Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't play chicken with a Great Dane

This morning on our walk, when Bogie and I were passing under a street lamp, a large moth fluttered by and attracted his attention.

Rather than leave, or fly higher, the moth fluttered around, in front of Bogie, behind him, between his legs. Bogie kept twisting, whirling, turning and snapping until finally he caught the moth.

And ate it. 

They turn to dust if you squash them. I can’t imagine that it tasted very good.

But he was quite pleased with himself.

And I was very entertained for a few minutes. 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why make hateful comments.

I've been surprisingly bummed about Robin Williams' death.  I didn't know him at all, but it felt like I lost a friend.  Everything I've read says that he was a thoughtful, kind person.  

If he had only realized how much he was loved, maybe he would still be with us.  

I don't understand how people can take a tragedy like this and make snide, hurtful comments.  To imply that suicide is cowardice only shows that the speaker has no knowledge of the depths that despair can reach.  

And for Robin's daughter to have to swear off social media because of hurtful remarks is just sad. Pathetic, even.  

Have people always been hurtful, just not as publicly?  Or has the internet unleashed some new level of incivility in parts of humankind.  

Do people forget, or ignore, the old lesson "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? 

Would these same people walk up and say hateful things to a person's face?  

Doubtful.  

If it can't be said to a person's face, it shouldn't be written on a person's account or about them.  

Kindness.  

Robin was known for his kindness.  

Kindness should be his legacy.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Doggy cam overkill

I bought my first pair of doggy cams back in November, 2012.  I wanted to keep an eye on the dogs while I was at work.  I especially wanted to see who was making trouble.  

Well, really I knew it was Bogie.  I just wondered if Angel participated. (Usually not). 

I got two cameras because they were discounted as a pair.  And I couldn't decide where to put only one camera. So I got one for the kitchen and one for outside. 

I got some interesting footage out of the process.  And I liked seeing my dogs.  Well, sometimes they looked sad and lonely, but I still liked seeing they were okay. 

However, half of the destruction in my house was happening off camera.  Again, not sure enough who the culprit was to accuse either of the dogs. 

So I added two more cameras in January, 2013.  Downstairs and up.   

And that satisfied me for a long time.  Well, it helped that I got laid off and used my severance to take 5 months off last year.  And the first job I got after that, I was able to work from home half the time. 

In November, I went back to work at my original company.  And I took comfort in being able to check on the dogs via the doggy cams. 

Only ... half the time I couldn't see the dogs.  I knew they were okay.  I had dogs for decades before I had cameras to keep an eye on them.  

But what if they weren't?  I wouldn't know until I got home that one of them was hurt.  Or missing. 

So today I added two more doggy cams.  One to cover the room where they like to sleep the most.  (But has the least action.)  

And another for outside, so I can see how many times they go to bark at the neighbor's dog. 

Six cameras to keep track of two dogs that sleep most of the day might be excessive. 

I'm beginning to think I have a problem. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I built a new computer

My computer was eight years old, still using USB 1.0, slow processor, slow memory, and running out of ports.  I could have upgraded but I would still have an old computer.

So I built a new computer last month.

When I mentioned it on Facebook, a couple people thought I was so brave to tackle it.

But it's not a big deal anymore.  It's practically Plug n' Play.

I started with Life Hacker which led me to PC Part Picker.  They help make sure you don't buy incompatible parts. And they look for the best prices for the components.

Checked with the computer guru that every office has to make sure I didn't need anything else. He suggested a couple of alternatives.  Then I ordered all my parts.

The motherboard comes with a handy dandy book that shows you how to connect everything.  And there are several web sites that will explain the process step by step.

The two worst problems I had?  Well, the CPU doesn't come with heat sink putty, which is required.  So I had to run to Radio Shack to get a tiny tube.

And every connection was silk-screened with what it was, but some print was so tiny I needed TWO pairs of reading glasses to read what it was.

I followed the directions, installed all the components, connected all the cables, plugged it in and installed the operating system.

Cost $1000.  It has a Gigabyte motherboard, 3.4 GHz Intel Quad-Core CPU, 8G RAM, and a solid state drive for the programs drive.

It's noticeably faster than the old computer.

Which croaked two weeks later.

Now that was perfect timing!

All the components, in my glass studio

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yes, I have a sweet tooth

I admit it.  I have a sweet tooth.  I try to be good about it.  Well, I sort of try.

But then Bob bought me a cupcake from The Sugared Cakery.  It's a food truck that visits our office complex once a week.

Bob likes to bring in treats.  Only I have migraine food triggers and can't have nuts or chocolate.

One day he felt sorry for me and brought me a Banana Foster cupcake.

It looked like a flower.  The cupcake wrapper even looked like petals.

