Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My poor sick dog

My poor Bogie, who I've had only 2 months as of today, is not feeling well.  He is lethargic and eating very little. Angel, who needed a companion, is not happy that her new playmate is out of service.

Two months.  In that time he has spent more than his fair share of time at the vet.

The day I got him was the day he was neutered, courtesy of the rescue agency.  So that was the first doctor visit.  Three days later to my own veterinary clinic to have him checked over.  We didn't do vaccinations yet because he was still on medication for the neutering.  But they did do a blood test for heart worms and a fecal check for other worms.

Then his scrotum swelled up - a lot.  I'm told this is fairly common in big, older dogs after neutering, but it's scary looking and uncomfortable for the dog.  That required another doctor visit for medication and reassurance.

Two more visits for vaccinations and boosters.  Bogie was found on the street so even though he is now  approximately 17 months old, no one knows the prior status of his shots.

Great Dane horror stories about stomachs that flip over and kill the dog led me to do a preventive gastropexy.  This required 3 visits to a veterinary surgeon.  The pre-check, the surgery, and the post-check.

Sunday we went to the emergency clinic because he vomited and looked like he was going to fall over.  They suggested he be given anti-nausea medication and subcutaneous fluids and watched.  It was either that or a bunch of very expensive tests when maybe he had only eaten something he shouldn't have.

He seemed fine Monday and Tuesday morning.  So fine that I wondered if I had over-reacted in taking him to the emergency clinic. But then he started not eating again.  And he wouldn't play.  And he just wasn't himself.

So today there was yet another trip, this time to his regular vet to see if she could figure out what's wrong.  Blood tests, fecal tests, more subcutaneous fluid.  Nothing obviously wrong.  But obvious to everyone by his behavior that something *is* wrong.

Tomorrow, we go back to the surgeon to see if she can determine what is wrong.  They may have to look inside to see what is going on.

Despite the frequency of these visitations, Bogie has kept his good nature.  At every clinic we have gone to, the employees ooh and aah over him.  Bogie is lovable, well-behaved, very handsome.  At least three different people have said they would take him if I ever need to get rid of him.

He is a sweetheart, and after only 2 months, I cannot bear to lose him.

Get well soon, Bogie.  Get well soon.

Updated - 8/30/12 2 PM
After the visit to the specialist and an ultrasound, it appears that his liver is inflamed.  Educated guess puts the cause as an allergic reaction to the Rimadyl he was prescribed for both the neutering and the gastropexy.

We were sent home with some medication to calm his digestive system.  The liver inflammation will eventually resolve itself.  If it is indeed from an allergy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I love my Dyson

This is not a paid endorsement.  (I wish it was.)  I just thought maybe my opinion would be helpful to people researching vacuums. After all, I based my decision to by a Dyson on conversations with people who did and didn't have Dysons, as well as Internet research.

I'm not a vacuum neophyte.  I've had many brands of vacuum in my adult life - Rainbow, Hoover, Eureka, and the last, a Kenmore.  I liked my Kenmore canister vacuum, but I've had it for 12 years.  Although it seemed to work, I had the sense it was no longer as effective.  I know the suction decreased when the bag started getting half full.  I felt like I was wasting bags by changing them when they weren't full.

I found a good price on a Dyson DC-41 Animal on Amazon, and added some accessories. When it arrived, it was easy to assemble, with clear instructions.  The first time I vacuumed was kind of awkward.  I had a canister vacuum for so long that using an upright required an adjustment.  And the ball was a little tricky to get used to.

However, by the second time I used it, I was a convert.  In the past, after I vacuumed the tile floors I noticed  a bit of grit when I was barefooted.  With the Dyson, there was no grit.  The floors were as smooth as, well, ceramic.

The cleanliness of my carpets is amazing.  After a few times vacuuming with the Dyson, my carpets look almost new, not 14 years old.  Now when I do exercises face down on the carpet, there isn't the musty, dusty smell I used to encounter.

And my micro-suede upholstered furniture has never been so clean.  I vacuumed once with the vibrating attachment.  That did a nice job.  But the next time I used the small hand tool. The suction was so intense that the vacuum hurtled toward the couch.  The dust and dirt extracted was impressive.  My furniture is soft again.

