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Hillbilly Headlines - Feb. 20

I’m going to try to start posting these again.

From Marty & McGee:

Dr. Raul Pino, the director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, told reporters that the women were caught dressing up as “grannies” — “the bonnets, the gloves, the glasses, the whole thing” — at the vaccination site on Wednesday.

“I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me,”

Studio Neat Material Dock

A few weeks ago I received my Material Dock from Studio Neat. This takes the MagSafe charger for iPhone 12 and the charger for the Apple Watch and gives them a stationary home on your desk, side table, or anywhere else you want a reliable place to charge your devices. They stay put via a couple micro suction pads on the bottom with no adhesives necessary. Bottom line is they do what they say they’ll do wonderfully.

Sometimes, it's the little things

Just in the last two incremental iOS/iPadOS updates, Apple has fixed a couple of small things that mean a lot:

  • Bluetooth device categorization (14.4) - This was an annoying one for me. I have a Bluetooth dongle in my car which I use to transmit music from my iPhone to my car stereo. Before this update, the iPhone assumed this device was a pair of headphones. Because of this, the iPhone would assume I was listening to headphones at full volume and would automatically turn the volume down to a safe level. This is really annoying when you’re driving and not listening to music on headphones. Now, if you go into Settings > Bluetooth, then click on the device you want to edit, you’ll see you can now change the type of device you’re listening on, which also allows for Apple to get a better reading at your listening volumes for hearing health.
  • Unlocking iPhone with FaceID while wearing a mask (14.5) - This is still very much in beta, but it is working. If you own an Apple Watch, it’ll allow your iPhone to unlock when FaceID fails if you’re wearing a mask. This is huge for all of us living with COVID. I recently switched to a much shorter numeric passcode on my phone because of this issue. Now, I should be able to switch back to my much longer alpha-numeric passcode, which is just better for security in general. This seems to only work when your Apple Watch is in it’s active state, so you may have to always raise your wrist to activate the unlock, but it does work much like how you can unlock a Mac with your Watch.
  • Emoji Search on iPad (14.5) - You could do this since the release of iOS 14 on iPhone. Finally, you can do the same on iPad. Sometimes predictive text doesn’t always offer you the emoji you want to use. This solves that issue with a separate search option in the emoji keyboard.
  • Landscape loading screen on iPad (14.5) - Before now, the loading screen has always been in portrait mode, which looks dumb when you have your iPad attached to a keyboard in laptop mode. No more.

What all of this tells me is Apple is no longer waiting until the major version updates to deploy new features. This goes back to 2020 when they deployed full trackpad support on the iPad, coinciding with the release of the Magic Keyboard. That said, there’s still a couple small iPad related things I hope they address sooner than later:

  • App Library - It’s on the iPhone. It should be on the iPad as well.
  • Hiding Homescreens - Again, it’s on the iPhone, but not the iPad. I would love to have this option.

Other than that, Apple has been making a lot of satisfying updates recently.

Griffey Checkup 2

I took Griffey in for another blood test this morning and his red cell percentage has basically leveled off. It’s not necessarily a bad thing at the moment, but the veterinarian wants him around 30%, where right now he’s at 23%. In the reading I’ve done, normal is somewhere around 25-45%.

Overall, Griffey seems more like his normal self. He’s asking to play again, getting up in his cat tree, and bouncing around like you’d expect a 12 month old to do. I don’t have much worry for him at the moment, as long as he continues being this way.

I have to take him in again Monday morning, so hopefully his red cell percentage has risen. I think both of us are getting tired of these frequent vet trips.

Bad News for Griffey

I didn’t expect to have to write anything like this already.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve noticed Griffey being lethargic and that he basically stopped eating. When I’d try to play with him, he would seem a little interested, but not give much effort. Very unusual for a cat at only a year old. Overall he didn’t seem like himself.

So, I took him into the vet today to get him checked out. Initial scans didn’t show anything and x-rays didn’t show anything particularly alarming. However, when drawing blood samples, they noticed his blood was very thin.

Upon testing, they’ve determined he was severely anemic. We’ve yet to pinpoint a cause at this time, but I’m having a blood transfusion done on him as I write this and he’ll be hospitalized overnight. The best case scenario is he’s sent home with some steroids and antibiotics and he rebounds well. I’m not wanting to think about the bad scenarios yet.

I want the best for this little guy. He’s such a sweet little cat and has been a bright spot for me since I let go of Remy over the summer. Up until this week, he seemed like his usual happy self. I had no clue something could be wrong. My hope is that I caught this early and we can move forward with a happy healthy life.

I’m thankful for the support system I have around me in times like this. I don’t know what I would do without my brother with his emotional and financial support. I hate asking for it, but I’m thankful he’s so willing to help. I have good family support and friends who I know will be there for me. I’m so happy I don’t have to do this alone.

With that, I hope for the best for Griffey.

