Belling The Cat or How A Jingle Bell Helps A Mobility Scooter be More Mobile

I came to the conclusion that I had to bell the cat.   Santa needed to be invited to town in September.

We all have our moments, but this maxim that I have was illustrated to me perfectly clearly, when I took a friend to a supermarket.

You see that friend broke his foot.  He’s recovering from an emergency freak accident where the bone broke for no apparent reason.

Since he was in London, he got much better care than he would have gotten here in the US where even the doctors were amazed at the quality of care of the NHS.

I am thinking that had it happened in Philly, NYC, or LA he may have had a chance of a similar level of care, but at this point we’d be talking about selling his house to pay for it.

Thanks to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, he came home with a pair of shiny crutches, a cast on his leg, and a really fascinating collection of screws and stays to stabilize his bones.

We don’t know why nor will we ever know why it happened.

One thing he did not get was a scooter.  NHS does not supply them nor did his US Insurance since Insurance is not here to serve you so much as to try to keep as much of your money as possible while giving you the absolute minimum of care.

 

However, he did not have to pay a dime on the NHS.  At. All.

I just may move to Vermont or Southern California when I truly retire so I can have a walk across the border for my future meds in Canada or Mexico, but that’s a different story.

We have all seen these contraptions where you kneel on it and glide along to where you are going.

I’m afraid of that damn thing, he’s faster than I am while walking.

But he is also just this side of silent on it.

Since as my maxim goes, Other People Don’t Believe Society’s Rules Apply To Them, I went along as Security.  Being as tall as I am, people may not notice him but they surely won’t miss me and I can run interference.

As it was we both got crowded out of places we wanted to go.  My heart goes out to the wheelchair bound and the blind.  If we had trouble with all of this, I can only imagine what they go through.

So I had a brainstorm.  I belled the cat.

Not literally, don’t get your animal rights in a twist.

I put a jingle bell on the front of his scooter.

While going through his paces, now you can tell he’s coming.  He jingles.

Yes, I finally found a use for those over large jingle bells I found one holiday season and set aside.  It’s September and I have no pressing need for a golf ball sized bell, let alone two.

Taking a small piece of Copper Wire, I tied the things to his basket.

Yes, they have baskets, that is where you put your crap when you get out of the easy chair and scoot to the kitchen to do dishes, get your snacks, or use El Baño to get rid of same snacks.

It was helpful.  When he went to his next appointment, the bells were cheerily announcing his presence at a subliminal level and he had an easier time of it.

Next time if it happens, I swear I’m going to a toy store and getting a squeaky horn and some tassels.  The horn will shock people awake from their phones.

The Tassels is just because.  May as well have a sense of humor with it.   The horn should be as outrageous a color as possible since if you’re going to look silly, Own It!

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Managing My Dog’s Pancreatitis Flare Up Requires Dietary Management

Standard Internet Disclaimer:  I’m not a vet.

If you have a problem with your dog’s health go see a vet.

I can’t be responsible for any “bad advice” that you apply – GO SEE A VET if you suspect a problem.

I am but a blog writer, don’t let me be your only source of information.

However this is what worked for me.  I am not a Doctor, or a Vet.  I am however someone who has been on an “Athletic Training Diet” since 1979, so some of this is a lot of applied knowledge that came from my own trial and error.

The symptoms were that my dog got sluggish, started vomiting, and started refusing his food.  We had a bout with Diarrhea.

The Vet suspected Pancreatitis, and after research, it seemed very likely that this was the case.   We also suspected that he has always had this but it just hadn’t flared up yet.

It took a couple weeks worth of fiddling with his diet to figure this solution out.

The solution was “nuanced”.  There were a few subtle things that I was doing wrong, apparently very wrong for my dog.

 

The result was that he’s now healthy, two pounds lighter, and probably will always be on a low fat diet.

We never have completely figured out Rack’s nutritional problems.  I got him as a rescue puppy with some pretty severe problems.  Worms that took three cycles of de-worming powder to kill off.  What turned out to be an allergy to poultry and grain.

His nutrition as a puppy at 7 months took him longer to get figured out than I would have liked, and it resulted in him being on the “small and light” side for the breed.

He always got the grain free dry food, when I could convince him to eat it since his teeth were naturally missing in the back.

While that is a lot to manage, it triggered my own training diet mind in gear and I figured out what was wrong.  I lost 75 pounds in 2 years when younger and have maintained a better than normal build through nutrition and exercise in the too-many years since, I should be able to figure this out.

