Darcy Pajamas

Cute picture, right?

This is Mr. Darcy. He’s a dachshund mix. Doxies are consistently within the top dozen or so popular breeds in the US. For good reason. I mean, the wiener jokes alone. Besides that, they’re cute, spunky dogs with a lot of attitude in a little package. When they’re not on the hunt they’re lap sluts, content to curl up next to you on the couch or in a puppy pile with their canine housemates.

Just be aware that if you’re looking to get a dachshund or doxie mix, that you have a good chance of needing to buy a used car at some point. And you should budget for that.

Let me explain.

You will hopefully have done your research on the breed before deciding to contact a breeder or to adopt a shelter or rescue dog. You have most likely seen buried in the list of positive attributes of your potential wiener-pal a warning about IVDD and spinal issues. Due to the genetics that give doxies their low-slung stance, which is a kind of dwarfism, there are risks that come along with it, and they are not insubstantial. Intravertebral Disk Disease is the calcification of the soft tissue between the spinal bones. It makes the intravertebral disks less flexible and weakens their ability to absorb load. And based on estimates across the veterinary community, your doxie has between a 1-in-4 and 1-in-3 chance of developing it.

Of those dogs that develop IVDD, a good percentage will require medical intervention at some point.

Darcy Recovery

This is Mr. Darcy after a surgical spinal disk decompression. A procedure that can’t be done at your neighborhood vet, but requires the services of a veterinary neurosurgeon. At age 5, Darcy ruptured a lumbar disk and became incapacitated. He underwent decompression surgery and recovered very well.

A month and a half later, it happened again.

Another surgery, another recovery, and because his rear legs had been affected both times and were under-used during recovery, a follow-up period of physical therapy. Today, two months out from his last surgery, he is doing very well.

Remember that car I was talking about? Total vet bills for the two incidents approached $16,000. Two neurosurgeries, an MRI, post-surgery medical boarding, and therapy. So know what you are potentially getting into before you commit to the well-being of this breed for the lifetime of your dog.

You have better odds in Russian Roulette than you do with IVDD and dachshunds. Think about that, and plan appropriately. You’d be crazy to drop a bullet into the random chamber of a revolver, point it at your own temple, and pull the trigger. But many will blithely adopt a wiener-dog thinking that the stories about paralysis, surgeries, and wheelchairs won’t apply to them – they do, and you’d better be prepared. Studies show that pet insurance is no better (and economically sometimes worse than) a rainy-day savings account. I’d recommend establishing a $10,000 buffer in that account if you want to be a dachshund owner. And if you never need it, great – go buy yourself something nice.

28. October 2015 · Comments Off on A Brief Exploration of Shit that Comes With Age · Categories: Blog Miscellania, Gentlemanly Pursuits

It’s a rainy late-October evening, and after a bite and a pint or two at the regular watering hole, a few things occurred to me as essential as one attempts to age gracefully.

  1. A man over the age of 35 needs to acquire a local pub/tavern/bar. Where there is good beer, good conversation, and good whisk(e)y to be had. Where he tips well, comports himself in the manner of a grown man, and is known on a first name basis by the bar staff. If you can’t strike up a conversation over a sandwich and a beer at any random time, you’re doing it wrong.
  2. At said establishment, one must at the holidays drop a serious gratuity on your regular bartenders. Order a beer or a dram and drop a $20 tip with a hearty “Merry Christmas” and a tip of the hat. In general, treat service workers well – how you treat those whose job it is to serve you is a reflection on your true character.
  3. Speaking of which, at 40 it becomes acceptable to wear a classic hat in public without registering as a hipster asshole with unfortunate facial hair. However, if you’re still wearing a backwards ball cap at this age, someone needs to slap that shit off your head.
  4. Buy quality leather goods at this point. They’ll never go out of style, and they’ll last for a majority of your remaining years. Maybe beyond.
  5. If, by the age of 30-35 you haven’t learned to do basic repairs, turn a wrench when necessary, and pull out a power tool without everyone running for cover, you have failed at life.
  6. Also, if by this time you haven’t earned the love of a furry companion and/or endured the loss of a dear four-footed friend, you’ve likewise missed the boat. Shame on you.
  7. Real men know how to cook a meal. Not just grill a damned burger, but put together an actual full meal without panicking. This is not optional.
  8. If you drink, you should have learned how to drink for flavor. Not just to get hammered. If you’re pounding brewskis and Jagerbombs at 40, you need to examine your life. If you can’t pick out a decent wine at a restaurant, savor a whisk(e)y neat, or appreciate a good non-“lite” beer for its taste, maybe you should grow the hell up.
  9. T-shirts, jeans, and Nikes are not the daily uniform of a grown-ass man. Learn to dress up a pair of jeans and dress down a suit jacket. If you can afford it, have at least one foundation garment made to measure. In any case, always buy clothes that fit the size you are, and always aim to dress one step better than you would think normal.
  10. Know at least three skills that will get your ass out of a bad situation. Don’t be a helpless geezer. Be the tough old bastard on the block.
  11. Learn to appreciate art, music, the written word, and the live performance. A man with a clue doesn’t see culture as an uppity weakness. Knowing a Monet on sight as well as a 3-4 defense makes you a more interesting person.
  12. Eat everything, to the limit of your ability. Attempt to try everything at least once. Rarely does one regret taking an opportunity to expand one’s horizons, and missed chances are more often the cause for remorse. Food is a direct line to other cultures, and one of the easiest to share.
04. February 2015 · Comments Off on Why Mike Huckabee is Just Dead Wrong · Categories: Blog Miscellania

