Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First time

I euthanized my first animal yesterday... A tiny juvenile house sparrow that was found in the baggage claim at the airport. She had a badly broken wing and would never be able to fly.

It was the only humane choice, but still sad.

Tomorrow, I'll be stopping by the daycare to say goodbye to one of our regulars, a Golden retriever that is the epitome of Golden retriever. Always happy to see everyone, and she was on everybody's list of favorites. Last week she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer, and she will be euthanized before it gets too painful. She is stopping by daycare for one last visit, because it was one of her favorite places. She is only 8 years old :-(

I need some serious puppy therapy soon.

Happy Corgi

I am back and winnie is back to normal too. She was dying to see me and then proceeded to chew up all her chew toys and squeak all her squeak toys which she has not done for days apparently.

The trip up north was great. We had one day with all rain and the rest was hot hot hot. But the lake was right there and there is none of that city reflective heat that we get lots of by our apartment. Heat of buildings, off cars, of the side walk... I read a lot and swam a lot and generally got to unwind and reflect about how things are going. I played a great golf game with my dad, our neighbor Don, and his neighbor Phil. I did pretty good for taking two years off - I even won both the 7th and 8th holes!

Megan and I will be going up at the end of August for one more summer hurah before school kicks in for both of us. Her attending me working for.

In other news I am spending the 2nd week in August in Austin TX for a conference paid for by my fine institution here. We are going to discuses things such as the future of digital imagery in the classroom/library and metadata. Woho!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mopey corgi

Well, Winnie recovered quickly from her bad daycare experience, and headed right back in like nothing happened. Unfortunately, she's now realized that Chris hasn't been around lately (which means he's gone FOREVER), so she's entered Sulking Corgi Mode. Sulking Corgi Mode primarily consists of not wanting to eat or play- the same symptoms she displays after we come back from the cabin, or when I go back to school after being on break. She's even being aloof with me at daycare, preferring to go greet my co-workers rather than ask me for attention.

Sulking corgyn are much less fun than happy corgyn.

On a better note, I'm almost done with my second week of my internship! I got to clean out my very first maggot-infested wound (yum) on poor skinny baby raccoon. I've spent some more time in the avian nursery and worked my first shift in the waterfowl nursery. They have a baby sandpiper right now, which is easily the most adorable baby bird I've ever seen- just a tiny poof of fluff on little stilt legs.

I have my first official shift in the treatment room tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some good stories after that!

Hospice cat

This story has been making the rounds lately... Apparently, there is a dementia unit that is home to Oscar the cat, a kitty who has the uncanny ability to predict the deaths of residents. Oscar seems to be able to sense when death is imminent, and will curl up next to whoever is due to pass about 4 hours before they go. This gives the staff enough time to notify the family.

It is probably a good thing the residents that Oscar decides to visit are usually out of it enough to be unaware of his presence...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Poor Pooh Bear suffered her first really scary dog attack today. It was more noisy than anything, but it sure scared both of us! She was at daycare with me, and I threw a ball for the dogs to chase. Winnie did her usual corgi routine of herd-whoever's-running, and took off after the dogs who were chasing the ball. One dog decided that ball was HIS, no matter what, and turned on Winnie as she was running alongside him. He just pinned her down and yelled in her face, but poor Pooh started screaming bloody murder. By the time I was able to react, the other dog had already let her go, and she came sprinting towards me, still screaming. Aside from being really shaken up, she seems none the worse for wear. I think I remember the whole thing better than she does. I hope this doesn't sour daycare for her... I guess we'll see how she feels about going back tomorrow.

Chris is off to the woods for a few days, so for now it's just us girls (and Pipkin). Anyone got any good movies to recommend?

Monday, July 23, 2007

History is right here

Megan and I have been looking into the history of our building and today confirmed something that Megan first thought of weeks ago. Our little apartment overlooking University Ave used the be the Minnesota headquarters for the presidential campain of Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and the senatorial campaign HQ of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.


Not only that, but Megan and I visited the Kerry HQ to buy some bumper stickers or something back in 2004. We walked in the front door, walked up one set of stairs, took a left and were in the HQ main room. There were Kerry posters all over the windows. Our windows.