I like seeing all the dirt I am vacuuming up.  Emptying the canister is easy.  Not once have I encountered any blow back on the dust. Maybe it depends on how you empty it.  I dump mine directly into the big trash receptacle, which is rather deep. 

Yes, a Dyson is all plastic.  I imagine that is how they keep it so light.  But there is a 5-year warranty on parts.  Two friends have never had an issue in many years.  Another keeps breaking parts on hers.  So it may depend on how you use your Dyson.

I do agree with one quibble I've read on the internet - a dearth of included attachments.   The Animal comes with a small turbine head that is great on stairs, but most models don't include it.  (The other models are also less expensive.)  What they call the stair tool is the one that did such a killer job on my furniture. The combination tool is awkward and pretty pointless, in my opinion.

I am happy that I bought the duster attachment.  Even with microfiber cloths, I always ended up scattering dust and dog hair.  The duster bristles are incredibly soft and it sucks up the dust and dog hair without any flyaway.

I also bought the dog groomer attachment.  I should have read the description more closely.  The bristles are too harsh for my dogs.  But I sold it to my friend for her Husky and she says it works great.  He likes being brushed with it and she doesn't end up with a pile of dog hair.

Granted, I've only had my Dyson for 2 months, but I am really happy and impressed.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Can't I be pretty and serious?

When I was in junior high school I wore short skirts and high heels.  In high school, I gravitated to holey jeans and baggy shirts.

Nowadays, my work wardrobe is jeans, short-sleeved camp shirts, and sneakers.  My home wardrobe swaps out t-shirts for the camp shirts. I'll wear jean shorts instead of long jeans in the summer at home.

My work wardrobe was a conscious decision.  I work in the male-dominated software industry.  I prefer that my co-workers notice my mind, not my attire.  Or my gender.

Many years ago I worked with a well-endowed, female report writer who dressed in flashy, tight clothes.  I don't know if she was good at what she did or not.  No one ever said.  The comments I overhead about her were never focused on her work qualities.

I took note of that.

I've always been a tomboy, so my current wardrobe isn't that much of a departure.  My low key style means I don't spend a lot of money on clothes.  (I spend it on dog treats.).  I'm allergic to nail polish so I keep my nails buffed and natural.  I start to itch from most makeup, so I go without.  I've had bad experiences with hair dressers, so I cut my own.  Easy.  Comfortable.

Still, I hadn't realized how ingrained my philosophy had become until recently.

I've belonged to a gym for 18 months.  Unsure what clothes to buy, and unwilling to spend a fortune on workout clothes, I've worn cotton street shorts to the gym.  There is still a little (a lot) of the insecure 12-year-old inside me, so when someone joked about my shorts, I felt compelled to buy real workout shorts.

I ordered a pair of Adidas shorts from Amazon.  I was not aware that the "diva" stripe meant pink.  The first day I wore them, I mated them with a black t-shirt, a pink sweat band, and my black and white Nikes.

I got to the gym, and during Body Combat class, I saw myself in the full length mirror.  I looked pretty.  I looked like one of those women who dress up to go to the gym so she can sit around and look at guys.

I was appalled.

I don't want to look pretty.  I want to look like I'm serious about my exercise.  I want to look tough.

Sigh.  When did I become the kind of person who objects to looking pretty?  Can't I be pretty and serious?

Apparently, not in my mind.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Worm balls - gross!

While standing at the kitchen sink, I looked out the window.  There were several clumps of black dirt on the patio.  Immediately I assumed one of the dogs had been digging.  I rushed out to see if the laundry on the drying rack had been dirtied.  


I picked up a clump to throw it back into the grass. 

It wriggled!

I dropped it.  Eeew! 

Then looked at it. 

It was a ball of writhing, miniscule worms.  I wish I had taken a picture.  But imagine, dirt-covered pink worms about one inch long clinging together in constant motion. 

There were probably 15 clumps.  And there were a lot of dried out, dead individual worms on the concrete. Did they not reach the worm balls in time?  Did the patio dry out too fast after the brief rain?

 I got a hand hoe and a trowel and did the best I could to scoop the clumps up and pitch them into the grass.  I hope the worms found their way into the dirt and out of the sun. 

