Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ahboo update

Ahboo is getting better with his separation anxiety now. He doesn't bark much anymore, and the whining at night only lasts a couple of minutes. I tried leaving the TV on when I left for work yesterday, and he seemed to be a little less anxious when I walked out the door.

Now the bad... He had his first accident in the crate on Monday while I was at work. He'd been very constipated (the vet gave us a stool softener and said to try mixing flax seed or safflower oil with his food), and I guess he finally had to go. When I came home, his crate was a mess. Yuck.

Last night, I took him out to potty/play, and he went as soon as we took him out. However, once we got back inside, he started circling the room, seeming very excited. After a couple minutes of this, he started to lift his leg on the wall (there's an inward corner next to our hallway). Luckily, I was watching him, and a loud "NO!!!" stopped him before he could start.

This is odd, because outdoors he always squats to pee (even if there's a tree or hydrant nearby), and we've never seen him "mark" anything -- even when another dog marked the hydrant right outside our front door, Ahboo sniffed and then ignored it.

Anyway, I'll take some more pictures of our new doggie in the next day or two and post them. Hopefully with continued successful updates on his potty training.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blog rhymes with dog

Last week, my wife and I adopted Ahboo, a handsome labradoodle, from the Spokane Humane Society.

We were worried that he wouldn't eat at first, but between the anastaesia from his surgery (he got fixed on Thursday), the new environment, and probably new food, that's not surprising. We're feeding him exclusively in his crate (using the "it's there for 20 minutes, if you don't eat, you miss your chance" method), and he finally ate a pretty good meal on his second night at home.

He's still adapting, but Ahboo seems to be very smart. After a few false starts, he'll go into his crate with a little coaxing. He's starting to pick up on "stay" -- I can open the door to his crate, say "stay", and as often as not, he'll behave. Sometimes I can even walk into the kitchen and get him a biscuit, and he still hasn't moved. We're still working on it.

Ahboo is also a very well-behaved boy. He walks very well on the leash, almost always leaving some slack unless something distracts him. Despite him coming to us as "some housebreaking", he hasn't had an accident since he's been home, either in the crate or in the rest of the house.

We're trying to stick to a regular schedule, while getting him used to his crate and knowing to stay near one of us at all times. When we put him in the crate after a bit of excitement (like a long walk or playing with his new favorite toy, the Squeaky Tennis Ball), he'll cry and even start barking when we leave the room. I'm sure it's just separation anxiety, and he calms down pretty fast. He's even going into the crate on his own now!

So, yes, we're pet owners. In the words of Dr. Sam Beckett, "Oh boy...".

Friday, April 21, 2006

Team building and eggrolls

Yesterday, my group at work went to "Triple Play", a "family fun center"-type establishment with minigolf, laser tag, bowling, an arcade, that sort of thing.

The first hour, we did a team-building exercise where two teams had an identical jigsaw puzzle and had to figure out the most efficient way to connect the most pieces in the next 45 minutes. Our team divided up roles, with each person responsible for a section (with two people sorting pieces at the beginning). We communicated the entire time, and since everyone knew what everyone else was working on, we all knew which person to give a specific type of piece to. The other team barely talked at all, and they all just worked on the border.

The final total? 373 connected pieces for our team, 175 for their team. I'm usually pretty skeptical of "team-building" stuff, but this was a pretty good example of how much increased efficiency you can get out of teamwork and cooperation, especially when you allow people to focus on their own strengths.

After that, I played a little bit of DDR (my coworkers didn't know it, but the whiteboy's got moves!), and bowled a game. Worst game I've had since I was 11 years old, didn't even break 100. Ugh. It was still a good time though.

I also picked up Ahboo from the shelter, which I'll go into this weekend (I want to have some pictures to share!). On the way through Spokane, I passed a Chinese restaurant called "Tasty House". You can't really argue with the name, I guess. I told my friend Bill about it, and we agreed that a good Chinese restaurant should have a name consisting of a combination of the words "China", "Golden", "Panda", and "Moon". How you combine them is up to you, but it guarantees a tasty meal.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Seizures and domestic service

We went and met Ahboo the dog yesterday, and he's wonderful. I don't seem to be allergic to him at all (including the part where he got away from us as we were putting him back in his pen, and I had to tackle him and basically hug him with my face buried in his coat to keep him from running off again), and Hillary is okay as long as he doesn't lick her face.

