Please pray for Chewie

Smiling Chewie
Our 3 1/2 year old standard poodle, Chewie, is in the hospital.  He had had an eye infection 10 days ago, and our vet noticed that he had lost about six pounds.  She asked us to keep an eye on his eating.  After a week of his appearing listless and having little appetite, Melinda took him in this morning.  He had lost another two pounds.

Chewie on bed

Our vet at Quarry Hill Veterinary Clinic said that his white blood cell count was so high that her equipment couldn’t measure it, and neither could any other vet in Rochester. He also had a fever. Clearly, Chewie has a serious infection. She gave Chewie a subcutaneous fluid injection to get him hydrated.

When our old Labradoodle LayLa had a fluid injection, it gave her a small widespread hump on her back which quickly dissipated as the saline was absorbed.  With Chewie, because he has almost no body fat left (which actually helps the fluid absorb quickly), it all flowed down into the loose folds of skin on his chest and hung there like a water balloon for the rest of the afternoon.

Melinda picked me up from work and we raced off to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Emergency Room.  As soon as we came in, they asked if it was Chewie, because Quarry Hill had already called ahead to make sure we could get in and they had sent all of the information on him.  We were ushered in quickly and a slew of kind medical professionals and students were checking him out.  Chewie actually started perking up because of the hydration, although Melinda thinks it was because every five minutes a different pretty lady would come out to smile at him, pet him and take him off for a quick test.

They had to re-run the tests that Quarry Hill had done, which is an added expense, but without doing that they would have no clue whether a change in his numbers was because he was actually doing better or just a difference in equipment/methodology.

They found that Chewie has a heart murmur; it could be that this is new, or just an overlooked murmur because it isn’t in the ordinary spot.  As the likeliest cause of the infection, it meant getting a cardiologist consultation and then an echocardiogram, which was the most expensive item on the bill so far.  (The echocardiogram cost as much as all of Quarry Hills’ bill today.)  Turns out: he doesn’t have a problem with his heart. The murmur is most likely a minor issue, and not the cause or even an effect of the infection.

Next thing:  Chewie has lower back pain; perhaps the infection is in his spine? Two X-rays later: no, that’s not the problem.

So far, the bill is creeping towards $900 (plus several hundred at Quarry Hill earlier) and we’ve only found out what it isn’t.  The docs offer that we could take him home to bring him back the next day, or we can leave him where he’ll be given antibiotics, painkillers, fluid IVs, and they will tend him and monitor his reactions.  Cost will be $500-$1000 depending on how it goes.  We’re hoping that, given Chewie’s by-then chipper attitude, that perhaps he will begin fighting off the infection and after a little more testing he will be sent home for a course of antibiotics, and we can start working on paying off the few thousand dollars that this will have cost by tomorrow.

Or, the vets may decide that they need to nail down the cause of the infection, which may mean bone marrow tests and a few other tests.  And if it gets into that realm, where some of the worse causes are leukemia, cancer, and all of the other scary too-much-money-to-spend-on-a-dog diseases, then we have to face some tough decisions.

Chewie on floor

We left Chewie and had supper with my parents at The Machine Shed, as just by happenstance they were passing through the Cities at the same time.  It’s a little embarrassing talking with them, for whom $2000 is already too much to spend fixing a dog.

Since I first became a dog owner, I’ve faced the question of the twisted stomach.  If, like Santa’s Little Helper and Marley (movie spoilers in that link), Chewie or LayLa had a twisted stomach or some other ailment that involves a lot of expensive surgery, at what point do you say, “It’s just a dog and I can’t put an entire kitchen remodeling into giving him three more years of life, not when there are tons of dogs in shelters also looking for homes.”

I’m torn.  I’m not a farmer, looking at animals as largely disposable and easily replaceable, though in general I agree.  Still, Melinda and I are childless, and there’s just no escaping that Chewie is our boy and we dote on him the way we would had we been blessed with youngfolk.  He is, still, an animal, and not a “furbaby”, that appalling phrase that is used too often by people who have lost perspective.  He’s our child substitute.  Not a child.

