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Posts from — September 2014

How to Manage Tick Fever If You Have a Pack of Dogs

In my last post about Tick Fever I said I learned tons more on tick fever management from the Vet and friends who also have packs. But before I get to the management, I’d like to talk about why management is important.

Tick Fever is spread by ticks when they bite on prey. The bacterial organism is passed into the host through it’s saliva. However not all ticks carry the organism – Ehrlichia canis.

A tick ingests the organism when it feeds on an infected host. Once the tick is a carrier it will infect and transmit the disease to all dogs it feeds on after. And it doesn’t end here, the bacterium is also passed on to offspring when the carrier tick lays eggs.

This is not a small matter when you realise that ticks can lay up to 3,000 eggs at one time. That’s an army carrying tick fever!

Management of tick fever isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. Being diligent, careful and vigilant constantly, will take you a long way in keeping your pack safe. Here’s some of the things I was told to do and I did.

No Hunger:
The sick dog should eat as much as he/she wants as it needs all the nourishment it can get to fight and heal, however make sure to spread the meals.
Cuckoo seemed to be in very early stages of Ehrlichiosis as her appetite hadn’t dropped at all. She ate her scheduled meal and then asked for more. With her medication and healing cycle she needed as much energy as she could generate so I fed her as much as she wanted. But I spread the meals out so she didn’t eat too much at any point in time and throw up. She ate three meals and showed a preference for chicken rather than beef but she was eating her beef quantities too. The chicken I guess was easier for her to digest.
Along with this I was giving her a mug of chicken soup a couple of times through the day too. The soup would give her energy and also hydrate her.

Stay Paranoid:
Keeping all the dogs tick free should be on top of your priority list. Keeping the infected dog tick free above all else.
I checked and cleaned Cuckoo almost thrice a day those days. I watched her like a hawk on walks, making sure to avoid bushes and grass where ticks are most likely to be, and I checked her during or immediately after every morning walk. A tick that bites her and lays eggs would unleash an army of infected ticks in my house.

Short, Clean Walks:
If your dog is up to walking, walk your dog but keep the walk short so as to not tire him/she.
For a while all the dogs were on short walks and on as short a leash as I could manage. I tried and kept them away from bushes as much as possible. Both of these were meant to reduce the chances of bringing in ticks. After all walks were complete I also settled down for a session of checking and grooming all dogs before feed time.
Cuckoo loves her walks so I couldn’t deny her but a short walk made sure that she didn’t get too tired or fatigued.

Cleaning OCD:
Keep your house like a maniac and do it again every day!
I was on a cleaning mania those two weeks. Every piece of bedding got brushed down everyday, every corner got swept and mopped. I usually vacuum once a week but then I increased it’s frequency and did it every alternate day. I sprayed all corners and edges in the house with neem oil and the mop water had large quantities of salt and vinegar everyday. The salt and vinegar work well as dehydrating agents and should kill ticks that fall off as ticks need to stay hydrated to stay alive. Between the neem oil and salt I hoped to avoid any laying of eggs.
The garden was sprayed down with neem oil too. Not only did I spray the trees and plants but also the grass!

Temperature:
Check temperatures everyday!
Normal temperature for dogs is 102F and depending on time of day and activity it could go up to 103 but anything above that is not normal and is the first indicator of tick fever.
I checked the temperatures of all dogs everyday. It is preferred to check first thing in the morning as resting temperature is the best indicator but with William and Max it was difficult in the morning as they were restless for their walks. So everyone else got checked in the morning and they got theirs checked about noon when lethargy set in. :)

Medication:
Don’t miss giving medication on time and make sure you are using some external treatment to deter ticks.
Cuckoo was on doxycycline and I made sure to give her her dose everyday without fail.
Apart from this all dogs had Protektor (tick and flea drops) Spot-on treatment put on as a first line of defense. I was hoping it would work as a deterrent for ticks. But I would still check like crazy, everyday and sometimes multiple times a day. It was almost like every petting session was a tick search session.
Usually Che and I are very particular about the dogs baths and renewal of their tick and flea medication. This time with all the shifting I had slipped up and the baths and treatment renewals got delayed. We did get it all done but just before Cuckoo was diagnosed and that was already too late!

