Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some photos

I will warn you at the outset that this post will include a few Dodger post-surgery photos. Nothing too gruesome, but don't scroll down if you are squeamish about photos of incisions (in this case, closed with surgical staples).

We'll get to that. First, a couple of photos of the utensils my Mom used to use for serving salads. Marc got them out recently, and I decided to polish them up. My Mom didn't usually use silver for regular meals (the sterling was for special occasions), but these particular ones were an exception--they were used at our regular family dinners. So here they are, all polished up...

Now, more evidence that Mandy has the best take on life. Here's Mandy in one of her happiest moments...

Imagine if your happiness were so easily attained!

Okay, now for some post-surgical Dodger photos. You may recall my mentioning that he had a lot of his fur shaved off for the surgery, going far beyond the site where they were operating. Have a look...

You can see how thrilled he was with having his photo taken after arriving home.

The red bandage is covering a narcotic patch that was controlling his pain.

And here's the leg that got worked on...

He's still hopping around, but I think he's slowly making progress. So here's a shot from a happier moment (about a week after the surgery, on a day when Marc was baking a cake, so everyone was happily focused on the kitchen)...

Still not thrilled with being photographed, but seeming more comfy.

Another of our kids who wasn't in the mood for a photograph

Mandy tries to mooch a piece of cake

And, last but not least, here's a shot of the cake as Marc's making it...

For more on creation of the cake, check Marc's blog later tonight.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stop the seal hunt!

Go here to help stop the Canadian seal hunt.

Every year, thousands of seals are brutally killed (the total allowed this year is 275,000!!!). Information from the Humane Society:

The 2007 Canadian seal hunt left more than 215,378 seals dead --
almost all of them were babies as young as 12 days . . . Seal hunting is an off-season activity for Canada's east coast commercial fishermen. They earn a small fraction of their incomes from selling seal skins to the fur industry: only a reported $17.5 million (Canadian) annually, compared to the nearly $3 billion taken in by the Canadian fishing industry from seafood exports to the United States. The connection between the commercial fishing industry and the seal hunt gives consumers all over the world the power to end the cruel slaughter of seals.
(The link at the start of this post will let you take action.)

As this article explains, "Hunters will be required to sever the arteries under a seal's flippers." This is supposed to be a more humane approach to make sure the seals are dead before they skin them, because the hunters didn't bother with that in the past. They skinned many alive!

So the humane approach is going to be to club these defenseless animals and then cut them open to let them bleed out? How humane!

"Fishermen sell seal pelts mostly to the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, as well as blubber for oil, earning about $78 for each seal."

Pelts? So this is still killing for fashion. And oil from blubber? How is any of this defensible?

How long will it take until this savagery stops?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hooray for an itchy ear!

After I got home this evening, I was hanging out with Mr. Dodger. He had his cone off, so he could groom a bit and be more comfy. He only enjoys that luxury when we can watch him, so he doesn't mess with his leg.

As he was standing, watching me go through today's mail, his right ear apparently started to bother him. So he slowly brought his back leg up and gently scratched at his ear. It lacked the usual vigor he would bring to such an effort, but he got the leg up/forward like he hasn't since the surgery. It was a wonderful sight!

He's still not walking on it, but I think he's making progress!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

D.B. Cooper

My interest in the D.B. Cooper hijacking goes back at least as far as the In Search Of episode on the subject. (I loved that series. It was hosted by Leonard Nimoy and addressed important issues like this, Bigfoot, Ball Lightning and other terribly vital matters.)

Most "experts" believed that the hijacker died in his attempt to parachute (with a $200,000 ransom) to freedom in the Pacific Northwest. That was the commonly accepted theory. Some of the bills had even been found.

Now comes this. Have they found his parachute buried in a field? If it turns out to be the real thing, then it looks like he probably did survive. And it that's the case, it's been one of the more amazing heists and getaways ever.

Even if it doesn't turn out to be his, it still takes me back. It really is an amazing story.

