Up Your Nose!

Damn, I suck at updating. Yeah, well, deal.

I saw the (decidedly non-batshit crazy and very good) gastroenterologist. It’s really funny when specialists seem young to me. When he did the endoscopy (more on that) he actually hadn’t shaved (maybe for the whole week since I’d seen him) so he had a five o’clock shadow. It made him seem less like a middle school student and more like he was now able to drive himself around, so long as it was during daylight hours. Y’know what? It occurs to me that this is just going to happen to me more often. Damn.

So the deal was that while nothing looked all stretched out and weird on my barium swallows, I was definitely slow in the whole esophagus region. It didn’t seem like there were any obstructions, but he had to do an endoscopy on the upper GI tract just to be sure. He also wanted to biopsy for signs of an allergic reaction in my esophagus. If the endoscopy came back clear (which, after speaking with me, he was pretty sure it would), he’d order a manometry study. That had to be done in Boston though.

Went and had the endoscopy. I don’t have any allergic type reactions in my esophagus, and while (surprise!) there was a little stomach polyp, it was a single one that was just sitting there looking innocent enough (didn’t stop them from snipping it off and displaying under a glass slide for all the lab to see though.) I guess those are pretty unusual, but they’re also asymptomatic and usually not really worrisome. So next up comes the manometry.

Well, came and went. I am glad that’s over. This was my first time dealing with Boston Medical Center. Yeah. I really, really liked the nurse who did the procedure. She was awesome. She was really good, patient, confidence inspiring, and friendly. Plus, she obviously totally realized the administrative part of the office is staffed with people who would really rather have been born independently wealthy so they could be the boss of everyone.

When she called to tell me about the procedure, she asked if they’d registered me yet. They had not. She gave me the main registration number because, as she put it, “I’m not sure what the hold up is, but there’s just going to be drama you don’t want prior to any testing if you come to them and you’re not registered.”

I called the number and registered. And hour later, the GI office called to register me. Again. I told them I had done it. The woman insisted I hadn’t. I said I gave the nice gentleman at the main number all sorts of information about my insurance and whatnot. The woman said I needed to register because they needed my demographics.

Yeah, like whether I was born in Massachusetts, or served in the military, or how long I attended school? Like my race, religious preferences and languages spoken? Like what my favorite color was, and whether I like the sound of corduroy pant legs rubbing together? Like that?I finally convinced the lady I was registered. She finally got her head out of her ass and actually looked up the record.

The next day, when I went in for the test, I knew what the original hold up had been. This lady apparently derails over any number of unexpected things that happen during the workday and implodes, leaving the poor woman next to her to handle most of the in person and phone traffic. She was imploding when I walked in that morning.

The nice nurse saved me and did the actually pretty horrible procedure known as an esophageal manometry study. It wasn’t the worst test ever, but it is probably in my top three. Yeah.

My nose numbed up fine enough (the nurse shoved a q-tip with novocaine up one nostril and I sat there with a big long stick hanging from my nose. I am glad Mr. Shoe was out listening to the lady implode in the waiting area. He would have taken photos. Then he would have barfed at the next part.) The nurse did not numb the back of my throat. I guess they do sometimes, but I get the impression it might be better not to. Anyway. I wish they had… I think it might have helped.

Then the nurse hands me a glass of water… SO. PARCHED. But I can only drink it to help the long sensor catheter thing go down. I couldn’t take pills or anything that morning. I am glad I didn’t. Yeah, I mean, taking them late screwed up the whole day, but I shudder to think… Anyway, I was thirsty.

Then she takes out the catheter thingee with the sensors. It is the size of a goddamn garden hose. Okay, not really, because it has to fit up your nose, so I imagine it had to be the width almost of my pinkie finger. I know, because I can almost get my pinkie all the way up there (heh heh). She says it will go up nose, down into my stomach, and then she’ll pull it up a little bit so it is just above my lower esophageal sphincter (heh heh) and then I’ll get to swallow controlled amounts of saline and then some jello crap. She said they’d run the tube in while I was sitting upright, and then I’d get to lie back and get the saline and jello via a syringe, like the type they use to feed baby birds (she didn’t say that, but it was).

Anyway, I heard tell that placing this tube should take about a minute. Yeah. I am sure the nice nurse lied to me when she said I was doing great. I think she just didn’t want me to retch all over her shoes. It triggered a gag reflex at really weird times. I think it had to be hitting the back of my throat when the length being fed in got out of balance with the stuff going down. And sipping water while feeding it in? Yeah, I think it would have been better if she just shoved it in all at once, once she knew it was past my trachea.

