Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The hardest part of being a pet owner

I'm a cat person; have been for 35-ish years. I seem to have a knack for getting most of mine to some seriously ripe old ages. We had to have Ethyl, a little spitfire of a cat, euthanized about 14 months ago at the age of 19 because of kidney failure.

Ethyl was pretty obvious-she stopped eating and couldn't move about, even to get to a litter box in the same room. We knew she was suffering from the disease, but we were doing as much as she would allow to support her. And then she just crashed, and the blood test said "Time, please". As we always do, we brought her home and she's buried with 2 others (Ricky and Fred) off to one side of the back yard.

We're facing this again with our 15 year old Thing. Thing has always been small, particular and a picky eater. She is also a train wreck, one that started in 2012 with a diagnoses of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. With the help of good veterinary care, we got her past that, but it has poked its head up a time or three since.

For the last 3-4 years, blood tests showed her liver under heavy stress. Some expensive diagnostic tests could find no reason. Then her kidney numbers went up, pointing toward kidney failure. Her white blood count spiked to half again what it should be, pointing to an infection or maybe cancer. This all happened in quick succession. We only caught it early because she was having a pre-anesthesia blood workup so we could have her teeth cleaned and a bad one removed.

Catching it early, we've been able to provide supportive care and give her a good quality of life, despite never having a firm diagnoses of what was wrong. But as time has passed she's gotten frail, and the goal of a quality life has been harder to maintain. Now we're nearing the end of the road, and I've been struggling with trying to work out "When do we take that last ride?" It's complicated by Thing herself, because she's been such a game fighter. She isn't going to go easy.

One resource that my vets suggested was the "Feline Quality of Life Index". While it sounds kind of cold and clinical, it's meant to help cat owners reach the hardest decision they have to make about a pet-when is it time to let go? Even though I can be a cold, clinical bastard, about my animals I'm anything but.

Hopefully, this resource will help someone else make this hard, shitty decision with less guilt than they might otherwise have.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was declared, ending active fighting in WW I.

For some families, the war never truly ended.

While Memorial Day is generally the day where we memorialize our losses in war, we must always remember the price paid in blood by our ancestors for the freedom we enjoy and the freedom of others they never knew.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Time to clean up the browser tabs. Again.

This is a bad habit of mine-collecting a bunch of browser tabs that I want to make note of on the blog and then never getting around to it. Some of these have been hanging around for weeks, so I don't even remember where they came from.

The Master of Disguise

First, a former CIA Chief of Disguise (Who knew?) gives a brief overview if how spies uses disguises. Since we live in an increasingly surveillance-heavy world, this could be the starting point for learning a useful skill.

Bike Stuff

A bike is quiet transportation that burns no fuel other than what you eat. In a situation where things went bad, it could enable you to move faster, thereby expanding your range of operations considerably. Bicycles, properly equipped, will also allow you to carry more weight than you can carry alone.

Eventually we need to talk about small engine bicycle conversions. They're very fuel efficient and can turn a couple of gallons of gas into a couple of hundred miles traveled.

Angle Firing

Shooting a rifle accurately is relatively simple as long as everything is on the same level. If we shoot a rifle over a long enough level area, wind resistance and gravity will eventually make the bullet curve down and impact the ground. Throw in some up- or downhill and thing get more complicated. The Rifleman’s Rule (Angle Firing) gives you the tools to understand how to hit your target firing up- or downhill.


8 over-the-counter items that you should have on hand. Yes, they could conceivably save your life, or the life of someone under your care. I just don't care for click-bait titles.

Well, that's allowed me to reduce the tabs by a decent amount. Until I need to do it again.

Friday, November 09, 2018

If you're going to bug out, bug out early

Some California residents are learning a lesson that we in the preparedness community have know for a long time--If you're going to evacuate, you have to do it early. Unfortunately some of them learned this lesson at the cost of their lives.

So far, 5 have lost that race. I expect more will be found.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Who-wee, it's Fall, ya'll

It's 5 weeks or so since I heralded the arrival of what was going to pass for Fall, at least for a while. That weather, I guess something like an Indian Summer, hung on and kept beating back the occasional Fall day that managed to sneak in.

Boy howdy, that's over. It's Fall, the leaves are turning and falling and it's cooled off to more or less what it should be at this time of year. It was 70, give or take, today, and that's the warmest it's going to be, as far as the 10 day forecast is concerned. They've even got the little snowflake icon out for next Tuesday night.

We did get to enjoy the likely last Fall weekend by pulling the RV up toward the Virginia border. I was able to enjoy setting it up Friday afternoon in a driving rain, but the rest of the weekend was actually quite nice. Now the RV is sitting in the driveway and I'm frantically trying to complete the Fall project list for it before stuffing it under the cover and calling it a season. Some projects may just get skipped if their fellows on the list don't start going better.

I have gotten some fall projects around the house under way, but rain has been a constant delaying factor. Well, the long range forecast for my area did say wetter than usual. There's still a lot to do, and things get added all the time. At least I can always put on more clothes. This summer I would have needed to carry an air conditioner strapped to my back to work outside during the hot part of the day.

Some of the new project items are nothing more than necessary maintenance caused by using various pieces of equipment. Those are boring by and large, so I won't bore you with them. Use your imagination.

