Archive for March, 2008

For those interested, I’ve added information on my dog’s progress in the original entry. I’m doing this to keep those informed who otherwise wouldn’t be, but I’m also doing it for the other folks like me who have this happen in the future. There’s very little information out there on this condition and how to treat it, so I wanted to log it here for the sanity of those future folks.

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It’s Monday morning and it’s St. Patrick’s day.   I don’t drink and the Celts in my background are from Wales, not Ireland.  I don’t especially care for potatoes, either.

I know the whole thing about the snakes is a giant myth, but I’ll never forget it.   When I was a kid, McDonald’s sold calendars for $1.00.  81a1_1.jpg They had coupons throughout the year–each month had a new fantastic thing like “free cheeseburger” and two less-fantastic things like “free drink” and “free McDonaldland cookies.”   The March Fantastic coupon was ALWAYS for a Free Shamrock Shake, and I never redeemed it because I wasn’t sure what flavour “shamrock” was and I was too scared to find out.   In fact, when I had my first kidney stone EVER it was in March and I decided to “sieze life anew”.  My first act of bravery was to find out what flavour a Shamrock Shake was [never say I don’t take risks!] only to find out that it was just garden variety mint.   Such is the mundane way many risks turn out.  Ask the banking industry later today.

Sorry…we took a wee tangent there, didn’t we?  Does that count as using “we” twice in one sentence if they are two different ‘we’s?   I hope not.  I’m not THAT into risk taking.   Oh.  The Calendar.  That’s right.  We were talking about the Calendar.   These things were not just boring grids with coupons attached.  Nosiree.  They were also full of mind expanding activities in the form of Pictures You Can Colour.   Now, the grownup print designer in me knows that this was so the McDonalds corporation didn’t have to pay for 4/C printing on the interiors, but the kid in me thought it was great.

One year the St. Patrick’s Day picture was of a man in a clerical collar at the wheel a convertable with a bunch of smiling snakes squirming in the back.   Get it?  St. Patrick DRIVING the snakes out of Ireland.  Ha!  Unfortunately that picture is ALWAYS what I think of whenever anyone mentions St. Patrick’s Day.  No green beer, no corned beef and cabbage.  Just a goofy line-drawing pun in a cheap fast food calendar.

Today I kind of feel like the snakes in that picture.   They were all smiling, happy to be along for the ride and just assuming that Paddy’s ragtop would take them through the drive-thru window at Mickey D’s for some minty shakey goodness.   Little did they know they’d soon be crawling in the dust in a strange place, looking to start over.   I feel like those snakes.  My fate is in someone else’s hands entirely and I suspect it won’t turn out well.  I guess that’s Monday for you, huh?

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Awful things happen this day–they always do. Shakespeare warned us and nothing has changed.

I’m tempted to get all maudlin, and I’m kind of bummed, to say the least.

Adam Kleinheider is one of the bloggers for whom I have the most respect. He always has been, and he always will be. I was thrilled when WKRN brought him on. I thought he was the perfect choice, and it was exciting to see someone actually get to put their Poli Sci degree to use doing something besides making coffee.

I suppose we all knew this day was coming. It’s one of those things you see on the horizon as inevitable, but on the flat terrain you have no idea how long it’ll take to get there. I’ll admit that when he lasted beyond last summer I began to hope that WKRN would keep VV around for the duration of the Presidential election. But I guess some hopes aren’t destined to become reality.

I see many people saying that WKRN was stupid or shortsighted. I understand the anger, but I also understand what it’s like to not have enough money to do what you want to do. (To this day I still live without HDTV, a wine cooler for my exotic sodas and a specially organised closet for all my yarn.) I’m very glad that for awhile WKRN felt that they had enough money to do something special, to take a risk by stepping outside of the boat. I’m sorry they couldn’t walk on water, but I’m awfully glad to have been witness to their attempt to try.

Back when I first came across ACK , he was fervent about maintaining an aura of mystery. He didn’t talk about himself, eschewed meet-ups and was the very essence of an enigma. It seemed like a big step for him to sacrifice that in order to get paid to write, but if you’re a writer that’s the best reason to take such a risk. ACK is a damned fine writer, and I hope he’ll continue. I also hope he won’t fade so much back into mystery.

I came not to bury ACK, but to praise him. I don’t know if I have enough words to praise him adequately. Vale VV.

