Friday, November 24, 2017

Much to be thankful for

Today is Thanksgiving in my native USA, a day on which—among other things—people typically reflect on what they’re thankful for. That can include anything, often unique to an individual, but for most it’s other people who rank pretty highly on the list. As they should. But there’s so much to be thankful for.

The video above from Vox highlights nine things we should be glad about, because they’re things that are getting better. In fact, as I often point out, there’s a lot that’s getting better all the time. Yes, there absolutely are bad things and people in this world, but there are good things and good people, too. Too often we focus on the bad and ignore the good.

I admit that these days I’m far more pessimistic than I am optimistic, at least when it comes to my native land. But the things that bring me down the most reliably are also the things I can do the least about. So, instead, I focus on what I CAN do something about.

When I go to shops, or deal with anyone who has to deal with the public, including people working for government, I’m always nice. I smile. I try to be friendly so that even if every other customer they deal with that day is a prize prick, for a few minutes they have one interaction in which they’re treated like a fellow human being. I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

I try to acknowledge the good things other people do, to cheer their successes, and to encourage their good feelings, even if only in small ways. It doesn’t matter if I share their feelings about, say, a movie, I can nevertheless cheer their enjoyment, because them being happy is a good thing, and me not liking whatever they like is irrelevent (Arthur’s Law is a good thing, I tell ya). I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

Mostly, I just try to be human and civil to others I interact with, or I hold my tongue. Most of the time, my challenging other people isn’t necessary and won’t accomplish anything. Besides, I’ve finally learned that I don’t actually have to be “right” all the time. I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

I fail—a lot. I’m sometimes unkind or, at least, unthinking. Sometimes I’m not as supportive as I should be. Sometimes I just don’t feel like smiling at a store clerk or being chatty. Sometimes I have a bad day, maybe even a very bad day. But I’m trying to make all that the exception, the increasingly rare deviation. Maybe I’ll eventually even get there. But the point is, I’m trying to get better, too.

So, I’m thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, whether they’re at the core of my life, like Nigel, or people further out who inspire me or teach me or light up the world around me. All of them make me want to be a better person, and it’s what I’m trying to do all the time. Sure, I don’t always succeed, but I can see where I want to be, and who I want to be, and all those people have helped me make it this far.

With the world doing better in so many demonstrable ways, and with so much to be thankful for personally, how could I be anything but grateful and thankful? Thanksgiving Day is a holiday. Being grateful and thankful ought to be a way of life, I think.

There’s much to be thankful for.

Another sweet NZ ad

The video above is the Christmas ad for Mitre 10, a New Zealand chain of hardware and home centres (and not to be confused with the Australian company of the same name). This commercial very subtly promotes what the stores sell, and what they’re all about, without any obvious product placement. That sort of subtly is common for NZ television ads, especially at Christmas.

I think the ad is really sweet. It portrays a father who sees his young son’s worry about how Santa will get into their house, he works hard to do something about it, and, essentially, makes his son’s worries disappear. If only life was always as easy as that!

At first blush, especially to foreigners, the music in the background might seem an odd choice. The melody is, of course, We Three Kings, a hymn written for a Christmas pageant, and still associated with the holiday ever since (even though its subject actually makes it an Epiphany song…). However, even this could be a very subtle Kiwi cultural reference.

A New Zealand born comedian, the late John Clarke, created a character called Fred Dagg, who was the quintessential Kiwi farming bloke, and he had his own version of the song. It had the same melody, but these lyrics:
We three Kings of Orient are
One on a tractor, One on a car,
One on a scooter, tooting his hooter,
Following yonder star.

Oh, star a wonder, star a bright
Star a bewdy, she’ll be right,
Star a glory, that’s the story,
Following yonder star
I don’t know for sure that the music choice was an homage to Clarke, who died in April of this year, but I like to think it is. It would be appropriate as a tribute, sure, but also as a wee wink toward Kiwi sarcasm and humour (I know plenty of Kiwis who can sing the Fred Dagg song without needing to think about the lyrics).

Regardless, the commerical is sweet. This time of year, that’s enough.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sustainability project

We’ve completed the early phase of another thing that’s part of what I’m half-jokingly calling our “Sustainability Project” (photo above). It’s joking because there’s a lot in life that I don’t take totally seriously, and this is one of those things. However, we really are trying to live more sustainably and this is another example of that.

