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Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Dog Pictures

Here is a slideshow of some more recent, and better, too, pictures of Jemma and Spencer (click on a photo to see it full size). We've had them six months now, and they're working out very nicely. Not to say they don't have problems, but we expected more than we've had. And they are really cute ...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's Object to Torture on "24"

HumanRightsFirst.org is collecting signatures on a petition to the producers of "24", the TV show that has shown 89 instances of torture committed by US government agents. The petition points out that torture is known to be an ineffective and often counter-productive way of collecting useful intelligence, and that showing its use by Americans has given Americans the idea that it is both useful and acceptable, and given many in other countries the idea the Americans are willing to commit acts explicitly against their own morality and laws. Please join me in signing this petition.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to Life in the New Year

OK, it has been awhile. The last few months have been full of twists and turns, and a lot of stuff to deal with, but we seem to be slowing down a little now, so I'm taking some time to bring this blog up to date. A quick list of some of the things we've been dealing with, and in the next (real soon now) post I'll put up some more pictures of the dogs.

  • On the dog front: Jemma had to have surgery for her ear infection; it was very successful, but in the process we discovered that she has (or at least temporarily had) some sort of auto-immune clotting problem; we've been treating that successfully, but part of the treatment is Prednisone, which makes her ravenous; we've had to be satisfied with holding her weight steady; getting her to lose some weight will have to wait.
  • I don't really need a new car now — oops, guess I do after all: I had been thinking about buying a new car; with the economy the way it is, I decided to put it off for at least 6 months. Then someone ran into the back of my car and totalled it. So now I have a "new" 2004 Volvo wagon, the first car I've bought in 12 years, and the first I've owned with all wheel drive. I got it just in time for the really nasty string of storms we have from just before Christmas to just after New Year's Day. Which would have been really terrific, I could have cruised the icy streets in safety (that car handles really well on ice and snow; I'm impressed) except ...
  • Cue the storm: the first Sunday morning of the storm, about 8, we were awakened by a loud noise from the other side of the house. A large tree in our side yard had come down and was resting on the driveway and the deck, and had just missed the back of the car. It turned out there was no damage to the house, but it took us 4 days and a lot of money to get the tree cut up and hauled off without it taking out the deck. The tree blocked the driveway for that time, so I couldn't get the car out.
  • Smooth operations: A couple of months ago I started planning to have surgery at the end of December; it was a relatively new operation that relieves chronic back pain resulting from compressed nerve roots, which I've had for the last 8 years or so. All was going well until my medical insurance refused to cover the operation. A lawyer and two appeals later, they're still not going to cover it. One possibility is for me to pay for it myself, since I can probably get it done for about one third of what the hospital will charge, but ...
  • I'm a statistic: in the beginning of November I was informed that my job was going to be eliminated as of the end of the year. The job market being what it is, I haven't found another job yet. The good news is that I have medical insurance through COBRA (paperwork still going through), the bad news is costs (almost literally) an arm and a leg.
So what does this all mean? I've decided to treat being laid off the way Travis McGee treated the time between cases: I'm taking my retirement in pieces. So we'll use unemployment to pay for medical insurance, and pay living expenses out of retirement savings (which weren't as badly hit by the stock market tanking as a lot of people; I was getting ready to retire soon anyway, and was in the process of moving out of the stock market and into bonds and other income assets). When I find a job, I'll unretire for awhile, until the economy improves enough to make retirement practical. In the meantime I have a lot of books I've been planning to read, a novel I've decided to write, and if I get bored I can always download courses from MIT and learn economics or astrophysics. So I'll have fun.