If you're interested in reading an article from the original coverage, I converted a two-page article into JPG files and put them on smugmug, so you can read them. Page one is here and page two is here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He's home

Dodger got home this afternoon. I shot a video of our picking him up, but my computer refuses to recognize the camera when I plug it in, so I have no way of getting the video off of there. Actually, it probably is the camera's problem (it's a digital video camera, but it's several years old). It wasn't going to win an Oscar anyhow, so I won't worry too much about it.

Anyhow, Dodger is a hurting puppy. He has a pain patch that stays on for a couple of days (strong enough that we have to wear gloves when the time comes to take it off, so it doesn't knock us on our asses). He also has pain pills and antibiotic capsules to take.

He needs to take it easy for several weeks. When he goes out, even though he will be in the yard, he has to stay on a leash, so he doesn't exert himself (in case he should see a squirrel or cat or some other thing that needs chasing). When we got home, the first thing I did was take him for "a walk" in the back yard.

He has a cone to wear, so he doesn't mess with the big suture line on his back right leg... or the patch on his back left or the IV site on his front left.

On top of all that, the poor boy is missing a lot of his fur! They shaved the whole area around his back right leg. He looks like he is indulging in some new punk doggie hairstyle. To call him displeased would be a great understatement, but it really is for the best. I don't know if he'll ever really understand how any of this is helping him. He'll just know that his pain is going away at some point, and he'll be happy for that. Why his leg works again probably won't occur to him.

One other thing we'll need to do is carry him up the stairs. No stair climbing for him for the foreseeable future. Plus, we'll probably let him stay in the bedroom all day. If he spends his days with Mandy (his usual routine), they might wrestle around, and he could get hurt.

So that's the update. The main thing is that Dodger is home and recovering. It will take time, but I'm very happy to have our boy back with us.

Not that I'm much of a fan of the Pope, but this...

Why is someone who is supposed to represent Christ doing something that can only incite anger and hatred? Not that the Catholic Church hasn't had its moments in the past (just ask Saladin, among many, many others), but this can only be seen as a thumb in the eye of peace-loving Muslims all over the world.

Yes, anyone who wants to become a Catholic should be allowed to do so. Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of American democracy, and I think it's a valuable principle anywhere in the world. But any Catholic priest can aid someone who wants to become a Catholic.

For the Pope to personally baptize a (now former) Muslim journalist who has referred to Islam as "an ideology which legitimizes lies and dissimulation, violent death, which induces both murder and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny" and Catholicism as "the authentic religion of Truth, Life and Liberty" is to add to the world's problems.

Magdi Allam, the man the pope baptized, has shown open disrespect for all religions other than Catholicism, especially Islam, and the Pope has now tacitly endorsed his views in as public a fashion as possible. What a sad event on a day so holy to Catholics.

Magdi Allam, no doubt, has said less provocative things of which I'm unaware, but perception becomes reality. The world knows him for his more outrageous statements. The Pope, by his actions, has endorsed those statements. That's a shame.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A quotation for a friend

A friend of ours from another country recently told me of his concerns with my country. Overall, I still think the United States has done far more good in this world than bad (in fact, I think the world would be far worse off if not for this country), despite the recent efforts of people like George W. Bush. With that said, we do have some issues. So when I found this line, I thought of our friend...

"We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it." -Dave Barry


Certifiable? Moi?

This morning, we made breakfast together. I made the eggs, and Marc made the toast and the coffee.

Marc told me how he wanted his eggs, and, for his part, I said, "I'd like some butter with a little toast under it."

Is that so unreasonable? :)

Okay, so he was laughing as he said it, but my honey said, "TTB, you're certifiable."

At least he was laughing!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The surgery is complete

Dodger is in recovery. The surgeon said the ACL was completely torn, as we thought, and he also had a bit of damage to his meniscus. My pup had the knee of an old football player, apparently.

It has been a very hard day. Harder for Dodgie than us, I suppose, but it still was tough. When he has had to stay somewhere in the past, like a kennel or the vet's for some tests, he went along with the kennel/vet people very willingly. Always cooperative, he would make this easy.

Today, as we left him there, he turned to me and aimed his eyes pleadingly at mine. It broke my heart to have to leave him there, but he needed this surgery.