Quite some time ago, when we were still at the old house, we bought an EnsoPet Pet Waste Composting Kit (link goes to the Australian manufacturer), but never quite found the time/place to bury it. This week we finally found both.

As I said in the Instagram caption, it’s basically a composting toilet for pets which safely deals with the waste and diverts it from landfills or wastewater systems. The end result is enriched soil, which is also good. However, even though the system is designed to deal with pathogens that may be present in animal waste, it doesn’t necessarily entirely eliminate them, so the finished compost shouldn’t be used where food will be grown.

We had the EnsoPet long before we bought the Bokashi bin (which I’ll talk about again in more detail when the first “batch” is fully composted), but also long before we took most other waste minimisation steps. Even so, we were already doing some conventional things.

Awhile back, Auckland Council increased the size of the recycling wheelie bins to 250 litres, and they accept a wide range of materials. The bin is so large that it can take two months for us to fill it.

Meanwhile, a pilot project slowly being rolled out around the country collects plastic shopping bags and other “soft packaging” at various drop off points. Such things couldn’t go in the normal recycling bin, and finding a place that took them was difficult. However, since the project began, I’d guesstimate I’ve probably diverted the equivalent of 5 60-litre rubbish bags (probably more) from landfill.

With all that stuff being recycled, and us now using the Bokashi bin for kitchen composting, our 35 litre kitchen rubbish bin that used to fill up every week to ten days can now take the better part of a month to fill, and it never smells (because it’s mainly unrecyclable packaging, like polystyrene trays, for example, and contaminated paper, like from the fish and chips shop).

The EnsoPet will mean pet waste will be diverted to composting, too, where before we used to flush it down the loo. It’s frankly a little more work for us, but the rewards are pretty good—for us, and also for the environment.

We’re also growing some vegetables this year—not many, and it’s not a first for us, but it’s been a fair while. Mainly, this is sort of a warm up for next year.

And there are a few other things we’ve been up to, too—topics for future posts, mainly because there’s more information to gather. And I wouldn’t want to post about something without complete information.

And more information is something I gathered today. A friend asked me about putting cat poo in the EnsoPet, since it would have kitty litter stuck to it if the cat uses a litter box. This is an issue for us, too, because while Bella always used to go outside, as she got older she became more reluctant to go do that, and, with her kidney condition, that last thing we want is for her to “hold it”. So, we got her a dirt box.

The problem is, what do you do with the gifts from a cat?! The litter we use clumps when wet, and a daily emptying of the gifts in the box is quite heavy. Most people place that in their household rubbish—sending it to a landfill, and also leaving very little room for actual rubbish since there’s a weight limit on the bags we use.

So, I asked the EnsoPet people about cat litter stuck to cat poo, and they said that should be alright, but to avoid the large clumps of clay, people should use biodegradable litter. I haven’t put any cat stuff in the EnsoPet yet, mainly because I clean out both kinds at once. I’ve buried some of that so less has to go to landfill, and with the EnsoPet now installed, maybe I can find a way to deal better with the cat gifts, too. Here’s hoping.

The larger point here is that we’re trying to reduce our impact on the planet, and to do so in a way that ultimately saves us money. We have saved a little, mostly from being able to buy fewer rubbish bags, and ultimately other savings will creep upward. The investment in various bins will take a long time to be paid off from the savings, but that was never our main goal, reducing our impact on the planet was and is. So, long term we may save some money from doing this, or we may not, but we’re sending less to landfill and to sewage treatment plants, so all that alone is a good result.

It would be nice if someone could develop easier and much cheaper ways to do all these things so that more people could and would take part. But we live in an age when a great many people don’t know how to grow vegetables, so asking them to actively reduce their waste is too much. We can, so we do. If more people in our situation did the same thing, it could make a huge difference.

You gotta start some place.

A video about the EnsoPet from the people who supplies our Bokashi, who also helped helped develop the EnsoPet:

Good riddance to utter rubbish

Zimbabwe’s brutal dictator is finally gone. This is good news the world can be very glad of, though it was far too long in coming. Now, of course, will be the waiting to see if democracy finally returns to that shattered nation.