The Paperlike Screen Protector

I just received and installed the Paperlike screen protector, which aims to give the screen a more paper-esque texture to make writing with the Apple Pencil on the screen a better experience. In my first impression, it does seem to do just that. There seems to be just a little bit more friction on the screen than the bare glass provides, so writing is much more stable on my iPad Pro now.

The other thing I was curious about was reading on my iPad with the Paperlike. So, I opened one of the books I’ve been packing at and read a couple of pages. One of the first things I noticed was that it seems to soften the text a bit, in some ways similar to ink printed on paper. I found that to be just a little bit easier on the eyes. I could find myself using my iPad Pro as my primary reading device now.

Fingerprints are also basically nonexistent. As I look at it now, I can see a couple smudges from finger oils, but nothing overly abrasive and bothersome like I had before. I always look to clean fingerprints off my screen and I’m not having that knee jerk reaction at the moment.

This all leaves me with some solid first impressions of the Paperlike. I have a feeling I’ll end up leaving this thing on, and this comes from someone who usually doesn’t like screen protectors.

Still Thinking About an E-Reader

A few weeks ago, I took my old iPad Air, which is still running iPad OS 12, and kicked off as many stock apps as I could and turned off notifications for everything. The goal was to make it as distraction free as possible, so I could use it as an e-reader. To this point, I’ve used it once. My biggest issue is the size of a normal everyday iPad. What I really want is something more book-sized.

This leaves me thinking about one of two options for me: iPad Mini or Amazon Kindle.

Let’s look at some factors.

iPad Mini

  • Size - The iPad Mini would be about the right size I’m looking for. It’s very light and not too big to hold in the hand. I would format it to be strictly for reading, so no notifications, instant messaging, or anything else would be happing here.
  • Library - I’ve already bought a few ebooks from the Apple Books Store. I also have an RSS reader I love and also subscribe to Apple News as part of the Apple One bundle. I could also annotate quotes easier from this device, since my blogging system is very iOS friendly.
  • Ecosystem - I’m fully wrapped up in the Apple ecosystem.This means devices and services within the ecosystem work well together. If I buy or read a book on my phone, the bookmark would be in the same place on the Mini when I pick that up. Same goes for the rest of the services I use on a daily basis.
  • Temptation - One thing I cannot delete off an iPad Mini is the Safari, the default web browser. That leaves just a little bit of temptation to go down various ratholes and forget my initial intent of using the Mini in the first place.

Amazon Kindle

  • Size - Again, we’re talking a book-sized device. It’s light and easy to hold in the hand.
  • Battery - Since the Kindle is an e-ink display, which gives it far more battery life than a tablet would give, weeks even. That would allow me to just leave it on a side table or bedside and not think about charging it for a while. I could also think about leaving chargers at home when I go on vacation.
  • Amazon - I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. They have some disgusting practices with work environments and have wrecked the financial stability of people who live in the cities they have offices. They’re also everywhere and have everything. I can find virtually any book through them and that is an advantage.
  • Temptation - The Kindle comes without a browser, has no notifications from messaging, and lacks really anything else which could pull me away from reading. It serves one purpose and does it well.

Physical Books

I shouldn’t dismiss physical books with all of this. I ran a Twitter poll a couple days ago asking which people prefer, books or e-readers, and a majority said physical books. That said, when it came to actual feedback, I received more praise from the e-reader side.

One issue I have to think about with all of this is my own personal issues with this, namely an old wrist injury I sustained at work a few years ago. That injury makes it hard to do anything stressful to it for any period of time without pain. Holding a book open with one hand is one of those things.

I also think about collecting a bunch of books and then moving someday. That’s a lot of weight, folks. I get the aesthetic, the look and feel of actual books, but is it worth carrying heavy boxes of them some day? Not for me.

What I’m Doing Currently

While I have a Kindle on my mind, I’m going to go with what I have in front of me right now. The more I think about this, the more I’m going the iPad route, namely the iPad Pro I work with every day. I have created a Shortcuts workflow which sets aside some reading time and triggers do not disturb during the duration of that time. When it comes to holding the iPad Pro, it is light and I find the flat edges of the device make it easier to pivot in my hand.

I’ve also ordered a screen cover for the iPad Pro called Paperlike. It’s exactly how it sounds, as it gives a more paper-like surface for the Apple Pencil. This makes it feel more natural for note taking and any other writing I’d need to do on screen. It also gives the screen a more matte finish, cutting down the glare and reflections the regular glass gives. This means I can take the iPad Pro outside and read much easier in the sun.

So, this is the route I’m going to go. I want to read more in an effort to clear my head and gain all the other benefits reading gives. Here’s to more books in 2021.

Yeah, I’m Done

Note: I wrote most of this about three weeks ago. While I don’t see myself fully deleting my account, I do feel the need to step away from it, deleting the apps from my phone and only checking in on a browser at home.

I have principles when it comes to tech and how I use it. I try not to keep anything which doesn’t bring me any value and evaluate what use it is for me before picking up something new. I also believe in open web principles, or the ability to own my own data, unadulterated, with the ability to pick it up and easily deposit it somewhere else if I see fit. I also believe in respect of the data I do willingly give, trusting it's not going to be used for a malicious purpose.