But it’s not like he’s a cat.  I love cats, as you all know.  But a cat you bring home and teach where the litterbox is and scold if it claws stuff.  End of investment.  The rest is all gravy.  If it has five years of sitting in a sunbeam or twenty, it is living the sweet life.  It’s not like the cat has to mix with the public.

A dog, properly loved, must be trained, and it forms a relationship with its owner.

Chewie is young, and he should have a long life ahead of him.  He just aced a retake of his advanced training class, and should be getting his Canine Good Citizenship soon.  After all the trouble of housebreaking and teething, of raising him and training him, he’s finally a very well-behaved dog with a good daily routine.  These should be his best years.

Chewie head shot

I go to bed tonight not knowing whether tomorrow means a call to come pick up our guy who is out of bed and full of beans, or whether we’ll be facing serious news.

Please pray for Chewie, and pray for us, too, if you can.  Thank you.

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Still cold

Man, is it cold in Minnesota.  Too cold to walk Chewie for more than 5 minutes.

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Obama Wins Reelection

An interesting thing about Democrat reaction tonight.  NOBODY loves Obama.  They just hate Romney.

You know…I could understand the seething loathing from Democrats if we were running someone like Reagan-on-steroids, but in the last two elections our candidates were two of the most middling, almost-a-Democrat, reach-across-the-aisle non-partisans you could hope to find. One was a war hero who had survived capture by the Vietnamese and who Democrats lauded as their favorite Republican until he ran against Obama. The other is this shucky-darn squeaky-clean guy whose biggest “scandal” is that he once had no room in the car for his dog.

To hear Democrats tell it, they narrowly escaped being ruled by Master Blaster.

I shouldn’t be surprised.  They took a cute midwestern-ish middle-class woman who had put herself through college, become mayor of her town, then governor, taking on her own party for the betterment of her state, and turned her into a nightmarish horror who sends bills to rape victims while denying dinosaurs exist.

We had a candidate who probably swears less than Sarah Palin and who stays away from the hard drinks such as Mr. Pibb, and yet the Democrats successfully made people fearful of him.  Their raving egotist candidate hung out with Marxists in college (that’s his own words), studies with radicals, has no concept of how business works, and demonizes constantly…and we keep saying that he’s a nice guy and we just disagree with his policies.

Oh well.  Onward into the abyss of debt.

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That wage question

The sad thing is that the “women earn 72% of what a man earns for the exact same job” factoid is peddled by professors of women’s studies who earn the same amount as for a professor of something useful like astronomy.

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Wind Power’s Greatest Danger is Profitability

Painful debate tonight, just because I hate hearing the candidates accepting the stupid premises of the average joes in the town hall style forum. I would have preferred that Mitt Romney say, “If business owners can really hire a woman to do the exact same work for only 72% of a man’s wages, then women is all they’d hire. They’d save a bundle. But that’s just the nonsense that you learned in college from a women’s studies professor who would be out of a job if she admitted it’s all statistical malarkey.”

Of course, Romney can’t say that. Conservatives would be glad he got the truth out there and made people reconsider this old factoid… but Romney’s job is to win undecided votes, not to be right but lose in November. That’s the same reason he has to say that wind power is good.

I like the idea of wind power, but it’s still unprofitable. It only works with government assistance (like solar, The Volt and ethanol). If wind power made any economic sense, no government interference in the market would be needed. On top of that, they kill so many bats and birds of prey, including protected animals and American bald eagles (no longer Endangered, but we can’t afford to waste them).

If Exxon Mobile built wind turbines that killed bald eagles and falcons for huge profits, it’s the only thing the Left would ever talk about.

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Did the Democrats ever apologize for creating the KKK?

Back circa 1865-1875, the Republican party and America’s black population shared a renaissance. The Republican party, having prevailed in the Civil War (and with most of the Democrats in the South out of power while Reconstruction began), passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, along with a score of civil rights laws banning segregation and the like. Had these been properly enforced, America’s Blacks would have had a long battle of fighting entrenched racism, but would have done so from positions of power (in Mississippi, the population was 600K Black to 500K white, and in Florida it was 50-50). Also, racism would have withered away far sooner, since it’s hard to maintain ideas that Blacks are subhuman when you are interacting with them in desegregated classrooms, restaurants, railcars and the like.

