Daylight Savings begins a month earlier this year. Did you know that? So that means this Sunday, we are to turn our clocks 1 hour forward. Losing an hour sucks for us, because what’s 7am is now 8am, so we need to leave the house an hour earlier to get to work “on time.” What sucks more, is that we have to make this adjustment a week and a half before we leave to go to Hawaii for a week. Hawaii, which does not observe Daylight Savings adjustments because it’s so close to the equator that daylight doesn’t change much for them seasonally to bother with clock shifts. Which means we have to adjust Allie 1 hour ahead for 1.5 weeks only to adjust her back THREE HOURS in Hawaii for a week before we have to move her 3 hours ahead again when we come home. My fear is that she’ll be crabby and overtired in the evenings and then have a hard time falling asleep at 7pm (10p at home), then she’ll wake up at her usual time of 7am, which would be 4am in Hawaii. And then she’ll miss her nap entirely because it’s at a total wrong time for her body.

On a related and yet unrelated note, online travel booking company CheapAir analyzed over 4 million flights in 2013 and came up with Magic Booking Windows for the cheapest flights. You know how people argue about when’s the best time to get the lowest plane fares, and someone always argues it’s 2-3 days before departure, and others say it’s 2 weeks before departure, etc? Here’s actual statistical results:

On average, domestic flights are THE MOST EXPENSIVE 1 day before departure; 2nd most expensive 2 days before departure, 3rd most expensive 3 days before departure, and so on until the relation plateaus at 13 days before departure. So basically, DO NOT wait until 2 weeks before to book your flight. But you’ve always done that believing it’s cheapest? Well, so do 36% of travelers who book through CheapAir.com.
Okay, fine, so when SHOULD I book? Is there, like, a magical number? YES! It’s 54. Book FIFTY-FOUR days before your planned departure for the cheapest that flight will ever be. But I have an appointment to get head-to-toe laser hair removal done that day followed by liposuction to look good for my trip, and I won’t have internet access! When else should I book to get decent prices? Second-best choice for prices that are within $10 of the lowest it could ever be, book between 29 days to 104 days before your trip. That’s a pretty big window, so if you blow it, maybe you can save the difference by not checking any baggage. Can you believe baggage fees these days?! Great, I’ll book now for Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale! No wait, hold on. Popular destinations like that do not follow this rule, because the demand for flights there will be so strong that airlines won’t have to lower prices to sell out. So for high-demand destinations like Florida, Cancun, and something we’d run into issues with, little airports in little cities with limited flights (so there’s little airline competition), book early.

Here’s a summary of typical magic booking windows:
Domestic flights: 54 days prior
European destination: 151 days prior
Asian destination: 129 days prior
Caribbean destination: 101 days prior
Mexican destination: 89 days prior
Latin American destination: 80 days prior

Start planning, and stop waiting for that 2-week window.

The stepkidlet got engaged tonight!

Her fiancé kept us in the loop since the summer, when he took the opportunity of the stepkidlet’s being away in Spain to come talk to us and get Mr. W’s blessings. Since then, we’ve secretly been talking ring styles, sizes, etc. And then mid-week, he said he found “the” ring, and texted me a photo, saying he was going to propose in a few days. On Friday (today), shortly before he left to visit family in Germany for a week and a half, he and the stepkidlet spent what she thought was an intimate early Christmas celebration at his place on their own. She had assembled a collection of thoughtful gifts for him, and for her, he’d packaged a mere $40 Target giftcard in a box with paper towels in lieu of gift box tissue paper. She was offended but tried to be graceful about it, biting her tongue. It wasn’t the value of the gift as much as the lack of thought and personal touch behind it that annoyed her.

And then they went to go look at Christmas lights in a neighborhood. He’d actually scoped out the place ahead of time and discovered a small grassy park with a wooden gazebo that had electrical outlets. So he’d bought colorful Christmas lights and decorated the inside of the gazebo, then had friends hide out there. Apparently the stepkidlet was uncooperative and a bit grouchy, and had to be convinced, tricked, dragged out to that area. She wondered why the gazebo in the middle of nowhere was so beautifully lit up. And then her then-boyfriend stood her in the center of it, pulled out a letter, and started reading to her what she meant to him, how he’d never thought a girl like her could be interested in a guy like him when they’d first met, how he’d used to nervously text witty and funny things to her when they first started talking and then stare at his cell phone every 20 seconds until he got a response (I remember that time; I had just had Allie and the stepkidlet was dancing around laughing at all the witty and funny things her new friend was texting her), and how he wants to spend the rest of his life with her having kids and growing old. Then he proposed. Friends took photos and videos and then they all went out to have a little surprise dinner celebration. I got the call later that night (I felt special). Apparently I was the only family she’d gotten a hold of, because her mom didn’t pick up and didn’t call back, she didn’t bother with her dad knowing he’d be sleeping and not pick up, and she imagined how unenthused her brothers would’ve been, so she called me next. I’d been expecting it to happen, and had looked at my watch here and there that night, wondering if it’d happened, yet.