I say all of this to say I’m at my wits end with Facebook. At this point, I don’t feel the need to run down their past actions when it comes to user privacy and respect for data. However, their recent newspaper ads against Apple have thrown me overboard. In case you’re out of the loop, Apple this week initiated their App Store privacy labels to show what data apps are collections from you and how they’re using that data. App developers are required to disclose what data is collected upon any new submissions to the App Store. Facebook has balked at this two days in a row, claiming the labels hurt small businesses.

As John Gruber of Daring Fireball explains:

Here’s the thing. Apple isn’t blocking the ability for Facebook to personalize ads, in any way. Apple is just providing users with control over their own privacy. Users can easily choose to keep providing Facebook (and anyone else) with all the information they want. Or they can choose not to.

Facebook sees Apple providing users with awareness of and control over their online privacy as Apple taking away from Facebook something that Facebook rightfully considers rightfully theirs. This is no different than telemarketers feeling like you’re doing them wrong when you add your phone number to a do-not-call list.

Again, Apple is only asking Facebook to disclose what they collect, not preventing them from collecting it.

Quoting Gruber in September:

Just because there is now a multi-billion-dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.

Facebook is simply acting out because they’re being outed in a major way. That said, it’s still up to the user to decide if they want to continue putting their life on Facebook. I understand many don’t feel they have a solution for this. But, I do, and it becomes really easy to leave a toxic relationship when you know you have a healthier one available to you.

That said, I’m ready to shut it all down. Much of this is entailed on the website deletefacebook.com, but this basically involves asking for a download of my collected data and then collecting the contact info of those who want it.

That’s where you come in if you’ve made it this far. If I have a mobile number for you, great! I’m also up for email addresses, mailing addresses, and birthdays if you want a greeting on said date. Just send me an email with that information.

As for alternatives to Facebook, I’ll lay them out here:

  • For micro blogging (or longer posts if you like), I suggest Micro.blog. That’s where this site resides and their mission is to make web journaling easy. Yes, it’s a paid service ($5-$10/mo), but remember your personal data is often the cost of “free” on the web.
  • Wordpress is another good option if you want something at no cost.
  • For chat, iMessage works great if you’re on Apple devices. For my Android users out there, I invite you to check out Signal. They’re an encryption based communications company with a great track record. However, I’m sure most will stick to basic text messaging and that’s fine.

Facebook isn’t without its good qualities. But, at this point, I can’t say those good qualities outweigh the bad. This all comes down to their leadership, who after many chance to change and do better, they’ve essentially doubled down instead.

I’ve also gotten this extreme jittery feeling whenever I deal with the site. I feel like an addict being pulled in and that’s uncomfortable to say the least. The best thing to do in a situation like that is to step away. So that’s what I’m doing.

Four Years

My father passed away four years ago yesterday. After the second anniversary, the burn of the moment seemed to subside. There’s still moments where it blindsides me, but for the most part I’m mostly normal.

It’s different with a parent though. No matter your relationship with them, it’ll hit you. The relationship I had with my father was not even close to perfect or something I look fondly of in its entirety. Yet, where I got past the death’s of aunts and uncles fairly quickly, my father lingers.

The thing I still miss the most is the conversations. It wasn’t really until the last few years of his life I got to know something of his upbringing on the Gulf Coast. I knew much of his time in the California desert and Nebraska, but little of his time in Mississippi. There’s still much I don’t know. But this is what happens when there gaps in a relationship.

Still, I sit here four years later and I can smile with ease. I’m sure of myself. I like where I’m at and where I’m hopefully going. It wasn’t easy at first. But, over time, it’s gotten easier. We all grieve at our own pace and in our own ways. I like where I’m at in that process for myself.

How COVID is Changing Japanese Communities

VICE Asia put together an interesting short documentary on how COVID is effecting cities like Tokyo, where more people are leaving the city than moving in. This is a trend which has gone on for about three months straight.

COVID has made me consider how I go about my life. I think about what’s important to me, how I want to live. I’m seeking a change in career and as I do, I think about wether I want to be remote.

I think about moving out west. If I move back to the Pacific Northwest, do I live in a place like Seattle or Tacoma, or do I go to somewhere less crowded like Bremerton or Gig Harbor? I think about my current situation living in a smaller city, somewhere which doesn’t have horrible commutes compared to other cities.

I’m betting I’m not the only one thinking about issues much like this. For years, people have converged into urban areas. Are we to the point where we start to spread out more?

H/t Chris Hannah

Testing Night Mode on the iPhone 12

I went out to Branched Oak State Lake last night to hang out with a friend who was camping for a bit. I thought it was a good opportunity to test out some Night Mode photography with my iPhone 12. With shots at dusk, I’m noticing a dramatic improvement over my old iPhone X. There’s much less noise than I’ve seen before.

About an hour later into the evening, things still look pretty good. Here’s where Night Mode starts kicking into gear. When I snapped a photo, a timer starts with instructions to hold still. At this point I’m picking up more light than what was available.