Why didn't we recognize it when we moved in? Well they tore off the modern construction you see on the left of this picture, and renovated much more to return it to a historical site. What would we have said in 2004 if some one told us that we would be living in that space a short three years later?

EDIT: • Some photos from the impromptu Wellstone memorial that was built at the site. Still very emotional for me after all these years.

• More photos from the webs past.
From this webpage.

• Terry Gydesen took these photos of the 2002 Wellstone campaign.

Edit: • More photos and information as we go back in time...

"Standing outside Sen. Wellstone's campaign headquarters on University Ave., Sen. Ted Kenney and Rep. Betty McCollum listened Friday to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe talk about the Minnesota Senator's death." Link to more

• And a video documenting Wellstone's political life and tragic death. From carryitforward.org

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Designer dogs

I read a good article the other day about the "designer dog" phenomenon (you know, the doodles and poos and puggles and such), and it got me wanting to write down my own feelings on the trend.

Basically, I don't know how anyone can justify spending $1000+ on a genetic mixed-bag that may or may not be "the perfect family pet." The premise behind a designer dog is to take two breeds that have desirable traits (say, the intelligence and hypoallergenic coat of a poodle and the loyalty and work ethic of a Golden retriever), breed them, and out come puppies that are better than either parent. The truth is, genetics just doesn't work like that. You can't pick and choose which traits the pups will take from either parent- you could get a hypoallergenic goldendoodle, or you could get a perfectly allergenic one, depending on which coat type the pups end up with. More than likely you'll end up with something in the middle, although good luck marketing your "partially-allergenic" pet doodles.
The doodles I've met at daycare are uniformly unique, each one different in coat type, behavior, and personality. Although they're only supposed to get the good characteristics, they also often pick up bad traits of both their parents' breeds- in particular, the labradoodles all seem to take the barkiness and mouthiness of a poodle and combine it with the hyperactive, bull-headed nature of a lab, leading to a bitey, uncontrollable big dog that barks incessantly. 
My favorite point of the above-linked article is that, while "designer dog" breeders like to say that their pups will be less prone to genetic diseases due to hybrid vigor, the opposite is more likely. Think about it- if your mom's family has a history of skin cancer and your dad's family has a history of heart disease, do you consider yourself more healthy than either one because you'll get your mom's good heart genes and your dad's good skin genes? No, you consider yourself predisposed to both diseases, because you'll get a mix of genes from your parents. The same goes for designer dogs.

If you want predictability in appearance, behavior, and predisposition to particular diseases, choose a purebred from a reputable breeder. If you want a dog that is least likely to develop genetic diseases, and has a unique appearance and personality choose a nice Heinz 57 (and give a shelter dog a forever home!). If you want to spend a lot of money for an unpredictable pup with just as great (if not greater) a predisposition to genetic diseases as a purebred, get a designer dog.

Not to say that the doodles and dachsi-poos and shi-chis and all the others are worth any less as pets and family members... But when mixed-breed dogs are dying in shelters, how can any responsible breeder bring mixed-breeds into the world just to tap into the "designer dog" trend?

Friday, July 20, 2007

More baby animals!

I've completed my first of six weeks at the rehab center, and have started getting experience in areas besides the mammal nursery. On Tuesday, I got to play with baby raccoons, which are far more interactive than squirrels and bunnies, but also carry more diseases and smell much worse. But, they actually drink out of baby bottles and cling upside-down to your arm while they're eating (if they're nice babies- the evil ones just huddle in the back of their cage and growl at you), which makes up for the small chance that one might give you rabies. I also got to watch the vet wrestle an opossum out of a live trap- someone had trapped the poor critter for eating his garden vegetables. I'm not sure why he decided to bring the possum to us, since she was perfectly healthy. I think he misunderstood what the "rehabilitation" part of wildlife rehabilitation means... Did he want us to teach the possum to give up its life of crime and become a productive member of society? Hmm.

