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Updated Biography

Hi there and welcome to my little blog.

I'm Tom. You can call me Tom or Tommx. Don't ever spell my name Thom.

Most of my posts are friends only, but I'm also pretty easy going about whom I will add as a friend. Here are a couple of things you should be aware of:

1. If you're adding me as a friend, it would be nice if you'd let me know a little something about yourself, or at least have a journal that has some meat to it. If you're adding me, and I look at your journal and find practically nothing there, I'll likely not add you.

2. Be respectful of others who comment on my journal. Some may express opinions you disagree with. That's fine. This is a free country. I merely ask that everyone be respectful of one another. Cardinal rule: Don't be a dick.

3. I am extremely opinionated and extremely liberal. If you have a problem with either of these things (especially the latter) we likely won't get along.

4. I don't guarantee that all of what you read here will be interesting. Sometimes I can be pretty damn boring.

Sad

Life after Germany has been kind of crazy busy. There have been many adventures, but there's really only one thing on my mind right now.

Tallulah passed away yesterday.

In the last couple of months, there was a steady drop in her energy levels which we attributed to simply getting old. She was about 14 years old, so we estimate. She was a rescue, so it's impossible to know for certain. At any rate, a month ago she developed a cough which the vet thought might be the result of a heart murmur. Then, about a week ago Friday, she was feeling really low. We took her to the vet who saw she had a slight fever and back pain, so they gave her an antibiotic infusion and some painkillers for her back. That seemed to revive her until last Friday when she more or less had a repeat performance of the previous Friday. Lisa had a girls night out of town in Harrisburg on Saturday, so I stayed with Tallulah throughout the day, not feeling too great myself. She didn't eat on Friday, but took wet food on Saturday and Sunday morning. Sunday, I knew something was seriously wrong. Her cough wasn't as frequent, but it was starting to sound more like a wheeze, and she wasn't taking water. As soon as Lisa got home, we bundled her off to the emergency vet where it was confirmed that she had large tumors in her lungs.

After some initial tears, we confirmed that she was stable enough to bring home so we could have in home euthanasia arranged. They recommended a service which essentially is a vet who does house calls for this sort of thing. For those in the DC area with pets, the service is Tranquility Veterinary Services. The vet, Dr. Rathjens, is definitely the person you want to call when you need to do something like this. Anyway, we made the arrangements, and then spent one last night with our little Miss. She pretty much just slept the whole time, but would pop her head up every now and then to look around. We were with her to the end.

Monday, Lisa called in sick. I did a little work early in the morning, mostly just to move everything to Tuesday so I could concentrate on my family. Tallulah couldn't eat breakfast, so we just lay with her in bed. The doctor was originally scheduled for 4, but we moved it up to 12:30 when Lisa decided to call in sick. We weren't exactly in a hurry to say goodbye, but she was clearly uncomfortable, and we didn't want her to suffer any longer than she had to. We sat in the family room and took some final pictures with her, cried, told her we loved her and what a great dog she is, and gently stroked her head to help comfort her. When the doctor arrived, she was very compassionate both to us and to Tallulah. We debated letting Clyde stay in the room, but decided to let him stay so he could get a sense of closure. When Tobey died, we had to put him to sleep at the clinic as he had a broken leg that was never going to get better, as he had bone cancer. I remember Tallulah looking for him in the days after he passed, and didn't want Clyde to have to do that if it could be avoided. I think it was the right call. He didn't seem to want to be too close to her while she was passing, which is understandable, but when she was gone, he seemed to understand what had happened.

Her last moments were very quiet, and peaceful. We put her into her bed with a pee pee pad under her in case, well, you know. Before the initial sedation we kissed and petted her, telling her how much we loved her, and that she was a great dog over and over again. With the initial sedation, she became very relaxed, and sleepy, but still more or less awake. After a while, when it was time for the final injection, she reacted defensively, so we waited a little longer, and then gave her a little more sedative. (A fighter right to the end) That seemed to have done the trick because the second attempt to give her the final injection was successful. After that, it was a slow process of her drifting into unconsciousness, and then slowly and gently letting go.

We opted to have her cremated and her ashes buried in a pet cemetery that the doctor had a connection with. We're not the sort to keep ashes in urns or anything like that. We took her collar off of her, and the doctor gently lifted her and put her in a little basket with a blanket covered in stars placed over her.