So now he recovers. He will be there until Sunday. During that time, he will get various medications and will have three one-hour physical therapy sessions. After all of that, I'm sure he'll be a tired pup when he gets home Sunday.

I'm glad his surgery went well, and I hope his recovery (which will take several weeks) is an easy one. He's a wonderful boy, and we love him.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The true enemy of this nation

Yes, the terrorists are a real threat. No question. So are criminals on our streets.

But if you really want to be scared, if you want to see a real threat to America, watch the movie Jesus Camp.

Religious radicals create suicide bombers, but religious radicals also create people who are trying to pervert the American way of life.

The Muslim radicals are a threat, but they're nothing compared to the Christian radicals who twist everything to their desires. They talk of the Founding Fathers, but they distort everything the Founding Fathers stood for. They talk of this country as a "Christian nation," when it is a nation founded for all people, of any religion or no religion at all.

This is a truly frightening movie, and you should watch it if you're at all complacent about the future of America and the importance of voting. Our very way of life is at stake.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wounded knee

One of our pups needs surgery. Actually, that has happened before but never anything this complex.

Dodger has a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Basically, part of his right knee has to be rebuilt. Don't even ask what it will cost. We've spent less on some excellent vacations.

But this is more important than any vacation or any material possession. This is a member of the family, and we love him.

So what led to this? We think the original injury occurred months ago while he was playing with Mandy. He limped back then for a while. We took him to the vet, but surgery didn't seem vital then. Instead, he took anti-inflammatory medication and seemed to be doing better. In fact, he seemed to be doing quite well recently.

Then, a few days ago, he was heading up the stairs when he gave a cry and stopped suddenly. Since then, he has been walking on three paws. He uses both front paws and hops on his back left paw.

So Marc and Dodger went for a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon today. It appears that the existing injury was a partial tear of the ligament, and it seems that it has now torn completely. Things that should be fixed in place in his knee are moving around very freely (and painfully).

So our Dodgie is going for surgery on Friday. He goes in Friday morning to have surgery, and he will be in the hospital for two days, during which he will have various meds and three rounds of physical therapy. Then we have to take him for walks and do various other things to help his leg heal. I understand that healing can take three months. It must be quite traumatic, since, in my experience, dogs usually heal a lot faster than humans. (I remember that Mandy's spaying--basically, abdominal surgery--slowed her down for about a day. Think of how long something like that would slow down one of us.)

We love Dodger, and I hope you'll all keep him in your thoughts and prayers. To some, he may just be a dog. To us, he's a loving family member with as good a heart as can be and a love and commitment for us that is beyond compare.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I would have seen the movie anyhow

I'm not a hard-core Trekkie. I'm not the type who watches for Trek conventions coming to town. Still, I like Star Trek, and I look forward to new movies coming out. So I already planned to go see new movie, due out next year.

Today, I was watching an episode of CSI:Miami when I noticed a hot young actor and went online to find out his name.

Screenshot from the CSI episode

Looking up the episode, I found that the actor's name is Chris Pine. So then I was wondering if he's the son of Robert Pine (Sgt. Getraer on CHiPs). He is. After that, I noticed that he is going to be the young Captain Kirk in the upcoming Star Trek movie. Well, that does it. I'm going!

Look at those eyes! He'll make a yummy Starfleet officer!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A good day

This morning, we picked up my Bokey's new car. Go on over to his blog for a look at his new wheels. The car is fabulous, and he sure deserves it!

This afternoon, we went to my niece Lauren's Christening. She's cute as can be and happy as a clam, and it was a nice family gathering.

All in all, it was a good day.


Update: Since Marc decided to use just one of the photos I took of him and his new car, I might as well post a couple of the ones he didn't use here:

The new S80 joining mine in our driveway

Marc next to his new car

A photo of Marc where you can see the whole car is over at his blog. Enjoy the car, honey! You deserve it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I guess the foot's on the other hand now, isn't it, Kramer?

For years, I have told associates that they shouldn't take legal cases personally. In particular, when a decision was made to settle a lawsuit over "but we didn't do anything wrong" protests, I'd explain the costs of litigation, etc.

