staffie in sorry state shock


poor poppet!

so, thursday we were on the towpath. poppet was on the lead, everything was normal. a woman up ahead had two dogs off the lead, and i saw her put a lead on one of her dogs. this led me to feel perfectly safe, since normally if someone is conscientious enough to put their possibly aggressive dog on a lead then if they leave their other dog off leash then they probably know what they are doing. WRONG.

when we drew near the other dog simply leapt on pops, biting her. it was sudden and frenzied. the woman got her dog off and was apologetic, though she seemed more interested in shouting at her dog than making sure mine was alright.

thing is, staffies are hardy creatures. i said i couldn’t see any damage and we left the scene of the crime. poppet was a little shaken, so i took her a longer walk than i was intending to burn of her adrenaline and on the way back she played with a staffie she knew, so i thought all was well.

when i got her home i saw that there was quite a bad tear on her ear. i cleaned it and put a bit of superglue on it. she was a bit shaken and clingy but i didn’t think too much of it. indeed in my post superglue and staying in you can see i was all but blase.

by the saturday there was also a pronounced lump on the back of her head, so i thought perhaps she’d had a nip there, too. sunday it was the same, but she’d let me touch it, and her ear, and the ear looked like it was mending.

horror of horrors, monday morning, the lump was enormous and hot. we made an appointment at a local vet’s and took her along.

does not like. not funny.

the vet had a good look at her, and said that the wound might have healed on it’s own but that the dog had bitten cartilage as well, which meant an operation. he wasn’t sure what the lump was about, but would shave it and inspect it while she was under. he thinks it could be an abscess? he cleaned the wound and put a lampshade on her, and said that it would cost around £600.

on the up side, she now looks like she could be a character in a cyber version of a jane austin novel. pride and prejudice meets the hunger games?

i had planned to start using the free vet and stop paying insurance, but i never got around to it. i will have to pay an excess, but it is under £100, so most of it is covered. in more boring but relevant news, i fell and messed my back up and have been migraining for days, so waiting in line at the free vet’s would have been really hard on me, even with ten’s help.

this morning she has gone off to have surgery. ian offered to drive her, and ten has gone too. i am at home with my migraine medication, trying to get well enough to travel to physio today. i really need it, but the timing is pretty bad.

because of the move, this was our first time at this vet, and he gave us some startling news. he had a look at her teeth, and said that the damaged one would have to come out – it’s been like that since i got her, but neither of the other vets said anything. i assumed i’d have to get it looked at sooner or later, and maybe use the free vet for that, since insurance tends not to cover teeth. looking at her, though, he said that she was much older than three and a half… reader! he says she is six!

so, in one moment her age doubled! see, when i got her i did ask, and i wasn’t totally convinced, but the people who rescued her said that she was a year old, and that she had been bred from, probably too early, and that her greying muzzle was probably a hormonal reaction to being bred too young. on the other hand, they didn’t know she was a full staffie, so skinny was she when she was rescued. it was only when i took her to be chipped a couple of months later that they realized that she was a proper staff and not a cross. crosses tend to have a skinnier figure, staffs are more like bulldogs, with the slim hips and the muscular shoulders, and that was the other thing, a few months later she really filled out and stopped eating as much, so i assumed that they had actually been right, and that this was her coming into her adult body. i don’t know what was up with that, but i am inclined to believe new vet. he says she can be no younger than five.  suddenly i have a middle aged dog and not a youngster!

so, what did we learn? that my 20\2o hindsight is as good as it ever was. that, while poppet is a great ambassador for peace among dog kind, we might benefit from being a bit more wary of stranger danger, perhaps especially when there is more than one dog. all the rest is ‘if only’ and coincidence or fate.

ten’s just got back. she’s having her operation now. fingers crossed and all prayers gratefully received.

i’ve got klout


klout is a very humbling site. no matter how much i use it i have never really understood it.

