of their children. It's funny, because in general, I feel that children should be given lots of freedom to do their own thing and make their own mistakes, in large part because that's how I was raised. And there are lots of abstract situations where fanlain and I disagree about the appropriate amount of supervision, with fanlain falling on the side of more supervision (in large part because that's how she was raised). But when it comes to Soba, I end up being the protective one, worrying about taking her to the park today, worrying when we first got her about leaving our yard and going around the neighborhood (we actually didn't do that for a couple of weeks), and fanlain is the one pushing me to let go and let her experience new things and develop. In the end, she always manages to convince me, but it's not easy...

on the midwest

When we named our dog Soba, we expected to get a lot of quizzical looks when we explain the name as people as: "you mean, like the noodle?" And then we'd have to launch into a big explanation of how yes, it is like the noodle, but really it has no special hidden meaning, we just thought it made a cute name. What we didn't expect was the universal reaction we're getting instead: "Soba? What does that mean?" Turns out that most of the people in the midwest don't actually know what a Soba noodle is and so for them it's just a random sequence of syllables.

Well, in Puppy Kindergarten ("Puppy K") today we met a woman who has a slightly older and bigger black lab. It was actually very nice because during the free play session, Soba tried to push the bigger lab around but he just jumped on top of her and put her in her place, and after that she was much more mellow. We were thinking: can your puppy come over every day? I think we didn't express our excitement at this to the dog's owner very well, though, since she was a little worried and defensive, saying "he's usually pretty mellow..." and "she seemed to be having fun..." (both of which were true, of course), not understanding how happy we were to see Soba have what we think is a pretty positive interaction.

As we were leaving, she asked us what our puppy's name was. When we told her, she said: "What, like the noodle?" We looked at her in total shock, telling her she's the first person in town to ask us that question, and how no one else seems to even know what Soba noodles are. She just smiled, looked at us with understanding, and said: "I'm vegetarian."