I think it took about ten or fifteen minutes to place, but once it was in it was easier. It still sucked, but not so bad. The saline was kind of gross because it was warm and, um, salt water. Also, about mid way through the second syringe I started to feel like it wasn’t draining into my stomach. I have no clue if this was the case really… Maybe it just felt like there was a giant sensor laden tube in my throat and salt water tastes nasty, and that made me feel like there was water stuck. I could still feel it a little by the time we were about done with the second syringe of jello like stuff (which wasn’t too gross. It had no flavor).

At the very least, she said that the study was solid in terms of having good data to work with. Whether that’ll clue them in to where the problem originates, I don’t know, but I guess it’ll help them figure out the best way to deal with it.

They tend to order that test after a lot of others and only if there’s a good strong reason to suspect motor dysfunction. I mean, I can see why.

I asked if anyone ever just left… She said they had it happen the week before. I didn’t ask whether it happened the week before that and the week before that, too.I gather it doesn’t happen as often as front office implosions do though… And that’s just pathetic.

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Small Parts, Choking Hazard

Some people resolve to write more. Not me. I know that I’m doing pretty well at this point (one way or another) if I manage to update this once a month.

So a lot of stray thoughts here. We had a yellowjacket in the house yesterday. Lola tipped me off to its presence with her satellite dish ears (fortunately, she didn’t try to catch him for me.) It is surprisingly difficult to kill a yellowjacket with a flyswatter. It’s pretty easy to piss one off with a flyswatter, however. I suspect I would have had an easier time of it if I wasn’t holding the shade off the window while swatting.

That can never happen again and I’ll be okay with it.

We have a friend who was diagnosed with MS last fall, which sucks on any number of levels. I can tell you I feel less alone now from the standpoint that she asked (rhetorically, I guess) if this meant she was going to feel like crap every time the temperature hits 70F. My money is on yeah, probably. Also, she’ll also have people tell her that it isn’t really hot (well, no, it isn’t really really hot, but it’s hot enough that a lot of people with neurological issues start feeling bleh) or that wondrous gem: “At least you have an air conditioner!”

When it’s cold and you have bad circulation (or hell, even the flu), why don’t people say crap like, “At least you have a furnace!”

I’ve found 73F is where it totally hits the fan for me, and it’s not like climate control is… well, it helps me feel more comfortable superficially. If I don’t move. So while I feel incredibly sorry that she has to experience that… It was really nice to feel like less of a freak when she asked that.

The insult with a lot of… well, anything chronic and poopy like this is that even when people empathize, you still kind of feel like a freak. It’s hard because even when people empathize, you wonder how anyone can understand really, since you’re there experiencing it and it doesn’t make any goddamn sense to you.

My sweet GP sent me to a rheumatologist. She said he was one who was a bit more likely to treat based on symptoms than blood tests. I saw him, liked him quite a bit. And um… Well, the good news is there is no question in his mind that despite my normal blood work that there is something completely whacked with my immune system, the problem is many of the options he’d be tempted to try tend to be associated with certain lymphomas. And given my thymoma and lovely ass cheek histiocytosis/indeterminate looking lymphoma history… right now, he’s not real sure that it would help enough to warrant the risk that we could just be running up and poking at what’s just under the surface and making it a lot worse than it would be on its own.

Okay. I mean, I appreciate the hell out of the fact that he said it and explained his reasoning… That there is something there, obviously, but right now the options on the table that he could offer — and he was tempted to — seem too risky. Will it be if things are like this a year from now? Maybe not. So I’ll be seeing him again in the fall.

I’m also seeing the (non-batshit crazy) gastroenterologist because my esophagus is dumb. Or slow. Or just angry. I don’t know. I also don’t know if this GI doctor is necessarily not crazy, but he isn’t the crazy one I saw before that I flat out refused to see again (my sweet GP won’t send anyone to her any more, actually). I predict more tests and probably not lovely options to deal with said issues, but hey.

Lola passed her obedience classes. The last class — the very last one — she sat on command. The trainer thought she might have pelvic or hip issues and that was why she wasn’t sitting, but apparently the only issue was that she’s kinda thick. She’s a good girl though. And she listens to Penny, who calls the shots (of course. For all of us.)

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Damn You, Time!