What I really love is how stars show up. The second shot shows Jupiter and Saturn (left side).

A little past two hours after sunset puts Night Mode to the test. I’m curious if I was pulling in light pollution from Lincoln or if the the camera was attempting to overcompensate. I feel like it could be a little bit of both. I really like the last shot, however, despite the blur caused by the longer aperture. Colors look really good here.

So, We Have a New President

All I can think about is how well get some appearance of normal with Joe Biden. If I were to make a list of things to expect, it would go along the lines of:

  • Not worrying about the President rage tweeting at 4 AM
  • Not being lied to in such a way I can disprove it in five minutes or less
  • Not being gaslighted at all
  • Respecting the press
  • Not siding with white nationalists groups
  • Not demeaning other ethnic groups
  • Listening to science
  • Respecting the social and reproductive rights of women
  • Believing we should all have access to a better system of health care
  • Respecting and protecting our environment instead of destroying it for personal profit
  • Building an America that can be a safe haven for those who need it

I feel like there’s a lot I’m forgetting currently, which goes to show how fucking exhausting the standing guy in charge has been. And normal will be nice, but I’m going to say the same thing I said when Obama got elected in 2008. We’re not even close to done yet. So, don’t sit there on your couch expecting a fucking handout. That’s not how this works. Continue the momentum of the past couple of years. Continue learning. Continue speaking up for those who have less of a voice than you. Put being a better human being above all else. And be prepared to fight like hell again tomorrow and in two years.

Pondering a New iPhone

When the iPhones 12 were announced, the time had finally come for me to explore updating my device. For the last three years I’ve been running with an iPhone X, so anything coming out in 2020 would be a significant upgrade. There’s also the updated design, which resembles Apple’s current iPad Pro line, which I find extremely enjoyable in both how it looks and how it feels to hold.

I’m really intrigued by the iPhone 12 mini, as I see it as somewhat of an in between of the iPhone X and the original iPhone SE. I like the idea of having a smaller iPhone, one I could easily use with one hand without stretching my thumb to get to the far upper corner. However, preorders for that device don’t start until this Friday, November 6.

So, I did some snooping around on Apple’s website today and found I could have a normal sized iPhone 12 as early as tomorrow. That’s a very tempting proposition. So, which iPhone 12 is best for me? Since the internals are exactly the same, let’s do a size comparison:

iPhone SE iPhone X iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12
Height 4.87” 5.65” 5.18” 5.78”
Width 2.31” 2.79” 2.35” 2.82”
Screen size 4” 5.8” 5.4” 6.1”

One thing I’ll say about the first generation iPhone SE is it does feel slightly cramped in the hand. As you can see, there’s only a difference in width of .04” between the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini, so there’s a chance I could feel the same way about the iPhone 12 mini. That said, there’s no bezel on the iPhone 12 mini like there is on the SE, so maybe the difference is closer to .1” in terms of feel, but I’m still not sure that’s enough to not have it feel cramped.

That basically leaves me ready to pull the trigger on the normal sized iPhone 12. I’m thinking I’ll get it in blue.

The Dreariness of Election Week

Well, it’s all in your face now (if you live in the US), isn’t it? As I write this, there’s two more days until Election Day. I’m personally one of those who didn’t vote early, but I’m sure even if I did, I’d feel some form of anxiety this week.

America let me down four years ago. I remember Election Night 2016, I was out doing Tuesday night trivia with a few friends. I remember watching the election results come in. I remember the disbelief seeing things turn for the worst. I never felt that way before. Not even when Bush won his second term, not by a landslide.

Too many took things for granted that night. Many abstained from voting while many others voted third party, as they were disenchanted with the two major party picks. I’m guessing the majority of those two group thought there would be no way Clinton would lose that election. In the end, the results were too close, which leaves it in the hands of the Electoral College, which tends to swing in favor of the conservative nominee when it’s as close as it was.

President Obama won both terms by drawing a larger number of voters compared to normal. It appears that’s happening again, which is promising. Chances are, we won’t know who won this election by next weekend. This may very well be Election Month. But, the pressure is on this week, especially on Tuesday. I only hope good prevails this time around.

42

42 is a pretty cool number to me. Instantly I think of the great athletes who’ve worn the number. In baseball, there’s the obvious Jackie Robinson, whom the number was retired for across all of Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear the number in MLB and was one of the more dominant closers the game has ever seen.

In other sports there was Lakers forward James Worthy, part of the Showtime teams of the 80s. Looking towards teams I like, three-time Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren wore the number for the Seahawks.

If you’re familiar with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then you know 42 is the meaning of life. I’m at a point in my life where I’m much more concerned about the future than I am my past. I sometimes worry about the future. I’m not where I want to be career wise and the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t made things any easier in that front as the available jobs have been slim and I’m sure employers are looking mostly for more qualified candidates.

