Please Don’t Nuke Us, North Korea

I wanted to post this song when all the fire and fury stuff started, but then life got away from me. With North Korea doing more missile tests, Now is as good a time as any.

Get your lyrics right here.

I’m not dragging them over here, because they actually have links explaining context of some words, which I think is so much more awesome. They do have an advertisement thwacked right in the middle of the lyrics, so boy oh boy was it ever tempting to copy and paste. But I’ll be good.

This little paragraph caught me, which I hadn’t even considered, and made it that much funnier.

About “The North Korea Polka (Please Don’t Nuke Us)” 1 contributor
In a stupider version of the Cold War, two ill-tempered overtly sensitive world leaders with nuclear arsenals are spewing threats at one another. But one side loves accordions, so Last Week Tonight tries to appease North Korea by calling in America’s best in that instrument, Weird Al!

Yes! It’s true! North Korea does love their accordions! I just read My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons, and there were certainly lots of accordions mentioned in there.

Because I just read that book, I had lots of weird thoughts about that song beyond the expected “ha ha ha you’re funny and weird” that I would have had anyway. I actually wondered, if people in North Korea heard that song, if it would even make sense to them at all, and if it would do the exact opposite of appease them.

So, from what I understand of North Korea, they’re pretty cut off from the rest of the world. I know there are media-smuggling operations trying to make it less so, so not everyone is in the dark, but the fact that smuggling of media is necessary tells you the information isn’t exactly free-flowing. They have their state news, and everything is super controled. So, would they know what fidget-spinning is, or Tinder, or heck, would they get any of the slang in there?

And as for my thought that it would actually piss them off more, here’s why I say that. From what I read in the book, which I admit is the view that people in North Korea want foreign tourists to have, everyone talked about Americans as “American impirialists” who destroyed their country and culture. So, I can’t imagine having an American Impirialist stand up there and basically say “You guys are totally insignificant to us” having a very good result. I’m picturing two kids wrestling and the big one says “Is that all you can do?” What does the little kid do?

I know, I know, it was supposed to be funny, and I’m not saying I actually think it is the only diplomacy avenue being used, and it’s not like it’s getting blasted into North Korea or anything. I just thought it was interesting to look at it from another angle, an angle I wouldn’t have even considered had I not read that book.

Hogewey: What A Neat Idea

While we’re on the subject of dementia, I heard about this whole Hogewey village idea, and thought it was kind of neat. Basically, it’s a little village set up for folks with dementia that doesn’t feel like a nursing home. It has actual stuff in it, like restaurants and a grocery store, and all the people who work there have training in dementia, so it’s pretty safe, and people aren’t locked down. Here’s a basic description.

Hogewey creates a familiar, “normal” environment that dementia patients understand, says van Amerongen.
The citizens of Hogewey share a house with about six others, and are classified according to one of seven lifestyles.
For example, former tradespeople often live together in homey accommodations and eat a lot of Dutch comfort food. Those used to an upper-class lifestyle may join the Gooi group, named after a posh Netherlands region, and are more likely to feast on French cuisine in a stylishly decorated abode.
Each household has at least one health-care worker present who helps with housework and other tasks.
Residents are free to stroll all through town.
“You will see [residents] sitting in a restaurant with a glass of wine or buying a box of chocolates from the supermarket,” says van Amerongen of those who still understand the concept of money. A worker and a resident from each house walk to the market daily to buy groceries.
Employees organize day trips to nearby shopping centres or towns. Special bikes allow two people to sit side by side so residents and health-care workers, volunteers or family members can cycle in pairs.
Nearby townspeople frequent Hogewey’s amenities, and often go to concerts or the annual Christmas fair. On Sint Maarten, a Dutch holiday similar to Halloween, children knock on residents’ doors to sing songs in exchange for candy.

I know some people think the whole Hogewey thing is evil and wrong, but I feel like it gives people a better quality of life, and a lot of the stuff in the village isn’t an act. They’re having real interactions with people, and people outside the community come in too. It’s a lot better than a fake bus stop outside a nursing home that is used to lure people back home who are trying to leave. Unless I’m missing something huge, I think it’s a great idea, and hopefully it becomes more accepted than rare.