When the prepared dry food we were giving him moved production to the US, and to a state  known for lax enforcement of food quality standards, I panicked.  The quality would suffer so we needed a different way.  That brand later had a food recall for some reason and we heard that there were dogs endangered as a result.

I was forced to prepare his own food.  Twice a week, I would take 2 1/2 pounds of cooked and browned ground beef, add water, add powder and feed him that.  He did very well on it although he got bored with it after a while.

That should have been a cue something was up.

So I did an internet search for a crock pot dog food.  Found one recipe that is human safe, although very bland – I even tasted it.  He did very well on that but it did tire him after a while.

I kept feeding him the two foods, alternating every week between recipes.

Then the Pancreatitis hit.  I recognized the symptoms from my old dog, Lettie, who had it before she passed of kidney failure induced by “recalled dog food”.  The same symptoms.  Refusing food, sluggish, loose stool, occasional vomiting.

Rack at this point is in the prime of his life.  Five years old herding dog.  Should be beyond active.

I did some research and realized that treating him well was the problem.

We have a routine.  He gets his food at breakfast and dinner.  I rarely give him treats.  Almost never give him table scraps.

I have Pork more often than I have anything else.  I can make a pork tenderloin into something that is High End Restaurant quality.  Pork Tenderloin is a very forgiving recipe – 250F Slow oven until internally 140F.   Takes around two hours.  Marinade the Pork the night before in sauces of choice, I prefer Barbecue Sauce.

Try that recipe on Pork Loin and it works, although Pork Loin is much tougher.  Pork Loin also has a layer of fat left on it so it can soak down into the roast.

That was the problem.

Dogs do not digest pork fat well.

Two days before the incident, I had given him the fat from the top of my lunch pork.  I did that again the next day.

The third day, he later started refusing food.

HIS food never changed.  MY food had.  I went from the Pork Tenderloin which is just about the leanest meat you can get to Pork Loin and feeding him an ounce of fatty scraps.

On research it turns out that you should never feed a dog pork fat.  That includes Bacon.

Dogs can not digest it well, it tends to cause problems.  Like Pancreatitis.

So all snacks were cancelled.  He got a Fasting Day to clear his system of the fat.  His “regular food” was cut down to a quarter and served on a bed of white rice to be mixed in.

He began eating it slowly.

As his system cleared out, I mixed in proportionally more of the regular food.

He had a small flare up.

It turned out that the beef I was serving was a problem as well.  There was too much fat in the meat.  This was a “Utility Grade Meat” and as such had a significant quantity of added fat.  You could actually smell the fat in the resulting dog food.

Now my own cooking skills were brought to task.  I had a freezer full of Utility Grade Meat that needed to be de-fatted.

If you won’t eat it, don’t feed it to the dog.

Brown the meat and skim off as much fat as possible.

I was getting as much as a cup of fat skimmed off of 2 1/2 pounds of “beef”.

Prepare the normal recipes.

Success.

The only side effect was that he started losing weight.  That I can manage since he was acting hungry again.  His serving sizes were increased by an ounce at a time over the next couple weeks until the weight loss stopped and the begging slowed.

Now he’s doing fine.  Begging for Yogurt here is at a normal level and since I make the stuff for my own use, it’s not a problem.

Stools are normal.  Coat is shiny and soft.  No vomiting.

Best of all the energy level is higher than I remember it.  Which means that I get more exercise as well.

So:

  • Reduce the fat to the utmost minimum.
  • No table scraps ever.
  • No added sugar, ever.
  • No added salt, ever.
  • No treats of Bacon or other fat from the roasts.

It helped him out big time.  I’m back to being run around by a herding dog with a big personality.

Rum Raisins – How to make them for baking

This isn’t so much of a recipe as it could be called a kitchen hack.

There isn’t a picture this time because it looked like pebbles in some murky brown water, but you’ll get the idea. Really it is that simple. You just have to let things soak and sit for a day.
It’s so easy that it’s one of those things you do while waiting for the kettle to boil.
Rum Raisin
Get a 2 cup or 1/2 liter container – or larger. Feel free to double this recipe with a larger container if needed. You want extra “room” so you can shake the mixture every so often.

Raisins, your choice – 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml

Rum, your choice – 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml
This will scale up or scale down based on your needs. The trick is to make sure that the raisins are all covered by rum.
When you go to use the rum raisins, strain them with a sieve or mesh. But reserve the extra rum because the now-brown rum tastes awesome straight up or on ice.
… or on ice cream.

