Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas to the IA

As per my annual holiday tradition, here is the virtual version of my Christmas card. This year we printed and sent EIGHTY of them. Anyway, without further adieu, my card to you, the loyal FEW (the proud, the Marines?)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my friends at the Asylym!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our new little bundle of JOY!

Well...our little family increased by ONE over the weekend. We are the happy and proud parents of a 23lb four-legged bundle of joy! Her name is Sophie Anne, and she is a 3 1/2 month old Victorian Bulldog.What is a Victorian Bulldog you ask? Funny you should ask I asked the SAME thing when I saw her...I had to google that. Turns out a Victorian Bulldog is a recently (1980's) resurrected old breed of bulldogs (before they got all messed up and tons of health problems). They have an actual snout, albiet a short they aren't prone to the respiratory problems of the English bulls. Also their legs are longer, and they are bigger. Sophie is supposedly going to be between 55 and 60lbs fully grown. The males are even bigger. They are the in-between size of the English and American bulldogs.

We had no real plans to get a new dog (yet)...the other 3 (PG, Sweet Pea and Sydney) are all still hanging in there, even though they are all OLD. PG just turned 13, and she's the only one we know for sure. Sweet Pea we got not long after we moved here from the local pound (it was a "kill" facility, and the ladies working there had saved her for over 4 months by using their "veto" each week when they are forced to go thru the list of who's still there...typically after a few weeks it's bye-bye if you haven't been adopted...but they kept saving her just for us). 

And Sydney...well, she's not doing great, but she's hanging in there. 4 years ago she was totally paralyzed when a disc burst in her neck, shutting her off like a light-switch mid-stride. We had surgery done to remove the debris and dremel out a pocket for the swollen/damaged disc...and over the next few months we re-hab'd her as she learned to stand/walk/run all over again. ANYWAY...sometime earlier this year suddenly she started having problems...neurological ones. She still has strength, but has been losing coordination/control of the left side. She walks albeit very slowly/gingerly...and very easily gets going sideways as the left rear just can't keep up, and then falls down on her left him. She does this dozens of times a day. But she's not in any pain as far as we can tell...just not much control. But the decline seems to have leveled off, and she's hanging in there wonderfully! She's SO happy, it really breaks our hearts to see her like this...but as long as she can get around, we will do our best for her.

And now...the puppy. OH so very cute! I guess there's just not much on the planet as cute as a puppy, and that goes double for a bulldog puppy.

  Here's Jeannie holding her as we are getting ready to take her home. You can see the tip of her tongue sticking out...she does that a LOT and I don't even think she knows it.

 And here she is lying on the living room floor with her rawhide bone. 
She's getting tired at this point (FINALLY).

I can't stay too long (need SLEEP) but wanted to get a quick post in with our happy (or sad, depending on how long house-training takes us). I will say that I had forgotten how much WORK a puppy is...I can only imagine it's a lot like having a baby...your life changes drastically overnight. OK...must get Sophie outside, see if she will potty and/or poo before we put her in the kennel for the night (she will NOT have free run of the house until she has earned it by learning to use the doggie-doors and do her business OUTSIDE!) I"m hoping the other babies will 'mentor' her and show her the ropes quick.

OK..have a GREAT week!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the 21st century Matt!

I find it somewhat amusing that as a self-professed 'techie' that I suddenly find I have been COMPLETLY passed-by in the high-tech revolution. I'm an electronics guy after all, and it seems I'm quite alone in this un-tech-world. I finally realized this while sitting on a United Airlines flight coming back from Virginia after Thanksgiving.

Apparently they don't show movies on flights anymore, assuming everybody over the age of 4 now has their own entertainment. They apparently now offer wifi on flights (free for some content, and pay for other) and it seemed like I was the ONLY person on the entire airline without some high-tech gadget in their hand. Well, except for my wife...she is also a passed-by person, but she somehow SLEEPS on pretty-much every flight she has ever taken. So yes, there I was, actually holding a..... GASP...PAPER BOOK!


Even the kids all had phones or tablets in their hands, or electronic games (I can't tell the diff). Adults had either phones, tablets or laptops, and were watching movies, surfing, emailing, buying stock and/or saving the world.... and whatever else they do with their time on the device of choice. My cell phone is a CELL PHONE. Yep. It does take pictures tho..which is a huge upgrade for me. I've only had this phone about a's a Tracfone pay as you go. I only got it as my last Tracfone quit working properly (I couldn't find service in what I consider to be the antichrist of a remote location...LAX). This 'new' phone is an "internet capable" phone. I didn't even know what that meant when I bought it...I thought it was a "smart-phone". Had no idea what that meant. Turns out "internet capable" and "smart-phone" are two different animals. Yes, my new phone has a few little gadget-app thingges on it, but overall it's not really any better than my old phone that was just a phone.

And so...having realized how far behind the tech-power-curve I am, I FINALLY jumped into the water. I bought myself an Amazon Kindle Fire HD (a little Xmas gift to myself). Sitting at my bro-in-law's farm back in VA, he has one and it was pretty amazing. It's not only a Kindle reader, but  basically a small tablet too. And it's CHEAP! (well, compared to laptops and such, and even other tablets). It arrived yesterday and I played with it last night some. I sure have some learning to do. This little doo-dad probably does a zillion things that I don't know. Just the "app" world is overwhelming. Also I was looking at kindle books to buy, and realized that I don't even know where to start. But I did buy a copy of Fatty's new book on Kindle (and paperback too...autographed for my collection). I figure to load that, and maybe a few others in the near future. Also I get a free 30 day trial of Amazons "Audible" which is audio books. I can download any 2 audio-books for free (they are a bit pricey to me to pay 'full price'). I like to use these when I travel long distance by car...such as over the Xmas holiday when I'll be putting in another 1700 miles or so in about 8 days.

And along w/ the new Kindle, I also realized I need a smart-phone. Problem is, I don't want to PAY for a smart-phone (the contract). But now Tracfone has Android smart-phones. So yep, I bought one of those too! It should be here TODAY! And along w/ all the obvious benefits of a smart-phone, the one I really like is I can set it to "hotspot" and it will provide the wifi for my Kindle when I'm not at home. And being as I don't see myself as a bigtime 'surfer' and such, I'll only pay for the data I actually use (I can get a 2 gig data card from Tracfone for $50...though I have no idea how long that will last). I know I loaded 800 talking minutes on my old phone MANY months ago, and I still have about 600 of them left (which will transfer over to the new phone). And being as I will now have a smart-phone I'll really have to start learning this app thing. I know there's a gazillion of them out ones, paid-for on earth do I know what I even need or want?

So anyhow...I have jumped into the deep-end of the tech world just like THAT. BAM! Now I just need to learn how to use them. Is there such a thing as a "tablets and smart-phones for dummies" book available? Maybe it comes in a Kindle version...hopefully I don't NEED the book to GET the book...wouldn't THAT be a cruel twist of fate!

Wish me luck!