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(The Not So) Dandy Adventures
Jun 19th, 2011 by JuannyCinco

One of the great differentiators between the online and real world is the simplicity with which you can venture between cultures and ideas, without ever leaving the comfort and security of your own home.  I’ve traveled to Israel, Scotland, Italy, Spain and even most of the USA via the bits and bytes of the electronic highways.

One of the people that I have met on my travels came to mind recently – he owns the site PetInsurance.TV.  Despite the valuable key-word heavy domain, he’s not a big shot Internet millionaire, he’s not even an insurance company representative.  He’s a normal guy who has come to value everything that pet insurance can do.  This gentleman – we’ll call him “Bob” – is from England and has set up PetInsurance.TV as a personal site offering information and some articles about pets and, of course, insurance.   Bob is not in it for the money: he’s just a man that loves animals – especially his lab – and believes in the insurance policy he has.   If you do choose to buy insurance I’m sure he’d love you to click on one of his links though to help fund his yearly renewals and hosting costs.

I will point out that:

I’m not here to sell you on the idea of insuring your pet – it can be expensive.
I’m not here to sell you on the ideas of having a pet – it is MORE expensive.
I’m here to tell you a story.
I’m here to make you think about insurance.

This is DJ

DJ - The Brindle Scottish Terrier

DJ - The Best Male Scottish Terrier the World Has Known

This is Dandy

Dandy - The Craziest Female Scottish Terrier the World Has Ever Known

Dandy - The Craziest Female Scottish Terrier the World Has Ever Known

 

Those are two adorable pictures of Scottish Terriers.  They are NOT Schnauzers.  They are NOT West Highland Terriers.  They would be offended to be seen as anything less than the terrier that embodies the spirit of Scotland!

They are our two dogs and I love them dearly.   They say that dogs are a man’s best friend.  Well, in this case, they really are our best friends.

About the Scottish Terrier

Anyone who tries to summarize the personality of a Scottish Terrier in a few words (stubborn, smart, not lap dogs, stoic) should meet these two.  Their personalities are as different as their colors – as different as night and day, or more accurately, brindle and wheaten.   I have been told that DJ is my dog personality!  He’s stubborn, smart, not a lap dog, can be calm but will occasionally let out a “pissed off growl”. Dandy is different! She’s excitable, a goofball, lap dog, and a bundle of energy who loves attention.  If you call Dandy? Dandy runs over and DJ waits patiently for his turn for attention. .  If you call DJ? Dandy runs over and DJ waits patiently for his turn for attention!

Luckily the two of them like each other and both enjoy just hanging out.

If you are interested to know more about Scottish Terriers you can find information at Scottish Terrier Club of America and Scottish Terrier Club of Tampa Bay.  Scotties are great dogs and each one has different personality so don’t listen to anyone who tries to readily categorize them all into one simple definition.  There are distinct features that are common to the breed but each member of the breed is different and unique.  It seems to be a common trait that Scotties are very owner attached and protective, love mostly from afar, and are extremely reactive and responsive to their treatment.   Be positive!  They aren’t for those who want to be showered with affection or have a dog that does everything that’s asked unquestioningly; that is not to say that they can’t be affectionate and do as they are told.

After visiting PetInsurance.TV, I started thinking about whether or not it would be a decent investment to have insurance.  I have thought about it numerous times before – the price was always prohibitively expensive for the benefits offered.  The plans all started at over $40 a month (for one dog) and the list of exclusions was always far higher than the actual benefits.   It does appear that times are changing.  Part of me wonders if the sea change in property and human insurance have made the pet market a more desirable space for companies to play in but the prices have been decreasing and the number of exclusions has been steadily declining.

The Back Yard

A couple of weeks ago I let DJ and Dandy out in the back yard.

DJ was his usual self.  He carries a hefty load for a Scottie (he’s not overweight, just big) and every step he takes sends lizards scurrying in all directions as if he were the epicenter of a giant earthquake.   He raises his tail, he lifts his front paws like a bucking stallion and then swan dives with the grace of a belly-flopping elephant crashing into the grass plants in the hopes of finding the laziest (or bravest) lizard that ever was.  It’s fun to watch – he can do it for hours catching nothing and achieving only the destruction of some vegetative habitat.

Then we have Dandy.  As mentioned, she’s the anti-DJ and you have to watch her like a hawk.  She follows DJ, the dog-zilla of the yard, and as the small lizards dash and dive for cover she will spot the weak and take off and like lightning be on their tail.  Literally.   Sometimes she does miss but then sometimes she destroys a small reptilian families day – tailless, dizzy, and maimed a barely conscious creature will lie waiting for the nearest bird to put it out of its misery.   It is true that a lizard tail continues to move after being detached!