If you’d like to know more about ticks, the Tick article on Wikipedia is a great. You can also read the How Ticks Work article on How Stuff Works. For home remedies to keep ticks away here is a list I put together some time back – Home Remedies for Ticks on Dogs

Over all it had been two weeks with shit loads of stuff to do every day but after a couple of days it became routine and I started to even have fun doing it all. 😀

However things changed drastically after Cuckoo’s second blood test. We weren’t fighting tick fever any more but rather auto-immune disease. But that’s a post for another day…

September 29, 2014   No Comments

The Saturday Tirade: Why should You DIY on Social Media

I had intended to write on another topic this week but over the week I have spoken to a few entrepreneurs who called for social media gyan and they left me steaming at the ears, so here goes…

Everybody seems to be wanting success, they want to be ‘the’ brand online, they want tons of followers, an abundance of likes, loads of comments, uncountable leads, and of course an epidemic of guaranteed conversions. BUT, but they do NOT want to do the work.

Not wanting to do the hard work of networking, building a community and a presence online is all fine for a company or business with a lot of money. These rich guys can hire an agency to do the work. But it’s not about the money, because it’s more about hiring the right agency who will do the right job, and that does take money. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

But what happens when you are a start-up, a one man show or a small team with very little funds, how then do you find the funds for these agencies? How do you succeed online? How do you become ‘the’ brand?

I keep saying this to every business owner and entrepreneur I speak to
– only you know your business best, only you know the pulse of your product or service, only you know your customers heart, only you can be the best voice of your brand – and I haven’t changed this stance in the 5 years I have been a social media consultant. This is my top reason for why you should manage your own social media. Especially when you are starting out.

Yes, I agree it’s a fair bit of work but then so was your idea when you first started out in your business. Making the idea a reality took hard work, you wouldn’t just have outsourced it and got someone else to do it, would you? Well, it’s the same here, you’re going to have to do the work to reap rewards.

And you don’t have to do everything, be everywhere and all that. You can choose how much you want to do and where you want to do it. Choosing your networks well and managing your time on it efficiently will lead to great results over time – connections, relationships, and community. And these are real, and you know that for sure because you created them.

Where are the leads and money you say? These connections and relationships that you build slowly over time will create a community for you. And communities are great because over time they become your voice, they make the leads and sales happen.

Startup owners that I have spoken to are always looking to see how they can increase sales, but I don’t find a lot of them doing things to build goodwill, connect and interact with people (notice I didn’t say customers), or be themselves online. They are parts of groups but more of them have to do with entrepreneurship than their service or product.

Online marketing isn’t very different from traditional marketing. It’s just word-of-mouth and relationship marketing taken into the virtual world. The same old school rules apply. Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you. Build for the future, not for tomorrow and you’ll be in a beautiful place.

Don’t outsource. It isn’t impossible to manage your own social media, just start small and be yourself. Also be consistent. And then just give it a little time. The magic will happen. And when it does I promise it will be worth it, and best of all you’ll be enjoying yourself while doing it. Social is fun you know! 😉

September 29, 2014   No Comments

My Week in Photos: I & Monkey and An All New Kindle Paperwhite

A glimpse of the past week with a random collection of photos taken by me and Che through the week. :)

Elu posed in the middle of playing… Check out that look!

I see these centipedes by the kg every morning and sometimes they are recreating the Kamasutra ;D

We had a crazy thundershower that brought down my drumstick tree. And it had just started flowering. :(

I see this lock every morning on our walk. Crazy isn’t it… (There is another lock on that door too, can you find it?)

Che and I had an awesome lunch on Saturday at I & Monkey

Max all curled up and cute. He’s losing weight and getting so active and cuddly.

Che as a privileged customer was invited to an Amazon.in event on Sunday. Thanks to the blaady traffic we were late and missed meeting Jeff Bezos but we did get an all new Kindle Paperwhite. And since Che has one already, it’s mine, all mine ;D

The last screen after the first start of the Kindle Paperwhite…

What had you been upto last week?

