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.

Customizing Kiko

I’ve returned to using the Kiko theme after finding some custom CSS, which achieves a lot of what I would want out of the theme. I’ve also started working on my dark mode, including a fun glow effect on my masthead. The colors are a set I’ve used many times from the Seattle Sounders. Light or day mode use the classic Rave Green and Sounder Blue, with the dark or night mode taking from the team’s Nightfall look.

Update: A few have mentioned they like the glow effect in the dark mode theme. It’s simply a layered text shadow effect, set at markers of all the way up to 70 pixels. The example I found, showed it with an animation, but I didn’t want to make it too distracting. With the Kiko theme in mind, the CSS code looks like this:

.masthead-title a {
    color: #fff;
    text-shadow: 0 0 10px #fff, 0 0 20px #fff, 0 0  30px #c8347e, 0 0 40px #c8347e, 0 0 50px  #c8347e, 0 0 60px #c8347e,  0 0 70px #c8347e;
}

Reassessing My Streaming TV Plan: July 2020 Edition

YouTube TV made news yesterday when they announced a $15 price bump for their service from $50 to $65 per month. That’s a fairly significant price hike, to say the least. This comes with the addition of Viacom-owned networks like MTV, BET, and VH1.

This left me wondering what the competition looks like currently. With that in mind, I have a few requirements. First, the more live sports channels, the better. Even though there isn’t much going on for live sports at the moment, there’s still some, mostly overseas (I’m watching an English Premier League match as I type this). Secondly, to even be considered, I want local channels. This eliminates Philo, Sling, and Fubo for me.

Lastly, I currently have a subscription to HBO Max, which is currently fed in as a legacy Apple TV Channel. I’ll take this setup as long as I can get it, since original HBO content is still downloadable through the Apple TV app. Even if this was forcefully discontinued by HBO, I’ll gladly switch to the HBO Max app since I watch enough content there to justify paying for the service. With that said, I include HBO Max in my calculations. AT&T TV Now’s $80 package includes HBO Max, a $15/mo service on it’s own.

So, how do the major players stack up?

YouTube TV Hulu Live TV AT&T TV Now
Locals * * *
ACC * *
BET * *
BTN * * *
CBS Sports * * *
Comedy Central * *
Discovery * *
ESPN * * *
ESPN 2 * * *
ESPN U * * *
FS1 * * *
Fox SN * * *
MLB *
NBA TV *
NBCSN * * *
Olympic * * *
SEC * * *
TBS * * *
TNT * * *
USA * * *
VH1 * *
Vice *
Total Cost w/ HBO Max $80 $70 $80

As much as I’m annoyed by the price hike, I’m still in the best place with YouTube TV. Hulu Live TV comes in a little cheaper, but that comes with some limitations, like having to pay extra to watch live channels away from home. AT&T TV Now has some personal advantages for me, like unlimited viewing over my cellular data since I have AT&T and tight integration with Apple TV which allows me to change channels with Siri. Unfortunately, they lack a decent amount of the channels I have and watch currently. With that said, I’m sticking with YouTube TV.

Griffey Family's Best Moments

I spent some time watching this over coffee this morning. No better baseball family.

Where I Stand With Writing

More and more I’ve become more in favor of writing to my own personal page or to a digital journal before sending anything to social media. Even though my blog posts syndicate to Twitter, it’s origins are my personal site. I have two things in mind when I do this. First, it’s control. I want to have control over how I write. I don’t want character limitations or some kind of terms of service overhead that’s unrealistic. I also don’t want to adhere to any algorithms. An example would be how Facebook was deeming any post dealing with coronavirus to be against their terms of service, even if the post contained helpful information.

Lastly, I write to remember. I want to have something where I can use a keyword search or tags where I can quickly bring up a memory or what I thought of a beer I had.

My one go to tool I have at the moment is the app Drafts 5. It has a clean, simple, & distraction free interface, yet it allows me to set up workflows I can run as actions which push my words out to where I want them. My two main destinations are my personal page hosted with Micro.blog and the digital journaling app Day One. Both of these are available wherever I am, either on mobile while I’m on the go or on my desktop while I’m at home.

Day One is where I send thoughts I want to keep to myself. Maybe I’m just clearing my head or maybe it’s just a thought I don’t deem worth sharing. It could be a travel note or a bad day at work. I love Day One because of how it displays my words and keeps them safe and encrypted. I also love the metadata it pulls in from my location, the current weather, and how many steps I’ve had during the day. One last little feature I’ve been seeking to use more of late are the journal prompts it provides, since it makes me think of things I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise.

My personal site is my social media hub. The things most people would share on social media, like photos, their hot takes, or something about a vacation they’re on are things I would share on my site. Understand I have no likes or metrics on my site, so any seal of approval or spark of interest from others comes from conversation through either the Micro.blog community or from Twitter where my site syndicates to.

More and more I’m trying to find better structure in how I post online. What I mean by this is when I post a link, I want a standard format for how that kind of post is displayed. I’ve achieved this with my beer reviews, but other areas I’m still figuring out what I think looks good and is easy to follow. I think I’m getting an idea of what I want though.

The important thing is to do this for myself. I’m not the kind of person who can keep everything bottled up, so for my own mental health, writing is key. If people end up enjoying what I share, then great.