complaints, dogs, social media

People love to dump on a good story.

Last night, as we were about to tuck into take out Thai food, Bill noticed he got a call from the vet. He also got an email. I was immediately thinking the worst, since I figured no news is good news when it comes to medical or veterinary stuff. But no… it turns out the vet who did Arran’s surgery on Monday was contacting us to let us know that the mast cell tumor she removed was low grade (a two, but a low two) and had excellent margins. She also wrote that she would call us today.

Naturally, we were glad to know this. I’m not surprised it was a low grade tumor. Arran had one in 2015 on his head that was graded 1.5, which meant it had very well differentiated cells. A 2 is not as good as a 1.5, but the grading system is kind of subjective anyway, since it involves individual pathologist’s opinions. Arran’s tumor was in the skin and we got him in to the vet the day after I discovered it. So I would have been surprised if it was deemed high grade.

Nevertheless, I was marveling that the vet called us on a Friday night AND sent an email. When we lived near Stuttgart, both of our dogs, Arran and the late Zane, had mast cell tumors. I remember getting the news for both of them at the next appointment. The one time that didn’t happen, Bill had to call for the results. I liked our vets down there, but they were a lot more conservative and not quite as high tech as the ones up here are.

So… feeling kind of happy about this news and wanting to share our good experience, I went off to the Pets of Wiesbaden group. I know a lot of people in there are looking for vets. Many of them are military folks who are finding out that the vet on post isn’t the best option for anything but the most basic of care. Really, it’s best to have a local vet, even though it may mean dealing with language issues.

I posted about Arran’s good news and that we’re happy with our vet, who happens to have a great reputation anyway. Then, along comes some lady who wants to write about how great Tierklinik Hofheim is. I inwardly groaned, because this happens all the time. Someone posts about something with a specific idea in mind. Someone else comes along and craps on it. I fought the urge to post a bitchy response. Instead, I wrote that I know Tierklinik Hofheim is excellent, but I wouldn’t want to trouble them for a mast cell tumor removal, which is a pretty run of the mill procedure.

Tierklinik Hofheim is a very highly regarded veterinary specialty clinic in Germany. In fact, when we lived near Stuttgart, our vet down there even recommended them over the more advanced facilities in Stuttgart. Tierklinik Hofheim is a good three hour drive from where we lived at the time, but if it came down to it and I needed state of the art experts, I would go there. In fact, now that we only live twenty minutes away from it, we have used Tierklinik Hofheim for emergencies. Arran hasn’t been there yet, but Zane went a few times before he died. They really are outstanding, but they had nothing to do with my original post. I wanted to post about my happiness with our vet. If someone asked for a specialty vet or an emergency vet, then yes, I would absolutely want to post about Tierklinik Hofheim.

This is a pretty common phenomenon, I guess. We all like to chime in on things, and sometimes in the course of doing that, we lead things astray. Sometimes, we take things in an unappreciated direction. I remember one time, a woman got upset with me for pointing out that men can be victims of domestic violence. She wanted to paint the narrative that domestic violence is strictly a women’s issue. While I don’t think I was wrong to point that out, she was upset that I was kind of changing the subject she had introduced. I remember she gave me a ration of shit over it. Now that I think about it, maybe she was right… although as someone whose husband was a victim of domestic violence, I kind of bristle when someone tries to paint women as the only victims.

The musician Janis Ian recently posted an article about “conversational narcissism“. I just recently started following her again after unfollowing her for awhile. She had written about the Holocaust and a bunch of people were engaging in “whataboutism”. Like, they brought up slavery in the United States, or other cases of genocide. Janis rightfully got annoyed about it and dished out some shame.

I have to admit, Janis has a point. People can become thoughtless and self-centered when it comes to social media. We’re probably all guilty of it sometimes.