This all leaves me in a major holding pattern. I hoped to leave my current home years ago for Washington State. I long to get out of a red state for one that’s at least a little more progressive. I’m overall frustrated with the political climate in the US and wondering if we’re at a breaking point of some kind soon.

I can say I do have good friends in my life, both locally and beyond. That’s a lot more than I can say 10 years ago, when I was fortunate to have one or two good people around. Options are nice. That said, there many people who I’m fond of who I haven’t seen in ages and I hope that can be rectified soon.

I also know I’m at a good place with myself. I like who I am. I’ve lived alone for most of the last eight years and I know it’s been the best thing for me. I’ve gotten to be in touch with what makes me tick. I’m unapologetic about what I like and that is also a lot more than I can say 10 years ago.

42 years ago I was born in Bremerton, Washington, where the area code is 360. Maybe some day I will come full circle and return. But, for now, I have some things I hope to take care of by the time I’m 43. I hope to be better still in the next year.

10 Days Sans Facebook

10 days ago, I shared a post, which marked my exit from Facebook until at least after Election Day. I deleted the apps from my mobile devices (including Instagram) and already had the site blacklisted on my devices through the app 1Blocker.

I totally get the addictive properties of the site. Many times I’ve been on my phone and felt the urge to look, yet I’ve resisted. But, I don’t miss the garbage I saw daily on the site. Often people I followed would get the 30 day mute, even some I consider close friends. I see what the incumbent does daily through my RSS feeds, I don’t really need it elsewhere. Unlike Twitter, which I manipulate heavily through a third party app, there’s no real good, secure way to filter the noise on Facebook.

Being we’re in a Covid world here in the US, there hasn’t been much concern over missing any events. I did miss out on an Oktoberfest event at my favorite bar, but I was working anyways so no worries. There’s still plenty of seasonal brews around.

Overall, I’m happy being off the site. We’ll see come November where I stand, but I could be comfortable enough to delete my account all together. I’ve seen plenty of posts on the web with a good step by step of things to do to guide me the right way. Until then, I’ll continue posting my happenings here and yelling about the Stanley Cup Finals on Twitter1.


  1. Go Bolts! [return]

New Cat

Yesterday, I took a trip down to the animal shelter and adopted a new kitten. As fate would have it, I ended up with another ginger cat, this time a medium hair. Basically, Remy, but fluffier. The little guy has a tail like a feather duster.

The choice was between him and another cat, a four month old stray female who looks much like my mom's cat. Something about it being a stray made me nervous, so I went with the cat they called Blaze. I've now renamed him Griffey (after the baseball player) and he's a very vocal little guy. Part of that could be him finding his way, but I've had to remind him to use his inside voice a few times. He purrs practically when touched, loves to be pet, but he hasn't yet settled in to snuggle yet. My only issue with him so far is he seems to want to nibble on my feet. He even slightly broke the skin once last night. I also should get his front paws declawed.

Other than that, I'm just letting him settle in. I'm sure over time he'll calm down once he gets used to everything. I've been told that initially could be a couple weeks. I'll do what I can to keep him happy and healthy.

The Texas Rangers Have a History of Complaining

Monday night, San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. swung on pitch, served over the plate on a 3-0 count for a grand slam, in a game which was already fully in the Padres control. The Texas Rangers felt like they were being showed up by Tatis Jr. swinging on said pitch. It's just another page in the debate on if we should "let the kids play".

Baseball is full of "unwritten rules". I've heard many from not attempting to steal a base if your team is up big, never walk across the pitchers mound as you leave the field, and never showing anyone up wether it's yelling at the opposing team's dugout or flipping your bat after a home run. That last one I have a bit of a problem with, as I don't understand the supposed lack of emotion one is supposed to have in a big moment. I feel like there's a line here, and that line is obviously in different spots for others. But, my thing is this: as long as a guy doesn't prolong his celebration, then I don't have a problem with it. Further, if you don't throw 3-0 junk over the plate, it's not going to get hammered.

Instead, the Texas Rangers demanded an apology from Tatis Jr., in which he for some reason obliged. It's not like we haven't seen this kind of belly aching from the Rangers before. I can think of at least two other examples.

2015 ALDS - The Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays were in a 3-3 tie in Game 5, when Jose Bautista launched a three run bomb over the left-centerfield wall. In such a back and forth and highly contested series, it was only right Bautista let out a little emotion, which was displayed with a pretty epic bat flip.

The Rangers took exception to the display and beaned the next hitter, Edwin Encarnación. OK, fine, this should end it, right? Nah.

The following season, the Blue Jays made their was to Arlington to meet with the Rangers. In another tightly contested game, Justin Smoak dibbled a ball to third for what should be a tailor made double play, except Bautista slid into second breaking up the double play and sending Rougned Odor's throw to first wide left. Odor then pushes Bautista before landing a punch right to Jose's jaw, igniting a melee. There was nothing wrong with the slide, Bautista was just doing his job, but it was apparent the Rangers were still in their feelings about what happened in the ALDS the year before.

