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Weblog for August '01
Thursday, August 30, 2001
Goodbye, my friends
They were born on July 8th, 1987, just a month or so after my friend, Winston had died.  And Rocky came into my life a few weeks later as a gift from Jeff and his girlfriend at the time to thank me for having given them a trip to Puerto Vallarta.  When Rocky arrived, I had no idea how big a part of my life he would become.  About three weeks later, Mike brought home Bruno, Rocky's brother and the lone remaining dog from the litter born that July day. Carole paid the fee for Bruno as a gift for Mike.  So in one sense, Rocky was my dog and Bruno was Mike's.  But as the years wore on and as Mike married and moved into his own home, both dogs became mine, and Bruno, especially, stole my heart.
They were constant companions, imposing constant obligations for their care and feeding each day.  My life revolved around being at home morning, noon, and night to make sure they were walked and feed.  In retrospect, I now realize that I eventually stopped going out to bars and hanging out till the wee hours because I had to get home to walk the dogs before too late in the evening.  I didn't travel much either, except as required by work, because of them.  They were a leash that tethered me to my home.
As puppies, they did wonderfully entertaining things like bounding exuberantly through the 17 inches of snow we got one winter here in Knoxville and terribly irritating things like pulling the string cloth wallpaper in strips from the wall in my family room.  Somehow though, I was able to forgive their mischief and recall mostly their playfulness in the snow.  I guess it is just one of the outcomes of falling in love with one's dog.
In 1994 when I went to Indianapolis to engage in a consulting assignment for a year, they accompanied me and provided a link to my "normal" life back in Knoxville.  We were the "three amigos."  Friends.  Companions.  My mornings began with walking them in all kinds of weather, though they never liked going out in the rain, before the sun came up so that they could do their daily business outside.  The last thing we did at night was to go for a walk around the circle just outside my condo for one final opportunity for them to relieve themselves.  My nights were often interrupted by the sounds of one of them shaking his head and rattling the inoculation tag on his collar.
For many of the years after they became a part of my life they would announce the arrival of someone outside the house by barking threateningly at the sounds or smells they experienced.  But it has now been a while since either of them barked.  I guess it just came to be too great an expenditure of energy to do so.  In the last year or so, they have remained mostly silent, the only sounds being grunts and groans as they attempted to come up and down the stairs in my home.  For the last three months or so, Bruno had finally given up on the effort to get up the stairs to my bedroom, where it had been his practice to sleep every night, and had settled instead for sleeping in the living room on the middle level of my home.  The challenge now became getting back into the house over what had become a mountain of a stoop, really only one ordinary step.  Bruno's hind quarters had begun to waste away as his muscles have atrophied, causing him to mostly drag his two rear legs and walk on his knuckle.  Walking outside on the concrete street and driveways caused him to come back into the house with that left foot raw and bloody from his inability to pick it up and put it down normally.  In recent days, I've had to help him over the one step on the stoop coming back into the house after our walks; he just couldn't lift up his frail little body to get back in without help.
Rocky too had begun to deteriorate.  I learned about a year ago that he had Cushing's Disease for which he had to take medication to control his body's cortizol processing.  The effect was that as Bruno wasted away, Rocky became potbellied.  He also had severe cataracts that robbed him of his eyesight, so that he often couldn't find a treat that was on the floor right in front of him.  Occasionally when I allowed him to walk outside off the leash, he would wander off as if going on an adventure that only he knew about, and I'd have to go to find him and lead him back home by leash.  He would occasionally walk up to the neighbor's door stoop rather than to mine, as if he couldn't distinguish between the two condos.  I suspect that he had become senile.
So after watching my two friends lose most of the evidences of their enjoyment of life and suffer through the ravages of aging, I called Dr. Moser, their vet, on Monday, taking the inevitable step that I knew that I must, as their friend, take for them.  We agreed that I would bring them to her on Wednesday morning and sign the papers giving her permission to put an end to their life.  So on Wednesday morning she administered a barbiturate to each of them, and they left this world, as they had entered it, on the same day.
And now my life has a gaping hole in it, a void echoing at the moment with the pain of losing my friends and the sorrow I feel over their absence.  I am glad that I did for them what I hope my own loved ones would do for me under the same circumstances.  More days added at the end of life are not necessarily a blessing.  When the end is inevitably imminent, the sooner it comes the kinder fate is.

Saturday, August 25, 2001
I can but observe
If we had remained married, Carole, my ex-wife, and I would be celebrating our 39th Wedding anniversary today .  However, since we divorced in February of 1981, I am now into my 21st year of being a bachelor.  It's hard to believe that we have now been divorced longer than we were married.  
At any rate, Happy Anniversary Carole.  I still celebrate the fact that we married and had two wonderful children.