Erstwhile 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently proclaimed, with regards to same-sex marriage:

“It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don’t want to do that — I mean, we’re not going to do that. Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard … We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they’ve had for 2,000 years.”

Except here’s the deal, Mike. Your analogy is false. And silly.

Kosher Jewish delis don’t serve bacon-wrapped shrimp. They do serve kosher meals. And they’ll serve them to anyone, whether you are Jewish or not, whether you keep kosher or not. There’s no requirement to be circumcised, or have completed your bar/bat mitzvah in order to get a bowl of matzoh soup. You want to set a bar for civil marriage according to your religious principles. No one’s demanding that churches have to wed same sex couples or consecrate same-sex civil marriages. If you serve the wedding soup to some of the people with no religious qualification, you should serve it to everyone.

Additionally, owners of kosher delis don’t demand that all the other restaurants only serve a kosher menu as well. You and the conservative evangelical Christian cadre want to enforce your religious ideals through the civil process. And here, you don’t get to do that.

Finally, if you are Jewish, and you work for a non-kosher restaurant that *does* offer bacon-wrapped shrimp on its menu – then yeah, you’re expected to serve it to a customer who orders it. Not chow down to a plateful yourself, mind you. If you’re a religious person working for a government agency, you are not allowed to modify public policy and law to the parameters of your own personal beliefs.

Personal religious conviction is a fine thing for you and your community of believers, Mikey. However, you don’t get to mandate your personal code for the rest of us who don’t subscribe to your newsletter.


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10. July 2014 · Comments Off on Police Shelter Dog Program Cancelled Due to Excessive Fatalities · Categories: Blog Miscellania

An experimental program to train shelter dogs for obedience and service to the disabled has been cancelled shortly after it began. The “Cops and Canines” program run by the county animal welfare agency was intended to allow volunteer police officers to be paired with a dog from a local shelter, and the two would attend basic obedience and Canine Good Citizen classes together. Four weeks later, there were no graduates and no survivors.

Spokeswoman Janice Hardy described the tragic breakdown of the plan: “It was just totally unpredictable. We lost more than half of the animals on the first day of introductions. The dogs were a little excitable on meeting their trainers for the first time. Little did we know that when they ‘lunged’ on the end of their leads at the police trainers, the officers would be forced to defend themselves with their service weapons. Over 500 rounds were expended in the first hour.”

Officer Timothy Walkens of the Southern Precinct, who unloaded his pistol into a 15-pound cairn terrier after it refused to respond to  “drop it” and growled when its squeaky toy was taken away, explains his actions.

“When I approached the subject animal, it was guarding its Wubba aggressively. When I attempted to remove the contraband, the suspect later identified as “Colin” adopted a defensive posture and resisted arrest. I had no choice but to use deadly force. I felt threatened. Canines are unpredictable, and we have to take the appropriate safety precautions.”

Officer Bill Graul, shortly before he was forced to fatally shoot the dogs pictured for "failing to obey a lawful order."

Officer Bill Graul, shortly before he was forced to fatally shoot the dogs pictured for “failing to obey a lawful order.”

County Police Chief Angela Shepherd was contacted about the failure of the pilot program.

“These officers responded to situations where they thought their safety was in jeopardy, and acted according to their training. It’s an unfortunate outcome, but entirely in keeping with departmental procedure.”

The final blow to the project came on Thursday, when Patrolman Leonard Higgins was forced to discharge his 12-gauge riot gun into the four remaining trainees when all of them advanced on him after failing to heed a “stay” command. He has since been reassigned to the animal control detail.