Anyway, today I got my first taste of life in the avian nursery. It's pretty much the exact opposite of the mammal nursery. Baby bunnies are the epitome of adorable, and baby birds are anything but. Bunnies eat twice a day at most, and it's like pulling teeth to get the formula in them. Baby birds eat every half hour, and DEMAND to be fed the second you reach their cage. Having a different species of bird in each cage adds a lot of variety to the job. I got to feed fish to a baby green heron, throw crickets into the gaping beak of a crow, and feed formula to a lovely little trio of baby bluebirds. The most interesting birds were by far the baby woodpeckers. I didn't give them enough credit for knowing what their beaks were for, until I entered their cage with a syringe. They started out like all the other birds, gaping their beaks wide open, until I got the syringe close enough- PECKPECKPECK! PECKPECKPECK! Ouch! An impressive weapon for such a young critter. Then, as I was feeding the babies in the cage next door, I got licked by a probing woodpecker tongue! If you ever need a fun fact to know and tell, a woodpecker tongue actually attaches up near its eye, wraps behind its head, and comes out of its mouth, which is how it can be long enough to dig for insects in rotting wood, or try to weasel more formula out of the syringe when its already moved on to the next cage. The tongue also acts as a support for its eyes and brain to keep them safe during pecking. What crazy little birds.

Anyway, Harry Potter comes out in two hours...!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Baaaaaaaaby animals!

I started my internship at the Wildlife Rehab Center yesterday, doing what I did for a whole summer two years ago: feeding baby bunnies and squirrels! It was nice to start in on something that I'm familiar with. There isn't much to it- fill a syringe with formula, spend about 20 minutes trying to get it into a baby animal. The best description of feeding a baby bunny is actually Anne Lamott's description of feeding her son Sam in her book Operating Instructions:
Feeding him is like filling a hole with putty- you get it in and then you shave off all the excess around the hole and gob it back in, like you're spackling.
That's about right for bunnies too. They don't really suckle... just goober the formula all over. Squirrels, on the other hand, live to eat and you have to keep them from sucking the formula down too fast. They're a lot more fun to feed, but not nearly as adorable as the bunnies. I'll be in the mammal nursery for the rest of this week, then moving over to the avian and waterfowl nurseries. After we finished feeding the babies, I watched a vet tech give an injection to a snapping turtle... wow. Glad I've never run into one of those guys in East Bearskin!

7 weeks until the start of classes again.....

Alternator charging the electriks

Yesterday I went to work on the Volvo and successfully replaced the alternator and belt. My Voltage reads correct from all points now, so the battery is charging, and all the electrics are running better than ever. It is still back in the garage but it should be back to regular driving this week. It was nice to drive it a little bit yesterday, everything about it is so familiar.

Being down to one car has been very easy for Megan and I. Once her internship is over in August, the saturn is going for sure. And then start thinking about getting a newer car than the volvo. The 740 is great but 270,000+ miles is getting a little top heavy! I also think I can sell it for what I paid for it over a year (and 12,000 miles ago) which was $750. Not a bad deal.

For the new(er) car, I really want something that drives well. Not that necessarily goes really fast, just something that makes me feel like I am driving and know where all four wheels are sticking. I really like driving, in the sense that I enjoy being in control of the car beyond using it as a means of passive transit. Not speeding (I am terrified of getting pulled over) but an emphasis on control, stability and acceleration. Oh and AC would be nice.

So for now, any one want to buy a slightly damaged, oft broken into, slow plastic car with no shocks? only 141,000 miles..

P.S. Link for LOL cats reference in the title and the picture.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Paws on Grand

Megan, Winnie and I went to Paws on Grand, a kind of Grand old days for dogs, to celebrate Winnie's 2nd birthday! She had a great time and so did we. There were about a million dogs wandering about and many of the shops either had dog stuff outside, or allowed dogs to come inside. Every one was marvelously well behaved. We even saw two poor cats on leashes that obviously did NOT want to be there. Winnie got tons of treats, a new collar, and lots and lots of attention. People kept stopping us and saying, "I loove corgis!" and then launch into what corgi they knew. Here are some pictures we took along the way, and shown in a snazzy new google provided flash slide show. Here are the full size images.

Happy almost birfday, Pooh!

Happy Birthday Winnie!

Tomorrow, everyone's favorite corgi turns two years old! We're celebrating a day early by heading out to Paws on Grand, a sort of mini-Grand Old Days for doggies. Hopefully we'll come back with some pictures!

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Sign

If you have had any trouble fining us, there is a new resource for you. A huge sign, right above our windows.

