Life Goes On After Lessons Learned

Sometimes, life bites us in the arse and we turn around, surprised and, perhaps, more than just a little knocked off our not-so-proverbial feet.

I prepared. I tried to do everything right. And yet, so many things went wrong.

While driving up Nawth to attend my nephew’s high school graduation, I had an accident. Traffic was heavy but going at a fast speed. There had been the usual “Why are we suddenly going 50mph??” places so, like a good driver, I kept distance between me and the car in front of me. Near Woodstock, VA at mile marker 285.5 on I-81 at about 6pm, the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. I knew they did because the back of their car was hopping and fish-tailing. I put on my brakes and went to the right, into the right hand lane, so that if I didn’t stop in time, I would go beyond them. I didn’t want to go to the left, into the median, because of gravel and grass not helping me to stop. But my rear-wheel drive truck went into a slide. The back of the truck, an ’03 Chevy S10 Crew cab, slid to the left into the grassy median. When it did, I could not correct the slide. I knew, in that brief moment, that I was going to crash. I knew.

According to witnesses, the truck slid a few feet on the two driver’s side wheels, lay on that side, continued to skid, then rolled onto its top. I do not know if it rolled again or just landed on its top. I hit no one else. No debris hit anyone else.

During the slide, my left elbow hit the highway and I felt it get road rash. Then the next thing I know, the visor is in my face. It takes a few seconds for me to gather my thoughts. I didn’t realize I was upside down until they (the bystanders who stopped) reached in to unbuckle my seat belt.

Before I would let them do that, though, I was saying over and over, “Where’s Quinn? Where’s my dog?” Someone removed Quinn (who never made a sound) and then someone unbuckled me. I assumed my left arm was hamburger or at least broken so I tucked it under me and rolled out of what was left of my truck. Someone comes back and says they need the leash. I say backseat. They reach in and I see someone take the Flexi leash. Someone else is saying don’t move her further (meaning me). My neck is resting on some guy’s foot. He is shaking. Just as the paramedics get there, someone comes up and says “Don’t panic, but your puppy ran off”. Yeah, don’t panic. I try to get up but so many hands held me down. And, really, I don’t think I could have gotten up. I am told later that only my shoulders and head were out of the truck and I was twisted because of the way I rolled out of it.

The paramedics had to get creative. They needed to brace my neck and back yet because of my position, they couldn’t get a collar on me. So, bless their hearts, they used towels. And, really, I couldn’t move once it was all on. Once they got that on, they then concentrated on getting me on a back board and getting me out of the truck. (meanwhile, one of the tires was leaking and screaming that high pitched sound) All the time they are doing this, I am saying “I can’t go, I need to get my dog.” The paramedics assured me that I couldn’t do anything, that the trooper would look, that others were already looking. Against my wishes (but for my own good), I was extracted and taken to the hospital.

My time at the hospital is kind of blurry and not very pleasant. But what I remember is this: my painstakingly accurate spreadsheet of my medications on my phone was worthless. They needed something fast. And trying to resize the spreadsheet constantly wasn’t working. They wanted me to tell them my allergies. I couldn’t remember them all. A print out in my wallet case (which the trooper brought later) did not include my allergies.

I had the ICE app on my phone that listed medications and allergies. Did I think of it? No. Did they ask if I had one? No. I have a MedicAlert bracelet (several actually) and a necklace. Where were they? In my bag. By the time I thought of it, they no longer thought it necessary to know all of my history.

My arm is not broken and was barely bleeding. I was offered no ice pack. At one point, I was on the back board still, waiting for results of something, and I am bawling. My phone is across the room. I have no button to call a nurse. I called out about 4 times before someone heard me. It was not a busy night. She gave me my phone and left. I feel so fucking alone. My Quinn is missing. Lorna is 6 hrs away. Kevin (my brother) and his wife are still several hours away. I punish myself by refusing all medications but ibuprofen. So they don’t take me seriously, thinking I am not in that much pain. I am discharged at midnight with a prescription of ibuprofen. No diagnosis, not warnings or things to look out for. One of the papers talks about nightmares. Another talks about how to care for a bone contusion. At least I knew then was was up with my arm.

Meanwhile, Lorna had figured out Facebook and had posted about what had happened and that Quinn was missing. And Quinn pert near went viral by morning. I started getting calls from people asking where should they start looking. And I’m like, “Mile marker 285.5 but who are you?” Two women met us at one of the “cross overs” (those roads that connect the two sides of the highway) and we discussed options. We gave them Quinn’s blanket, food bowl, and some food. They would set up a place for her to return to. The DOT Driver Assist guy stopped at one point to ask what we were looking for. He took notes. The county Animal Control guy met with us and sent us to a road under the highway that had a creek running nearby, thinking she wanted to get out of the heat and went to water. The Shenandoah County dispatch person was patient through all of my calls to her. My GP Nicole Ogg was friends with a GP in Woodstock. That friend happened to have another friend and patient who was the head of the County Shelter. People who knew people who knew other people.

