Dog Training

I took my new little dog to a training class to get some help with the basics of getting him to be a well-mannered pet.

The training course is six weeks long and run through the local Petco.

Copper is in the Adult Dog 1 course with another little dog named Licks.

Copper and Licks are both little scaredy dogs and spent most of the lesson hiding under their respective owners’ chairs.

Fortunately the lesson was mostly about the basics of what we as owners could do to correct undesirable behavior at home.

For example, Copper has a strange habit of digging into the couch when we sit down. The trainer thought this might be because he isn’t getting enough exercise due to him being crated during the day while we’re at work.

Copper’s house training has been progressing, he no longer pees in the house, only poop. In general we’ve been doing the right stuff but the trainer still had some tips.

We take him out and reward him for pooping, but what if instead of pooping he wanders around the yard?

The solution makes sense. Take him out in the yard on a leash and keep him in the “bathroom area” of the yard. Pretty soon he realizes what we want him to do and then he gets rewarded! Success!

Copper also got some homework to work on before his next class in two weeks (the classes are normally every Monday, but we’re taking Labor Day off).

His homework is to learn how to pay attention. We teach him this by holding a treat for him by our face and saying, “Look.”

If he looks we say, “Good dog!” and give him the treat.

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Here’s Copper working on his “look.” Also a shot of my toes.

As this continues we wait longer and longer between saying, “Good dog!” and giving him the treat until he stares at our faces for ten seconds.

After the ten second point, we start doing it without the treat or in more distracting environments until he stares at our faces for thirty seconds without a treat.

He’s managed maybe two seconds of staring with a treat before the cat distracts him.

Since we’re supposed to do it without distractions we’ll have to train him without Lucky in the room in the future.

-GoCorral

New Dog, Copper

Copper with his technicolor rope (it looks brown to him).
Copper with his technicolor rope (it looks brown to him).

I got a new dog three weeks ago named Copper.

He’s a Jack Russel/Yorkshire Terrier mix as you can see.

Before we adopted him he was found on the street when he was about one year old. His first shelter gave him all his shots, but he was apparently too shy for adoption. They were going to put him down.

A different shelter adopted him to prevent his death. They neutered him and about a month after that we got him.

He’s been quite a hand full. The shelter my wife and I adopted him from assured us that he was house trained, leash trained, and got along with cats.

I can assure you that none of those things were true when we got him.

He’s pooped in pretty much every room in the house. We’ve been working solidly on house training him, but its still frustrating.

He’s somewhat leash trained, but he doesn’t like going on walks for some reason. Copper doesn’t run when I tell him I’m taking him on a walk, but he doesn’t get very excited either.

Once the walk starts he spends the first two blocks trying to go back home until he realizes that I won’t let him do that. Then he starts enjoying his time outside.

And the cat thing. He actually does get along with the cats now that he knows them, but at first it was just a bunch of fights between them. Their relationship still isn’t perfect, but at least they aren’t trying to murder each other 24/7 anymore.

He certainly isn’t shy around us, but he’s proven to be very territorial and aggressive towards other people. The best way to fix that is to take him to a dog park and socialize him with other dogs.

I’d like to do the dog park thing, but unfortunately, Copper doesn’t know any basic commands yet. If he went wild for some reason at the park there’d be no way to control him besides force.

I’ve been teaching him basic commands (sit, down, stay, come, off, drop) and he’s made some improvements. Hopefully he’ll master those within the next few weeks and then we can take him to the dog park.

He’s shown promise for learning a few other commands as well. He loves to jump up and down on his hind legs. He can close drawers by jumping up and pushing on them. He knows how to do rolls and how to fetch. He just isn’t trained to do any of those things on command yet.

The fortunate thing is that if he does tricks like those on his own, then he can be trained to do them on command fairly easily. I’ll work on that after he reliably does the basic commands.

Sitting on my lap while I write the blog.
Sitting on my lap while I write the blog.

