Monday, June 28, 2010

Ruby survives the weekend, heads to Gainesville

Headed to Gainesville in the Ruby Red Rubymobile
Ruby surprised us by surviving the weekend. Her diagnosis had been slowly degrading over the weekend, to the point where the vet on duty at the hospital told us she was borderline DIC. Her platelets kept dropping lower and lower, as well as her red-blood and white cell count. The definitive cause of her condition is now something of a mystery, but the doctors did the right thing by treating the symptoms as much as possible. I firmly believe if they had not given her what she needed she would have died and bled out that Saturday.

Now she's on the way to Gainesville veterinary school, and the small animal emergency clinic that they run. We've been there once before, back in 1986, with a yellow male named Rhett. Rhett had become ill some months before, in the early part of 1986. The vet at the time tried one antibiotic after another, trying to knock out the infection. Finally Judy took Rhett to a specialist in Sanford, who then recommended Judy take Rhett on to Gainesville. Two days after arriving at Gainesville they discovered a cure for his infection, and it wasn't long after that Rhett was his old normal self. Rhett was six at the time; he lived 10 more years after that.

So the wife, the oldest daughter, and Ruby are packed into the Ruby Red Rubymobile, and taking a road trip up to Gaterland, hoping for a second miracle. We shall see.

I'm no vet, but after nearly 30 years of raising and living with labs makes me wonder if there isn't something else going on with Ruby. My current theory is that she got a bite on the inside of her left ear, and that the walk pumped whatever was in the bite through her body. Her system started to react to the bite's material (venom, perhaps?), and as a consequence she's having an auto-immune response. Who knows. The expertise is in Gainesville, and if anybody can give a definitive answer they can.

Some good signs were the fact she wanted to walk around once she got outside the hospital, that she definitely wanted to get out of the car and go inside the house when we got home; from there she went out and checked out the back yard. She was pretty much wagging her tail the whole time she was up. And finally, when the Prius was buttoned up and everybody was leaving for Gainesville, she was sitting up in the back and smiling.

I'm not so selfish as to hang onto an animal to the exclusion of all else. There are definite quality-of-life issues at play, and if Ruby can't have a good active life, then it is time to let her go. But as long as she fights I won't give up on her, anymore than I'd give up on my wife and daughters. I am hopeful, but realistic.


The "girls" arrived in Gainesville and the vet facility just before noon. According to Judy, Ruby refused to be placed on a gurney and wheeled inside. Instead Ruby jumped down and walked in, checking out every room that had an open door, and pausing to receive greetings and rubs from every person (and I mean every person) who turned and saw her enter. Ruby, if anything, is the perfect definition of the gregarious Lab. And the fact she had that much energy to do all that (all the while wagging her otter tail a mile a minute) is more good news.

The doctor (and his student assistant) saw Ruby and noted that she looked "really good". But the doctor did note the anomalies in her charts. They are going to keep her overnight, in the mean time they're going to perform a toxicology exam to see if there are other issues at play. The doctor also gave praise to the hospital team, saying they did exactly what they should have done given the circumstances. In the mean time wife and daughter are driving back home.

Update 9PM

Gainesville just called. The doctor on duty told us that Ruby's condition continues to slowly deteriorate, specifically her platelet count. They've also discovered what they consider serious kidney and liver damage. Kidney damage is considered the worse of the two. The doctor said that in the past vets would consider kidney damage irreparable. What they've now discovered is that the kidneys can come back from this stage if it doesn't get any worse.

He also told us that the numbers he's getting now are what he would have expected earlier. But because we caught it so quick, and because of the work the hospital did, that the damage was pushed back by at least 24 hours, buying her some more time to possibly recover. They're holding off trying anything else, just giving her saline and antibiotics and letting nature do the rest. It is still a long waiting game. She feels lousy but is not in any pain. Ruby's become something of a little celebrity with the staff; they check in on Ruby regularly. We may still get the dreaded call later in the night, we may not. Only time will tell.

Update 10:30PM

Judy and I had a talk. She informed me that the vet in Gainesville noted two major anomalies with Ruby. The first was a gastro-intestinal noise near the heart. This would not have been caused by the heat stroke, but would be considered a birth defect. The second was her higher-than-normal breathing rate. Again, this would not have been caused by the heat stroke. The vet's observations dove-tail with our observation of Ruby's "noises". Ruby would at times "snore" while she was in a dozing state, but not while awake (obviously) and not in deep sleep at night. I always thought it peculiar, and I asked our vet several times if this should be a concern. Our local vet said 'no'. This was the same vet who gave Ruby a clean bill of health when she was eight weeks old.