We all kept looking but Kevin (my brother) and his wife Colleen had to get home. And I was really messed up. My arm was huge, my back was screaming, my head was pounding, so many parts of me hurt. We made the decision to head to NJ (it was only 4hrs away). We stopped at the accident site and called for Quinn over and over, just like we had been all morning. All of us frustrated we had to leave. It started pouring rain. Absolutely pouring. We saw the two ladies setting up the tarp over Quinn’s blanket and food at 285.4. We saw a DOT truck stopped just up the road but they were doing shoulder work and we thought nothing of it.

Just up the highway from Woodstock is Winchester. As we neared the exit, Kevin was trying to figure out how we could stay longer and keep looking yet still get Colleen and him their medications (they left home with nothing). Just as we passed it, my phone rang. It was the DOT Driver Assist guy. He had Quinn. He was at mile marker 285.8. He had seen us across the road but lost us in the heavy rain. He didn’t want to leave to go get us, afraid we’d lose her again. He thought she was a bear cub until he got closer.

We turned around and raced back but the heavy rain kept us from driving too crazy. I got another call. The State Trooper was there and they were trying to at least keep her in place until I got there. She was scared and fear biting. I got another call. She was in the Trooper’s car. I cannot tell you how I felt. I just can’t. I mean, I didn’t think we would find her that day. No one did. She was a puppy. Frightened, lost on a four lane highway when she had grown up on a one-lane road. She was lost in the median but at some point that morning, had crossed to the northbound side. We stopped to get her blanket, hoping it would calm her. It was soaked. Kevin wrung it out, grabbed her bowl, and we hurried.

And there she was. On a leash held by the state trooper. My girl. She was soaking wet, covered in green balls and other seed heads. I pulled off five ticks on our way to NJ. Kevin thanked both men many times since all I was seeing was my girl.

So what could I have done differently?

The wreck itself. Rear-wheel drive trucks are stupid. All that power on an empty box when it should be up front. Once the rear wheels hit the grass median, it was over. So not much I could have done there. I had too many loose things in the truck. My laptop bag was open. The case of water bottles was on the front seat, open. Quinn’s toys. Her bag. All of that loose in a sliding, rolling vehicle equals a mess. Where was my wallet? The one with the information they needed? Not in my pocket. Not in my bag. But in the toss bin thing in the console of the truck. Next time I travel, more things will be tied down and better contained.

Losing Quinn. I had them take her out first. She had on a collar and a harness and was attached to a tether hooking her to the seat belt. She slammed into the back of my seat, I do remember that. The harness is not for seat belt use, but more for walking and anti-driver distraction. Meaning keeping the dog out of the driver’s way. Quinn was kept within the vehicle. All she had (besides ticks) was an eye injury that our vet believes happened during the accident and not later. A seat belt harness would have kept her from hitting my seat and perhaps kept her from injuring her eye. Although there were a lot of things being tossed around and any of them could have hit her. As for her getting lost, that was beyond my control. We thought she was dragging the flexi leash but we found it in the truck later. When she was found, she was not wearing her harness but my guess is she chewed it off. I don’t hold any grudge toward the person who had hold of her. She’s stronger than she looks.

My medical information. Oy, I cannot believe all my planning and it doesn’t work. For now I will be wearing the MedicAlert necklace or bracelet at all times. And I will ensure their information is up-to-date. And I will remember I have the ICE app. Duh.

Lessons learned. Life goes on. Bumps and bruises heal. The truck can be replaced. Quinn and I cannot. Life goes on.

How to Get Your Nook Books

We don’t do Kindle. Never have. Never will. Instead we get epub formats since they are quite universal. Nearly any ereader can view them with little to no converting. Which is why I dislike Kindle. And why I disliked Lorna’s Nook. When Barnes and Noble (B&N) dropped the Nook, we kept it alive for as long as possible. I even spent big bucks on chargers and cords since both were proprietary. Then it started dying and I couldn’t fix it. I got her a tablet, used Calibre to upload all her books, and she was happy. Then B&N got rid of the “download” button on their website. The only way to get your books was through a Nook or a Nook app.

I by-passed that by using Nook Study. It was designed for students to download textbooks and for years, it has worked. She bought her books, I used it to download them, then used Calibre to upload them to her tablet. Done.

