My 13 year old cat, Spot, has been living with a bone marrow cancer diagnosis for 9 months now. Her buddy, Scout, passed in November. Since then I've been her only source of love and affection. 

I should have known something was up when she stopped coming by for love and affection at bedtime. She stopped eating, and with a long holiday weekend coming up I knew it was probably time, before she had to suffer through three days to see the vet. So, I went looking for where she had denned up.

When I found her the look she gave me removed all doubt that it was time. Fortunately, my vet had me bring Spot to her house. My vet gave Spot a quick exam and agreed that it was time.

And just like her buddy, Scout, Spot left as soon as the euthenasia drugs hit her system.

Losing two pets in two months is hard. I like fixing things. But with Spot, and Scout before her, there was no fixing this. And the only choice I had left was to give them mercy.

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Oh jeez. You poor thing. My condolences. *hugs* You are such a kind and caring pet owner.
Many hugs and much sympathy.
I'm _really_ sorry man. Losing any pet is super tough. Two so rapidly must be miserable.
I am so sorry. Take care.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Glad you were able to help this kitty have less suffering.
 

After a bad week, I heard the news on Friday that Neil Peart had passed away. 

My mom and I moved to the Chicago suburbs in 1978, thorougly uprooting me from my Mayberry like life in rural New England. My hometown was an example of late 70's post-industrial collapse. No jobs, no surviving industry, and being located in a valley, no radio signals. We'd get one rock station, that specialized in 60's hippie and acid rock and distantly, on a good night, a pop station out of Westerly, Rhode Island.

And then I got dropped into Chicagoland, and the rock scene there was heavily influenced by Canadian imports. Moxy, Pat Travers, April Wine, Triumph and this little band called Rush.

While my school peers listened to more mainstream bands, the nerds at my school all listened to Rush, among other bands. WLUP would occasionally throw one of their songs on the air, and it was always a good time. While Rush wasn't mainstream, it was at least well known enough in Chicago that you weren't completely ostracized for listening to them.

All of that changed in 1982, when we moved back to New England and the valley of shadow of radio signals. Coincidentally almost in time with Rush's release of their album, Signals. Then, my age peers didn't want anything to do with Rush or Geddy Lee's shrieky vocals. The content of Peart's lyrics was of little interest to them. Rush became my solitary pleasure. The music I listened to alone, frequently when I had time to read the liner notes and contemplate the message that Peart, Lee and Lifeson were sending.

Peart, in his younger years was an admirer or Ayn Rand, and although by his own admission he parted ways with her philosphy, he remained a staunch libertarian. And that belief shone through in his lyrics, and in a way, infected me. Meanwhile, the 80's and 90's rolled on. The albums kept coming, life was good.

Until it wasn't. Peart was rocked by two tragedies, the death of his only daughter and his wife. Rush ended their tour early and went on hiatus. I didn't know it at the time, but Peart took to riding his motorcycle around North and Central America, twice, trying to decide whether he wanted to live or die. As usual, great pain can be channeled into art. And he wrote about his journey in a book, Ghost Rider.

Hiatus usually means a band is done. But around the beginning of 2001 I started hearing rumors of a new Rush album. And sure enough it came to be. My favorite band was back and hopefully would be forever. 

But if you live long enough, you get to see your heroes die.

Peart officially retired in 2015. It was explained that he retired because he could no longer perform at the level he expected of himself due to tendonitis. Of course, it's easy to now surmise that his retirement was related to his diagnosis of brain cancer. 

So, here's Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor that was long denied them. It's a nice snapshot of a happier time and acknowledgement that this little quirky trio from Toronto is, was and always will be cool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTAqCEPMHEg


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Thanks for this Ray, I listened to Rush as a kid and didn't know the whole story.
I've known you 15 years and there is still so much I don't know about you. I had no idea you were a huge Rush fan. Sweeeeet!

Thank you for writing and sharing this snapshot.

Losing Neil, man... this one hurts.
Ouch. I thought he left the band to write steampunk fiction (which he did do in the past few years). He was an amazing musician and inventor - his drum rigs were unreal.
 

Christmas is just a couple of days away and the hustle and bustle of the end of the year dash is almost over. Once Christmas is over we're into the week between, an almost non-week for those of us who have to work.

My schedule has been overbooked due to Microsoft ending support for Windows 7. We shall not mention Vista and 8.X and their failed promises. Most of the computers I am responsible for are updated, the remainder are scheduled and I'm on track to be legally covered on January 14th when 7 hits end of life. But things have been a little hectic. Not frantic, but there's been little time to rest and enjoy the holiday activities. Sorry if I've missed you these last few weeks. The Christmas cards never got sent, sorry. But rest assured you've all been in my thoughts.

