Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My second draft is coming along. I'm about 70% done -- and on track to finish by mid-January. The main goal of the second draft is to form my narrative into a cohesive, fluid story. In the third draft, I'll go back and expand some parts, tighten up others, and generally try to make it "good." I think I'm on track to finish this whole project in a year, but it's hard to tell because I've never tried this before.

This holiday week, I'm taking a few days off from the book, so I don't feel much like writing about writing. Since it's Christmas week, what better time to write about... dog poop.

Chester is with me at my parents' house, where there's a lot of space for the dog to run wild. I still clean up after him, but it's nice not to have to clean it up immediately. For those of you who live in a city like San Francisco, you know all about the daily challenges of doggy defecation in an urban environment. Where it's completely normal to walk with a Starbucks in one hand and a steaming bag of poop in the other; to surreptitiously drop a smelly present in your neighbor's trashcan; or to drive with a fresh bag of poop in your car until you can get to a trashcan.

After spending so much time with Chester, I've found that, while a dog's potty habits might seem random and unpredictable to the untrained eye, there is a distinct pattern. And I think I've figured it out. It's something I call the "poop probability (pp)." It's the probability, holding all other relative factors constant, that a dog will poop in a given situation. Here are the results of my research:

pp:  Situation:
.57: on a baseball field
.63: when a menacing dog is nearby, thus prolonging time near said dog
.69: in a crosswalk when the yellow hand is flashing
.73: standing on any grated surface
.79: in front of a police officer
.81: next to a newspaper machine
.87: when there are nearly imperceptible holes in the poop bag
.91: at the beach, in the exact spot where the most sharp twigs congregate
.93: when he's off-leash in a place where dogs aren't allowed
.95: two miles from the nearest trashcan
.97: next to a sign showing a dog pooping with a line through it (though I might subconsciously encourage this one)
.98: in front of the dry cleaner's
.99: next to a baby in a stroller
.992: next to the person holding a clipboard and asking, "would you like to help the homeless today?"
.993: when I'm holding two coffees and two bagels in my hands
.995: when an attractive female is smiling at me and my dog
.997: when I'm hungover
.998: by a crowded bus stop
.99972: when it's an unseasonably warm day and we're next to a sidewalk cafe where people are eating outside -- and I'm out of poop bags


  1. Those are very accurate poop probabilities... My dog whylie has been known to poop next to the DJ booth at an outdoor wedding. Poop 3 times in one walk when he normally poops 1 (only if Ive brought two bags with me) or poop over some sort of dense shrubbery thus causing the poo to break into tiny pieces and get tangled deep within the vines. I seriously think dogs are smarter than we think and they get a great laugh when pooping at the most inopportune times and inconvenient locations.

  2. Jeannie likes to poop in front of restaurant windows. Very appetizing for the patrons, I imagine.

  3. (...meanwhile, Shakespeare, Hemingway and Steinbeck rest comfortably in their graves.)