Except today when she bought a book, Nook Study wouldn’t work. It tried to download and said they were “experiencing errors, try later” or something like that. Right. I knew the Nook Study was on the way out anyway because I tried to install it on her computer last year and it wouldn’t. They’d discovered the loop hole. And now they have tightened the noose.

Fine.

Lorna got the Nook app on her Android tablet and it automatically downloaded the book. It also downloaded a book I had bought several months ago that was not on her tablet. I went to the “Library” and long pressed her new book (when in doubt on an Android device, long press). Ta freakin’ da. It let me move it to the SD card. I located it on the SD card and “shared” it via email to my desktop. I then put it through Calibre (which removes the DRM) and uploaded it to her tablet. Now she can read it in the app of HER choice, not theirs.

Take that, B&N idiots.

In the Nook app, go to the Library.
Long press the book’s cover. Select “Move to SD card”

A: use the My Files and go to the SD Card, then Android, then Data.

1: Scroll down to find com.nook.app.
2: Open Files then Download.
3: Long press the book you want to send.
4: Tap Share.

Once you know where the book is, you can also send it to your desktop via whatever file sharing method you usually use. AirDroid, usb, or taking the card out and putting it into your computer.

To make Nook epubs viewable in a reading app other than their own (bastids), you’ll need Calibre and the plugin to decrypt it. The user manual is quite extensive but all information on how to remove the encryption is left up to the plugins. Apprentice Alf has the one you need and this post has the instructions for Calibre.

If you have any questions, let me know.

Canine Comparisons

It is amazing how much bigger they are in your head.

Quinn is now the age Joella was when we got her. And in my mind, Quinn is much smaller than Jo. Jo was bigger, taller, goofier in her long-legged adolescence. So I went digging through my plethora of saved images and found a handful or so of Joella from that age. None are very good. They’re poorly scanned copies of prints since, back then, digital photos were not a thing. And I know I have hundreds (thousands?) photos of Jo, just not digital.

Jo’s long legs were a sign of the future. She was growing too fast and developed panosteitis, a painful “growing pains” condition some dogs can get. We changed her diet several times in an effort to curb it but the damage was already done.

Jo also was different in personality. She was withdrawn, quiet, and not very trusting for several months until she figured out we were it. Her previous family thought she was stupid and must have told her that on a regular basis. They gave her away to an acquaintance of mine who trained dogs (and was their trainer). She had her for about 2 weeks then gave Jo to us. Her training methods were brutal. I found this out when she came over to show me how to get Jo to walk loose leash. I was horrified. Very much the “I am the alpha dog, you will do what I say” crap. I’m surprised Joella didn’t have a broken neck by the time we called it quits. We never had her over again. I don’t even think we’ve spoken since then.

We had to work with Joella for a long time to get her confidence up, to instill in her that she was a wonderful dog and we would never hurt her or treat her bad like she had been in the past. She was a dream to train because she would do anything for praise. She wasn’t food motivated (pain.in.the.ass) but tell her she was a good girl? She’d do anything. Jo grew up to know over 30 service dog specific cues (requests) in addition to the basics (although her recall was on her terms).

And I miss her every day.

Then there’s Quinn. She does not have Jo’s baggage. We have closely watched Quinn’s food intake to prevent the growing pain thing. And we have called her a good girl, loved on her, treated her with kindness since the day we brought her home. And the breeder is reputable, has good lines, and loved Quinn and her siblings. Quinn is food motivated and is just now desiring pets and praise as we train. And while they are both the same breed with similar markings, they don’t really look alike.

I like that they are so different. I like that when I look at Quinn I see her, not a ghost of Joella. I like that I am forced to rethink how to train a service dog. In some ways, they are very alike. They can’t help but be. They share some Rottie quirks and hard-headedness. And I like that, too.

I love both my girls. Quinn has wiggled her way into a place in my heart next to Jo. She’ll never be Joella. She’ll never have that same bond I have/had with Joella. And that’s okay. Because she’s formed her own unique place and links.

these first 2 are pre-digital images


digital

Wixing Mords

(this post was supposed to appear a few days ago but there were…issues.)

I don’t know the trigger for it when I can’t speak worth beans. Words come out in a jumble, out of order, misspelled, and, most often, the wrong words altogether. Sometimes the wrong word and the right word are close sounding. Like today, L and I were talking about the dog lot. She was mowing it and we were discussing when to scoop the poop, before or after she mowed. I wanted to say she could “scoop the poop after, easier to see”. But I kept saying “spook goose easier”. Sometimes I just laugh and move on but there are times when I get really mad and it just makes it worse. I could see the words spelled in my head but when I tried to read the words, it didn’t come out right. Luckily, L is a decent interpreter of Paulaisms.