I Like The Blue Umbrella Idea, But…

A little while ago, I saw a tweet about a new program to create dementia-friendly communities. I thought this was an interesting idea, so went to read about it. I guess it’s part of this blue umbrella program that seems to be an initiative of the Alzheimer Society. The society provides training to businesses about how to give better customer service to someone who might have dementia. They can also get included in a directory of businesses who are considered dementia-friendly. Finally, they can stick a blue umbrella decal on their window to indicate they are dementia-friendly. Another part of the program involves making these pins available to people with dementia to wear and self-identify as someone with dementia.

I am totally down with all the training and getting listed in a directory. The more aware and empathetic people can be about any group of people, the better they will be, and I suspect dealing with customer service when you have trouble remembering or communicating probably feels pretty daunting, so maybe having a directory of friendly ones might be kind of nice. Having decals in windows of businesses might get people talking, and although the current generation of folks with dementia might not remember that that blue umbrella is good, eventually we might come to recognize it as much as we recognize the accessibility symbol, so future generations might benefit. The hitch in the plan, for me, comes at the self-identification pins part.

I have seen a lot of good in humanity. People have gone out of their way to help me find something or someone, and they certainly didn’t have to. So, probably most people, once they learned what that pin meant, might be super helpful. If they see a person wandering seemingly aimlessly, and they have a blue umbrella pin on, they might put the pieces together and offer some help. But I worry about the unscrupulous part of the population, and fear that people with dementia wearing these identifier pins might become really easy targets.

Think of it this way. Maybe I’m over-generalizing, but my understanding is a lot of people who are in the early stages of dementia either don’t realize they have it or don’t want to admit it. If a person is at a stage where they feel they need to self-identify, it must be pretty serious. So, imagine if that person is walking down the street and someone spots their pin, sees an opportunity and starts talking to them. Before too long, they have walked into the bank and convinced them to take out a large amount of money. Does that sound like an unlikely scenario?

I can hear a warring voice saying “a blind person’s white cane identifies them as blind, and a person with low vision might carry an ID cane to show they have low vision, and they don’t actually use that cane for a purpose other than identifying themselves as having low vision. How is that different than wearing a pin?” I have two answers to that. A full white cane actually helps the person by making sure they don’t kiss a tree or fall down some stairs or trip over something. It will help blind folks appear less blind because they’re not crashing into everything and everyone. With regards to an ID cane, it is probably closer to an umbrella pin, but the key difference is the person holding it isn’t dealing with memory and communication issues, so has more coping strategies to be able to ward off con artists.

I know we need to do something, so I don’t want to spit in the face of this program. Dementia isn’t physically visible like an artificial leg or a wheelchair, so it’s harder to spot. I get that. But do we want to make it so easy to spot that we end up sticking a “mug me” sign on people? Maybe, if you’re going to give folks a thing to carry around that is identifiable, make it serve a greater purpose for the person. Maybe the pin has a button on it that calls a trusted caregiver or family member. Then if the person gets lost, they can call home. Or, if someone sees something fishy, they might be able to get the person some help by getting them to push that pin. Just give it some greater ability to assist than “Hey, I have dementia. Do with that info what you will.”

I Found A Good Yoga Class

So, I’ve mentioned a few times in passing that I’ve tried yoga and liked it. It’s been a long time since I’ve done it. I’ve wanted to, but I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about the initial introduction where the instructor potentially freaks out and says she can’t teach me and I’ll take so much help. I know that only happened once, and we ended up being pretty good together, but it’s the fear that it’s going to happen that discourages me. I don’t know what it is, but as I get older, I become less willing to put myself out there and fight for what I want. I hate that about me, but it is what it is. If I really need something, I will fight tooth and nail for it, but I don’t feel like fighting for something that’s supposed to be fun and stress-relieving.

Then, I saw a note on my awesome job’s announcements page saying that we were going to have yoga over lunch once a week in the office. I have seen it before, and thought about it, but I never wanted to give up a lunch hour. My secondary reason was I did not want to humiliate myself in front of coworkers…yeah, because that’s logical, sure.

This time, when I saw it, I gave it a little more consideration and read the description, and the description actually said they teach to all abilities, and even mentioned vision impairment. I was so moved I almost cried…and I took the plunge and signed up.