Back in 2008, I said:
“I’m going to say something that most people won’t say, but know is true: Zimbabwe’s brutal dictator Robert Mugabe will only end Zimbabwe’s suffering by dying or being driven from office. It’s now abundantly clear, as I said last April, that he will never give up power willingly.”
This wasn’t brilliance on my part—unless stating the only possible conclusion is “brilliant”. After years and years of rigged “elections”, brutal reprisals against “enemies” and opponents, and all sorts of repression and kleptocracy, it was self-evident that he’d have to be forced out. And that’s exactly what happened.

Any time a brutal dictator is forced out, it’s good news. But whether the story has a happy ending or not depends entirely on what happens next. A country can emerge from repression and oppression only to slide back into it, Russia and Cambodia, for example. Will that be Zimbabwe’s fate, too?

The country’s presumptive new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, arrived home to cheers. That’s good—but he WAS a confidante of Mugabe’s, and his hands are hardly clean. Will he give up power in free and fair elections, if they’re held and he loses?

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, said: “This moment will be seen as a critical point in the history of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean people have voiced their support for change in a peaceful way.” I agree with him, and with the statement that “New Zealand supports the efforts of the Zimbabwean people to uphold democracy and to return to a prosperous and vibrant country free of oppression.” But the international coalition that opposed the Mugabe dictatorship, something that obviously included New Zealand, couldn’t help bring about change. Can we do anything to help it along?

Right now, we should be glad that a brutal dictator is gone. Let the people of Zimbabwe enjoy their liberation. But the world must be ready to help them keep oppression from ever returning.

Australia’s shame

There’s a story about Australia that’s well-known in this part of the world, but not much beyond. It’s about how Australia set-up prison camps for people who have tried—and failed— to illegally reach Australia by boat. People have been stuck in those camps for years, and in many cases it’s because of the Australian government. Then, when New Zealand raised the issue by reaffirming its offer to take some refugees, it was made out to be the ogre. But New Zealand isn’t the reason for this situation—it’s just trying to be part of the solution.

Australia set up the camps to prevent “asylum seekers”, as they’re often called, from reaching Australia’s shores. The government says that since setting up the camps, no asylum seeker has drowned at sea, and that, they say, proves their harsh policies are effective. The problem, of course, is that correlation is not causation, and there are probably other factors involved, ones that don’t reinforce a largely political narrative. Regardless, Australia also doesn’t seem to want to do anything that would settle the refugees cases at least in part because it believes doing so would encourage more people to board boats bound for Australia. It is, in their view, a sort of “tough love”.

The situation at the facility on Manus Island became dire when the Australian government wanted to move asylum seekers to new facilities, and they didn’t want to go, fearing violent reprisals from locals, among other things. Australia, in a frankly petulant response, simply shut off the water and electricity and ended routine medical assistance, effectively turning their backs on the men remaining, perhaps hoping to make them desperate enough to go to the new camps. This seems a foolish attitude, since these are people who were desperate enough to cross oceans in rickety boats, so defying Australia’s demands would seem like an easy thing for them. It also opened Australia to worldwide condemnation.

Australia’s treatment of detainees, especially on Manus Island after they retaliated against those who wouldn’t leave, has caught the attention of SOME around the world. For example, according to a major piece in the New York Times: “Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand had an election and a new, more Left-leaning government took over. New Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern repeated the former National Party-led Government’s offer to take 150 refugees, and Australia at first flatly rejected the offer, then, after more international attention, softened their attitude somewhat, suggesting they’d consider it.

Australian politicians—and conservatives in New Zealand—attacked the new NZ government, saying they were “meddling” in Australia’s “domestic” policies, that we must never upset Australia because we need them far more than they need us, that the new government was being naive and even a bit childish. All this despite the fact the offer—originally from a conservative New Zealand government—had been on the table for a very long time. Clearly pure politics was the sole reason for the criticism of the NZ government.

However, Australia was obviously rattled by the attention on its appalling treatment of the refugees. In addition to verbal attacks from Australian government politicians, the Australian government also leaked unsubstantiated and uninvestigated claims that men on Manus Island were guilty of child sexual abuse. The smear was an attempt to convince the world that the detainees were all “bad” people (a line of attack picked up by conservatives in New Zealand) and therefore they “deserve”, as the narrative goes, their harsh treatment.