I’ve found myself changing the way I post… most of the time, anyway. For one thing, I make a conscious effort to try not to post anything but positive stuff on other people’s pages. It’s just not worth it to me to post my real thoughts about some subjects and get into drama with people. Most people aren’t interested in having a real discussion. They just want to post their opinions and aren’t interested in being challenged or arguing about them. Since I have pretty strong opinions, I try to only share them on my space. That way, if people get upset, it’s their own fault. Most people who know me, know I don’t mince words very often. In fact, just the other day, I noticed in my memories that four former friends had posted…. they are former friends because they got offended and blocked me. Three were Trumpers who were upset because I compared him to Hitler, and one was a lesbian who was upset because I expressed appreciation for Mike Pence. At least three of them were on my page when they got offended. Go figure.

For another thing, I try to stop myself from going off topic when someone posts. Like, for instance, this morning I read a post from a woman who rescues dogs from countries like Romania, Cyprus, and the like. There are very serious stray dog problems down there, and the dogs don’t get the best care before they get rescued. Basically, the woman’s post was about how some dogs end up with fleas or parasites that don’t get properly treated before they come to Germany to their new homes.

I was about to post about how our new dog, Noyzi, came from Kosovo and is completely healthy. But I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t a relevant point. She was writing to those who adopt from her. Noyzi didn’t come from her rescue, so my comment that he was healthy when we got him is irrelevant. And, by the way, he’s damned lucky to be so healthy. Kosovo has the same kinds of issues Romania, Cyprus, and other stray heavy areas have. Even the lady who brought him to us advised us to have him tested for diseases like heartworm infestation, leishmaniasis, and hepatitis. Noyzi lived in a big pen with lots of other dogs. He got basic vet care, but the care down there doesn’t compare to what’s available up here.

After reading about the plight of rescue dogs in Romania, I moved on to the Washington Post, where I read what many considered to be a “cute” story about a woman whose obese cat was stolen, along with her rental car, and returned with the help of a self-proclaimed pet psychic. I was kind of amused by the story. Back in the early 00s, I used to watch Sonya Fitzpatrick’s show, The Pet Psychic, on Animal Planet. I even read her book. I don’t know how much I believe in pet psychics. I suppose it’s possible one can communicate with animals in such a way… but like a lot of people, I’m a little skeptical. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

Anyway, I could tell the story was meant to be “feel good”. Many people were reacting to it in such a way. I had a little trouble not shaking my head when I read that the woman’s car was stolen while the cat was in it because she’d left the motor running while she went to take a quick pee. She thought she’d locked the door, but hadn’t. So naturally, some shithead came along and stole the car, along with the cat and all of the woman’s belongings. But I didn’t leave a comment, because clearly other people did. No need to crap on the story myself.

Then I looked at the comments, and there were all sorts left that were not really the point of the story. Like, for instance, one person was upset about the cat’s weight… a hefty 19 pounds, because she eats fresh fish every day instead of dry food. Others wanted to add their two cents about traveling during a pandemic. Incidentally, I also noticed in the story, the reporter was so careful to mention the COVID-19 precautions that were taken for the trip. Why is this? Because you just KNOW that if she hadn’t mentioned face masks and COVID-19 tests, people would be bringing that shit up in the comment section. So few people can’t simply read something and not make it about virtue signaling, shaming, or showing everyone else how smart, considerate, or how “above you” they are.

I was kind of tickled to see that the pet psychic in this case, name of Nancy Mello, was actively commenting. She even left her contact information. I’ve got no quarrel with that. Maybe she really can speak “cat” fluently. And if she helped get the cat home, that’s all that really matters, anyway. I’m glad the story had a happy ending. Hopefully, the lady learned her lesson about leaving a car running, especially when your furry friend is in there. But I sure don’t need to say that, since so many other people are saying it. It was a fun read, anyway, and that’s what matters.