For a brief, shining moment, there was real progress. Blacks were elected to local, state and national office. Congress saw the first Black Senator and Congressmen…all Republicans, by the way. The Black vote was 99.999% Republican, not just because Republicans had been founded as an anti-Slavery party, and a Republican President signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and because Republicans had signed the 13th Amendment ending slavery with only 23% of the northern Democrats supporting it, but because the Democrats were quite open about their support for slavery and then later their intent to “…keep their feet on the necks of the black race” as the main purpose of the party. (Lest you think that quote was from some random Klansman: it’s from the Democrats’ presidential candidate, Horace Greeley.) At the 1868 Democratic Convention, one of the honored delegates was Nathan Bedford Forrest, a general who massacred Black soldiers who surrendered during the War (burning them to death, burying them alive, drowning them and more) and then went on to be the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan!

A Black campaign worker for Mississippi testified to Congress that he had wandered the entire state and found ONE out of 600,000 Blacks who was a Democrat. If you were Black, you were Republican, pure and simple. The idea of a Black voting Democrat was an absurd proposition.

Unfortunately, the nation’s 100th birthday also brought the Democrats back into power, and with that all of the progress was squelched. Blacks still officially had the vote, but their ability to vote was suppressed. No, not by the demand for a photo ID that is open to any and all people to easily procure! Goodness, what a bunch of ninnies. No, we’re talking VERY OBVIOUS forms of outright voter suppression. The polling places for Blacks would be moved at the last minute. Or voting would require a multi-step process where Black voters had to visit several polling locations before their vote was considered. Or they’d have to pass a “literacy test” that required very arcane knowledge to pass. They’d be required to pay a poll tax that was out of the reach of the destitute former slaves. New laws would be passed that only children of past voters could vote. Districts were stripped of their power via complex gerrymandering. Oh, and if by some miracle a Black man navigated the many prohibitions and was able to cast a ballot, he would find a white man with a shotgun resting his heels on the ballot box, saying, “Ye’d bes’ be votin’ Democrat, nigger!” Thus identified as a “radical” (i.e. Republican) voter, many black Republicans found themselves visited later by some people wanting to introduce him to a piece of rope.

The Democrats would also run around the gravesites gathering names for false votes. Okay, not all forms of Democratic voter disenfranchisement ended in the 1960s.

The Black vote being suitably suppressed, the Democratic Party thus began their dominance in the south for a century. The Democrats weren’t “dominant” because they were popular! It was because the Black Republicans couldn’t vote at all and the white Republicans could do very little. White Republicans in office couldn’t push for the rights of Blacks because of the K.K.K., which identified them as troublemakers as well. Of the 4,743 people lynched, 1,297 were white.

The Democrats thus began the Jim Crow laws and the strict policy of segregation, holding back all African-American progress until the 1950s and 1960s. At the turn of the Century, it was Republican Teddy Roosevelt who invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, while Democrat Woodrow Wilson showed the film “Birth of a Nation” about the rise of the Klan.

Today’s leftists love to claim that, since the Republicans were “progressives” and “radicals” back when they formed, they’d all be left-wing Democrats today. They claim that Lincoln would be a Democrat, and all of those racist Democrats would be Republicans now, since conservative means “don’t change” and they didn’t want the racist South to change. That’s why Republicans are strong in the south now, you see. It’s all the racists flipping to Republican.

A couple problems with that. First, when did this change happen? In the 1950s, it was Democrats standing in schoolhouse doors and siccing dogs on the protestors, while Republican Eisenhower (the supposed epitome of the boring Republican white 50s guy) called out the National Guard. The Democrats were the ones with Klansman politicians like Robert Byrd. Sure, there’s Democrat David Duke who flipped to Republican, was heavily repudiated by the Republican party, and who later supported Democrats and Cindy Sheehan…but if you insist, I’ll give you that one.