Some of them, though, are more fun-for various values of fun. I obtained a good deal on a Bearcat TrunkTracker V scanner. Too many local government agencies, the NC Highway Patrol, the state Department of Transportation and a number of  local utilities have moved to digital trunked radio systems, and my old Radio Shack gear wasn't able to deal with that during our hurricanes. When there are trees down, power outages and floods, I like to listen in on what's going on.

Of course, this means another antenna if you want to drag in the best signal. Fortunately I have the antenna and all the parts except for cable (now remedied) , and I just have to hurry up and get it up. The antenna-you people have dirty minds.

Then there's that mast for the weather station. That's going to wind up needing a bucket lift, so I want to combine that with some other high work. I'll need an extra pair of experienced hands, and that's where the hold up is. Mountain Man is willing, but currently swamped with his own issues. I may get to experience a bit of what the linemen get during the winter by the time he frees up.

Then there's the pickup truck that followed me home. Well, it followed me after I tracked it down on Crag's List. I've wanted one for years, and I'm not getting any younger. It's a 2001 GMC Sierra 1500, rather gently used for it's age. I'm pretty sure I bought Granddad's pickup. It has 140,000 miles on the clock; is in excellent shape mechanically and very good condition cosmetically. I am making some changes, including undoing a rather unfortunate chrome fetish. Most of them are reasonably low cost. The three big things will be replacing the headlamp housings and lighting with new housings and LED lighting, getting a bedliner shot in and putting a modern stereo into it. The stereo will wait for a while due to cost.

I'll be selling my Subaru to pay for all this, and I really don't feel bad about stepping back 10 years on the age of my vehicle-I think of it as "Back to the Future". While the Subie's been an OK car, I have learned to detest CVT transmissions, smart keys and all the rest of the techno idiocy that has been crammed into recent vehicles. The very few things I may want can be retrofitted for a reasonable price should I decide to do so.

Mrs. Freeholder is convinced I've slipped a gear or two, but she is being quite accommodating. As I live in large part on her suffrage, that's a good thing.

Lastly, Fall has brought the inevitable infestation of politics. I'm watching the post mortem with interest. I think the Democrats are convinced they won bigger than they did, while Republicans don't seem to understand why they lost the House. (Hint, Paul Ryan and his posse of assclowns.) I figure the next year or so is going to be very entertaining as the Dems find out they haven't won all that much and the Republicans in the Senate flounder about trying to figure out how to lose that majority in 2020. My belief is that if the Republicans listened to their President, 2020 will be a run away victory in the Senate and they will be able to take back the House, but politicians oddly don't listen to me.

So enough of all this. I still have some things to do before I can settle in for the evening. Laundry, here I come!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Like winter, Christmas is coming

One of the local papers linked this. Enjoy.

Always a class act

Audrey Hepburn was a class act, even before she was an actress.

"The father is not expected to face charges, police said."

I should certainly hope so. They ought to pin a medal on this guy.

A brave dad armed with a pistol stopped what could have been a mass shooting Saturday inside an Alabama McDonald's when he took down a masked gunman who had stormed in and opened fire.

This is another episode in a long list that gun banners would love to memory hole. An armed citizen breaks everyone of their talking points and by doing so saves an unknown number of people.

I'm betting the Werther Effect was in action here. As Michael Bane has said many times, "Violence is a virus." Science backs him up. This means that we need to up our situational awareness for a time.

Let's be careful out there.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Variety is the spice of life

(Via the Woodpile Report)

Variety is the spice of life, be it in relationships or food. Cue R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

I can't argue a thing that was said, save I wouldn't consider a variety in stored foods, even to the point of keeping freeze-dried ice creme (guilty) and freezing half-off bags of Easter and Halloween candy (also guilty), as "luxuries". Based on her take on the subject, I'm guessing she doesn't either. So who's guilty of that headline?

This bit leads me to a story from my late Dad, who was in the ETO in WW II. The setup from the article:

"We can also research the lunch-dinner breaks of pioneers, old-time (and modern, poverty-stricken) farmhands, and soldiers of manly-man eras for pacing of meals and foods that give us continual boosts through the day, that can be consumed easily regardless of weather, and options that don’t require extra preparation or heating."

Sometime in 1945 and somewhere in Germany, Dad's unit was attacking. Dad and a buddy had went across a harvested beet field, scouting the way ahead. As far as anyone could tell, there was going to be no resistance to this movement. Right up until the artillery shells started dropping.

Dad and his buddy took shelter behind a beet bed. (He described this construction as being made of harvested beets.) So, you're in the middle of a field, under fire and hunkering down until the rest of the unit call in some counter-fire and gets you out of your predicament. What to do, what to do?

They decided that it was time for a snack. Dad pulled a can of something or other out of his field jacket and started to open it up. About that time the German observer called in a fire correction, and the next rounds dropped on the other side of this beet bed.

Dad says they were both tossed some distance and couldn't hear a thing. They did decide to call off snack time and rescue themselves, sprinting back across the field in apparently record time, uninjured.

Decades later, he seemed more miffed that they hadn't gotten to eat than that they were nearly killed. I suppose when you've been nearly killed often enough, you get a bit blase about it.

At least my Dad did.