I guess my main point is, nine times out of ten, it’s best to start your own thread if you have something to say that isn’t on topic. Having said that, I admit it’s something I work on every day. Sometimes I fail. My other point is, it’s probably best to keep criticism and negativity off other people’s pages. I think of my Internet spaces as my homes. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and be rude. At least I wouldn’t do that intentionally… and at least I wouldn’t do that today, now that I’ve kind of left the id somewhat. I might have done it when I was younger… like, when I was 46.

Anyway… I’m glad Arran’s tumor wasn’t so bad. He still has a huge gash on his leg where the tumor was removed. The vet up here was a lot more aggressive than the one in Stuttgart was. That’s basically the way mast cell tumors are supposed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, if they don’t get removed completely, they can recur with a vengeance. Hopefully, he won’t have any more of them. And I’ll try not to be annoyed by those who want to pimp their vets on threads I start about pimping mine.

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mental health, music

In good voice today…

I don’t know why. Usually, in the morning, I have “morning voice”, and it takes awhile before it’s all clear and crisp. Today, I’m sounding unusually good.

Some guy on SingSnap, name of “SultanOfSwoon” (love that name), sang a duet with me. It was “Something Good”, from The Sound of Music. I liked his voice, so I went to see if he had any open duets I could join him on. Most of the stuff he had open weren’t really duet songs, but I did find a nice guitar version of “Never Fall in Love Again” that he did. So I joined him

And then I did a few other songs. I’m particularly happy with this version of “I’ll Build A Stairway to Paradise”, a song I only know because I own a tribute album to Larry Alder, the great harmonica player, that came out in 1994. Issy Van Randwyck, of Four Bitchin’ Babes, did a very pretty version of it. I always liked it, but could never find an instrumental of it that I could cover. Someone uploaded a karaoke version of Michael Feinstein’s rendition, so I altered the key and gave it a go. This was my second attempt. I could probably really do this justice if I practiced. I seem to have a knack for Gershwin.

This is a great album, if you can find it.

I love to do jazz songs, but jazz isn’t my favorite kind of music. It just seems to be a good genre for me. I also love to do bluegrass, and sometimes when I’m feeling particularly energetic, I like doing rock… but I’m getting too old for rock songs. 😉 I know a lot of people would, for whatever reason, rather read my rants than listen to my musical efforts. Personally, I think my music is more pleasant than my writing. At least it’s not as full of profanity, most of the time. But then, some people enjoy profanity. I do, as long as it’s done creatively. I don’t like reading things where every other word is “fuck” or “shit”, but if a person uses profanity intelligently and judiciously, I have no problem with occasional cursing.

Anyway… it’s Friday, and Bill is working from home again, although he did get a negative COVID-19 result. I shared the news with Facebook friends, and got well over 125 likes. That was probably the most popular post I’ve ever written. Unfortunately, even with a negative COVID-19 test today, that doesn’t mean he or I couldn’t get exposed tomorrow. It’s probably inevitable, despite all of the precautionary measures people are taking. Yesterday, I walked Arran and there was an elderly lady ahead of us, walking with poles. I could tell she was doing her best to “social distance”, so I gave her a wide berth. I heard her say “Danke.” as I passed. She may have a condition that puts her at a higher risk.

Bill says he’ll probably be working from home for at least 60 days. I don’t usually like to sing when he’s around, but he doesn’t mind… and singing helps stave off depression and anxiety. So I’ll sing, and hope things get better soon. It makes me sad to think about being confined like this as the weather gets better.

I don’t have much else to write about right now. I mean, I could write about a lot of things, but most of them would just make me feel shitty and depressed. So I think I’ll get back to making music– maybe do a couple more songs. And then I will go do some reading and maybe watch some more bad TV. It’s basically just my normal life in general, only Bill is here to witness it during the daytime.