Another cluster of worms was gathered in the crack between the concrete slabs.  Those didn’t fare as well when I scraped them out and tossed them into the grass.  Some got squished, but some survived.

I’ve lived here 14 years and never have seen anything like it. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bogie - the reason my counter is less cluttered.

First it was the Dingo rawhide chews. I give the dogs a rawhide when I go upstairs to work on the computer.  It's meant to be a distraction so they will let me work in peace.

I set two on the stove, then stepped out of the room for just  a moment.  When I came back,  Bogie was chewing on a rawhide.  I looked at the stove.  Both rawhides were gone.  Bogie was only chewing one rawhide and wasn't saving the other.  I finally found the second outside with Angel.

Not only had Bogie taken the chews off the stove, he had given Angel hers.

The next day, I made cornbread to have with seafood chowder.  With half the cornbread remaining, I covered the metal pan with plastic wrap and set it near the back of the counter. Mind you, the rawhides were the very first time Bogie had taken anything since I got him two months ago.  And he knew they were destined for him anyway. So I had no qualms about leaving the pan on the counter.

When I got home from work the next day, there was nothing obviously out of place in the kitchen.  But when I stepped into the back yard, there was the empty cornbread pan laying in the grass.  I found the plastic wrap in the rocks.

So envision this - Not only did Bogie figure out there was edible food on the counter, somehow he managed to carry the pan out through the doggy door before eating it.  He didn't drop the pan off the edge of the counter.  He didn't tip it upside down.  He didn't eat it immediately.

He carefully carried it outside to enjoy the spoils.

I wish I had a surveillance camera.  Did he carry the pan in his teeth from the end where the rim forms a handle?  Did he maneuver the pan so he could grab it from the side?  He isn't telling.

I scolded him for the cornbread and figured that was that.  Silly me.

The very next day when I came home from work, there was a shattered ceramic cookie jar on the kitchen tile.   The dog treats that had been stored within were all eaten.  A second, plastic canister was out in the back yard, still filled with treats.

I suspect his success with the cornbread went to his head.  The plastic container of dog treats was on the outside of the counter.  I imagine he grabbed it and took it outside - through the doggy door.  I do appreciate that he takes these things outside to deal with them.  Obviously, he couldn't figure out how to open the canister.

So he went back inside to grab the next available treat container, the cookie jar in the shape of a begging dog.  I’m sure he thought he would just grab it and go outside.  But, being ceramic, it was both heavier and slipperier than he expected.  The jar crashed to the floor.

I can mentally picture them both hightailing it out the doggy door.  A few minutes pass, and Bogie sticks his head through the door.  Seeing no danger, and seeing the scattered treats, he reenters the house and carefully picks the treats out of the debris.  I can't decide whether Angel joined him.  Thankfully, neither dog was injured by the glass.

Angel was remorseful when I told them how disappointed I was.  Bogie just wagged his tail and grinned at me.  While I disliked losing the cornbread I had planned for my own dinner, and having to clean up shattered glass, I admire Bogie's ingenuity.

The upshot is the treat containers are now kept in the pantry.  And the pantry has the standard round door knob.  I suspect that if it had a lever style door knob, Bogie would figure out how to open it.  I'm not completely sure he won't figure out how to manage the round knobs.

My kitchen counters are disturbingly devoid of clutter.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Poorly executed newspaper price increase

I was recently informed that my monthly newspaper subscription to the Arizona Republic was increasing from $18.99 per month to $24 per month.  

The benefit to me for this 25% increase in cost?  I get access to their digital content.  

Whoop de doo.  I don't currently access their digital content.  That's why I read the newspaper.  So I can get my news - and comics - in one place with my breakfast.  I prefer that to having to click links, back up, click other links.  

I wasn't asked if I wanted this digital content.  I wasn't offered a print-only option.  I was just informed that my subscription would increase.  

I've commented before on the impending demise of print media.  My newspaper is already laughably slim.  We're the sixth largest American metropolis, yet 3 days a week the newspaper is the size of my home town paper.  Which had 30,000 residents at the time I lived there. 