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Please be very careful about giving your dog the antibiotic Keflex (cephalexin). The vet prescribed it for our dog to treat an infected hotspot. One week later he’s lame in the hindquarters, weak and in pain.

This is, apparently, a common reaction to Keflex and a known side-effect of the medication in dogs.

Keflex, though widely-prescribed for dogs, is an Off label medication. It hasn’t been FDA approved for use in dogs, and therefore has never been fully-tested for use in dogs. The vet who prescribed this drug for our Bernese Mt. Dog had never heard of the lameness as a side-effect, in part because the side effect is rare, but also because the medication is canine-tested only in the field. The information on Psuedo HOD Polyneuropathy (the official name for this condition) is coming from breeders and other pure-bred owners who have seen this reaction in their pure breeds.

I just wanted everyone else out there to be aware.

Update: For those who find this page while searching for terms like such as weak hindquarters, lame hindlegs, paralysis and all the other terms I used when doing research I decided to add a progress diary.

Day 1: Wednesday
Dog was anorectic and non responsive, with a lot of roaching (pronounced curvature of the spine). Discontinued antibiotic, continued previously prescribed Prednisone 20mg 1/day.

Day 2: Thursday
Dog weaker, still anorectic. Responsive to normal trigger words and phrases (“go for ride”; “guys”; “would you like a treat?”). Roaching still pronounced, with abdomen slighly distended. A visit to the veternarian ruled out bloat. The vet examined the dog manually and diagnosed possible Spondolyitis–arthritis and bony growth of the lower spine. I told the vet the roaching had been seen previously in the dog when he was dealing with gastric issues and that I suspected Keflex side-effects of gastric upset. The vet advised 24 hours NPO followed with a continued course of cortisone. While at the vet’s office the dog eagerly ate hand-fed treats, leading me to suspect either the positioning or type of food he had at home was unappetising.

Day 3: Friday
Dog making whimpering noises while he breathes, drooling excessively. Having a hard time without food and water. At 22 hours NPO decided to give the dog coritsone, food and drink. Dog eagerly took 1 dose of cortisone camoflaged in cream cheese, followed by limited water. Three hours after dosing the dog eagerly ate scrambled eggs. Still very lame in hindquarters and demanding constant attention.

Day 4: Saturday
Internet research confirms that pseudo HOD is a known reaction to Keflex, seen mostly in large breeds with more esoteric breedlines. (In short, this happens mostly to pedigreed dogs with tightly controlled breedlines like Bernese Mt. Dogs and Great Danes. It doesn’t happen all that often at all in mixed-breeds.) Internet advice confirms the best treatment is corticosterioids and bed rest. I can find no set length of recovery times, ranging from 3 days to 16 weeks. Titrated up the cortisone to 2x daily. Higher dose seems to have better effect. The dog’s aspect is clear and bright, but hind legs are still lame.

The dog doesn’t seem to be in any pain; the issue seems to be more neuropathic–as if his back end were “asleep”. Since he is not in pain, but more discouraged from the lack of limb function, I’ve decided to give him periodic exercise to prevent atrophy and bedsores. I walk him short distances every 3 hours.

Day 5: Sunday

The dog is much improved, moves around better and has fully regained his appetite. He still has some lameness in the hindquarters–I think we’re looking at a longer recovery time than the earliest estimate of “three to five days”.

Day 6: Monday

I had reduced the cortisone dosage on the advice of the vet to one pill every 24 hours. This seems to cause the dog some discomfort. Stepping the cortisone back up to 2 pills every 24 hours and handfeeding the dog to make sure of maximum nutrition. We are still taking brief walks in order to preserve long term limb function. He is drinking a lot of water–a side effect of the cortisone–and therefore he’s peeing a lot. Sadly, he has been having to pee in a modified squat. Monday, Day 6, was the first day he was able to pee while lifting his leg, in the traditional “boy dog” stance.

Day 7: Tuesday

Breakfast of scrambled eggs and oatmeal, followed by lots of water. The dog slept peacefully for 4 hours following his morning dose of cortisone–an improvement. His sleep over the last few days has been marred by much whining and yipping of discomfort. At noon he went outside for his usual evacuation, and was able to pee twice with his leg lifted, and defecated. (Moving his bowels presents more of a challenge given the problems with hind-end posture.) He is eating some kibble again and drinking liberally. His noon walking time had fewer stumbles and more upright time.

