Computers and social media Personal

In case you’re wondering why the Insolence is so light today…

…the reasons are threefold.

Reason #1 is my iPhone. As I mentioned the other day, the microphone mysteriously stopped working while I was in Phoenix. At first I thought it was a network thing, as on less rare than I would like occasions I had had difficulty with AT&T in which I might have trouble making a phone call or people I called couldn’t hear me even though I could hear them. But the problem persisted after I got home. (In restrospect, I wonder if the occasional problems I had had when people couldn’t hear me after I connected were the canary in the coal mine for this total meltdown.) It was all very frustrating, as everything else about the phone appeared to work fine.

So yesterday evening after work I made a stop at the nearest Apple Store, which, unfortunately, is not nearly as near as I would like, if you know what I mean, having first made an appointment at the Genius Bar. The Apple dude was attentive as I explained my problem. He had a hard time verifying it because the store was so noisy and in fact had to take the phone into the back of the store where it was quieter before he could verify that, yes, in fact the microphone didn’t work. He then tried doing some sort of super-duper reset that only a technician can do and then completely reinstalling the iPhone software.

No go.

So, your friendly neighorhood Apple Store swapped out my non-functional old iPhone for a new one. The whole process, including analysis, reinstalling the software once, and then initializing and activating the replacement iPhone took close to an hour. By and large, it was relatively painless.

I was, however, seated next to a poor soul for whom I felt very sorry. It was a very young man, either high school or at most college age, sitting there with his very nonfunctional white MacBook that apparently had ceased to work after close contact of the wrong kind with some sort of liquid. The story was unclear, as I only caught snippets of it between interactions with my “Genius” or when I was waiting a seemingly interminable time for the new software to install on my phone, but apparently a friend of his had spilled a drink on the hapless machine, a story that only came out reluctantly and after the Genius looking at the computer for him noted signs of water damage apparent after just taking the battery out in preparation for opening the case. The poor kid was clearly screwed (as was his trusty MacBook) and definitely looked as though he did not have the hefty amount of cash necessary to repair it, much less replace it. The Genius glibly suggested that he beat the crap out of his friend, which to my mind was not exactly helpful, although I realize he was probably trying to cheer the kid up or redirect his anger.

All of this led me to remember myself at that age and contrast that kid some 30 years ago with the man I am now. Although I’ve had my share of pain and problems (and recent deaths of both relatives and a pet don’t help that), overall I’m incredibly lucky. Not only am I married to a fantastic woman, but even in these harsh economic times I’m relatively well off. I’m by no means rich, and I certainly suck at managing my finances in a savvy fashion, but I can afford a decent house in a very nice neighborhood, a very spiffy car, and (mostly) all of the computer toys I could want. If my MacBook Pro were to suffer the fate that poor kid’s machine suffered, I could afford to repair or even replace it. It would hurt, and I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I could afford it.

All of which brings me to another reason why I’m lucky. Last year, our dog Echo died unexpectedly after being diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer. The total time from our first noticing the hard lump on her flank to her death was less than three weeks. She was only eight. Afterward, we wondered when, if ever, we could get over her death and find another dog.

That time was this weekend.

Before I went to Phoenix, my wife brought me by the local Humane Society (the real Humane Society, not the fake one) to look at a special dog that she had found. I had to agree that he was incredibly even-tempered and sweet for a five month old puppy. So, while I was in Phoenix, the Humane Society neutered and microchipped him, and my wife picked him up on Friday. Meet Bailey:



He’s some sort of smooth Collie mix, but with what we’re not sure. He’s very sweet and well-behaved except for two things. Having lived in the shelter for a while, he is not house-trained, although he appears to be learning very quickly. There were no “accidents” yesterday, and he has even gone to the door a couple of times when he’s had to pee. His other problem is that he loves to chew, and he has not yet learned what is and is not acceptable to chew. For example, here he is, demolishing a tennis ball:



Here is the result:


And here is a dog who is very satisfied with himself and looking for more things to chew:


Unfortunately, Bailey also likes to chew on rugs and furniture; so we have to keep a close eye on him until we manage to teach him not to do that. In any case, he’s a load of fun and a lot of work, mostly for my wife, who has not yet gone back to work after having taken care of her dying mother. Unfortunately I only get to see him after work, and he’s still a little bit afraid of me, having totally bonded with my wife, but we have time to work on him. He doesn’t yet realize that I’m the one who’ll be teaching him how to catch a ball and Frisbee, starting this weekend.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the final reason I didn’t come up with anything substantive today, other than self-absorbed navel-gazing and posting cute dog pictures. One word: 24. After a crappy season last year, Jack is definitely back, and the show is better than it’s been in a while. Come on, terrorists first almost shut down our nation’s computer infrastructure and then invaded the White House and held the President hostage–all within the first 12 hours, which means all of that was just a warm-up for the real threat, a particularly slimy government official who’s at the center of a massive conspiracy to corrupt the government and appears to intend to launch a new terrorist attack with massive fatalities.

