Saturday, September 25, 2004

Smack in the Face

Our 15 year old Siberian Husky, Nova, has been doing very well since his refusal to eat and discovery of liver failure. He has his more creaky days, but generally he's a cranky old dog going about his business as usual.

He seemed even more creakier the other day, plus we noticed that his butt was a bit irritated. Called and got him an appointment for his follow up bloodwork and to check out the butt problem. We were also going to see if he could take some new arthritis medicine to help his creaky bones.

Our usual vet saw him, we really like her because she's very diligent, attentive, and good. She gave him a thorough once over before the bloodwork, which included a prostate check, her reaction was immediate "CRAP!". He has a small fist-sized mass in his lower intestinal tract close to the anal glands. It wasn't there 4 months ago when she last checked, and we could tell she was very upset that she hadn't checked at each visit.

Turns out that even if it isn't cancer (we're waiting on the cytology to come back to see whether it is or isn't) the mass is in an inoperable spot. It will continue to grow until it blocks the rectum. Even if Nova were a young dog, it still would not be operable. If it is cancer, then chances are the cancer will spread to other organs, and the brain. His lymph nodes are very tender, so she suspects that has already happened, and it may be why he's been disoriented at times.

Best case scenario: it's not cancer, but eventually the mass will grow and block his rectum. Worst case scenario: it is cancer, it'll affect his entire body. Either scenario: we're talking months. Not "if", but "when".

We thought we were going to lose him a few months ago, but he recovered. We went into the vet thinking "we got this under control", only to find out that you really never "control" things.

Hubby is taking it very hard. I'm in "gotta be strong, think clearly" mode. I have to keep reminding the both of us that we can't dwell so hard on death that we miss what life we have with him. Our vet is crushed. She blames herself for the whole mess, but in fact, she's done a fantastic job, which is why we like her so much. She actually cares, and her patients' health affects her.

This really sucks, but it's a part of life... and death. Embrace life now.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Flung, Tossed, What's the Difference?

After having just read the Bernard Goldberg book "Bias", I'm a little hyper-sensitive about the news lately. What better example of "slant" can there be with the recent news story where a young man was fleeing police in a car with his girlfriend's baby inside.

I saw the video. Had I not, the stories written about what had happened would have made me angry and caused me to hate this man (who later died after ramming a police car).

Here are two examples of headlines:
"Baby Flung Out Of Car During High Speed Chase"
"Baby Tossed Out Of Car Window During High Speed Chase"

HOLY SHIT! Some guy FLUNG a baby out of a car during a high speed chase? "Flung" gives the reader the image that as this guy was whipping down the highway (at a high rate of speed) he FLUNG the baby (just the baby) out of the car. Subsequent descriptions written about what happen to the baby (in a car seat) after it was "flung" suggest that the car seat "tumbled" across the highway. Well, duh... if a baby in a car seat had been flung out of a speeding car, you would think it would skitter down the road. He must have done that to create a distraction for police so he could get away! He certainly deserved to die in the ensuing accident as he probably purposefully rammed the police car.

HOLY SHIT! Some guy tossed a baby out of a car window during a high speed chase? While this guy was whipping down the highway (at a high rate of speed) rolled down the window and flung the baby out the window. He must have done that to create a distraction for police so he could get away! He certainly deserved to die in the ensuing accident as he probably purposefully rammed the police car.

EXCEPT, I saw the video. Even before I read these stories, I happened to catch the video feed on CNN and from my perspective, I saw this:
Some guy was being chased by police. He slowed the car down to almost a complete stop. He opened his car door, and placed the baby seat on the road. The car was still moving slightly, so the babyseat bounced lightly a few times and tipped over, as the man pulled away. Police stopped and picked up the carseat and unharmed baby. Later the man died when he hit a police car (that part wasn't on the video, so who knows what really happened). When I saw the video, I thought "At least the guy had the common decency to get the child out of harms way". I felt his actions were that to save the child from harm, that his intention was not to harm the baby. The news people didn't say why he was being chased, but even if it were for murder, he had at least a SHRED of common decency in him.

So... upon seeing the video, not once did I think the baby was flung, and there's no mistaking that he opened up the car door, so how could it even be written as truth that he threw the baby out of car window... unless whoever wrote the story did absolutely NO ivestigating whatsoever, and didn't even watch the video, and perhaps wrote the story based on what someone told them. That's not reporting, that's pure fiction!

Regardless, doing a Google News search, the flung baby, and tossed out a window story were perpetuated by news service after news service throughout the United States (and probably other countries as well). People who were not able to watch the actual video were led to believe (mistakenly... maliciously?) that this guy flung a baby, or tossed it out a car window from a speeding car.

This is just one blatant example of how the news MEDIA manipulate their audiences. It gets them ratings. I can't count the times CNN alone played the video over and over, with their newscasters explaining to us what we were seeing... because we're too stupid to make our own decisions on what actually happened.

I've been very cynical of the "news" for a long time, but Mr. Goldberg has helped me understand more of the "spin", so I can be aware of other "untruths" that filter into reports to help me "make up my mind" on important issues.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Most people go places on vacation, but we haven't for the past 10 years. Depressing, yes, but then how many times have you greeted a returning from vacation co-worker with the fateful words "How was vacation", only to be captured and tortured by their tale of woe. "The plane was late, our luggage lost, the car broke down, there was no rental car, the hotel had fleas, my kid puked in the lobby..." on and on and on.

Vacations are stressful, if not downright unhealthy.
1.) Packing: what do you take? What's the weather going to be like? What will you be doing? Fancy dress clothes or casual clothes? No matter what you bring, it isn't enough, or not the right kind, and you always forget something important, like medicine that allows you to live.

2.) Getting there: plane, train, automobile. It all takes time and time away from "relaxing". Long lines at airport security, sitting on a train for days, or driving until your butt takes the form of the car seat.

3.) Strange beds, stranger things left in the bed. There was an article about the myriad of diseases, insects, vermin and other pleasantries left in hotel bedding. Some experts suggests packing your own bedding and pillows (another suitcase to haul around).

4.) Strange food: in foreign countries what you eat may eat you back later in the day. Plus you have to pay for it if you eat out, or you can save money and get a room with a kitchen, but why go on vacation at all if you spend half the day cooking?

5.) Coming back: plane, train, automobile (see #2).

By the time you get home, you have to unpack, wonder why you bought the hula girl souvenir, hear people complain that you didn't bring them something back (if you want something that bad, pay to go there), and get ready for work!

We take the non-vacation vacation approach. My brother-in-law flies in from the West Coast. We wake up every day around noonish and go out and get a latte and relax. We meander home, play with the dogs or nap (with the dogs, they're big nappers), then later go out to eat. Come home and play Unreal 2004 Tournament until the wee hours, then go to bed. Repeat for a week.

It's sorta like being on summer vacation as a kid, except you have a car, driver's license, and money.

So when people ask "what did you do on vacation", I simply say "nothing" and walk away to get the life blood sucked out of me by micro-managers. At least I'm well rested.