Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas wrapping... up.

Well, wrapping up Christmas - Still some hoiday season events pending, but the big ones will finish today - Gift day at my father's place. It's been lean, due to the economy, and due to the fact that Work Ate My Life (WAML). Not enuogh money, not enough time, to do everthing we might have otherwise have done. Still, people did have Christmas, if more frugally than extravagently. Suka, too, has had her Christmas, though she seems to not understand the significance. Imagine that! ;-)

The HBIC at The Farm sent a 'thank you' package with some home-baked dog treats, and I learned what she found to do with the raw food samples ( ) - bundle them up in small groups, and send them as gift training treats. Well, that makes sense - opening a double handful of packets is much easier, individually, than opening literally thousands. Much less scary! So, yeah, some of those found their way into Suka's Xmas package. In addition, she's been given pressed-rawhide (not solid!) chewies, and pink piggie toy, which she's decided is worth carrying about the house (the first toy in which she's shown any real interest).

Along with all the nifty treats, she's talking more, and showing a lot more affection to other members of the family. This is, I'm sure, in part due to others picking up the care slack when WAML, but it also seems to stem from the competition to be the one to giver her treats. Also, my daughter has taken to cheating... Well, not cheating, per se, but she's at that pubescent stage wherein other people are all idiots, and are to be tollerated on sufferance, at best (she ruins the effect by giving my random hugs and pesting me to watch Monty Python with her). As part of this "Oh, that Angst!" attitude, she's taken to going out to the old playset in the back yard to read her "Twilight" books. She takes Suka out with her, so Suka has identified my daughter as the "outside girl." Needless to say, my daughter's status has risen considerably! The younger child has been drafted to treat Suka while I'm trimming her nails, and with placing her food on the floor, so he's risen, too.

All told, not the most thrilling of Christmasses, but far from a disaster. Considering how easily the wheels might have come off, I'm counting this as my Christmas Miracle.

So to everyone (all three of you) who read this; Happy Holidays (what's left of them!) and a happy and productive new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crazy talk. Well, talking, anyway.

A little departure from my usual subject matters, by way of explanation:

I'm a Clinical Publisher for a very large Pharma - I assemble the scientific reports that the scientists and physicians at my company write, along with raw and processed data, publications by various researchers, and all the other related documentation on new and existing drugs from our product line, assemble them into a coherent package, and prepare them for submission to the FDA (Regulators), state regulatory agencies, and for posting to public informatin portals. It's demanding work, but I'm usualy up to the challenge - I've got some expereience, and I've got good mentors for when I have questins about process. But recently I tackled my very fist Supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for a major product - basically, asking for approval for a new use for an existing product. It's a BIG product - A major name that everyone would recognize instantly if I named it, and the indication we're requesting is an interesting, ground-breaking, and possibly a major thereputic advance, assuming we get approval. Needless to say, there's a lot to be done. In a very short time. Timelines were cut to the bone, and major contributions to the package were delivered late - VERY late. Hours extended... Additional Publishers were called in... Hours were extended again... Frankly put, Work Ate My Life.

Something had to give... Well, everything gave. Suka's only received the attention I have left. Frankly, she's gotten more than my son, over the last couple weeks, but he's got his sister and mother looking out for him. Even still, she's gotten rather short shrift lately. My daughter and wife love Suka, and care for her, but it's me she looks to most, and she's been missing the attention. Something has surfaced in her personality that wasn't present earlier: Talkativeness. Lots of it. When I stagger through the door, she's waiting, and she's talking - High pitched whining, low moaning, chattering, and 'wowing.' Suka's not normally very vocal - she doesn't bark hardly at all; maybe no more than once or twice a day. But since my stress, pressure, and work load have taken off, so has her vocabulary.

I wonder, now that the pressure is off... Will the talkativeness remain?

Monday, December 22, 2008


Bitter cold this AM - not the coldest we've ever seen 'round here, but cold enough. 15(f) this morning, topping to 27(f) and rapidly sliding back downhill. Add a couple degress of windchill, and it's cold enough to get even my attention, and I don't generally mind the cold. Oh, I subjectively know when it's cold, and when it's not, but you've really got to get into the low 20s, or add some serious wind chill, before I complain. But when my hair froze between the front door and the car this AM, all of maybe 75 feet, I noticed. I've got a curly mop, and it's a wonderful insulator, but it's a bugger to get dry. This morning, I'd wished I'd tried a bit harder - My hair was still frozen when I got to work.

Suka has even been reluctant to go out, and I *know* she's used to the cold. Maybe it was the freezing rain of a couple days ago, which coated all the blades of grass in their individual icy sheathes - that must've felt a bit weird on her feet. Pretty, but weird. Today, the grass is more-or-less dry, if something covered in hoarfrost can be considered to be technically dry. Maybe it's that the frosty grass looks, well, feathery. Maybe icy feathers feel weird on one's bare feet?

Well, it isn't going to last... no clouds today, no clouds tonight; dang cold overnight and tomorrow, then a maybe a twenty degree jump, and rain. No white Christmas this year - The liar's accademy (weather services) are reasonably certain that we're going to have wet Xmas this year, and that's the kind of prediction they're sadly good at. Well, we need the rain anyway... If any actually soaks into the newly-frozen ground. Cold wet rain? Ah... Suka's not going to be terribly fond of that, either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bad habits...