And it was delicious.

So the next time the truck was at our location, I took two co-workers and went down and got another cupcake.  Strawberry Champagne.  Also, delicious.

Yesterday I tried the Key Lime.  Ahhh.  Sublime.

A nice young couple runs the truck.  Yesterday Joel asked them if they had any butterscotch cupcakes. They said no, but they could have one by next week.

That's why I like dealing with small business owners.   They listen.

And that's why Wednesday has become my favorite work day.

Salted caramel

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Phoenix in The Smithsonian - and in the summer

Not sure how gratifying it is to have Phoenix as a site to study the effects of heat on civilization.

The May issue of The Smithsonian magazine featured an article called "Hot Enough For You?".

One item mentioned a study to see how long it takes for the second driver at a light to honk when the light turns green and the first driver doesn't move.  The study showed that when the temperature was 108 drivers were more likely to honk or get angry than if it's 84 degrees.

Well, duh.

The air conditioner on my little four-cylinder engine doesn't cool if I'm not moving.  So yeah, people get more agitated.

Studies predict that summer temperatures in Phoenix in the second half of the century will regular hit 130 degrees.

Yikes!

Still, it generally makes it to 115 degrees at least a couple days in the summer.  Will 15 more degrees make that much difference?  You learn to adapt.  Just as people adapt to climates where the temperature plummets to -30 or -40.

And basically with the same adaptation.  Stay inside.

If you have to go outside, do it early in the morning before the sun has a chance to heat up the concrete, or late in the evening after the sun starts its descent.

Good parking spots are hard to come by.  I'm lucky to have underground parking at my office.  Shady and cooler.  The next step is covered parking, but that all depends on the time of day and the direction the parking spot faces.  After that people look for the meager shade from a tree planted in a parking lot.

The worst is a spot in the open.  If you have to park in the sun for even an hour, you dare not touch the seat belt buckle with your bare hands.  Seriously.  You can get burned.

Don't leave anything in the car that isn't heat tolerant.  I've known people who have had candles melt or soda pop explode because of the heat.  And if you are buying ice cream, either bring a cooler or hope that it isn't more than 10 minutes to home.

Mostly we think, it's 110 degrees out.  Do I really need to go shopping?  Do I really want to go out into this heat.

Generally the answer is No, no I don't.

Your perspective changes.  We applaud when it is "only" going to be 100 degrees for the day.   The weather reports a cooling trend from 108 to 103 degrees.  And we are grateful for the five degree decrease.

Will the future be people isolated in their homes, connecting only via social media?  Maybe.  But I'm hoping someone comes up with an underground infrastructure where people can work, live, and travel underground, away from the searing rays of the sun.

At least, that's the way I'd write it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Volunteering is a long process

When Bogie was taking obedience lessons, the trainer suggested that he would make a good Pet Therapy dog, visiting people in hospitals or nursing homes.

I didn't think much about it until my mom was in surgery in May.  As we waited for her to come out of surgery, a volunteer came around with a Golden Retriever.  It was impressive to see how much the people perked up when the dog came by.  Myself included.

So I decided that Bogie and I should do that together.

The first step was to get Bogie and I certified as pet and handler.  I thought the Canine Good Citizen made us a shoo-in.

No.

Certification required three visits to the hospital visiting staff, patients and their family.  We walked 3 floors of one hospital, then 3 at the medical center next door.  We had to learn to pass in front of the nurse's station first, so they were aware we were on the floor.

We had to watch for patients that might be interested in a visit.  We had to watch out for room labeled with allergies or no contact warnings.  We had to keep mental track of how many people we visited, per building.

I kept track of people, as best I could, mentally.  There is a clicker counter that one can carry.  But the requirement that I keep two hands on Bogie's leash plus carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to offer people, left me no free hand for the clicker.

So Bogie was certified.  I got his official certificate and figured we were all set.

Not even close.

This week I attended a three hour orientation that was more intense than any job orientation I've had.  Of course, I'm a software engineer, not someone working in the medical field.  I've had the sexual harassment training, but this is the first time since the nuclear power station that I had to learn about emergency codes.

Codes for fire, cardiac arrest, missing child, chemical spill, etc.  Plus segments on hand washing and infection prevention, HIPAA regulations, and what can and cannot be done for patients.

Done, right?

No.  I had to have a TB test and I had to have my immunity to childhood diseases checked.

TB negative.  That's good.

Mumps titers negative.  That's NOT good.  That indicates a lack of immunity to mumps. When I had mumps as a kid, I was told I could get them again since I only had them on one side. I figured that was a myth.  

Apparently not. 

So I have to get immunized before I can get started.  

I'm anxious to get started.  I wonder what the next step is?