Sunday, December 29, 2013

First tattoo

I was married to a biker.  I was married to a long-distance trucker.  You would think I would have gotten a tattoo before now.

But really, I couldn't think of a subject or design that I wouldn't tire of in a few years.

Until now.

A friend suggested paw prints.  My dogs are my world.  So it seemed fitting.  Nor is it likely that I will ever not have a dog.

So a couple weeks ago I got this to commemorate my last 6 dogs.  The colors match the dogs.  The orange and green toe on the upper right represents his ever-present carrot toy.

The tattoo wasn't nearly as painful as I expected.  So I will probably get another.  

As soon as I can decide on a design. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Everyone needs a friend like this.

I don't know what the antonym is for "photogenic", but I'm it.  I've never like a single picture taken of me.

Until Thursday.  Thursday was the holiday party for work.  One coworker brought his camera and shot pictures of everyone.

When I saw mine, I actually liked it.

I said so, to George and Joel.  I said, "Either Kumar is an amazing cameraman, or I am getting more accepting of the way I look."

George said, "Or you're getting better looking."

Now that's a good, and clever, friend.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Bogie is making a lot of progress

As Bogie and I were walking back down the street towards home this morning, something caught his attention in the yard of a corner house.  

This is where he chased a cat shortly after I got hurt   That time I let go of the leash after No didn't faze him, afraid of getting hurt again . He chased the cat until his leash got caught under a car wheel.

Today I yelled No, not expecting much.  

He didn't ignore me.  He didn't jump the wall. 

In fact, he aborted in mid-jump, twisted, stumbled, and scrambled to regain his footing on the sidewalk by my side. And we resumed our walk. 

I was so proud.  

Later we ran errands in the car.  When we got back to the house, I parked in the garage and opened the back door to the car.  This time, I didn't make the Stay There motion when I opened the door.  Waiting is one of those actions that are supposed to be implied.   

Bogie started to get out of the car.  His front feet hadn’t even hit the floor yet when I said, Ah, ah, as Shawn taught me. 

Bogie scrambled to get back into the car, pushing back with his front feet to get his hind end back into the car.  Where he waited for me to say Break before getting out of the car. 

Again, incredibly proud.

I'm so pleased to see that the time and training are paying off.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'm not in my car

Not surprisingly, after reaching 250,000 miles, my Mazda needed a little maintenance work.  The garage couldn't get it done in one day, so I rented a car. 

As I got into the rental to drive away, I wanted my sunglasses.  

Which were in my car.  In the shop. 

I drove past the convenience store near my house, planning to buy this week's lottery tickets.  And I realized I didn't have my lottery play slips. 

They were in my car.  In the shop.

I drove into my subdivision, planning to pick up my mail, and realized I didn't have my postal box key. 

It was in my car.  In the shop.

I pulled into the driveway and stared at the garage door.  I didn't have the garage door opener either. 

It was in my car.  In the shop.

I hadn't realized how much I counted on the objects I need being accessible.  Until I didn't have them. 

I was thrilled when I got my car back.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Interpreting personalized license plates

My commute isn't horrendous compared to some, but I do drive 26 miles each way to get to work. That drive can become tedious, especially when traffic is slow.  I watch for personalized license plates and try to figure out the why behind the choice.

My own license plate is STNDGLS.  Since I get asked what it means, "Stained Glass" isn't as obvious as I thought.  The why is because I create stained glass pieces.

I have a friend who with a cat (and now two cats) who chose the license CATPERSN.  That is to explain that she is definitely not a cat lady.  Another friend has BLUCHEEZ, to indicate on his blue car that he is a Cheesehead from Wisconsin.

But therein lies one of my quandaries.  In order for his license plate to have meaning, my friend has to always have a blue car.  That isn't as big a problem as those that are model specific.  If your license plate is MYREDZ, do you get a new personalized plate when you get a new car?  What if the new plate you want isn't available?

Some plates need supplemental information to interpret.  DOXNMOM confused me until I saw the dachshund stickers in the window.

There are the plates that seem to indicate the car was a gift 4MYGSPS or 4 MRBOO.  Wouldn't Mr. Boo be a cat?  Would I want to drive around announcing that my car was a gift?

In Arizona, we get a lot of transplants from other states.  It makes me think that perhaps they are not fully committed to living here when they have a license plate like OMAHA or PA2AZ.

FUCHSIA on a black car doesn't make sense, but MIDNYT3 on a black car does. IMAHACK would seem to be a great plate for a taxi, but this was on a pickup.  Maybe Hack is his last name?

Some plates seem to reflect the driver's interests, business, or personality:  YOGAMUM, SCRAPY (which I'm assuming is for scrap-booking), REPIPE1, GOGETTR, or STELRS94 (Steelers fan?).

Other plates seem to be related to family; TWNSNUS and CNDOUBL while others just seem to be names: CAYC, RFAELA, MYERS, HIGGNSN.

Most license plates are hard to decipher if you don't know the person. For example, FINE4US on a compact car.  Are they self conscious or proud of their vehicle choice?  I hope MI CASA on a compact car doesn't mean the driver is living in his car.  Is SLAYYER for a fan of the band, a reference to a video game, or something else entirely?

TWO CHE is punny.  NEATHUH on a fancy sports car amused me. MYCOFFN worried me.

Mostly, personalized license plates entertain me and keep my commute interesting.

Monday, December 9, 2013

D'oh moments

I keep having these "light bulb" moments where I realize that my approach to a problem is all wrong and the answer is simpler than I realized.

Maybe everyone has that.  Or maybe I am slower to see the best answer.

For example, the irrigation.  Once again, one of the sprinkler heads broke off in the lawn.  This is the hazards of having two big dogs that like to run figure 8's in the grass.  Sometimes the sprinklers take a direct thrust from 80 pounds or more of turning canine.