Copper is a great dog. I’d wanted a dog for a long time and I’d built up this ideal dog in my head that I would get when the time is right. Copper is not that dog, but he’s showing that he can be if we help him to learn how.

-GoCorral

Carma the Cat’s Injury

I took my cat, Carma, to the vet because she had a rather large lump on her cheek.

My lumps. My lumps. My lovely kitty lumps.
My lumps. My lumps. My lovely kitty lumps.

My wife noticed the lump at the beginning of the week. I felt it on Sunday and it felt like it was only fur back then.

The lump grew as the week went on and it became clear that we needed to get her some help.

She wasn’t eating, drinking, or moving around as much as she usually does.

We made a vet appointment and I looked up her symptoms online.

While we were worried about cancer at first, her symptoms matched up with an abscessed tooth. She’s had tooth problems in the past so a tooth infection didn’t seem too far fetched.

When I took her to the vet the diagnosis was not an abscessed tooth, but just an abscess. She had an infected wound on her cheek.

Something had punctured her cheek and gone through into her mouth. There was nothing in the wound and the wound was about the size of a cat tooth so the veterinarian guessed that it was a bite from another cat.

Carma never goes outside for long enough periods of time to meet other cats. The only possible culprit is our other cat, Lucky.

They must’ve gotten into a fight and Carma got the worst of it.

The treatment for an abscess is to puncture the sac of accumulated pus and let it drain.

They did that by shaving the fur on Carma’s cheek and then poking the lump with a knife. Seems odd that you’d treat a puncture wound with another puncture, but there you go.

Carma came back from the vet with her right side covered in blood and pus. She was also quite grumpy.

Best shot I could get of Carma covered in ooze.
Best shot I could get of Carma covered in ooze.

The vet told us that Carma would clean off the blood and pus herself, which she did.

She also got blood and pus all over the blankets in our room despite giving her a towel to bleed on.

She is a lot happier now. Moving around more, eating, drinking, coming downstairs, etc.

Here's the injury after she cleaned it up.
Here’s the injury after she cleaned it up.

We’re also trying to get Lucky to be less inclined to bite her. Any tips for that would be appreciated!

Either way, Carma is on the road to recovery with twice a day antibiotics. Hopefully her summer coat will grow in and her shaved face will return to its former luster.

-GoCorral

Happy Kitty!
Happy Kitty!

Home Movie Review

A week after moving into our new home my wife and I had some of our friends over to celebrate my birthday.

We went out to eat and then saw the Dreamworks movie, Home.

The movie is about an alien race that invades Earth and takes over everything.

The trailer didn’t talk about this much, but the invading race, the Boov, are running away from another alien race, the Gorg.

The Boov move all the humans on Earth to Australia and deposit them in a prefabricated idyllic suburban complete with ice cream and amusement park rides for everyone (nevermind that most of the world wouldn’t consider this a paradise but a horrible alien environment).

The Boov overlook one human in the abduction process, Tip.

Tip and her cat, Pig, soon hookup with an outcast Boov, Oh. Oh is as socially awkward as someone can be and also accidentally sent an email to everyone in the galaxy, inviting them to a housewarming party on Earth. Everyone in the galaxy also includes the Gorg who will be coming soon to blow up the Earth.

The rest of the Boov are looking for Oh. Oh is running away from them with Tip, but to get her cooperation he has to help find her mother who was moved to Australia.

The trailer can probably tell you the rest of what you can expect from the movie. Oh doesn’t understand human culture and Tip teaches him about it.

I liked the movie a lot. It is a traditional kid’s movie where everyone gets a happy ending with no consequences, but that’s fine.

The acting is well done by Rihanna and Jim Parsons. They aren’t playing characters that are significantly different from what they’ve done before. A little typecasting never hurt anybody.

The movie has great coloration as well. I don’t often expect movies to be that visually pleasing.