The only thing funny is that right now it is the "Carleton Artist Lofts" but they put up "Carleton Place Lofts." I think this has to do with the future of the buildings not being artist only, but that is still 15 years off so we are quite set. We even get our own "Carleton" all to our own!

Megan (and Winnie) had the day off today, and thus were home once the air hammers started drilling holes in our outer wall installing the letters.


Needless to say they took a long walk.

Also, a few weeks ago there were also some workers who came by and water blasted the light poll outside our window, and then re-painted it a nice gloss black. You could see the old colors it has been over the years too. Green, brown, red, and black showed through. It's nice when they spruce up our neighborhood!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Almost NSFW

Thats "Almost Not Safe for Work" for any one reading. Via Cute Overload here is something just too strange...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Insanity is thus

I was getting sleepy on my drive home yesterday so I turned on talk radio only to hear our own loverly Michele Bachmann (the fighting MN-6!) talking about her weekend trip to Iraq. Now you could argue with her on the merits of her opinions and observations and hold a relatively reasonable discussion - if this was the year 2003. But here we are in the middle of 2007 and thus, she is completely insane. It became all the more insane when I learned today that her delegation never left the greeenzone, never met any Iraqies, and was prohibited from staying overnight. This was in addition to wearing body armor the entire time she was there. The host jokingly down-played the body armor by saying that it would be useful in Minneapolis too. Funny.

Not to end a political post too bitter though, here is Jon Stewarts take on her trip:

"You weren't even in the real Baghdad. You were in the Green Zone. That's like going to the Olive Garden and saying you've been to Italy."


Sunday, July 08, 2007


We have finally become members at our little local co-op! I know you don't have to be a member to shop there, but it feels funny going in so often and saying no, we are not members. So for $30 our guilt is removed, we get discounts, and at the end of the year we get dividends on what profits they make in relation to what we spend. Additionally, if we volunteer for 3 hrs a month we get 15% off everything. It is a really nice shop and it feels good to shop there. They are relatively inexpensive and have a ton of stuff packed into their little shop. We are celebrating with curry, yum. 

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Car update

So the volvo is having juice problems and I think I have found the issue. This thing is called a voltage regulator and it keeps the voltage at 14.4v that makes the car happy. I pulled out mine from off the alternator and those two little spring loaded silver teeth are warn down to hardly anything resulting in the alternator giving up only 2.5v because it thinks something is wrong. They guy I bought the car from has lots of parts and he is going to sell me an entirely new (used) alternator for $30. I can then decide to just pop out the regulator and replace mine or re-do the entire thing. Then I should be good to go again.

New Bonsai

Here are some photos of my two new bonsai I got up north. Megan and I collected them from the same ski trail that I got my other cedar from, but about a half mile further. The benefit of getting them from ski trails is that they have already been through a very harsh natural environment that leaves them old but stunted. First they are exposed to wildlife by being in the open, then they are mowed every year by the lodge before winter, and then when it does snow they are packed down under the snow by this thing making the ski trails.

The first one here is a Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) that is very small and frail. Right now it has about 5 leaves and one of them is dying off, and when I brought it home and looked at it close it was covered in hundreds of little white bugs. But thanks to our own bug problem we have been having with our house plants, I already had a batch of insecticidal soap at the ready and they are gone now. This particular one has been recently browsed by something, you can see the tooth marks at the top. What is particularly amazing is the trunk that has this wild twisting shape to it (2nd photo). So I really hope it survives and thrives for me! I am already quite attached which is not good because I give it 50/50 to survive.

Paper Birch Bonsai

A look at the trunk

The second one I got was this White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) that is the same as my other cedar. It too has a wild twisting curve that I moved to be horizontal from its original vertical.

White Cedar Bonsai

I am going to give both of them a year before I do anything more except make them as healthy as I can. Right now they are getting a itty bitty bit of fertilizer in their water and good light. They both need to survive the winter outside (as do all seasonal trees) so they need to be well rested.

Winnie's new game

Here's a short video of Winnie in Lake Superior... She attacks the water, but the water attacks back!

Friday, July 06, 2007

No Blogging, Blogging!

