Friday, February 27, 2009

Snopes and the Email dilemma

Ok, here's my question: If someone forwards you an email, and the information in it is blatantly false, do you tell them, or just let it go?

I have several people who have me on their forwarding list. We laugh about it because I do computer consulting and have warned people about opening forwarded emails - it's a great way to get a virus or worm, especially since there could be damaging code hidden in JPG files or movies. I'm pretty paranoid about those things, and because of that I've only had one virus slip by me in many years. Most forwarded emails go right in the virtual round file.

I'll read them if they are just text. My point is that sometimes there's something wrong in there, I always want to tell them about it. It's easy enough to look these things up on Snopes and confirm or bust most of them. Sometimes I see where another recipient busts it and does a reply-to-all. I have to say that's a great way to at least stop people from forwarding it further, but it must be a little humiliating for the person who started it.

I'm a sceptic, I take everything with a grain of salt. It's kind of sad really. Dave says I'd be no fun at a party, because someone tells a story and I'd be fact-checking it! A few years ago there was an email about Mel Gibson being passed around, and the story it told was just too incredible to be true. Click here to see the Snopes entry. I told the coworker who had passed it around at work that it wasn't true, and she got indignant. I had spoiled her fun. But it's not true, I protested. Yeah, she said, but it was a good story!

Stuff like that explains why I was cruising down the highway and heard the DJ on a radio station in Colorado Springs talking about the kidney thief story as if it were a fact - I just about drove off the road when I heard that!

So what do you do when you get an email that you know is false? Do you correct the sender? Do you do a 'reply to all' and let everyone know? Or do you round file it and go on with your day?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eskimos are not always easy

Alki and Barclay

I was drawn to Eskimos because they are smart and beautiful, and very loving, but they are not 'people pleasers'. They kind of do their own thing. Very independent. I have been working and working with Barclay's training. I know it would go faster if he was a 'pleaser' but that's just not how they are.

When I was a kid we had some great dogs that I loved dearly, and we never trained any of them. How did they turn out to be such great dogs? I have higher expectations for my dogs now. When I was a kid we never took dogs for walks, they never left the big backyard except to go to the vet or maybe on a family trip to the beach. You didn't worry about socializing them with other dogs, or training them to walk nice on a leash, or crate training, or to come back when called. So dogs today get a richer, more stimulating lifestyle, but to do that they need to learn more skills than ever before.

Barclay disappointed me the other night when he refused to come off the couch in the living room and come to bed with the rest of the family, and when Dave went to get him Barclay started to bite down, a warning to leave him alone. His temperment is overall pretty docile and submissive. I think we just caught him at a time when he was sleepy and thought he'd see what he could get away with. Of course that's completely unacceptable. We've been working on bite inhibition since he came home at 8 weeks, and he's been very good and not shown any aggression since he outgrew the tantrum phase when he was tiny. We made him get up and come to bed anyway.

The next morning we began instituting the Nothing In Life Is Free program. I was hoping he could do without it, it's a bit more of a hassle for us. Instead of walking by and seeing your dog laying there and giving them a pet, you're supposed to call them to you and give them pets. Everything is on your terms, and the dog has to perform to get what he wants. Two days later and I'm already seeing progress. He's more attentive and is doing better at coming when I call, and generally doing what is asked. Hopefully we can relax this as he improves.

Last night we were working through a new exercise in the Control Unleashed book - Go To Place. In this case it's a bathmat, and I just let him figure out what I wanted, clicking when he got close. It was very cute to watch him figure out that he was getting clicked for stepping on the mat, then for laying on it. He was doing good at half laying on it, and I waited to click hoping if I held out he would shuffle and get the rest of his butt on it, and instead he rolled over on it! Just trying new things to see what works :) Finally he did get completely on it, and got lots of rewards. Soon he didn't want to get off the mat! It was a good exercise for him, and fun for both of us.

This morning...

