Vet Bill exposes the limits of generosity.

I haven’t paid the vet bill yet, but that day is certainly coming. First some housekeeping.

There’s been a bit of hiatus, I know, but most of what I have learned involved things off-limits to this blog: romance, finances, and the details of my day job.

Updates from the most recent posts: My back is healed. But I have long experience with these things, and was never worried – just annoyed.

I sold zero books at either KABAM or the Las Vegas Book Festival. But we have already learned that is not the point.


Hualapai Mountain trail.

I did get a hike in around Kingman, and a bit of an adventure coming back from Flagstaff for day-job reasons. Those are at Are We Lost Yet.

Brazen Wonk has election endorsements, in case you are relying upon my opinion to inform your vote.

In the last few days, though, I have had  a lesson in the limits of generosity.

Earl brought home a cat he found on the highway. (Earl is my “room-mate”).

And this would be fine and even noble if:

  • He actually lived here or
  • He had the means to support a pet.

Since neither is true, has has brought me a cat to live indefinitely in my home at my expense.

I have named the cat Vet Bill. She’s about 7 months old, black/white/grey/and generally adorable. She comes (inexplicably for a street rescue) with a carrier, a litter box, and food bowl.


Vet Bill meeting condition #1

You can have her right now if you want. I’ll even split the cost of spaying her.

See, I have two iron rules about creatures living in my house at my expense:

  1. Pee where you are supposed to
  2. Get along with the other residents. All of them.

Vet Bill sees Daphne, my daughter’s rabbit, as her lawful prey, and stalks the aging bunny relentlessly when she is free to do so. True, the other cats will torment the rabbit from time to time, but these episodes are occasional and short-lived.

Vet Bill has made stalking that poor rodent the focus of her life, and I do not have the time or skill to mitigate that. So she basically lives in the closet when either Earl of I aren’t around to police the living room. And she is on pace to live outside when (if) Earl goes off to Louisiana, as he plans to do by the end of the week.

I will not add chasing the cat into her closet to my morning or bedtime chores. She will live outside (or rather, in the garage) before I put either one of us through that.

Or – ideally – someone can come get her, and save her from my cruel tyranny. Seriously, I’ll split the vet bill with you. I know a very reasonable place.

Two things before anyone lectures me on kitty-whispering:

  1. I have never gone out and gotten a pet in my adult life. Every animal I have ever lived with has either squatted at my residence until I gave in and started feeding them, or has been abandoned on my doorstep by previous caretakers.
  2. All I hear is “I’ll come take the kitten off your hands…”

Actually, I will cheerfully deliver her.

Now we know.



Two drafts of a chapter revision for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice = 2000

AWLY? Post about FR237 – The Bumpy Back Way into Sedona = 1000

Thursday night writer’s group = 500

Submitting One of 64 to a publisher = 500

Creating a video about my hike to Point Reyes National Seashore =1000

Writing the accompanying AWLY? blog (which goes online Thursday) = 1000


Vigilance against vermin

My dogs have ticks and my kids have lice and the internet isn’t much help.

On ticks, I’ve learned that anything you buy at the pet store for less than a month’s salary is fairly useless. We have not found a spray for less than $30/bottle that does not leave me pulling at least 6 ticks off the lab every time I pet him. The $40 stuff is coming – but its gotta wait for payday. (The healer, OTH, has been more effective at removing the ticks herself. I only find them in places she cannot reach.)

Ticks don’t live on dogs, they latch on to feed, hide and grow, feed again, and then lay 10,000 eggs. You’ll never find them in all the tiny cracks they can hide in, but cleaning the house  front to back seems to help. They all have to come to the dogs, however, and that is where I have concentrated my surveillance.

Brown dog ticks, which is what we have (I think), don’t feed on humans. They’ll bite though. At least a hundred have gone down my toilet.

I’d link to a website here, but let me save the time: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your vet.

The internet is similarly obvious about head lice: Remove them carefully, buy some products, ask your doctor. And wash everything with hot water.

This is what we’ve learned from other parents: If you put a pillow or stuffed animal in a garbage bag and leave it out in the summer sun for two days, that kills everything. Mayonnaise is just as effective a hair lubricant as conditioner, and a ton cheaper. What’s going to do the most good is removing the lice and eggs with a fine-toothed comb. We own the one that came with the lice shampoo, but flea combs (for pets) will also work well. Boil it all (combs, brushes, hair clips) afterwards. OTC shampoos and treatments are hit-or-miss. Some strains of lice are just resistant. The comb is a sure, if labor intensive, thing. The spray is for the bedding – don’t use it on the kids.