About a month or so ago, during what seemed like the fairly healthy activity of lizard chasing in the garden (to the animal lovers reading – I don’t encourage violence towards fellow creatures but I am powerless to stop the primal urge of dogs) I noticed Dandy was chewing something.  I quickly grabbed her and removed the offending crunchy item and discarded it.  I let her go and everything was normal – she ran over to the rocks, tail wagging, looking for the next prey.  She jumped into the tree as a lizard climbed frantically out of reach.   It was then that I noticed she was limping as she walked towards me.  “Great,” I though, “she stepped in something”.  No doubt it’s more grass seed, sticky plant pods, sand spurs, or some other similar annoyance of nature that I will have to coax out of her fur on an almost daily basis.  I picked her up and took a look.  Nothing.

I put her back and expected her to run over to the army of lizards that DJ had dispersed with his thunderous steps….. but she just looked at me.

She took a couple of steps and looked awkward.  Maybe I missed something?

I picked her up again. Nothing.

Then everything changed.

Her heart was beating at a million miles per hour.  Her eyes looked distressed.   She was looking at me and she was telling me that something was wrong.  He legs stiffened.  She gagged.  She fought me holding her – a normal reaction to being picked up when she wasn’t ready – but her eyes weren’t fighting me, her eyes were asking for help.  I put her down and she couldn’t walk.  She coughed. She hacked. She took half a step.  She was shaking.

At this point I panicked.  I called my wife at work – less than calm.  Not helpful to her – it succeeded in only creating two panicked people!   Time to go to the Emergency Room.   I didn’t want to lose Dandy and I had no idea what was going on.  I knew what she chewed wasn’t a toad but I didn’t know what it was.  Maybe that did it?  Maybe it was a dead animal?  Maybe it was a rat? Maybe that rat had eaten poison?  Maybe it was amdro? Who knows what she got into….

I collected DJ and took him inside and went back to get Dandy – she was shaking, lollygagging and the look she had was one I’ve never seen in her.

She was scared…and..So was I.

This little brave dog that runs with reckless abandon than turns away from nothing? This dog was scared?  She was helpless.   I threw her into her crate, put her in my car and drove to the emergency room.  She scrapped and fought and flipped her crate in the back.  She was not doing well*

Five minutes later I get to the Victoria Park Animal Hospital and she was fine.  She walked without pain, moved without issue.  I sat down in the waiting room and discussed with the staff would I should do.

“Just keep an eye on her and make sure nothing happens.”

The technicians, sensing my panic, ask if they need to call the Dr who is out of the office.  They suggest it might be worth a check-up.

They get Dandy a bowl of water.  She drinks a little.  She’s recovered!  The overwhelming sense of panic subsides and I take her outside.   On a six-foot lead and just a few minutes after recovering from a fit she spots a lizard… dive-bomb!   She’s back to normal!

I go back to the vet and tell them that I think she’s ok but that I would like to sit there for a few minutes to get myself back to a normal calm state.   Dandy walks over to me….. then she starts swaying her head side to side…. she falls over on the floor and starts to have minor convulsions again: neurological symptoms.  It could be a toxin. Back to being scared.  I stroke her to try and let her know we’re here and that everything will be ok.

“Yes, I’ll sign,”  I put ink to paper on whatever they have put in front of me to initiate tests.

“Blood work?” Sure.

Doctor Birken of the Victoria Park Animal Hospital abandoned an eye appointment and returned to treat Dandy – we weren’t even regular patients! I thought Animal Hospital was an emergency room!  Fortunately, it was a great Veterinarian office: I was really impressed with the staff and the Doctor who, it was clear, put the well being of the spitfire personality of Dandy before her own eyes!

The technicians started the blood work while the Dr was returning from her aborted appointment.

Nothing too unusual.  She’s dehydrated.

Great! Had I really just opened up a check book for the most expensive dehydration diagnosis ever?

No, I don’t think so.  Just luck that the level of toxicity was low.  Dandy had very red gums that were slightly swollen – a sign of some toxic effect – but a ten minute mouthwash, some IV fluids with electrolytes and some TLC were all that seemed to be required.  We were lucky.

Ten minutes later she came out of the back offices and looked none the worse for wear.  Then she collapsed from four legs to flat on the ground legs splayed like she was being quartered.   The Dr and tech looked at me nervously….

“No,” I said, “that’s always how she rests”.

An amusing end to a stressful afternoon!

As I was paying the hefty bill I thought about Bob and his PetInsurance.TV site and I asked if this would have been covered by pet insurance.

“Probably all of it”.

So there you have it.   Pet insurance can save you significant emergency expenses for the price of a fixed monthly payment.  It’s worth considering.