I have gotten to the point that I have so much to write about, but have not written in so long, that I am just saving up the stories! Blogging constipation if you will. I guess its a good thing when I can say, 'I have been way too busy to blog!' vs. having too much time on my hands. So coming up in more detail are:

• Wedding blogging
• Fire blogging
• Cabin blogging
• Car blogging
• Beer blogging
• Bonsai Blogging
• Old friend Blogging

But for now a quick digest...

So did you know my friend Alex got married and I was in the wedding? It was quite the affair that took all time time from Wednesday to sunday two weeks ago already. My sister took the photos too, so those will go up later.

And on the way to the bachelor party my car died. The problem is electrical, I wont get into details, but it has a new battery now but that did nothing. Time go get greasy again! We also went to the cabin using my moms nice car (mm AC) and made me really start thinking about something a little newer. Personally I am wishing specifically and realistically for a 1999 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT. All wheel drive goodness that is quick too. Runs around $6,000. I would like to have it before winter time. But first I have to fix mine of course.

Megan and I had a great time up north. The burn area was amazing to see and I have tons of good pictures. In short, the place is beautiful and crazy green. The blowdown was ugly, this is beautiful. I can't wait to watch it grow!

I also tried our lavender homebrew we bottled last week. Its not done yet but is coming along. None of the strong lavender flavor is there but its has defused into light floral flavors. Next up: Belgian Chocolate Stout

Also, two new Bonsai! I just potted them last night and did an initial trim on one. One needs a better pot and one is just in an plain brown one that should be ok for a while. One is a white cedar and one is a paper birch taken from about 1/2 mile from where I harvested my old one. Pictures later!

I also re-connected with my old friend Sam from High School at Fort Snelling on the 4th of July. I have not seen him in over 5 years! He is a captain now, from the 1800s of course. Peace corps for him next, but not till November so hopefully we can get together before he goes.

Ok thats the digest blogging! More to come later and in no particular order.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

East Bearskin

Chris, Winnie, and I are back from our trip up the Gunflint Trail! As usual, it felt too short and we didn't get to do everything we wanted to do, but we still had a great time. The weather was perfect every day, sunny and warm until the last night, when we got some nice rain to sleep in. When we left Grand Marais it was 48 degrees... brrr!

Fishing was much better this year than last (The Fishing Season Which Shall Not Be Named). Clearly my new reel is lucky! We didn't spend too much time trying, but caught 7 good-sized small mouth bass and one big brook trout. Our trout stream was unfortunately covered in a thick cloud of black flies, so we couldn't spend much time there, but we'll head back in August when the brook fishing is better than the lake fishing and the black flies are way down.

I found a four-leafed clover with Winnie on our first morning walk, and Chris found a six-leafed clover (!!!) on the way to harvest a new bonsai two new bonsai from the ski trail. Pictures of the bonsai and their story to come........

We drove up to see the fire damage at the end of the trail to finally put some real images into all those fire maps that Chris posted on the blog. I was amazed at what we saw! As we were leaving, Chris said that he had "some serious fire blogging to do!", so I think I'll let him tell that story too.

Winnie had a blast as usual, getting in some good swimming time, chasing some chipmunks, digging some holes, and reverting to her wild-corgi self. As soon as we got home, she slunk into her usual post-cabin depression, which consists mainly of not eating and not wanting to play. All she wants to do is chew on her stick that she brought home from the cabin. Poor girl. She always gets back to normal after a few days, but I sort of understand how she feels (minus the chewing on the stick part).

Chris and I celebrated our four year anniversary on Sunday (!) in the traditional northwoods fashion of gorging ourselves on Trail Center ribs. It was amazing :-) I got a new necklace from Sivertson Gallery and we spent the day out in the woods, remembering when we found each other there four years ago. So much has changed, but the woods always seem to stay pretty much the same somehow.

So, we are home and readjusting to life in the city. More stories of our adventures will follow, but for now... pictures!

At the shore on the drive up, Winnie introduced her lobster to freshwater

Columbines on the shore

We're almost there!

Gunflint Lake

Winnie and Chris goofing around on our day in town

Corgi bum in the wilderness

Grand Marais on a rainy, cold day on the way home

Winnie watches Chris collecting rocks

Introspective corgi

Moss on the shore

We're home!

More to come after we rest up.........