What more could you ask for?

Thus endeth the random brain droppings. It’ll be back to the usual topics tomorrow. In the meantime feel free to spar with an antivaccinationist straight from Age of Autism (really!) who thinks he can pull an especially stupid version of the pharma shill gambit and an alt-med maven who is pulling out the old “rich doctor” tropes.

Have fun!

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

34 replies on “In case you’re wondering why the Insolence is so light today…”

You are a lucky dog owner and have a lucky new dog. Lots of daily exercise and attention will help the chewing. Go Bailey!

Hey, I like 24 too! ^_^ This season is definitely a step above last season, and it is turning out really good. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Jack after he was framed. ^_^ Why do I have to wait one week? Damn it! *24 ticking sound*

Kids and Macbooks are the reason to purchase the Applecare program! Especially since my younger child is death to all electronics (although that status has improved over the past years…she went through 4 iPods in her first year of owning one as they all mysteriously died weird deaths).

Bailey is adorable. And very lucky to have you and your wife as owners. Hope the weather in town holds out for your enjoyment and frisbee teaching.

Grats on the new dog, Orac.
My suggestion for getting shelter dogs to stop chewing things – hot chili oil in a little oil sprayer. A single application on any surface he liked to chew solved the issue within a week. BTW cats are even easier, for them vanilla potpourri spray worked (and smelled good).


As an owner of a 3 year old puppy who exists only to destroy, lemme give you a few pointers:
1. KONG toys. Bailey is probably too young for the big ones… but get the big ones. Put treats or a little bit of peanut butter inside = happy puppy. Ive got this pod thing that dispenses a KONG toy randomly over 4 or 8 hours– LIFE SAVER for work days or nights out!

2. To extend the life of ‘softer’ toys like tennis balls and Wubbas, wrap them in your old socks. If they are longer socks, tie them in knots– adds to the ‘thinking’ necessary to destroy.

3. Lose any connection you have to belongings. Stuff is going to get chewed up. Youre going to come home one day, and the ottoman has been reduced to shreds, or the legs have been chewed off a dining room chair. Its just stuff. If you REALLY love your stuff, dog proof it. If you dont, cant blame the dog.

4. BIG walkies! Tired dogs dont chew on things 🙂


Aaaaawwww, he’s gorgeous.
And my uncle the vet says that mongrels tend to be smarter and healthier than pure-breds. (Our family dog was a mongrel).

Yes, but your puppy is a Great Dane that weighs probably three times as much as my puppy will weigh after he’s fully grown. 🙂

The anecdote on dog chewing reminded me of an anecdote about myself. Teeth are anchored on bone via complex stuff. When something is chewed, the loads are transferred from the teeth to the bone the teeth are supported in. What determines the mineralization of bone is nitric oxide. Bone has a small porosity due to channels in the bone. When bone is deformed due to a mechanical load, the volume of those channels changes and there is fluid flow inside the channels. That fluid flow causes shear, and that shear activates nitric oxide synthase and makes NO. That NO activates osteoblasts and causing the deposition of bone mineral and inhibits osteoclasts inhibiting the resorption of bone mineral.

This is why load bearing exercise tends to increase bone density. The NO produced by the deformation of the bone stimulates the bones to get harder, exactly where the bones are the softest. This is also why a lot of things that cause low NO also cause osteoporosis.

Back to my anecdote. My teeth are in very good shape (only one cavity (so far) filled with mercury amalgam in my youth) but I am gum challenged. The tissues that teeth are anchored in have to be regulated by the loads those teeth generate. Increase the loads the teeth generate, and the bones they are anchored in will respond by becoming more robust. Chewing is just like doing load bearing exercise for your jaw bone. Since I realized that, I have been trying to do load bearing exercises for my teeth. What is important is the mechanical load, not that you are chewing anything. Simply exerting forces with your teeth should be effective. So far, it does seem to have improved my challenged gums. There should be no adverse effects, so long as you don’t let your teeth slide against each other (that would cause wear). I suspect that teeth grinding during sleep may be a natural mechanism to achieve this, but without the degree of control that doing it voluntarily can achieve. I suspect that exercising your teeth during the day might reduce involuntary teeth grinding at night (if teeth grinding is adaptive, there must be turn-on and turn-off mechanisms associated with tooth supporting bone status).