The Australian government has also repeated its claims that it intercepted and turned away “several” boats filled with refugees headed for New Zealand. They’ve never publicly released any proof that this claim is actually true. Is there any?

So, what’s going on here? First, Australia apparently really does believe that their harsh treatment of asylum seekers has stopped the flow of such people. Whether that’s actually the reason for the reduction or not is beside the point: They seem to sincerely believe that.

Second, Australia doesn’t like being told what to do by anyone, including the United Nations, and definitely not New Zealand. It will only change its treatment of asylum seekers if it suits them.

Third, and related to the second reason, it’s good politics in Australia. Australian voters have rewarded tough treatment of asylum seekers, most recently in returning the conservative Liberal-National Coalition Government to power. Because the asylum seekers are held in remote facilities, well out of view of Australians and their news media, it becomes a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. The Australian public never sees the extent of the harsh treatment, perhaps precisely so they can’t care about it. I don’t know that any country’s people would be any different under similar circumstances (for example, Guantánamo). This is also why the detention centres are NOT in Australia.

Finally, there’s a particular reason the Australian government is opposed to New Zealand taking any asylum seekers, in addition to all the reasons above. If the refugees are granted permanent residence in New Zealand, and then become citizens, they can move to Australia to live and work. One of the main reasons for Australia’s ongoing crackdown on the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia is because the Australian government believes it’s too easy for people to gain New Zealand citizenship, and that they use it as a means to settle in Australia legally. The truth is, they’re right in that a foreigner who couldn’t qualify to legally live and work in Australia could do so if they become a New Zealand citizen first. That’s even true for me.

However, it’s not quite as easy to become a New Zealand citizen as Australia seems to think it is, but that’s still their view, and it is the basis for much of their government’s hostility to New Zealanders living in their country and why they dismiss the simple repeating of NZ’s existing offer to take 150 refugees.

Where does this leave us? Nowhere. The United States would probably be the ONLY country in the world that might have some influence over Australia, but it no longer cares about human rights, is openly hostile to immigration (legal or not), and will do nothing to ease people’s suffering. The current occupier of the White House famously hung up on the Australian Prime Minister the first time they spoke because he was angry that President Obama had agreed to accept some of these same refugees, something he called "the worst deal ever". He also referred to the phone call as “the worst call by far”. While that was all probably mostly about the current occupant’s abject hatred of President Obama, it nevertheless damaged US-Australian relations.

New Zealand has no leverage with Australia, either, for completely different reasons. Despite a relationship forged on foreign battlefields, Australia mainly tolerates New Zealand, as one might an annoying younger sibling, but they don’t really care what we think, whether it’s about them, world affairs, or even how they treat New Zealand citizens living in that country.

There is one possible glimmer of hope, though: If the United Nations could somehow broker an agreement to at least remove the refugees that the UN has recognised as genuine. But, with the UN both cowardly and compromised these days, I wouldn’t hold my breath about that, either.

So, the situation shows no sign of improving any time soon. It’s not even clear that a change of government would matter. What is clear is that barring the UN suddenly growing a metaphorical backbone, or regime change in the United States, there’s nothing that can push this situation toward resolution.

And that, really, is the world’s shame.

Tip o' the Hat to Roger Green for the link to the NYT article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Seeing change and not

Earlier this week, we were out on our deck and were talking about the TV aerial (photo above). It was the first time I’d stopped to realise that most of it is now useless. It made me stop and think how much things have changed, and how quickly.

The VHF aerial (the lowest parts of the aerial) haven’t been used in Auckland since December, 2013, when the old analog TV network was turned off. I blogged about the digital switchover back in 2012, when the first regions went digital-only. At the time, it didn’t affect us because we had Sky TV, the satellite pay TV services, which was already digital.

We dropped Sky a few months ago while we were living at our old house, and switched to Freeview, the free to air digital television network. We could use the sky satellite dish to receive the standard resolution signals, or we could use UHF for high definition channels. We’d already had a special UHF aerial installed, and used that.

The new house had no Sky dish, so we hooked up the UHF aerial here (the uppermost part of the aerial in the photo above), and it’s been fine. But, to me, it was just a TV aerial until Nigel pointed out the redundant VHF aerial, which is now nothing more than a roost for birds (and the reason we talked about it at all was because I was telling Nigel that was why plants kept growing in our gutters.