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Yes, I realise I’m behind the times, but I’m just now getting around to watching “Gone Baby Gone”.

I wish they made more movies like this one.  It’s multi-layered, has a complex plot with a twist ending BUT the characters are so well-drawn I spent the movie enjoying them instead of trying to figure out the mystery.    If I had a cutesy way of saying “watch this movie” I would do it.  You know, all eight fingers up or triple cherries or whatever.

Given my general antipathy toward the Brothers Affleck it pains me to have loved this movie so much, but I did.

(Of course if you are my parents or in any way like my parents please be warned that this movie has it’s share of F words, C words, D words, S words and other assorted Anglosaxonry.)

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I’ve just gotten done reading a paperback book. Because the author seems like a nice person I don’t want to tell you her name OR the name of her book. But it is the kind of novel that gives me hope whenever I think no one will publish my work. If they’ve published this thing I’ve just finished then someone somewhere is gullible enough to buy my manuscript(s).

The thing about this particular piece of pulp is that the author has clearly based the character on herself. That’s not a bad thing, and authors do it all the time. What is bad is that not a chapter went by throughout the entire thing without some ancillary character praising the brains, beauty, charm, wit, demeanor and job skills of the heroine. Seriously random encounters are peppered with admiration for the lead character. Suspects being interviewed say things like “I was hoping you’d be the one to interview me. I think you are the most beautiful lawyer in the world.” The most egregious scene involves a suspect actually touching her lips to “drink in her exquisite sensual beauty.” He says this outloud in the middle of a crowded waiting room in front of a dozen of his clients.

I sometimes wonder about other people’s interior lives. I know mine is peppered liberally with self-doubt and angst and I wonder if others are the same way. As for this author I guess she’s either exercising her self-doubt by having her heroine be the perfected image of herself or she really is perfect.

Either way, I don’t think I’ll read another one of her books.

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I was just watching Metro Channel 3 (because that’s what my life has come to…) and got sooo peeved at the re-airing of a week-old hearing I had to rush down two flights of stairs and unburden my mind.

The mayor’s budget hearings are going on to determine how much everyone is going to give up.   The Library is giving up Sunday hours at some locations, curtailing bookmobile service and doing some other things they talked about before I tuned in.

The rather perturbed woman who was being asked to give up her financing did a good job of accounting for the reductions and explaining why the Library made the {Sophie’s} choices they had to, and then she began talking about “strategic conversations with the community” about the best direction for the Library’s future.

That’s when it happened.

Dude on the front panel–is it the mayor? one of the mayoral aides?  I’m not sure–said “what about strategic conversations with schools and parks?  something something After School Programs are needed.”

Ahem.  Ahem.  Ahem.

People of Nashville-indeed, people of Everywhere–let me explain something.   Libraries are many things but at their most basic level, they are collections of information coupled with innovative forms of information retrieval.

Yes, I realise that “the Library” is a public building and is usually staffed with women who remind you of your kindly aunt, your grandmother or your neighbour who babysits for $50/week.   That doesn’t mean that the Library is a place for you to drop off your kids.   It’s not Free Range Public Babysitting–which is what most people think of when they hear “after school programs”.

I do think children have a vital place in libraries, and that libraries have a vital place in children’s lives.   But to me–and to most librarians as well–that means that children should be taught at a young age how to use libraries and maximise their resource potential.   Every five year old should know how to find and check out a book, how to treat that book and how to bring it back.   Every eight year old should know how to request a book via the internet and every ten year old should know how to use the internet to research a paper for school.  (That includes knowing how to document Web sources in footnotes.)

But libraries are not there for bored kids to skateboard down the handicapped ramps for 3:30 to 5:45 every afternoon, for parentless games of tag in the lobby or for sitting on the lone bench in the breezeway to try to do homework while watching for your mother’s car.

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Or anyone with a history of Nashville web design…

I’ve got a friend (through my spouse) who is looking to break into web design.  He’s asked for my wisdom–which means he’s come up painfully empty.

If anyone out there has any pointers on

–what the space is like

–what skills are needed

–where to get those skills

–how to break into the field

please let me know so that I can let him know.

Thanks In Advance!

[I’ve been IM’g with my spouse, and all my writing is infected with IM shorthand now.  It took everything I had within me to not say TIA! TTFN!!]