I noticed this 4 days ago when I had neither the time nor the energy to change the sprinkler riser.  I turned off the irrigation, resigning myself to hand watering everything until I could fix the problem.

It wasn't until today, when I was watering trees (which are always hand-watered) that I realized I didn't have to forgo the automatic watering on the orange jubilee if I just shut off the times for the lawn.

D'oh!

I want a visible red nose on one of my outdoor lighted deer.  I had a set of small oval bulbs I bought last year to use, but the oval bulbs didn't fit in the sockets of the small LEDs on the deer.  I rigged up a contraption but it burned out quickly.

A small red LED bulb was a partial solution, but it just wasn't bright or large enough to satisfy me.

This year I found some nice round LED bulbs.  I took the strand apart and tried to wire just one of the bulbs to a plug.  But it kept burning out.  I had a white strand that I could swap a bulb in, but the white round bulbs would ruin the pattern of lights on the reindeer.

For some reason, it occurred to me to try the round bulb in the socket of the small LEDs on the deer.  It fit!  It lit!  The easy solution. But it took way too long for me to consider trying it and cost me a disassembled light strand.

D'oh.

These are two examples that happened just this weekend.  I have these moments at least once a week.  And when I do, I swear you can see the cartoon light bulb above my head.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sherlock Holmes versus Mr. Spock

This past week's Elementary episode seem intent on reminding us that Sherlock is not necessarily a nice or socially competent person.

I think the show's producers want to ensure us that associating with Joan Watson will not have a softening effect on the exalted detective.

It occurred to me that the very aspects of Sherlock that annoy people are the attributes people like in the Mr. Spock character – his strict adherence to logic, his dispassion, and his intellectual brilliance.

In Spock these are acceptable because he isn't human.

Sherlock is expected to have human feelings and emotions.  The fact that he doesn't engenders pity, scorn, and anger.  

His Watson companion, in any incarnation, is given sympathy, and is viewed with puzzlement for the willingness to associate with Sherlock.  The Star Trek universe was more military, where you just learned to deal with the people stationed with you.

Spock is accepted for being who and what he is.

Sherlock is accepted only for the results he produces.

Poor Sherlock.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Computer repair scam

I hear a lot about scam artists, but I've never encountered one.  Until yesterday.

I got a phone call from an Out of Area number.  I don't often answer those, but sometimes they will permit you to take yourself off the calling list.  So this time I picked up the phone.

There was a delay when I answered Hello.  I was just about to hang up when a foreign male voice said, Hello?

Again, I said Hello.  The man said Hi.  I thought, well, this is going nowhere fast.

"We just got notification that your computer has downloaded a virus and needs to be repaired."

Interesting, I'm thinking, since my computer is turned off.  "How did you get notification?" I asked.

This answer is apparently not in the script, because all I hear is silence.  Then he reads the next line, "I need you to turn on your computer so I can remove the virus."

"Hmm, no I don't think so.  I'm a computer professional, so I would know if there was something wrong with my computer."

Even over the phone, I could see his confusion.  "Your computer is professional?  What is professional?"

I repeated myself, with the exact same result. Finally, I said, very slowly, "I am a computer technology person.  I work on computers.  I would know if there is a problem with my computer."

"Oh"  There was a fairly long pause.  I waited to see how he would recover.  "Enjoy the rest of your day," he said brightly.  And hung up.

I laughed out loud.

But I do worry about the people who would fall for it.

Update - the same guy actually called back the next day to try again!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The dog training is helping

This morning I proceeded to take Bogie on our walk.  I had slept in, so it was actually light enough to see. 

We generally start out north then turn west after one block because the street curves.  We hadn't even gotten to the corner when Bogie got agitated.  It was obvious he had seen a cat.  He allowed me to keep him under control, but kept trying to cross the street. I kept saying No.  

And he kept minding me. 

Bogie's attention shifted west from yard to yard and I assumed the cat was running away through the front yards across the street from us. 

Until a coyote stopped in the middle of the street about half a block away.  

Bogie lunged, but not with any real force.  I was able to get him to stay with me.  He stood obediently still, but not quiet.  He bayed at the coyote, who was completely unfazed.

I’m sure the neighbors appreciated the noise at 6:30 in the morning.

The coyote stood in the street and stared for what seemed like a long time, but was probably only 2 or 3 minutes. I don't know if the coyote was trying to figure why this loud, white dog was so big, or if he was waiting for us to make a move.  

didn't want to turn around and go back in case it decided to follow us.  I know it is unlikely a lone coyote will attack such large prey.  But you don't turn your back on a predator. And I couldn't move forward with any confidence that I could keep Bogie under control.

The coyote finally took off up the street out of our line of sight.  Bogie wanted to go after him, but let me turn him the other direction.  Still, he kept looking around, watching.

Even though the training held, I cut the walk short.  With Bogie in high Predator mode, I didn't want to risk seeing some other chase-able creature.

On the plus side, I was very pleased Bogie agreed to mind me.  On the minus side, Angel missed out on her portion of the walk. 

And it's always cool to see a coyote. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Quarter million miles

Fifteen years ago this month, I bought my 1999 Mazda Protege.  She's a little, black, 4 cylinder sedan that gets 33 mpg. 

And today on the way home, we turned over 250,000 miles.  A Quarter Million miles sounds even more impressive.

She's hail dented with one dented fender from hitting a parking lot post and a scraped up bumper from when the computer brain was malfunctioning and I kept needing a push start.  

But she was paid for 10 years ago.  I have a great mechanic that keeps her running.  And despite the dents, there is no rust.  

After all, she's an Arizona native. 

I figure it will take 3 more years to get to 300,000.  

Challenge accepted. 

It's a little fuzzy.  I was driving.  Yeah, bad idea, I know. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back in my comfort zone.