And I don’t regret it. The instructor is friggin great! She says she teaches so that people can actually follow along with their eyes closed, and it works. And if I get it wrong, she’ll just come over and sort of help me out a smidge. During the most recent session, she actually told me that I was doing super well…so you know that she’s explaining things really clearly, because if anyone is going to get confused, it’s me. Does anyone else find some yoga teachers explain poses in a really strange way? They talk about scooping and lifting your heart and opening your chest and all these really strange descriptions that don’t make sense if you’re not watching them…at least for me. This instructor is really straightforward and finds a couple of different ways to describe the same thing…until we get it.

I’m noticing a few things. I can definitely feel I’m getting older, because it’s harder to do the things that just felt good when I did it the last time. Or maybe I should say I can definitely notice I haven’t done yoga in 12 years. That’s probably more the thing. I also have to remind myself to get in the right breathing rhythm more than I did before. But it feels good to be doing it again. Maybe when this class is over, I’ll find an evening class to keep it going…or maybe check out those Yoga for the Blind mp3’s you can get. All I know is I don’t want to stop doing it just because I’m feeling kinda shy.

Shmans even seems to enjoy it…although she really hopes that my yoga mat is her bed. No. Good guess, but no. I’m happy to say that I’ve never found her compelled to get up and give me a great big smooch while I’m in a downward dog or something. I guess she was giving the instructor funny looks some of the time. I wonder what she’s thinking. Maybe it’s because, at the end of the session, the instructor goes around and puts a little dab of essential oil on the hands of people who want it. Maybe the Shmans thinks it’s some kind of treat. Weirdo! I do know that she’s extra wiggly after we’re done.

If anyone in the KW area is interested in yoga, they should really check out Active Souls. They’re pretty awesome.

Welcome To Our Place Of Worship, Distructicon 6152. May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You

So here’s a question with no good answer. When Superintelligent AI Arrives, Will Religions Try to Convert It?

My immediate, emotional reaction is oh god, please don’t. Considering how many of the world’s problems religion is at best indirectly responsible for, the last thing we need is a civilization possibly more advanced than our own warring with and discriminating against itself and us. Besides, if one of the goals of these superinteligences is to have them help us scientifically, do we need to fill them full of doctrine that can often tend to run counter to science and logic? What good would that do? It would only confuse things.

But on the other hand, humans crave information. We thrive on it (ok, most of us thrive on it). So it would only stand to reason that a being capable of processing more information than any of us could even begin to imagine should be fed as much of the stuff as possible and allowed to draw its own conclusions as it was designed to do. Maybe that would go fine. Maybe it could teach us mere humans some sort of great, universal truth we’ve all been missing for centuries. But what if it doesn’t? What if it becomes a living embodiment of those emails people used to forward about taking the bible literally? And remember, it’s smarter than we are. What do we do if that happens? Can we do anything?

People much more qualified than I to sort these things out have no real answers, so I’m not going to pretend I do. But this much I know. There’s a reason I’ve never been in a hurry for us to create a sentient being that will be able to out think us. If you give anyone power he’s eventually going to figure out that he can use it, and that never ends well. Yes these things are going to theoretically be smarter than us, but remember, we’re filling them with human knowledge and perspective. In some ways that hasn’t done us any good, so why should we think this would be any different?

It’s Not Fan Food, It’s I Feel Fat Food

We live dangerously close to a Dairy Queen, so sometimes we get blizzards. For a while, we used to get the blizzards of the month, but then they took those away and brought in these Royal blizzards. That was the closest I could get, they don’t have their own page, but they do have their own heading. I have decided, after trying all of them, that they are DQ’s version of the Tim Hortons Creamy Chocolate Chill.

Just look at the descriptions of these things.

Royal \Oreo
OREO® cookies blended with creamy vanilla soft serve then filled with a perfectly paired fudge center.

Royal New York Cheese Cake
Cheesecake pieces and graham blended with creamy vanilla soft serve then filled with a perfectly paired strawberry center.

Royal Reese’s® Brownie Blizzard® Treat
Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate brownies blended with creamy vanilla soft serve and filled with peanut butter topping.

Royal Ultimate Choco Brownie Blizzard®
Chocolate brownies, choco chunks, and fudge blended with creamy vanilla soft serve and filled with fudge topping.

There used to be a Rocky Road one too, that was full of caramel and some kind of marshmallow goop.

