Archive for October, 2011

It Must Be Genetic

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I may have made an allusion to the fact that John has difficulty communicating his thoughts and feelings effectively in a previous post (Better Left Unsaid). He tends to say things that seem unkind even though he swears this is never his intent. I have sometimes joked that he must be brain damaged or that he is lacking the empathy gene. However, in his most recent appearance in the home version of “How Unthinking Can You Be?” he moved from casual competitor to lightning round champion.

A couple of weeks ago he mentioned that he was planning a trip to Chicago to see our son, Seth. I thought it was a little unusual that he hadn’t included me in the planning or asked if I wanted to go along, but I figured he wanted to stay for five or six days, and taking off for more than a long weekend at this time of year might present a problem at work. Even though I was disappointed I wasn’t going, I didn’t say anything because I know that being able to travel is one of the things John enjoys most about retirement. When he finally got around to giving me the details of the trip, he really stepped in it big time.

“Guess what? I found a flight out of Wichita that was $100 cheaper just by changing my days of travel from Friday through Monday to Friday through Tuesday. That’s a great price.”

“You’re only going to Chicago for a long weekend?”


“I have several weeks of vacation time. Did it occur to you that I might want to come along?”

“Well, I thought you could stay at home and take care of the dogs while I was gone.”

At this point I lost the ability to process language so I’m not sure if he said anything else or not. All I know is that it took a couple of attempts over the next few days to clear the air and re-establish communication as he tried to articulate what he really meant. This prompted some research on my part into the human genome project to see if perhaps the empathy gene really exists. As it turns out, not only is there a genetic link to an individual’s ability to experience empathy, but researchers feel that their work with mice may result in new treatment for people with “social interaction deficits.” Until that is available, I will have to be patient and keep reminding myself maybe it really is genetic.

I’m Going to Miss Them

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I work with the best group of people you could ever imagine.  Rarely does a day go by without some kind of prank, good-natured teasing, or witty repartee occurring.  When we hire new people, we take great care to make sure they have a good sense of humor and can function in an occasionally raucous environment.  We are so serious and committed to this criterion that we’ve given it a separate designation:  The Duck Factor.  Since our organizational acronym is ESSDACK, occasionally mispronounced, ESSDUCK, our office mascot is a duck so duck factor seems appropriate.  We have several people retiring from our office this year so it’s going to be very difficult to replace them and maintain the same level of camaraderie and esprit de corps we have had the last few years.  I am sad to see Jerry, Pat, Bonnie, Rick, and Gretchen leave, but retirements are inevitable, even if we don’t like it, and I wish them well as they each start a new chapter in their lives.

Unfortunately, we found out last week that the five retirees are not the only ones that will be missing from the office soon.  John, the leader of our New Media Team, well, he is the leader for another week, has accepted a new position, and we all hate to see him go as well.  He’s not MY John, but my life seems to have more than its share of men with that appellation.  John is one of the ring leaders in our office’s band of merry men and women, and he has more than his share of the duck factor.  We are sad to see him go for more reasons than his sense of humor, but that is a big part of what I will miss.

I could write a blog post about what I will miss about each of the six people who are leaving, but I have a recent e-mail exchange with John that illustrates the kind of office culture we have that makes ESSDACK such an incredible place.  Keep in mind that his original e-mail went to everyone in the office, but I was the one that decided it needed a response.  We both made sure to include everyone in the office on the ensuing e-mails so they could share the fun.

“I was thinking about working in town today, but the flat tire I got last night sealed the deal. I picked up a nail — the car isn’t even a month old.

They grow up so fast these days…….in MY day you could have a new car for months or even a year before she brought home her first nail. And no matter how many times you tell her that the nail isn’t good for her, doesn’t have her best interests in mind….they never listen, and all you can do is be there to hold her hand, slap on a spare, and take her in to the shop in the morning. I guess…… I guess I had just hoped that I would have more time before she started having grown-up car problems. I guess you’re never ready, though…..”


“Wait until your tires indiscriminately pick up multiple nails…sometimes two in one week.  Then you will start to lie awake at night worrying about where your car has been.  You will start to blame yourself wondering if there was a better, nail-free path you could have taken her on.  Some of the responsibility must lie with our roads.  We don’t have the same high standards for paving material that we used to have, and that can cause even a good tire to go bad.  You just have to understand your car and appreciate the fact that the tires don’t go flat immediately because the only thing worse than a flat in the driveway is one on the road!”