So I’ve been lazy about updating, and then figured I could cover it all in one, and then I got lazy again, and now it’s like… what do I even say?

Condensed version: my head tumor isn’t infiltrative, which is good, but it still could I guess get bigger which still makes my sweet GP way edgy but the guys at Dana Farber less so. My ass cheek tumor doesn’t appear to be returning, so the teeth grinding pain and feeling that there’s a sock in my hip is probably healing, my ENT’s office is just a friggin’ annoyance, my muscles don’t work in my esophagus, Lola doesn’t understand how to sit but she can walk calmly now, and I got to  go to PAX East for three hours with Mr. Shoe. I lasted three hours, which was impressive because if nothing else, I got some cool pictures, saw the dudes from Giant Bomb (and Felicia Day, who had nicer skin than I would have imagined) and I learned that heat bothers the crap out of me, but throngs and throngs of people — not at all a problem. Which seems weird.

Also, we had another accident in front of our house (less than two weeks after the last one) and I heard the gun fight that led to the street closures that led to the K9 units and SWAT teams running through our neighborhood. And the heron returned. Once.

I get that that probably makes little sense. But maybe I’ll actually get around to filling in the blanks.

Mwaha. That’s a good one!

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No, Really, I’m Done!

This past week has been a friggin’ annoying one with a particular specialist calling and rescheduling appointments, and then needing to reschedule the rescheduled ones. I guess the good news is (ah, why hide it?) is that it was my ENT with the rolling timeshare dates apparently and… I guess my modified swallow study radiologists meant it when they wanted me to get retested, so I also got a barium swallow scheduled. Then the ENT called again and said that the rescheduled appointment needed rescheduling (again) and so I said… I’m not pushing the appointment back, now, dammit. When can she see me prior to the first week in April?

So I see her on my birthday, at the end of this month, to talk about the results of the swallow I did this morning.  I don’t know if I’ll get any calls between here and there. Pffft.

I do know that there were no obvious lesions, which is good. No hernias or holes or anything that lit up so funny that they needed to flush me out and do a scope pronto. Yay!  The doctor today said that he’d take another look, but that didn’t stand out. However, what the modified barium study showed was reproducible, in that it seems my esophagus just can’t let go in a timely fashion.

I also realized that I don’t burp. I mean, I knew that… Not a burper. But the first part of the barium swallow requires you sock back some pop rocks and then drink some weird ass not quite water crap with it. It is supposed to make you feel like burping, but you’re supposed to fight it. I don’t know if it is the fact I am not a burping sort of broad (I didn’t burp or feel the need to at all) that made this an easy task, or if it had more to do with the fact that I managed to miss my mouth or something with the weird not quite water crap they gave me and dribbled about half of the little cup of it all down my johnnie clad boob and on to the lead apron (and probably the doctor’s shoes… he looked kinda grossed out. I hope to hell I’m not the only person who has ever done that to him.)

So no clue what that is really about or what it all means per se (I gather it is a sign of fibrotic stiffening or nerve damage, and so isn’t surprising, but I guess in my case it could be either.) I don’t know if it’s like… pretty decently delayed, or a short delay, or what. I know it isn’t blocked and I don’t throw up (unless you count the nostril back-water and droolage in that same category — I understand it is likely related, but it isn’t… well, you know, there are worse things that could be happening in this area). I guess it is something that happens to me regularly enough if they caught it twice. And hell, that’s at least a relief in some weird way.

And the barium just gets grosser and grosser. I didn’t think that could happen.

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What the…?

It’s been an interesting week. Yes, yes, indeed. First, I had a video swallow/modified barium test. I will never voluntarily eat a Vanilla wafer or vanilla pudding again. I’ll get to that…

Yesterday, though… Mr. Shoe took a photo because, as he put it, “Pics or it didn’t happen…” and for some reason I am both glad he did because it was so weird and I’m kinda appalled that this seems to be the mantra for a lot of things. Mostly, I’m surprised we’ve lived on our street for this long and haven’t seen a dramatic accident.

Let me explain a few things: I’ve seen about thirty police cars outside because they’ve cornered an armed robber who’d already shot at the police. We’ve had one shoot out in the last five years, and a few stray shots fired. We live on a residential street that runs parallel to two larger streets, streets with lights and schools and more traffic… so our street is often a cut through. I am guessing the speed limit is 25 on our street, but I’m not sure as I don’t have a license and… I can’t remember what the general residential street speed limit is in Massachusetts. Most people don’t drive anywhere near 25 or even 35 miles per hour down here. I wouldn’t want small children on this street, and I am always freaked out that people who have cats let them out side here (for a number of reasons, but the street is one of them).

