Friday, September 09, 2016

Twisty-Stick Bugs

Last night, Bella seemed to be in less pain, so we did an auto tour of three supermarket parking lots. First, we went to the Freeport Raley's, but that supermarket seemed to be inappropriate for Bella - too suburban, not open all night, and with no nearby restaurants, so minimal parking-lot pickings. So, we went to the Alhambra Safeway, which was much better for Bella, but a little scary for me. The supermarket is near a transportation nexus and the Sutter Hospital complex, and features an unfamiliar cohort of homeless folks (including someone literally sleeping in a cardboard box), plus a variety of street people likely suffering schizophrenia and other mental ailments. Afterwards, we went to the familiar 19th Street Safeway. Olde times dere are not forgotten.

The sight of a struggling dog brings out sympathy from passing strangers. One fellow dropped his beer 12-pack and abandoned his girlfriend to spend three minutes hugging and kissing Bella. "I have a Husky waiting at home," he explained. I replied, "Watch out! She'll be jealous!" At the Alhambra Safeway, a swarthy, wild-haired, Rasputin-like fellow came over, waved his hands above Bella as if casting a spell, and chanted something like: "Makova, Makova, Makova, Bitch!"

The strangest person we encountered was a somewhat-emaciated woman in her 60's. "I see that your dog is limping," she said. "Yes," I replied, "we suspect it might be cancer." She replied: "No, it's the Twisty-Stick Bugs drilling into her foot. Look..." as she exposed her left shoulder, "do you see the white spot?" Indeed, there was a white spot on her California-tanned skin. "That's from Twisty-Stick larvae that bored into my skin. They were dropped all over my car back in the days when I had property by (her voice momentarily dropping to a whisper) the Gang Stalkers! I used high-power bug spray to drench my skin and force the Twisty-Stick Bugs out. A friend of mine said 'don't use that bug spray, it's toxic!', but I called someone up, and it turns out it's just fine. I recommend drenching your dog's foot in insecticide. Either it's the Twisty-Stick Bugs that's to blame, or it's the Cement Ants. They can drill through pavement. They can drill through anything!"

I thanked her for her concern, packed Bella back into the car, and drove home.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Multiple Myeloma?

The vet has been fretting about the X-Rays of Bella's unusual-looking vertebrae, and consulted with several other people. Now they are thinking osteolytic lesions, possibly caused by multiple myeloma - cancer. Getting a better diagnosis would require more tests, of course. And coping with cancer may be difficult.

Last night, Bella's limp was so painful that I just drove her to Safeway, where we slowly circumnavigated just once around the entire property. If it's arthritis, her inflammation might die down at times, but if it's all-consuming, like a wildfire, then we may at the top of a slippery slope.

Wednesday Night Rehearsal - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" - DMTC - 9/7/2016

Tuesday Night Rehearsal - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" - DMTC

Tuesday night rehearsal. DMTC's production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" opens this Friday, September 9.

They Finally Found Philae!

After more than a year of searching, the Rosetta comet mission’s Philae lander has finally been found!

The definitive image was taken on Friday, when the orbiting probe swooped down to less than three kilometers from the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae can be seen wedged into a crack next to a big boulder all the way on the right side of the image. The main rectangular body of the lander is obvious, as is one of its legs sticking up off the surface.

Dumb As Rocks

A long-standing Republican tradition:

Media Folks And Diplomats Even Dumber Than Gary Johnson

May as well elect a box of doorknobs:
The U.S. newspaper of record, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the longest-serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations all falsely identified Aleppo as an ISIS hub.

In its report on Johnson’s gaffe, The New York Times incorrectly described Aleppo as “the de facto capital” of ISIS. The actual de facto capital of ISIS is Raqqa, which is east of Aleppo.

...That’s not all. When the Times updated the editor’s note it added at the bottom of the article, acknowledging the correction, it incorrectly described Aleppo as “the Syrian capital.” Aleppo is not Syria’s capital; Damascus is. Aleppo was the largest city in Syria before the destructive war began, but it was not the capital.

...Yet wait, there’s more: After this third error was pointed out on social media, the Times issued a correction to its correction.

The website NewsDiffs, which monitors changes in news stories, shows that there were five revisions to the Times story from 9:18 am to 12:18 pm EST.

...After Johnson’s blunder, a slew of cocksure pundits also took to the media to try to correct him — and utterly failed as well.

Christopher Hill, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, went on MSNBC to set things straight, making a complete fool of himself in the process.

Hill arrogantly disparaged Johnson, while incorrectly describing Aleppo as the “capital of ISIS.”

“I’m still trying to get my mind around that one,” he said of the libertarian presidential candidate’s ignorance. “You know, in foreign affairs there’s a lot of inside baseball that I don’t expect people to understand or follow.”

“But the capital of ISIS — very much in the news, especially in the past two days, but for last two years. And for him to draw that kind of blank — and, by the way, boy was that a blank stare on his face. I was wondering if he was talking something called ‘an Aleppo,’ and was confused by that. I couldn’t figure it out. It was just mind-blowing,” Hill continued patronizingly.

...Richard Grenell, formerly the longest-serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations, also incorrectly implied that Aleppo is controlled by ISIS.

“Everyone knows where Aleppo is….it’s the city Obama ignores,” he tweeted, adding the hashtag “#ISISgrowing.”

Too Stupid For Prime Time

Stupid is as stupid does:
“What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?" Mike Barnicle asked Gary Johnson on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“About?” Johnson asked.

“Aleppo,” Barnicle repeated, referring to Syria’s second-largest city, which has been hit in recent weeks by a series of devastating chemical gas attacks and targeted bombing strikes on its few remaining medical facilities.

