Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here We Go Again

I know I've been letting my fans down - I have approximately 6 fans after all, and I virtually disappeared without a trace! I'm back now though, although maybe with not the same frequency until I can get life under control.

There's been a lot on the go here, and if you are one of those who look forward to my posts, please accept my apologies. And if you are seeing me here for the first time, I'm sure it isn't a problem at all.

At the moment, Penny is sick again, and it's probably the pancreatitis acting up again. Last week while walking, she deaked out to the side, and we heard the ominous 'crunch crunch'. Just a couple, and the first thing I did was reach down her throat to retrieve whatever crunched. To no avail.

So the waiting game began, and she did pretty good until yesterday, when we had to take her off all food - but she's drinking. But not doing well. She's still struggling through it so far, without needing to go to the Doggie ER, but she's a sad puppy and we're sad owners. And tomorrow we're off to our vet.

And it seems that no one around here can stay healthy either.

As you may know from some of my other posts, I have Type 1 diabetes, and now Larry has been struggling with his own recent diagnosis of Type 2. You know I thought I knew all I needed to know about this - after all I've been dealing the better part of 20 years. And now that I've recently started using an insulin pump, I've had greater control and flexibility.

But I've discovered that I don't know as much as I thought. Type 2 is similar, but it is indeed quite different in how it behaves, both in the body and in diet restrictions. Who knew!

There's an irony here... somewhere, and I think in more ways than one. But I'm not looking too hard. When I find it, I'll certainly share.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Finding the Gems

I'm a YouTube Geek.

I don't upload videos, and I don't log in to see the latest upload from some college dweeb complaining that his dweeb roommate didn't pick his socks off the kitchen counter. I know many people blog via video, but I am enjoying my tiny niche here in the old-fashioned way (well, sort of old fashioned).

But what I see in YouTube is a forum for the talented - teenage kids, little kids, mothers, fathers, and yes, even those college dweebs, who spend hours practicing their guitars, pianos, violins and kazoos, and just oozing talent.

Some of them get their 5 minutes of fame on some show, like Ellen or Oprah, which are uploaded to YouTube for people like me to see. But most of these videos have been made with a single webcam or some other kind of miscellaneous home equipment. Some go to the trouble of a little production. Some of it is terrible, but every once in a while you find a gem.

I found funtwo's video some time ago. There was lots of buzz about funtwo at the time - was he a faker or was he for real. After all, how could anyone possibly play like this? Eventually the mystery was solved, and Jeong-Hyun Lim's identity was "discovered". He is indeed real.

And modest too. Jeong-Hyun is quoted in an article in the New York Times, "Some said my vibrato is quite sloppy, and I agree that so these days I’m doing my best to improve my vibrato skill."

By the way, he's had over 41 million views. With those kind of numbers, it's quite possible that you've already stumbled on this video. And if that's the case, I invite you to watch again.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, April 12, 2008

All Grey & Stayin' Alive!

It is possible to grow old without growing boring.
Chris Barth

This morning there was an article in the Star about an awesome group.

As an introduction to, here's their updated version Stayin' Alive, from a somewhat grey perspective. By grey, I mean only that it is the most common colour of their hair, but they certainly are not grey in their humour.

A documentatary has been made about them, and is just being released. I think they had to produce it pretty fast, given their ages.

Read about their Story

And when I'm getting up there - wherever there is - I want to be Young At Heart, just like Young@Heart.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seeing & Believing

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.

~Arthur Schopenhauer~

Follow your dreams and ditch your perceptions.
~Jamie Naessens~

The guy in this video can paint. And he's pretty good, I think. He's been blind for years.

By now you've probably made some assumptions, like "he probably sucks". I'd like to submit he can "see" in a way that many can't.

I'm betting that at least more than one friend thought, "This too shall pass". I'm also betting that many people may have politely shrugged their shoulders when he told them that he was going to paint.

And there's this blind guy, Larry, sitting right beside me as I write this, who will often remind me that a shrug is as good as a wink to a blind horse. (Okay, I know the expression is really a "nod", not a "shrug", but allow me some creative license here!)