In response to queries about why officers participating in the sessions couldn’t just leave their weapons outside the facility, a police union spokesman replied, “In no circumstances will we allow a law enforcement officer to be put in a situation where their personal security could be compromised. Every uniformed policeman or woman has a right to protect themselves as they feel appropriate.”

In a related story, 24 additional dogs are dead after a SWAT team responded to a patrol officer’s report of a pack of unrestrained canines on county land. It was later determined to be the community off-leash dog park. The department has refused comment as of publication.


Of course, this is thinly-disguised satire. But pretty much every excuse here has been used by some officer to explain why they were forced to use lethal force as their first option when encountering a dog. Police-related shootings of dogs – family pets – are on the rise, and firearms have become the go-to response to any off-leash, barking, or perceived protective canine; even if your dog is contained in your yard or house when police are present. If you think there are better ways of dealing with canines than shooting them, make your voice known to your police leadership and local government.
02. October 2013 · Comments Off on On the Tea Party. · Categories: Blog Miscellania · Tags: , ,

So, I’ve been moved to rant quite a bit politically today on the Facebooks. The following is kind of a distillation of all of it. I’ve been listening to the apologists for the GOP off and on all day today. How this isn’t their fault.


I quoted Charles Pierce over at Esquire saying this is why, whether or not you like the ACA, you should be enraged at your Congresscritters: “…there has never been in a single Congress — or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in large measure, closed this morning.”

Yeah you can’t see the Washington Monument today, and the USDA website is offline. The Army/Navy game might be cancelled. That’s important, right?

But think on this: The poorest and most voiceless among us, children dependent on WIC for their food, are officially screwed. There is no funding for these programs as of the shutdown. So, hey, taking food – literally – from the mouths of babes is what this has come to, to once again attempt to scuttle the ACA.

My advice – if you voted a Republican ticket the last election, you go now and gather up the contents of your pantry. Hie yourself down to the nearest shelter, church or women & children’s charity. Make good your Christian blathering about God and Country and how charity should provide instead of that Evil Socialist Government run by the scary black man. Go out there and personally stand in for the programs you so vehemently hate. Or burn in fucking hell, hypocrite.

Here’s what one of the teabagger types has had to say about what drives him to fight against the evils of Big Government.

“The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” – Tenn. Congressman Stephen Fincher

So, Stevie. I assume you’re out collecting donations for hungry children this morning? Ya stopped those thieving USDA bastards and their WIC scam. So, which poor mother in a Knoxville ghetto are you sponsoring today? Asshole.

The share of blame here is not equal. One side has clearly chosen to ally itself with an ideological faction that sees it as their duty to dismantle the underpinnings of federal government. To obstruct at every turn. To do as little as possible, apart from countering the other side’s actions just enough to stymie it but short of solving the actual problem. One side has chosen to play to stalemate because they don’t have the talent, strategy, or smarts to actually win the game.

I was a lifelong registered Republican, a comfy white dude politically born and bred in the warm, cozy post-coital afterglow of the Reagan Years. I cuddled up with a political party in my naive youth. Only to find out after getting hitched that she was totally nuts, and she kept hanging out fucking things up even after I kicked her out. Now I’m sick to death of the idealoguing, the mule-headedness, the bible-thumping, the denial, and outright idiocracy they now stand for. I am their dream demographic, and they have alienated me for life. Fuck the GOP. And a dope slap to anyone who makes the wishy-washy platitude that “well, they’re all crooks.”

I’m done being polite. I’m done “respecting differences of opinion.” Because the opinions of the Tea Party demagogues are just deserving of outright derision and mockery. They are contrary to fact, ignorant of history, and delusional to the point of being self-contradictory. They are the lunatic, diseased ravings of a paranoid faction. They deserve no more serious debate or consideration than the ramblings of the schizophrenic who hears voices coming from his appliances.

I would propose that forced civility has brought us to the current state wherein the crazies have interpreted our strained polite smiles as proof that we really do agree with them, or at minimum their ravings have actual merit. Listening to teabagger bullshit and doing the polite smile-and-nod is the moral equivalent to uncomfortably laughing along with some asshole’s racist jokes. And I, for one, won’t do it anymore.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off on On Sleep Patterns and the Wonders of Modern Chemistry · Categories: Blog Miscellania

Sleeping man: Image courtesy Flickr user steveleenow via Creative Commons

I spend a lot of time staring into brightly lit screens at close range. I do tech stuff for a living, so it comes with the territory. Plus, the proliferation of mobile gadgets that I’m constantly mucking about with – phones, tablets, whatever – virtually guarantees that for quite a bit of the day I’ve got blue-white LED backlighting shooting into my eyeballs.

