Gems from the archive…

Good Sunday morning, ladies and gentlemen. Even if I have to say so myself, a couple of the “Posts from the Archive” that went up this morning are pretty awesome examples of why I started blogging in the first place. July 2006 must have been a pretty obnoxious month if the amount of ranting through the keyboard is any indication. I think two of these are probably some of my favorite posts of all time. Give it a look and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to pick out the gems.

OCD strikes again…

I want to sit here and spend the whole weekend with my nose in a book. Between houseguests, tending to the sick and injured, and the general surprises that life throws at you, the last couple of weekends have not been the model of peace and tranquility that I tend to favor for my days off. That’s not a complaint, by the way; it’s just a statement of fact. I really, really want a nice quiet weekend in which I can try to work through the “to do” stack and bring a little order to the chaos. Most people reading this will surely know my abhorrence of half done things sitting around on every available flat surface. Yeah, I get a little irritable when things aren’t just so. It’s my OCD after all and I’ll piss and moan about it if I want to, thank you very much.

So yeah, my plan is to hit the ground running early tomorrow and take care of the must do activities – picking up groceries, going to the dump, getting the grass cut. Then if I can manage to at least get the downstairs cleaned up, that will go a long way towards reducing my current anxious state. It’s surprising how much ephemera piles up when you and two seventy pound dogs do most of your living in about 400 square feet of a 1200 square foot house. Have I mentioned how glad I’ll be when Winston gets the all clear to start moving around again? Let’s just forget for the moment that it’s still about eleven very long feeling weeks away.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Mandatory Training. The first time we had mandatory suicide prevention training it was fine; just one of those mandatory training requirements you have to check the box on. The second time this year they mandated additional anti-suicide training, it was a grumble. And today, for the 3rd time in less than a year, we got more suicide training. OK. Message received loud and clear. Killing myself is a violation of policy, doctrine, regulation, and possibly law. As much as I appreciate the emphasis you’re trying to place on this issue, throwing multiple hundreds of thousands of people into auditoriums across the country and telling us that suicide is bad for the third time may not be as effective as some other methods you could possibly try. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy in row 27 trying not to fall asleep and drool on myself.

2. Fans. For three weeks NFL fans have been raising high holy hell about the ineptitude of the replacement refs. I suspect that within 2 minutes of kickoff in Baltimore tonight, the same fans will be complaining about the over officiousness of the “professional” refs. If there’s one thing I’ve observed from many years of being surrounded by sports fans, it’s that the officials are never, ever right… unless they’re blatantly calling the game in favor of .

3. Not Knowing. I like to think I’m educated on a fairly wide number of topics. The last week has shown that one thing I’m woefully under educated about is the basics of veterinary medicine. Honestly, I’m not sure I can tell the difference between the “I’m ready for more pain killer” whine from the “I need to go outside” whine. It may be that there isn’t actually a difference, but it would still be nice to be able to do something other than pour over hundreds of internet posts from people whose dogs have had the same surgery and distill for myself what constitutes “normal” at any stage of the post-operative game.

Inside the margins…

It feels like it happened back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but there was a time that I was an aspiring political scientist. The research methods class we had to take for the major spent what felt like an inordinate amount of time talking about polling, bias, and sampling error. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time and I remember learning that most reputable polls have a margin of error “sweet spot” of +/- 2-4%.

Since I tend to watch and listen to more news than the average Nielson family, I’ve been noticing something slightly disturbing about the polls that both sides are using to claim imminent victory – some of them have a margin of error of +/- 9-12%. That doesn’t seem like a big deal… unless you’re locked in a race where the candidates are consistently within a handful of percentage points of one another. One of the polls I saw Sunday night had the presidential candidates within five percentage points of one another, but had a margin of error of 11%. Sure that was in the fine print and no one is really supposed to pay attention to that kind of thing, but there it was right at the bottom of the chart. 11%. In case you’re having trouble keeping up, just know that 11% allows for a polling error big enough to drive a train through.

So what’s my point? Absolutely nothing, other than with 40-odd days to go this election is way, way too close to call. Well, that and the fact that just because you see something on television doesn’t make it true. Before you decide to accept something the news readers tell you, don’t forget to check their sources and do a little of your own research. You’d be surprised what you can find out without going to too much trouble… and really that’s not too much to expect when we’re electing a leader of the free world.

By the Power(Point) of Grayskull…

It’s been my experience that sometimes the best products are the ones you smash together on a tight deadline with people breathing down your neck. Unfortunately, these rush jobs are usually thrown at you as part of an outlandishly large assignment and when even a few extra minutes can make the difference between something that looks like crap and something that looks like the PowerPoint equivalent of a work of art. Occasionally you end up with all the time in the world and manage to finesse something just so in the first day or so… and spend the rest of the available time tweaking, adding, massaging, and generally cluttering up the white space until the actual point of the exercise has been lost in the gee whiz of “look what I can do.” Sure, it’s one badass looking slide, but after two days of messing with it, I can barely remember what the original subject was… Thank God that’s very rarely actually important when putting these things together.