But for the past twelve years or so, really, nary a squealing brake.

Yesterday I had an early appointment at the sleep doctor and Mr. Shoe was home. I’m just feeding the dogs and there’s this series of booms. Well, two booms. Okay, our neighbors at the corner have a dump truck/hauling business, we have other neighbors with the world’s loudest landscapers, and another neighbor is cleaning out and renovating two of his properties and has a couple of dumpsters. When Mr. Shoe said, “What was that?” I said, “Probably some one is dropping off a dumpster.”

Mr. Shoe didn’t believe me (which was good, I guess) and looks out the window and said, “Um, no. Car crash. Bad.”

Fortunately, while it was a massively dramatic looking crash, no one seemed seriously hurt (we’re still trying to figure out… I mean, I have never seen an SUV sitting there turned on its back like a big metal turtle, exhaust still coming out of the tailpipe, and all airbags deployed… and look so damn intact. And it’s hard to believe a mid sized four door sedan could come out of a scrape like that still looking like a car.) Best we can figure is that one or both cars were going fast, and maybe someone didn’t signal a turn or maybe someone had a lapse of concentration (there were kids in the SUV, again, all fine… let’s hear it all round for seat belts and properly sized and installed booster seats, folks!) and there was damn near head on collision. No brakes were involved. There were no skid marks, nothing.

It seriously sounded like a dump truck, just a smaller whack (impact, I guess) and a louder one (which was probably the SUV landing on its roof). That being said, a dump truck is louder. I don’t know the make of either car involved, and they were both clearly totalled, but really, considering, they looked pretty damn good.

Seat belts saved several lives though, yesterday, that was pretty damn clear.

Yeah, and now the modified barium swallow. Yay! Cough. Ugh.

Neat test, just from the standpoint of I love the gadgetry involved. Look, there you are swallowing this horrible swill. But it was a weird test for me.

I’m going along, doing my thing, with the radiologist and speech pathologist looking on, and the radiologist says to the speech pathologist, “We need a barium swallow. A regular barium swallow.” And I’m thinking… Um. Okay. That isn’t supposed to happen, is it?

The speech pathologist gives me another cup of barium after I had some awesome pudding flecked with barium laced vanilla wafer (ugh) and is like, “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” No, but she did want me to sip pretty regular like.

Regular barium swallow necessity repeated by radiologist.

Okay, so now I’m asked to turn and sip some more barium. Down the hatch.

The speech pathologist asks the radiologist if continuing the test with a pill washed down with barium is even worth it. The radiologist says no.

So the test is ended prematurely. Sort of. Which isn’t good.

They pull the machine away and say, “Your swallowing looks fine, and that’s great.” And I’m like… Okay. What’s with Dr. Full Barium Swallow then?

Evidently my esophagus is slow to drain. Speech pathologist said she’s not an expert on esophagi (ha, I like the way it sounds. I know it’s not a word), but it looked like there was some muscle issues and some obstruction. It was hard to tell with the little bit of barium that was being used exactly what they were seeing, hence the initial request by the radiologist (who will write the report anyway) that a further study be done. She did say it was probably why water shoots out my nose and I feel like stuff is stuck in my throat though.

I don’t see the ENT again until April, but I see the nice folks at Dana Farber prior to this so I can see what they are going to want me to do before that point (maybe just see a gastroenterologist prior to more tests. I don’t know. I don’t want to see any more specialists unless it’s really clear they’re required). While it’s nice to know I’m not in immediate danger of choking to death, given the tendency for noduley and tumory things in that area and stuff I’m kinda less than thrilled about the whole prospect. Pffft.

In other news, though, my knees are finally being not so nasty at me… Definitely makes taking the girls out for their favorite pooping hobby a lot easier and a lot more pleasant.

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February was extra long!

Yeah, whatever, right? February was a weird month. It always is. Never sucks like December always wants to, but it’s always weird.

Mr. Shoe enrolled Lola in a dog obedience class at Petsmart. I think. Sure. Why not. Not that she’s badly behaved (trust me, she isn’t), but she’s just a little too large to have her jumping up on people, especially people who don’t know dogs. She’s not huge, but she’s got more of an American bulldog or Boxer like face than a French bulldog like face and Mr. Shoe and I have worked in pet stores long enough that we know unless it weighs five pounds or has long shaggy hair, people tend to cry pit bull.