Research has indicated that bright light, especially short-wavelength light of the type that a lot of computer screens emit, has the ability to disrupt our sleep/wake cycles. Particularly if you get a good dose just prior to trying to bedtime. I’ve always been sensitive to the amount of ambient light when trying to get to sleep. Needless to say, over the years I’ve had a lot of experience with irregular sleep patterns.

So, recently I decided to try to remedy this. Some would say the smart thing to do would be to avoid any situations or devices that flood my retinas with intense white light before bed. But let’s face it – that’s not likely to happen in an age of Kindle apps, LED-lit flat-screen TVs, the Internet, and smartphones. Too much of what I get information from comes equipped with a high-res screen attached to the front of it.

I did, however, change a number of other things. I go to bed at pretty close to the same time every weeknight. While I’m not a fan of black-out blinds, I do pull the curtains in front of the slat blinds to soften the bright summer morning sun and to further reduce ambient outdoor street lighting at night. I’ve also taken to using earplugs – once I’m asleep I want to make sure I stay that way unless something really loud and important happens.

The thing that has helped significantly, though, has been to add a melatonin supplement. You see, shining bright lights in your eyeballs kinda cheats your internal clock. Exposure to bright light suppresses the natural melatonin release cycle. Melatonin is the hormone that’s responsible for applying the metabolic brakes to your system while sleeping – your heart rate slows, your body temperature drops slightly. Without it, you struggle to fall asleep as the rest of the body wants to keep running at its regular pace. And it can take hours before your natural levels rebound. Taking a supplement boosts your melatonin levels within about a half-hour. I’ve found that 3mg while I’m getting prepared for bed works very well.

Previously, I would regularly be getting to sleep at 1-2 AM. At least once or twice a week. Sometimes it wouldn’t be until three or four in the morning that I’d finally doze off and catch a couple hours sleep until it was time to rise and not-quite-shine. In the four months since starting the new routine, I’ve fallen into a steady pattern of being asleep within 20 minutes of turning out the light and up again at a nearly uniform time in the morning. The only odd effects I’ve noticed is that a) due to the shift in pattern, “sleeping in” on the weekends really doesn’t happen and b) some dreams can be a bit more intense.

Still, if you are having regular problems with primary insomnia (difficulty falling asleep initially), I would recommend both establishing a regular bedtime schedule and trying a melatonin supplement. It promotes regular and natural sleep, unlike sedating anti-histamine based sleep aids. It’s also way safer than prescription options like Ambien. There’s the chance that it may not do anything for you at all. Some insomnia has nothing whatsoever to do with melatonin levels, and supplementing won’t help. But it’s a reasonably safe remedy to try before moving to more drastic measures.

Oh, and as always if you’re on any other medication (especially anything that affects your hormone levels or neurochemistry like antidepressants, antianxietals, MAOI’s, etc.) check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding any potential interactions.

03. May 2012 · Comments Off on Hello Again. · Categories: Blog Miscellania

So it was, and so shall it be again.

I keep going through this cycle. I write. I blog. I run out of ideas. I dismantle. Rinse. Repeat.

When everyone seemed to shift to Facebook as their primary online social interaction, it seemed that the blog was dead. After all, between Twitter tweets and Facebook status updates, what else was there to do to keep people informed of what you were doing and thinking?

But Twitter is for informational snippets, a link here and there, a running micro-snapshot of thought at any one moment. It’s the online dumping ground for all those little, instantaneous thoughts that go flitting through your head but don’t warrant more than an intellectual post-it note. Facebook is horrible for anything more than 3-4 sentences, though it provides a nice, casual level of interactivity. For communicating ideas, however, it’s a nightmare.

So, it’s back to the blog. And with the myriad of APIs available to link content together on the web, it’s become a more integrated option. My writings here can be summarized and posted over to my Facebook timeline, so that my online friends can easily by referred here to my more detailed content. With the proliferation of interfaces and standards, each pile of content no longer stands on its own, but can be remixed and re-presented in multiple views from multiple sites: Smugmug, Twitter, Facebook, web logs, etc. all combined.

So, I enter this part of the cycle again. In the time since I was last here, I’ve learned and done many more interesting things. And, now I can hopefully again start sharing them in a manner that does them more justice than a timeline update.

Welcome back.