Gorgeous puppy! Reminds me of my dog, Shadow. Possible breeds included in your mix could be Border Collie, standard Collie, or Australian Shepherd (among dozens of others). He’ll probably be a very intelligent dog. And active. I hope you like long walks.

We had difficulty with chewing as well. The only cure is vigilance. When he mouths something inappropriate he must be corrected immediately, and offered a proper chew toy. It is also important to find something he won’t chew through in short order as a chew toy. The continuity of chewing on the same toy long term is important. My Shadow used to go through chew toys in hours – sometimes minutes. A guy at the pet store would sell us an “indestructible” chew toy, and we’d be back the next day asking if he had any other suggestions. Ths “kong” suggested above is excellent. Another toy we found great is called the “chew-ber.” It is a frisbee shaped toy made of plyable rubber. It can be thrown like a frisbee. Flip it over and it doubles as a portable water dish, and my dog has been completely unable to make a hole in it. We’ve had our for almost four years. Never needed a replacement.

Stay away from rawhide. A dog that chews that agressively will chew up and swallow rawhide very quickly, and it baloons in the intestine, causing potentially fatal blockages. I’d avoid giving it to him completely.

Enjoy your new friend and companion.

I think I saw a tail in one of those photos, but otherwise he’s a ringer for the black tri-color Australian Shepherd who was the the litter-mate for my twin sons.

Best. Dog. Ever.

I’ll have to remember that vanilla thing for the future time my wife will ever allow a cat back in the house. Of course, the issue there was peeing, not just clawing, but the cats were psychologically damaged when we got them, so it was a hard, smelly few years before we gave up.

I’ve seen my wife when she’s around a new kitten, though…I’m just biding my time until we can adopt “Lord Satanicus McMousesquisher” (I’m making up for the years when I owned a cat named “cat”).

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but my first guess would have been that he’s got more border collie in him than anything else. Up until recently, there were no real appearance standards for border collies, and there’s a heck of a lot of variation in the breed.

If he’s got any significant amount of any of the working collie strains, it might be a good idea to get him trained. All of the border collies I know (including my own) are very intelligent dogs. Unfortunately, that tends to translate as “smart enough to get into trouble, not smart enough to get out.” That, particularly in combination with the high energy levels, can occasionally be problematic.

Fortunately, they’re really easy to train.

Fantastic, Orac! I’ve really needed some cheer lately, and this hit the spot.

Don’t suppose Bailey is taking donations for his “orphanage?”

Wonderful news about the adorable new puppy, Orac.

I lost my little Golden yesterday. She was a month from her 14th birthday, and she had a wonderful life. But now I’m alone here at my sister’s house without her for the first time. I’m trying to work, but mostly walking around, remembering, missing her, crying. It’s a joyless day, but for your news.

(I’ve seen about 10 minutes of 24, and that was too much.)

Beeeeeeauuuuuuuuuutiful puppy! What a sweetheart.

OK, I promise not to turn this into a Daily Puppy forum post, but at five months he’s teething and will want to chew. Try putting a wet washcloth in the freezer, then give it to him – the cold will soothe his gums.

The spraying with cayenne is a good idea, too. You can also scent-code his belongings: spray his toys with one scent, like peppermint, and stuff you don’t want him to chew with another, like cayenne or something else unpleasant. Eventually he’ll learn that he can chew on peppermint-scented things and nothing else.

Enjoy the new puppy love!

smart enough to get into trouble, not smart enough to get out

I think of it more as “smart in terms of doing what they want, NOT in terms of doing what you want”. But then I own beagle/basset hounds; they’re basically noses with legs.

Trust me, border collies are a little different in that regard. They’re good at figuring out how to do things, but occasionally run into problems with the consequences.

Prime example: I was taking care of a rescue bc while someone else was looking for a permanent placement. He wanted out, and figured out how to break out the little side panel next to the air conditioner. On the 2nd floor. He got through OK, but couldn’t figure out how to either get off the roof on his own or back into the house (the distance from roof to window was just a bit higher than the distance from bedroom floor to window.

