In memory of Micah

On July 8, we had to put our beloved Micah to sleep.  It was much too soon.  He would have been 8 years old on July 29. He is suspected to have suffered mesenteric torsion (twisting of the intestines) and was in septic shock.  It has been a devastating loss for us.  He was our empty nest “child”.  I know we all love our pets, but this boy was truly exceptional and led a life full of adventure.  Our hearts are broken.


Please let me share some information about him:

  • Boy Wonder (our name for him when he was in training to be a service dog)
  • Hello you sweet thing (what Deb said to him every day)
  • He went on over 50 flights while he was a service dog in training.  Many of these trips were personal, but he did also accompany Deb on a few business trips.  He’s been to a couple industry conferences.
  • He traveled to 25 states (from MA to FL to AZ and all the states in between)
  • He was a gentle giant (100 pound chocolate brown Labradoodle)
  • While he did not complete training and go into service, he did become a certified therapy dog going with Deb to visits at an Alzheimer’s Clinic, Girl Scout camp, children’s Library reading program.

We got him at 7 weeks old; Deb signed up with Canines for Service to foster him to become a service dog. Went to training one night weekly for two years, then every other week for a year, then back to weekly for advanced training.  He was placed with a woman with mobility issues.  It broke our hearts to give him up. It wasn’t a good fit and a week later we were asked if we wanted to take him back.  We decided that it was a bonus to get a few more months with him.  When we got him back, he refused to look at Deb in the car on the ride home.

We had a few more months with him and then he went to a facility for 3 months of additional training for potential placement with a veteran.  He became inconsistent and we were again called to be told this and were asked if we wanted him back.  At the time, I was in PA and Deb was in Germany.  Of course, we said yes and I went and got him when I got home from my trip. Deb came home a few days later and I captured their reunion on videotape; he wouldn’t stop kissing her.

When he was bored, he would disappear into a bedroom and come running out with something he shouldn’t have in his mouth to make us chase him.  Or he would take a kitchen towel and run off with it and we had to get to him before he stepped on it and shredded it.  We had a rule, if he had something and there were at least two people in the house, someone just had to shout “need help” and that meant everyone come running to trap him before he destroyed whatever it was he had. Or when bored and hungry he would toss a toy that held treats. He would drop it on your lap or toss it in your general direction and then bark loudly.  So we would go put treats in them for him to shake out.  We began to realize he was training us.

While he was a service dog-in-training, we took him everywhere.  People would come up to pet him and we would often hear a comment about his eyes: “they look so real”, “he has human eyes”, “he’s looking right into my soul”.

Because of his look and his height, if people didn’t guess him to be a Labradoodle, they would  most commonly guess him to be an Irish Wolfhound.  We would tell them he was a Labradoodle, with one exception – if we were asked on St. Patrick’s Day, we would say that yes, he was an Irish Wolfhound.  Once, while in a store, a little girl asked Deb, “Ma’am what’s your pony’s name?”  Another time, I overheard a little girl say to her sister, “mira a el caballo” (look at the horse).

Throughout his life he received exceptional care from Dr. Gerianne Pandolfi and her staff at Four Oaks Pet Hospital.  We truly believe she loved him as much as we did.  He was never afraid to go there.

I think he was meant to be forever Deb’s dog right from the beginning. The love and training she gave to Micah was immeasurable.  The love he gave back was equally immeasureable.

These are some of the commands and things he knew how to do:

  • Touch shut (to close doors, drawers, cabinets)
  • Come
  • Front
  • Side
  • Heel
  • Under
  • Lap
  • Touch light (turn on light switch)
  • Touch dark (turn off light switch)
  • Reach
  • Rise
  • Kennel
  • Off
  • Stay
  • Wait
  • Leave it
  • Belly
  • Paw
  • Crawl
  • Sit
  • Touch
  • Tug
  • Tug open
  • Up
  • Down
  • Hold hands
  • Stand
  • Around (turn around and lay down between your feet)
  • Drop it
  • Give
  • Back
  • Take
  • Hold
  • Hip (to push open a door)
  • Go through
  • Could open a refrigerator and take a bottle of water from the shelf on the door
  • Could pick up clothes, sheets, towels and put them in a top loader laundry
  • Could take clothes out of the dryer
  • Could pick up off the floor: pen, dime, quarter, paper bills, trash, car keys, cell phone, remote control, carry them to you and give them to you or put them where you told him to
  • Could carry shopping bag
  • Wouldn’t eat human food; could leave him alone in a room with food on a plate on the floor and he wouldn’t touch it (I left him in the car with a pound of salmon in the front seat to run into the grocery for something and he was sitting in the back seat waiting for me and the salmon was untouched)
  • And of course when he didn’t feel like doing any of these things, he would just stand there and stare at you as if you’re speaking another language (the look on his face was: you know I can do it, I know I can do it, I just practiced it five times and am not doing it again)

Contributions in memory of Micah may be made to Canines for Service


Eliminating trans fats is good

Evidence is showing up that the elimination of trans fats is having a positive effect on the health of people in New York City.

New York City enacted a restaurant ban on the fats in 2007 and several counties in the state did the same. Hospital admissions for heart attacks and strokes in those areas declined 6 percent starting three years after the bans, compared with counties without bans. The results translate to 43 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 100,000 people, said lead author Dr. Eric Brandt, a Yale University cardiology fellow.

Eliminating transfats has beneficial effects



Shoelace issues – overlooked for years

For all these years, we just took it as a thing that happens – a shoelace becomes untied.  But no longer do we have to let this happen.  In the future, our children’s children will get an odd look on their face when they read an old book or watch an old shoe where a shoelace becomes untied and a person trips.