I’m not kidding. I mean, it’s clear Lola isn’t (generally the question is whether she’s a Boston or a Frenchie) but I hate when people pull that. I have met the sweetest pit bulls, and I hate that any dog that seems either intimidating or badly behaved smears that name.

Lola could be intimidating… and I certainly wouldn’t want her to knock over some frail old person or something who stopped to pet her. I could see that happening. I mean, she hasn’t knocked me over yet, or any children or anything (although I can’t rise from a sitting position without using my upper body thanks to my knees trying to compensate for the rest of my sorry self in handling her) — but she’s really exuberant and friendly. But exuberant.

There’s also that whole sit/stay/come thing that could be really handy as a backup if she should wiggle free of her harness and such, where we live on a street where the speed limit seems to be taken as the minimum permissible speed.

I’m kinda shocked as she’s lost weight since we got her home, so I think we’re doing pretty good wearing her out and stuff. Penny likes to walk with her. I know Penny’s eyes aren’t so great in most light, so having something to chase is really helpful. The crazy thing is is Penny likes to walk, it’s just she can’t see where she’s going and she’s obstinate and it starts to be like pulling teeth to convince her to just go. So a buddy is good.

I’m bummed about my knees being a couple of turds still. I mean, I know it takes time and you can’t not use them even if it would be advantageous. I suspect this will suck for a while and I will make sure I’m not without stupid inserts in my shoes ever again. Yeeesh.

This past month my sweet GP finally came to the conclusion that the propranolol was sorta making my heart beat slower (it’s 95 as opposed to 130 resting. Neither is really ideal, but one is obviously better), and that it wasn’t doing jack for my blood pressure. Ahem. So I started the ace inhibitor last week (yes, the one that makes you cough supposedly. except I am always coughing, too, so I haven’t noticed a difference).

I had my blood pressure taken at a different doctor’s visit this week (I know, I am trying to not have these all happen at once, and the damn things always happen at once). I wasn’t going to explain that just because an automatic cuff is more sensitive than a stethoscope and ear doesn’t mean it’s more accurate. Ever laugh with an EKG attached to your chest? You get all spiky and then flatline, and you’re clearly not dead. It’s all that stray muscle movement. Anyway, blood pressure on the automatic thing was still too high, but given how I usually am on those, the number was consistent with the “oh crap that’s horrible” I usually get on those. I suspect that the fact my knees were screaming played a role, and that probably the new med is not having too much of an effect at the 10 mg dose. Maybe it is a little though, because the car ride into Boston was just long enough to let my legs and vestibular bits get all bullshit with each other.

Step backwards on to the scale? What the hell do I look like, an acrobat?

So we’ve now hit March… Like a lion. And a day late, a buck short?

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Knees Are Bustin’ All Over

Penny has two trick knees. Lola has one. Lola and Penny have basically sent my knees all to hell in the past two weeks… my knees are my good joints, too, dammit. Actually, I think they’re being horrific because they are my good joints, and they’re compensating for the idiocy that my ankles, feet, and hips tend to be.

At least, that’s the sweet GP’s take on it. I didn’t go to see her about my knees… had the appointment made months ago. My knees were sadly obvious, because I wince with every step, and I walk like I just escaped my wheelchair. Good news is my knee joints are stable and all. She gave me stretches to do to prevent this in the future, which sadly are the same stretches that I’ve been doing regardless of whether or not I had two dogs running at different speeds drawing and quartering me on the crappy sidewalks. It at least makes me feel like I am doing something when I do those stretches.

So I know it has a lot to do with my unsteadiness in general as well as our horrendous sidewalk state here (I mean, there is a guy who has a wheelchair like Stephen Hawking… I think he has cerebral palsy, but I mean it’s something that means he requires an all terrain chair to get around… He is always tearing down the street, in the street. Not because he’s reckless (I know this dude well enough), but because there’s no way a chair, even with hardcore wheels and a strong drive train can do the canyons in the sidewalk). I fished out my old shoe orthotics (yeah, I wasn’t walking with great shoes to start) and it helps my stupid feet and ankles be strong enough that my knees don’t hyperextend backwards and lock up when Lola goes into full on oh my god a squirrel mode.

I wish it were just one knee though. The two together are just bitchy.