Those blizzards sound amazing…until you eat them. Steve described it as what happens if you let a six-year-old make his own sundae at a buffet with a sundae bar. They put everything in it, and think it’s going to be awesome. Then, after they eat it, it doesn’t seem so awesome anymore.

I feel like a bit of a fool for trying all the Royal Blizzards, but I think I’ve *finally* learned my lesson.

And…while we’re talking about Dairy Queen, what the hell is their slogan supposed to mean? “This is fan food, not fast food.” So…are they trying to say that their food cools you like a fan? Maybe…except for all the hot stuff they make. Do they mean that people who are big DQ fans come in and take a turn making the stuff? That might explain these Royal Blizzards. Maybe they were invented by a pack of six-year-old fans who wanted to eat all the things. Whatever it’s supposed to mean, it’s dumb. It’s about as dumb as “Campbell’s: We all soup.” Whaaa?

Christmas Musings

Here we are, December 23 and once again I’m wondering how the heck we got here. When I was little, I remember being told that as I get older, the years will go faster and faster. I thought that was a load of crap, after all, time is time, and how can it possibly go any faster? Well, now I understand what they were saying, and agree 100%.

I lucked out pretty well this Christmas, although some people will be getting their presents a little later. Part of that was me taking a little while to get something to work, I can’t say what it is because it hasn’t been delivered yet, but I had the thing crafted last Friday, but it has to be shipped to me first because it’s part of a present. It’s on its way to me now, but that means it won’t arrive in time.

I got the sweetest present from Tansy’s puppy raisers. They got me a gift certificate to a local spa. That’s just amazing, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’ve always wanted to try that place. I guess it’s time now.

Because I’m terribly bad at not saying things when they happen these days, I neglected to mention the birth of two new nephews. Steve’s sister had her baby back in April, and my sister had her baby in July. They’re both adorable in their own ways. When Steve’s sister’s baby starts seriously moving around, we’re all in trouble. But with all these itty bitty nephews around, it’s got me thinking about the silly things I thought about certain Christmas carols when I was wee. So here we go.

I already mentioned my thoughts on “Sleigh ride” in this very synthy post, but what I neglected to do was include the original.

When I listen to it now, I think what must have happened was the first time I heard it, I was half asleep. If you’re drifting in and out of sleep, the combination of the whip, those Disney characters yowling along, and the ending would have combined to make a perfect storm of eeeeeek!

Frosty the Snow man only perplexed me because of its eyes. Two eyes made out of coal? Either Frosty must have been a very naughty boy to have coal stuck in his head, or the kids were digging into their own supply of lumps of coal they had gotten in the past. I was a little grossed out that they had saved corn cobs from when they had fresh corn, and just had them lying around so they could make a pipe out of one. I eventually figured out that it was probably that dried decorative corn stuff, but for a bit there, I was wondering why they were saving gross old corn cobs.

I know “”Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is supposed to be a little scary as in, “Behave yourselves because Santa is watching,” but for some reason it freaked me out more than a little. Maybe it was because so many times I didn’t know who was around the next corner, and would often get myself in trouble by saying the wrong thing when the school principal, for example, was right there. So, I would always try to figure out where Santa could be watching from. Now we know how Santa’s magical spying ability works, since you can’t spell Santa without NSA.

Whenever I would listen to Snoopy and the Red Barron’s Christmas, I would get mad whenever it would get to the line about “bringing peace to all the world, and good will to man.” For reasons only I will understand, I thought it said good will to men, and would immediately think “Why do men get all the good will? What about us?” Yup, I’m weird.

Last but not least, I remember when I stumbled across Bob and Doug’s Twelve Days of Christmas, and how frustrated it made me. I couldn’t figure out why they would make a professional album if they were so bad. They couldn’t sing, they couldn’t keep rhythm, they would babble through it, and they jumped from day 8 to day 12. Um, goofy kid Carin, that was the point. Oops.

Those are the only songs I can think of at This exact moment. If I don’t get a chance to say it before Christmas, merry Christmas and everything else to everyone. Also, let’s just hope we can coast through the final days of 2016 without having any more death and destruction.