I got laid off in February.  Took a paid sabbatical.  Got a new job in June.  Despite the ample work from home days, ended up disliking the new job.

As of Monday, I went back to my old job, sort of.  I am working with many of the same people, doing some of the same types of programming.  But I am reporting to a different boss.  And the company is under new management.

It's an odd feeling being back.  I feel like I am home again.  Yet a lot has changed.   Many of my former co-workers are gone, either laid off when I was or have subsequently left.   The department is in a different wing.  I keep turning the wrong way at the entrance. The walls are now a vivid orange color that takes a little getting used to.

It's back to being a small software company with a sense of fun rather than a conglomerate bogged down in process.  There are Nerf gun fights, Friday afternoon gatherings, scooters to use to go from one end of the office to the other.  You can't get into trouble for checking Facebook or answering a text message occasionally.

Admittedly, things are still in flux.  They've only owned the software since March and the big focus was separating the subsidiary from the conglomerate.  Now they need to decide what direction to take the software.

This will be my third time at this address working for five different companies while actually working on the same software.  What can I say?  The underground parking has a big appeal here in Arizona.

It could be a coincidence, but I am sleeping better.  I am more eager to get to work.  And my blood pressure has gone down.

Happy sigh.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bogie in predator mode

For the past few days, I've been watching Bogie from the kitchen window while he is in stalking mode.  It's no wonder he's caught so many pigeons.

Mind you, he's huge and largely white, so how the pigeons are lulled baffles me.

In his favor, he has a lot of patience.

He will stand stock still until the pigeons are ignoring him.  Then move one paw a few inches.

If the pigeons get restless, he stops and waits.

Then moves another paw.

Yesterday he was within 3 feet of the feeder pole before most of the pigeons wised up and flew away.

One pigeon dithered around, walking 3 feet away then back several times before joining his kin on the roof.  The entire time the pigeon tarried, Bogie stood still and watched.

When the last pigeon flew off, Bogie shook himself and trotted back to the house.

Bogie - not exactly camouflage colored

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sometimes I don't understand dogs

This morning while I was brushing my teeth, I heard Bogie come in from outside.   

He walked quickly across the family room, up the stairs, through the loft, walked behind me in the tiled bathroom, went into the carpeted closet - and puked. 

Sigh.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm a vitamins and herbs fan

I'm not a big fan of medicine.  The long lists of side-effects recited at the end of every drug commercial is one of the reasons why.

I'm not militant about it.  When there is a need, I will take whatever medication is necessary.  But only for as long as necessary.  Like migraine medicine.  I couldn't have functioned without it these many years.

I'm not sure if a devotion to vitamins and herbs makes me a hypocrite or not.  I mean, I buy packaged vitamins.  I don't grow the herbs myself.  I don't get vitamin C from oranges.  Oranges give me migraines.

So what I take could just be unregulated medicine.

Still, I have had good luck with vitamins.  At least, once I find the right ones and the right dosages.

Feverfew has been recommended for migraines for decades.  But it was a bust for me.  That is, until I found a site that suggested a much higher dose.  Now my migraines have decreased by half.  Coincidence?  Possibly.  But I am willing to continue taking the feverfew even if it's a placebo effect.

Magnesium and D-3 were recommended by doctors.  I like a doctor that will think outside of the traditional medical arena.

I take potassium to lower the blood pressure that gets raised by my antihistamine and migraine medication.  And yes, I know potassium is in bananas.  Not a big fan of bananas, unless they are dipped in sugar.

The migraine medicine also depletes my folic acid levels.  My hair had stopped growing until I added folic acid to my daily regimen.

Antihistamines are a problem for me.  I can take most brands only once or twice before I get a migraine.  And my allergies are a daily occurrence.  I did find one brand that I could take as often as necessary without problems.  Until recently.

So I searched around for an herbal alternative.  I read about butterbur and tried it.  Voila!  No more post nasal drip.  This herb isn't as easy to find as some.  I have to order it on-line.  But taking it instead of the antihistamine has reduced my blood pressure.

My latest addition was B-12.  I researched it after The Bloggess mentioned it isn't something normally tested for.  I read that B-12 is good for fuzzy brain.  So I tried it.  Bliss.  Much less fuzzy brain.

A multi-vitamin, B-complex, and calcium round out my daily dosages.  It may not work for everyone.  Other people prefer to get their vitamins from their food.

But this works for me.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hummingbird ballet

The other day I was eating lunch out on the patio.  The hummingbird feeder is 9 feet from where I normally sit.

The entire time I was outside, there was an elaborate ballet between two hummingbirds, chasing each other through the yard and the trees.  They swoop in and out of the branches of the trees, never miscalculating the open spaces.   They weave in and out of the patio posts, gracefully avoiding the wind chimes and spinners.

At intervals, one would fly out of the yard and the other would perch in my Palo Verde tree.  The hummingbird from the tree would approach the hummingbird feeder and hover.  It would look around for a moment or two, trying to spy the second hummingbird sneaking up on it.

If the hummingbird hadn't wasted so much time being on lookout, it could have drank its fill.

The absent hummingbird returns and the aerial chase resumes. At one point, they swoop within 3 feet of me, seeming oblivious to my presence.

Suddenly, there are 4 hummingbirds involved, all doing a squeaky chitter and swooping, moving too fast to determine their alliances.

Just as suddenly, two hummingbirds disappear and the two remaining hummingbirds resume their noisy chase.

Marvelous lunch time entertainment.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rummage sale, antique mall finds

Sarah and I spent all day yesterday hitting garage sales, rummage sales, a huge consignment center and an antique mall.

I found this at a rummage sale.  The artist is a young woman in her late teens or early twenties.  She had some exquisite celebrity portraits on display.  When I asked her if she did any animals, she showed me this. She was thrilled that I wanted to buy it.  I even like the wear and damage to the piece.  Makes it seem more authentic somehow.