Sorry for anyone coming here looking for deep commentary. I know I have a few people who read because they like my anti-Trump rants. I just don’t have it in me today. March has been a very strange month on many levels. On one level, it’s been great, because Bill finally reconnected with his daughter and was able to give her a long awaited (15 years!) hug. He got to meet his grandchildren and his son-in-law. That was amazing and wonderful. On another… well, if you’re a regular reader, you probably know. We’re luckier than a lot of people, though. I’m trying to look on the bright side as much as possible. Maybe this weekend, we’ll plant a garden.

I’ll probably be ready to bitch about Trump again by Monday.

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good news, nostalgia

Some good news…

My cousin writes that yesterday, my Uncle Brownlee got another try at the swallow test and did well enough that the staff brought him dinner. He was able to swallow some pureed food and drink tea from a straw.

Hopefully, he will be taken to his home tomorrow, which I know will make him feel a lot better. He’ll still be on hospice, but he no longer appears to be knocking at the pearly gates. Looks like he’s going to make it to his next birthday after all. He will be turning 78 next Friday, the day after I turn 47. Like me, Brownlee is a musical person. I have many memories of being accompanied by him playing his organ and listening to him play with his band, The Flames. He really is talented… plays entirely by ear. Passed on his musical genes to his son, Justin, who is a professional musician in Nashville.

I got bored yesterday at about 4:30pm, so I asked my friends to give me a song to sing. One person asked me to do “Walking on Sunshine” or “My Favorite Things”. To be honest, I never really liked the infectious pop ditty “Walking on Sunshine”. Even when it was a hit in the 1980s, it got on my nerves, probably because it was always on the radio. Then years later, it became a staple of commercials. I miss the days when jingle writers would come up with original song hooks rather than recycling pop songs like “Walking on Sunshine”. Much to my surprise, SingSnap only had one version of that song anyway, and it wasn’t a particularly good one.

I decided to try “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, instead. It turned out pretty decently, although I shared the first version. I probably could practice it and make it better, but time was getting short. I like to do my recording before Bill comes home. I was further inspired by Julie Andrews, so I gave a stab at the duet, “Something Good”, and even scored a couple of good male partners.

Speaking of jingles and pop ditties… yesterday, while I was watching old episodes of The Price is Right, I took notice of the jingles. There was one for Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (blecch) that had a very distinctive male voice. I was suddenly jolted back to the 80s for a moment as I remembered that voice was on so many commercials back in the day.

Jake Holmes… sang this and wrote the lyrics to this jingle, as well as so many others back in the 80s!

In the course of finding out who was singing the jingles, I learned that Jake Holmes is also the real composer of the song “Dazed and Confused”, made famous by Led Zeppelin. For many years, they never gave him any credit; Jimmy Page was listed as the composer. Holmes finally sued years later, and now gets a nominal credit… “inspired by Jake Holmes”. Shitty! I lost a little respect for Led Zeppelin after reading that, especially when Holmes contacted the band and they rebuffed him.

No… this was NOT written by Jimmy Page!
Looks like he made a nice living singing jingles, though…

He also did that infamous Army “Be all you can be” jingle I referenced the other day. His voice reminds me a little bit of the late Glenn Frey’s. Just a little bit, mind you.

A classic!

I could probably sit here all day and listen to Jake Holmes’ jingles from the 80s. It seems like they don’t make ’em like this anymore, although I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I was last subjected to American television. In a different world, maybe I would have followed a similar path, like the late Ukrainian American singer, Kasey Cisyk. She was famous for this jingle.

What a voice! Hard to believe she made her career in jingles! And she was also the original singer of “You Light Up My Life”, which was made famous by Debby Boone. Kasey’s version was in the movie by the same name.
Lovely… and Didi Conn did a great job lip syncing it to make it look like she was singing it.

Well… it’s Thursday, which means it’s time to vacuum. I hate vacuuming more than any of the other chores I do, but at least when it’s over, that means the weekend is coming. Hopefully, my uncle will continue to improve and we can have him around for a bit longer. He truly is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve been thinking about him all week. When he does depart this life, it’ll probably hit me a lot harder than when I lost my own father.

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