Afterward, we cried, held each other, and then broke out the emergency bottle of champagne we keep in the fridge. In crystal flutes (given to us for our wedding by another great dog lover, David S. Greene who had passed a couple of years before from cancer) we toasted her and spent the afternoon alternatively crying, holding each other, playing with Clyde, snuggling with Clyde, and going over our memories of Tallulah. We somehow managed to eat some brie that we had in the fridge, but couldn't bring ourselves to eat actual dinner. In fact, we crashed sometime around 8 or 9 as we hadn't really slept the night before.

I'm sad as hell, and will be for some time. Although I had more time to prepare for this than I had with Tobey, it's still a gut punch, and while I loved them equally, somehow, Tallulah's passing is proving to be a lot harder for me. Maybe it's because she was so little, or because she was so lively when she was healthy, or maybe it's because she taught Tobey to play. She was always a daddy's girl, and incredibly cute throughout her life.

I'm going to try to post here more regularly now. You can pretty much expect the next few days to be filled with pictures of Tallulah's life both with Tobey and Clyde. Here's a preview:





Twin Peaks, the Return

Of all of the TV shows that I've been looking forward to, Twin Peak's return has been close to the top of the list. I'm not necessarily a David Lynch fanatic but I love his work, and was cautiously optimistic that Twin Peaks would be among his better works.

It looks like I was right. I think it was a good move to make him the only director for all 18 episodes, and I'm frankly amazed that he got that many out of Showtime. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the first two episodes.

cutting this for Spoilers for episodes 1 and 2Collapse )

LJ 18th anniversary

Although I primarily post from Dreamwidth now, this journal was started here, and continues to update here as well. I've made a lot of really good friends here. I hope that continues.




#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday

OK, that was weird.

I just looked at some old entries in here, and discovered that my older entries had been duplicated, with the duplicates of locked entries being made public. No idea how that happened, but my solution is to basically lock everything from the start of my journal through last year. Not sure when the duplicate entries started or when, but I've got some stuff there that I'd like the entire world not to see. I can only assume it was some kind of a glitch with the import.

*update* I was able to successfully lock all of the old posts, but I'm still a little vexed that they were hanging out there publicly for all to see. Too late to unring that bell I guess, but oh well. If anyone saw anything that we need to talk about (I'm talking mainly about non DW users I know who might have seen something that I said that they had a problem with) please reach out.

The Versioning of Tommx

I'm starting up a set of posts that are an attempt to try to help new readers understand who I am, and to give me an opportunity to reflect on who I am, who I've been, and how I got from there to here.

I have been different people at various times in my life. I mean, I've always been me, but I haven't always been this version of me. I suppose it's my way of saying that I am the sum of my parts, I guess, but the point is that if you compared me as I am today with who I was when I was, say, 14, or 24, or even 34, you'd see the same person for the most part, but there would be differences that aren't obviously related to age or maturity.

I often look back at the various versions of myself and cringe. Even reading old entries here, I can't help but roll my eyes at how blind I have been to my own privileges, microagressions, etc. They're hopefully not too glaring to the casual observer, but remembering who I was when I wrote some of them is sometimes upsetting to me. It's a good thing I didn't keep a journal in High School. Aside from the fact that my spelling was atrocious back then, I also really had my head shoved up my ass back then. Case in point, I got sucked into what I can only call a born again Christian cult. Suffice to say, I don't do a lot of bragging about that.

A sobering thing to consider, for me, is that the current president (I throw up in my soul to even say that much) has become a mirror to me, reflecting every aspect of being a cisgendered white male of a certain age in this country. I don't claim to be fully aware of the extent of my privilege, largely because I think such privilege tends to be more obvious to those who don't have it. I've come to realize that part of how my privilege manifests itself is to look at people like our current president, and unconsciously congratulating myself for not being like him. It's almost like a drug, that sense of satisfaction at not being as bad as the next guy, and it's a trap I've been trying to work on not falling into anymore.

As a man of privilege, I feel that it's on me to do what I can to help those who are being marginalized, oppressed, or otherwise held back from living their lives as they wish. There are limits to what I can do, of course, but I figure whatever I can do is better than nothing, and hopefully, what effort I make will be beneficial to someone in a real and meaningful way.