September 28, 2014   No Comments

Friday Review: Chatur by Subhash Kommuru

Title: Chatur
Author: Subhash Kommuru
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kommuru Books (September 2014)
Genre: Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon.in | Amazon.com




Note: Thanks Subhash for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: Simple,fun and colourful.

Paper and font: Fonts are good..

Readability, language: Simple language.

Why did I choose this book: A children’s book in Hindi sounded promising.

I’ve never reviewed a Hindi story book on my blog before, so when I heard from Subhash about reviewing his book I was curious. I got back to him saying I sure was interested in reading his children’s book however my reading capability of Hindi was bad, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to read or if I’d be able to read the book at all. He got me even more curious by saying his book catered to people like me. And I got thinking, really?

Language is important and local, regional, national, etc. languages even more so. We are becoming an English speaking country as the generations progress, not that it’s a bad thing but losing our mother-tongues, our native languages is sad. With time I’m noticing less and less children speaking Indian languages and as people stop speaking them, these languages will die. A lot of them have already died. India is a country of diverse languages and so many dead dialects.

Every one has different learning styles and methods. Some people are linguists and some like me just can’t grasp a language easily. Most of the languages I speak I learned as a child, and all the languages I tried to learn as an adult I speak in a pathetic manner. You should hear me speak Kannada and French! But anyway, the point is that people learn most easily as children who have amazing grasping minds. There are so many story books for children out there but how many are written in Indian languages?

Subhash’s book came as a surprise in this space. I found myself enjoying the book even though it was just a short children’s story. The story is one we have heard before as kids, about a lazy donkey and the illustrious washerman with the moral about hard work pays. Well, Chatur has a moral too but not this one. Subhash has put a different spin to it and it comes as pleasant surprise.

This is a story about enjoying life. About learning that greed does not pay. That play is just as important as work. That you don’t have to always be doing something or climbing the success ladder, relaxing is also important. These are odd lessons, and yet, these lessons are important for our children who are growing up in a world where, there is so much expected of them in so little time, that they are forgetting to be children. For that matter we adults so often forget in our busy schedules to just have fun.

Chatur is an illustrious washerman. His work partner is Mand who does not want to do anything more then required, however Chatur wants to increase his business, he wants to get more work. But Chatur is unable to get Mand to work more, and so decides to get Atal the elephant for the job of carting his load. Will Chatur’s plan work? Will his business flourish? What will happened to Mand? Well. thats the story

This is a Hindi story but both Hindi and English scripts are provided. For someone like me who speaks Hindi well but can’t read it fast, the English script was helpful, it increased the rate of my reading speed and in turn my interest in the story.

The language used is simple and clear with sounds and dialogues that will make reading the story out loud to a child fun.

Illustrated by Nayan Soni, the images are simple, colourful and support the story quite well. I think children would enjoy the colours as they flip through the book. Testimonials from children seem to attest to that too!

Over all this is a good book to get for your child, especially if you read him or her bedtime stories. :)

About the Author:
Though originally from India, Subhash currently resides in the US with this wife, Sujata and their son. Website – Kommuru Books.

Buy On: Amazon.in | Amazon.com

September 26, 2014   No Comments

Video Wednesday: When Love Arrives

{[26/09/14]: We had a thundershower the day before yesterday that left us with no electricity for the day and loads of tree debris. The biggest casualty was my drumstick tree that had just started to flower, but toppled over thanks to the wind. :( Anyway the point is that I couldn’t make the post that day or yesterday so I’m doing it today and rewinding the day. 😉 }

I first came across Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay sometime back when a friend shared their video – When Love Arrives

As I watched their performance I found myself nodding along in agreement, they were saying things I had learned and experienced about love over the years. It reminded me of my first love. It reminded me of my current love. It reminded me of all my past loves. It reminded me of love -the definition of love, the meaning of love, of what love should be… It left me feeling warm and good inside, and a smile playing about my mouth. :) This is a poem I’d like to keep listening to periodically over the years, a reminder of love, and being grateful for it.

Sarah’s and Phil’s performance moved me to look into what they did, who they were and such stuff. Want to know more?

This format of poetry is called ‘spoken word’.