To be fair to the Animal Hospital, the bill was extremely reasonable for an emergency vet visit and treatment – especially with a canceled appointment – just hefty in terms of unexpected emergency fund cost.

Overall, I’m lucky enough to have two healthy, happy dogs and have yet to find a plan that meets a cost-benefit ratio that I think makes insurance worthwhile but I’ll probably continue to look as the prices carry on decreasing and the benefits keep on being added.   I’m going to check again because my dogs have teeth that are almost impossible to clean properly and a dental visit for dogs is not cheap.

Pet Insurance might not be the answer all the time but I think it’s worth asking the question?  Why not visit PetInsurance.TV and see what “Bob” has to say?

If you’re looking for a vet in the Fort Lauderdale area? I would certainly recommend the Victoria Park Animal Hospital – in addition to the normal vet features they actually have implemented a nice pet portal which lets you keep track of your pet’s treatment.  The  staff were very helpful and considerate and they even did an e-mail follow up to make sure Dandy had improved.

At the time of writing, both Dandy and DJ are doing fine !  Sleeping near me, probably dreaming of rainbows and carrots.

*Always travel with your pets in a crate.  It is safer for them and it is safer for you.  An emergency stop can kill an uncrated animal.

**Always keep an eye on your dogs when outside.  This happened DESPITE me keeping an eye on them.

***This post may be freely copied/quoted by PetInsurance.tv or the AnimalHospitalVictoriaPark.com

Screw Recycling.. Let’s start Reducing
Jun 19th, 2011 by JuannyCinco

Have you ever had to empty a house ?   Well, one day you will, and this post is here to prepare you for the sheer shock you will face when staring down at your accumulated wealth.

We are just two people but the accumulation of stuff was staggering. Stuff from years of seminars (please, no more mugs),  from many Christmases (please,  no more bowls or salsa servers), and from many free gifts from doctors and parties (please, no MORE MUGS!).  It’s not that gifts aren’t appreciated – it’s just that it really is the thought that counts.

If you are young enough to have not yet amassed tonnes of what starts as something you believed had value but ends up being worthless, let me give you some lessons that may save you lots of money, lots of time, and ultimately your sanity.   Here’s the reality: you can’t live your entire life in the same place you started it.  Even if you absolutely wanted to, today’s houses just aren’t going to last 50 years: between Chinese drywall, unlicensed construction, poor building codes and management, your house will just not last.  And to the boomerang children?  Your boomer parents will eventually want you to move out.  Coming back after college was temporary because if you don’t work then who on  earth pays their pension and senior health benefits?

Anyway – here are the theories and things you need to know.

  1. The Container Dark Matter Theory
    Containers are just that.  Containers.   But they also have a little dirty secret!  Yes.  Not only are they BIGGER than the BIGGEST thing that they will ever contain, they are also mostly empty.  They are like an expanding universe.   Before you know it, most of your space is absorbed by containers!  Cake containers, cookie containers, bag containers and worst of all, the dreaded container containers!
  2. Mugs Are Gremlins
    If you use a mug after midnight and  it gets wet you will wake up the next morning finding many more mugs.   You may even end up, like us, with a mug from an optometrist! Wouldn’t a set of glasses have made more sense?  (Now that’s a joke you can tell your friends.)
    But here’s the real question: how many mugs do two people own?  2? 4? 6? 8? 10?  Well if you answered 6 then that was a good guess….. if you were only counting ones with a Christmas motif… and are happy being  two short.
  3. Food Hides
    So.  You buy bulk.  You buy a nice balsamic vinegar because it’s worth it and will make so many great meals – good idea!  Guess what.  You used it three times and forgot that it was there hiding behind the Ponzu and Soy.  Guess what!  It goes bad! Yes, Vinegar goes… more vinegary.   You will also find a tin of tomatoes that expired 5 years ago behind a newer tin of tomatoes – even though you’ve been buying fresh tins each week.  Your best efforts to stack them back to front were stymied when you were putting shopping away at 10 pm because of a late night at the office and you had to cook, walk the dog, wash up, eat, get ready for the next day….. Food takes advantage of the poor planners. The best hiders also have a tendency to play games – that sticky stuff you could never identify the source of?  That was heavy syrup from out-of-date peaches.  Yes, the syrup ate a hole in the can, escaped down the inside of the paper lining and carefully meandered its way to the front of the pantry making sure everything got just an essence of goop.. and all the while standing innocently at the back of the cupboard looking totally fresh.
  4. Guest Ware
    What is guest ware?  Guest ware is that mysterious collection of showcase items.  It’s is porcelain with beautiful hand painted scenes, it’s those lead crystal glasses (that used to be hand cut in Ireland but now are factory made in China).  It’s the nice stuff that you don’t use because who wants to wash up after people with the risk of breakage?  Dixie makes paper and plastic plates to avoid this type of unnecessary risk !
  5. Every house has a cupboard where it is always a holiday!
    Open the cupboard in April and you find glass Easter bunnies (no candy because that was eaten) hidden behind the Christmas ornaments, the Thanksgiving ornaments and the Labor Day ornaments.  Of course they are in their in reverse chronological order meaning that the objects you do break out this year are usually the farthest back in the depths of the cupboard.
  6. Liberating
    Throwing out a few truck loads of goods is not liberating.  Giving away things to friends and charities is not liberating.  You know what IS liberating?  Getting rid of a Franco, removing Saddam Hussein AND leaving, and electrolysis.  I’m sure that there are many more liberating things but I can assure you that throwing stuff out (unless the stuff is a dictator or something with energy) is not.
  7. Chromatography Carpet
    It’s not worth keeping your carpet clean.  Even if your dogs didn’t poop, pee, and throw up right in the middle of it, the truth is that the slightest use adds a discoloration that you only notice AFTER you shift furniture around.   No matter how hard you have tried, the color UNDER the couch is not the same color as the carpet AROUND the couch.Using real wood destroys the environment.  Laminate looks like fake wood.   I’m thinking that the 1970s heavy shag carpet was invented by people that knew this – respect to interior decorators from the 70s for inventing the stain proof carpet.
  8. Time Savers are Anti-Space Savers
    That bread machine makes average bread.  That automated Pasta Express makes mediocre pasta.   That crock pot makes slow cooking a breeze.  A rice cooker.. never gets used.