Part of the fallout of disliking previous versions of myself is that I've been hesitant to connect with people because I worry that I'm not, in some way, good enough to know them. This is another thing I've been working against recently, as is evidenced by the fact that I've been pretty brazen in my friending frenzy. This is kind of my way. Whenever I break through some sort of personal barrier or take on something new, I tend to go in head first at full speed. It may not be the healthiest way to go about it, but it's kind of what I do. Lisa tells me that she admires that about me, so I'm hoping that it's a healthy thing for the most part.

Anyway, this is the current version of me. I don't claim to be the best version of myself, but I try. My honest hope is that I do not fail any of you, but should I, I hope sincerely that I will have the self awareness to recognize it and make amends.

Housekeeping

My access filters for this journal were extremely old, and largely based on my Livejournal account. Most of the people in them don't even use LJ much less Dreamwidth anymore.

I haven't set up any new ones, so for now, anything I post that is friends locked will be viewable to all of those I grant access to.

I haven't quite figured out what I want to set up for filters yet, but for now, if I think I'm going to post anything that any of you might consider TMI, I'll just stick it behind a cut. For the most part, I suspect my TMI will be relatively tame as I'm not all that wild anymore, but you never know.

Ah, playoffs

Well, the Capitals won, though it wasn't as clean a win as I would have liked. They were down two, tied it, and then won in overtime. Still, a win is a win, especially in the playoffs. We had dinner at a new place called The Smith which is pretty much standard fare, but very very good standard fare.

The seats in the 200 section were very nice. More or less the opposite side from where we usually sit, but really, there aren't many bad seats in Verizon Center. I think we'll be able to deal with that.

I got an email from Dreamwidth that was sort of a "Hi Livejournal refugees" type of email which said most of the things I like hearing. I didn't know much about the history of Dreamwidth or how it came into being, but having read about it, I'm gladder still to have made the switch. I also can't help but smile to know that it's incorporated in my home state. It's not for nothing that I've stayed in Maryland this long, particularly Montgomery County. I'm very much a product of the environment I grew up in, so it's not surprising that I'd want to stay in it. Also, Silver Spring is just a great place. That said, Lisa just sent me a link about tech jobs in New Zealand. I considered submitting my resume for the Looksee thing they had where they offered to fly you out for an interview if you were selected, but I didn't feel like going up against the sheer volume of competition that was going to ensue. Still, if the right situation came up, I'd be on a plane over there in a second. There aren't many places on Earth I'd leave Maryland to go live in, but New Zealand is on the list.

Next week is going to be our 13th wedding anniversary. I already got Lisa her gift, but for laughs, I looked up which anniversary this is for us. It's lace. I then laughed because lace is something Lisa definitely does not do. In fact, I've never dated a girl who ever was into lace or lingerie to my knowledge. Neither really do anything for me, and I never would ask a woman to wear something for my benefit that she wouldn't want to wear on her own. As I've often said, Lisa could wear burlap if she really wanted to, and I'd still find her sexy. Sexiness isn't about how you look or what you wear, in my opinion. It's about how you feel, whom you're with, and the connection you have. I've never known any of that to be aided by one of us wearing a thong. (Though I'd be willing if Lisa decided she wanted me to, but I'm weird.) Anyway, we're looking forward to having Jen and Philip down, having them finally meet Chris and Leah, and marching on Saturday for science. Only sad part will be that we've agreed to board the dogs for the weekend so that we don't have to worry about getting home to them during the march. I hate doing that, not because it's hard on them. The place we board them is freaking Shangri-la for dogs. Dogtopia if anyone's interested in dog boarding. The reason I hate boarding the dogs is that it means they aren't with us. I miss them badly enough when I go to work, but to sleep in a dogless bed...that's rough. Still, I'll be looking at 10 days of that in Germany, so I better get a grip.

I decided to keep Prague on the itinerary after all for the Germany trip. Don Giovanni not withstanding, there is still a lot of great stuff to see over there. I'm hoping to do some planning this weekend.

I downloaded the enhanced edition of Planescape Torment yesterday in between work, emptying and refilling the dogs (walking and feeding them) and going back to meet everyone for hockey. It's definitely dated, but it's still a great game. I haven't legitimately played an RPG computer game in a long time, but I always wanted to come back to this one and run through it again. I remember the basic storyline, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

OK, I'm rambling enough. Still waking up, but it's time to do some coding. Ta ta.

On a Roll with Running. (So...on a run?)