as far as i can usefully see, it’s, i don’t know, some sort of marketing thing? anyway, you are supposed to be able to measure how influential you are in various topics, which might be impressive? to someone? (either someone who has heard of klout and knows how it works or else someone who has never heard of it and who is easily blinded by the sheer effervescence of internet thingumyjigs.) if i use it at all it is to try and give someone K+ points for something silly which klout doesn’t have, so twisting their categories round for fun.

in the meantime, i have lots of KLOUT. i am just hooching with it. i have a steady score of about 50. whatever that means. apparently my ‘true reach’ has gone down. aaw. it’s gone from nearly two thousand to under one thousand. why and why? as fun as it may or may not be to look at graphs that mean nothing to me, i have to say, my favourite thing is the randomness of my TOPICS.

i am currently influential about 20 topics. thankyou thankyou thankyou.

top of the pops, in at number 1 is…

tea.  well, this is reasonable enough, since actual people have given me K+s in tea. so it makes sense. plus i do mention tea a fair bit on twitter, and klout gets it’s info on me from twitter and fb.

libraries are next highest on the list. now, it is possible i might have posted an article about libraries on fb? otherwise i don’t know how i got all the klout. it went straight in at number two with no people giving me K+s. it’s a mystery. i did review a book on goodreads that i read about 20 years ago, d’you think that’s what it was about? i mean, i like libraries, but i haven’t used one in years.

tumblr is at number 3. fair enough. i am on tumblr, and i tag posts where i mention it, so that is fair enough. am i INFLUENTIAL though? possibly. i remember helping someone once with a question about tumblr… oh! wait! i wrote a blog post called pinterest v tumblr so – where’s my damn klout in pinterest, eh?

at 4 is photography. back in the game here with an actual person, our ken, of lahikmajoe fame (his blog is right there on the side bar, no i am not linking to it, just look yourself!) gave me K+s in photography. which is kind, since he can obviously actually do photography in a way in which i am not even a good amateur. i know what a good picture looks like, but cameras are way too technical for me. i tend to turn the flash off, and that’s about it for my technical skills.

klout believes i am influential about the olympics. well, okay, i’ll bite. it is true that i have posted a number of articles and blogs about the snipers and missiles and the protests around the olympics. bless them for thinking that that IS the olympics. or maybe they are ahead of the curve, maybe the social unrest and private police forces ARE the olympics, now?

oatmeal. really? oatmeal? do you mean PORRIDGE? klout, this may be the first time i have ever mentioned porridge. ever.

animals. klout believes i am influential about animals. well, if you count posting pictures of laughing foxes and videos of talking dogs as being INFLUENTIAL then yes. yes i am!

berlin. i have mentioned berlin in this blog. i posted a photo of the cosy wasch next door to my hotel, once. i went to berlin ages ago to have an operation to fillet the frown muscles out from over my eyes. the woman in the next bed got 100% better from having this operation. me? nada. i got nothing but a couple of chances to practice my schoolgirl german.

oh yeah, and a face like this for a week.

hunger games. well, i have actually done a whole blog post about the hunger games so that seems reasonable. though whether i actually influenced anyone with my review i would rather doubt. still, nice of them to notice. i put rather a lot of work into that.

for some reason i am equally influential about peanuts. have i ever mentioned peanuts before? i strongly doubt it. unless i am leading some sort of jekyll and hyde existence and THE OTHER ME is posting stuff about peanuts. you would tell me, right?

next up is blogging. i feel i do know some things about blogging, though i would not call myself a social media expert. i have failed, so far, to comprehend or use even a tiny bit storify, which i would like to do. i have started an account. i am following people. i want to use it, i do! frankly, storify frightens me. i need someone to literally show me how, i think. and not on a yootoob video either. i have tried looking at them and they make it worse.

klout believes i am influential in meditation. that’s nice. i would like to be more influential in meditation. i would like to hold a class. but i have to be content that i have managed to put one meditation online. the bodyscan i put on soundcloud has had 90 listens and 14 downloads. i wish i would get off my arse and do more.

dogs. fair play. i do have a dog and talk about her all the time. poor poppet was bitten on the ear today. its made her all trembly. she’s really wary of me because i keep wanting to look at it. does having a dog make a person influential? possibly, a bit.