Yesterday was the first time we left Lola and Penny home alone together (again, thanks to my sweet GP for being close by). So far as we could tell, Penny sat on my slippers near the dishwasher, as per usual, where she is able to feel connected physically to mama while being able to watch the door for mama’s return. Lola made a doggy nest out of a blanket in the bedroom. That worked out well.

Lola is settling down a bit now she’s used to it here. She’s a good girl. She’s pushy with food with people, but not so much with Penny. She has really dry skin and I think is pretty itchy. So am I. She’s probably worse, though, being that she has a lot of fur.  She’s also really gassy. I mean, Penny is gassy. Lola is… don’t light a match near her. That’s all. It’s gotten a bit better since we set meal times and such, but I think she’s got — if not a sensitive stomach — a responsive stomach.

She shreds dog toys. It’s madness. Nylabone tug things, ropes, tennis balls… At least she concentrates on toys, and not shoes and blankets and socks and stuff. Hey, it’s fun to watch her, so we’ll keep her supplied with indestructable toys that are destroyed within a week or two if it keeps her focused on what she ought to do. Also, if it wears her out.

She’s calmed down. A little. Heh.
What're you doing?
Lola Plays Ball

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Lo Lo Lo Lo Lola

She looks like a terrier but barks like a mastiff, my Lola…


In case you haven’t gotten the word elsewise… Penny has a sister. Her name is Lola. She’s not a showgirl. Or a cross dresser, seeing as she is generally pretty naked all the time, being a dog and all.

Penny is pretty all right with it. Lola has the typical terrier smart component (also, she has the terrier “I’m absolutely frickin’ crazy!” component, but turned down a little thanks to age and bulldog mixing in her heritage)… this means she was told on a couple of occasions (the most notable being five minutes after we all came home on Saturday) by Penny that Penny is the lady of the house and she is not to be screwed with. Lola remembers this, usually just in time. Penny has a look that nicely replicates the librarian voice. It’s just a subtle, firm look and suddenly the crazy “I wanna play rough” dog goes and finds someone else to play rough with. So that’s working out, as you can see.

So are you, like, feeding us, or what?

We’d been considering another dog, and had been looking at pugs, pekes and Boston Terriers (I like Brussels Griffons, too, but Mr. Shoe said they really just look too bizarre and wrong.) We actually took Penny to meet a pug that our vet’s assistant has that isn’t quite fitting in her household. We thought he’d be fine with Penny, but he was big. He was about 32 pounds and while he might have been able to lose a few, he wasn’t obese. He was just massive. He also was supposedly arthritic (being a little older than Penny). While he seemed to be getting around okay, we met him on a cold day and I could see him doing a lot of the “cold day” stuff that Penny does when it gets to her knees.

I was less concerned about things like food aggression and stuff, and more concerned about his needing the same kind of lifting sooner or later that Penny needs, and his weighing more and generally his puggishness and how his size might make it hard for me to deal with him and Penny safely (for all of us.)

So it’s kind of funny to say that Lola is a pretty friggin’ huge Boston. She’s 27 pounds, but her center of gravity is higher and she just turned five. She’s got a good tug going when she’s rarin’ to go, but she’s not difficult to handle per se. It is hard getting her in the house with Penny, and it’s hard if she sees something like… a cat. I was just wrapped up like a Maypole out there over an obstinate kitty who just wouldn’t run. Fortunately, she didn’t wrap Penny’s leash up with me. Just me.

So while she’s a little larger than we had planned for too, she’s pretty manageable. She has a trick knee (Penny has two, a grade 2 and 3… Lola’s is a 3.) I expect that will be a problem for her as she gets older, but y’know. Penny is pretty portly, and the worse knee is the problem. I don’t even think it hurts, it just flops out, and she flops it back in, and gets on with it. Except in cold weather, of course.

Lola is a good girl, anyway. She’s gorgeous, and spastic, and bright, and spastic… (I know, that’s not fair.) It’s been a long time since we had a dog that was on the 4-5 year old range. She is slightly more energetic than Norman was back in the day (he was about five when we adopted him) but she’s a lot less neurotic. She was an owner surrender, and has had puppies, but it definitely wasn’t a mill or even, from the sounds of it, an irresponsible backyard breeder. Lola definitely seems to have been well cared for and loved and worked with, and that makes a lot of things easier.