Oliver O’Reilly was teaching his daughter to tie her shoes when he realized something: he had no idea why shoelaces suddenly come undone. When he went looking for an answer, it was apparent that no one else knew either.

So O’Reilly, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, roped in two of his colleagues to help work it out. In a paper published on April 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, they show that a combination of forces act on shoelace knots to cause a sudden, runaway failure.

Why shoelaces become untied

An example of volunteerism

My daughter Amy has volunteered (actually pays to volunteer – thanks to all those who donated to cover her expenses) to serve on the Mercy Hospital Ship.  Until early June it is anchored off the coast of Benin Africa.  Amy is serving as a Nurse taking care of patients pre and post-operatively.  Patients get life-saving and life-altering surgeries, many for conditions that would be caught and fixed much earlier in more medically-advanced countries.

She got there in early January and returns to America in June.  Several of her friends encouraged her to blog about her experiences.  You can read her blog here:


Origin of some of our Favorite Foods

I saw this in Reader’s Digest, written by Brandon Spektor, entitled “6 Foods you’d never guess were American”

Garlic Bread
Thought it was from Italy, it’s actually from Michigan:
one tale is that soldiers serving in Italy during World War II were spoiled on bruschetta. Savvy chefs met the returning troops’ demand by slathering toasted white bread with garlic and margarine. In 1970, Cole’s Breads planted a foodie flag in Mcihigan by selling the world’s first frozen garlic bread.

Fortune Cookie
Thought it was from China, it’s actually from California: 
Tweaking a Japanese recipe, Makoto Hagiwari claims his San Francisco teahouse invented the modern paper-stuffed fortune cookie in 1914; David Jung says it was his Los Angeles noodle shop in 1918.

Thought it was from Mexico, it’s actually from Arizona: Several chefs claim teh chimi as theirs, including the founder of El Charro Cafe. In 1950, she fumbled a burrito into some frying oil, she says.  There were kids around, so she blurted out “chimichanga!” instead of the cuss word she wanted to use.  The name stuck.

German Chocolate Cake
Thought it was from Germany, it’s actually from Massachusetts: 
The man who invented the sweet, dark chocolate at the core of this cake wasn’t German bu this name was. Boston Baker Sam German created a new type of bakingchocolate for Baker Chocolate Company in 1852; 100 years later, a Dallas paper popularized the recipe for “German chocolate cake.”

English Muffin
Thought it was from England, it’s actually from New York:
 Samuel Bath Thomas called his creations “toaster crumpets” when he debuted them at his New York baker, which opened in 1880.  The term english muffins came later and you still see the name “Thomas” on english muffins in stores today.

Cuban Sandwich
Thought it was from Cuba, it’s actually from Florida:
 Tampa and Miami fight over where it was originated, but are in agreement that the sandwich was started as a cheap lunch offered to Cuban immigrants that were working in Florida’s cigar factories in the late 1800’s.


Financial Intelligence – Does it Exist?

I saw the results of this survey and am just utterly shocked at the results.  So many people have no financial cushion, spending virtually all of their take home pay.  I know it’s easy to get caught up in getting the new smartphone as soon as it comes out, getting the larger flat screen TV, getting a new car every four years, etc.  Almost half of people making between $100,000 and $149,000 had less than $1,000 in savings!!!

Personal-finance news website GoBankingRates asked 7,052 people how much they had in their savings accounts.

By Sean Dowling, Buzz60

Upon closer inspection, 34% of Americans have nothing in their savings account.

Lower-income adults struggle with saving money more than middle and upper-income individuals, but no income group did all that well.

Even those making bank!

For instance, 44% of those making between 100 and $149,000 had less than $1,000 in savings.

Given the recommendation for Americans to have six months in expenses saved up in case of an emergency like a medical expense or losing a job, the survey results are particularly worrisome.

savings survey savings-survey-post

More on Search Engine Bias

I guess at this point I shouldn’t be surprised that the major search engines use different algorithms/formulas to “guess” at what you’re searching for.  I had assumed it was based on popularity, what others were searching for.  I also assumed that if that were true then people would search for the same things on the major search engines.  It appears that there are may be censoring or hiding of obviously likely search phrases.

So on Monday September 12, I went to Google, Yahoo and Bing and typed in “hillary clinton basket of”.  The results were surprising or maybe not:

Google had nothing, guessed absolutely nothing to complete the phrase
Bing suggested “Hillary Clinton Bucket of Chicken”
Yahoo suggested “Hillary Clinton Basket of Deplorables”

See screen shots below:

Bing Basket Search Results
Bing Basket Search Results
Google Basket Search Results
Google Basket Search Results
Yahoo Basket Search Results
Yahoo Basket Search Results

NCAA Punishes North Carolina

So the NCAA decides to schedule 7 college sports playoffs or championship events outside of North Carolina because North Carolina’s legislature passed a bill they don’t agree with.  Really? Yes, really.  Why the hell is the NCAA getting involved in political BS?  It irritated me enough to write the letter below and send it to them.

NCAA Headquarters
700 W. Washington St.
PO Box 6222
Indianapolis, IN  46206-6222

Dear NCAA Headquarters:

This letter is to recommend that you stick to your dedication to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes and stay out of political side shows.  Rescheduling college playoff and championship events outside of North Carolina is ridiculous.

Two of your seven beliefs – “an inclusive culture” and “respect” for philosophical differences seems to be forgotten in your decision.  You should respect the autonomy and philosophical difference that the state of North Carolina legislature has taken.

North Carolina residents don’t deserve this treatment from you and you certainly have no role in meting out punishment to those with whom you disagree as though you’re an arbiter of social conscience.  I didn’t see that in your seven core beliefs.


NCAA Core Values