This morning we woke up to a beautiful, sunny, blue-sky day...

And snow on the ground! Again? Really? I've never seen so much of the white stuff in a single winter!

Barclay thinks it's great! We run around, finding the white lumps in the yard that cover his toys. He ran to the far end of the pasture and back to watch someone walking down the street (we don't get a lot of pedestrians).

One of his very favorite toys is a soccer ball with straps around it so he can pick it up. I kick it for him and while he's fetching it I get one of the other balls and kick that around, so he brings back the first ball and waits for me to kick the second one. This is a great way to wear him out! Plus he loves to grab the ball by the straps and swing that baby around!

If I do my job right, after our morning playtime we get to enjoy this for the next hour or so!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Barclay at the dog park!

Saturday is dog park day! Because our local public dog park is usually full of HUGE dogs, and Barclay is medium sized at best, on Saturdays I like to take him to a private dog park at Woof World in Vancouver. This is a doggie daycare, and on Saturdays they open the facility as a dog park for $3 an hour. The owners are there watching what goes on so they can help spot any problems before they occur, and send anyone packing if they cause trouble. Barclay has the BEST time there, he loves playing with other dogs. It's the happiest I've ever seen him. I love watching him communicate with other dogs, because they all speak the same dog language, and it's just great to see him be himself and let it all hang out.

Lots of rolling around on the floor!

Lots of humping - both ends!

Lots of playing 'chase me' !

It's clean and warm and safe, and we've had nothing but good experiences there! At the public dog park, we've either had no small dogs to play with, or the dogs on the big dog side are a bit too much for him. But he loves playing with smaller dogs, and is gentle even with tiny dogs, so the indoor park has been great for him! Not that they are all small dogs, there have been some big dogs there too, anything friendly is welcome. There is a boxer who he has played with the last couple times and they get on great!

Thanks to Kim at Woof World for the great pics!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our house is a very very very fine house...

I was digging around on the laptop, cleaning up, when I found this picture of our house under construction, which I found on the county permits website. This was 1994, 5 years before we came along.

So here we are at our new (to us) house, complete with my Mustangs in the driveway. I really miss that white one, that was a nice car - black leather, big stereo, comfy. Terrible handling though. Maybe I don't miss it that much. Notice the color of the house. Dave said it was taupe. I don't think that's a real color. When people asked me what color my house was I'd say yellow, and Dave would say 'no it's not', so we'd go outside and look and sure enough, it wasn't yellow, but it wasn't really any color! Note that it looks the same color as it does in the picture above, and that picture is black and white! Well, we soon solved the color problem.

We have LP siding on our house, and you may remember the LP siding class action lawsuit because their siding wasn't properly sealed so it would soak up water and rot. Our choices were to replace it, or deal with it. The LP settlement was ridiculously cheap, it wouldn't pay to actually replace it, so we decided to deal with it. One hot summer we went around the whole house, cleaning up the edges of the siding and treating them with a rubberized polymer to seal them. Every single exposed edge of siding was treated with this white rubbery stuff. And when we were done we had to paint the whole house.

No, it's not pink, it's 'morning rose'. We have no CC&Rs so we can do whatever we want :) No matter what the neighbors think. I liked it, it was bright and cheery. Oh look, another mustang!

But a couple years later we added the big shop, to contain our business. With the prospect of a two story pink shop towering over the neighborhood, we knew we needed a less obnoxious color. We picked a dark forest green. Some people said that would be too bold, we should paint it taupe! But with the stand of trees behind the house, I think it blends right in and looks very sharp, especially with the white trim. Our painter suggested going with a lighter color on the sun porch to brighten it up. I really like it.

We've been here ten years, almost exactly - I think we moved in on valentines day and celebrated by sitting on the floor and eating pizza. This is the longest I've ever stayed in one place, and I have to say I feel like we've really made it our own.