Did I mention she was energetic? Heh. I mean, she is, but she wears out. And she is good at directing her energy, it seems, into the appropriate channels. She loves plush toys, but they last about 30 seconds and they all have squeakers and that scares me. So rope toys and balls or whatever are where she seems to focus her energy, not shoes or wires or anything, so that’s good.
Lola kills indestructable toys

It took about ten minutes for her to get the stuffing out of this nylabone tuggy thing, but it’s still quite serviceable without the stuffing, and that’s good. She whacks it around and Penny just looks at her like she has nine heads. Then she gets tired of looking at her and goes back to staring at mama.
Penny's tired of it now

Lola came from Cape Ann Animal Aid, which is also where we got Penny. I mean, Penny’s pretty damn awesome, so why not? And truthfully, I think our house really can only do one pug. You know, THE pug. So anyway, we saw Lola online last Friday and decided she was too good not to check out. Her age was about right (we weren’t going to go younger than that, for sure) and she didn’t seem to have any real issues that sounded worrisome. She’d been with other dogs and kids, and truthfully, her okayness with kids was a plus. I mean, we don’t have any, but Penny is less than fond of them, and having two dogs tends to take the pressure off the less kid-fond one when we are approached. (I hate turning kids away if they’re not completely out of control snotlings, as Penny should at least remain tolerant of the good ones.)

We went up on Saturday, which was rainy and cold, and when Lola approached and shoved her nose in Penny’s eyeball and Penny neither ran nor bit her face off, we figured it was love. Well… Penny would have either cowered or bitten her face off if there were going to be huge problems.

It’s not been quite the shockingly smooth transition in like we had with Penny coming in with Norman, but it’s not been quite the trying experience of Norman coming to live with Monster. Having energy as opposed to psychological trauma and energy is a big, big difference.

So that’s Lola. Careful, she does jump up and try to lick your face. She won’t bite, but she might knock your teeth out.


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The Horrible Harpy Gets the Worm

Remember how I was saying the FiOS router was slow and kept freezing up? Y’know, and it was all old and stuff? Yeah. So we called Verizon, and the customer service lady said, “Hell yeah, we’ll send you a new one.” And Mr. Shoe was all happy. Then she said, “Oh, wait, there’s a flag on the account that in order to replace it you need to talk to tech support first.” Mr. Shoe was all “Awww.”

I realized that he was with tech support when he said, “Hey, they’re going to send one out right away…” and then he was on the phone a half hour later.

So I told him to give me the friggin’ phone. I know that call center tech support is a soul sucking job, but being on the phone with them being told stuff like you’re a moron for a half hour in the attempt to get you to shut up and troubleshoot a piece of hardware that is a respectable old age that just is failing and needs replacing and probably costs Verizon fifty bucks (if even… which is less than our internet service) is pretty soul sucking too.

I told the tech the problem was it was old, and didn’t work, and to please forget all the crap Mr. Shoe said about wireless and streaming movies, it just slows to a halt, and we haven’t changed jack about how we use the internet, or the devices we use. The only thing that changed, I realized today, was that we bought a faster internet plan about the time it started messing up.


The tech mentioned older routers have a tiny NAT table and they clog up really fast with streaming. Also, it’s a bad idea to use a Roku box and especially to use it via wireless… I told him to suck it as we’d be doing it that way since 2009, when we first got both the Roku and the FiOS, and this has never happened. And the idea is… older routers. This is an old router. Please replace it, because our service, while not completely useless… Shouldn’t require I reboot the damned router when it freezes up every week. We pay too much for that.

So the tech dude, about three minutes in, gave up trying to talk over my going apeshit on him, and said he would, just as a courtesy, send us a replacement, even though from what he could tell it was all working fine. (It was. We had rebooted it.) We were told to send the old one back though.

It arrived just now. And I am getting faster than 15mb down 5mb up while streaming in HD (wirelessly) as I run the speed test (wirelessly, on my laptop). Which means we’re getting better than that, likely, via the wired in desktop. That was most definitely not happening since we upgraded.

Also, the receipt said that while we’d been instructed to send our old, defective router back, Verizon doesn’t really want the lousy old pieces of crap back because they’re old and not really compatible with the service (okay, I paraphrase…. but come on).

If I hadn’t gotten the phone from Mr. Shoe, he’d probably still be on the phone… No, but he would have gone away mad and not gotten them to send a new one. (Our old one, it turned out, was one of the last ones they had that featured firmware/chipsets with a truly tiny NAT table.) He was focusing too much on the wireless, when the problem was that the whole ship was sinking and unable to recover, it was just a lot more evident with wireless.

