Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My pets and their new culinary adventure

Well my wife has always been the 'healthy' force in our family and since I've known her I've become more educated on health and well being. Recently she has been studying up on a fad if you can call it that of feeding household pets according to what they were designed to eat so they will live longer and be more healthy. Cats and dogs are naturally carnivorous though even wild canines as I understand will suppliment with grass. They however do not naturally eat a high volume or even a small amount of carbohydrates. Commercial dog food it turns out is mostly carbohydrates and some protein. Long story short, this trend involves feeding your dogs and cats raw meat which to me at first mention sounded 1. messy, 2. expensive and 3. gross.

It immediately occured to me though that wild dogs eat strictly raw meat and occassionally grass and nothing else to my knowledge so the gross part was more for me to cope with than the dogs. The next concern was cost but after crunching the numbers it turns out we are spending about $21.50 per week on pet food but if we took this route we would only be spending about $15 per week and less if we're diligent to seek out good sales at the butcher.

So this new diet began today with basically very good though mixed results. The food at this point is uncooked chicken which the butcher was kind enough to chop up for us. The animals (2 australian shepherds and 2 cats) all reacted differently.

The cats - "hmmm... what's that divine smell? Oooooh my is that a chicken in the bowl? Can't be! The humans have only ever given us brown crunchy nuggets and only they get to eat chicken. No no it is... it IS CHICKEN!!! OMG! Holy crap holy crap holy crap! Quick before they realize what they've done!!" *rip tear* *chew* *devour* *chomp* (essentially there was a feeding frenzy at the cat bowl)

Samwise (the older and more finicky of the two shepherds... in, I imagine, an English accent like Stewie Griffin) "Oh jolly good its breakfast... but wait. What the duece is this?? Someone dropped a raw chicken leg in my bowl! You there... human! What the Hell am I supposed to do with this?? It... is... RAW you imbecile! Cook it immediately! *Al begins to try his* "Al what do you think you're doing?? Oh well he's always been dim... Now see here I refuse to sink to the level of a common wolf. I am a pure breed and I demand tasty brown nuggets this moment! Here I shall remove this thing myself and you can give me nuggets! *Picks up chicken leg and drops it on the kitchen floor*... oh ewww it got in my mouth... it... ummm... hmmm now this is a curious sensation. This raw food has started me salivating uncontrollably. Maybe... um just a taste. No I can't... well maybe. *tentative lick* Err umm... well it isn't a crunchy nugget but its not horrible. *lick lick* *bite*..." etc etc.

So Sam very daintily ate his breakfast and cleaned the bones but left those in the bowl. Al on the other hand...

Al: "Food... looks different... not small and round. Food all the same *Chomp*. What the...!? This is raw friggin meat! THIS IS AWESOME!! *CHOMP* *CHOMP* *CHOMP* I am a freakin carnivore, baby!! *CHOMP* *CHOMP* Blood!! *CHOMP* *CHOMP* Bones!!! *CHOMP* *CHOMP* "Hey humans, next time let me kill this thing myself will ya???"

We think Al is going to end up getting slightly larger portions than Sam will but the 'experts' say dogs only need about 1 or 2% of their body weight though some may eat up to 3 or 4%. Oh and the thing we discovered with chicken bones is that they are only dangerous to dogs when fried. They are not normally brittle and do not splinter when raw and Al literally ate EVERYTHING in his bowl.

My first concern about it being messy though is a valid complaint because the dogs don't want to sit at their bowl and eat a chicken leg... they want to take it and go eat it on the carpet or worse a couch so we have to isolate them while feeding (Al in his kennel and Sam in the kitchen with the baby gates up.) Also now that the food is so much more enticing we have to feed the dogs separate from the cats... one of the cats approached Al's bowl and I swear he almost took its head off. We will have to make sure we wash the bowls well and the prep surfaces and all that but not any more cleaning than for normal food prep for the 'humans'.

We'll see how this new pet food works and there are several other 'raw' options we've read about, one being whole eggs. I guess dogs will eat the shell and all and it is good for their coats... again though the messy factor is a concern for me but we'll see. So far so good.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Certification direction change

Well after getting my start on studying to upgrade to MCSE 2003 I learned a few things that forced me to change direction a bit. I seems I missed the boat by a long shot and the MCSE upgrade path was retired a year ago! I'm glad I found out now after only two weeks of studying for a defunct exam and not in three months. The rather bad news for me is that now instead of taking just a few tests to upgrade my certification I must now start from scratch and take ALL of the exams to get 2008 certification. It isn't really all that bad because I will learn more in the process than I would were I to just study for an upgrade test.

