January 26, 2007

Low-tech solutions in a pinch and in the tropics

Category: Tech,Travel — Biella @ 12:24 pm

Recently I complained about using dial-up in PR and I believe in response to my post, Joey Hess provided some great tips for making the dial-up experience a little more bearable. He, of course, was providing a set of solution to constraints, which is what the likes of Joey Hess do a lot of their waking (and according to a recent IRC conversation, even dreaming) hours.

I as an academic am not involved so much in the business of finding real hard solutions but when I go to Puerto Rico, that is what I DO spend a lot of time doing. And I came up with 3 solutions this year, 2 of which I was particularly proud of (one of which may be useful to the blog readers), so I thought I would share them here:

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, my mom has been plagued with a problem of choking on her saliva because she is not swallowing. It causes her and those around her a lot of angst. I tired many things but when I stopped trying and just started watching and observing to see when it seemed to be worse, I finally noticed that if she wore her dentures, the problem, while not totally resolved, was like 70-80% better. With her dentures, she would never choke on her spit and often times there would be not spit. I think the dentures changes the shape of her mouth so that she can swallow with less effort. I was pretty proud to notice this because it was the overwhelming problem of the season. Now, there is, of course, another problem. She loathes wearing those teeth and well, it has been a battle to convince her it helps (I think she sort of knows but does not want to admit it) but she is wearing them a lot more than she used to…. Maybe I will come up with a long-term solution to that problem later but I have failed in all of my attempts while still there which stretched from begging, to coy deception, to outright bribery.

So in PR, we have an awesome mutt, who goes by one of three names, Isabela, Gordita (look at her tummy in the pictures to see why we call her “chubster”) and Pucha. She is literally the joy of the house and she truly revels in this role. She is, in fact, like a hovercraft of love , in the sense that she will hover over you, as you are, for example, trying to get work done, and she will whimper, or lift her little paw, or more audaciously butt her head against your hand, until you assume the position and pet her, or preferably hug her. And she wants demands this sort of attention for as long as you can humanely sustain it. Ok this is not the problem part (though it can be a problem when trying to complete work and I usually just give up and give in to her or kick her out of the room). The problem was that the pucha would routinely despoil the same spot on the floor, usually every day, usually in dramatic response to leaving her in the house alone for more than 10 minutes. And I know this is willful because she is otherwise quite potty trained. She just likes to remind those who shower her with affection and love that she wants it to rain harder.

The problem was that she was soaking and thus really rotting the wooden trimming (and poking around led me to discovering the third huge problem, termites, but more on that soon) and this had just had to stop. Giving her a light whallop in her chubby behind never helped (maybe she was too well padded?) and obedience school seemed like way too much effort and money.

Eventually, I just threw her little bed right where she peed, and vualla, she stopped peeing there and thankfully she did not have the cojones to find another spot. I am not sure if this is long-term solution, but for now I am satisfied.

Through the pucha, I found out that the wooden trimming in our house was ingested with termites. This caused a mini-heart attack, because well, termintes are a bitch to eradicate and they are a real problem in the tropics. I called the exterminators just to find out some information on termites and they assured me that once I ripped out the molding (which was my low-tech solution), I would not be putting the other wood in danger by accidentally flinging one of the little chubby white grubs over to another piece of wood and there is a lot of wood at home. Thankfully, since that is unlikely, with some help , I proceeded to tear most of the molding out only to disover a cornupia of bugs living there. It was so so so so so gross, really, gross that of course I am not replacing the trimming with wood but with some other bug-resistanant material. But that will have to wait till another trip.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Biella,
    my initial impression of improvement from Dentures would be because without them, toothless people tend to suck on their gums which would lead to the production of saliva. Thus the Dentures eliminates sucking and thus the over-production.
    In any case, it works and that’s all that matters.

    Comment by Kevin Mark — January 27, 2007 @ 11:46 am

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