A Probably Unhelpful Post About Explaining Trump To Your Kids

Parents wrestle with how to explain Trump’s win in U.S. election to their kids

I don’t have kids of my own, but in the last 2 years I’ve been lucky enough to become an uncle three times over. Those kids are obviously too young to understand any of this, but as I watched the reactions to last night’s events pour in on TV this morning, I couldn’t help wondering to myself, what if they weren’t? What would I tell them if they started asking me questions? Their parents are out here working hard day after day to teach them to be honest, decent and respectful, and meanwhile this Trump character, who is acting so blatantly for all the world to see like none of those things, is rewarded with one of the most important jobs in the world. How would I make sense out of that in a way that a young mind is going to understand, especially when I’m not sure I quite get it myself? Saying that sometimes life isn’t fair feels like a cop-out, but also like the only good answer because yeah, sometimes life isn’t fair. Some days the bully is going to get away with your lunch money. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. Sometimes the guy who cheated off your paper is going to get a better mark than you do. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. Sometimes some loud-mouthed jerk is going to cause a bunch of trouble and you’re going to get the blame for it while he gets a gold star and an extra cookie. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. None of those things are right, but they happen and you can’t let them get you down too much, and you certainly can’t let them stop you from working hard and eating lunch. Sometimes the bad guys win a few fights, but that doesn’t mean you stop fighting and don’t win in the end. If something feels wrong it probably is, even if sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who thinks so. Right now, Trump is President even though he’s said and done a lot of scary, terrible things. It’s not right, but that’s how it is. But because that’s how it is now doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be. The bully who’s taking your money will get caught one day. They all do. The guy who copied off of you is going to look like a fool when he has to do something on his own. And the noisy jerk who wants everyone but him to take the blame for the problems he causes? The thing about guys like that is that they always end up pressing their luck a little too much and people wind up figuring out where all that noise is really coming from. And when they do, what goes around usually comes around. Trump is a little bit of all those people. He might be getting away with it now, but eventually he’s either going to have to shape up or face the music. As for you, you just do the best you can. You may not change the whole world all by yourself, but as long as you do your best to not be the things you don’t like, things are going to be ok.

Reading that back, I sound like somebody’s grandpa and I’m not even sure how much sense it all made because again, how do you make sense of this? But it’s something, I guess. If nothing else it made me feel a bit better. And if even part of it can make some kid somewhere feel the slightest bit encouraged and not lose his mind, awesome.

I feel for anyone having to have this conversation today. I’ll be honest, I’m glad I’m not you.

More Thoughts On Meditation

Back in July, I took a trip to LA to see Tansy’s puppy raisers. That needs a post of its very own. But one thing I did while I was there was go to a meditation class. I have learned that I have to reevaluate my previous assessment of meditation.

I think part of it was the guy teaching this class didn’t sound like a walking contradiction. I did find it hard to put my body in the positions he asked me to, but it wasn’t impossible. And maybe I’ve settled down some, because I didn’t find all the stuff he was saying to be so ridiculous. I was also finding it harder to breathe deeply like I used to. Should I be worried?

It must have worked better for me this time, because I had a really weird experience. One of the exercises was called Tonglen, or giving and receiving. It was all about empathizing with other people’s pain, and trying to give healing energy. First, he had us picture our mothers, then our immediate families, then friends, then broaden out to acquaintances. As I did this, I started picturing rooms with people in them. At first, it was my folks’ house, then my grandma’s basement, then a bigger room where you might have a wedding reception. There was music, clinking glasses, and people mingling, asking each other how they knew me. Some of them said they were doing well, others not so much.

Then it got weird. He asked us to extend our healing out to all of the neighbourhood, then South Bay, then up the coast and across the United States and around the world. Keep in mind this was early July, when there were a lot of police shootings and shootings of police and protests. Suddenly, it was all too much. I saw blood, death, screaming, grieving families, little kids asking where’s Daddy…bombings all over the world, anger and grief being expressed in all kinds of different languages and in different ways, and I started to cry. He must have seen this, because he said if it was too much, go back to picturing our mothers. But the freight train had been set in motion, and I couldn’t stop. Silently, the tears came down. Tansy’s poor puppy raiser must have wondered what was wrong with me, but she just silently handed me a Kleenex. Finally, and only when I was ready, I stopped crying.

So yeah. Maybe there’s something to this meditation thing. That was definitely a more powerful experience than what I had the first time I tried it.