Spoken word poetry is defined by Wikipedia as –
“a performance-based poetry that is focused on the aesthetics of word play and story-telling. There is no mandatory manner in which someone should perform, however, spoken word usually tends to focus on the performance of the words themselves, the dynamics of tone, gestures, facial expressions, and more. Poetic components such as rhyme, repetition, slang, improvisation, and many more elements of poetry can also be woven to create an atmosphere the audience can experience.”

Phil and Sarah run a group together (among other things) called Project V.O.I.C.E., which aims to use spoken word as an educational and inspirational tool. They spend a lot of their time traveling across the world and the U.S. performing at schools and teaching children spoken word. You can check out Project V.O.I.C.E. on it’s website or Facebook page.

Here are a couple of their other performances I really like too.

Sarah and Phil tell the story of how they met and came to be best friends…

Phil’s talk at TEDx Middlebury in 2011 not only has so excellent info on spoken word poetry but also some thought provoking poems. He talks about why we tell stories…

Sarah poem ‘The Type’ moved me, it’s a reminder of the type of woman I want to be…

Did you like these? Have you watched any other spoken word performances? Do you have any favourite poems or artists?

September 24, 2014   No Comments

Tuesday At The Movies: Maleficent

Disney has been surprising me lately with their movies, they are still doing the happily ever after and true love’s kiss but finally with a twist and closer to reality.

I first sat up and noticed this in the two sisters tale, Frozen, where they took pot shots at true love’s kiss and turned the concept on its head. If you haven’t seen Frozen, you should. Not only is it an interesting storyline but also it has some great music. Here’s one of my favourite songs from Frozen –

Anyway coming back to Maleficent. Remember Sleeping Beauty, the girl who is cursed as a little babe by the evil fairy to prick her finger when she turned 16 on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep from which she would never be awoken? Well, the evil fairy was Maleficent. As the old story goes, when Princess Aurora was born, King Stefan had a grand celebration and to this party he invited the three fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather.

As the party in in full swing Maleficent turns up in a burst of green flames, just after Flora and Fauna have bestowed the baby with blessings. Maleficent is offended and angry that she hasn’t been invited and curses the child to punish the parents. Merryweather who still hadn’t voiced her blessing, weakens the curse by saying Aurora could be awoken by a kiss from her true love, but she does not have the power to undo Maleficent’s curse.

To save the child from the curse the three good fairies hide her and bring her up but Maleficent finds her when she turns of age and lures her to a spindle, after with Aurora promptly pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep. It’s that this point that Prince Philip enters the story in full splendor, defeats Maleficent, kisses Sleeping Beauty and lives happily ever after with Aurora. The End.

BUT… But this is not the story Disney is saying in it’s new version Maleficent, that released this year. Directed by Robert Stromberg, Maleficent is a retelling of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, but from the evil fairy’s point of view. This is the story of Maleficent, her childhood, her life, her love, what hardens her heart and turns her to doing evil and how she heals her heart. This is the unheard of story, the one that is usually not told and Aurora isn’t the central character this time, it’s the evil fairy, Maleficent, who steals your heart.

Maleficent in 2014 vs 1959

Maleficent is played by Angelina Jolie, the Tomb Raider girl, who even after 13 years amazes me with her fitness, physique and figure. Jolie has done justice to the role and is an endearing character. The surprise for me was Diaval, the raven shape-shifter played by Sam Riley, who was just so cute and bewitching. 😀

Photo Credit: Celeste of afterword

In this movie Disney has not only stepped away from the archaic meaning of true love’s kiss but has also tried to explain that magic is a way that doesn’t involve lights, flashes and flames. Maleficent does have powers and they are magical but she also has strengths and personality. She has wings that take her places rather than teleportation, she has the support of a forest full of friends in a fight rather than spells and concoctions.

This is a Maleficent who has heart, she is someone you can feel for, sympathise with and above all else fall in love with. I enjoyed watching this movie and I highly recommend you watch it too!