So late this afternoon, I heard from a colleague at my old place that they were paying to settle a case I was involved in. They never even asked for a deposition from me. Instead, they folded and handed over some cash. The hospital's lawyers didn't have the balls to call me about the settlement, because they didn't want to hear my opinion.

When they first told me the asshole in question had the nerve to sue, I gave them my opinion, one lawyer to another. I told them if I still were in my role there, he would get a penny over my dead body.

Let me tell you the background. A couple of years ago, some union reps came to my office to "ask a favor." Someone we had fired the year before for being late and ditching work on more occasions than we could count later told the union that he had a problem with the bottle. So they were asking if I could give him another chance.

I am a big believer in second chances. It's hard for someone to kick a problem like that, so I said yes. There were two conditions: he had to stay on probation longer than usual (we settled on 9 months as a reasonable period), so we could make sure he didn't go back to his old ways, and he had to work with Employee Health so they could monitor his compliance with his program.

The people who did our hiring (in our uptown offices) screwed up. They had instructions from me (and I am so glad I put it in writing) not to rehire him until he had signed off on those conditions. Instead, they put him back to work. I told him he still had to agree to the conditions (which, by the way, are standard for anyone in such a situation), and the union had the complete fucking lack of integrity to defend him and say he shouldn't have to agree. They claimed he was clean, but the key part they didn't like was Employee Health being able to check with his program that he was sticking with it. Gee, seems like something doesn't make sense, or is it just me?

In the end, after I entertained way too much bullshit from this guy and the people who asked me for a favor, because I had absolutely no obligation to do a fucking thing for this guy, I was forced to utter the following: "You have no choice. You got a second chance on the condition that we can take steps to make sure you're fit for duty and no risk to the patients. Either sign the documents or you're going to be fired." He agreed to sign the one extending his probation but not the one that would let us confirm he was staying clean. So I fired him.

He then filed a complaint, saying he was discriminated against because of his disability (being an alcoholic). Now, if I were inclined to discriminate against alcoholics, HE NEVER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN REHIRED IN THE FIRST PLACE!

The icing on the cake? A few weeks ago, this same guy was in the news. He drove drunk and smacked into 15 parked cars. When the cops arrested him, he also had marijuana in his possession. I made sure the hospital's counsel was aware of this, so they realized the kind of guy they were dealing with.

If they didn't have the strength to tell this guy and his lawyer to go fuck themselves, then they should have farmed the case out. I was a trial lawyer. There are some cases you don't settle on principle. This was one of them! Yes, I know. I started out saying it's a business decision, and I should take it as calmly as some folks I've explained that to (and my thanks to the writers of Airplane for the title of this post). Even so, I never would have settled this case. I would have taken it to trial. I take some comfort in the fact that this money and quite a bit more will be needed to pay for the damage he did while driving drunk (plus, he'll probably go to prison), but this is just wrong.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Apparently, "steamroller" was the adjective. Who knew?

When New York Governor Eliot Spitzer took office and quickly declared that he was a "fucking steamroller," we all took that as a political statement. Little did we know it actually was a sexual brag! (Does that mean he's so vigorous that he leaves his partners flattened? Okay, that's a mental picture I didn't need. Never mind!)

Well, nice implosion, Eliot. I'd feel sorry for you, but you took our enthusiastic votes and made us feel bad with your rapid descent into a level of behavior that made Rudy Giuliani look like Mahatma Gandhi. Funny how the world works sometimes.

One truly sad note: this was a governor who was fully in support of gay marriage. Perhaps his successor (presumably Lt. Governor David Paterson--who must be trying not to seem too gleeful), if Spitzer resigns, will still push for gay marriage. We shall see.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

As seen in The New York Times

Wow, I'm famous! Published in The New York Times!

Okay, not quite.

I recently noticed that, among the meager number of hits on my blog, a handful had found their way over from the website of The New York Times.

Huh? What was that about?

So I took a look. It seems they came from here. You'll notice that the headline for this page matches the 7th link in the list. Yes, that's my little blog there.