To use the raisins in Tapioca Pudding or Oatmeal Raisin cookies, use the strained raisins as you would with any other wet raisins. They will change the taste of your baked goods, and in a normal sized serving of Tapioca, you will get between 1/2 to one ounce of rum.
If you’re a tea totaller or “On Recovery”, substitute water or grape juice.
This also works with any dried fruit within reason. I’m thinking dried Mangoes next time I go to the shops, or perhaps Apricots.

Monarch Extinction or Fake News and a reason to keep your adblocks up to date?

Here I am.  In the South Eastern portion of a state named after Flowers.

I just saw a Monarch butterfly float past the window.  It’s February and I do see them daily, I didn’t think much of it.

The other day I was sitting in my Jeep.  I was at Pompano Airpark in the south eastern parking lot.  Putting on my inline skates for a workout.  A Monarch butterfly floated between me and the next car of to do whatever it was that butterflies do.

They are here.  But in a state named after Flowers you would expect that.  Lots of nice Nectar to drink, places to visit, fields to float through.

Along with my favorite Monarchs are Swallowtails and others, flashing black and yellow in their own dazzling display while floating on the breezes.

Then I get home and am confronted with a rather frightening news story screaming that their numbers are Below 1% and Heading towards extinction!

Pretty shouty and frightening titles if you ask me.

Except.

 

Those two links I have above?  Almost Word For Word copies of each other.  If you click on the links, expect to have more shouty advertisements for bogus things that you were not interested in popping up on you shilling some nonsense that you will never follow through with.

Any time you find that the majority of the search of a specific phrase, pick your search engine, I have been using Duckduckgo.com lately, are identical in a search – think fake news.

Those who support that sort of … prank have been busy in recent years.

At any rate, any time you see something like that, it’s a red flag.   Keep your antivirus programs and your ad blockers up to date, someone has a farm of web pages, none of which really are all that worthwhile.

If you are in the west and are witnessing a drop in the numbers, plant butterfly weed and milkweed.

Even if you aren’t, it’s a good idea.

As for me?  Any time I get a web site throwing up a nonsensical pop up urging me to sign onto their newsletter list, I immediately go in and start blocking things.

It’s a sure sign it’s not really worth bothering with.

And plant some milkweed, ok?  After all the Monarchs really could use our help.

Rebuilding Unsealed Ball Bearings for Inline Skates and other purposes

Bearings are mechanical.  You need to keep them dry, and you need to keep them lubed.  No matter what they are in, wheels, skate wheels, or other purposes, they need maintenance.

I have a lot of leftover bearings from when I competed and skated 100 mile weeks like they were going out of style.  That means that in Peak Season, I would be tearing down inline skate bearings once every two weeks.

I have plastic Feta Cheese containers with lids that has my old inventory, and I am going through them.  Just before I left Philadelphia at the end of the 2005 season, I tore down every one of those couple-hundred bearings and refurbished/restored/reworked them.  Lubed and ready they sat in the Feta Cheese container until I needed them last week.

The problem is that an oil will oxidize if left alone long enough.  That was what happened to me.  I found that they slowed me down greatly, and trust me, all those 21,000 miles worth of skating meant I was tearing down a lot of bearings so I know how they should feel.

The good news was that when I did this process to my old bearings from years past, I used them today.  The process shaved a whole minute off a mile, so it’s worth it.

To do this, I use the following – your process may vary.

  • Electric Hair Dryer with a flat metal grid over the heating surface.
  • Citrus Degreaser.
  • Paper towels.
  • Plastic container for bearings and parts of bearings.
  • A “sturdy” push pin with a fine point.
  • A container of lubricating oil.  I use Triflow and have for decades.
  • A Skate Maintenance tool – has a pusher to remove a bearing from a wheel and a hex key.

 

Understand this is a long process.  Doing this from start to finish for me took 3 hours on a rainy sunday afternoon.  Once you start, you really do have to complete the process by getting the bearings lubed and sealed up once again.  

Take A Deep Breath, You Can Do This!

Keep in mind though, this process is for UNSEALED bearings.  These are bearings where the shields can be freely removed.   If you can’t remove the shields and get at the insides, you’re done, buy a new set of bearings.  Come on back when you have got them.