I really like this guy. Best one she’d brought home, yet. Mature, down-to-earth, modest, loyal, makes her happy and keeps her balanced (unlike all the other guys before who caused so much emotional drama), funny, respectful, responsible. Heck of a talented musician, too. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s definitely one of “the good guys” and I’m glad he’s not finishing last. And Allie’s known him her whole life.

Jayne had this conversation with Allie recently…
Jayne: [Stepkidlet] and [her fiancé] are getting married!
Allie: Yeah!
Jayne: Do you know what it means to be married?
Allie: Yeah!
Jayne: What does it mean when people get married?
Allie: It mean…mmm…it mean…people getting old.

I don’t know where she gets this stuff.

So swamped. Only have time for a quick Allie story, just to keep in touch with my blog readers.

Yesterday, upon my return home from work, I saw mysterious white dried smudges and streaks on the corner of the stove by the knobs.

Me: Allie, were you playing with the stove today?
Allie: *running into the kitchen and looking where I’m pointing* Yeah…
Me: What IS that? *looking closely* Allie, what was on your fingers?
Allie: *looking at her fingers* Fingerprints!

I had ordered a sparkly little bauble from Amazon online that I’d invested ridiculous amounts of time (days’ worth) into researching and selecting, and was crazy-excited to receive it in the mail last week. It was gorgeous and fit my hand, both in size and in appearance, like a dream. The ring had so much shine even Mr. W was impressed. Later the same evening, I noticed one of the tiny side stones under the beaded prong of the center stone looked irregular. The metal next to that stone also appeared to be scraped. There definitely was some poor workmanship going there. I wasn’t happy about that, but Mr. W pointed out that it wasn’t like I paid thousands of bucks for a real diamond ring. But still, it wasn’t free, and it wasn’t inexpensive…I thought I’d see if I could live with it.

A few days went by. I still love the look of the ring on my hand, but my eye was always drawn to the irregular part the way the tip of a tongue is drawn to a hole in a tooth. I finally took a really, really good, close look at it last night in the light. And saw that the tiny stone was actually broken, partially chipped off. It looked irregular there because half the stone is missing where the metal holding it is scraped and the light, instead of bouncing off a shiny surface, just gets lost in a dark tiny hole. Now I was really unhappy, seeing that it is damage and not irregularity.

Last night, I tried to find a way to contact the seller via Amazon, and couldn’t find contact information. So I wrote an email to Amazon customer service, selecting on the drop-down options that the item had arrived damaged although no damage was done to the shipping box. My simple message requested contact information for the seller as I would like the item to be replaced.

This morning, I saw two emails from Amazon customer service. One was a notice that they’d looked into the delivery status of my item and saw that there was no delivery confirmation, so it appeared as if I’d never received the item. This notice was full of apologies and an explanation that they aren’t able to replace the item via Amazon since the item was from a 3rd party seller, so instead, I can reorder the item via the same seller and they’ll upgrade my shipping to next-day for free, and/or I can have my money refunded for the “unarrived” ring now. The second email is a confirmation that shows all my money refunded.

I was immediately horrified. Somehow communication got crossed and they didn’t get the drop-down selections I’d clicked that I’d received the item damaged. Now they think I don’t have a ring and I already got my money credited back to my card. I could now keep the ring (damaged) and it’d be free. This did not sit well with me at all and I clicked around frantically trying to find a way to respond to Amazon’s customer service to clear this up, but all the emails were automatically generated and contained a line that said “Do not reply to this email.” I went to the Amazon site a few times, trying to find a way to link off of there for a reference to the current issue, and eventually found a “feedback” section for Amazon customer service to call me immediately. In my haste I didn’t even type my phone number correctly the first time and wondered why the call never came through. The second attempt, a very nice man called me immediately.

I explained myself, and he remedied it immediately while I was on the phone with him. He told me to let the refund go through and he was meanwhile generating a free return label for me to return the damaged ring (which is supposed to be what happens), and said I can repurchase the item via the seller right now and he’ll do the upgrade to free next-day shipping. He even looked up UPS places near me that I can drop off the damaged ring to be returned, and said I have 30 days so to not stress about getting it done immediately. I repurchased the item from the seller while he was on the line, he immediately, on his end, upgraded my shipping to next-day, and I was able to print the prepaid return labels to return the damaged ring. I was impressed when I hung up the phone.