Based on the current unfolding events, and regardless of what happens to Ruby, Judy and I have made the decision to phase out our current local vet and to start using the vet recommended by the veterinary hospital. Second, I've started to talk to my office manager about the breeder network in her area. She raises Dalmatians, and those breeders (up and around Seminole county) are stringent about breeding as well as placement. I want to find the equivalent Lab breeders. Good breeders know other good breeders. I once thought Ruby's breeder was a reputable breeder, but now I have my doubts.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ruby suffers heat stroke

Ruby quietly resting at the animal hospital
Today was not a good day for Ruby. It started out early on a sour note; we lost power some time before 7am, and didn't get it back until 8am. I had planned to take Max and Ruby on an early walk before the heat got unbearable. That got pushed back until the power came back on.

So we pushed off at 8:30am on a walk we've taken so many times before, but after sundown in order to avoid the heat of the day, usually because it's after I've come home from the job and worked a bit around the house. On those evening walks, I let them rest after their walk for at least 45 minutes, until I hear no more panting. Then they get fed for the evening.

This morning was different. Judy had fed the labs at 6:30am, so they still had food in their stomachs, even two hours after being fed. The walk was the usual energetic walk, with Ruby checking everything and everyone out, and running to meet and greet two- and four-legged stranger alike. The walk normally runs for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how they feel and what additional roads we walk down before we finally get home.

Ruby is nearly 2, and Max is nearly 10. In spite of Max's "advanced" age, he walks like the Energizer Bunny; he just goes and goes and goes. Ruby is turning out to be different. She doesn't quite have the stamina that Max has, and that limitation caused her issues with today's walk.

I could tell she was having problems; right before we got home, at the entrance to the street on which we live, she sat down to rest. Ruby has never sat down on a walk before, but she did today. She was breathing heavily and saliva coated her lower jaw. That was the first warning.

I let her rest, then she got back up and walked slowly to the front door. The house is of course air conditioned, and we have ceramic tile throughout the house. Ruby immediately went into the kitchen and laid down, spread-eagled with her lower body against the cool tiles, and continued to pant. It was shortly there-after that she threw up water; she'd apparently gone to her water bowl and had a long drink. That was the second warning.

We were going to take Max and Ruby to the groomers, but right before we took them out to the car Ruby lost her breakfast, and in the process she threw up on herself. Ruby (or any normal dog) will not throw up on themselves. And Ruby, as gross as it may sound, will eat it back. She wasn't interested and she was growing increasingly listless. This was the third warning.

Judy immediately tried to find an thermometer to take Ruby's temperature, but couldn't find it. We immediately called our local vet, and I got the car ready to transport Ruby to the vets. Max was showing absolutely no effects from the walk, so we left him in the house. He was curious and concerned about Ruby. It was now a little past 11am. I picked up Ruby and carried her out to lie in the back of the car, and Judy and I transported her to the vets.

When we got there they had me carry Ruby to the back and onto their examination table. The vet on duty immediately shaved her leg and started a full saline IV into her leg to get her hydrated. In the mean time they checked her temperature, and found it was normal. Ruby was still listless. In a example of the proper use of drugs, the vet gave her a shot or steroids to help her. In the mean time they called a veterinary emergency clinic and I transported her there, with the IV still attached.

We got her there and I carried her out and put her on a cart. They ran blood work on her and she was diagnosed at the beginning of heat stroke. They just called us to let us know that she's beginning to show limited petechia on her stomach, so they will give her a unit of plasma. Otherwise she's aware of her surroundings and she isn't vomiting. She's still considered critical, but she's maintaining body temperature.

Judy has owned Labs for 30 years, and I've co-owned them with her for 27 of those 30 years. I've never had a problem like this before. I feel absolutely horrible to have put Ruby in this condition. We think we caught it early enough, and Ruby is still a juvenile, so she has the strength of youth on her side.

All we can do now is wait and let nature take its course.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Comments

Toy Story 3

Saw the 11:30am show today in 2D, and managed to keep the cost down to $5/person. It was a wonderful movie, although a bit late for my family's life. The first Toy Story movie was released in 1995; my girls were 9 and 7, which seemed to fit with Andy's age of 6 in the movie. Toy Story 2 was released in 1999, four years later. This also fit in with the girl's ages; a pattern was established in our family. The girls strongly identified with Andy and were looking forward to another Toy Story movie.