2010 World Series - In the 2010 Fall Classic, the Texas Rangers met the San Francisco Giants. You might be thinking to yourself, nothing happened on the field here. You'd be right. It was technically off the field.

In 2012, I was in the Bay Area to take a weekend course, but I had an entire week to kill while I was there. So, I took the CalTrain up to San Francisco to spend the day exploring the city on foot. My first stop was to take a tour of AT&T Park. The tour was nice, we got to go all around the stadium, from the locker room, to the press room, and even to Tony Bennet's personal suite. We also got to go onto the field (just not on the grass).

It was here the tour guide explained a little detail about the visitors dugout. There's a bench which sits down the center of the dugout, something fairly common in baseball. It was explained it was recently modified to include a seat back, so players could recline comfortably. It was added when the Texas Rangers complained during the 2010 World Series.

Oracle Park (then named AT&T Park at the time of my visit), opened in 2000. For nearly 11 full seasons, that opposing bench sat with no seat back. Not even the arch rival Dodgers (who hold a lot of clout) complained. The joint was even renovated to prep for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game, and that bench wasn't touched to accommodate the elite players of the American League. Count on the Texas Rangers though.

Remy’s Home

I got the call tonight Remy’s remains were ready for me to pick up after he was cremated. When the vet handed him to me, it felt nice to be able to hold him again. His ashes have been placed in a burlap sack. It was easy for my finger to linger against it in the same way it would when I’d scratch his chin, given the fuzziness of the bag. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been finding it easier to cope. I still miss his softness, the snuggles, and the love I got from Remy. I feel like he’s here in spirit, but there’s times when my apartment seems too quiet. There’s a good chance I’ll have another cat soon. There’s just a part of me that hopes it’s not too soon, but I also feel I need to move forward.

I told my good friend Kat I was getting Remy’s ashes tonight. She told me about a place in Seattle, called Artful Ashes, that takes ashes of loved ones and makes incredible glass pieces with them. I’m really thinking about doing this, as I’m already partial to the amber colored orb they make, since it’s close to the same color as Remy. I feel like it would be a fitting tribute to my little guy. 

All in all, I’m glad I have him here again. I know he knows how much he’s been loved through these years. He gave every bit of that back to me and then some. 

New Home?

I’ve had my personal site hosted for a good part of the last two years or so at Micro.blog, a service that is very much in favor of open web standards and stands as an advocate of owning your personal content on a space you can call your own over dumping everything into closed, proprietary social media silos. My personal thoughts are very much in line with this.

I’m also a former design student and I still hold many of the principles of page layout. I care about spacing, content placement, balance, symmetry, and so on. When I want an image or video to be in a certain spot, I don’t want any issues in placing it there. In those respects, Micro.blog can be a bit limited. I can usually place images wherever I want with no problem with apps like Drafts 5 or MarsEdit. However, videos can be an issue. In MarsEdit, I can place a video where I want, but it doesn’t write the HTML code in a way that’s friendly to Micro.blog. There’s no option I’m aware of for videos in Drafts 5. When it comes to publishing, I don’t care for limitations much and don’t really want to rely on workarounds.

So, this makes me want to look at my options. I tinker with Wordpress from time to time, but to really get what I want from them I’d have to pay much more per month than I’d like to. Cost has always been an issue, so that’s steered me away from services like Ghost as well. This brings me back to Squarespace.

I gave Squarespace a look a few months ago, but found them missing features from before as they were going through a transition to a new version. Importing from an old site wasn’t an option at the time, for example. On giving them a look today, I’m finding a lot of those holes filled. I can place photos where I want them, even after the fact where I can drag them around and place them where I like. I can use block quotes and code snippets, just like before. The only limitation I’m finding at the moment are link throughs, which I would use on the titles of link posts.

Going forward, I’m going to experiment a little. I’m not sure how micro posts will cross post via RSS to Micro.blog or how things will look on Twitter. I may keep posting (more Twitter-esque) micro posts to Micro.blog directly. I’ll look to import longer posts to this blog and we’ll go from there.

Hope this site works out for me and for those of you who read it.

It’s Been a Week

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I gave Remy up. Mornings are still the time that feels the most empty. I miss those morning purrs and snuggles. I miss the overall morning routine we had. It was nice to start the day with a bit of happiness.

I imagine I won’t last long without a pet. There’s been times where my place has been just a little too quiet. It occurred to me yesterday this is the first time I’ve ever had to live totally alone, with no roommates or pets around. It’s certainly different.

I finally got around to cleaning Remy’s litter box and the area around it a couple of days ago. His box was in a closet where the water heater in my place was. For the first time that closet door is shut. It’s weird seeing that space so open.

One last thought. I posted my piece about Remy’s passing to social media. In part, I did this for my own sanity, so that I didn’t have to constantly explain what happened with him. “Here’s the link, now you know”, was my approach. I also did that for the same reason I wrote it, because I couldn’t keep all of that bottled up. What I didn’t really think about was the level of support I received in response. I didn’t realize how much I would need all of that, but it’s really helped me push on. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Love to all.