And then I thought, Am I a total sucker? How many people would’ve been all, “I don’t know what happened to the delivery confirmation, but woohoo, free ring! It’s a holiday miracle!”? If it had been more difficult to contact Amazon customer service so that I’d be forced to sit on my hands longer, would I have just decided to let it go, keep the ring and money? Does questioning this mean that I have a dishonest side, too?

Next, I thought, No, given how uncomfortable I was, how strong the urgency was to rectify this, I would’ve never been okay with letting things stay wrong. It’s unfair to the selling company, to Amazon as the middle man, to the delivery service that was going to eat the cost of ‘losing’ an item. I chose to stop thinking there.

I was taking an after-dinner walk with Allie earlier, Allie dancing along on the sidewalk commenting on random things, holding my hand.

*neighbor’s dog barking*
Allie: Allie like doggies.
Me: Mama likes doggies!
Allie: Allie like mau-maus [“kitty” in Mandarin].
Me: Mama likes mau-maus!
Allie: Allie like people.
Me: …
Allie: *looking up at me* Allie like people.
Me: …that’s great!
Allie: Mama like people?
Me: It’s nice that you like people.
Allie: Mama like doggies, too?
Me: Yes, mama likes doggies, too.
Allie: Mama like mau-maus, too?
Me: Yeah, mama likes mau-maus, too.
Allie: Mama like people, too?
Me: …

Let it go, already, kid! So I’m more an animal person than a people-person. Lots of people are.

I spent significant time personalizing the iPad Mini last night, trying to make it “mine” and usable. I think Mr. W believes that if I gave it more of a chance and really worked with it, I’d see how wonderful Apple products are and jump in his bandwagon and make claims about how Apple truly “makes a superior product.” The end result…the more I use this Apple, the more I appreciate my Android.

Let me point out first that I would not have gotten an Android tablet. I wouldn’t have gotten any tablet because with my Galaxy S3, any tablet would just be redundant to me. But I can see why Mr. W would want a tablet on top of his smartphone, since he needs objects/words to be visually larger in order to be comfortable viewing them. I’m not there. People with iPhones are always amazed at the larger size screen of the Galaxy S3 Android phone. That being said, if I WERE to have a tablet, I think it makes sense to get one of a different system like Apple so that things I can’t get on Android, I can get on Apple. For one, Apple has an app called Stream To Me that allows the Apple device to stream videos, photos, movies from our home PC to the remote device. I’m not sure if Android has something like that, I haven’t really explored it, but hubby’s already spent time and money on the Stream To Me thing so that’s what we used on Allie’s iPad and everyone else’s iPads. (I haven’t been able to test this, tho, cuz I can’t get Stream To Me to work on the Mini presently.)