So have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa, and/or a Happy Festivus. And to all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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12/23 '19 2 Comments
It sounds like you've got things well under control, surely due to your thoughful planning and general kick-assery. If you find you need any last-minute help updating computers, I'm happy to lend a hand, just ask! I upgraded mine from Windows 7 to 10 last week while I was on the road for work and I was shocked at how pleasant it was. Still getting used to the Windows X interface, but I don't hate it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Yule, my friend. I hope things settle down soon, and you can take a breath to enjoy the season for a moment or three.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 12/24 '19edited
I use classic shell for my more cretaceous end users. My work computer is going last since I need a reliable machine if something goes kablooie. I've had a 10 tablet for a couple of years now. I built a new home computer that is also 10, back in May. Immediately after I stood up the new home computer my old one went belly up. So I've been on 10 for some months. It's interface is kludgey for administration and the program list begs for shortcuts on the desktop. But it is much more usable than 8.X.
Ray Conrad 12/24 '19
 

A day of highs and lows. In and out all day cooking and going to Thanksgiving dinners. Came home to find my dog Scout can't or won't stand. He's been ill for some little while. I just had to make the arrangements to put him down tomorrow. I already don't like Black Friday. This is just going to add to my resentment.

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11/29 '19 8 Comments
Peace to you and Scout.
Brian Rapp 11/29 '19
I'm so sorry to hear it.
Thomas Boutell 11/29 '19
Oh man Ray. I'm so sorry. That just sucks.
This is a beautiful picture of Scout. What a good dog.
Anne Mollo 11/29 '19
Thank you all. It was hard to come to grips with, but once it was done it felt right. My vet anesthetizes and then give the euthanasia drugs. He slipped away immediately as soon as the euthanasia drugs hit his system. Almost as if he was waiting for permission to go.

Ray Conrad 11/29 '19
Oh, Ray... this is such sad news. I'm so, so sorry to hear about Scout. I know how much you loved him, and from the stories you've told me, it's clear he loved his person very much, too. Good recognizes good.

Thank you for giving Scout such a happy life and a compassionate transition. Your vet sounds really wonderful and caring.

What a very good boy.
I'm so sorry Ray.
Paul Lord 11/30 '19
Aw man. My condolences, friend. <3
Karen Kuhl 12/1 '19
 

Marvin Gaye's isolated vocals from Heard It Through The Grapevine.



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11/21 '19 5 Comments
This gives me chills. Actual chills. Sigh.
Anne Mollo 11/21 '19
Thank you for this.
Thomas Boutell 11/21 '19
I too love this. In fact, I love it so much I wish there was a version sans the reverb.
Now see, I LOVE the fact that you can so clearly hear that magnificent EMT 140 Plate doing its plate thing here. In the full mix it disappears almost completely, there is almost always a horn stab or backing vocal that runs over the decay. Here you can hear the whole tail, and that shows what it's actually adding to the body of the vocal, at least to my ears. A little emphasis on the high end, some spatial depth obviously, a thickness to the falsetto parts...and yeah, a slight metallic sheen, but come on. That's how the song has always sounded. If you love this vocal performance, part of what your ears latched on to was the EMT 140, it's inseparable.

Plate reverb drives me crazy. I can't dial it in on instruments for shit (plus/or digital algorithms are shit for replicating a giant sheet of metal). It's useless to audition a single sound on a plate algo because the whole point is how it affects where things sit in the mix. Which is what makes it so great for vocals. Which I never record. So.

Anyway this way awesome, thanks Ray.
Paul Lord 11/21 '19
Flawless. Flawless. Without flaw.
 

From time to time I get drafted to cook Thanksgiving dinner for some friends who are destitute when it comes to culinary arts. This year's menu:


Crown roast of brined pork loin
Mashed potatoes
Cranberry walnut sausage dressing
Green bean casserole
Corn pudding
Yeast rolls
Gravy
Apple cranberry chutney

Dessert will be a cornucopia of pies, provided by the hostess.

Of course I have to make the epic quest to the Buy N' Large a week ahead of Thanksgiving to lay in most of the supplies for the feast. Assuming I survive, the meal should be memorable.

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11/18 '19 4 Comments
Good choices.
Delicious and impressive! I've never ever seen a crown roast of pork; it sounds like something you would go on a quest for, like the sword in the stone.
Anne Mollo 11/19 '19
I've done a traditional turkey and trimmings and a prime rib for this family's holidays. Basically, I'm working my way through the top tier cuts of meat.
Ray Conrad 11/19 '19
I'm a fan of prime rib for Thanksgiving. This meal sounds amazing and I'm wishing I could be there! Good luck. :)
Karen Kuhl 11/21 '19
 

Upon seeing me in my costume, everyone said the same thing. "I found him!"

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11/5 '19 9 Comments
Love it! Also, this was one of VERY few costumes I had to take a pic of at the Baltimore Comic Con. In fact, I had to chase the guy down to get the pic (he was on his way out). Figured you might appreciate it:
That's fantastic.
Right? It took me a second, and he was moving past me in the crowded space of the con. By the time my brain put 2 and 2 together, I had to hustle back through the crowd to stop him and ask if I could take the picture.
Werewaldo?

There Waldo!

... I'll see myself out.
THANK YOU.
Ha! Love it!

I almost didn't recognize you without your face fur!

Also *really* digging those glasses on you.
How do I know I'm getting old? I knew something 'seemed different' and had no idea it was the lack of facial hair. Where's my walker and my pills?
I love this!!
Anne Mollo 11/5 '19
 

I recently had a friend describe me as a "straight arrow" in a vaguely critical way to someone who passing around their combustible drug of choice. I.E. "Ray doesn't partake, he's a straight arrow."