Bailey is face-meltingly cute. Enjoy! ERV’s puppy chew pointers are spot-on. Kongs are great, as are the large Nylabones. Guard your shoes!

’24’ is having a great year. It is the only thing (yes, the ONLY thing) that can coax my husband out of his home office on any weeknight.

Looks a lot like my border collie did at that age. Great dogs, exceedingly smart, with a humorous personality, but high-energy and high-maintenance. Mine goes nuts if not involved in some family activity. He loves to chew, tug, nudge, and let you know he’s there waiting to play. email me & I’ll send you photos.

Awwww, puppy puppy puppy! Yes, I’m a sucker for certain furry people…

Bummer with the I-phone. I’ve been considering the Curve, but I wasn’t sure. I’d heard problems, but it sounds like everything else…Windows is full of glitches, Unix is for people who know what they’re doing and able to reprogram their system, and Macs are great until they go down, and when they go down, it’s in flames.

I’ll still consider one. I haven’t seen anything else that has close to what I want. But I’ll keep looking…

Anyone see the new Bamboo computer from ASUS…?

What a lovely puppy – I hope there will be many happy years ahead for all of you.

Our old golden lab (14 & 1/2) is now fairly close to the end, alsas! Arthritis & cancer, but while she’s still happy & keen to totter off round the park, we’ll keep indulging her. Thank goodness our vet has said he’ll come to the house at the end, cos I don’t know how I’d cope with taking her to the surgery 🙁

Congratulations on your very cute doggie! I second the recommendation for the Kong toy with peanut butter inside.
Indestructible, and keeps em busy.

There’s a good looking dog.
Sorry to hear about your iPhone.

the kid at the mac store will just have to wait until his next Student Loan disbursement.

Cute puppy!

Also, for our kids getting some kind of extended warranty has always paid off. Oldest son’s laptop got a new motherboard and was basically rebuilt about a month before the warranty expired.

IF he’s border collie or some type of herding dog you’ll need to take him jogging or train him to use a home treadmill. They need lots of exercise. And go get one of Jon Katz’ books about border collies.

Also, ERV was right except every dog should have a crate that he can retire to when he wants to feel cozy, and possibly when the owners are out of the house. Dogs are den animals and enjoy having small cozy spots. They generally won’t soil the crate, which helps with house training, and it also keeps them from tearing stuff up while you are out of the house.

Dogs and humans are a natural partnership. Dogs notice things we tend to miss, while we’re more sensible than dogs. Hope Bailey has a good life for you, and try him with agility training. Border collies need to have things to do, and agility training will give him the confidence he needs to be by himself.

Orac, we love your pup. Bailey looks like a very sweet dog, and as a former dog owner, dogs give us so much more than we could ever repay with an easily demolished toy, a scratch behind the ears or all the walkies in the world.

Congrats on the new pup. Though if it is a collie cross of some sort, prepare to get a lot more exercise than you probably want. 🙂

Your (and the kids) experience in the apple shop is a different matter for me though. It illustrates everything I despise about Apple and every other ‘magical sealed box’ technology about which the user ‘doesn’t need to know’.

I got into electronics because at a young age my grandparents jokingly said the radio worked because of ‘little people inside’ and shortly there after I had pulled the radio apart looking for them. Never found them but I saw all the components intricatly connected and worked through what did what (the dial connects to this thing…which hooks to this…and this bit must control the channel). I learnt more about the radio (and repairing it after I broke it) than any number of books.

For the old Apple 2 series computers you _had_ to get inside it and have a rough idea of how to do things to make it work. You could identify components, see how they linked together, experiment with things (lets replace the keyboard which got wet or has a sticky key), and appreciate that electricity can be dangerous (zap…ow!).

Same with biology – I learnt more in one high school rat dissection about how it looks, feels, and connects than any number of nicely laid out picture books or clinical descriptions of the various organs.

More recently my niece wanted to know how a TV worked, so her crazy uncle took an old CRT TV apart with her and showed her the parts and how they worked (suitable for a 10 year old of course) and then we resassembled it. Watching her face light up as she had ‘built’ a working TV was worth every second of time.

There’s nothing like hands on to inspire, teach and delight. And in this day of magic boxes it’s all relegated to take it to the shop or chuck it out and get a new one. 🙁

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