Okay, so now that I’ve gotten to know Apple better, I’m not any more impressed. In fact, I have new complaints that I never knew about because I’d never spent enough time with an Apple product to know about these shortcomings, until now.
* No “menu” button. I’m not able to bring up submenus and options within an app, which I can do on Android by tapping the menu button or by long-pressing within the app. But I guess there’s no point in having a menu button on the iPad anyway, because…
* No way to edit functions within an app. Are you kidding? There’s no way to modify display options of email (I can’t even find a “delete” option when I check my emails), I can’t modify how my people are displayed in Contacts, I can’t add calendars in Calendar! No, I have to go to Settings, then look for the app I need to modify within Settings, go into those options there, and then hope there’s an option for what I need to do, such as display my Contacts in order by first name instead of last name. I also found out I can’t just “add” a calendar within Calendar (I wanted to get US Holidays to automatically display in the Calendar without having to input all the holidays every year manually); I have to go into…yup, Settings, then select Calendar, and then go thru a couple of more screens to “subscribe” to an existing calendar by entering the website address of the particular iCalendar. It worked, but altho there’s the whisper of some mystical place where one can get many different types of iCalendars to incorporate into a personal iPad/Mac calendar such as sports game schedules, I have yet to be able to find such a list of addresses or menu of calendars I can add. I only found the address of the US Holidays calendar because some random on YouTube posted it (ical.mac.com/ical/US32Holidays.ics, for anyone as frustrated as I was, and I found out it’s case-sensitive *eyeroll*). Which brings me to…
* No “back” button. You know how many screens I have to go thru to get to the spot where I need to enter that calendar address? Let’s count them. Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account -> Other -> Add Subscribed Calendar -> Subscription. Six screens. Six before you can enter that address I gave you up there. If you mis-touch somewhere else on your journey and the wrong screen pops up, all you (or I, as I found) can do is hit the one and only function button on the whole thing, the round “Home” button, to go back to the general “desktop,” and you have to start your sojourn all over again.
Android has a “back” button, not that you’d have to go thru this on Android because you’d just press the “menu” button within the app and voila, all the options for modification show up!
* Basic apps are different, in a suckier way. Apple seems to advocate more commercialism. I can’t play Candy Crush Saga on the Candy Crush Saga app without it forcing me to simultaneously be logged into the social networking site it’s affiliated with, AND it forces me to allow the app to post all my game-playing info on the social networking site. I’d have to litter my friends’ feeds with crap like, “Cindy just gave life in Candy Crush Saga!” “Cindy just mixed a Striped Candy with another Striped Candy!” “Cindy just passed level 164!” I see that all the time since a lot of my social networking friends play Candy Crush Saga and I’ve always wondered why they’re posting all that crap, and now I know it’s because they’re playing on an iDevice and have no choice. I went around and around in a loop pressing “skip” when it requests me to post my game stats on the social networking site, then it’d take me to the game screen but immediately take me back to the “post stats” screen. I deleted the Candy Crush Saga app because it won’t let me play without announcing to everyone else that I’m playing. (I found an option for the game stats to just post for myself and not on public feed, but I don’t to litter my own feed with game crap, either.) On Android, I play the game independently of the social networking site and it just syncs my game with the info there every so often so that I can continue on the same progress when I switch between playing on the PC vs Android phone.
And the social networking app? It wants to announce to everyone that I’m online and available to chat. I don’t want people to know I’m online and available to chat. I have that option turned off on the PC and my Android phone, but I’ve looked it up and there’s NO WAY to turn it off on the Apple app. No privacy. I will not be doing any regular surfing of the networking site via the iPad Mini, either.
* Cumbersome keyboard. Really, Apple? You think if I were typing words, that I wouldn’t need all my punctuation on the same keyboard as my letters? I have to go to a separate keyboard display for an apostrophe, hyphen or a quote mark? You know where it is on the Android keyboard? Apostrophe’s above the period, hyphen’s above the comma, quotation mark’s above the L. To access them, I simply long-press on that key or I press “shift” first. Or I can Swype it, in which case I simply draw to the key when I’m drawing a line letter-to-letter in forming my word and the correct usage would just come up automatically. Swype is not something Apple knows anything about.
* No Flash/videos. I can’t see the videos on this blog in the iPad Mini. I can’t see my own videos on the social networking site either thru the Internet on the iPad or thru the social networking site’s app itself. I think I’m doing something wrong here, since too many people use their Apple products to get on the social networking site for me to think that none of them are viewing videos. But that goes to show how not user-friendly this stuff is to not just WORK on its own because I’ve opened the app. (My Android phone just plays the videos with a tap.)
* Adding Contacts isn’t automatic. I’ve added my Gmail account. It doesn’t just infuse my contacts into the Contacts app, the way it did with my social networking site contacts once I connected with the app? I still have to type in my contacts manually? I thought maybe when I’m in Mail, that my Gmail contacts would just be there even tho they don’t show up in Contacts, but nope; the email address book only has contacts that are in the Contacts app address book. I did not have this problem on Android. On Android, I connected to Gmail, to the social networking site, and my phone service, and Android’s Contacts incorporated all 3 address books into one, AND I can pick how I want the contacts displayed/grouped while I’m IN Android’s Contacts.
* No widgets. The Calendar app icon is sort of a widget because it does show the current date. But that’s it. On Android, I have a widget for my workout app so that the icon representation of the app shows my calorie burn thus far in the day; I have a widget for my calendar so that it not only gives me the day and date, but a preview of the upcoming events on calendar in the next week so I have it at-a-glance without opening the app itself; I have a weather widget that shows the time, current temperature and weather of the location(s) I choose in a pretty picture and a brief word, and to see other preset locations’ weather, I just flip my finger across the widget and it scrolls thru my preset locations. If there’s a way to get widgets on iPad, I haven’t found it. On Android, I can long-press and select “add Widget,” I can hit the “Menu” button and go to “Add apps and widgets,” or I can add the widget within the app itself.

I’m sure there are more things/irritations that have frustrated me that I’m not recalling right now. An interesting angle, tho — a high school friend, Alan, was trying to help me with the Apple calendar issue (altho I’d already found the holiday calendar address by the time he wrote me, telling me the exact same instructions), and he wrote:

I’ve had an Android phone before, and I loved it too, so no biases here on my part. Dare I say it, I consider Android more “techy” than Apple OS… so your inner-geek might be the one revolting against Apple.
The way I see it, I recommend Apple to people I know who don’t like fooling with tech (usually don’t check email much, still write notes by hand, don’t work with computers, etc), and Android to people who are more comfortable with tech.