At the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall, I found this wind chime.  I love wind chimes, but I am particular about the sound.  This makes a light, tinkling noise.  And I like the whimsy of using kitchen utensils.  It's a little hard to see, but the center striker is a fork with the tines splayed out.

And this is the only ceramic tree I've ever seen that incorporates dogs into the theme.  Granted, they aren't Great Danes, but the tree would have to be a Sequoia to accommodate Great Danes.  The tree is very detailed.  I especially like the star made of dog bones.

Unique pieces are why I like to shop at these places. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes bombardment

I started playing the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes when I was laid off from work.  A potential prize of $5000 a week for life was just too tempting to pass up.

I didn't realize that I would get "opportunities" to enter almost every day.

They say you don't have to buy anything to play, or win.  But I wanted to see if buying something would slow down the emails.

It doesn't.

I can see where the constant bombardment would convince people to buy something.  I myself was tempted by a fake candle because I thought I needed one.  But then couldn't remember why.  Fortunately for me, my sister liked it.

It's not that they are trying to influence you to buy expensive things.  We're talking salt and pepper shakers in various shapes, kitchen gadgets. genuine leather purses, jewelry, inspirational tchotchkes, books, CDs, and of course, magazines.

I think it's the frequency of the emails, and the pleas to reconsider not buying, that guilt people into buying something.

Oddly, if you see something you like and want to get it later, I've not found a way to purchase it.

Still, I'm willing to invest the minute or two it takes to enter on the off-chance I can win thousands of dollars a week. For Life.  And I can resist the laying on of the guilt.

You can't win if you don't play.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Agreement unfulfilled - tear strips, zip strips, etc.

There have been so many advances in consumer technology that it can be hard to fathom for those of us over 50.  In  particular, I am talking about tear strips, easy-close zip strips, pop-tops, and foil tops.

So I feel a little ungrateful when I get irritated or annoyed when the improvements fail.

For example - easy tear strips on food or dog treat bags.  Nice, right?  No need for scissors like back in the "good old days".

But I get annoyed when I have to resort to those same scissors because the tear strip didn't work.  I will tear from the opposite side and struggle to pull the two edges apart before I walk the 2 feet to get the scissors.

I've had an entire batch of dog treat bags fail to tear open.  I seriously considered changing brands.  But the dogs love these treats.

Ditto, the easy-close zip strips on bags.  It's nice to not have to put the lunch meat or the cheese slices in a separate package after opening.  But sometimes the act of opening the bag destroys the zip strip.  Or the zip strip is so cheaply made that it takes a magician to get it closed correctly.

Then the damaged package has to be taped, or clipped, or the contents have to be moved to a separate package.  Just like before the inclusion of the sip strip.  So why is it more irritating?

Because it's an agreement unfulfilled, a contract broken.

Pop-tops where the ring breaks before the lid is removed.  Foil tops that are sealed so tightly that I have to open the container with a knife.  Some of these products are much more difficult to open when the easy open method fails.

I buy your product and you promise an easy open or easy close method - or both.  When these don't work, I feel dissed.  I feel like a whiny kid,  "But you prroommmisssed".  I stop short of stamping my feet, but just barely.

I tell myself that I should be grateful for the times these technologies make my life easier.

But I am still annoyed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Maybe I don't understand DNA?

I should stop paying for DNA tests.

Back in 2008, I wanted to know what kind of dog my beautiful Peanut was.

I forked over $188 to Wisdom Panel because they claimed they could identify 157 breeds of dogs. That was about the number of breeds the AKC recognized so it seemed all my bases would be covered.

Not.

I got back a report that stated Peanut had a trace of Chow and a trace of Giant Schnauzer.  Um, okay.  I had already guessed the Chow from the black spot on her tongue and her thick fur.  What about the other 90% of her?

No clue.

I should have been wary when Ancestry.com pitched a DNA test.  But technology has progressed the past 5 years.  And their commercials showed someone getting back results for specific countries.  I particularly remember Ireland and Scotland being shown.

So I bought a kit, drooled saliva into a tube, and sent it off to the lab.  I will say, I was impressed with the kit.  Very easy to understand and kind of geeky cool.

But the results that came back were disappointing - 61% British Isles, 37% Central European, 2% unknown.

Regions, not countries.

Central Europe doesn't include Italy on their map, so that was kind of useful.  My Dad always claimed we were part Sicilian.   And no one ever mentioned Central Europe in our mongrel pedigree.

Ancestry suggested a third cousin based on some shared ancestors. That one panned out.  However, I checked a few of the 4th cousin suggestions and the only commonality was the surname Smith.  Not a particularly good criteria for matching when Smith is the most common surname in the US.

I checked back today on Ancestry.com and saw there are little pins where a handful of my ancestors were born in the British Isles. A couple pins are in Ireland.  That's news to me.  Every St. Patrick's Day, both parents insisted we were not Irish.

So there are some specifics on countries in the British Isles - England, Scotland, Ireland.  Most of that seemed to be based on the birthplaces from my tree though.  A geographical representation of my tree would have saved me the $99 I spent on the DNA test.

Ancestry says they will continue to update my results as they get more data in from other people.  Not sure how that works, but I guess it's a good thing.

Still, despite some new information, I'm leaning heavily on the disappointed side.

Peanut - my late chow - schnauzer - unknown sweetheart



Updated -
I just got one of the promised updates from Ancestry.com.  And I'm pretty impressed.  This time they did have some actual countries.  It showed 28% of my ethnicity is Irish.  59% Great Britain, and 8% Scandinavian.  The latter is new to me.  And pretty darn cool.

Maybe DNA tests aren't so bad after all.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bogie's Fourth Training Session

I probably won't bore you with every training session (probably).  But last night's session was so encouraging that I had to share.