wikipedia. sj! why am i influential about wikipedia? you gave me K+s!

social media. well, i use it. er… so does everyone else. don’t get that one, although, to be fair, klout only believes i have about half a centimeter’s worth of influence.

japan. ken has given me K+ in japan. why? ken? why?

books. it is TRAGIC how little influence i have about books, tragic.

fashion. even less for fashion. and that’s after i had a healthy score for fashion then it dropped off my list and I had to put it back on there MYSELF. it’s barely hanging on!

bacon. THANKS SJ! it’s nice to be in with the bacon crowd, even if it is entirely undeserved.

and all the way down at number 20 is ‘pets’. why i am influential about dogs and animals and not so much pets i don’t know. there was a time when klout believed i was influential in ‘cats’ which was sad because poppet had just been involved in the manslaughter of a cat. it was a sad passage in our lives. she never learns. she looked into the canal at the dead cat as if to say ‘we’re not playing anymore then?’

so, that’s all my klout topics reviewed for the moment. it’s all very gripping. give yourself some K+ in some sort of topic which implies tenacity if you made it this far. you won’t be able to have ‘tenacity’ itself, that would be way too simple. i once tried to give ken K+ in dog vomit because he’d heroically made a dog sick who had eaten a load of chocolate. i had to give him K+ in chocolate instead. disingenuous? perhaps. welcome to the world of klout.

pinterest versus tumblr


i’m not just an early uptaker because i am bleeding edge trendy. though i AM. obviously. but because i am interested in social media, and i like to landgrab all the elaine4queen potential real estate. not that i have ever come across competition for the name, but – okay, whatever, i have no excuse as such, i just join things and then see where it takes me.

at the beginning of things it’s often hard to see what a site is going to be good for. i had my tumblr account for ages before i did anything with it. it just languished there, with a self portrait holding the page, gathering digital dust, for several months. by the time i posted my second picture some other people had started posting and i could start to get my eye in.

this is what i looked like in february 2009. pretty gripping stuff, right? those glasses? £2.

but even then it took over a year before i found the art blogs i would more or less stick with. like darksilenceinsuburbia.

trawling through my early posts i just found this quote

“In the morning Julie sunbathed on the rockery, this time without her radio. Her skin was so dark I thought it would only be another day before it was black. there was several wasps in the kitchen feeding off rubbish that had spilled across the floor. Outside there was a cloud of flies around the overflowing dustbins which had not been emptied for weeks. We thought there might have been a strike but we had heard nothing. A packet of butter melted into a pool. While I watched out the window I dabbed my finger in it and sucked. Today was too hot to clean the kitchen.”

The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan

a favourite quote from a favourite book. nice.

so, anyway. seeing how crap my tumblr was for so long i wonder if pinterest has anything interesting to add to… culture? at all? like i did with tumblr, i joined early, and part of joining was that it suggested i follow some people, so i did. it soon came to my attention that i was NOT INTERESTED in most stuff on pinterest. on the other hand, most of the people i know weren’t on yet, so there was that. the other thing is that the pictures are small. on tumblr you see one picture at a time on the dashboard, and you scroll through. also, it’s really flexible and quicker than twitter to add or discard whoever you do or don’t want to follow whereas pinterest, with all it’s boards is kind of klunky. tumblr has ended up with a vast cache of tagged stuff – recently i trawled through hundreds of fashion posts, hundreds of interiors, at a size on the screen of about postcard size, so more appropriate for visual culture than the fairly pants 2″ wide (on my laptop screen) images all huddled together.

on pinterest i have pinned some recipes. not that i have made any of them, apart from gleaning the idea of cooking pineapples, which is nice, and which i have done several times. so yummy. since chums have joined i have gradually dumped the boring ladeez that i had been following, but it is still a LOT about having stuff or wanting stuff rather than just liking stuff. it seems essentially consumerist rather than essentially creative.