I responded:

It’s so weird to think my inner geek may be revolting. Geeks are so self-righteous. *sigh* So you think I’m actually upset because Apple makes things too remedial for the control I want? I’ve just been thinking it’s not user-friendly enough cuz I can’t find the options I want for the mods/personalizations I want.


That’s exactly right. Apple’s motto is “simplicity”. So they hide the customization rather than inundate the non-techy people with it. It’s still there, just gotta look for it. Which is why I disliked the Mac when switching from a PC. But once you figure out their M.O. It all makes sense.

And then my lightbulb:

Then I don’t understand why all my geeky friends love Apple.
Oh wait…is this why they jailbreak?!

Mr. W’s Apple everything is jailbroken. Same with other techy friends’ iDevices. Mine is not. My mom had someone jailbreak her iPad but had so many problems with it (she’s not a techie) that Mr. W restored it back to the original form. I don’t have to jailbreak, or “root,” as it’s called in Android, my Galaxy S3 because everything I want to customize is offered in built-in options already. To this day, I still occasionally accidentally find a menu or option on my Android and I’d think, “I didn’t know about this! It’s genius!” Or sometimes Allie does something and when I get my phone back I’m like, “What’s THAT? I didn’t know I could have that!” I don’t want to jailbreak the iPad, I don’t want to be some sneaky techy pirate, I just want my stuff to function in a way that I think they should function without my having to rewrite the software for them.

OH. One hardware thing. Why does the iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone all use super-exclusively-sized charger heads? So Apple can make more money selling connectors, chargers, adapters, accessories like radios and speakers that the device is supposed to dock into? You know what I charge my Galaxy S3 Android phone with? At home, the charger it came with when upstairs, the USB charger/cord for the Galaxy S (1st generation) when downstairs by the computer, the USB charger/cord for the KINDLE when at work. Yes. They’re standard. Apple has always been about building their own exclusive monopolistic bubble (hence, iTunes for everything, no open-source apps unless jailbroken). So now I have to take the iPad’s charger everywhere.

Best thing I can say about the iPad Mini right now? It’s beautiful. There’s no shortage of accessories on the market to play dress-up with Apple.


I’m pretty anti-Apple products. I don’t like the concept of iTunes, Apple’s monopolistic business model, and I have a very hard time working with their products. I find it totally counter-intuitive and not user-friendly. Mr. W is the opposite and loves anything and everything Apple. I would’ve taken pride in not owning or having to deal with any Apple products, which was true once upon a time, but thanks to him, I have to enter Allie’s stuff, play her music, etc. in his first-generation iPad which he’d passed down to her (it’s left at home for the nanny to use in recording Allie’s logs and for a portable babycam monitor), he’d bought me an iPad Shuffle many many years ago and it was the smallest wearable mp3 player at the time so I’ve just dealt with it (even tho I don’t have iTunes so it is so hard to update the music on it), and within the last year, for no good reason, he’d bought me an iPod Touch which I don’t really touch. It’s in Allie’s diaper bag at home for portability if we can’t have her iPad (yes, HER iPad, not mine) with us but need it for whatever reason. So the only claim I could make then, was that I would never spend a dollar of my hard-earned money on Apple crap.

And then the one weak point. The one way I would ever spend money buying iCrap. My mom really wanted an iPad last year. She was on the verge of buying one herself, so I bought one for her to save her the money and the trouble, had it engraved, and Mr. W set it up with a wallpaper of Allie’s photo wishing her grandma a happy mother’s day. My mom LOVES that iPad, took it everywhere. In all their vacation photos, that thing was a permanent fixture in her hand. She used it in lieu of a camera and filled up the space on it insanely quickly.

And now, my dad is newly retired and newly hooked on a Bejeweled-like game associated with the social network site, and he loves playing the game through the affiliated app on my mom’s iPad (which she leaves at home for him when she goes to work). But he complains that the iPad logs onto her social networking account automatically so it’s not his game he’s perpetuating; it’s hers. So he’d have to log her out and log himself in each time, which he found cumbersome, put he doesn’t like playing it on the PC because he likes to play it full-screen which is not how the game is displayed when playing through the social network site.

So last weekend, I presented my dad with a new iPad bundle, complete with cover and a speaker redirector thing (which is actually a clever little plastic piece you slip on the corner of the iPad where the speaker is and it’ll push the sound forward instead of backward, which amplifies the sound a lot). It’s the same generation as my mom’s so they could use it interchangeably, but it’s 64 gigs, knowing now how quickly my mom burned through her memory. My mom was SO jealous. They talked about letting my dad have my mom’s old one and letting her have his new one, but the back of my mom’s is engraved so they didn’t end up doing it. Just today, I signed them both up for a free hour-long basic iPad workshop and a basic iPhone workshop at their nearest Apple store. I hope this gives Dad an alternative to moping around at home waiting for my mom to come home from work.