Shawn had me demonstrate what Bogie had learned.  Bogie made me so proud and did the Down move without any coercion, 4 or 5 times.  Shawn was impressed.

I was thrilled that Shawn complimented me on my ability to focus on my dog.  Apparently, that is not something everyone gets right away.

However, he did point out that I need to say Break, and then move.  What I have been doing, and what most people do at first, is say Break as I move.  Then the marker to end the behavior becomes the movement and not the word.  Not good if you want your dog to maintain position while you are doing something else.

It's surprisingly difficult for me to not move and say Break.  I've even caught myself doing the "fireworks" hand gesture as I say Break.

We discussed the fact that I continue to train with Angel nearby.  I explained that Bogie was even more distracted when I separated them.  Since Bogie is picking up the behaviors, Shawn agreed this was okay.

Now I don't have to feel guilty about not following directions.

Shawn went over Heel again.  Or as we are going to call it Fuß (foos).   The first step is for the dog to Sit at your left side.  Shawn did the first step with Bogie, who got the behavior right away.

I'm a little overwhelmed at the volume of homework - separate sessions on Down, Sit, and the first stage of Heel. Finding separate blocks of time where Bogie hasn't just eaten, isn't too tired, and wants to pay attention can be a challenge.

But we are making so much progress that I am determined to find the time.


Top Dog Training

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Allergy meds are messing with my dreams

My allergies have been quite bad the past couple days.  I've upped my dosages of allergy medications.  

Which seems to have turned my dreams into a surrealistic movie.

World War II, but with modern technology.  Military captain rescues Shirley Temple, blond curls, perky smile, and all.  Takes her on a jet that is flying a mission over the US.  The jet gets shot down. 

We cut to a scene in a control center where there is a infrared-like display. It shows pieces of the jet falling towards buildings in a big city. It also shows Shirley and someone else falling from the plane.  Shirley is holding a saxophone.  (?!)  

Shirley lands face down in the grassy front yard of a home.  (No saxophone.) Mother and grandmother are watching 4 kids, with 1940s clothes and haircuts, play in the front yard.  (Wasn’t there just an aerial dogfight overhead?) 

The mother goes inside to call authorities.  Grandmother says “Don’t touch it!”.  Kids sidle past to get on porch with Grandmother. 

Shirley comes to, completely unharmed.  Gets up, sits on the porch steps and talks about “Have you been to the zoo?  I’ve been to the zoo.  We should go to the zoo.” 

Meanwhile, the kids are edging away from her trying to get to the door to the house. Grandmother keeps saying “Don’t touch it!”. 

I've read that dreams are the brains attempt to process new information.  I have no idea where any of this came from.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bogie's third training session

There is a stage when you are creating a stained glass project where it looks horrible, and you think it will always look horrible.

Bogie's training was at that stage before our third session.

This third session was closer to what I expected when I enrolled.  Shawn trained Bogie and I observed so we could practice at home.  

At first Bogie was confused.  The hand gesture for Down is similar to the one I had used for Shake.  But with some pressure on his collar - and Shawn's weight on his back, Shawn got Bogie to do his first Down.  Enthusiastic praise marked the accomplishment.

Shawn worked with him probably 3 sessions in total.  Not only did Bogie Down, but he had fun doing it. Shawn's assistant, Corey, did a handful of Downs with Bogie as well.  Apparently, when more people participate in the training, the behavior is more strongly reinforced . 

I'm still unsure why we don't use the verbal command until the behavior sticks.  I have to resist saying Down.  I'm just thrilled we got the behavior.  Shawn believes the training will be easier from this point forward. 

Bogie was exhausted and slept most of the way home.  Once there I made myself a sandwich and split a slice of turkey between the two dogs, as I always do.  

Without thinking, I did Sit, then Shake.  As I said, the hand motion for Shake is similar to Down.  Bogie looked at me.  I could see the confusion.  Then he offered his paw.

I was devastated, furious with myself that I could ruin a successful training session by being so careless. 

In fact, I lay awake part of the night worrying about it.  

In the morning, I had barely gotten out of bed, when I tested Bogie on Down  - even without treats.  I tried to make it seem like play and got him to do the Down.  Hurray!  I made a big deal out of it and petted him a bunch.  Then Angel, because she deserves attention, too.

We did several, very short sessions that day.  And Bogie easily did the Down when I put pressure on his collar.  In his mind, that seems to be the key difference between the Down and Shake.  But I have resolved to do no more Shake until Bogie is thoroughly trained.

Last night I dreamt that Bogie escaped.  When I called Here, he came right back to me.

I plan to make that a reality.

Top Dog Boarding and Training.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bogie's second training session

Bogie's first training session went pretty well.  First

Our second session was mostly verbal.  A critique of my command technique as we demonstrated our progress on Sit.  Shawn did a little work with Bogie to reinforce the command.

Then Shawn explained the 5 stages of Heel.  That was a problem.

I had already taught Bogie my concept of Heel.  And even I am aware that it isn't the right kind of Heel.  It's mostly "walk slower because I am going to keep you on a tight leash".

Shawn's suggestion was to use a different language for the commands.  I picked German because I suspect the Rottweiler up the street was trained in German and I want to be able to talk to him if he gets loose again.  Fortunately, he responded well to hand gestures last time.

So Sit becomes Sitz (seats) and Heel becomes Fuß (foos).  I tried to look up Klingon commands but even when I found words that came close, they didn't have a pronunciation guide.

The first priority was to get Bogie to Sitz every time he is asked.  And that is what we practiced after our second session.

I was having a hard time not moving my hand, or my body, when I said Break.  The dog needs to respond to the words not the hand gesture.

I also couldn't find a decent place away from Angel to do the training.  Shawn recommended that Angel not be present so Bogie would stay focused.