what they do have in common is a tendency towards perky messages like this

for me, these got tired quickly on both sites, although on tumblr they tended to be more abstract and wistful and arty, whereas on pinterest they tend to be more about positive thinking and family. if pushed, i’d say the earliest users on pinterest were mormon housewives and the early uptakers on tumblrs were art students.

so anyway. i hardly follow any friends on tumblr, just people who post images i like. i can’t seem to find much to like about pinterest, despite following some funny and creative people. is it just the structural stuff? you can click through to bigger pictures on pinterest, where the details of the clever thing or the recipe might also be found. which is something, but it is also a bit annoying to have to do. pinterest makes it sort of easier to have a dialogue with people, but is neither snappy like twitter nor realtimey enough to be like IMing.

i dunno. this is not meant to be an extensive review. it’s just been a bit of partial perspective from your sofa based correspondent. i know there are plenty of people who don’t ‘get’ tumblr, either, so no big thing. i will put my hand up to having watched two documentaries today, one about ’70s britain, the other about the baader meinhof gang. the overlap being the emergence of consumer culture, and in germany an immediate radical theoretical response thereof. once i get going on the anti consumerist thing there’s no stopping me, really. except that there is  because i don’t write about these issues, really, do i?

not as such.

ponder, ponder ponder.

muse, muse, muse.

10 things from cats to grumbles


1. so, i’ve got some cats for ya. pretty much as an apology in advance for some howling i am going to do later on. have them now or save them for later, the choice is yours.

here’s one to be going on with

2. i am having a total nervo about a benefits interview i have to have on thursday. obviously, it is what it is, but in the meantime i am digesting my own intestines with anxiety. there’s not much more to be said about it, really, but i just want to say HELP HELP. send all soothing vibes my way, because buddha skills aren’t cutting it with the screaming in my head.

3. so you see. we need the calming. i don’t actually listen to much music most of the time, but today i was listening to a radio show and billy bragg was on it. he talked about how he wrote a new england in which he says he doesn’t WANT a new england – then spent his writing career disproving that premis. i am not mad on billy bragg’s singing – he says himself he is rather a ‘busker’ but kirsty maccoll made a lovely job of the song.

4. we’ve been having a quiet time on our own the past few days while ten has been elsewhere doing things. i have got precisely bugger all done in his absence except eat a box of chocolates to myself. that doesn’t count as an achievement, does it? thought not…

5. we did see a dead swan on the towpath, though. some neighbours were looking at it and trying to guess how it had met it’s death. because i am a professional pathologist, having watched all of silent witness and lots of csi and the like, i knelt down and examined it. without doing a post mortem i couldn’t comment on lividity, but i was able to point out that the beak was caked in mud, suggesting the daft bugger had met it’s death face first. i blame pigeons, but that is CONJECTURE and very naughty. i observed that the swan was a juvenile and had quite the buzz when my neighbours asked HOW DO YOU KNOW? do you know how i knew? or is it just my neighbours who have led a sheltered non swan studying life?

6. on twitter, @lahikmajoe mentioned he was playing his uke in the park with a friend. this not only led me to send him an hour long documentary link about george formby, but now i am hearing ukes everywhere. here is the ukelele orchestra of great britain doing teenage kicks.

7. what else? well, i am jealous of everyone getting to watch the hunger games, but last night i did get to see wuthering heights finally. it was a lot better than i thought it would be, and the restricted palette of the film was beautiful rather than cloying. i watched it with my neighbour stephen, and he noticed how good the soundscape was. and it was, really good. i have no idea how they captured/created the wind, because wind is notorious for messing up sound recording bigstyle. here’s the trailer;

8. gosh, i didn’t know how i was going to do ten things, and now i am already on 8. i thought that i would want to really gripe about the benefits agency thing, but i guess there’s nothing to say since it hasn’t happened yet. still, kindly vibes, keep ‘em coming.

9. i thought you might like this infographic. the post itself describing how he made it is also good.

