Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mush Is A Four Letter Word

Remember how I said that I've been watching sled dog videos lately and I thought that might be something to try with the big dog?

(Guido and I like to watch these together.)

It's currently 6 PM and I have agility with both dogs in an hour. Outside. It will likely be about 45°F which really isn't that cold unless you're from California and you haven't seen snow since last year while driving over the Grapevine on the way to Orange County. I'm trying to pretend that I'm as excited to go do this as the dogs are. It's not really working.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I would be a terrible Iditarod  competitor. With the cold and the lack of appropriate restroom facilities along the route (no, I don't camp, thank you very much)... nope.

I guess I should stick with non-competitive agility.

Monday, December 10, 2018

At least I Have a Good Dental Plan

When I was little, my paternal grandmother used to send us a box of cookies and other treats each year. Some of the cookies were traditional German versions, similar to what she'd grown up with, and others were recipes she'd acquired after she moved to the states. One of the traditional types of cookies was springerles.

If you've never had them, springerles are anise cookies that are rolled out and then embossed. I was given a springerle board when I was in my teens. I used it -- once.

I think I've mentioned before that I am constitutionally incapable of following directions. That makes baking... a challenge. It makes baking finicky cookies an impossibility. I spent a whole lot of time and energy making these things.

My springerles ended up half-height and so hard you could crack a tooth on them. Seriously, if I'd built a house from those things, it would still be standing. To this day they're probably taking up space in a landfill, in the same shape they started out in, with some weird embossed shape (leaves? berries? I'm not even sure what they're supposed to be) on the top.

For a while my parents bought the yearly springerles from the German bakery, but at some point my mom took over, and hers always turn out perfectly, probably because she follows directions. (She claims it has something to do with never making them on rainy days, and sure, I'd love to blame my problems on humidity, but it's a lot more likely that it has something to do with my slapdash measuring system.)

Anyhow, I agreed to make them this year. (I also suggested that having a backup plan might not be a bad thing.) I have a springerle rolling pin on the way. I'm crossing my fingers that the grocery store has anise extract. And I'm even going to drag out the gram scale (ie, the small kitten scale) from its hiding place in hopes that it will force me to be more exact.

And if when all that fails, I'll order some from Amazon.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Feathered Four

Today I felt guilty enough about not taking the big dog on a walk last night (because the little dog was sick -- she's feeling better today), so I actually went for a run. As I was putting on my running pants the big dog looked over and raised his eyebrows. He didn't actually say "Really? You're going to go for a run? You don't have any excuses left?", but I was definitely feeling some judgement. Even the running app on my phone has started giving me notifications lately, like "Hey, remember me? Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now would be a great time to start working out again!"

We only went two miles out, then walked back, but I figured that's probably good enough for only the second run in something like eight months. Frankly I'm a little surprised I can still run two miles since I remember going through the whole couch-to-10k program and being wiped out after 30 seconds of jogging. (No really. It was pathetic. And yet here I am!)

We ran past these guys on the way out:

(They look like they're auditioning for a Beatles cover band.)

And then we walked past them on the way back. They were not happy about the big dog. The big dog was pretty happy to see them, though. I think they were the highlight of his run.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Random Pet Post

After I submitted yesterday's post on The Big Dog Weight Loss Plan, it occurred to me that the other thing that changed recently (aside from the weather getting colder) was that I put up barriers to keep the big dog out of the kitchen because he kept stealing things from the counter and getting into the trash. Now I'm just brainstorming here, but I wonder if it's possible that that is why he lost weight and therefore staying out of the kitchen should be part of my strategy as well.

Nah, that can't be it.

Anyhow, in the latest episode of this season on Theresa and her geriatric pets, I took both dogs for a long walk this morning, then we came back and the little dog puked all the treats I'd given her (plus a bunch of water that she drank when we got back) onto two separate dog beds. Now it's six hours later and she showed no interest in showing up for dinner. But one episode of vomiting and half a day of inappetence in an otherwise normal 12 year old spayed little dog is no reason to panic.

Look at me not panicking.

(Guido's toe beans. Yes, that's a technical term.)

Guido is continuing on his own terminal illness parade by picking fights with all the other animals in the house. It has gotten to the point that Guido just looks at Effing Scooter and Effing Scooter jumps off whatever cozy spot he has taken. Guido seems comfortable enough for the moment, though he suddenly gained a bunch of weight and his nose has been dripping. That might just be because his appetite has been good (yay, steroids!) and he has a chronic herpes infection... or it might be that he's retaining fluid because he's now in heart failure or something equally bad.  At least he's still breathing okay.

Guido and I have been watching a lot of videos on sled dog Twitter together. I'll miss that when he goes.

Speaking of sled dogs, it occurs to me that the big dog might actually enjoy pulling me around on a cart and it would be a good way to get rid of some of his extra energy. I may have to look into this...

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Big Dog Weight Loss Plan

The heat, then smoke, and then rain (plus, let's be honest, laziness) have really messed with my fitness levels and I've reached the point when I think I either need to buy bigger clothes or start eating less. Frankly, both of those options suck, but buying clothes is probably the more painful option. On the other hand, December really isn't the best time to say "Hey, I'm going to lose five pounds!". I was lamenting my options the other day and one of my friends agreed and suggested buying a pair of sweatpants and then putting off the pain until January. I have practical friends who enable me. Also, please don't comment on my sweatpants before next year.