Bogie is the only one that follows me into the garage, so I tried that.  Worked at first.  In fact, that Saturday we did two short sessions of Sitz very successfully.  But on Sunday, he just stood there and looked at me.  When he finally did Sit, he did a Sit and Slide.  That's my term for a Sit that fluidly degenerates into a lay, one vertebrae at a time.

After a couple days, I realized that Bogie's biggest love is playing fetch with his Tribble toy.  He captured it fair and square off the shelf and it has become his favorite possession.

With it as motivation, I was able to get Bogie to Sitz before I would throw the Tribble for him.  However, we didn't come close to the ten times in a row Shawn requested.  We made no progress on Fuß. And we were training with Angel in the room. 

I went to the third session convinced I had flunked every test as a pet trainer.

Top Dog Boarding and Training.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Angel and the upstairs window

Sounds like the title of a Nancy Drew novel.

I have a two story house of the style often called a snout house.  As in, the garage is forward of the rest of the house like the snout of a pig laying down.  

The second story, front bedroom window - better known as the dog's lookout - is where the dogs go to keep an eye on the street. This bedroom is over part of the garage.  The garage roof extends a few feet past the exterior bedroom wall.  



Angel likes to paw at the windows when a dog passes by.  When I am home, I like to have the glass window open to let the breeze through.  Angel clawed the delicate sun screen and tore it.  So I put an inside layer of heavy duty screen in it.  This was meant to discourage clawing as well as protect the exterior screen. 

When I am not home, the glass windows is kept closed.  

Usually. 

I got home from work earlier this week, pulled into the driveway, and saw the bedroom screen was partially popped out of its frame. 

I had forgotten to close the window. 

Angel either clawed at it or leaned on it while barking and growling at a passing dog.  I'm extremely lucky she didn't go tumbling down the garage roof onto the driveway pavement.

When I got into the house, Angel acted guilty as hell, but she was unharmed.  

Not even a broken toenail. 

This video is from a different day when the window was closed. 

video

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lee and Morty Kaufmann for Swiffer

I love those Swiffer commercials with Lee and Morty Kaufman.  I was even more thrilled to discover they are a real, married couple. Huffington Post

What makes them so appealing?  For me, it's the fact that they love each other and genuinely enjoy each other's company.

My parents had a volatile relationship involving a lot of anger and yelling.  Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and the like, made me think my family was abnormal, shameful.

Maybe it was.  I would like to think so.

But I grew up with friends whose families were just as dysfunctional.  I truly don't know which kind of family is more prevalent.  Maybe there really are lots more families who don't scream hateful words at each other.

I had a glorious view of one such family when I married my second husband.  I adored his father and mother and the way they treated each other with respect.  Their very large, very frequent family gatherings generated less drama than a single gathering of my immediate family.

So I feel good - and a little envious- when I see a couple like Lee and Morty who have been together for decades and still love and respect each other.

It's like a fairy tale.  And they lived happily ever after.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I go into work at 6:30 AM

I have the luxury of a flexible work schedule.  Since I, and my dogs, are early birds, I get into work before 6:30 so I can leave by 3 or 3:30 (depending on lunch).

Any time I think about sleeping in, I remember that traffic gets worse and worse as the morning progresses.  And I haul my butt out of bed.

Now, grant you, I don't live in LA, or Chicago, or New York City.  So what I consider a horrible commute might be considered an easy day for someone else.

Still, I work 32 miles from home.  I leave home at 5:45 am and I pull into the parking lot at 6:20.  Not bad. I'd like a job closer to home, but not a horrible commute.

But if I don't leave for home at 3:30 pm or earlier, the trek home gets frustrating.  For the past 3 nights I've been running late and have been on the freeway at the 5 pm witching hour.

The stopping in the middle of the highway would be understandable if there was a police car, an accident, a dog on the freeway, a dead body.  But no, there is nothing discernible causing the slowdown except large numbers of cars.  And drivers who can't drive.

The section of freeway that took me 10 minutes in the morning, took 22 minutes last evening.  Yeah, I know not catastrophic.  But frustrating, nonetheless.

The transition from one highway to the next was a one mile long ramp.  It took 10 minutes to traverse.

Only a couple miles later, the cars had all spaced themselves out and we were traveling 70 mph.

I just don't get it.

But I do my best to avoid it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rescue Pets are Awesome

There is a new Tumblr created by Anne Wheaton where people can submit pictures of their rescued pets.
Rescue Pets Are Awesome

I submitted Bogie's picture a while ago and it was posted Friday.  (They've gotten so many submissions that it takes a while to get them posted.)

I was thrilled to see that 70 people liked the goofy photo of my boy.

Bogie

This is the picture I posted, previously blogged here.

How can you not love that face?



Friday, September 20, 2013

Bogie's First Training Session

Last night was our first session with a professional dog trainer.  I decided to get professional help after Bogie's latest escapade.  Bogie Escapes Yet Again

I had had it in mind for a while, but was waiting for the weather to cool off a bit.  That last escape accelerated my plans.  Anyway, last night we met with Shawn from Top Dog Boarding and Training.

The first session was mostly to get me to understand what was expected of me and of Bogie.  We went over door protocol.  One way to keep a dog from escaping through an open door is to train them not to exit until they are given permission.

Bogie did great.  Me, not so much.  It's a new behavior for me, too, and I kept giving the Break signal and the treat at the wrong time. All these changes are confusing enough for Bogie without me making it worse.

That's a big part of dog training - getting the dog owners to behave in a way the dog can understand.

Shawn's main goal for the session was to teach Bogie how to Down.  Now the part I hadn't realized is that the actions come first.  Once the dog understands the motions and expectations, then a word can be assigned to the action.

Shawn said Down is the hardest command for a dog to learn.  And Bogie didn't learn it.  At least not yet.  He tried.  He really tried, but he didn't understand what Shawn expected.