Had another later. I wanted to ask where in a book she had stopped. I’m trying to remember how badly I mangled it. Something about “way the where” with some other words that were several words smerged together. L could not figure out what I was saying and we finally gave up. None of the words made any sense in any way. It wasn’t a rhyming error this time. About a half hour later, I turned to her and asked again, and it came out right.

Sometimes they come out that bad because I’m tired. Or have a headache. But most times its just…because.

The scariest is when I substitute words and have no clue I am doing it. My most famous is saying bathtub instead of picnic table. I said it four or five times before L could convince me there was no way we were ever putting a bathtub outside on a concrete pad. Every once in a while, I’ll still say bathtub. Another is I kept calling the riding mower a vacuum cleaner. I can almost see the connection there at least!

This is a problem I have had for, like, ever. A few years ago after Mom’s brain tumor thing, I had my brain checked out. Something we had always laughed at suddenly became not so funny. And because of the stress I was under during that time, my speech was really twisted. My neuro and I decided that my already existing problem was being made worse by a medication I am taking for migraines. And since I was enjoying not having as many migraines, we decided to not mess with it. Now that the neck surgery has happened and a lot of my headaches have stopped, I hope to see him again soon and maybe we can start decreasing that med.

I’m thinking about giving this gift to one of the characters from BGCFA. When I get around to writing it, I’ll have plenty of experience to create her word spaghetti!

Temporary Site Problem

Seems as though some one managed to get past stuff and “infect” this website and one other (not really a virus type of thing, just injection of some crap). I *think* I have found the cause. Until then, the themes may be jumping around and looking weird until I find one I like again. Dagnabbit.

Sorry for the weirdness. Everything should be working and all links are valid (at least those site based).

Please let me know if you see ANY advertisement on this site. I do not have any. I do not want any. I will remove any that make their way in.

Precognition or Just Bad Luck?

To Sleep was a hard book to write. It started out in one direction then the logistics of it (a reader can only suspend so much belief before the book becomes airborne) got too tangled. I set it aside for a year or more then tried again, this time going in a different direction. But some tangles lived on.

When I first wrote the draft for To Sleep in ’09 (it was called The Awakening back then), the MCs were given these touchscreen devices to interface with the System. They were called the Individual System Access Device. They played with what to name them ISAD was, well, sad so they decided to call them their PADs. In 2010 Apple came out with the iPAD.

Another part of To Sleep that was dropped was the initial scout ship was kinda shaped like an egg, smooth with no visible markings whatsoever, and had been in orbit around Saturn, hidden as one of that planet’s many moons. I dropped that part for various reasons but kept the description for one of the main ships that first arrive. In 2012, prior to To Sleep being released, Saturn’s moon Methone was finally imaged up close. It is perfectly smooth with very little visible markings.

In the Earth I created for the Soliloquy series (To Sleep, To Dream, Perchance, To Die), the Religious Right had gotten a firm hold in the US gov’t to the point they are a political party on their own. If you have read the first book, you know what the Religious Right attempt to do.

Tonight, as we wait for the numbers to start getting counted, I hope and pray that yet another bit from that damn book does not come true. Let us come back together as a species and heal the mental wounds we have inflicted on each other. Followers on both sides have gotten nasty. We all need to move on, one way or another.

Shutting Down Cortana

I don’t like Cortana. Don’t want it. Didn’t ask for it. I find the entire thing not just a waste of resources on my already choked computer, but an invasion of my privacy.

If you want to turn the dang thing off though, ha. Microsoft took care of the “off” switch a long time ago. And now even the registry change isn’t quite enough. (see how to do that here but know what you are doing!) There is one way to turn her off but it has to be done after nearly every major update it seems. It’s a simple matter of renaming a folder.

You will see “Cortana” running as a process in the Task Manager. Right click on the little darling and select “open file location”. This will take you to the folder you need to rename.

Right click the name of the folder and select “Rename”. You want to simply add “.old” to the end of it. Change nothing else. Hit the Enter key. It will tell you the file is in use and do you want to try again. Leave this window alone.

Go back to the Task Manager. Maneuver it so that it is near the “try again” window.

Select the Cortana process and click the “end task”. Then quickly move the cursor over and click the “try again” button. If you were successful, you won’t see that window again. Cortana wants to live and she returns very quickly. If you see that window again, then just simply repeat the end task but be faster, grasshopper.

Next time you see that dang Cortana process running, you’ll have to do it again. This will make the 3rd time I’ve had to do it. I’ve turned it off in the registry so I don’t know what the program is doing. And that is what i don’t like.