Even now, at the end of many articles is the notation to go to their web site for further information.  If I need to go to the Internet for sufficient information, then why do I need the print edition at all? 

I like my newspaper.  I tried doing without and suffered withdrawal.   But this heavy-handed stab at "improving" my media experience has left a bad taste.  Additionally, I resent the tactic of charging me more for the Thanksgiving edition because it is bigger - from ads they get paid for.  

I've tolerated the Thanksgiving inequity with a grumbling acceptance.  But I have come to the conclusion that the columnists and comics I enjoy cannot counteract the ill filling I now have for Gannett Media.    Before the price increase, I will be cancelling my subscription. 

Now -- what do I read with breakfast? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

I enjoy watching the Olympic athletes compete

I like the Olympics.  I will watch hours and hours of sports I ignore the remainder of the four years.  Gymnastics and diving are long-time favorites.  In the 2008 Olympics I got more into watching the swimming events.  And this year I discovered how exciting really good beach volleyball can be.

Whether or not they win, I admire the athletes who compete.  Competing is a huge commitment - of time, money, physical effort.  I ache after doing a cardio class two days in a row.  And that's only for an hour.   I can't imagine the discipline it takes to devote hours and hours every day to a sport.  For years.  With no guarantee you will even be able to compete.

When I see a gymnast perform on the balance beam, I wonder how many times have they fallen while learning to do this routine?  How many times have they gotten hurt only to get back on the beam, or the bars, or the rings?  Can you learn how to do a backflip twist tumbling routine without ever getting hurt?  The number of bandages I saw leads me to believe the answer to that is no.

Does the sand in beach volleyball hurt the player's feet? Does it get into places you'd rather not have sand?  Is it better to dive after a ball in beach volleyball and bury your knees in gritty sand than to dive onto the hard, unforgiving floor of regular volleyball?  Will a swimmer's skin ever recover from years of being soaked in chlorine?  Is there a soccer player alive that has never been accidentally kicked?

It breaks my heart to see an athlete get to the Olympics and fail.  Not fail as in not winning a medal.  Winning a gold medal is not the only criteria for success.  No, I mean, fail as in trip over the first hurdle, fall in the middle of a foot race, suffer an injury in the qualifications that preclude continuing.  Four years of striving can be wiped out in an instant.

Why do these athletes chose the sports they do?  Basketball and soccer players may be able to get on a professional team.   What is the post-competition demand for swimmers, rowers, table tennis players, or pole vaulters?  What inspires someone to become a world competitor in handball, field hockey, or trampoline?  There aren't enough coaching positions for everyone who competes.

I have to believe they do this because they love it.  I admire that.  And I enjoy watching them.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Teenage" quail

My yard backs up against a retention basin. Often the Gambel's Quail that live there visit the bird block in my yard.  Although other birds enjoy the seed, I primarily put the blocks out to attract the quail.

Before I got the big dogs, the yard was sometimes visited by the parents and their puffball babies.  About the size of a fuzzy golf ball, the puffballs can't fly and would enter and exit under the gate.  While I miss seeing the babies, I would be devastated if one of the dogs caught one.  Instead, I get a kick out of the "teenage" quail.  They are not quite as big as their parents and they stick close to each other.
Walking along the block wall
I am impressed that the quail know whether or not to worry about the dogs.  And which of my dogs are the bigger concern.  Angel will walk out the doggy door, the quail will go on alert. If she simply lays in the grass they go back to eating.  If she walks toward them, they hop to the top of the block wall and make their escape.

Mom and kids
The wooden deck they are walking on is a raised platform about 3 feet high that keeps the food off the ground and provides a little protection from the dogs. I use a terra cotta planter bottom as a bird bath.

Dad and kids getting a drink. 
I can see the bird block platform from my kitchen window. Sometimes I am so entertained that I forget I'm supposed to be washing the dishes. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bogie had a gastropexy

It wasn't until I fell in love with a Great Dane that I learned the leading cause of death in Danes is GVD, or bloat.  Because they are a big-chested breed, a Dane's stomach can flip after eating.  It happens if they are active, but what 16-month-old dog isn't active?  I worried I would come home from work to find him ailing, or dead.