Oh, and you can't see it because it's covered, but there's still a mustang in the driveway :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The new, expanded chicken coop

When I built my chicken coop I expected to have maybe five chickens. I didn't know chickens were like potato chips, you can't have just one - or three, or five, or..well, you get the picture. So they were a bit crowded in there, and I ended up having to leave the top open so there was room for everyone to roost. Plus, when the snows came I had to open the coop to the rest of the shed to give them a little room to move around until the ice storm passed. So I knew I needed to expand to keep my 8 girls and one roo happy.

I spent quite a bit of time saving up bits and pieces, and planning it out. Finally I dug in today, planning to finish it in a day, because the chickens needed a place to sleep by evening.

I started out by pulling the old coop apart, carefully unscrewing everything to save the pieces, and shovelling out all the old cedar chips and poo.

I cleared out the shed on that end and laid down a 9 x 6 roll of floor vinyl, then screwed it to the floor with wood strips on each end.

The flock had to check out all the old pieces of their home which were now on the lawn!

I started rebuilding the nest boxes, expanding to four instead of just two - not that two hadn't been enough, just that now there was room for four. I kept a piece of the ladder for the hens to use to climb up there.

I added another roost on the wall across from the nest boxes, but I'm not happy with it, I think I'll build another one tomorrow to replace it. I also hung the feeder, which will keep them from pooping on top of it. Then built the wall between the shed and the coop and finished it with chicken wire. There's a door on the end of the wall by the nest boxes to clip in and collect eggs. I was particularly proud because I reused almost every board out of the old coop, plus a few more scraps I had around. The only thing I had to go buy was the vinyl for the floor.

The chickens moved right in to check it out, and by evening they all seemed to be finding their new spots. Except the 'wild' chickens, they were so put out that last I saw they were sleeping in the tree!

So it was a busy day, and by the end I was tired and sore, but satisfied by a job well done. Then a friend sent her son over to take away our remaining hay (I traded it for petsitting later in the year, and she needed it to feed her horses), and our herding teacher came over and took Houdini to his new home guarding her sheep. As I sat on a feed bin in the shed watching the chickens exploring their new coop, warbling and clucking as they checked out the new nest boxes, while the sky outside grew dark, I couldn't help but feel a tingling sense of peace. I miss the livestock but right now I think two dogs, two cats, and nine chickens is just the right amount of responsibility.

6 and 6

Annaliese tagged me to do the 6 & 6 thing, I think I'm the last person in the blogsphere to get hit with this. Sixth folder, sixth picture is:

Aw, it's a Barclay baby picture, snuggled up sleeping with Chester. RIP Chester, old buddy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Henny Penny the Cochin

If I'm ever having a bad day and need a laugh I think I'll pull this clip up. Penny makes me laugh whenever I look at her! First off, she's got hardly any tail or neck, so she's shaped like a bowling ball with a head, second, she stands upright and looks like she's wearing pantaloons right down to her ridiculous feathered feet, and third - well, you really have to see her come running when I show up with treats!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Safe and sound

I got news from the goat rescue this morning that everyone made the 2 1/2 hour journey without incident. She let them out into the pasture and they stayed in a flock away from the existing residents, but she's sure they'll settle in and they'll all be hanging out together soon. She said they look beautiful grazing peacefully in her pasture, and she promised to give them a safe home until she can find the perfect permanent home for them, which is all I want for them! So that's good news. I'll admit after the crazy time we had herding them up and putting them in the truck, I was feeling uneasy about the whole thing yesterday evening (and I'm still sore from all the sheep wrestling), but I feel much better now knowing they are safe and sound in their new home.

Also, I've found a new home for Houdini. Our herding instructor has a large sheep herd, and she breaks them up onto different pastures during the year, and needs an extra llama so each group can have their own guard llama. So hopefully this week we'll get him moved over there.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sheep and goats move out

I have no pictures because my hands were full helping out. The rescue showed up this afternoon with a pickup with a stock bed,and although she was certain it was safe for the sheep and goats, I was not comfortable letting Houdini ride in it. So the sheep and goats were rounded up and put in the pickup (not easily, I might add), and Houdini is still with us out in the paddock. I hope in the next few days to find a good home for him as well.