Standard Internet Warranty applies – this is at your own risk.  If you ruin your bearings, well that’s on you.  I have made every effort to present this in excruciating detail to be as complete as possible by a knowledgeable amateur.  Ramblingmoose.com takes no responsibilities towards anything that you do as a result.  Sorry, but weasel words are here to protect … me.

 

First step is to remove all wheel assemblies from the skate “truck”.  Since there are variances in how this is done, I’m being general.  Find the screw or bolt that holds it in, remove the bolt from the wheel, push the axle through the wheel to free it, and set it aside.

Second is to remove all bearings from each wheel.  This gets you to where you have naked metal parts – bearings, axles, and bolts/screws.  Use your skate tool to push the speed kit or anything else in the way out of it.  That should pop the bearing out from the other side.  If no speed kit is used, then you can use the skate tool to seat inside the center of the bearing, lean it toward one side and pull back to extract the bearing.

Third, with a clean towel wipe all old grease and grit from the outside of the bearing.  I do mean ALL.  There is a track on the top of each bearing that must be visible so that you can see the retaining clip.

Fourth, Completely Disassemble each and every bearing and place all parts in the cleaning container.  I will go into detail after I complete this long process.  See below.  No really, go to the bottom of the article where I describe everything in painful detail.

Fifth, Add Citrus Degreaser to the cleaning container and water if you feel you need it.  I use full strength.

Sixth, Cover the container and shake it vigorously for enough time to degrease the bearings.  I usually take more than a minute shaking this up inside the sink.

Seventh, Pour off the solution and cover the bearings with tap water.  Shake it vigorously.  Your water will discolor.  You will see grit get dissolved into the water.  You may wonder why you even started this longish process.

Eight, Repeat step Seven until the water runs clear.  It took me six repeats.

Nine, lay out paper towels.  Bang out the bearings on the paper towels until there is no more water inside the bearings, visibly.   Place each bearing on a dry paper towel.  Repeat with the shields, bolts, screws, C-Clips, and so forth until everything is as dry as possible.

Ten, Using the hairdryer, place each bearing on the grid on the outflow or hot side of the hairdryer.  I tend to put down more than one because this is a long process.  Turn on the hairdryer to full hot and allow the air to dry the bearing completely.  All water must “bake out”, because any water left in the bearing will rust it.

I repeat – all the water must bake out because any water left in the bearings will rust them.

Go longer than shorter.   I find a minimum of 1 minute per bearing is needed with my hairdryer, your time will vary.

Eleven, partial reassembly.  Place one shield in a bearing.  Replace the C-Clamp by fitting it in the groove toward the outside of each bearing.  Repeat for each bearing, but only one side.

Twelve, Lubricate the bearings.  Tri-Flow has a drip applicator where you can get a single drop of oil if you squeeze gently.  Each bearing needs three drops of oil.  Spin it gently.  Replace the Shield and C-Clip for the opposite side.  Spin the bearing.  It must spin freely – Tri-flow is a speed lubrication oil (or so I was told once upon a time).  The bearings should spin like a fidget spinner.   Repeat for every other bearing you have.

Finally reassemble the wheels by pushing one bearing into place, inserting a speed kit where they came from, and place the second bearing on the opposite side.

Once that all is through, you can bolt each wheel into the skate truck and test for speed.   If a wheel is bolted too tightly, it will stop spinning quickly when spun.  They should be free, and the bolts should not come loose.  I use a small square of duct tape and a little “Permatex Blue” to put the retention bolt in place and keep it there under load.

Ok, now that the “general” (yeah right) process has been described, the complete teardown.  

All bearings are laid out in front of you.

Take a bearing, and look at it from the side.  It looks like a ring or a donut.

Under the outer ring, there is a notch where a piece of flat springy metal sits.  It’s in the shape of a Letter C.

The ends of the C are beveled where one side is beveled away from the rim.

That creates a notch where you insert the tip of your push pin and pull it away from the rim.

The C Clip should pull away “easily”, but you may find that some refuse to come out.  If all of your bearings are like that, you have sealed bearings and you can not or are not able to pursue the disassembly, and you will want to reassemble the wheels without washing them.

If the C Clip pulls away, set it in the cleaning container.

Under the C Clip there sits a circular metal shield.  It looks like a flat washer but is typically rather thin.  This has to be removed, and it should fall right out with a little coaxing.  I use the push-pin to get one side up then flip it upside down to get it to fall out.  It should not bend or be bent.

Wipe down the shield and C Clip and place them in the cleaning container.