Yet late into the 20th Century, the Republicans were still supporting civil rights more than Democrats did. When the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act of 1968 came up for a vote, the Democrats had the numbers to pass it themselves without a single Republican vote…but couldn’t come close. Only 2/3rds of Democrats voted for it, while 83% of Republicans supported it. Of Democrats who supported it, like the openly-racist L.B.J., many did for reasons of political expediency. Blacks were voting Democrat in the north, and the writing was on the wall for the ability to exclude Blacks from voting in the South.

But more to the point, parties stand for principals. They issue platforms of their beliefs. Want to claim Lincoln’s yours? Isn’t there far more evidence that the rich, tax-cutting, commie-hating J.F.K. who believed “a rising tide lifts all boats” would be a Republican by today’s standards? Shouldn’t you take the Title IX-passing Nixon? We can do this all day long. But all of those candidates were in synch with the general direction of their party at the time, as stated by their party platforms. Want to grab the candidate as yours based on how a certain issue has moved to a different party today?

The racist Democrats of old have a lot in common with the Democrats of today. The dead voting, for one. But let’s look at Jim Crow laws. A meddling government law that requires a business owner to put in twice as many bathrooms, with twice as much plumbing, and the owner has to bear the expense? That sure sounds like Democrats. How about laws that say one paying customer has to be told where to sit, no matter how the business owner feels about it? Meddling Democrats again. Twice as many civic water fountains, taking up twice as much space and more plumbing, even though such doubling is a tax burden? Sounds like Democrats.

Okay, enough teasing. Here’s the point.

The reason Republicans suddenly grew strong in the South is not because of race, but because of every other change the Democrats have engaged in. It used to be that you could be a Democrat and be a gun-loving, crime-hating, anti-abortion Christian who loves the military. Since the 1960s, the Democrats have become openly hostile to all of those things (while still denying it come election time, when suddenly the effete city liberal is transformed into a big shotgun-wielding turkey hunter).

Someday, I’d like the Republican Party to get the Black vote back. I’m so certain it’s a possibility, that I’m pretty sure that’s why the Democrats go so overboard on the racist charge when there’s not a shred of evidence for it. It’s a big house of cards with only one joker card as the base.

For more on this:

The Party of Civil Rights
Yes, the Party of Civil Rights

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A short bit about FoxNews

I was posting this in reply to yet another Facebook post by somebody else about FoxNews as though it’s a joke of a network and mocked the “Fair and Balanced” slogan as all are wont to do in such posts… and I didn’t want to lose it. It’s certainly not an “everything that can be said about the matter”. I can’t say I’m making the best lawyerly case for FoxNews. I just want to lend some perspective to a liberal-leaning friend who may not understand why FoxNews exists.

FWIW, I am more than willing to admit that FOX News tilts conservative, obviously so in their entertainment/discussion shows in the evening. That said, “Fair and Balanced” is not the same thing as “unbiased”. I’m conservative; that doesn’t mean I can’t try to be fair and even-handed.

FOX News fares well in comparison to all the other news channels and shows. I remember the Pre-FOX era when all there was was blatantly left-leaning networks claiming to be unbiased, but only inviting one conservative guest to balance three liberal (but never named that) guests, and how little they’d get to talk. Back when I had FoxNews, I thought they did a much better job of having adequate numbers of conservatives and liberals and giving them time to speak even if they disagreed. (Look how many times Bill O’Reilly will let a liberal he disagrees with have the last words before going to commercial.)

I am willing to admit that it probably never looks adequate enough to some on the left.

I agree with Todd’s comment, BTW. (Todd said: “Journalism 101: EVERY news source is biased to some degree. Just filter the bull[honkey].”)