Unfortunately there was an eleven year gap between Toy Story 2 and 3. Andy is 17 in this version, and getting ready to head off to college. The math doesn't quite add up at this point; if they'd kept to a reasonable timeline for Toy Story 3's release, then it would have been 7 years after Toy Story 2, or 2006. That would have placed it in the year my youngest went off to college, and two years after the oldest left as a college freshman.

Oh well.

Regardless, the movie is excellent, the characterizations are as wonderful as ever, with new toys in interesting roles. And the end of the movie is a real tear-jerker, as Andy hands off his toy collection (Woody, Buzz, Jesse, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, and Slinky Dog) to a very deserving recipient.

Father's Day Gifts

There's been a raft of articles published about what not to buy your father for father's day. I consider all those articles to be utter crap. My kids always gave me the most important gift a child can give a father for father's day; love. I never expected, nor demanded, a material gift, especially an expensive gift. I wore the ties and cherished every hand-made item my girls ever gave me, and I still have a few tucked away in my chest-of-drawers. I pull them out from time to time and I remember. It's the same lesson I learned when I was a child with my dad. My dad never complained, was always appreciative and enthusiastic. I can't imagine a father who would be so crass and materialistic who wouldn't love what a child gave them on that day, or any day for that matter.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thank you, Novell

It's been over a week since Judge Stewart ruled for Novell and against The SCO Group (or tSCOG, as it's known). The court had already concluded in August 2007 that Novell was the "owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights." Judge Stewart went farther by stating:
The Court finds that Novell had the authority under Section 4.16(b) of the APA to direct SCO to waive its claims against these SVRX licensees, that Novell had the authority to waive such claims on SCO's behalf, and that SCO was obligated to recognize such waivers.
In other words all existing lawsuits that tSCOG had filed against IBM et. el. were not only pointless because Novell owned the Unix copyrights, but because Novell did own the copyrights, Novell had the right to shut down all litigation started by tSCOG, and tSCOG was obligated to comply.

But the final paragraph in the ruling bears quoting:
Further, the Court finds that SCO's claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing fails because Novell acted in good faith according to a reasonable interpretation of the contract language. A breach of the implied covenant requires "objectively unreasonable conduct, regardless of the actor's motive." Here, the Court finds that Novell's conduct was objectively reasonable, considering its actions and the language of the APA. The Court finds that Novell's actions were motivated to protect its own interests and those of the open source community and were not taken because of influence by IBM or any ill-will toward SCO.
In the end it was Novell standing and persevering against tSCOG's inept lies about who owned the Unix copyrights that brought tSCOG's billion-dollar house of cards tumbling down. All the effort and money Novell expended, in spite of being unfairly maligned (and continuing to be maligned in certain quarters) for their "traitorous" cross-patent agreement with Microsoft in 2006. If this doesn't prove Novell's credentials as a real proponent and defender of open source, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Falling in love again

I went shooting a few photographs in downtown Orlando on Memorial day with a fellow Olympus user. In the process I had a lot of fun and fellowship and learned to love the Olympus ZD 50-200mm zoom all over again.

I picked Jim up at his place mid-day. We traveled downtown to Greenwood Cemetery. My friend Jim brought two E-510 bodies, one with a 9-18mm UWA zoom, and the other with the 70-300mm zoom. I brought my E-3 with a 50-200mm and my E-P2 with its 14-42mm kit zoom (along with just about everything else I own, including my tripod).

Jim and his Olympus

In spite of being festooned with all that gear on the right, I managed to fire off a fair number of shots during the two hour period we were there.

Nearly every shot today was taken with the E-3/50-200mm. Even though I've been using the E-P2 almost exclusively since the day it arrived at my place in December 2009, today was the E-3's day, or more specifically, the 50-200mm's day.

Wide open or stopped down, the 50-200mm produces sharp images with lovely contrast and detail each and every time. Attached to the E-3 body, it's every bit as good as the Olympus ZD 12-60mm zoom. While many speak glowingly of the SHG 35-100mm f/2, the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 can hold its own quality-wise with the 35-100mm, at roughly a third of the cost of the 35-100mm. Today, as I walked around with the E-3 and the 50-200mm, I came to appreciate the nearly instantaneous focusing of the E-3/50-200mm, the bright optical finder, and at home I came to marvel at the quality of images produced. Well, at least the technical quality. The artistic quality may leave a lot to be desired.

Light in the Darkness

At Attention Even In Death

Celtic Cross

Paying Their Respects