I ran 3 miles again yesterday. Again, not very fast, just more of a light jog, but I maintained it for 3 miles, and could have gone further. I didn't because it's not in the plan that I'm following. Well, ok, I did 3.1 miles to make it a 5k, but still...

I'm definitely on an upswing with the running. It's not easy, but neither is it impossible, and I'm feeling REALLY good afterward. I need to run 1.5-2 miles tomorrow to stay on target. Technically, the plan has me doing 1.5 miles today, but it's not going to work schedulewise. At any rate, I think a day of rest is probably not a bad idea here. Then on Saturday, I need to run 3.5 miles, and that'll be the week.

If I can keep this up, I really think I'm going to start seeing some better weight loss in the near future.

Tonight, we have tickets to the first Capitals playoff game against the Maple Leafs. We're in the 200 section. By coincidence, we're one row in front of Leah and Chris, which is all kinds of awesome. We're trying out a new place called The Smith in Chinatown that used to be a McCormick & Schmick's, but hopefully, the new place will be much better. I'm not doing a playoff beard this time around because 1. I really hate wearing facial hair of any kind, and 2. I'm not superstitious. Me growing facial hair isn't going to do anything to help the caps, and I don't need to look like a bum for people to know I like hockey. Too many people already think I'm way more of a fanatic about it than I am. Case in point, last night, Lisa was flipping between 3 playoff games while I was re-watching Twin Peaks on my ipad in preparation for the new series coming up on Showtime. I forgot how much of a crush I had on Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn back in those days. Oh, and Joan Chen...anyway, the point is, unless the Capitals are playing, and playing live for that matter, I'm not that interested in watching the game. By and large, I'm not really a sports fanatic, and probably wouldn't give a crap about the Capitals if I weren't married to Lisa. She got me interested, and I do very much get into the games, but I can't watch it all the time. I get bored too easily. Also, I'm not as invested in the playoffs as I used to be because the Caps have a bad habit of choking in the first or second round. In all likelihood, we'll face the Penguins in the second round, and we never seem to do well against them in the playoffs. Maybe this year will be different. I am always hopeful.

Health, Age, Raccoons and Bees

I ran a mile and a half yesterday. Not very far, and not very fast, but it's an improvement over last week's mile and a half. We'll see how today's 3 miles go.

I didn't run as much last week as I'd wanted to, but I'm hoping to rectify that this week. I'm following the Hal Higdon Spring Training course for novices. That seems to be working well for me. I don't know how much weight will be lost with this particular training plan, but I'm not setting any major goals along those lines. I just want to cover the distance for now.

I've concluded that running is the primary exercise for me to maintain my health. I never feel better than I do immediately after a run, and I'm finding that my overall feeling of wellness increased dramatically when I'm running regularly. I'm very lucky, in that my knees and feet still seem to be able to handle running, provided I train consistently, and maintain a healthy lifestyle otherwise. (i.e. sleeping enough, not drinking a lot, eating healthily) So long as my knees can handle it (and judging from past performance, they still can), running needs to be a regular part of my life.

In other news, we had a raccoon living in the wall behind our bedroom until recently. Our house's upper floor is more of a converted attic. Behind our wall is a space with a vent behind it which the raccoon forced its way into. We called a service that traps such animals and humanely relocates them. This done, we enlisted the same company for some preventative work to keep future would-be tenants from forcing their way in through either side of the house. We're also having some conversion work done on the gutters that will hopefully keep birds out in the future as well.

Unfortunately, we have another set of tenants. It seems we have a bee hive underneath the sun room. Our sun room is an extension to the house that was built shortly before we moved in. As it's raised, there's a crawlspace underneath it where the bees seem to have set up home. I'm not sure what to do there, except call Terminix and hope they have a humane solution. Bees are important, and I don't wish to harm them, but it's not feasible for us to leave a hive there. It's not safe for us or the dogs.

I'm starting to rethink the itinerary of our trip in the Fall a bit. Now that it seems that Don Giovanni in Prague isn't going to happen, I'm wondering if it's worth going out there at all. There's no shortage of things to do in Germany and Austria, and Switzerland might also be a good one to rope in as well. Alternatively, we could just spend a little more time in Austria or Holland. I'll be doing some juggling over the next couple of days to see what works. Prague is definitely a place I'd like to go, but it's not an absolute must have.

OK, time to work for a living. Peace out.