In the meantime, the big dog has lost three pounds in as many weeks. He does this every winter. The minute the temperature drops I have to nearly double his food or he starts losing weight. He doesn't really get any exercise that I don't, so the only thing that makes sense is he's burning calories to keep warm.

So my new plan to lose weight is... I'm going to turn down the thermostat a few degrees during the day. (I already turn off the heat at night, which just means I am under a mountain of cats.) I tried it today and found that I notice when I've been sitting at my desk for a while because my hands get cold. Then I get up and jump around a bit and I'm warm again. Maybe this will help.

(The cats are not super thrilled with this development.)

If this works I'm going to patent the plan, write a book, and make millions.

In other news I took the dogs for an early walk this evening and our arrival downtown coincided with the pre-tree-lighting festivities. The big dog saw a horse pulling a hay cart and he was very interested. He was staring and prancing around just like the horse, making everyone waiting for the parade laugh.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Speaking of My Boss

Yesterday I mentioned my boss (H) asking me if I was trying to train him to take over my brother's job of receiving all my irritated emails at work.

Lest you think his email comes out of nowhere, let me give you the history of my texts with my boss.

Before we start, you should know that he is not my boss on paper. As someone whose role doesn't really match that of others in the group, I get moved around every time they need to rebalance the managers so they all have at least the minimum number of direct reports. But H remains my boss for real throughout all the changes.

This can lead to conversations like the following during my annual performance review:

[boss on paper]: To be honest, I don't really know what you do every day.
[me]: Well that makes two of us.

So here are some text messages my boss and I have exchanged over the last year:
me: I'm bored. Can I leave yet?
H: Ask [boss on paper]
me: He's not here.
H: Excuses
me: Is there a company class on finding a new career?
H: Trying to get you into that but you keep resisting
me: Would 'hijos de puta' have been in use in Ecuador in 1936? Where would I be able to find that out?
H: Google it, but not from the work's computer
(Apparently he was driving with his family in the car when I sent that one, so his wife (whom I also work with) read it to him. She thought it was funny.)
(At some point he said something offensive along the lines of "I don't like cats" or something similar.)
me: [cat gif]
me: [cat gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [angry bird gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [hamster gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [owl being attacked by jay gif]
H: Annoying
me: [cat & Shaq gif]

And then over the next two days I sent 15 more cat gifs. (I counted.)

As you can see he manages to deal with me without quitting, and he hasn't fired me yet either. I'm not sure how he's held up so well. I might need to up my game.

Obligatory picture of my real boss

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

He Ain't Heavy

At work they're currently implementing a "voluntary separation package", and if you've been an employee for a long time it's a pretty good deal, so a bunch of people I know are leaving at the end of the year.

This is definitely better than the previous rounds of involuntary layoffs (although the packages then were also decent, and there was at least one person sending out pictures of himself with a sign that said "pick me!" -- yes, morale has been at an all time high for the past few years). But it's still a bummer for me because one of the people walking around with that "I'm going on vacation starting January 1st" glow is my brother.

Jeff is better at remembering people than I am. I had to start a file with the names of people I never want to work with again because otherwise I forget who they are. Last Monday, after a week of trying to remember an old director's name I called him up in the other building. "What was that executive director's name? The one who they moved across the country right before she retired? It was something old-fashioned like Irma, but not Irma." He knew the answer immediately. (Eula.)

But mostly it's going to suck because he's the person I send all my work snark to when I don't want to have to think about whether it contains anything that shouldn't go outside the company. So I can send him email that names names, and forward ridiculous requests without making a huge effort to change all the details.

(Here's a random picture of my cats helping me write.)

For instance, every single week HR sends an email with a stock photo of some smiling person that says "It's not too late to get your W-2 sent electronically!" Every week. Because I didn't get the hint the first forty-nine times they sent it this year, but this week I'm going to listen! But since they don't have any way to unsubscribe, or even an email address that we can send complaints to, the only thing I can do is send rage mail to Jeff (which crosses electronically with the rage mail he sends to me).

(We had another program that has been sending out automated messages every night for the past two weeks about some event being over, and one of my coworkers almost hurt himself laughing when I suggested that if they can't stop that email maybe they could at least combine it with the W-2 email. Everybody hates that HR email.)

Anyhow, on Monday I was in the office complaining to my boss about not being able to complain to my brother in the future. He was mildly sympathetic. Or possibly alarmed.

On Tuesday I sent my boss mail suggesting that we could make a device that keeps track of something because I was trying to write a report to figure out where all the equipment was and that was harder than it should have been.

My boss, of course, sent back mail that said a) Are you training me to take the place of your brother? and b) What algorithm are you using for this report?  I'm interested in what you are doing.

Yes, my boss can be a bit of a smartass.

Of course then I sent mail saying "Which part are you interested in? If it's the latter, [algorithm details]. If it's the former..." I attached a video on how to clicker train a dog.

It's Wednesday and I still have a job!