I do not forgive, or forget! 20 dogs die in Arizona heat.

On the news this morning I heard a story about twenty dogs who all died after the air conditioner, for their kennel, failed when one of the dogs chewed through an electrical wire. That made me feel very sad. As a dog owner, these stories just ruin my day. But then I read the quote from one of the people who owned the dogs, and it enraged me to an incredible degree. And I quote:

“It could have burned down our whole house, my whole house could have burned down and all my children could have died, and then it would have been a tragedy.”

Are you serious!?!? You must be a heartless God forsaken bitch to not think of this as a tragedy! You apparently didn’t care about the lives of those dogs. Twenty dogs DIED because of your fucking irresponsibility! Did you perform periodic inspections of their kennel to insure it’s safe for habitation? Probably not. As a result the wire became exposed, the dog chewed it and they all died from heat exhaustion.

So with that said, this person should never be allowed – for the rest of their miserable lives – to own so much as one dog! No apology on this earth can ever cause me to forgive what these people have done.

This enrages me because I have, for the past 14 years of owning dogs, I have ALWAYS gone the extra mile for my dogs. If one of my two Whippets has so much as a hangnail, I take them to the vet. I make sure they get their yearly checkups, shots and so on. When Kelsey, my first Whippet, developed cancer, I shelled out a ton of money to get him chemotherapy to give him a chance to live a longer life. He lived another four years. I make sure the dog kennel (which is indoors) is clean, safe and comfortable for them to sleep in. I give them attention and love at every opportunity. I consider myself a responsible dog owner, I treat my dogs like their my children (to a certain degree). So when I hear about stories like this one, they rock me to my foundation.

For people who have no regard for dogs, who don’t go that extra mile for their pets, I DO NOT FORGIVE OR FORGET!

 

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Why such a circus for something so small?

Well it’s that time of year again, time for kids to look forward to summer vacation and hopefully finishing another grade in school. Recently a friend of mine told me she was attending her son’s graduation. I was surprised, primarily because I didn’t realize she had a child in high school. Quite the contrary, her child was exiting fifth grade and entering sixth. Because of this increment, they were going to have a big pomp filled graduation.

Why?

On my Facebook I recently posted the question regarding this:

Can someone please explain to me the significance of having a ceremony just because someone completed 5th grade? They never had such ridiculous things when I was in school…oh boy you finished 5th grade, now you go to 6th grade yay! Do you honestly think the kid cares?

It just makes very little sense to me to have such a circus for something so small. Are kids so challenged today that such a grade increment is truly a mind blowing accomplishment? Don’t tell me they do it for the parents, because that would be a selfish display of overabundant pride. It’s good to be proud of your child, but it’s quite another thing to parade him in front of a crowd just because he somehow survived fifth grade.

In my day when you graduated it was either from High School or College. High School graduation is an incredibly awesome milestone for a child. It marks the end of their childhood so to speak by declaring they have successfully completed twelve years of education in the public school system, or private school. It is an achievement worthy of the pomp and circumstance that gets applied to it. Likewise when you graduate from a university/college, it is a major accomplishment. It shows the world you have put forth the great effort necessary to achieve success. That too is worthy of the celebratory graduation event. You are no longer a young adult, you’re an adult who is leaving behind the schoolbooks and the homework to enter into the working world.

But now graduations are held for little kids leaving Kindergarden into the first grade, kids going up an increment. Are these truly accomplishments worthy of standing beside completion of high school and college? In my opinion not in the slightest! Because when you do this kind of thing for every single little accomplishment, it diminishes the true greatness of great accomplishments.

Why Adobe Creative Cloud is worth every penny

So it’s been a while now since Adobe introduced their Creative Cloud, a subscription based service which provides you access to their entire suite of design, video and photography software (and more). I was very skeptical at first, actually to be honest I was quite pissed off that Adobe would do this. You pay a monthly fee to keep the access to these applications, which in my case I rely on to get my job done. If you don’t pay, you lose access. Now everything lives on your hard disk, this isn’t some virtual machine running via a web browser or something. Good God that would be horrible. The apps reside on your computer and it’s just as if you had installed them yourself.

