Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grain-Free Dog Food

I’ve mentioned before that I have my mother ship kibble to me, which I feed the dogs in the morning with yogurt. They eat the homemade dog meatloaf in the evenings. Overall, their diet is extremely good (varied and balanced) and all three are quite healthy. But starting early this year, Mimi and Azza started scratching themselves constantly and Mimi chewed all four paws so much that they were always red and inflamed and even without hair in places. She showed extreme reluctance to walk in wet grass so for a while I thought it was either the caustic reclaimed water burning her sensitive paws or it was the sand mites triggering some sort of histamine reaction. Azza's skin was flaky and her coat looked dry and brittle. I fiddled with supplements such as fish oil but nothing seemed to give Mimi or Azza any relief.

Finally, in June, I decided to dramatically alter their diet: grain-free kibble and dog meatloaf made with oats instead of barley. I had my mother ship me some bags of Blue Freedom Grain-Free kibble and I made up a new batch of dog meatloaf. I started the dogs on their new diet right away.

I started seeing a difference in Mimi within just a few days. She no longer chews on her feet during all waking moments, and the hair has grown back. She and Azza aren’t itchy and twitchy and they enjoy being petted again. The coats of all three dogs gleam. Everyone is happier!

So in one of my infrequent product plugs, I strongly recommend Blue Freedom Grain-Free for dogs with persistent coat, skin, and itching problems.

Happy Birthday, Harry!

While I was out touring the world, Harry turned 14 in early August. He has definitely become a grumpy old man but he's a tough little guy who knows what he wants and how to get it. I think that given the option, he'd play fetch with me every hour on the hour. He constantly initiates play (he grabs a toy and looks at me with big hopeful eyes, tail quivering so fast that you can barely see it). He's also extremely excited when walk time comes around. I'm careful to keep him out of the worst of the heat, and there aren't any more multihour jaunts left in him, but he's up for that evening walk every night. He loves to have his belly rubbed (his second preferred activity if a game is not in the offing). He wants to soak up sun rays every day. He eats with gusto and, despite his cataracts, can still catch treats out of the air. He still likes to snuggle up to me at night, always getting the treasured spot next to my hip.

Here's to old dogs, the best companions we can ever find!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I've been out on leave for the past month (more on that later) and returned Sunday night to a regular internet mess here in Aramco environs.

In case you've been living under a rock, you should google "Aramco virus" to read about the damaging virus that was set off (literally like a bomb) in Saudi Aramco computers at the beginning of the eid holiday when manpower is typically at its lowest for the year. Rumors are myriad but it appears to have been a politically motivated attack that was possibly, very possibly, arranged by someone in Aramco.

Aramco's production and delivery operations don't seem to have been affected but Aramco has shut off all of our outside connectivity, including home internet. We can email other Aramco employees while at work but we can't use the internet or email anyone outside the company at work or at home. It isn't clear to anyone why home internet seems to be a threat but perhaps the servers were damaged; their restoration would be a relatively low priority right now.

Not surprisingly, since Aramcons tend to be a rather tech-savvy bunch, there's been a stampede to the local stores of the main service providers.

Tonight, I bought a microSIM for my iPad. I can take the pad to work and use it to send work-related emails outside the company. And I bought a router that will connect my computer and Vonage line, and send password-protected wifi to my iPad when it is at home.

Obviously, I managed to get all of that set up successfully tonight since I'm posting this. As a friend of mine used to say, it isn't much of a problem if you can throw some money at it to solve it.

Internet connectivity: problem solved.