The Tanser Bear Birthday Bash!

It’s almost Tansy’s birthday. The beast turns 5 on Tuesday. Can you believe it? I can’t, and I know it to be a fact. Since I have missed all the other anniversaries this year, it’s time to have a giant Shmans chatter fest. Goddamnit, her life needs to be documented too, even if it has to come in giant inundations.

Poor Shmans has been dealing with my go-rounds with the captain, and I think they have left their mark. For one thing, for a while, she was not a fan of scooching into bathroom stalls. It was almost like she was afraid of the door. I can only theorize that in my haste to get the hell in there, get her in there, lock the door and get to business, I must have unintentionally had a few close calls where I almost got her stuck in the door. She’s good stuff, and still goes in there, but I had to be a little more conscious of where all our limbs and parts are when closing the door. The funny part about this is she doesn’t make nearly as much of a fuss about getting into cars, and she has good reason to fight that one. Strange beasty.

We have two more songs to add to the Tans goes nuts soundtrack. When she retires, I may have to make a CD of her favourite songs. We might have enough by then. Now it’s S.O.B.

and Unchained Melody.

I’m less sure about Unchained Melody, but I know S.O.B. does it consistently. I can’t figure out what makes a song good to her. I heard this song,

which to me sounds similar to S.O.B., but Shmans couldn’t care less.

This year has been quite the year of odd veterinary issues for the bear. You’d never know it, but she’s been making us scratch our heads for quite some time. For example, suddenly, in the winter, she lost a patch of hair on one of her back paws. My coworkers blamed it on the boots I put on those feet, but I would think she would have lost it on both paws if that was the case. The vets didn’t think so, but as a precaution, I used only Pawz on her for the rest of the winter. We have no idea why it disappeared, but it appears to be back.

Then, one day, I noticed her cyst that felt hard suddenly felt soft and fleshy. It reminded me of a zit that was ready to pop. I guess I was right, because the next day, while I was at work, it burst, and random ooze was coming out of it. Um, sorry for the graphic description.

Without thinking, I called the vet and told them what was up. Of course, their first question was “what colour is it?” A fine, sensible question…that I couldn’t answer. The first words out of my mouth were “I don’t think it’s blood…I sniffed the ooze and it didn’t smell like blood.” Wow, disgusting much?

There’s nothing like walking into a casual meeting and selecting a colleague that might be ok with answering a question as nasty as “Excuse me, what colour is this ooze coming out of my dog?” But that’s exactly what I did. Thankfully the answer was a good one, “yellowish whitish.” Ah, pus! I had it checked out in a couple days, but all was good.

But the weirdest issue we had was one that appeared a smidge before her cyst burst. One day, without provocation, she took off across the office like an out of control freight train. Shocked, I got her leashed up and I sat down to work. Not 5 minutes later, “Yee yee yee!” Realizing she might have to go fertilize the snowy lawn, we made for the exit…and when I say we made for the exit, I mean I think we nearly mowed down 8 people to get there. Sorry, folks. When we got out there, good lord the…output was no good, and not easy to pick up.

This didn’t stop, so I took her to the vet. They first gave her some antibiotics and treated it as a one-off, but as soon as the antibiotics wore off, we were back to the nasty poops again. We eventually figured out, after trying all sorts of antibiotics and probiotics, and running a whole, heh heh, butt-load of tests, that she had become allergic to lamb. Now that she’s switched to salmon, after a little delay while everything wore off, things are back to normal. I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to a prescription food.

It is here that I’d like to call myself a dumbass. Remember when I mentioned those treats that didn’t agree with her? Remember when I said I would scan bags of treats before putting them in the pouch in case they didn’t agree? Well I didn’t follow my own advice, and guess what? Treats from the latest bag I gave her set off anger within her. But because I was stupid and didn’t scan them, I’ll never know what was in them so I can figure it out. But I gave her those treats at the worst time…2 weeks after the last antibiotics were given. So I thought we were headed for another round of detective work in doggie doodoo land. But thankfully, after not feeding her any treats, miraculously, everything went back to normal.

To her credit, she had not a single accident. That could not have been easy for her. Tans, you rock.

Another small oddity I noticed since about April is her face is itchier. Before April, if she has to wear her gentle leader, when I take it off, she rubs her face. Now, she doesn’t even have to wear it for her to start grinding her face on things.