His background is kind of sad. He was bred by a labradoodle breeder to be put up for sale. He had a couple of seizures as a puppy, so the breeder decided he was "unsellable" and dumped him in the shelter. The shelter staff mentioned that he's had a couple of seizures since he's been there (possibly caused by trying to walk him on a collar and leash -- he doesn't seem to have them when he's on a harness), but they may be treatable with some simple medication.

Ahboo is very headstrong and spirited, but I think it's because he never had any structure in his life. It sounds like he was kept in a backyard 99% of the time, and rarely given any attention because he was "flawed". He's a very sweet dog, and seems to be fairly easygoing once he gets some of that youthful energy out. We went back and signed the paperwork last night, so he'll be coming home with us (after he gets fixed) tomorrow evening.

In other news, we got so behind on housework that I ended up calling a cleaning service. At first, I felt like a bit of a failure doing it -- who can't even keep their own house clean? But when I saw the job the cleaners did, I changed my mind. Everything is spotless, in a lot of cases better than when we moved in. They even cleaned out our microwave, the inside of which probably could have been classified as a war crime.

I think I'm going to have them come back every couple of weeks and clean for us. I've discovered that there are few things in life more satisfying than a shiny kitchen floor.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring is here!

Between the frequent rain showers, we've had some positively beautiful days outside this month. I sometimes wonder if my mood really is tied to the weather; on sunny days, it's a lot easier to keep my energy going and be excited about things. Maybe that's why I was so miserable during the winter -- that, and being sick for two months.

One nice thing about Spring is that a lot of bands decide to release albums around now. Here are a few that are out, or are coming out shortly:

Tool, (untitled) - There hasn't been much buzz about the new album, amazingly enough, but the first single, "Vicarious", comes out April 17th. It's been nearly five years since Lateralus, so I can't wait for a new full-length Tool album.

Zero 7, "The Garden" - I have a soft spot for downtempo electronic groups with female singers, and Zero 7 is probably my favorite. They've brought back both of the singers from When It Falls, which makes me very happy.

Tilly and the Wall, "Bottoms of Barrels" - Energetic indie folk-pop with tap-dancing as percussion? It's safe to say they're a unique act, definitely. I've heard the new album (go go Internet!), and it's amazing. A bit more folky than their debut, but the songs are just as catchy.

Irving, "Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers" - I raved about these guys several months ago, and their new effort is just as good as the last one. The diversity between the songs is incredible -- just take a listen, and you'll notice similarities to everything from Smashing Pumpkins to They Might Be Giants to Simon & Garfunkel.

If he's still there, we're going to meet this guy on Saturday. If he's well-tempered and not too allergy-inducing (and if my wife doesn't kill me for wanting a dog), well... we might have a new family member soon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Flat is good

Hillary and I picked up a Philips 37" LCD HDTV over the weekend, somehow managing to manhandle it into the backseat of my tiny car.

I have to say, it's pretty impressive so far. We watched Fight Club yesterday, just to see how DVD's look, and it was very nice. You can see the macrovision compression up close, but that's a limitation of the DVD format more than the TV itself. I fired up some X-Box games in progressive scan mode earlier today, and it was very sexy. Mechassault in widescreen? Sign me up.

The only downside is our standard-definition satellite receiver. Having an HD set really brings out the imperfections in a digital cable signal, and even after changing all of our connections from composite to component, there's a LOT of compression noise on most of the DirecTV channels. I know it was always there; it was just a lot harder to notice on our old TV. Hopefully over the next couple of years, more providers will get off their asses and start broadcasting in HD.

The only thing I'm not quite sure about is the audio inputs on the TV. It has two "Digital Audio" inputs (which seem to take RCA cables), but most of my devices only have "Optical Digital" outputs (which are the square plugs). Unless I want to try to fit a receiver into our tiny TV stand in the computer room, I'm not sure how I'm going to get everything working happily with the TV. Right now, I'm having to do a lot of cable swapping if I want all of the devices working in beautiful component harmony.

Oh yeah, check out Henry Rollins' new talk show on IFC. It's awesome. On the premiere, he interviewed Oliver Stone and had Sleater-Kinney perform, and the lineup only looks to get better.