“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson asked sunnily, to the astonishment of the “Morning Joe” hosts.

“You’re kidding,” Barnicle said.

“No,” Johnson replied.

Trump's Miami Campaign Headquarters

Why not have a little fun?:
There’s the woman who hoped Trump would secure the GOP nomination even if he didn’t win 1,237 party delegates. There’s the Cuban immigrant who wrote he’s “never been so proud to be an American now that I can vote for a true leader that really wants to make America great again.” There’s the would-be volunteer who tried unsuccessfully to book someone from Trump’s local operation on Fox News.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Black Labs Matter

Yesterday, I took Bella to the vet for several X-Rays of her right leg, in order to assess why she's limping. They also X-Rayed her neck (which can sometimes cause limping issues - the vertebrae looked a little 'fishy', they thought). Learned from the X-Rays that Bella is microchipped. I didn't know that!

Nevertheless, there's evidence Bella has arthritis in her right wrist. So, it looks like the onset of a chronic condition rather than an injury. She's 8 or 9 nine years old - getting to the golden years for a large dog.

There was a blind man sitting with his guide dog in the vet's waiting room. He asked what kind of dog I have, and I answered "A Black Lab, just like you have!" He replied, "Black Labs matter!"

I talked to Joe the Plumber, from whom I got Bella in March, 2015, when he could no longer care for her. Joe never fully-conceded to actually having given Bella away (it's hard to give dogs away), but when I informed him of the cost (over the last 2 weeks, over $500), he said "congratulations on YOUR dog." He continued, "I don't understand. When I was a kid, dogs were healthy. Then they died. When did that change?" I explained that dogs were just like people. They have their health problems too.

The vet offered glucosamine chews to help with joint health. He suggested scaling back the walks. The hard part is, Bella lives for these walks, especially the visits to the Safeway parking lot, her vision of the Emerald City.

Last night, Bella continued modifying the walk to mitigate the limp. Instead of meandering to Safeway, she took the most-direct path. And she trotted, in order to minimize weight-bearing on the right foot. Just what I need at 1:30 a.m. - a 2-mile jog.

If her wrist deteriorates, I suppose I could drive her to Safeway. We could broaden our horizons. There's the more-distant Belair Supermarket on Freeport Blvd., or the Alhambra Safeway. Become a connoisseur of supermarket parking lots, a dog's vision of paradise.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Sunday morning, I was alarmed to discover someone had tossed a pair of sneakers over a telephone line at the end of my driveway. My understanding is the sneakers advertise "Drugs For Sale Here". Like a big flashing neon sign. I didn't know I was now running a drug bazaar. Signifies big-ass trouble. I pulled down the sneakers.

Ten years ago, I remember the colorful tree at the end of the alley that was filled with many sneakers. I remember the SWAT-team response of the Sacramento Police when they raided the neighboring apartments. That was fun for everyone, I'm sure. Later, someone took the trouble to pull all the sneakers out of the tree.

It's probably the boorish young men who live in the second floor apartment (pictured) of the yellow apartments next door who are to blame. I've seen them toss full beer cans high in the air in order to watch them explode upon hitting the pavement. They're loud. One of my other neighbors complained they were hurling objects and shouting insults at him.

Returning from Bella's walk last night, I saw the young men reparking a van (which they had partially-parked in my driveway). I'm sure they know I pulled down the sneakers. With florid politeness that reeked of sarcasm, they wished me a good evening. Such good manners. I wished them the same (although I tried to hide my sarcasm). I'm now at the age when I can credibly be the Grumpy Old Man. Time to play it up. We may have issues in the future, although we'll probably be very, very, very polite about it.

Hidden Universe of Pain

Today, Bella is undergoing sedation to obtain several X-Rays in order to better understand her right front leg limp. Despite the pain, Bella is a soldier, and once again revealed absolutely nothing to the vet during interrogation.

Pain isn't enough to deter Soldier Bella on her nightly walks. She's compensated by trotting (which minimizes the time spent on the injured leg), slowed down only by the sluggish, two-legged, flat-footed human she has to tow behind.

There is a hidden universe of pain out there on the streets of Sacramento. One night, we were on 19th Street just south of Step One. I could see a slight person in a hoodie stumbling along the railroad tracks between U and V St. That rocky strip didn't strike me as a natural path between destinations. I sensed fear. Bella and I turned the corner at W St. and came face-to-face with the person: young, black, but because of the hoodie, of indeterminate sex. The person looked terrified, and stumbled away into the dark.

Last night at Safeway, I watched two people in sleeping bags on the sidewalk across 19th St. A big, heavy man rolled on top of the other person, repeatedly said "So, you say you're sorry - what are you sorry about?" then repeatedly slugged and pounded on the person pinned underneath, who started screaming in pain. Repulsed, I went over to Safeway and alerted the security guard, and asked him to call police.

The security guard walked over to observe, where all was now quiet, and said "I asked those two to leave the Safeway parking lot earlier this evening because of their arguing." The security guard had a limited mandate - just Safeway, not across the street. He didn't call police. He said "I'll keep an eye on them." Security guards and police can't repair every dysfunctional relationship in the world.

I've actually somewhat-taught Bella not to always eat found chicken bones (although she did eat one several nights ago before I could stop her). Nevertheless, she was very unhappy when I pulled her away from a complete, intact rotisserie chicken sitting in the middle of a parking lot under Highway 50. Bella resisted and resisted my tugging her away, and she was very unhappy, but as I emphasized to her, rulez is rulez.