The lice I think we’ve beaten back. The tick wars go on.

A segway into politics seems too easy. Let’s just do some links.

Steven Pinker, writing in the Wall Street Journal explains that – despite the news – we are actually becoming more tolerant and less violent as a species.

“Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species. “

Feel better? Not so fast. Farhad Manjoo (real name) asks in Slate “Will robots steal your job?”

What I found was unsettling. They might not know it yet, but some of the most educated workers in the nation are engaged in a fierce battle with machines. As computers get better at processing and understanding language and at approximating human problem-solving skills, they’re putting a number of professions in peril. Those at risk include doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and creative professionals—even writers like myself.

But can they blog about urinals?

I updated Are We Lost Yet on my adventures up and down Mt Elden.

And finally something cool: (From APOD)


Now you know



Milepost Four [11/17/08]

I went camping over the weekend, which accounts for the lack of actvity here.

There is a campsite we have used several times near Milepost 4 on FR618 in the Coconino National Forest. It’s now blocked to vehicles. We had to park across the road and hump gear in a hundred yards or so. That’s somewhat burdensome when you planned and packed to camp within throwing distance of the car.

While this area is close to Camp Verde, you can reliably chop 5F off the weather forecast for Camp Verde when planning for this area. It never got below freezing in Camp Verde this weekend. Sunday morning we had ice in some of the water containers.

An air mattress is great for keeping you off of rocks and uneven surfaces, but does very little to increase the warmth of the sleeping bag. The air inside cools as rapidly as the air anywhere else in the tent.

When its cold enough, my stupid dogs will sleep peacefully inside a tent, even as the coyotes have some sort of disco celebration outside.

rum+coconut Soybe = goodness.

Pie irons in a campfire can equal all kinds of good food, or square bricks of inedible charcoal, depending on how much you’re paying attention. If left in the fire long enough, aluminum pie irons will melt.

Hot dogs roasted over the fire on a stick of some sort remains the most foolproof camping meal ever.

Great fun. Despite the little whining here, totally worth it.

Diets of pee and poop [10/13/08]

In India, among other places, practitioners of Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu holistic health regimen, drink their urine on a regular basis. They chill it first, and never drink the first 4 oz’s (where they believe the impurities are). This is one of many ancient medicine systems that believe that urine can cure or prevent a wide range of medical problems.

Western medicine – ahem – does not agree, although they do concede that urine is sterile, and not overtly harmful in small doses.

For backpackers, the key words are sterile and liquid. Urine makes an excellent back-country antiseptic wash. Jocks have known for years that peeing on your feet in the shower wards off athlete’s foot.

The liquid part is trickier. Urine can be the hydration source of last resort, but that begins a feedback loop of diminishing returns. You lose a lot of moisture from sweat (and a bit from saliva and tears), so you’ll inevitably pee out less than you take in. And that pee will become saltier and saltier as you go, reducing its’ hydration value. Plus, its icky.

You can mitigate this a bot with a solar still, assuming you have the means and the time. If you are lost in the desert in summer, and sleep through the day and travel at night, this could actually work out well for you.

This is a sound, if desperate strategy to ward off heat stroke until you can stumble to your next water source. Once you’re peeing in your own cup, though, your trip has ceased to be recreational. You have to find water or die. Eventually, the kidneys will stop making urine altogether, which begins the countdown to falling over dead.

On a lighter but related tack, my daughter, while prancing about in her pirate/princess regalia mentioned that if you poop in the yard, the dogs will eat it.

“How do you know that, sweetheart?” I asked.

“Uummm … [ giggle] … the internet.”

Now you know.

September 5th 2008

Dogs can get Valley Fever – a fungal infection peculiar to the desert. I know this because my dog caught it. That drop of knowledge cost me around $500 in meds and tests, and will cost an additional $50 a month in anti-fungal medicine for the next eight months – that’s right – eight months.

It can be very expensive to adopt stray dogs.

A healthy human adult farts an average of 14 times a day.

There are 74 known nests of the Southwest Bald Eagle in Arizona. Arizona is their last known habitat.