The Boov have all sorts of colors for their technology, going all over Earth presents tons of different landscapes and colors, and most important of all the Boov themselves have tons of colors to represent their different emotions (blue for neutral, red for anger, yellow for scared, green for lying, etc.).

The movie had the ever present issue of “Why does everyone speak English in space?” but that’s something you get over after watching and reading tons of science fiction stuff.

It was the perfect movie for my loosely space themed birthday party! We had a cake with stars and a moon on it after the movie of course.

-GoCorral

Unpacking

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Putting together packaged furniture while the cats observe.

Unpacking boxes takes an awful lot of work.

My in-laws had come up just to help with the big furniture. After they left we were still left bunches of boxes to unpack.

Additionally, we hadn’t fully moved out of our old apartment. We have a lease that extends until the end of August. There are ways to get out of the lease, but moving somewhere else isn’t really one of them.

We have the option to sublease, but there are tons of people that want to sublease during the summer in Davis. We don’t even have the added benefit of offering a continuation of the lease past August because our apartment complex already found someone for that slot.

So why didn’t we wait until we’d finished the apartment lease before moving into a new home?

It’s mostly because the home is way bigger and a better place to live in. We thought about it prior to moving. Either way we end up paying the same amount of money. The apartment lease is for X amount of months whether we stay in it or not. The house we buy/bought will be Y amount of dollars whether we buy it in March or August.

So we’re not actually paying anymore money than if we’d stayed in the apartment until August. We have to pay MORE now, sure, but the total amount is the same.

I’ve got a decent amount saved up, so paying more now isn’t a huge inconvenience.

In exchange for paying more now we get to live in the house six months earlier. Woohoo!

Living in the new house includes many beneifts, most of which are related to choosing how our new house will be set up.

We get to decide where everything goes in our kitchen and the garage. We get to pick out plants to grow in the backyard. We get to pick out art to go on the walls or to present on shelves. We get to print out more pictures to put on our walls. We get to find places to put all the cat stuff. Stuff that never had a “place” at the old apartment (my wife’s shoes) get a whole new piece of furniture devoted to them.

All the new stuff is super great! And we get to blast music and stomp on the floor and not worry about offending our neighbors anymore. Nobody lives directly under or beside us.

Taking out the trash isn’t a huge trek across the parking lot (100 yards feels huge when you’re carrying 50+ pounds!). The laundry machines are much closer and I don’t have to hoard quarters like a lunatic anymore.

So many cool new things and this is only the beginning!

-GoCorral

Thanksgiving Traditions

For those of you who don’t know, today is Thanksgiving in the USA! Turkey time!

My family has a few Thanksgiving traditions.

First, we set up the table for everyone who is coming over. This involves adding extra leaves to make it bigger as well as covering the table in butcher paper.

The butcher paper is not for butchering, but for writing on. We write and draw things we’re thankful for, like each other, or well-made bread, or that more Star Wars movies are coming out.

Then we have the usual food traditions of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Additional food is for my wife, who is a vegetarian. She likes making spanikopita instead of turkey. Spanikopita is a baked dish made with filo dough, butter, cheese, and spinach. Its really good!

We all eat the dinner and usually avoid the awful drama of arguments with your relatives.

After dinner is pie time.

My sister is the one who usually makes the pies. The typical number is eight, which ends up being about one per person at Thanksgiving dinner.

After eating everything we spend the rest of the night cleaning before falling asleep early.

But the fun isn’t over there! The next morning there is still plenty of pie left to eat! My sister invites all her friends over to eat the leftover pies. I know most of them, so its good to catch up with them and eat sugar for breakfast.

Most of those traditions are getting disrupted this year. My sister has moved to Ohio and is staying there this year. My dad and step-mom are going to my step-mom’s aunt’s house for the holiday, so they’re not in town either. I’m spending Thanksgiving with my lovely in-laws!

Most everyone in my wife’s family are vegetarians, so there will be no turkey this Thanksgiving. The spanikopita will be replacing it. Everything else is still going to be here though! Stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, and people that I love.