Pardon my social blindness, but since when was not choosing to indulge in your drug a decision worthy of criticism?

The definition of straight arrow being: A person righteously devoted to clean or conventional living.

Clean? Meh. Conventional? Hardly. Admittedly, my quirks are fairly mundane and my record is clean enough for the government to think I pass a sniff test. Perhaps this is owing to most people not knowing me very well. 

I guess I'm okay with that.

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10/30 '19 3 Comments
Don't forget, m'dear: When people criticize like that, it's almost always a reflection of how they secretly feel about themselves. Someone feels ashamed about their drug use, it seems.

I think you're pretty fuckin' cool, wacky tabacky or not. :)
Jill beat me to it.
Well that's some hot high school level bullcrap. Like, you can be 90° from every other norm, but since you passed on huffing a combustible somehow that makes you a straight arrow? LOL

I know there are some folks who aren't comfortable with their own choices unless everyone around is making the same choice, but they need to sit with that discomfort *with their mouths shut*. Anything else is bullying.
Anne Mollo 11/1 '19
 

I woke at three in the morning to answer a call of nature. I'm one of those people who has to have moving air on me at all times when I sleep. So, in a pitch black room I open my eyes and I see a halo of light in front of me. I quickly blink to see if I'm hallucinating, but nope, it's still there.

Because I'm me, I alternately close one eye and then the next. The halo disappears when my right eye is closed. Hmm, says I. What fresh Hell is this? I lay there while my sleep-addled brain turns this problem over.

Finally, I realize that my right eye has the perfect paralax to see past the spinner of the fan and be able to observe the faint spark from the brushes in the fan motor glowing in the dark room.

Cool.

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10/18 '19 7 Comments
I'm a fan.
Thomas Boutell 10/18 '19
What you did there? I see it.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
Getting old sucks. I find myself second guessing _every_ weird sensation no matter how clear the cause is.
And dreading every doctor's appointment.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
I probably would - if I was making any. *cough*
That is cool. But yeah, it sucks we're now at that age where our first line of questioning often is "Wait a sec. Am I having a stroke?"
Too true. We're all riding out the clock until it's adult diaper time.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
 

It's October, and Halloween is right around the corner. I haven't painted myself into the corner, but I've had some pretty good Halloween costumes in years past. No easy task for my panoramic physique. I've been assembling elements for this year's costume, but y'all are just gonna have to wait for the big reveal.

My dog, Gna had a tumor removed in March of '18. The biopsy results were that it was an aggressive cancer. And while my vet got narrow margins, with this type of cancer they'd like wide margins. It was located close to her genitals, so there was just no room to get wider margins. This morning I noticed she has another mass in almost the same spot. I'm bringing her in next week for my vet to have a look-see. She's 8-9 as near as we can determine, so it's going to be a judgement call. And there's always a chance that things have gone seriously sideways internally. Today has been really hard, I've been sitting at work torturing myself with what-ifs.

I turned in my submission for my monthly writer's group and I'm really happy with it. I suck at short stories, but this one came in around thirteen pages and just under 4,000 words. The 30,000 foot view is it's a sci-fi/milfic/vampire story that takes a hard left turn into Lovecraftian horror. The writer's group meets on Friday. I'm looking forward at least that far.

That is all, and I think that's enough on my plate for right now.

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10/9 '19 12 Comments
Poop on dog cancers. I lost my Best Dog Ever to nose cancer last year about this time. I hope Gna's prognosis ends up being a better one.
Anne Mollo 10/9 '19
Thanks, I've lost two of three dogs to cancer. I hope it's not soon to be three of four.
Ray Conrad 10/9 '19
Good luck to you and your girl. You'll do the best you can for her, and she's lucky to have you. xoxo
Karen Kuhl 10/9 '19
Yup. This.
Thanks to both of you for the kind thoughts.
Ray Conrad 10/9 '19
I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for Gna.

I really would like to make it to your writer's group one of these years...

Can we read the short after the group has had a shot at it?
Once I get it back from mangling by the writer's group I'll share it out.
Ray Conrad 10/9 '19
Sweet!
Yay!
Anne Mollo 10/9 '19
For those following along at home, Gna had her second lumpectomy. The mass is going out for a biopsy, but it looked identical to the first. Sort of like Satan's Cauliflower. The first was a malignant cancer of the apocrine gland, a sweat gland. But on a dog they are located in the hair follicle and excrete a fatty oil that gives a dog their doggy odor.

She was stoned out of her gourd for a day and a half, but is back to her normal, pre-cancerous bouncy, happy self. Other than the inflatable horse collar to keep her out of the stitches until the incision heals. Biopsy comes back in two weeks so we'll know more then.

In the mean time the weight of the world is off my shoulders.
Ray Conrad 10/18 '19
>"...is back to her normal, pre-cancerous bouncy, happy self..."

Happy to hear it! Keeping my fingers crossed whenever I don't need them for driving etc. :)
That’s good news! I very glad.
Anne Mollo 10/19 '19