Bogie was getting tired and frustrated, so we stopped doing Down and worked on Sit.  Shawn prefers to teach Down before Sit, but that ship has sailed.  It was one of the first things I taught Bogie.

Of course, I've been doing it wrong.  The dog is supposed to get the treat not when he does the Sit, but when you release him from the Sit.  This eventually becomes the Sit Stay.  Because the dog Sits until released.

The hour session flew by.  Bogie and I were both mentally exhausted when we finished.  In fact, he slept most of the way home.

My homework, which I admit has me intimidated, is to work on the door protocol and the Down until next week's session.

I tried the Down a little earlier today.  Bogie just looked at me like I was insane.  It is clear that what seemed acceptable at Top Dog is going to be harder to implement at home.

We'll get it.  I hope.

Angel has Valley Fever

Valley Fever is a fungal disease common to Arizona and a few other dry areas.  It is said that you have either had, or will have, Valley Fever if you live in Arizona long enough.

For most people, it presents as a mild bout of the flu and they are subsequently immune to the disease.  But it can be severe or deadly in people with compromised immune systems.

Or animals.

It is a disease I am uncomfortably familiar with.  My Lhasa Apso, Rags, got it when he was 13 and died from complications of the disease.  The disease can attack different systems in the body.  Rags suffered from liver failure.

So when Angel started to cough, I was concerned.  We were at the vet anyway to have a fatty tumor checked out.  Just a fatty tumor, thankfully.  When I mentioned the cough, the vet suggested a Valley Fever test.

In case you wonder, why not just get a VF test every time you're at the vet?  It's not an inexpensive test -$125.  And Angel had been checked 5 months ago when she seemed lethargic.

The results take a couple days.  When it was the vet that called, I knew it was positive.  If the techs call, the test is negative.  It's a mild case - 1:8, where the scale goes all the way up to 1:256.  But it is still necessary to treat her with fungicide twice a day for three months - at minimum.  And she is not good at taking pills.
Valley Fever isn't contagious.

Bogie had to have been exposed at the same time as Angel, probably during a recent wind storm.  So I had him checked as well.  The tech called with his numbers - 1:2, exposure, but no symptoms.  I do recall a couple days when he didn't seem to be himself.  So maybe that was his bout of Valley Fever.

We got Angel's pills on the 11th.  You can't get them at CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart.  They have to come from a compounding pharmacy.  Luckily there is one close to my vet.

I'm worried because Angel is coughing more often than before. Nine days out of a three month regimen isn't a lot, but I expected her to not get worse.

Called the vet with the concern and said yes, she may get worse before she gets better.  But they are preparing a prescription for antihistamines for her.

Valley Fever - the scourge of Arizona.

Wikipedia Link
CDC page

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy sage bushes

I have Texas sage planted on the west border.  It gets watered rarely, only when I realize how long it's been since rain has fallen on my yard.  But the recent humidity and rain made the sage blooming happy.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bogie escapes - yet again

Took Bogie for a walk this morning.  

We were doing so very well.  We kept up a good pace. He was behaving.  I was enjoying the walk.  

So I decided to walk farther than we have been lately.  Wen he turned at the next residential street, I didn't dissuade him.

BIG mistake.

We were only a quarter up the block when he saw a cat.  I let go of the leash to keep from being pulled down again, but even after the cat escaped, Bogie wouldn't come back. 

I fast walked, trotted another half block after him, trying to catch up, without inspiring him to play Run Faster. I kept wishing the leash would snag on a car tire, a shrub, a stake.  Anything. 

I was so scared that he would get away from me completely.  So afraid that he would get hurt or hit by a car.  Thankfully, it was a very quiet street, very early in the morning.  Still, a car had just driven past us.  

Then to my acute embarrassment, he encountered another person walking.  He ran to them, jumped on them, startled them, and scratched them.  Naturally, the man was upset.  He said I should keep my dog on a leash. 

Duh! Didn't he see the leash dragging behind?  But I didn't want to hear another chorus of "He's too big for you."  Mostly because it seems to be true. 

Bogie had gone about 10 feet away.  For some reason, he was facing me.  And this time when I called him, he came back to me. 

I was so angry. 

I heeled him all the way back to the house, berating him most of the way.  I threatened to never walk him again.  I threatened to never pet him again.  I threatened to let him get lost next time.

Meant all of it at the time.  But not really. Well, sort of.  But not really.

We picked up Angel, because she shouldn't be punished for Bogie’s mistakes.  I kept Bogie at heel the whole time as we walked around the block. 

I ignored him for a couple hours.  

Not sure he even noticed.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pigeon misjudgment

I was sitting on the patio yesterday after working in the back yard.  I wasn't trying to be subtle or quiet.  Both dogs were outside with me and had been for a couple hours.  

A pigeon flew down to land under the bird feeders.  It wobbled when it landed, as if it couldn't quite get its balance. 

It flew down right in front of Bogie. 

Fatal mistake.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tinnitus or headache?

My ears have been ringing more than usual lately.  It's a high pitched whine so similar to the sound of a cricket that one night I got out of bed to go find the noisy insect.

Oddly, discovering that it was my own ears made the noise a little more tolerable.

But the tinnitus makes having the occasional live cricket chirping in the house unbearable.  Last straw.  Camel's back.

Some of the listed causes of tinnitus are the overuse of OTC medication, specifically aspirin or ibuprofen.

That puts me in a quandary.

I have come up with a regimen that is keeping me as headache-free as I have ever been.  Aspirin plus ibuprofen before bedtime.  If I do that, I don't wake up with a headache or neck ache.  If I don't take them, I wake with one or both.

One article said that it would take 12 aspirin a day to cause tinnitus.  I take only the two.  Once in a while, two more during the day.