10. i have been posting every day lately. i really didn’t think that would be possible what with the life i lead and everything, but i’ve been enjoying rootling around in tumblr finding stuff to show you. i’ve got more, too. STAY TUNED!

will the REAL hunger games please stand up?


when i was a young thing there was the catcher in the rye, which was squarely ‘teen’, and the bell jar which might just have been *me* (if you know what i mean). there was no such thing as Young Adult fiction. as i left my teens behind, paul zindel came onto the horizon, and i read him avidly. but then i grew up, and had no reason to follow the story arc of how YA fiction plumped itself out into becoming a whole genre. i did read one harry potter book to see what all the fuss was about, and watched the first film. that was easily enough for me. then his dark materials came out, and i considered that a proper read, but i was still not really aware of the YA phenomena.

so, fast forward, then, to the hunger games trilogy. i enjoyed the spare writing style, which i imagine might be common to the genre, and the story itself was so strong it really didn’t need gilding. and i know i am not the only person who thinks that the first book should have been the end of the story. it leaves the future to the imagination, and a sense of ambiguity which would have been a good – this is what adulthood is like. of course, i greedily wanted to consume the other two books, and i did enjoy them, but i still think that in terms of literary merit and story arc she should have left us hanging and left books two and three on the cutting room floor.

and that, gentle reader, is ALL i have to say about the formal characteristics of the books. what became apparent during the read was that there was going to be a lot more to say about the politics in the book than the story itself.

while i was reading the first book i found myself thinking about kazuo ishiguro’s never let me go and the remains of the day. both of which have been made into excellent feature films.

the trailer for never let me go

the trailer for the remains of the day

and it’s not as if the politics of reproduction were off the agenda either here in the UK or in the USA, of late. abortion is a stand alone issue, for the time being, in the uk, whereas the recent arguments in the usa have even broader implications to do with cancer screening and access to contraception. by the way, i thought this article was particularly good.

however, it was not this set of issues that got attention in the mainstream media. no. it was something that isn’t even directly addressed in the book. it was the issue of race – specifically, the casting of rue in the feature film.

this kind of sideblinded me, since i hadn’t seen the film, and the book simply describes the skin/hair/eyes rather than ascribing them to a ‘race’ as such. it would seem pretty obvious, that if the population of panem is what is left of the USA, then unless race itself were the cause of the uprising, then whoever is left would be broadly the same racial mix as in today’s society. mind you, much as i have loved watching the walking dead, the one black character in that series gets roughly zero storylines, so i couldn’t stay surprised. the transparency of race in the book rather highlights how far society has to go, in it’s realization into a visual media.

i was warned by a fellow reader that i might find books two and three a bit extra to requirements, and it doesn’t help that it takes a while for the storyline to take off in the second book. i was listening to them as audio books, and at some point i found myself scrolling through tumblr while i listened. this led me to my next thematic interest. after i had exhausted my usual feed of art and animal pictures i went to ‘explore tumblr’ and started scrolling through an infinity of #fashion tagged posts.

the parade of waifs in insane outfits started to work on me. and from time to time there would be posts about anorexia and model’s deaths due to suicide and heart attack. i started to view the images i was looking at through the lens of the book.

the commodification of women’s bodies in late capitalism tipped over into a real hunger games story, for me. skinny girls wearing immobilizing clothes and accessories that their peers could never afford. and epitomizing a visual ideal which most people cannot achieve. i read this article in teen vogue which opens with;

“When I heard about the $34,000 alligator backpack that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen created for their label The Row, my first thought was, Are they insane? A few days later I clicked on a fashion news website only to read that the pricey bag had flown off the shelves. After that, I couldn’t get that elusive backpack out of my mind. Who was the lucky girl who could afford such an indulgence?”

so, anyway, this is hardly news. but the books are threaded with themes that could take the reader’s thoughts anywhere. and it is rare enough for popular fiction to be so openly political and critical.

just after i had finished reading i read this piece by my friend charlie bertch. it’s a better review than mine, and, heroically, manages to stick to the theme of the politics of hunger.

/end serious book review. back soon with more rubbish about dogs and everyday life.