“It does, of course, shed a bright, harsh light on the ineffectiveness of teaching your car to wait before trying nails.  I mean, you can teach nail abstinence in the garage, you can teach it to her on the road, you can teach it to her in parking lots, but when the time comes, you can’t be there between her and the nail — she’s going to have to make her own decisions.

I dunno. Maybe all that forbidding made the nail seem more seductive and interesting.  Maybe I should have tried a different approach, letting her meet nails in a safer environment.  Let her try something that might scratch the same itch without running her flat, like thumbtacks and staples.

There just aren’t any easy, right answers anymore.”


“And not everyone supports Roe v Firestone which makes free flat repair warranties available when you purchase new tires.”


“All right, I’ll stop, but for the record it’s TOTALLY not because Terri wins and I can’t come up with something funnier than “Roe v. Firestone”.  I mean, I totally could.  I know I could. I snorted coffee all over Panera about something else entirely.  I hadn’t even read Terri’s post yet. I was laughing at something else. Probably a funny cat picture or something.

So, like, R v F totally doesn’t win.  I mean, I suppose it’s kinda funny.  If you’re into that sort of thing.  Maybe I was laughing at a picture of someone’s dog or something when everyone around here was staring at me like I’m a crazy person.  I don’t remember.  But it totally wasn’t Terri.  So, like, we’ll call it a draw.”


“You’re welcome!”


Yep, I’m going to miss them!

I Think We Killed Him

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.  I buy junk food at the grocery store that I know will overrule my meager will power.  I plan more things in my day than I can possibly accomplish leaving me stressed and anxious.  However, the worst thing I do to myself is ignore my inner voice when it tells me something is a bad idea.

For example, ten days ago John decided it was time once again to rid the dogs of internal parasites (aka worming).  Somehow the rat terriers have a sixth sense when this ritual is approaching, and they disappear so John asked me to catch them before he went outside.  After giving them a much smaller dose than the one that almost put Tuffy in a coma the last time (See “How to Poison a Dog”), he asked if I wanted to worm Champ.  He asks me this every time, and every time I say, “No, he’s getting too old, and I’m afraid the medicine will be harder on him than any worms he might have.”

So why on this occasion did I put my common sense aside and take a tiny dab on my finger from the tube he held?  As I went into the house, my inner voice was saying, “This is a bad idea.”

“It will be okay.  It’s half the amount John gave the rat terriers, and I don’t want Champ to have gross worms chewing on his insides,” I countered.

“Then why have you said ‘No’ the last five times he asked?”

“Because I baby him too much.  That’s what John always says.  It will be fine,” I insisted.

“But this is John and dog wormer.  Are you really this slow?”

“Shut up!”

The first hour passed uneventfully enough that my anxiety began to diminish.  The vomiting that occurred the second hour is a fairly common reaction so I didn’t see this development as a problem.  Hour three saw some labored breathing and periodic cramping.  This was a little more disconcerting, but still no problem as it was within the range of expected symptoms.  However, I thought he might be more comfortable if I held him so he spent the next two hours on my lap.  When he started to whimper a little, I put his head on my shoulder thinking that position might be more comfortable.

Sometime during hour five, Champ’s body stiffened and then went limp as he simultaneously lost control of his bowels.  This might be a problem!  With the hem of my shirt pulled up over him, I rushed outside and gently put him on the ground.  Only then did I realize he had stopped breathing.  I only yelled for John a couple of times because I had no idea if he was anywhere near the house.  Champ had one chance, and it appeared to be a long shot of epic proportion:  me administering CPR.  I don’t know how long I did compressions and blew into his nose, but that was what I was doing when John sat down beside me and asked what happened.  With tears in my eyes I said, “I think we killed him.”

As John picked up his limp body, he said, “Are you sure he wasn’t breathing because he’s breathing now.”

I felt a surge of relief, but his glassy eyes and rag doll posture made it difficult to be very hopeful.  The next few hours saw little change, but slowly he began to improve.  His walking was very unsteady, and he had difficulty eating for a few days which made us think he might have had a mild stroke.  Whatever happened, he continued to make gradual improvement with each passing day.  By the next week, he was back almost 100%.  Even the nightly whining that we attributed to doggie dementia returned.  Yeah!!  The night the whining resumed John said, “During the last 15 years, Champ has survived an attack by a dog that outweighed him by 50 pounds, two bouts of pancreatitis, and surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his back.  I know something is going to kill him someday.  I’m just glad it wasn’t us.”

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