Yeah, I said both the iPad AND the iPhone workshops. I got a text from my mom last week and I responded first, then realized it came from her cell #. I thought, “She doesn’t have texting on her cell.” And then it hit me. See below conversation.

I had already ordered my dad his surprise iPad by then, so I guess I’d already given up anyway.

P.S. At the same time my parents got iPhones, my mom bought my grandma an LG android smartphone. She was up half the night programming it first so she could teach my grandma, her mother, how to use it, and she said it was SO easy and such a great phone system that had she been able to play with it before buying their iPhones, they would’ve gotten that instead of iPhones. But it’s too late so I guess Apple still wins this round.

Dodo’s taken a turn. He hasn’t really eaten since Wednesday, which is the last time I filled his food bowl. Normally, I wash and refill his water bowl and replenish his food bowl every morning. Sometime I’d even have to do a small refill in the evening on the dry food just so he has enough in there until the morning. Wednesday evening, his food bowl was still full. Thursday morning, Friday morning, same thing. The water bowl hasn’t dipped much, either, but there was more a dent in that than in the food. On Thursday, I gave him some regular canned wet food that I’d stopped giving him due to his kidney disease requiring him to be on a special low-protein diet. He somewhat eagerly licked off the gravy, but ate very little of the morsels themselves. What he did lick up, he threw up later. Friday, same thing. This morning, I called the vet and brought him in. (Meanwhile, Mr. W took Allie and the stepkidlet hiking.)

He’s lost a lot of weight since February’s weigh-in, but I suspect he weight was mostly lost this week. My formerly robust 14-pound cat, whose weight has been steadily dropping, is now only 5.9 pounds. He’s all fur and bones. A new-to-us vet was on duty, and she made a few suggestions of things we could do on this visit. I authorized her to do them all. Dodo had an enema to clear out his intestines (he hadn’t had a bowel movement since prior to Wednesday and was already constipated as a symptom of his kidney disease, so he’d have a hard time if we didn’t help), blood work to see what his kidney values are, extra fluids injected subcutaneously to help alleviate his dehydration, an appetite stimulant pill administered, and a prescription for anti-nausea meds. Upon being returned to his carrier, Dodo promptly threw up a lot of liquid yellow bile, so the vet technician readministered the appetite stimulant pill. I made a follow-up appointment for Monday morning and went home.

I did as the vet tech recommended, and fenced Dodo in with the baby gate in just the tiled section of our bathroom, because the enema could cause him to release his bowels at any time from then to an hour from then. I opened the door of the carrier and Dodo strolled out, went straight to the litter box, and the enema did its job. I still kept him fenced in, and left the carrier in there with the door open so he could have a soft private place to rest (the carrier is lined with a folded bath towel). I then went out to fill his anti-nausea prescription, which I was told to administer half an hour before laying out food for him so that it’d already be in his system when the appetite stimulant kicked in and he started eating, so he wouldn’t throw up everything he ate. I went to 3 different pharmacy chains before I found one that had it in stock, and the one that had it was down to their last 15 mL, which is what I needed. Mr. W and the kids even beat me home. I went to check on Dodo right away, and he was resting in his cat carrier. The food still looked untouched, although he did take a few licks of his water. He had enough fluids in his system to pee twice in his litter box, but still didn’t eat either the fresh wet or dry food. I had dumped out the old dry and put in just a few tablespoons of new dry so I’d know if he ate some. At least he didn’t throw up again.

Tonight, he again licked most of the gravy off the wet food without eating the morsels, and I increased the dose of the appetite stimulant. The instructions were to give him a quarter to a half a pill as needed, and I gave him half. It was the first time I’d given him a pill successfully. Okay, I’d never tried. It was a struggle to get him to open his mouth wide enough that I could drop the pill in. I basically had to wrestle it into his mouth and then hold his head up with his jaw closed until I saw him swallow. His medication cocktails are getting pretty crazy. Mornings, he gets 1 mL mineral oil to help his constipation, 1 mL potassium, .3 mL amlodipine for his high blood pressure (also a symptom of his kidney disease), .25 mL fantomidine (Pepcid) for his excessive stomach acid, and now .5 mL of the anti-nausea med and a pill for the appetite stimulant. Evenings, same thing minus the mineral oil. My poor little baby cat.

