PermaLink Encephalitozoon cuniculi01/17/2014 03:05 AM
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Or, "Here's How We Collectively Don't Know Shit."

I have been in the computer world now for over 36 years. For most of that time (33 years) I've been paid to do it.

It's a pleasant world, mostly, as long as you can avoid most of the humans who've built a cottage industry around making it more complicated than it needs to be.

But for the last seven years, I've led a double life, one that has almost nothing to do with computers, except to the degree that I use them to track... giant wabbits.

If you've read my posts about these majestic marvels and are going to tweet a link to this article with a "GTFO" suffix, well, GTFO now.

Someone I know on Facebook (yes, I still have a presence on Facebook for my rabbitry, and that's about it) the other night re-posted some video (which I didn't watch) about.... dogs. "THEY ARE OUR BEST FRIENDS LIKE IF YOU AGREE."

I...

Well, fuck, if I hit the lottery for a hundred million dollars, I'd (a) pay off my mortgage, (b) have my house professionally restored, (c) clone my barn with better insulation, and then (d) fund development of a "dislike" button for Facebook.

My best friend is a huge, cantankerous brown wabbit named SM Barack Obunny, SMA01.

There will not be any pictures in this post, mostly because the battery for my nine-year-old Nikon is on the charger, and also because if I think I can write, then you don't need any damn pictures.

Brak is right there on the floor next to me. He's relaxing right now, having eaten a Romaine lettuce heart and put up with me scratching his head for twenty minutes. Brak is five years, two months and ten days old. He was born December 7, 2008, having been conceived on Election Night, 2008, right after his namesake, Barack Obama, was elected President. I've known him every day of his life after the second day and since the 20th day. His mother, BR Crepe Suzette, died the morning after she had her first and only litter, eight enormous kits, all of whom lived to adulthood. Brak is the last one of that litter I still have. Somewhere in either Maryland or Virginia, his father lives on, ML Samuel Gompers, born in the summer of 2007.

Brak is a lot like his father. Friendly, mostly-calm, prone to patrolling the house, sometimes whizzing in unauthorized places. They like Doritos, lettuce, the top end of carrots, pungent herbs like cilantro, and they both like having their head scratched.

Brak is going to die.

Brak is showing signs of an infection of the parasite whose name appears as the title of this post. He was fine for over five years, but recently has started to exhibit symptoms that indicate a problem with e. cuniculi.

It's a sumbitch of a parasite. It took the life of the legendary Guenther, HR662, and more recently, the personable Harry Houdini, CM10. It also appears to have affected The BearŽ, my little lionhead buck. It has a pernicious effect on the central nervous system, leading to partial or total paralysis of the voluntary muscles. Even after a month of treatment, about which absolutely nothing is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for this eukaryote, there is little chance to recover normal muscle control.

Brak, we caught early.

Guenther, years ago, we didn't know what we were dealing with. He was treated far too late and died in my arms in 2011.

Harry, we caught a bit sooner, but too late to save him. He died here last year, comfortable but helpless.

The BearŽ surprised us in December, suddenly lacking the use of his front paws, but in all other ways alert and eager to eat. Still, he has lost nearly a pound, and lionheads are rarely over 3.5 pounds at their heaviest. We tend to The BearŽ every single day, and he travels with us any time we're gone longer than a day.

Brak, we caught early.

Brak is a big old guy, used to patrolling the house, used to having his own way. The first I noticed his diminished mobility was after his self-imposed exile under the bed during The Invasion Of The Ohioans around New Years. He felt grumpy because he wasn't allowed to run all over the house, but once the human guests had gone home, Brak... did not recover.

He's on the best medication you can get for big wabbits with this affliction, a combination of readily-available AlbonŽ and also-readily-available ValbazenŽ. We also dose him with a great anti-inflammatory, MetacamŽ.

But I'm done talking about his infirmity. I wanna talk about my best friend.

I'm looking over at him right now. He's over on a big blanket at the side of the living room. The actual floor of this room is slippery fake-wood flooring, which took him a few months to grok in terms of his mobility. Once he figured out how to handle slippery fake wood, he could hop all over the house. Areas covered by carpet or rugs just increased his traction and speed. You could always tell where Brak was by hearing his nails clacking on the fake wood. He patrolled the house on a regular basis and many times would leap up onto the bed to see what we were doing, or onto the couch to see what we were doing. He can't really do that any more.

He hasn't lost much weight. He was never enormous, and when we weighed him the day before yesterday, he was 14 pounds, 10 ounces. Still eligible for show competition as a senior Flemish Giant buck, but on the light end of the scale. He has eleven children, including one buck who is across the room right now in a hutch because of a completely-unrelated illness. Brak hasn't shown in at least two years, but as far as I'm concerned, he has nothing to prove to anyone. He is ARBA-registered.

He just got up, thumped, drank some water out of a small ceramic dish, and then looked at me, as if to ask, "are you writing about me on that damn internet again? I thought I turned that off."

Indeed, in 2009, my website went down for half a day because SOME GIANT WABBIT -- and I'm not saying it was Brak, but he's on the list of suspects -- chewed through the Ethernet cable at the farm between the cable modem and the server.

I am guessing that Google, Amazon and IBM do not have these issues with their cloud-computing offerings. But maybe they should, because it makes running a server a much more organic experience. Wabbits love cables. Between The BearŽ and Mr. Fred, they've chewed through hotel-room phone cords in at least seven states and possibly as many as nine. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia and possibly New Jersey.

Sorry, Choice Hotels. Who the fuck uses a hotel telephone anymore anyway, except to call down to the desk to ask what the hell the wifi password is?

Brak is now almost five-and-a-half. He obviously moves with much more stiffness. He no longer chases the kitten down the hall. He amazed me tonight by crossing the shiny fake-wood floor and ending up on the rug under the dining room table. I hauled him back to the living room, plied him with romaine lettuce, and talked to him while I scratched his ears.

It's my job.

I've known him almost every day of his life, and if we can't stop this eukaryote, I will be there on the last day of his life. I've had too much of that happen these last two years, and I don't want t go through it with Brak. I couldn't save Guenther, we couldn't save Harry, and I am very worried we will not be able to save The BearŽ.

I just wanna save one guy.

He's my best friend.

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