So maybe it isn't the aspirin.  I was checked for TMJ years ago. Didn't have it.  No waxy ears.

I've had headaches since I hit puberty.  So being headache-free even part of the time is not a status I am willing to give up.

Day time noises usually mask the sound.  At night, I sleep with a fan to create white noise.  My main concern is whether the tinnitus will lead to permanent hearing loss.

Tinnitus.  Or headaches.

Not a good choice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Amazed by Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, AZ

For my recent birthday, my friend, Sarah, and I went up to Camp Verde to the Out of Africa wildlife park.

I was a little leery when I saw the road into the park was dirt.  But the park itself was amazing.  

The park people have things planned for you to see as much as possible.  First there was a Safari tour.  This drove through an open area where the animals are loose and the people confined to the tram.  The guide, Courtney, was entertaining and fun.  

I’m sure Courtney’s spiel was well-rehearsed, but the delivery made it seem spontaneous. My favorite part was the warning about not putting fingers out toward the zebras or ostrich. She said, You’ll only make that mistake once. Or 5 times if you’re a slow learner (as she counted down on her fingers.).

All day, it was obvious that the people working here love the animals. They have 2 male giraffes that they have to keep separated to prevent fighting over a non-existent female.  She said male giraffes cost $35,000 but females are $100,000.  If I ever win enough in the lottery, I will buy them a female giraffe. We saw a giraffe up close and Courtney even had it take a cookie from her mouth. 




Zebras were next, then an ostrich.  Courtney said her favorite animal was Chili Pepper the ostrich.  She brought the ostrich all the way around the tram so everyone could see it up close.  She had beautiful, thick eyelashes. 

 Lions, Ibexes, and some strange animal that looked like a long-horned cow, but wasn't.  One zebra hangs out with the antelope instead of the other zebras.  There were many more, but I've forgotten their species.  I tipped Courtney and thanked her for an entertaining tour when we debarked.









Then there was a “train” ride to farther points.  The driver was chatty but not as entertaining as Courtney.  But the animals were amazing.  The first was a huge Bengal tiger, a cross between an orange and a white.  The driver got out and encouraged her to come closer by throwing her little bits of meat.  Then he encouraged her to stand up at the fence by holding meat above her head.

She was huge! And beautiful.  I didn't get a picture because there were too many people and the posts in the train were in the way. Next time I will know to sit on the right side of the train. 

We saw more lions, panthers, black bears, tundra wolves, a brief glimpse of an Australian porcupine, emus.   One set of tigers were hiding, as was the grizzly bear.  But the driver coaxed the white tiger, Chalet, up onto the roof of the shelter by throwing food.  She was magnificent.  She shared the area with a lion.   Next, there were lemurs and prairie dogs.


 The habitats were large and well tended.  There were various kinds of shelters and most had pools of one size or another. The animals looked extremely well cared for.  Many are quite old, which is a testament to the care they get.

 
Got off the train in time to see a critter show.  If we had been closer, we could have pet the bearded dragon and the cavie being demonstrated.  Sarah and I were more interested in the bunny inside the fenced area nearby, and the two hyenas walking the fence a mere 10 feet from us.  The hyenas are bigger than I realized.

We wandered a bit, to get some better pictures and views of the animals.  There were overlooks providing great views of the lions, tigers, and panthers, and the emus close up. 

Grabbed something to drink then found a shady place to wait for the Tiger Splash show.  Tiger Splash show was awesome.  There was a larger grassy area with a 20-foot-high fence, and a big concrete, in-ground pool in the center.  They brought Chalet, the white tiger, out to the arena 15 minutes or more before the start of the show.  


She ran with some of the kids along the fence.  She wandered the perimeter of the arena.  She backed into the pool a couple times to cool off, and to get a drink.  

The show was very entertaining.  There were 7 people in the arena.  The announcer, two women who picked up pieces of the inflatable toys and popped them when necessary, and 4 guys who played with Chalet.  

They must have gone through a dozen large inflatable toys.  The toys were dangled from long poles.  One of the guys would tempt Chalet by dragging or hovering the toy.  Once he got her interest, he would take off and jump into the pool.  Sometimes she dived into the pool and grabbed the toy.  A couple times she stopped at the edge and waited for him to come back out.  They did various configurations of this for 30 minutes or more. 

They would pop the toys while Chalet was chewing on them.  That was to get her more interested in the new, bigger toy being offered.  The crew was very careful about picking up all the bits of torn plastic.  Oft times she reminded me of Bogie, pulling pieces off the toy, holding it protectively under her paw.

The guys were very aware of what they were doing, but one even grabbed her tail and wound it like a toy wind-up when she wouldn't be tempted by the new toy.  Another time they were playing tug of war and he grabbed her tail “to help”.  Still, they were careful to stay out of claw reach.

We wandered a bit more after the show, looking at the Barbary lion, his mother (age 21!), and other animals.  It started to rain.  We took shelter under the lip of a lean to.  But the water was dripping off. So we high-tailed it to a tram stop with a bigger dry area. 

When the rain slowed, we wandered towards the entrance.  We almost passed a lion without seeing it.  Sarah caught it in the corner of her eye.  The female was laying up against the fence no more than 6 feet away from us.  It bothered her not at all when we stopped to take pictures of her.


As we wended our way, the rain got harder.  That wasn't a problem.  It’s when the lightning cracked and sounded like it was right over head that we decided walking might not be the best idea.  A Safari tram was coming by and stopped to pick us up.  This was faster, but not drier.  The rain came in through the open sides.  And when the tram turned one way or another the collected water rain under us.  We debarked in the pouring rain, soaked almost through.


And laughing about it.  

We plan to return again this fall when the weather cools off.   Next time I am taking my DSLR camera with the telephoto lens.  

I am going to get some awesome pictures!