He was so miserable at the vet today that he stood on the metal table and tucked his face into the crook of my arm against my chest. He’s not usually that kind of affectionate; he liked attention and he liked being petted, but didn’t like being up on people. He let me put my arm around him today while we waited, his face hidden against me. I hope he feels better soon. The vet said that the anti-nausea med is a regular medicine cabinet item for owners of pets with kidney disease; they use it as needed when they see that their pet has been unusually vomity in the past couple of days. She said our goal is to get him over this hump, whatever this is, and get him back to eating well and hydrating well, by using meds to control he symptoms. So crazy. Each of a bunch of natural body mechanisms that a living creature is supposed to have on auto-pilot is starting to malfunction so we’re taking each function in hand and artificially recreating it with pharmaceuticals. But there’s no cure for the actual problem, i.e. fixing his kidneys. 🙁 Kidneys can’t filter properly to keep potassium in the body? Dose him with extra potassium. Kidneys having problems regulating outgoing fluid? Sub-q fluid injection and mineral oil so the overly dry poop passes more easily. And so on.

It’s an odd feeling when one of your babies is doing so well and the other is taking a dip downhill. It’s like my heart doesn’t know whether to be rejoicing or breaking.

The last time this happened, I was able to see the bright side and was and still am grateful. However, this just should not, on principle, be repeatedly happening. I’ve just had to write this email to my bank:

I’m writing to report an incident that has occurred, for the second time, with my Chase Premier Personal Checking account.

A fraudulent check was allowed to go through on this account on 3/20/13 in the amount of $29.95, despite the fact that the check (which has a scanned image available online) has many glaring obvious signs that it is fraudulent:
1.) The “authorized by” name is not mine; it’s “[Mr. W]”, which is a name that is NOT on this account. (This is not a joint account.)
2.) The sequence of the check number is totally off; among a bunch of legitimate check numbers in the 600s (612, 613, 614), the fraudulent check number is 6052994.
3.) The check is issued under Washington Mutual Bank FA ASB, and not Chase Bank like all of my other checks.
4.) There’s no signature whatsoever on this check either by the supposed issuer of this check, or by the payee.

I’m alarmed that with all of the above red flags, the check was still permitted to go through and be honored by my checking account, the only link to my account being the routing number and account number at the bottom of this fraudulent check.

Even more alarming is the fact that this is the SECOND TIME something like this has happened at Chase Bank, the first time in January 2011 under very similar circumstances (fake check with a different name, address, banking institution name, no signature, sequence number way higher than my current sequences, and my name was nowhere on the check, only my routing number and account number on the bottom). Upon the first incident, I had alerted Chase Bank and the fraud department recommendation is that as it appears the account has been compromised, I should close the account immediately and open another checking account under a new number. I did this, to much trouble as I had to stop and transfer all direct deposits, automatic billpays, and everything linked to this account.

I again alerted the fraud department this time by calling 866-564-2262 on 3-26-13, and was again advised to close this account and set up a new one, and that I would be credited the fraudulent check’s amount of $29.95 and get a return call from someone within the fraud department within 24 hours. It’s been 2 days and I haven’t received a call nor seen the credit applied to my account.

Chase Bank has always provided me with excellent customer service, pretty much unrivaled by any other bank I have done business with, and I would prefer not to switch banks. With Chase, I have my checking account, a joint savings account with my husband, a credit card, and a HELOC. It is a hassle to move everything to another bank, and I would prefer not to do that. However, I have no confidence that Chase Bank has security measures in place to prevent money from being stolen from me, even in the current small amount of $29.95. It seems far too easy for a fake check with blaring signs of its inauthenticity to pass muster with whomever processes the checks, and it’s a scary to think that I may have easily lost thousands of dollars due to fake checks because of someone’s carelessness in making sure the name on the check at least matches the name on the account. It is equally stressful to think that I would have to close/reopen accounts, unlink and relink billpays, direct deposits, etc. every couple of years because of something like this recurring, even though I’ve already changed account numbers from the last fraudulent check’s processing.

I regret that I may not be able continue doing business with Chase Bank, but would like you to be aware of what is occurring with regards to your security measures.

Thank you.
Cindy [last name]

There are such striking similarities between this occurrence and the last one in 2011 that I now think it’s a total scam by the same people, possibly an inside job. How else could people possibly keep linking my individual personal checking account, in which Mr. W is never mentioned, to Mr. W, even tho this is 2 different account numbers? They must’ve started with our joint account and then used his name to issue the fake check from the linked checking account, this time made out to some “Web Entertainment” company that I also believe is fake because the reference phone number of this company again is not a working number. So someone makes up a fake company, opens an account under the fake company name, steals a bunch of $29.95 payments in fake checks from checking accounts and puts it in their fake company account, then withdraws the cash and closes the account before many red flags are raised by the victims, who may see an ambiguous “Web Entertainment” company and just figure it’s some online purchase or subscription they’d forgotten about. I don’t use e-checks often, maybe once a year to occasionally pay my property taxes that way (which was done AFTER the date of this scam this year), so it’s not like my checking account info is all out there with shady companies. The inside person looks up checking account info on the Chase databanks for the fake checks, then he or someone in alliance allows all these fake checks to go through.