I guess it's not that big of a deal. Still, it's neat to find that Mr. LaForge apparently was amused by my little observation.

Hmmm, think he might be cute and on our team? :) Oh yeah, I have a partner already. Forgot for a second! (Just kidding, hon!)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It sounded like... ?

As you may have heard, there was a small explosion early this morning in Times Square. Yes, a bomb went off.

While some witnesses, including one in the article I linked to above, said it sounded like a bomb, there were many others on TV today who had a variety of descriptions for the sound. I'll spare you the descriptions, but all of those interviewed this morning had interesting ways of describing it. It got to the point of my talking back to the TV, saying things like, "oh, come on!!!"

A tornado hits a house, and the survivors say, "it sounded like a bomb going off!"

A car crashes into a truck, and... "it sounded like a bomb going off!"

A big tree falls over in heavy winds, and... "it sounded like a bomb going off!"

An actual bomb goes off, and what's the one thing I didn't hear this morning? Of course... that it sounded like a bomb going off. :)

Come on, people. Am I really asking that much?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sunlight is nice

Not to be confused with Moonlight Feels Right.

As I left work this evening, a little before 6pm, I enjoyed the remaining light in the sky. Spring is near, the days have been growing longer since the winter solstice, and I am a happy man!

With the earlier start of Daylight Saving Time this year, we need only wait until this Sunday for sunsets that suddenly are a full hour later. That's a very good thing in my book!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another fun weekend with friends

Friday night after work, I picked up Jeff at the train station. He helped us spruce up the house a bit and assisted Marc in some important liquor consumption. (Those boys do know how to mix some fine drinks, and a visit from Jeff is enough of a reason to make a couple.)

On Saturday, we were joined by Patrick and, a couple of hours later, by David and Robert. Before they arrived, I had a fire going in the fireplace. I also had purchased 3.565 pounds (hey, that's what the scale said! *g*) of salmon. That evening, as everyone enjoyed drinks, I prepared the salmon while Marc prepared a fabulous dijon cream sauce to go over it. He also prepared a terrific green bean dish (I'm not a big fan of green beans, but these were terrific), garlic bread and a homemade cheesecake for dessert. He made the cheesecake without sugar, so I could stick to my low-carb diet, and, at least to me, it tasted like a wonderful sugar-laden cheesecake. Isn't he a good boy?

We had a great time with everyone, and the evening flew by. Around 11pm, David and Robert went home. Then we watched MadTV. After that, Jeff and Patrick headed to their rooms. Yes, Cooper, he was in his own room! We didn't drug him and drag him into ours! ;)

This morning, Marc made a quiche for Jeff, Patrick and himself, and he made a crustless quiche for me. Then we went to Robert Moses State Park on the western end of Fire Island. It was chilly today, but I thought it would be nice to go for a drive in the sun and a stroll on the boardwalk. It turned out to be too cold and windy to really enjoy it, but I'm still glad we went.

After that, we came back to the house for a little more quality time with the pups before taking the boys to the train.

Here are some photos from the weekend:

Mandy decided that Patrick looked lonely in the chair

When Robert was leaving, Mandy had to give him an appropriate goodbye

The boys enjoy quiche this morning

Mandy is very subtle. Also, note Dodger sneaking in from below!

Some of the native wildlife at the park paid us a visit

Aren't they pretty?

The four of us on the boardwalk. The ocean was pretty, of course, but it was so cold out!

A shot of the park from a prior visit, with the Fire Island lighthouse visible. Even though I didn't shoot this today, it gives you a better view of where we went.

All in all, an excellent weekend with wonderful people!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A pet peeve

I like books. I like bookstores. I like the nice, new books I find in bookstores.

Not too long ago, I was in a bookstore looking for a particular book. There was only one copy left... and some putz had broken the spine of the book!

I know that people will thumb through books sometimes, but if you open it enough to crack the spine of the book, you should buy it. If that equation doesn't work, go to the library!

For anyone looking for a new copy of a book, the book should be pristine. Cracks running down the spine just don't cut it. How about the old "if you break it, you buy it" rule? Shouldn't that apply?