I’m happy that through all of this, she still has no grey hair. Trix had some grey at 3 years old. I haven’t heard one comment about Tans having any grey. I hope that means that the beast will stay young-looking even when she’s old. I’ll never know if Trix’s early greys had to do with stress, but it makes me wonder sometimes.

She’s had enough changes to make some hair turn grey. Between the constantly-changing bus stops due to construction, needing to change entrances because of rennovations around the building, and my desk changing locations, her little brain keeps getting work. The desk location change made some of my hair turn grey, that’s for sure. But before I mastered it, she had it figured out. This became clear one night when I went to get her food. In my old spot, I didn’t have to go far to the water cooler to put water on her food and then come back, so I’d just leave her on her mat. But I couldn’t do that here. Well, once we got the food all ready, Tans took a shortcut I didn’t understand…and, hey! We were back at my desk! That’s when I knew that she had it figured out. From time to time, colleagues said she looked frustrated when I didn’t know where to go and she did. Somebody described the look on her face as, “What in god’s name does this woman want?”

Why does this always happen to me? When we lived in Guelph, they replaced our telephone shower head, you know, convenient for bathing dogs, with a straight shower head. That made me have to find a groomer. I was lucky enough to find a place where I could bathe her myself for a reduced rate. When we moved here, we noticed we had a telephone shower, yea! Then, when our tub broke and they replaced the shower head, what did they do? Stuck a standard shower head in. We’re going to have to see if we can change it back, but in the event that we can’t, I am looking for options.

I never want to have to leave her at the groomers for hours, for so, so many reasons. There’s the obvious, my schedule isn’t full of flexibility…and I don’t relish walking around with my cane for hours just so the groomer can go “la-dee-da, taking my time grooming your dog.” But there are other less obvious ones. I’m pretty protective of her, since she’s more than just a pet…so leaving her in some rando’s care doesn’t really thrill me.

Tans got to do something Trix never did. We went to a Blue Jays game. Here’s a tip: If you’re going to take your guide dog to a Blue Jays game, make sure you request an accessible seat. Things are much more roomy, the chairs are movable, and the food folks actually ask you what you want, so you have a shot of getting some food during the game. Tans seemed to be relaxed, although I noticed her head swivelling around a lot.

I feel bad. Ever since the captain, I’ve been less good about taking Tans to the park. I’m going to try to do better this year. She deserves all the sniffy time we can give her.

Here’s another small brag I feel like documenting. One day when I thought our one relieving spot had melted enough to use, I discovered too late that I was wrong. There I was, teetering on a steep slope of ice. If I fell, I would land in the parking lot, and it was dark and I might not be seen. Tans let me edge forward, and dig my heels into the slushier bits of ice to give myself a bit of security. Then, and only then, did she jump off the curb and bring me with her. How she knew to do that, I’ll never know, but man was I proud of her.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned Lucky by name, but he was one of the dogs in this building. He would always walk next to Tans, never bug her, but definitely express that he was a fan of hers. I learned that he was 17, and wondered how long he would have. Well, before he made it to 18, he passed away. I never thought I’d miss some random fellow dog in the building, but I was sad to hear that he was gone.

I do have to say that most of the dog-owners in this building keep good control of their dogs. Man, does that make life better for us. I’ve had a few dogs growl and snarl at us, but no incidents like those in the Mylo days.

Before I wrap up this monster of a post, I have to mention a couple of Tans’s quirks. I have no idea why, but the act of doing laundry seems to stress Tans out. As soon as the cart comes out and gets filled with clothes, she starts chasing us around, being super excitable, and occasionally, leaping on one of us. I wonder, does it resemble packing in her little canine brain? Is it just that I’m zipping around more than usual, so she feels like she has to be vigilant? Whatever it is, it’s definitely a thing.

While we’re talking about her jumpiness, in the sense of being super alert, I’ve noticed that since we have a few loud neighbours and neighbours that just come by and knock on our door randomly, if one of us is not home, she’s a lot more keyed into noises outside the apartment door, and will run to the door at the slightest noise. It’s kind of cute…I just hope she’s not stressing out.

That’s about it for *this* post. I really hope you’re not bored. That was quite the Shmans deluge.