I went out this morning and after doing the morning chores I took nice headshots of all the animals so I could print them out along with their information to give to the rescue lady. Today is moving day for them. More on that later though.

Mouse was helping, and I snapped this nice picture of her in the morning light. She just about glows!

Mouse is having her 15 minutes of fame on where she is the worlds cutest pet for January 2009 thanks to a picture a friend submitted. Click through to see her in all her laid-back glory :)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tough decisions

Things just keep getting harder it seems. Business started to pick up and we thought we would work our way through this mess and then we get a notice from our health insurance that it was jumping up our bill to over $500 a month! And we never use it, we're healthy, we just have it in case something catastrophic happens. Like last year I think they paid out when I crushed my finger while putting up a T-post and had to go to the emergency clinic. But $500 a month? Really? What do they charge people who aren't young and healthy? And they're a private company so it's within their rights to do so. Those guys in DC better get their act together and come up with some kind of a national medical plan regular people can actually afford.

In other news, on Sunday the livestock will be going to a goat rescue up in Kent, WA. I contacted her for advice about placing the goats, and she said she had room for the whole flock. She will find them good pet homes. I am very relieved someone will be able to find them homes where they won't get eaten, and that I won't have to spend any more money on feeding them or worrying about their health care. I really just don't have a dollar to spare right now. It's just a blessing that there are people who are looking out for the animals, even the farm animals, who can step in to help.

Here is her website, so you can see what a fantastic job she does rescuing goats.

Naughty Goat Animal Rescue

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My view has expanded

Our 'territorial view' was always a nice peek at the hills, and just the corner of the cattle barn up the road. Last summer:

Then a few weeks ago DH said 'could we always see the road going up the hill?' and I said yes, because we could just see a bit of it. Then one day he said 'could we always see that house up the road?' and I said I didn't think so. And then a couple days ago I realized I could see a barn I'd never seen before. Seems the neighbors are cutting down the trees on the other side of their rusty barn. Well, it's nice having a bit more view, just don't tell the tax man!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Leftovers Frittata

What do you do when you have nearly two dozen eggs in the fridge and no one to give them to? How about make a frittata? This was actually inspired by having nothing on hand for breakfast except eggs. Eggs are the one thing we have too many of!

I sauteed half an onion, then added some cut up chicken left over from one of those roasted chickens from the store (which gave us enough chicken for three meals, I might add), then I shredded up two leftover small hunks of cheese - one pepper jack, one gruyere. Leave the cheese too close to the edge of the counter so Barclay can steal about a third of it. Crack open a dozen eggs and whisk them with a little dash of milk. Put half the remaining cheese in the eggs, dump them into the skillet with the onions and chicken, and stir. When it's starting to set up put the rest of the cheese on top, pop it under the broiler a few minutes until browned and puffy - I was really surprised it got puffy like that - and it's done! I put a dab of sour cream on it, but it was just as good without. Easy and delicious, and used up a bunch of leftover tidbits, so I always like that.

Sweet Alki

Alki is still doing well, approaching two years since her cancer diagnosis, the beginning of that long adventure. She still takes medicines twice a day, and we check in with her oncologist monthly. She's had some age related problems creeping up on her - dimming eyesight and not hearing well. Sometimes those are a blessing, because she doesn't set off barking every time she hears the neighbor slam their car door - in fact she sleeps through most deliverymen now. I can clickertrain Barclay in the other room and she doesn't hear it (which is good because otherwise she comes and demands treats). But we do have to be careful not to startle her when she's sleeping. Usually a gentle touch wakes her up enough and she'll roll over for a tummy rub. Dogs know the best things in life are free!