Anyway, glad I got to exercise the bitchy side. And to be honest, I think I might’ve told the tech “suck it.” I’m not sure. I am sure he knew that there was an issue (he knew what it was and why, and so did… as I said… it was old.) and I am sure he had to try troubleshooting and act all put out about sending a new router, even though he knew. He was still sorta a smarmy ass.

I don’t care. It works now. All I wanted.


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N. That is All.

So I’m guessing the hotel has wireless that runs using the N protocol… I know our FiOS router at home (aside from its recent need for constant reboots, lately) runs on G, and the older Buffalo router I have plugged into the FiOS one definitely runs on G, but I might have it set to B. Anyway, we have got to talk to the people at Verizon (because we love conflicting information!) about replacing the router that came with the FiOS plan, as it does seem dodgy after a few years. If they won’t, I’m totally replacing the Buffalo with an N-capable wireless router. Holy cow, is this speedy. The wireless G in the FiOS shouldn’t be the bottleneck. I mean, wireless is always going to be a bottleneck with fiber optic, but after using the hotel wireless… yeah. Not a bottleneck, it’s a tiny little pinhole opening.

So yesterday I tried to take some photos, because there are some awesome outfits here. I firmly believe that there are a few people that should just dress steampunk all the time. I mean, these people tend to be dudes who spent time, money, and put effort into making this clothing fit them, because they are oddly shaped dudes. And this is a hobby that you can just sort of tell they take more interest in than… like… work clothes or whatever, and you know that jeans and stuff don’t fit them off the shelf. And they kinda rock the look anyway, so… Pfft. I say stand out because you look like a kickass pirate, not because of your constant plumbers crack.

Mr. Shoe ran the tournament last night. It started at midnight, he rolled in here at 9 am. He’s frickin’ nuts.

I tried to take photos, that’s what I was saying. Except, here’s the thing… Mr. Shoe had to be on, and I wasn’t leaving Penny here. And there are a lot of people, and Penny is short and slow (well, so am I, but). I thought maybe I could get her down there with my camera, sit, and take some photos. Um.

On the way out of the hotel room, I cracked the side of my wide angle lens on the door frame. Hard. Instead of the cosplayer’s hallway cries of, “He’s been decapitated! Loot his corpse as it falls!” (I feel for any business travellers here this weekend, really), I yelled, “I can not fucking believe I just did that!” I still feel for the business travellers, but the two dudes coming down the hall with their cameras seemed to empathize.

I am pretty sure that my issues thereafter were temporary (I had to reseat the lens a few times, while standing, in a crowded room, with a very freaked out pug). I think the jolt just made the lens autofocus chip lose touch with the autofocus doodads in the camera body. I don’t like to change lenses except in a damn near sterile environment with few distractions. Then, I could hear very little at that point except the undercurrent “shitshitshit” in my thoughts and my pounding heart.

It does seem as though it is working, but Penny was having some issues. If I sat with her on a bench, and used her as a steampunk cosplay magnet toll mechanism (pat the pug, I take your picture! Then, I think you dress up for this stuff in that way in order to be seen, just sayin’), it was okay. But it was tiring, and Penny was getting hot, and the very nice benches were… well, not great on Penny’s trick knees. So it was all just incredibly hard to manage.

I got a few though. I don’t know who these nice folks are, but I seriously nailed these shots in one, which I thought was kind of impressive, given the horrors that my camera had just undergone and the fact that I’m not used to these sorts of photos.
TempleCon 2012
TempleCon 2012

I didn’t last real long, but Penny was fairly well done before I was. Since Mr. Shoe is now passed out here in the hotel, I’d split with the camera alone, but (I know, I know) Penny will cry. And wake Mr. Shoe up. And while normally that would be a “suck it up” situation for them both… not this time. Penny has had a long haul, Mr. Shoe has had a long night.

I really want to play with my camera. Poo.

Extraneous information: Penny finds small children a lot more frightening than a couple of six foot tall men dressed in top hats, coat tails, and very realistic orangutan suits. By this I mean, a small child in Garanimals is scarier than a guy dressed as an orangutan in formalwear.

There are also geese outside. I know better than to take Penny near them alone (with or without camera). I actually am giving them a wide berth, as goose poop is not the most wonderful stuff to get out of your shoe treads. Ahem.

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