So why did I change my attitude and ultimately my mind? I pulled out my trusty calculator and did some math!

Let’s take a look at a scenario…

Jeff is a designer and does some video production work too, so he would need the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, which runs $2,599.00 (and which is already obsolete). Meanwhile, Kyle is also a designer and video guru, but instead of shelling out the huge wallet melting $2,599 that Jeff did, Kyle paid for a year’s worth of Creative Cloud ($50 per month * 12 = $600). Two years later, Adobe releases all new versions of their suite of applications. They have some killer new features. Since Kyle has kept up his subscription to Creative Cloud, he gets those sleek and shiny new versions free of charge! Meanwhile Jeff is pulling his credit card out of his already massacred wallet to pay $45o-$600 for the upgrades. So you can see where I’m going with this.

In the time it takes Kyle to reach $2,599 in expense, four years have passed and all of his software updates have been free. Poor Jeff is bankrupt because he spent everything he had keeping his software updated.

So in the end, considering a lot changes in four years in the world of application software, it’s more than worth it to upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud. I did it two days ago and now I have access to EVERYTHING Adobe makes as part of my subscription. Not to mention a free Behance ProSite to show off my hard work.

If you’re a graphic artist, designer, video editor, web developer, etc. I say go for it. It’s worth every penny and you get some awesome extras too.

 

Chapter 1 : Don’t do business with Bank of America (maybe)

For nearly a year now a battle has been raging between myself and Bank of America regarding their policy that those with Power of Attorney for their parent(s) are not allowed to have online banking access. I can write checks, I can deposit money, I can get balance printouts at the bank or over the phone…but I can’t have online banking. This means that any bills you have to pay have to be sent old school through snail mail, no electronic withdrawals. And to top it off, you better call or drive over to the local branch to see how much money is in there before you write a single check.

Because of this incredibly frustrating conundrum, I decided I have had enough. I wrote a letter (via email) to the President & CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan…

Mr. Moynihan,
  My name is Kevin Harris and I wanted to reach out to you as a concerned consumer who has had some less than exemplary experiences doing business with your institution. Allow me please to explain from the beginning.
In September 2012 my mother, a long time Bank of America customer, suffered a massive stroke which left her incapable of handling her affairs. Nearly two years earlier my father passed away of prostate cancer and shortly thereafter my mother had a Power of Attorney created in the event she became incapable of handling her affairs. As her Power of Attorney, I have been fulfilling my responsibilities in that role since she was afflicted by the stroke. However, late last year I lost all access to her Bank of America online banking. As a result it has created a number of problems, including several bounced checks. I visited my local Bank of America branch (Old Bridge Rd, Woodbridge, VA) and stated my case to them. I needed online banking just for the purpose of insuring there are sufficient funds to cut checks to pay her expenses and so that my mother’s accountant has the information she needs for taxes and year end accounting.
The staff at the Lake Ridge Bank of America have been anything but helpful. They have complied with company regulations and policies to the letter. I spoke to the bank manager, Dania Mendez, about a month ago about escalating my case to gain access to online banking. About 10 days later I was informed that the decision remained that I would not be able to access online banking.
This makes things very difficult for me and overcomplicated. My mother has accounts at other banking institutions, most notably BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust). None of these other institutions have restricted me from online banking on her behalf. None of them have inflicted the amount of frustration on me that your bank has.
Today I visited the Lake Ridge banking center again, because I needed to get copies of cancelled checks for my mother’s Medicaid lawyer who is working on getting my mother enrolled. Once again I was met with fierce resistance. Considering the number of times I have been to this bank and presented them with my Durable General Power of Attorney, they failed to store that information in the system. So I had to drive back home, get the POA again and then proceeded to sit for over 90 minutes while the banking representative phoned the document review team and then proceeded to do the necessary paperwork to order the cancelled checks.
Unfortunately these repeated failures, on the part of your banking staff and as a result of ridiculously stiff banking policies, is leaving me little choice but to redirect the direct deposits from Social Security and from the V.A. Survivor Benefits Program from your bank to BB&T and then to close the account with your institution. Unless of course there is something you can do to help clear up the red tape and the tear down the unscalable wall of policies that are preventing me from being able to do my job as my mother’s Power of Attorney.
I thoroughly understand that we live in a wicked and sinful world where children would steal from their parents, abuse and dishonor the institution of Power of Attorney. I understand that fraud and identity theft are a real concern for any banking institution. But I am not a wicked person, I was raised by a West Point graduate, I live my life by that Academy’s philosophy of duty, honor and country. I am a good person who is trying to love and honor his mother by fulfilling my responsibilities as her son and her POA. It is my sincere hope that you can help solve this dilemma for me so I am not placed into the difficult position of ending a long standing relationship with Bank of America.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Sincere regards,
Kevin Harris
A few days later I received a response from one of his officers by email, asking me to call him to try and resolve this problem. I called and left a message – whatever happens next I will post in Chapter 2 of this story.