There’s also talk of going on a hike before cooking begins.

I miss seeing my direct family, but I saw them last month and I’ll get to see them all again in December for Christmas. At least I get to see the family cat because I’m taking care of her while they’re away.

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving wherever you are and however you celebrate it!

-Mister Ed

Wedding Vows

Wedding Kiss!

I got married one year ago to my favorite person, my wife!

Here are the vows we said one year ago and repeated today. ❤

Me: I promise to dance with you all the time

Her: I promise to always try to make you smile

Me: I promise to let you have a cat

Her: I promise to love you when you sneeze and I promise to let you have a dog

Me: I promise to walk the dog

Her: I promise to love walking with you

Me: I promise to help with the dishes

Her: I promise to cook you delicious meals and when I’m lucky, cook with you

Me: I will do the laundry and the vacuuming

Her: I will do the chores you are too sleepy to finish

Me: I will hold you when you have nightmares

Her: I will try not to keep you up every night with my excessive talking

Me: I promise to go to Ujam with you sometimes

Her: I promise to let you play video games, in moderation

Me: I promise to kiss you before I go to work and when I get home

Her: I promise to show you that I love you each and every day

Me: I promise to put away my toys when I am done playing

Her: I promise to be a kid at heart when I am with you

Me: I will take the kids to school and change diapers

Her: I will enjoy being a parent with you when the time comes

Me: I will wear the clothes you pick

Her: I will try not to be too opinionated

Me: I will drive us to fun places

Her: No matter where we go, it will be fun if it’s with you

Me: And there’s only one thing you need to know

Together: I love you!

-Mister and Missus Ed

 

The Fault in Our Stars

I read The Fault in Our Stars next to my cat, Carmelita.
I read The Fault in Our Stars next to my cat, Carmelita.

This weekend I read a popular young adult fiction book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The book is written from the point of view of Hazel, a teenager with lung cancer (15% survival rate, likely higher for her specific case) who is always hooked up to a respirator.

She begins attending a support group for teenagers with cancer. At the support group she meets Isaac and his friend, Augustus.

Hazel begins dating Augustus, who has a a less lethal type of cancer than her (osteosarcoma, 80% survival rate).

The book explores how teenagers react to their own terminal illnesses, how their families and friends react, and what a cancer patient might want to be remembered for.

One of Hazel’s struggles is that she doesn’t want to only be known for having cancer.

She loves poetry and reading. The book acknowledges that she is even smart enough to be attending community college for some type of English degree.

Unfortunately, all of Hazel’s friends from before cancer only see her as a sick person, not someone who loves literature.

Sick of pity from her old friends, Hazel has withdrawn from public life and only interacts with her family and her new friends from the support group who personally understand her illness.

Hazel also withdraws because “she is a grenade.”

She fears her eventual death and doesn’t want to hurt anyone who gets attached to her. Thus, she avoids making such attachments.

I’d definitely recommend the book. It’s a quick read, well written if predictable, and on a topic worth learning more about.

There’s also a movie adaption coming out on June 6th 2014 in the USA. The book wasn’t enough, so I’ll be going to the movie to get more even if the story is the same.

I’ll probably check out more of John Green’s work too.

-Mister Ed

Order of the Stick

I read a few webcomics and one of my favorites is called Order of the Stick.

There are different genres of webcomics just like any other medium.

My favorite genre combination happen to be humorous comics about video games or D&D written by physicists or computer scientists.

Anyways, Order of the Stick fits pretty well into that genre.

Order of the Stick is drawn and written by Rich Burlew, a game designer who now does the comic full time.

The comic is about a band of adventurers named the Order of the Stick fighting the evil lich, Xykon.

As you can see the comic is drawn in a fairly simple style which is occasionally lampooned by the characters themselves. For example, Roy’s feet are different sizes and there is a comic where he talks about how his big shoe goes on his left foot.