I wish all commentators had to just tell us who they voted for and what they believe, and then we could evaluate accordingly. Dan Rather constantly claimed that he was middle of the road. He also stated he didn’t know ANYONE who voted Republican! Walter Cronkite was “The Most Trusted Man In America”, but when asked if he could run for President because of this, he told the interviewer, “Wait until they find out I’d go door to door to grab every gun…”

That’s why FoxNews took off like a rocket. For 50 years, we were constantly told that our press was unbiased, and all along conservatives chafed at the news reporting. Then Fox comes along, essentially a flip version of the rest of the media (though actually more “balanced” as I noted above), and liberals have a hissy fit as though nobody had ever shown any bias in the news before!

I hope that helps you to understand the other side just a little bit. I’ve talked too much. Good night!

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This sounds like a hoax!

A drunk underage Irish teen in Boston? Come on!

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The Minnesota State Bird

Wow! I just saw a Minnesota loon! Riding a bike at 9PM on a dark night, no lights, no reflectors, dark clothes, going down our unlit hill in the center of the road at high speed with his left hand on the handlebars and his right holding a cell phone to his ear and carrying on a conversation.

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My Diet Tools

UPDATED August 2011: I fixed the links for the blender to go to the revised model.

These are the things which have helped me to lose 30-35 lbs. in 2009.

Walking our Labradoodle, Layla, is what got me started losing weight and getting fit back in June. After a few months, I was down 10 pounds and in much better shape. Dog-walking has turned out to be excellent for weight loss because you HAVE to do it every day. No escaping the fact that even in the lousiest weather, the dog would like to go around at least one block, if not more. It helps that with Layla and Chewie, the standard poodle we bought as Layla’s companion in October, the dogs are so strong that they pull me along! (I now understand how just a few huskies can haul a sled, a person and hundreds of pounds of gear.)

I bought an Escali scale because it was guaranteed to be accurate even for large people. Most bathroom scales get wildly inaccurate if you go much higher than the upper 200s. This one was guaranteed even above 400 lbs (way beyond what I weighed), and it measures your body fat and your fluids. I love it and highly recommend it.

I then joined Weight Watchers for the first time in my life. I wish I had done that a decade ago. The digital scale, books with point values for food, pocket points calculator and daily food journals have helped me gain control of my over-eating. (The pedometer, not shown, gives me the value of points I’ve earned in fitness each day.) A membership to Weight Watchers pays for itself, since you save the $10/week just in groceries that you’re not eating! Most of the W.W. merchandise is a lot cheaper if you’re a W.W. member and purchase it through the organization.

Finally, my early Christmas present: The Oster Counterforms 2-in-1 blender. Get this one. Seriously, click that right now, unless you already have an excellent blender. I researched blenders far and wide, and was quite surprised how many lousy blenders with cheap parts there are. Most blender reviews were split evenly between the people who loved them and those who complained about the 1 plastic part that breaks almost immediately. I was going to get the “Magic Bullet”, but I was amazed to read all the stories of cheap, broken parts. I know, I know, yours is probably working fine.

This blender had stellar reviews, and when I got mine I found out that they had improved it beyond how it was described on Amazon. It’s a 1000 WATT BLENDER! 1000 WATTS, not 600! All I do is add my smoothie ingredients and hit “frozen drink”; the blender then takes over, alternating the speed and direction until it’s well-mixed.

Here’s a trick I learned: Take the Weight Watchers chocolate smoothie mix, which costs less than a dollar. Add a cup of water (or milk) and then throw in 6-10 ice cubes (depending on their size). With the addition of the ice cubes, the end result is a smoothie that is indistinguishable from a Wendy’s Frosty…and it’s only 1 Weight Watchers point (or 3, with milk)! Let me tell you: A Frosty from Wendy’s is NOT a single point! You can throw in other flavors in small doses. Frozen slices of banana disappear into the chocolate smoothie; you can’t really taste them, they thicken the smoothie and you get a bit of fruit for the day.

Click my link and get that blender! I honestly cannot recommend it enough. For years, we had this cheap plastic Black and Decker blender that may have been from the early 1970s. It leaked, it was noisy, and it made lousy milkshakes. This little $70 blender gets used almost every day, because I have a sweet tooth and a pitcher full of chocolatey (or fruity) goodness will keep me from snacking on stuff that’s far worse.

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