So I had him "pexied".  That's a surgery where one side of the stomach is tacked to the body wall.  Thereafter the stomach can't roll over.  Of course, right now he's miserable.  Though it was done laparoscopicly, there is still a 2 inch incision in his stomach wall.  

I feel guilty at causing him pain.  But they say Danes only live 8 years.  If that includes the 25% that died of bloat, maybe a pexied Dane can live as long as other dogs?  I hope so.

The vet recommended a t-shirt to keep him from chewing on the stitches.  I intended to buy some white sleeveless shirts today, but he started licking last night at 2:30.  So he ended up in an over-sized purple t-shirt from my closet.

It was surprisingly easy to get him into the shirt.  Of course, he was stoned out of his mind when I did it.

We'll see how easy it is to dress him when he isn't high on pain medication. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Restringing an outdoor lighted deer

I have 3 five-foot-tall lighted holiday deer that I like very much.  Plus two smaller deer.  But they are lit with the small incandescent bulbs and the wiring was getting frayed.  I looked for new deer, but couldn't find any like the ones I have.  Replacing them would also create the quandary of how to dispose of the old deer.  They were still good deer.  I couldn't just trash them.

So I rewired them.

I decided to replace the lengths of incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.  White wire was prohibitively expensive, so I settled on green wire.  I have no idea why green would be cheaper, or more available, than white.  I also don't know where the manufacturers of wire decorations get their lights. I couldn't find any wiring with those nifty clips already attached.  So I settled for zip ties.

Lots and lots of zip ties.

Here are the step by step photos of the restringing.  This is how it looks coming out of the box. Which may explain the fraying wires. (Well, that and the bunnies chewed through some of the wiring.)

This is how it looks assembled. Except this one has a broken antler bracket.  That's why it looks like he has a mane.  His antlers are laying against his neck.

I stripped off the white wire (this is a different deer). At first I was tediously following the wiring to unfasten it. Then I had an epiphany and realized there was no reason to preserve the wire. So I snipped it. Much, much easier to remove.

Because the wire I bought wasn't designed for wire sculptures, I had to string sections at a time, trying not to double the wire or ruin the outline of the sculpture.

In some areas of the structure, it was hard to decide the best direction to run the new wiring.  Liberal use of clothes pins allowed me to test layouts before zip tying.

After zip tying the bulbs, the reindeer looks more like a porcupine.

Here he is completed and looking much better with his antlers repaired.  I fastened the wiring in such a way that the deer can no longer be disassembled for the off season.  This should enable them to look better longer.   Granted, they take up more storage space.

Here is the tableau during the day. (And yes, the small deer in the foreground was done with different wire.  If I get ambitious, I will change him over.)

And here is the tableau at night.  Here the green wire is a non-issue.  And honestly, very few outdoor sculptures look good during the daytime.

I have one final stag to rewire.  I planned on getting them done early last year, but I procrastinated.  I did the 4 in the picture in the two weeks after Thanksgiving of last year.  The fifth spent the season in the garage.

I've promised myself I will finish the last deer next week.  I'm not sure I believe me.

Updated:  I did finish the last deer, but not until December, 2012.

Related:     Red nose for a white wire deer

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Acronym Pet Peeve

I just got an e-mail proudly touting someone's promotion to NAM.

Good for them.  What the heck is a NAM?

I hate it when people assume everyone else knows what their acronyms mean.  A former General Manger (GM) peppered his meetings with acronyms without ever explaining them.

In writing, it is considered proper form to give the definition of an acronym the first time you use it.  I wish people applied that policy in their speaking.

At minimum, add it to your Power Point slide so I can read it myself.

To the GM (previously defined), AOP meant Annual Operating Plan.  But to the software developers he was addressing, AOP meant Aspect-oriented programming.  At, there are 62 different definitions of AOP.

Granted, context and environment can often help your listener derive the definition you intend.  But while they are pondering what you meant by the acronym, they are missing what you said next.  It is much more productive to just explain yourself.

Texters aren't exempt from needing to understand their audience.  While LOL is widely considered to mean "Laugh out loud", the person reading the text may interpret it differently.  Your context can be misconstrued if to them LOL means "Little Old Lady", "Loss of Life", or " Length of Lease".

Be Kind.  Remind.