The Trailer:

Trivia I found out:

Walt Disney’s 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty was inspired by the original French fairy tale ‘La Belle au bois dormant‘ (The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood) by Charles Perrault and Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet ‘The Sleeping Beauty‘. The Brothers Grimm wrote this story as ‘Little Briar Rose’ after hearing the orally transmitted version of Perrault’s story which was itself based on the ‘Sun, Moon, and Talia‘ by an Italian writer Giambattista Basile. It was fun reading all the versions and I’ve linked them here if you want to read them.

Young Aurora is played by Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Angelina and Brad’s 6 year old daughter. Apparently all the children who saw Angelina on set as Maleficent started to cry and hence could not play the role, however Vivienne saw through the make-up, saw her mother and did not cry, leading to her playing the role.

The title song of Maleficent “Once Upon a Dream”, is from the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty. It was re-recorded by artist Lana Del Rey, who was handpicked by Angelina Jolie to perform the song. The 1959 song was based on Tchaikovsky’s “Grande valse villageoise (a.k.a. The Garland Waltz)” from his ballet, The Sleeping Beauty. And here’s the song with clips from both the Disney movies – the 1959 Sleeping Beauty and the 2014 Maleficent.

September 23, 2014   No Comments

The Saturday Tirade: Kids vs Dogs

I have in the 5 odd years that I’ve had dogs been repeated told that kids and dogs are not the same, that I shouldn’t compare someone’s kids to my dogs, that dogs are not a replacement for kids, and the like.

Then the other day on an NPR Podcast of TED I heard these lines…
“Children today are economically useless and emotionally priceless”

It made me sit up, it couldn’t have been put across more succinctly. A couple of decades ago couples had children and large numbers of them because it made economic sense. Children worked (the concept of child labour didn’t exist) and paid for not only their keep but also supported the family and added to the kitty. When the parents got old, these same children continued to make economic sense by supporting and taking care of them.

Fast forward a few decades to today; we don’t have numerous numbers of children today (or most people don’t). One reason you’d say is the population explosion but the other is that children don’t make economic sense any more. Having kids is an expensive business, the cost of delivery, play-school, school, college, etc. makes most couples think twice about the number of children they want to have. A lot of them settle for just having one.

Children don’t work anymore, they don’t earn their keep. Instead parents spend tons of money on them in various ways like education, fashionable clothing, latest gadgets, etc. All of that money would still be fine, if it guaranteed ROI. But today most parents are planning for their retirement, they don’t know if their children will take care of them when the time comes.

All parents and couples know this and yet they have a child or children. They spend substantial amounts of their time and money caring for the child. They don’t do all of this for economic gain but rather for emotional satisfaction in various ways, whether it be the forwarding of their genes or meeting societal requirements.

So where am I going with this, why did I say all this, how does it tie in my starting lines; these are questions you might have after reading this but bear with me a while long as I talk now about my dogs.

I live on the out perimeter of the city, which means that I get to live in a larger independent house with a largish garden but I definitely don’t live on a farm. My dogs (and I have 6) don’t have to work for their food, they alert me to the one off snake or every passer-by but they don’t have any really economic purpose in my life.

I spend a fair bit of time and money on the upbringing and welfare of my dogs, definitely less than schooling fees 😀 but still a large enough amount to make people sit up. I would give up almost anything, make just about any compromise when it comes to them.

Yet in all of this I know that my dogs are a bad investment plan. They are most likely to not outlive me; when they pass on they will unhinge me emotionally and will make my pockets a lot lighter before they are gone. And yet I have not one but six. Of course you may think I’m nuts but I think they make me a better person; my dogs make me complete.

Now if you look at what I said earlier…
“Children today are economically useless and emotionally priceless”
Replace ‘children’ with ‘dogs’ and tell me are my dogs any different from your kids? ;P

September 20, 2014   No Comments

Friday Review: A Fresh Start

It’s been a while since I posted a book review, for that matter it’s been a while since I wrote regular posts. :(

Life’s been a little crazy and now that things are settling down I hope to remedy that. Hmmm I had hoped to remedy it two weeks ago but I woke up one morning to the discovery of my blog being hacked. All I saw was the WordPress White Screen of Death. :(

I paid Sitelock to locate and fix the problem but it seems like there are still some bugs / malicious code and Sitelock keeps sending me emails about it. I’m not sure if they just want more money or is it a genuine problem. That said I guess I will have to figure it out and do a fresh install but that’s a topic for another day. For now, the white screen is gone and text is visible here again. 😀