    You know what else slow cooks well? An oven.
    You know what makes fantastic bread?  Hands and an oven.
    You know what makes fantastic pasta?   Hands and a regular pasta maker.
    You know what makes fantastic rice? A saucepan. 

    Convenience products that automate tasks are just things that get in the way!
    Except toasty machines.  A future post will espouse the virtues of these little cheap plastic machines that want to grow up to be panini machines.  Eating a kind-a-bolognese sauce with cheese in toasted bread?  Simply awesome.

Ultimately, when all is said and done I’m sure I will feel LIBERATED. I’m just not there yet.  The reality is that sometimes change is not something that you HAVE to do but it is something you OUGHT to do.  In the long run reducing will be a positive life change – I feel more nimble, more mobile, and ready for a change.  The biggest change is resisting the temptation to re-accumulate.  Reducing and throwing out is tantamount to take $100 bills and lighting them.  Reducing and throwing out is an investment in your future mobility.  It’s a compromise.  Whether it’s a good compromise is determined solely by the future and as I’m in control of that I will only have one person to blame.

Wish me luck in my more light-weight future.

The Obligatory What do People Search for when they End up Here Post?
Apr 20th, 2011 by JuannyCinco

For whatever reason, bloggers always seem to post the inevitable cliché post.  That is,  the post that lets you know that people found my blog by searching for seemingly random things.  Well, I succumbed to the combination of wanting to let my three readers know I was still alive and not having anything to say…. and being surprised that anyone searched for anything and ended up here!

So these are the random pieces of information people were looking for:

  • sbarro new york cheese pizza
  • bagel
  • fractal broccoli
  • rapini définition
  • juanny
  • greasy pizza
  • new york pizza and bagels
  • sbarro new york style pizza

All in all I discovered that when you update a blog once every three months that not much of anything is ever found on your blog.  But, I thought I would add some comments to these small search number subjects.

I take pride in the fact that you can come to my blog and find posts on GREASY PIZZA and FRACTAL BROCCOLI.  It shows I offer a diverse set of choices to satisfy all number of palates.  I also take pride in the fact that the people that find my site can spell BROCCOLI!

There are searches for Juanny?! Someone famous is called Juanny?! Wait.. maybe it’s me searching for myself.  Not that I’m vain or anything.   Oh never mind.  I’ll pretend that I have groupies.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that this site gets hundreds of visitors a month downloading a BAGEL picture and not stopping to say hello!  I don’t know whether to be happy or mad.  I have loads of backlinks making my site look legitimate to Google, so I guess it’s a good thing?  But couldn’t you just stop and say something ?

The search for sbarro I find surprising.  Really? Sbarro? Are they still even around? Maybe they’re not and that’s why people are searching?

So that list, that’s apparently what people want.  I didn’t realize I had a food blog.  I will focus my future posts on this research and provide posts on various foods.  I may rename the blog:  “THE DIAMETRIC FOOD MENU”.  In all seriousness, I will make a couple of foodie posts for your pleasure and amusement before returning to my normal cynicism… or silence, as it would be more accurately described.

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