Also I discovered that there is no such thing as MCSE 2008. I won't get into Microsoft's new certification structure because no one here likely cares... but my new goal is a cert call MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) - Enterprise Admin which is to the best of my knowledge the equivalent of MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems engineer). This will probably take me the remainder of the year to attain and I've already started studying for test #1. One thing that is mildly annoying is that the computer based training modules available are all comprehensive. Why is that a bad thing you ask? Well because it assumes I am NOT already an MCSE and it covers not only the advanced topics and those unique to a 2008 Microsoft network evironment but also all of the basic and fundamental concepts I have been familiar with for the last nine or ten years. Oh well, I will probably learn a few things that I have forgotten.

I'll keep the blog updated on my progress.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Adventures with powertools

Mission: To install an invisible dog fence.
Requirements: Create a complete circuit around property with buried wire.
Problem: Driveway must be negotiated somehow and existing expansion joints not deep enough to accommodate wire safely.

So I go to Home Depot to rent a concrete saw right? Easy enough if you know what you need. Now this is for everyone's future benefit: When the tool rental dude says, "For an extra $8 you can buy a diamond blade OR you can just use the standard blade already on the saw which should work for concrete" -- the correct answer is "Why yes; yes I would in fact like to buy the brand new diamond blade for an extra $8.00. Here's my Visa."

My answer was incorrect. I said, "If the regular blade works then I'll stick with that; after all I am only cutting across a driveway." What I actually said without realizing it was this, "No thank you, I will take the cheap-ass blade that wasn't really designed for quality concrete cuts and has as a side note already been used by at least one other renter for who knows what purpose for who knows how many hours. Here's my Visa."

It turns out the used blade was for lack of a better word, or rather for lack of any motivation to find a better word, poopy.

Here is a quick rundown of my learning experience (and yes I did adapt quite well and quite frequently... ... ...)

Part One
- Make a chalk line at the end of the driveway for the cut
- Plug in heavy duty extension cord in garage and stretch it out with the saw plugged into it only to find it is about 24" too short to reach the whole cut.
- Find another extension cord and add it to the chain.
- Start cutting
- Remember that I bought safety goggles and put them on
- Start cutting again... lots of dust... 5" and it stops.
- Sit puzzled for a moment.
- Check outlet (still plugged in)
- Run downstairs and check breaker (that was it!)
- Back outside and start cutting again... 6" and stop. SHITE!
- Run downstairs and flip breaker
- Back outside and start cutting again... 6" and stop. SONUVA!
- Run downstairs and flip breaker
- Back outside and start cutting again... 6" and stop. MOTHER(%$#%JACK(*&!F%^&PUSSBUCKET!!!
- Fume for a moment
- wipe sweat off of brow
- Realize that surge protectors have a built-in breaker; bring one outside and plug the saw in directly.
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Man this is dusty... wipe sweat, err, concrete paste from my brow.
- Suddenly I see a label half covered with concrete grime on the saw that says "ALWAYS PUL@@@@@@@OWARD@@@@@@@@@"
- I wipe the grime away to see that I have been pushing the saw forward instead of pulling it towards me. %&@$*&!@%$*&%$*&%@*&@#%%&*$%&@#!!!
- Go to the opposite side of the drive and start again hoping against hope that I will meet the line I have already cut.

Part Two: The Other Side
- Start cutting... 1" stop. reset. 1" stop. reset. 1" stop. reset. WTF???
- Notice that the wingnut holding the blade depth in place is loose and the blade is cutting 6" deep instead of 2" which I had set earlier. Fix it back at 2"
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
- Start cutting again... 6" and stop. HA HA! Reach over triumphantly and hit reset
Man it is really difficult pulling it to me because the saw is now spitting dust literally right into my face.
- Get an idea... run inside and get a box fan to also plug into power strip... turn fan on high and point at saw.
- Start cutting again... YES IT WORKS!!! WOO HOO ... 3" and stop. Hhhhhhhhhh... fan loses me 3" of progress.
-Start cutting again veeeeery slooooowly. 10" after about 30 seconds then stop.
- Basically repeat this very slow cutting and I actually finish and unbelievably I hit the line on the other side almost perfectly.
- Take shower
- Return saw to Home Depot
- Blog about it so all my friends can ruthlessly mock my inability to do anything like this right the first time.