As soon as I find a fully-accessible bank that won’t nickel-and-dime me for billpays and fees and ATM usage, I’m out. Bye, Chase. You made perfect products for me, but this is just not acceptable.

Dodo was puking more frequently than usual the last few weeks, and occasionally I’d find a hairball in it so I wouldn’t worry about it, but at the end of last week, in one morning he’d left 5 piles of vomit, and a lot of it was just yellow bile. Knowing this is a symptom of his progressive kidney disease, I increased his antacid prescription med (fantomidine, aka Pepcid) to twice daily (which was the original prescribed amount, but I’d only been using it as-needed with the vet’s approval) and made him an appointment for a kidney re-check for yesterday. Over the weekend, he didn’t vomit once, so I figure I’ve updated his antacid to his current needed amount, but it’d still be a good idea to do a blood test anyway to make sure his other daily prescription meds, amlodipine for high blood pressure and a supplement of potassium, are still within the proper amount as his last checkup was last April.

Dodo’s blood pressure at the vet was super-high again, 220/200. The doctor told me to increase amlodipine from 0.25 ml per dose to 0.3 ml per dose, and meanwhile they took his bloodwork.

For the past 2 days since I’d increased his amlodipine by a measly 0.05 ml, he has completely STOPPED yowling. I thought it was just part of his feeding routine, since he’ll get up, eat food and/or drink water, then come back to his sleeping spot and yowl at the top of his lungs 8-12 times, then settle down and go back to sleep. He’s been doing this for over a year. Both vets at the current animal hospital Dodo goes to have told me yowling may be a sign of headaches caused by high blood pressure, but since he only did it as part of his feeding routine, we sort of just dismissed it as one of his quirks now. Maybe it HAD been a headache issue the past year+. That makes me feel bad, because now I’m wondering if his amlodipine amount was never high enough, since the blood pressure machine was broken when we went back for a recheck last year after he started his meds. We didn’t worry about his blood pressure too much despite being in the dark about what it actually was, because blood test results then came back within normal ranges after he started meds.

The vet called with blood test results yesterday. Dodo’s kidney disease has progressed in the last year — his calcium levels are elevated so the kidneys aren’t filtering out as much calcium as they need to; he’s extremely anemic because his kidneys aren’t producing the hormone that tells his bones to make red blood cells; one of his kidney enzyme values has now gone past normal and into “high.” Lowering his blood pressure back into normal would slow down the disease again and it would be less like “blasting a fire hydrant into a weak filter.” Hopefully the kidney enzyme levels would go back into the normal range with that alone. As for the anemia, I’m going to have to do a 2-week course of subcutaneous injections on Dodo to add the “make red blood cells” hormone back into his system, and the vet says I should see an energy spike and hopefully also an increased appetite after that, and the injection would only be given on a rare “as needed” basis thereafter. The vet thought Dodo’s kidneys felt like they were within a normal size range, an improvement over the enlarged kidneys the other vet had found a year ago, when the disease was not yet treated.

To help Dodo’s constipation (since the kidneys don’t leave enough fluid in his system thanks to the disease), I’ve been giving him prescription canned “wet food” the past few days in addition to his prescription dry kibbles. Unfortunately, the wet food is in pate form, and Dodo has never done well with pates. He likes them and will eat them, but his tongue doesn’t seem to know how to bring the food up into his mouth. He ends up smashing the food into the bottom and lower walls of the bowl. I often fluff the food back up with a spoon and sit it loosely in a pile like a mountain, and he’ll go at it again, smashing the food back down instead of picking it up. I followed the vet’s suggestion the past 2 nights of putting the wet food on top of some dry food to keep it off the bottom of the bowl, and that’s worked better. Dodo loves it; he purrs so loudly when he’s working at his wet food, and his poops did seem to be less dry. (Sorry for the scatology report.) Poor little kitty had never strained and grunted while in the litter box before this stupid kidney disease. The vet also suggested squirting some mineral oil (about 1 ml) into his food to help moisturize, so I’ll have to go find some mineral oil. It’s so much nicer to lure Dodo out to be medicated by the scent of yummy food, instead of by picking him up and out against his will. And immediately giving him the bowl of wet food after medicating him is a much better and more effective distraction to keep him from trying to puke his meds back up. (I used to try to get him to drink water, pet him, if he’s gagging already I’d pick him up and rock him, or I’d q-tip his ears.)

This weekend, I get to go get “trained” on kitty injections. I guess I’m grateful I was my own guinea pig first. I’ve stabbed myself with enough subcutaneous syringes to know that it doesn’t hurt. Usually.

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