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monkeyframe.jpg∑ An icon for your IM should be carefully chosen. It should reflect your identity and your personality either exactly or ironically. If it doesn’t do that, it should loudly proclaim one of your interests. Using celebrities as IM icons is sad. At the best it sort of says “I am not nearly as interesting as [random famous person] so I would like to be considered as cool as them if only by association.” At the worst it says “I have a huge crush on this person.” Which is fine if you are twelve. It is less fine if you are forty.

∑ My husband was talking about “HK” via email this evening. What does it say about the subtle divide between our worlds that to him “HK” means “Hong Kong” but to me it means “Heckler and Koch?”thumb_hk45_1.jpg

∑ I have the last episode of the Wire still on my TiVo. I can’t bring myself to watch it, because I can’t bring myself to let it go. It’s sort of like how I always save the last piece of DeBrand Cherry Chocolate whenever my sister gives me 1/2lb as a gift.

images.jpegOded Fehr should be in more things. Yeah, I know about “Sleeper Cell”, but I don’t want to watch it. I don’t watch anything about terrorists. Unless the Terrorists are Uruk Hai.

Aunt B. has an open letter to Supermousey about The Princess Bride. I said over there that it is the perfect movie. I believe there are 5 perfect movies for the five stages of Grief About The General Blergh Of Living. No matter where you’re at with your various woes, there’s a movie to get you over the hump.

  1. Denial —> The Lord Of The Rings trilolgy Nothing says “let’s escape from the current problem entirely” like twenty hours of swordplay.
  2. Anger —> The Princess Bride No matter how mad you are at someone or something, there’s just enough violence and aggression in this movie to allow you to live vicariously. It’s all blunted by the sardonic attitude and the actually warm and wonderful romance. And no one, I repeat NO ONE is as angry as Inigo Montoya.
  3. Bargaining –> Jerry McGuire It’s the perfect filmic illustration of someone bargaining their way through a low point in life. It’s warm, funny and shows the way to a happy ending.
  4. Depression –> Pulp Fiction You may be depressed, but all you have to do is sit through this movie with all of its violence and language. By the time you get to Samuel L. Jackson’s final monologue in the diner, you’re cured. You can actually feel the sadness leave your body when he says “The truth is…you are the weak and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying REAL HARD to be the Shepherd.” That right there sums of the condition of any depressed person trying to find the way of the right.
  5. Acceptance –> The Big Lebowski There are things you just have to accept. You can’t blame the rug pee’ers. Nobody f—-s with The Jesus. Walter doesn’t f—-g roll on Shabbos. And at least it’s an ethos.


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Today is my mother’s birthday, and she is thirty years and three months older than I.   Most of what I know of her I know through my own experience–because that’s how it works with mothers and daughters at first.

Your mother is the person who told you “no” a lot when you were a kid.  Whether it was touching hot stoves or piercing ears or calling the wrong boy.  “No” is a word that goes with “Mother” even more smoothly than apple pie.  By the time you’re 17 or 18 you’re about sick of it.  In your mind your mother is the last great hurdle you have to clear before you reach The Real World.

If you’re really lucky, your mother is still living when you grow up.  You start to realise that she is made of more than “no”s and corn starch and margarine.  You realise that she’s a person, much like you are.  She had dreams that came true and dreams that died.   She laughed at movies and danced to music on the radio.   She loved movie stars when she was young and she had her own mother–her own hurdle of “no”s.

If you’re really really lucky, you start to remember the times that your mother was also a bridge of “yes”.  You remember the times she took you to swim lessons and you realise she spent hours on metal benches in the hot sun at public pools so that you wouldn’t grow up with her fear of water.  You realise that she gave up lots of money so that you could go to a private school, travel through Europe and have a pretty wedding reception in her garden.

If your are most fortunate indeed, you start to look at old photo albums and see that your mother was always the tallest kid in her class–just like you were.  You hear about old boyfriends, old co-workers at jobs she had before you were born.  You slowly but surely get to know your mother as a person.  Not just who she is as an extension of you, but who she is in her own quintessence of dust.

I’ve been very blessed to know as much of my mother as I have.  I think it is one of the greatest measures of God’s grace that both my parents and I have lived long enough to come to know the full measure of one another, and I hope that we have many more years in which to learn.

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