Speaking of Roy, the main characters of Order of the Stick!

Roy is the black guy on the far right of the picture above. He is the leader of the Order of the Stick, an intelligent and principled fighter who fights Xykon due to an oath sworn by his father.

Next is Haley, a rogue with a complicated past. She joined the Order of the Stick to earn money to pay her father’s ransom. She’s stayed on due to the good work the group does and because she’s started dating the next person in line.

Elan is the blond guy playing the musical instrument. He is hyper aware of storytelling tropes. He also has an evil twin, a good mother, and an evil father. Elan is a bit dumb when it comes to anything that isn’t a storytelling device, but he has a pure heart.

Durkon is the short bearded guy. He’s a dwarven cleric. He looks out for everyone else in the party. He has a strong sense of honor and is always ready and willing to do the right thing.

The short bald guy behind Durkon is Belkar. He’s an evil halfling psychopath. His journey with the party is basically a form of community service for murders he’s committed in the past. You’d think this is weird, but its a fairly common gimmick used in D&D. The cat walking next to the party belongs to Belkar and is named Mr. Scruffy.

Flying above the party is Vaarsuvius, an elven wizard. Vaarsuvius is arrogant and uses magical power to cruelly avenge the slightest insult. Vaarsuvius’ gender is never revealed in the comic and is joked about on a few occasions.

Xykon is close to achieving his goal of using an ancient evil to rule the world, but the Order of the Stick is ready to stop him. Of more concern is Xykon’s assistant, Redcloak, who is planning on double crossing Xykon at any moment.

That’s enough on one comic for now!

-Mister Ed

Good and Bad

I had a strange amount of ups and downs today.

I started off by trying to install some child locks on our bathroom cabinets. Our new cat has been trying to sneak in and we think it’d be best if she doesn’t have access to all the toilet paper at once or all the chemicals that could hurt her under the sink.

Child locks come in two parts, the part you have to push to open it and the part the pushy part inserts into to keep the door locks. I’d glued the holdy part onto the cabinets on Monday.

I checked the glue today and was a bit rough in handling one of the holdy parts. It popped off in my hand. I sighed and reglued it on.

I glued on the pushy part and found it was very difficult to align it correctly with the holdy part. Fearing that I did it wrong, I only glued in one of the pushy parts today to see how it looks tomorrow.

After that frustration I went out to fix the flat in my bike. The flat had happened on Friday and I got new tubes on Monday.

I put the first tube in and it immediately popped. Figuring they can occasionally be duds, I pulled it out and put a second one in. It seemed fine and I biked off to work. It popped just before I got onto campus. I sighed and walked the rest of the way to my job.

I figured I was too pissed off to immediately get to work at lab, so I decided to make a quick appointment with an optometrist in town.

The optometrist informed me that I needed to know the exact amount of coverage my health insurance gave me for vision before I could get an appointment. On to calling the health insurance company then!

I called my health insurance and was put on hold (typical). I waited and zoned out not listening to the recorded message. Then the message said, “Goodbye,” and it hung up. I have no clue what led up to it saying goodbye, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the usual hold music.

I called again and avoided the previous menu options that had resulted in the robot disconnecting me. I ended up waiting an hour on hold before I got to talk to a human person.

The whole time it faked me out by switching up which robot voices were telling me about the health insurance website. Each time the voice changed I thought I had finally reached a real person only to have my hopes destroyed.

I eventually got the health insurance and the optometrist appointment set up.

After that my day improved. I stained some worms to see if they turn blue over the next two days. I checked some injected worms to see if the DNA I injected into them had successfully integrated into their genomes. IT HAD! WOOHOO!

I called my wife to come pick up my bike during the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to walk it home. She came by and put it in the car and reminded me why I love her.

At the end of the day my wife came home with two cupcakes for me.

A good day in the end despite the rocky start! 🙂

-Mister Ed