You should now be able to see the ball bearings and the guide that holds the ball bearings in.  The better bearings have a metal guide.  The plastic or teflon guides are useable but will degrade with time and re-lubing.  Not a crisis since new bearings are fairly available.

Now that you have removed both Shields and C-Clamps, place all parts in the cleaning container and move onto the next bearing.

When all bearings are done, go back up to Step Five since you are ready to actually degrease your bearings.

 

Good luck!

How to get Tap To Click back on Debian 10 Buster XFCE Linux install

At this time, 2018-11-24, Buster is Testing.

This can change in the two months before it becomes Stable.

I had written this article on how to get tap to click on Debian 9 about the same time frame, and it worked then.

This does not work on Buster.  When I tried it this morning, rebooted, and was presented with terminal only and a login screen.  Removing the files that I created got me back to where I was.

 

I am doing this on a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Version 2, however most thinkpads will be similar.  (sweet machine even if that control strip is evil)

My install of Debian is from the Non-Free tree.

Fortunately this is MUCH easier as of this date.

1) start Terminal

2) sudo su

3) apt update

3) apt install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

4) reboot

 

To configure Tap To Click

 

1) Click application menu

2) Settings, Mouse and Touchpad

3) Click the Touchpad link on the Devices page with SynPS/2 Synaptics touchpad selected

4) Click Tap touchpad to click

5) Optionally, select Disable Touchpad While Typing, and move slider down to .5 seconds

6) I also disabled Scrolling Mode

Save a Pet’s Life, or a Person’s, and Learn CPR

My morning walks sometimes take a weird turn.

I was wandering around town following the dog.  It was about 2 hours before dawn, normal for us.

I was decidedly allowing my dog, Rack the McNab Superdog (TM) to lead.   We hit the south end of town and were in a parking lot near the park there.  He just veered off to the right to head into the neighborhood there and slowed down wagging his tail.

There I saw, approaching us, my neighbor, Juan.  We greeted as normal, which is to say he was excitedly starting to tell me a story.

“I just about lost my dog!  He was laying there dying!”

Yes, that’s a bit dramatic for just before 6AM.  It turns out his dog had either swallowed something or really had just decided to cross that damn Rainbow Bridge on his own.

What he told me was that he picked up “Bear” and performed the Heimlich on the dog followed by chest compressions.

“That is just what my first aid training would have told me to do with a person, I’m glad you saved him!”

Long story short… Bear is alive because someone knew just what to do.

That happened with my nephew, Jon, when he was around 4 years old.  I was at their house.  He ate “something” and it got caught in his windpipe.  Of course being a kid, he ran out of the room and upstairs.  I came calling after him.  He was getting wobbly and blue in the face.

I ordered him (yes, ordered.  That command presence can be very useful!)  to turn around.  He fell against me.  I put my fist into a ball and applied pressure just under the rib cage.

Well, with a gush of air and a splat, the offending piece of food ended up stuck on my Mom’s grey wall paper on top of the stairs at her house in Cherry Hill.

My nephew is still alive to this day.

You can do this to yourself.  I did.

Watermelon with seeds are wonderful.  Without seeds they taste like a basketball.  Trust me, I’m from New Jersey.  I bit off more than I could chew and it got stuck in my windpipe.

Relax, don’t panic, relax your abdomen, and push sharply on your abdomen.

The fruit popped out of my windpipe immediately.

Whenever possible, I always have maintained my Red Cross First Aid training.  If you get a chance to take it, don’t blow it off, you may be that guardian angel that someone or someone’s pet needs to survive.

Oh and skip the rawhide “treats”.  That stuff is evil and stuffed with questionable chemicals.

It is leather after all.  Would you like to chew on a handbag?  A shoe?

When your dog goes to swallow the “treat”, it may form a plug in their throat or windpipe and if you aren’t watching, you’ll be left in tears as your trusted friend makes that trip across the Rainbow Bridge.

If you do know CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, the actions are similar on a dog or a cat to what you’d do to a person.

Choking, see if you can clear the windpipe or the throat of any obstructions, and if not, apply pressure to the abdomen.  There’s a one page PDF here from the SPCA explaining exactly how.

As far as CPR is concerned the instructions are to place your hands on the ribcage and do chest compressions at the rate of 20 per minute, or the speed of “Staying Alive” then two rescue breaths into their nose.  A Better explanation can be found here on the Red Cross.

They all recommend after an issue like this to get your pet to a vet for an exam since they can’t talk.

My nephew Jon didn’t need a vet.  Nor a doctor.