Finally found my sketching app!

For several months now I have been using and evaluating a number of apps for the iPad that allow me to sketch out ideas for design projects I am working on. Here are the apps I’ve used in that time:

  • Concepts
  • Paper by 53
  • Sketches
  • Procreate
  • SketchBook Pro
  • iDraw

Let me begin with the apps that didn’t do well for me (and I say for me because everyone is different). First off iDraw and Sketches just didn’t cut it for me. They were nicely designed apps with a lot of potential, but just didn’t feel right. The next app was Procreate, this one was close but not close enough. I liked feel of the pencil tool, but I was finding that the user interface of the app was getting in my way a lot. It didn’t seem as responsive as I was expecting. The next app was SketchBook Pro by AutoDesk. Now originally I liked this app, but as I used it I found it to be less and less appealing to my style of sketching.

The closest win win for me was Paper by 53. In fact, I still use this app for a lot of sketches. And I plan on keeping it available for doing specific kinds of sketches.

That leaves Concepts. Hands down this app rocked my world. With the ability to do multiple layers like Photoshop and incredibly responsive and smooth performance, Concepts wins hands down. There are a few little things that annoy me about it and those a primarily restricted to the pre-sketch interface and how the app arranges your saved sketches. I think that could have been done a little better.

So if you’re a graphic artist and looking for a really simple but powerful, smooth and clean, app for sketching – it’s Concepts for me. Try it for yourself and make your own decision as to it’s awesomeness.

Here’s the link to the app web site: http://concepts.tophatch.com

 

Meet Kody

kody

 

Kody is a 2 year old Whippet. He is the replacement for my first Whippet, Kelsey, who died in 2011 of lung cancer – so he filled a very big void. The best thing is, he has Kelsey’s parents in his pedigree, so it makes me feel happy to know there’s a little bit of Kelsey in him. Kody is a crazy boy, he can’t sit still, he’s very curious about things. But the most important aspect of him is, when I sit down on the couch to watch TV he curls up right next to me and places his head on my thigh and watches with me. He’s a great friend to me and my other Whippet, Tango. You’ll meet her in another post soon.

 

I’m done trying…bachelor for life it is.

I have come close to marrying someone three times in my life. And for each of those three special people either death or incompatibility or backstabbing have been the result. I have spent the better part of two years trying to find someone to share my life with but to no avail. I have now reached the point where I simply must lay down the flag and cease carrying it any further. I am spent. The emotional turmoil I have dealt with in relationships has been more than I care to deal with anymore. I get attached to someone and things just don’t work out. I am not getting any younger and the time has come for me to say goodbye to trying to find someone.

So, today I made a big decision. I have vowed to remain a bachelor until the day I die. I can go forth happily knowing that I share this bachelorhood with some of history’s most remarkable, one of which just happens to be my favorite composer: Ludwig van Beethoven. It will be a lonely existence, but there are things to keep me company. My music has never cheated on me, tried to change me or died (well not yet at least). Through all of life’s troubles my music has always been there to comfort, console and calm me. I have two wonderful dogs who love me unconditionally. And I have the characters of my stories, through which I can live a life I never had. A life filled with love and someone to share it with. So while I may never know the love of another in my life, I have many loves that I can escape into which won’t result in a broken heart.

As Alfred Lord Tennyson said,  “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

And so closes this chapter of my life.