There’s another aerial mast up higher on the roof, orginally used for some sort of wireless Internet receiver, also apparently not usable anymore. So, we plan on having a new, better UHF aerial installed up there, and we’ll remove the current aerial—goodbye birds’ perch and plants-in-gutters.

Today I was out on the deck looking at the sky, and happened to notice that a neighbour’s house had a similar, though bigger, aerial up on their roof, Obviously they don’t use theirs anymore, either, but I wondered if they’d thought of removing it. Then I wondered how many houses all over the country must still have those useless aerials up on the roof.

TV aerials were once ubiquitous. Before Sky’s satellite TV service, all television was received by aerial. Now there are more choices for broadcast, and also Internet streaming is a viable option, a developement that happened faster than many of us thought it would. Yet those old aerials are still all over the place, and would be a reminder of old, abandoned technology—if people thought about them at all. Until the other day, I was like most people and never thought about the aerial—or, more specifically, the useless parts.

Technology changes quickly, and this particular revolution was televised.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas Countdown

The video above is the Christmas ad for Countdown, one of New Zealand’s two national grocery store chains. This ad is the same as in 2016 [WATCH], but I didn’t share at the time. This particular video is the long version—the actual ad currently shown on television is 30 seconds, so there are some bits cut out of it. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of “Christmas in New Zealand” in this ad.

Countdown is owned by Australian supermarket company Woolworth’s, through its New Zealand subsidiary, Progressive Enterprises (chains include Countdown, SuperValue, and FreshChoice), and a fair number of the products sold are either from Woolworth’s or sourced overseas by the Australian parent (I still remember seeing Egyptian breakfast cereal on the shelves for a short a time). Despite that, Countdown mainly sells New Zealand-made products, “Australasian” products (often local products made by international food conglomerates), or imported stuff (including a lot more products imported from America than was the case when I first moved to New Zealand). This means that Countdown is very much like its supermarket rival, the New Zealand cooperative company Foodstuffs (chains include New World, Pak’nSave, and Four Square). From what I can tell, most people seem to choose the store they shop at mainly based on price, convenience, or habit (I’m mostly the second two).

Countdown’s ads are generally not all that interesting, but I think this Christmas ad is particularly nice, not the least because it touches on much of the cultural imagery—tropes, if you like—of a Kiwi Christmas. Christmas ads are an appropriate time to do that, and I think this ad does it well.

Full disclosure: I do my “big shops” at Countdown, and my frequent “in between shops” at Four Square, which is 5 minutes from the house (Countdown is about 20 minutes away). In the past, I was a regular shopper at New World when we lived only a few minutes away from one.

Related: New World’s Christmas ads.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

First UK Christmas ads

Advertising can be interesting—the techniques used, the creativity of the ad, and so on. But for Christmas TV ads, the standards may be a bit higher. It’s fun to take a look at such ads, and the first ad I shared this year was a New Zealand ad, followed by another together with its series of ads over the years.

Now, it’s time for more ads, starting with the 2017 versions of ads for two UK retail chains I shared in 2016 (Link has the videos and more about the stores).

The first ad, up top, is called “Moz The Monster”, and it’s for high-end UK retailer John Lewis. According to the BBC, reception to the ad has been mixed. It’s a very well done ad, but it doesn’t seem all the Christmasy to me, but in a way that’s true of their 2016 ad, too. The song in the background is, of course, The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers”. It is performed by Elbow.

The second ad, below, is "Christmas Together", and is for UK supermarket chain Waitrose, which is owned by John Lewis. It’s kind of cute. Even if the very end is somewhat predictable, it’s appropriate for a Christmas ad.

Previous John Lewis ads I’ve shared:
Buster The Boxer (my post: “Buster the Boxer’s ad") – 2016
Man on the Moon (my post: “Something nice") – 2015
Monty the Penguin (my post: “Another nice ad”) – 2014
The Bear and The Hare (my post: “Because it’s nice”) – 2013

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Finding and fixing a Disqus problem

This blog uses Disqus commenting system, a free service that replaces the built-in commenting system for Google’s Blogspot/Blogger blogs. For the most part it’s worked well, though there have been sometimes been glitches that needed to be fixed. Today I discovered a new one I had to fix.