Friday, August 24, 2001
"Feeding the beast ... "
Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News, who maintains a weblog as well as a twice-weekly column for the newspaper, recently commented that sometimes it is just difficult to "feed the beast," by which he meant it is hard to come up with material for his weblog.  Like him, I've also experienced that difficulty, and I've seen evidence that others too have that problem from time to time.  Dan Bricklin's weblog sometimes also goes several days between entries.  While one wants to post regularly enough that his readers (if he or she should be so lucky as to have regular readers) aren't disappointed by his failure to have something to say every day, the obligations of daily schedules or the refusal of one's creative muse to cooperate sometimes make it difficult to post daily entries.  So long gaps in posting occur, such as they have in this weblog recently.  
But getting back into the swing of things, I think a lot of people might find it useful to know about the Mail2Web site, where you can check your email over the web for any POP3 server without any obligation to set up an account or to register in advance with Web2Mail.  Just visit http://www.web2mail.com, enter the user name and password for your POP3 email account, and it will display any mail waiting for you at that account on your home email server.  Apparently it is set up so that it leaves the mail on the server, so when you return to your home machine you can still download it.  The web site even has a secure server link, so you don't have to send your password unsecured over the Internet.  All in all this free site provides a very useful service.
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2001
Viruses, Worms, and now Web Bugs!
Though "web bugs," as they are called, don't actually belong in the same category with viruses and worms, because they aren't nearly as malicious as the other two forms of Internet vermin, the metaphors used for naming these phenomena do have a "creepy, crawly" connotation.  Web bugs are not synonymous with software bugs.  That is, they are not mistakes in code.  They are an almost invisible (because they are so small) graphic quite intentionally added to a web page for a specific purpose.  The New York Times published an article yesterday ('Web Bugs' Are Tracking Use of Internet by John Schwartz) about these tools for collecting information on the web.  (Accessing that link requires registration at The New York Times web site, but the registration is free and a one-time event.)   
If you are interested in being aware when you are visiting a web site that has a web bug imbedded in it, then you'll find this web site, Bugnosis, of interest.  
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2001
More contact with SirCam
Once again a friend has become infected by the SirCam worm.  I have received two messages from him (messages that I'm sure he doesn't know he sent) containing an attached file and having the typical body text.  I've sent him a message telling him how to get the fix from Norton for resolving that infection but since I've received a second infected message I presume he hasn't acted on that advice.  It looks like this nuisance (the SirCam worm) will be around for a while, so we all might as well get used to dealing with it.
Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001
Happy Birthday, Belva Ann
Today is my dear friend Belva Ann Yoss' birthday.  It has now been twenty one years and a few weeks since we met.  
It was 1980 when I made my first trip to Portland, OR, to participate in a campaign that our company, Vernine and Associates, was helping Portland General Electric and Pacific Power and Light to put on.  They were trying to influence an upcoming election on the issue of the public power takeover of their companies.  We conducted training sessions with all the employees of those two utilities to help educate them about the issues and to suggest ways that they might discuss the subject with their fellow citizens.  
I got there to begin work on June10th only days after Mt. St. Helens had first erupted on May 18th.  The volcano was still smoldering.  In fact, during the first few weeks I was there I could look out the window of my room at the Marriot Hotel and see the plumes of smoke as it erupted several more times.  The subsequent eruptions were quite tame compared to the first one of course, but they were still impressive enough to spew ash all over the city of Portland causing everyone, including my friend Jane Hascall and me,  to have to wear surgical masks to make breathing easier.  
During my tour in Oregon for that campaign, I was given responsibility for conducting sessions at the Western Division headquarters for PGE which is where Belva Ann and I met.  She was managing the cafeteria there, when one day she spotted me coming through the lunch line, looking not only hungry but apparently lonely and in need of a friend too.  (When you are going through a divorce, the emotional toll is apparently evident even to strangers.)  So she introduced herself to me and, after knowing me for a few days, invited me to go on a picnic to Oregon's coast at Canon Beach.  One of Canon Beach's claim to fame is that it is the terminus of the Lewis and Clark trail.  And as it turns out, the picnic at that famous end point of one journey proved to be the starting point of another a long journey for us to a friendship that continues to this day.  
Our most recent adventure, among many during the years that have followed, was a sailing trip from Clearwater Beach, Florida to Key West with our friend, Don Vernine in June of 2000.  Here are a couple of pictures from that trip.
Belva Ann on Don's boat "One"
Don getting some rest on his boat.
Between that first picnic at Canon Beach and this sailing vacation to Key West an amazing number and variety of experiences have combined to build the bond that is our friendship.  When time permits, I'll add a page to this site to document some of those adventures.  
But for today, I'll simply say "Happy Birthday, Belva Ann.  I'm glad you befriended that lonely man in the lunch line.  You have been a significant influence in my life."