Recovery, Day 4…

Intellectually, I know that the only thing Winston did today was hang out in his crate, chew his Kong a bit, and maybe shift from one side to the other a few times. He physically can’t bend enough to bother his stitches and nothing from the last three days gives me any indication that he will have any problems today. Knowing full well that he’d be fine when I got home, didn’t diminish my feelings of monumental guilt about leaving him to go to work this morning. I’m a worrier like that.

It’s day four following TPLO surgery and my boy is almost exactly where they surgeon said he would be… his leg is swollen, there’s fluid buildup around the ankle, meal times are still a little hit or miss, and the meds are keeping him a little out of sorts. His fentanyl patch comes off tonight, so I’m expecting a little more pain starting tomorrow morning. He’s tolerating the ice packs three times a day, but clearly is not a fan. According to the doc, I’m also supposed to be doing “passive range of motion” exercises with him several times a day. As far as I can tell from the instruction sheet, it’s more or less amateur physical therapy and Winston absolutely won’t have any of it. Any attempt to put him on his side to do the exercises results in a wildly flailing bulldog and I figure that’s doing more harm than good. It’s one of the only times in recorded history I’ve wished there was a second set of hands around this place on a regular basis.

I have to remind myself that just like us, for him recovering from surgery is a game of inches, not one of leaps and bounds. It’s going to be a long twelve weeks, but at this point I’ll be happy just to get the all clear to stop using the belly sling when he gets his five minute supervised excursions outside. I just wish I had more than a halfassed idea about what “normal” was supposed to look like. Guess I should have ditched the whole history thing and got to vet school instead.

The new routine…

We all know I’m a creature of habit and it’s safe to say that having an invalid dog has generated quite a few changes to a schedule that had been popping along happily for the last fifteen months. After three days, I think we finally hit on a new routine that might be manageable, especially tomorrow with me going back to work. The killer is that the two dogs have to be separated to do everything that they use to do together… eating, going out, hanging out in the living room, everything. The problem, of course, is that where feeding the dogs use to be a plural act, it’s now singular, in that I have to feed one dog, take them out, and crate them before repeating the process with the other. A twenty minute morning routine is now something closer to 45 minutes and creeps up towards an hour when it involves breaking out the ice packs. Of course I’ll keep doing it, knowing that the first two weeks of the healing process are the worst and it will get better over time. Even so, I’ll be much happier when I have a pair of dogs again instead of two dogs who just happen to be living in the same house. Until then it looks like I’ll be setting a 4AM alarm to get it done before heading to work. Yeah, tomorrow morning should be a real treat.

Day 2…

I had good intentions of getting a hands on review of the iPhone 5 done and posted last night, alas, my new job as nursemaid pretty much slammed the door on that idea. I haven’t even had time yet to really put the phone through its paces. The only think I can really add at the moment to yesterday’s first impression of it being super light is that it also feels fast and very responsive to inputs. Data speeds seem improved even here in Cecil County, BFE, so I’ll be very interested to see how it handles the next time I wander into LTE coverage. The only snag so far was a few apps that absolutely refused to restore from iTunes. After downloading them directly through the iTunes app, all was once again right with the world. So far, my day two impression is similar to one that is floating around out in the tech forums… iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are essentially refinements to what was already a solid device. Bottom line, is it worth the cost of upgrade from a 4S? For a heavy user bent on squeezing out every ounce of performance from the iPhone or a iOS gamer who wants more screen real estate, yes, absolutely with the upgrade. For the casual user wanting to check mail, text, and play angry birds, it’s not so much of a necessity.

Resting Semi-comfortably…

Winston has been home for about 30 minutes now and he’s getting around better than I anticipated. He’s still pretty unstable in the turns, but he’s putting weight on the leg and at least making an effort. That’s probably more than I’d do less than 24 hours after someone intentionally broke my femur and put in a steel plate. Other than a quick pit stop on the way inside, he went straight to his crate and is currently snoring like a chainsaw. Pain meds must be wonderful things.

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table looking at about 50 pages of discharge instructions, six bottles of pills, canned and bagged prescription food, and a helpful diagram showing how to “sling walk” your pooch. I suspect the next 14 weeks are going to be harder on me than on him… especially since the vet made a point of reminding me that veterinary medication is not for human consumption. I’m wondering if I look like a guy who thinks pet medicine would be a good idea or if that’s a standard warning to avoid liability issues.

As usual, my boy was a hit with the techs and two of them were hanging out in his kennel when I got to the vet’s office. And by hanging out I mean sitting in the cage hand feeding him and rubbing his belly. They may have set his expectations a little too high for how things are going to go around here for the next few weeks, but still, I appreciated the extra attention.

Maggie spent all day yesterday roaming the house looking for him and is currently trying to wrap her little brown head around why he doesn’t seem to want to play. For the moment, though, she seems happy crashing next to his crate and keeping an eye on things. It appears that this is what the rest of the weekend will look like.