My installed Firefox recently automatically upgraded to the latest version, 57, which they’ve named Firefox Quantum, reputedly now the fastest browser available. When I accessed my blog, commenting wasn’t available, not even on posts that I knew had comments. I tried accessing a post with comments by itself, which always used to make comments appear, but that didn’t work. However, the comments were there on Chrome, so I knew the problem was with Firefox.

Without getting overly detailed (I’m happy to provide more details in the comments—just ask), I restarted Firefox in “Safe Mode”, which strips it back to basics and disables all add-ons (aka extensions). Comments reappeared. So, I then restarted Firefox normally, disabled all add-ons, restarted, and then re-enabled add-ons one at a time at repeated until I found the culprit.

It turned out it was “HTTPS Everywhere”, an add-on from EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) that “encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.” That add-on apparently blocks Disqus. Of course, this isn’t the first time this has caused me problems: In 2013 it was much worse.

With “HTTPS Everywhere” disabled, comments loaded normally. So next I went to Chrome, where comments had always worked, and discovered I didn’t have the add-on installed. So, I installed it—and the same thing happened.

It turns out that the add-on can be disabled just for Blogger.com, which is what I did on Chrome, and it worked. That leaves the add-on functioning to preserve my privacy elsewhere, while allowing me to see comments on my blog (and any others using both Blogger and Disqus).

I never would have known any of this if Firefox hadn’t updated to their new, flashier version. I want to try it as my default browser, but the commenting glitch would have made that impossible. There is, however, one remaining glitch I need to solve.

When I go to my blog on Firefox, I’m not logged in, and I always used to be in older versions of Firefox (and I still am on Chrome). Firefox made a change several updates ago that changed something (no idea what), and now if I access my blog—even if I’m logged into the dashboard on another tab—I’m not logged into my blog. This only matters because after I publish a post I always read the final version, right away or later, and I often notice mistakes I didn’t see before. On Chrome, I just click the “edit post” icon, but on Firefox I have to log in. I could have to repeat that process several times before I’m happy with the post, and on Firefox, re-logging in is annoying.

Still, the thing that I thought would make Firefox unusable for me—a problem with a particular add-on—is now sorted.

Improved commenting – I talk about the switch when I first made it
How to comment – I provided complete instructions on how to use the Disqus system
Solving commenting problems – the post in which I talked about how to fix a Blogger glitch that prevented the Disqus option from showing up for some people
Unexpected and expected – Not about Disqus as such, but it’s why I permit anonymous comments
The last commenting glitch – this post is about how to work around comments not showing for the most recent post. This is still a problem, and this is the method I tried first when I noticed that comments weren’t appearing on any post with Firefox Quantum.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Is this it?

Our cat Bella has not been herself the past day and a bit. Very quiet, sleeping virtually all the time, and now eating and drinking very little. The journey that began 16 months ago may be coming to an end. Or, she could rally once again. There’s always hope.

When Bella’s kidney problems were diagnosed in July, 2016, we were told she had a few days, a couple weeks at most. And yet she rallied and improved, and kept improving. Up until yesterday she was doing quite well, if slower and thinner than she was before this journey began.

But now she just seems detached, as if she’s disconnecting. On the other hand, she could just be feeling unwell at the moment, and she’ll come round, she’ll rally again. But even if she does, this won’t go on forever. We know that. We’re grateful for the 16 unexpected months we’ve had with her and we’d like her to stick around—but only as long as she’s happy and content. At the moment, she seems comfortable, not in any pain or distress, so we’re watching her for any change—or improvement. She’ll lead us in the direction she needs to go.

At the moment, this is taking up most of my thoughts when I’m not busy with other things. I guess that figures. I guess I should try and keep busy.

Bella’s journey
Bella’s condition
Bella’s new normal
Better Bella

Update November 18: Bella is doing very well today—eating well, drinking, and she seems much brighter. Yesterday she seemed a bit "warm" to me, as if she had a fever, and today she doesn't. She's even gone back to sleeping on one her favourite chairs to sleep on, something she hasn't done the couple days before then. While it's too early to tell if she's going to "surprise us again", she clearly is better today, and that's a good thing, whatever that leads to.