Rest Well, Remy

This is one of the toughest posts I've ever had to write. On Friday evening, I had to let my buddy Remy go. Over the past couple of weeks, I've chronicled his struggles. Long story short, we found a mass in his chest near his heart, that mass was causing fluid buildup around his lungs affecting his breathing, and in general his time was limited with that mass meaning he would slowly lose his internal bodily functions as his body couldn't fight any more.

Over the past week since Monday, when I mentioned his struggle to pass his bowels, he didn't poop once since then. I could see him become more and more uncomfortable with this as the week progressed. Slowly, he stopped eating which combined with the other issue, prompted me to call the vet on Wednesday. They gave me an appetite stimulator to make him eat and a gel hairball treatment to hopefully help him pass a stool.

The hairball treatment didn't work for him at all. Wednesday night, he took the treatment with no issue, but he fought me over the next two days with it as he would get irritated with me putting it on his paw. He spent his final four days alive without passing a stool and I can only imagine how uncomfortable that made him feel. He spent most of his final 24 hours hovering near the litter box, an indication he wanted to go and knew he needed to, but yet he couldn't.

The appetite stimulator worked the first time around. About two hours into it on Wednesday night, he seemed to spring back to life, became chatty when I mentioned food to him, and ate a decent amount before bedtime. By Thursday evening he had basically stopped eating again and even with another treatment Friday morning he only picked at his food once. The only thing I could give him without fail was a treat, which is how I began giving him his meds.

Thursday night is when things began to seem dire. When I came home from work, he slowly emerged from my bedroom, where he typically hides out in the afternoon. Overall he just seemed off. During the course of the night he became anxious. Wether he was in my lap or in his cat bed by the window, he couldn’t sit still and was constantly adjusting himself. I’m sure his guy had a lot to do with this. Come bedtime, I invited him to join me, but he just laid in his cat bed and stared at me. I finally carried him into bed with me to settle in for the night.

At some point during the night he left the bed and I found him near his litter box. I checked, still nothing in there. I gave him a few rubs on the head and told him things would be ok. Come Friday morning, he was in basically the same spot. It was the first time in a couple weeks he hadn’t woke me up with his ritual of snuggles and purrs. I knew something wasn’t right.

I gave him his meds for the morning camouflaged in a couple treats and hoped he would improve. Throughout the day Friday, I frequently checked on him on the PetCube. It was the first time he didn’t retreat to the bedroom, as he hovered close to the litter box. When I arrived home I could see his breathing was labored. When I tried to comfort him he kept moving stay from me. My boy was obviously hurting.

I called my vet to see if I could get him in that night, but unfortunately they were bombarded with numerous emergencies. I settled for an appointment at 9 AM the following morning. But, as I continued to monitor Remy, it became more and more apparent he needed help now, so I called the emergency pet services here in town. On that call, I knew I had two choices: either try an enema to see if we could clear his system out, or let him go. The enema might have made him feel better, but if his body was indeed shutting down, there was a good chance we would be right back in the same position in a few days and that could get expensive. I told them I’d make a decision when I got there.

I could feel this might be it and began breaking down, so I called my mom to see if she could get us since I didn’t feel safe driving given my state. She agreed. The closer we got to the clinic, the more stressed Remy became. Less than a mile from there, he gave one last howl from his carrier. That was painful to hear. I know my buddy was scared. I think he also knew this was it. It hurt to hear.

Upon arriving at the clinic, they asked me if I wanted to just do the euthanasia or if i wanted them to do an exam first. I opted for the exam because I needed peace of mind to know I was doing the right thing. After the exam, they told me they needed to put him on oxygen just to make him comfortable, but that it was obvious he was laboring bad. I asked them what they thought I should do given what they knew & they basically told me there was little chance he could get better. Surgery wasn’t an option with his mass being next to his heart and that mass was probably the culprit of everything. With that, I agreed to have him put to sleep. I couldn’t let him suffer anymore.

They had me hang out in an exam room while they went to get him. I could hear him meowing angrily as they brought him to the room. They gave me some time with him alone. I gave him a hug and pet him while telling him everything was going to be ok. I promised him no matter what he’s coming home to me (I’m getting his ashes) and that he’ll have a spot next to me by my recliner.

The nurse came back into the room and she explained to me the process. She told me sometimes with larger pets, they’ll dream before passing. She plugged a small tube into an IV in Remy’s right front leg, pushed the liquid from a syringe, and within seconds I saw Remy go from fully stressed to nothing. Just like that he was gone. I instantly began petting him. Occasionally, his body would twitch. It was explained that was his muscles releasing their last burst of energy. My buddy was fighting hard over this past week. They left me with him and I just continued petting and talking to Remy. I told him he no longer has to hurt and he’ll be home with me soon. It was therapeutic to feel his soft fur one last time. Finally, once I knew for sure he had left his body, I knew it was time to go.

That night was the first time in years I didn’t have him to help me go to sleep at night. All the little things about him bounced through my head. As I look back, I know we both gave each other all the love we could. It’s hard to not have that anymore.