But coming back to books. I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been reading much in this year. I’m way back in my GoodRead Books Challenge and the number (don’t even ask what it is!) just makes me feel terribly guilty. I’ve also been thinking about why I haven’t been reading and after mulling and sulking over it for months I’ve realised that it’s the reviewing that’s killing my reading.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reviewing books but I find it so difficult to say no that I seem to have accumulated a lot of books. The books seem nice but I just can’t find the enthusiasm to read them. And the fact that I have to read them with a review in mind just makes it that much more boring.

I miss reading books that I want to read for the sheer joy of reading them with no need or requirement of a review. Maybe that’s where I went wrong, I stopped reading books that I wanted to and I shouldn’t have done that. I should have balanced the two, and made time for both books of my choice and books for review.

But that’s all water under the bridge I guess and it’s time to start afresh. If you are an author or publisher who has sent me a book and are wondering what happened to it, now you know. I’m sorry for the delay and I promise there will be a review, but it will be a bit delayed as I fight my way to getting it done.

I’m not accepting books for review as of now, at least not until I have finished with my currently existing TBR pile. I also intend to read more of the books I want to read and may not even review them, I’m going to read simply for my reading pleasure.

So every week from here on there will be a Friday Review post which will not necessarily be a book review but can be a review of a book, website or product. I’m taking the pressure off of me and taking time to enjoy myself a bit. 😉

Have you ever buckled under the pressure of reviews? Lost the joy of reading momentarily? Been put off by reviewing and the large TBR pile? Found it difficult to say no? Let me know your thoughts, I’d appreciate all the help I can get. :)

Now that all that’s off my chest, here’s looking forward to many hours of happy, joyful, and guiltless reading. 😀

September 19, 2014   No Comments

Video Wednesday: The Lemon Tree Initiative

I came across the Lemon Tree Initiative video a week or so ago when a friend posted it on Facebook. Praveen’s message that this was one of his favourite hotel chains and that the video gave him more reason to appreciate them had me intrigued. It’s what prompted me to hit the play button.

And man did I smile though it all. I felt good by the end of the video, happy that there was hope for the human race after all, that there were people doing awesome things out there, going the extra mile, making a difference,… If you are wondering what I’m talking about, watch the video now!

The Lemon Tree Group of Hotels runs a very special initiative that provides work places for people with disabilities. THey don’t pity them but celebrate their challenges and make their disabilities their strengths.

As the Founder of Lemon Tree, Patu Keshwani says it all started when two people with disabilities were hired to wash dishes in the kitchen. The job wasn’t given with a grand scheme in mind by rather with the intention of giving an opportunity to people who would not otherwise get a job easily. But over time they realised that people were disabilities were great employees, they also realised that 10% of India’s population is disabled in some form, so they started to look at roles in their organisations where peoples disabilities were irrelevant.

Today they have over 300 employees with disabilities and 90% of these are speech and hearing impaired. They also have over 20 people with orthopedic handicaps. Keshwani says they had given thought to hiring visually impaired people but realised that it would be really difficult for them in an hotel environment where there are a lot of visual ques. Their latest addition to the disabilities list is people with Down Syndrome.

The aim of Lemon Tree is to have 20 to 25% of their workforce as people with disabilities by 2018-19, that’s about 2000 to 3000 people!

The video was just wonderful to watch, the joy and happiness the employees of Lemon Tree seemed to radiate was catchy. It made me smile. Rather than sympathise and pity them, the Lemon Tree initiative gives them must needed strength and confidence to stand-up and be their own person in the world, a chance to earn and live with dignity!

Kudos Lemon Tree, may your tribe increase. I hope more organisations learn from you. :)
You can find out more about Lemon Tree Hotels on their website.

P.S. – I found that they also have a Pooch Policy. 😀 Each Lemon Tree Hotel (and they have 25 of them) has adopted one street dog in and around their hotel. The dog is named, vaccinated and loved and cared for by the Lemon Tree team. These guys just make me smile wider and wider. 😀

September 17, 2014   No Comments