So my advice of the day is, just try it - whatever it is - and you might surprise yourself.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

I was stupid today. But even if I'm stupid, it seems there are others out there even more challenged than I am.

Ever have a conversation with someone and wonder if you'd somehow landed at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party?

First let me set this up. For those of you who don't know, I have Type 1 diabetes, use an insulin pump, and test my blood several times a day. When I tested at lunchtime, for some reason, there was still an old test strip sticking out of the meter from my last test. It didn't register with me that I should have put in a new one to get a new test. So I stuck my finger to get the blood, and applied it to the old used strip. If this happened to any one of a number of other meters that I have, I'd get an error.

Countdown 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, and then the result displayed. It was not the error code that it should have displayed, but it was a number that I knew could not be. (A small problem, because that number automatically registers in my pump, which is what the pump bases my next dose on. Lucky for me, the pump forgets this number after awhile.) Anyway, it was an oops.

Being the curious sort that I am, I tested 3 more times with some old strips that were still hanging around my kit, just to see what would happen - an experiment of sorts. The second test gave me another impossible number. The third gave me an error code, and the fourth, another number.

So I thought I'd call the pump people to tell them.

Anyway, they never heard of such a thing, said they would report this to the people that care there. After a fashion, I ended up being transferred to the meter manufacturer, a different company, to let them know about this curious and mysterious issue.

This is the conversation, more or less:

Me: I was really silly, made a mistake, and used an old test strip by mistake. I'd never do this normally, and I expected an error, but it gave me a result. Just to make sure, I tried 3 more times, and got the error only once. Shouldn't I get an error every time?

Her: You should never re-use a test strip.

Me (in my head): Well, duh. I know, that was part of my preamble.

Me: Yes, I know. I'd never normally do that. My concern is that it didn't give me an error, except for once, and I thought you should know about this issue, just for the record. Also, I certainly won't be doing that again.

Her: You know, you should never re-use a test strip. The results would not be reliable.

Me: Umm, sure.

Well, the conversation went on from there, but she didn't waver from her mission to make sure that I understood, under no uncertain terms, that I shouldn't have done that. In the end, she did offer to send me another meter, at no charge.

Well, thank you, I'm sure. I guess case closed. That was worthwhile.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Round 1 Begins

Penny has issues. But have I told Penny about Lando? Maybe all about Congo? How about Jethro?

If any of these ex-guide dogs were here, they would tell Penny to shape up. Jamie wins. I fully expect that Penny will be shaping up. These otherwise talented guide dogs didn't make the grade. But first let's review the Guide Dog history in our family.

Jethro was a maniac. He was Larry's first guide dog from Canine Vision Canada. Jethro had Timbits on his mind. Jethro sulked when he was told he had to behave. He was a very bad car rider, and would lunge from one side of the car to the other, which from this driver's perspective, didn't make driving easy. Jethro stayed for a little while, and then was soon retired to a life of being a regular (albeit spoiled) dog.

Enter Lando. Guide Dog #2 from CVC. Lando was very big and very sad. Lando had issues, which amounted to my little carpet cleaner pooping out, if you get my drift. Lando would retire to his bed, and we'd find him a while later, well, let's just say he was aromatic. Enough said. Lando stayed for a few months, and then was soon retired to a life of being a regular dog, with his Puppy Parents. Lando really loved his Puppy Parents, and is a much happier dog for it.

Then there was Congo. Congo was a Chocolate Lab. Congo loved to play. That's all Congo wanted to do, was play. Keep Away was his most favourite game in the world... a great game to play with our Resident Blind Guy. His second favourite game was Chew The Remote Control into a Million Bits. That got expensive. After a re-training session or two, Congo was retired to a farm, where that's all he needed to do. Play. Life is good.