Remy was the sweetest, most loving cat I could ask for. He rarely passed up a chance to snuggle and to get pet. We had a ritual of taking mid afternoon naps together in my recliner where he usually had his head on my shoulder. He was basically a teddy bear.

He constantly made me smile. He’d get so excited to lick the sweat off a cold drink I had around. I loved how cute he looked as he begged for what I was eating or as he watched me shave or brush my teeth in the bathroom.

He always greeted me at the door when I came home and many days would walk me to the door as I left for work. He always went to bed with me, typically hopping onto a side table on my side of the bed, then hopping onto the bed and walking across me, before snuggling in next to me. Many nights he purred me to sleep. Those same purrs would wake me up every morning, usually right about 6AM, where I’d give him some snuggles and conversation before getting out of bed to feed him breakfast.

Anytime it was feeding time, we always had the same conversation. It usually went something like this:

Me: Remy, are you hungry?
Remy: excited meow
Me: Remy, do you want some food?
Remy: excited meow
Me: Remy, do you want me to fill your bowl?
Remy: slightly more irritated excited meow
Me: Well, let’s go to the kitchen!
Remy: springs into action and leads me to the kitchen

He always did his little circle dance before getting fed. Every bit of this ritual was cute.

Most of all, he knew when I needed him. There’s one moment in particular I’ll never forget. A few years ago, my girlfriend at the time, Kat, and I had our relationship become a long distance one. After one of her visits I went back into my apartment and sat down on the couch. I remember feeling a bit empty at the time. Remy looked at me with this look of “what’s wrong, man?", as he then sat next to me and let me pet him. His softness and the way he would purr was always therapeutic for me.

There’s so much about him that I’ll remember over time. He was always some kind of influence of every bit of my home life. I’m already missing him and his comfort in so many ways and I’m thankful I got these last ten years with him. He was a much needed source of light for me. He was and still is loved and I know he loved me too.

Rest well, my dear friend. I’ll see you home soon.

Remy Update - 7/27

This morning started out fairly typical. I woke up right around 6 AM and Remy was there to greet me with his usual dose of purrs and cuddly nudging to get me to get up to feed him. Outside of some recent allergy issues, he seemed to be pretty happy.

I gave him a couple spoonfuls of wet food, chicken this time, in which I only give him a little bit to start as I mix his meds into it and I want to make sure he gets those down before moving onto more. I made coffee and settled into my desk chair for my usual online browsing.

It was at this point I noticed Remy head towards his litter box. Suddenly, I heard these really loud squeaks. Remy was struggling to poop. I saw him leave the box and lay down on the kitchen floor, panting hard. At that point, I was worried and got up to check on him. At first, I thought he was convulsing in some way, but I soon realized he hadn’t finished the job and was still trying. He had to lay down because the whole thing was hard for him.

He finally pushed out what he was trying to, but couldn’t even go all the way as I had to pluck it from him with some toilet paper. At this point, he laid there and panted hard for a couple of minutes before settling down. He laid there for about five minutes before getting up to head towards the litter box again. Same process, loud squeaks, but this time he was able to finish the job. He then again laid down on the kitchen floor to pant some more before settling down. As I type this, he’s still in the same spot, at this point resting.

This is how the past ten days have gone. He’s shown progress from the meds, breathing less deeply, seeming more comfortable. But, every few days, there’s been an episode of some kind which raises his stress levels and therefore raising mine. It’s hard to watch him go through this. It seems unreal just two months ago he seemed happy and vibrant. Every episode of this is a reminder to me that he’s probably on borrowed time. Things suddenly are not working as they once did for him and that’s worrisome. When he moves around, he seems fully capable. He can still jump onto my bed from the ground. He’s walking fine, doesn’t seem labored. But, internally, things are starting to go south.

All I can do is just continue loving and comforting him at this point.

Remy Update

A couple of nights ago, I took Remy in to get checked up, because he had been showing a lot of deep and irregular breathing. This is usually a warning sign for cats. Upon inspection, they found fluid around his lungs, but not enough to tap there. They instead sent me home with some medication, which I mix into his food a couple times a day.

Unfortunately, when they did a CT scan on him, they found a mass near his heart. We don’t know at this time if it’s benign or not, really only time will tell. If it is benign, there’s really nothing to worry about. If it isn’t, it’s basically a ticking bomb and it could take him soon. Surgery in that area is too dangerous.

I’m hoping it’s nothing. Upon receiving the meds for the last 36 hours now, Remy has rebounded and is acting much of his normal self. His appetite is back, he’s purring heavily, and he just seems like his happy go lucky self. More importantly, his breathing looks much more normal. I’d hate to see him go any other way than on his terms because that’s what he deserves. He’s been too sweet of a cat to go out painfully.

In the meantime, all I can do is continue medicating him and loving him as I have. He’s frankly easy to love, being the teddy bear he is. As I look over him right now, he’s laying on the floor snuggling his favorite horse toy.