Suka is a poor little begger. Emphasis on "Poor." She can't beg to save her life. That doesn't stop her from trying, though. A 'good' beg involves a touch of subtlty, a bit of acting, and a complete lack of shame. The "Oh, poor me, I'm sooooo hungry, but I would NEVER dream of taking food from you while you're at the table" act, combined with the ever-so-brief but artfully longing glances at your plate, and maybe a heavy sigh or two... THAT is the stuff of a good beg.

Suka, on the other hand, spoils it. She can't get past the "Hey, you've got food! Gonna give me some, huh? Are ya? ARE YA..?! No..?! Rats. Huf. I guess I'll go hide in a corner where you can't see me." No follow through. No pathos. No subtlty. No art. However... She does have me, and my own stupidity, on her side. See, when I cook (and I cook a lot), I tend to camp right by the stove. And Suka will come in, look hopefully about for spills, and then set up camp nearby. Not begging, just hanging out - I don't have a plate yet, so am a poor target for a well-executed beg, much less her version of same. So there I am, killing time, with a dog nearby... Ah-ha! Training opportunity! I'm sure most of y'all know where this is going, already...

So, I'm there, the food is on the stove, and the reefer is right by my side... And that's where I keep the spare StinkyKibble(tm). So, thoughtlessly, I once snagged a bag of the odiferous treat, and proceed to work on Suka's sits, downs, stays, "gimme paws," and the like. Anyone care to guess what lesson the dog was really learning..? Yeah. So now, I've got a salivating dog at my side whenever I cook... And she's not even begging.


It's not all going her way, though! Tonight, I was nibbling whilst cooking - Much of the family is sick, and that means I'm catering to three different requests for comfort food. Well, they all have the same base, but it takes a while to cook, and then turn out the variations-on-a-theme my basket cases all desperately want. So I'm snacking a little, as I cook - A few home-made taquitos I whipped up on the side. Just exactly the kind of thing a dog-on-the-make might try to wheedle out of me - If she knew how to wheedle. But I've also got a little bowl of home-made hotsauce with me, into which I'm dipping the taquitos... It's nothing fancy, just an experiment in flavors (not quite right yet. Still missing some of the "low" notes...), but it's pretty sharp - It makes me break out in a nice sweat. I dip a taquito in the bowl, and look over at Suka, sooo blatantly begging. "Heh" thinks I, and I hold it down where she can get a good sniff... Now, Suka isn't a little puppy, and she's no oldster - She's right smack in the middle of 'prime time,' and she's fast! Out snake the jaws of doom, preparing to neatly sever half my rolled tortilla treat when suddenly she freezes. I can almost hear the screeching halt she's just slammed on her jaws, and the deeply wounded look on her face is priceless. "What the hell is THAT crap..?" I can almost hear her thinking.

Suka looks at me... Looks at the offending snack, and then back at me again. And she sits back down again. The fun just went out of drooling near the stove for tonight! I didn't compound my crime by offering her a non-spicy treat to sniff, next. Once was enough... I'm not going to mess with her head by mixing things up. Though she did come close enough to sniff the bowl I was holding, and give me an incredibly non-plussed look. "You EAT that stuff..?! Dude, that is wrong." Of course, considering that she likes StinkyKibble(tm), I can't say as I have much respect for her culinary palatte.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Decorative snow...

An intense but brief little snow storm visited us yesterday evening. Tiny, jewel-like flakes, sifting down like flour, blanketing everyting in a soft, shallow blanket of white. The ground was too warm for the roads and sidewalks to take any coating, but the grass, tress, and rooftops recieved their customary gilding - lovely, and yet at the same time, utterly harmless. Delaware Decorative Snow.

I look out the window this morning, and everything is accented in white - Not thick enough to conceal shapes, it never-the-less conceals what ought to be concealed - All the little details that might detract from the image before me are made innocent in their icy white lace clothing - There are no scars on the neighbors' lawns, no discouloration where the county came through and tore up yards to replace water mains. The raw stump of the massive maple that was cut down no longer looks like a broken tooth -It's now a snowy cairn marking the place where that looming giant once stood.

Into this innocent view, Suka trots; her normal fast, prancing gait reduced to three-quarters time, as she savors the sensation of snow on her feet. She dips her head and skims some snow into her mouth, like a gull drinking on the wing, and continues her detailed examination of the world, trotting daintilly along, checking each corner, and following scents that ought to have vanished under the snow. Her forelegs fold up under her, like collapsing landing gear; her hind legs never miss a beat, driving her chin and chest along in the snow. Over onto her side, she rolls her shoulders, head rolling even further. Still, her hind legs drive forward. Head rotating further still, finally her hips are torqued out of line, and she flops over onto her side, laying there, as if simply luxurating in the feel of snow against her fur. Then, with a snap, Suka whips over onto her back, and begins to wriggle, writhe, and luxuriate in a good old fashioned back-scratching, hind legs kicking alternately, spastically, in delight. I grin at her groans of pleasure; she looks so silly, and so obviously loves a good roll in the snow, I cannot resist.

With a sudden flurl, she springs back to her feet, and gives heself a vigorous shake... Time to move on, and find a new spot to flatten.

One of these days, I really must replace my camera.

As I was writing this, the snow returned. Suka's smooshed spots are rapidly vanishing. I guess I'll have to let her out to try again. Oh damn.