Now Penny... she's a handful. But she has some lessons to learn. She had better learn... or... well, okay, we love her to bits, but she's got some learnin' to do. Penny had a rough start in life, originally a shelter dog, and has always dealt with fear issues. However, poor Penny deals with these issues totally inappropriately. It's hard not to compare her to Keeta, the Wonder Guide Dog. But we reluctantly admit it, we've babied her some since she arrived. She flunked puppy school... twice. She's had a session with a dog whisperer. But we've let the lessons slide. This Winter didn't help at all. I haven't been getting out with her to reinforce proper doggie etiquette. She makes a lousy guide dog, especially with her fears, and she's too short anyway, so Larry can't take her out.

So now I'm armed with my equipment. I've got the remote control spray collar charged up and have just bought a special collar for walking. Some might say it's extreme, and that may be so. However, Penny's behaviour is extreme, so I respond in kind. We went walking last night, and after a couple of reminders, she pulled up her bootstraps. She was the perfect Doggie Walker. Just like she should be.

But let those other dogs be a warning... this may be only Round 1, but I do win.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Are You Smarter Than a 2 Year Old?

Need I say more? I'm betting that she's working on expert level Sudoku too.

I can do a Rubik's cube... just like this one:

I'll stick to blogging.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Guitar Hero

We saw a really good movie on the weekend, called August Rush, with some really cool music. I've never seen guitar played like this before. I recommend it highly if you are looking for something a little different. First here's a clip from the movie with that cool guitar playing.

But while surfing around today, I found Andy Mckee. I can't even really say how exactly I found him, but I wasn't looking for him. Never heard of the guy. And he's doing that very same guitar technique. Andy is the REAL deal! To top it off, this video has had almost 13 million views on YouTube... that's 13 MILLION. Pretty cool playing. You gotta see this!

Did I mention that way back when, when I was a Little Furball, I played classical guitar? No? Well I did. But nothing like Andy. He's my Guitar Hero.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Viral Marketing 101

I just learned something today - although I may now consider myself rather worldly.

I have a blog. I have ventured into the worlds of YouTube, Facebook and have done EBay. I have even gone to the Twitter site, although I have yet to twitter. But I have learned that I am still way behind... and just so totally out of it.

So this morning I was following a bus, faced with a big white ad on it's back end, with big black lettering, "I am so over Sarah Marshall", and a reference to the website (naturally!).

I'm thinking, "What the heck! This guy must have issues." Soon after that bus, I see another bus ad, "My Mother never even liked you, Sarah Marshall". Boy, this guy needs some serious therapy. At that point I resolve to go to the website to find out what is going on.

So I go to the site. It's a blogspot blog, much like mine, except this guy has a budget to actually get a domain. And I see this guy really hates Sarah Marshall, and has issues and needs help.

And it's all for the sake of a movie. It's an ad. And it's called Viral Marketing.

Nothing is real. I've been had. But it's effective - they got my attention. They got me, someone who would likely never have given them another thought, to go to their site, and now here I am, blogging about it. This is my introduction to viral marketing.

But consider this a public service, a PSA just for you, perhaps another one of the uninitated, just like me.

So let this be a reminder of some sage advice that your parents likely taught you, and advice that's likely lurking in the dim recesses of your memories from the past:

Just don't believe everything you read.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

They Have Finally Come

It was warm today. But then it snowed tonight. I'm not too happy about that. But this is what I noticed on the weekend - the migrants have returned. I'm not talking about flocks of birds, although I have noticed the birds are returning too. But I'm talking about another kind of migrant.

Alhough we live in a 'bedroom community', this is also a traditional farming community, and the migrant workers have recently arrived. I suppose they come from all over, but the most notable are the Mexicans. They fly south with the Canada Geese when the big snows threaten, after the last harvest, and all the barns have been put to bed. But this past weekend, I saw many groups of them - walking in groups of 4, 5, and 6, all looking a little lost, and freezing to death.

I thought it was rather nice on the weekend, but I suppose if you are coming from the warmer climes, it could be considered a little chilly. They had their winter coats done right up, hoods drawn, hands jammed into their pockets, and probably wondering what tundra they landed in.

But things are looking up. The Mexicans are finally here.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens