Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly, 2000 – 2011

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly crossed the bridge due to heart failure on December 15, 2011, with his parents at his side. We thank the staff of the eClinic for their caring support at the end. He will be sorely missed.

Bubba, a black and white parti Cocker mix, was born April 25, 2000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the son of Romeo and Juliet Pesce. He was well-traveled as a puppy, as he was born in Virginia, drove to New Jersey to meet his new parents and then flew home to Texas before he was six months old.

Bubba was a wedding gift to Kevin and Virginia Gilhooly. Virginia had grown up with dogs in her house, so Kevin agreeing to have a  dog was actually written into their wedding vows. As Kevin had agreed to have a dog, Virginia allowed him to choose a name. Kevin chose “Bubba” as a name – which was horrifying to someone from the Northeast. Nevertheless, Virginia soon learned to stand by the back door and yell “Bubba!” without (much) embarrassment. (After Virginia began to groom him at home, the hair on the top of his head became more and more like Elvis’, which gave him his middle name.)

Bubba quickly took over the house after he moved in. He never managed to teach Basil, the English Budgie to bark, although he tried. Virginia learned that having a puppy is not the same as having a dog. Kevin learned patience, although it took time.

Bubba did learn very quickly. He was the only dog in the household that would ring a string of bells on the door when he needed to go out. As more dogs entered the household, he would ring the bells if any of them needed to go out, as well, which prevented any of the other dogs from ever learning this trick. [Years later, Katie would ring the bells when she was bored.]


Patrolling the yard

During his first winter, he had company in the form of Flower Pesce, who lived with Virginia’s Mom in New Jersey. Flower and her Mom came down to escape the cold, so Bubba had a playmate for a few months. When Flower went home that Spring, Bubba seemed very depressed. Virginia and Kevin then decided to adopt another dog, so he would have company. So, Ripley entered the household. Kevin chose Ripley for adoption at a Richardson Humane Society event, although Ripley later decided he preferred Virginia. However, everyone knew he was really Bubba’s dog. (Flower and her Mom eventually moved in permanently.)

Bubba had cherry eye when he was a puppy, and it took five surgeries to repair it. This began his long history of veterinary visits – by the time of his passing, he had an allergist, an opthomologist, a cardiac specialist and multiple “everyday” vets. He had more (and better) specialists than his parents, who are still trying to figure out how to get his doctors to treat them. Amazingly, with all the doctors who would prod and poke him over the years, he loved going to the vet.

Actually, he just loved going for car rides. If Virginia asked him if he wanted to go “bye-bye in the car”, he would run to the back door and whimper until she appeared with a leash and took him to the car. A bonus on the car ride would be anyone standing on a street corner while the car stopped for a red light, since that was someone that could be barked at until the light turned green.

Bubba was the first dog to sleep on the bed in the Gilhooly household, and the first to abandon it. After other dogs joined the house, he decided there was much more room to spread out on the floor, so he gave up his bed privileges for the wide open spaces. (It was probably cooler down there, as well.)

Bubba’s medical history actually helped lead to Murphy joining the family – Murphy had been considered “non-adoptable” because he had dry eye. As Virginia was already applying eye medicine to Bubba’s eyes every day, adopting a dog with dry eye was not an issue.

Bubba had cataract surgery as an adult, but was still mostly blind for the last years of his life. It never seemed to slow him down, although when walking, he did appear to be in a pinball machine at times. He could not find his way around as quickly, unless there was food at his destination.

As he got older, he was taking more and more medications, which eventually required that he be fed more often than the rest of the dogs, just to give him his morning pills. Luckily, he had learned the command “let’s go get coffee” earlier, and knew that meant to go to the kitchen. None of the other dogs ever learned this trick. It started because while Kevin worked at home, he would make coffee every morning before beginning work, and Bubba would go along, because he had also figured out that the cookie jar was near the coffee pot. After a few days, “Let’s go get coffee!” meant “Go to the kitchen and stand by the cookie jar.”

Bubba’s other unusual commands:

Go in your crate and get a cookie” – the fastest way to get him (and most siblings) in the house and into their crates when  his parents needed to go out. Bubba could learn to do anything if cookies were involved.

Let me see your belly!” – before his allergies were under control, he would have ointment or spray applied to any areas that were broken out. “Roll over” seemed too simplistic, I suppose, so when he was told “Let me see your belly!”, he would roll over and wait for medication.

I need your eyes” – also medically-minded. Bubba had two or three ointments applied to his eyes each day. He would avoid them at all costs – except if treats were involved. Since his parents couldn’t offer treats without all the dogs volunteering to get eye ointment, Bubba learned that “I need your eyes” meant ointment followed quickly by treats.

Almost napping

Almost napping

In his final days, he was assistant baby-sitter for Caleb Gilhooly, Virginia and Kevin’s grandson. Bubba would guard the baby’s crib whenever Caleb visited, mainly because food would often be tossed out of it. Caleb preferred Bubba over the other dogs because he was the quietest.

He is survived by his siblings, Ripley, Murphy, Katie and Flower,  his parents, Kevin and Virginia, and his playmate Caleb.

A Strange and Disturbing Relationship

Full disclosure – I’m divorced and have alienated any number of people over the years, so I’m certainly not an expert at relationships (even though my second marriage has lasted four times longer than my first so far – although it may end when someone special reads this post.)

That said, there is one relationship I simply don’t understand at all – that of a woman and her cleaning lady. First of all, I hope “cleaning lady” is PC, I think they used to be called maids and before that, they were servants.

First, cleaning ladies strike fear in women’s hearts. Ask yourself this – do men snake all the pipes and replace washers before the plumber arrives? Do men replace fuses and make sure all the wiring is straight before the electrician arrives? Of course not – that’s why you hire a professional. So, why is it mandatory to pre-clean the house before the cleaning lady arrives?

Contrary to their ability to strike fear, cleaning ladies also seem to be confidantes. I do not know any male who has invited their plumber or electrician to their wedding, but I can think of at least one woman who invited her cleaning lady, and I know one woman who hosted her cleaning lady’s wedding.

Every time I hear about the relationship between a woman and her cleaning lady, I flash back to an old Seinfeld episode, where Jerry starts sleeping with his maid, and it turns out she’s really a hooker. She also starts doing less and less work, which may be a more critical point from the male perspective. Sex is fine, but those curtain rods aren’t going to dust themselves.

When men complain about the costs of a cleaning lady, the counter argument is usually that the current one is worth the money and a cleaning service (e.g. an anonymous cleaning lady with no connection to the woman of the house) would be much more expensive. The secondary argument is that if someone were paid to actually clean the entire house, then the woman of the house would have to pre-clean properly in advance. (“I admit it. The house is cluttered. How could someone possibly clean it?”) What?

My one theory is that a man should just cancel the cleaning lady and then tell his Spousal Unit that the cleaning lady has been rescheduled to the next day. Then, the Spousal Unit will frantically pre-clean the house in preparation.

The other issue – where I am not alone – is that the cleaning lady puts things where she thinks they belong, even if it should be intuitively obvious where they belong. “Let’s see, I have a clean glass. Here is a cabinet with 337 glasses in it. So, I guess this glass belongs in the cabinet on the other side of the kitchen with the plates. Also, all the husband’s shaving equipment is lined up neatly by the bathroom sink. It must belong in the drawer under the other side of the sink beneath the tampons, or perhaps in the closet in the other bathroom.”

As a man wiser than I once said, “The cleaning lady comes every two weeks and it takes me two weeks to find the stuff she put away.” (I would quote him directly, but I’m protecting the innocent.)

I am not friends with my plumber or my mechanic. There is a part of me that would like to discuss my Spousal Unit’s failure to get excited about my new blog (and my inability to tell her why this really hurts) while my mechanic is watching the oil drain from my car, but I don’t think he  likes being distracted. Also, I have no idea what his name is, which makes it harder to confide my true feelings in him.

If I had one of my friends helping me with work around the house, I would be paying in beer and pizza, not cash. They probably wouldn’t expect a clean area to work in, either. Mainly because they live alone, and they don’t have cleaning ladies.

Annual Maintenance

It’s interesting that every time a maintenance person arrives to work on any of our major appliances, they disapprove of the way the appliance was previously serviced or installed. Many times, they violently disapprove. It’s a constant. It is even going to happen if the repairmen are from the same firm. I have not had someone criticize his own work, but it is only a matter of time.

Now, I’ve been in software for almost 30 years, and I’ve worked with some idiots, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked a customer, “Hmm. Who wrote this crap?” At least, not out loud.

Our annual HVAC inspection was this afternoon. We get a free inspection once a year as part of a maintenance contract.

You would think since the inspection is free, it would be a five-minute, cursory glance, followed by “Everything’s looking good!” and a quick exit. This surprisingly tends to not be the case.

We get very thorough inspections. This is good, except there always seem to be semi-major problems, which is bad. I suppose finding the problem is better than not finding it, but it’s a bit distressing there were any problems to find. This year, there was condensation leaking in the heater and there was a long tear in the plenum.

Now, it is possible the plenum tore itself sometime between last inspection and now. Perhaps a disgruntled employee did it, although this is unlikely since we have no employees.

My guess? Last year, when the filter for the whole house air filtration system was being replaced, somebody pushed it just a wee bit too hard.

As for the leak, the repairman said the clamp was in the wrong place on one of the pipes. I’m pretty sure the clamp was moved during last year’s inspection, as well.

There are always two constant questions in an inspection – “When did you get this unit? We don’t sell these any more, we have OtherBrand which are much higher quality and last longer.” and “Who was here last year? We have really top-notch people, but, uh, you know, some can make mistakes.”

[Edit: It occurred to me that if repairmen were all Southern ladies, they would be saying “Bless her heart.” A lot.]

So, the company sold me inferior equipment and is supporting it with amateurs. I feel better now. What exactly are your credentials?

I’m just glad to know this time, it’s fixed for sure.

Until next year’s inspection.

Christmas Anonymous

Editor’s Note: This was originally written in 2011. I just reread it and I’m not sure I disagree with any of my conclusions. This year (2020) was my first Christmas at home in twelve years, with COVID-19 adding stress to everything else that is stressful about the holidays. If you read this and agree with any of it, you’re not alone. If you think I’m insane, you’re not alone. Peace. Happy New Year.

If you really know me, you will understand where this is coming from, you’ll feel my pain, and you’ll know I’ll be in a much better mood in January. If you think you know me, and this seems unbelievable harsh in places, you don’t really know me. Be forewarned.

Also, this post makes no sense unless you’ve read Christmas Anonymous. This is what my first meeting would be.

Scene: A small meeting room, somewhere in a strip mall, Suburbia. 

Uh, this is my first time here, so I’m a bit nervous. I hope you’ll bear with me. Oh, sorry. Hi! I’m Kevin, and I hate Christmas.

Hi, Kevin!

I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my issues with Christmas. I hope you can help me. I spend the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s always on the verge of crying and I’m really not sure why. There’s a lot of reasons I’m sure, but hopefully, someone in here will share a similar set of reasons. 2020: Being out of work and living in a COVID world did not help at all.

First, I’m not really sure why I hate Christmas. I don’t hate Christ by any means, so I really shouldn’t hate people celebrating His birthday, even if there was no physical way He was born on December 25th.

2020: I’m not sure “hate” is the proper term any longer. The holidays just depress me. My ex-wife told my wife I hated Christmas, so I just owned it, but hatred is too strong a term.

I do still believe in God, even if many of His Churches are all seemingly filled with hypocrites. If Holden Caufield wanted to find phonies, he just needed to look to the Cafeteria Christians.

Maybe it’s the soul-crushing realization that people really aren’t celebrating Christ’s birthday. Of course, Christmas was actually created by co-opting a pagan holiday, so I’m not sure anyone ever actually celebrated Christmas. Nobody seems to care about Christmas anymore, it’s not politically correct to use the term. It’s best to say  “the holidays”, so you don’t offend the Jews or the people of Islam or anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa.

2020: Political correctness has gotten progressively worse in the time since I wrote this, but Christmas still lives on, mostly.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that if you grow up in Dallas, you will never see the Christmas of TV and movies. I think we’ve had one actual White Christmas during my lifetime, and I was out of town that year. A White Christmas in Dallas means power outages and multi-car accidents, rather than carriage rides, anyway.

Maybe it’s the inevitable unspoken competition on gifts – you will never get what you want, since what you want is often driven by commercials, and you may not watch the same commercials as your friends, relatives and parents. Different generations will rarely know what others actually want. Some will try, with varying levels of success.

The inability to know (or care) what will make someone happy  is probably what invented the gift card industry, which I never liked, since you’re basically telling someone “I think you’re worth $50, but only at Target.” It also says you aren’t really willing to put any thought into a gift at all. 2020: Except that some of my relatives love gift cards, so if you know that, then a gift card is the right present. It still lets them know exactly how much you think they’re worth.

I’m actually still very bitter that my younger brother got a dog when I was about eight. It’s worse now that I’m in animal rescue, and I realize that my parents probably bought a dog from a backyard breeder after doing zero research into a proper breed and I really don’t want to know where his dog went after six months, but back then, all I knew was that he got a dog, I got some plastic models and when the dog went away, he got replacement presents and I got squat.

At this point, I should say that my late mother-in-law got me great gifts. She somehow knew something that I actually wanted, and as a bonus, she would generally make my wife get it for me, and my wife would think it was a stupid gift. Her gifts were always small, but they were from the heart and they were something that I wanted, even if I didn’t know it beforehand. Thanks, Rose. I miss you.

Maybe it’s the invention of the Christmas newsletter. I actually started writing this as a byproduct of trying to write a family newsletter, and I realized that I hadn’t successfully done one in three years. [Editor’s note: the dogs eventually took over the Christmas newsletter, and have received rave reviews.] A lot has happened in three years – we lost my mother-in-law, we gained a daughter-in-law and a grandson, but as I was writing the short paragraphs to try to keep it to a reasonable length, it hit me – if you’re close enough to me to get a summary of my life, wouldn’t you already know this stuff?

2020: The newsletter does cover some of the more random events of the year, and lately, it has been announcing things not everyone would know. So, I’m less negative about it than I was. Plus, the dogs write it now.

Maybe it’s working in a sales organization, where bless their hearts, most salespeople are just incapable of closing any deals any time except the last two weeks of the quarter. This means Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year, since it’s quarter-end and year-end. It’s make quotas or update resumes time. If your job requires supporting salespeople, it’s about to be your fault that they spent the time from Halloween to Thanksgiving gazing in the mirror and jerking off, so they managed to miss quota.

2020: I do not miss working in a sales organization. I do miss working.

I don’t know what my expectations are from the holidays. I just know that there is a tremendous amount of pressure to be nice to people you would much rather ignore. There is pressure to work extra hours in a time when your personal life is calling you. There is pressure to spend money on people you wouldn’t even talk to during the rest of the year.

2020: Ignoring people has been much easier in quarantine, but after enough time stuck in the house, you begin to miss people, even the annoying ones. Working extra hours wasn’t an issue, since I was out of work, but there was extreme pressure to find a job, mostly to finance Christmas.

So it goes.

Maybe that’s why I hate Christmas.

2020: I’m still not sure.

Can someone tell me the twelve steps of Christmas?

Christmas Anonymous

I really don’t like the holidays. Actually, I dread the holidays. I spend the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s in a deep depression. I’m constantly on the edge of tears. I don’t know why. (I have my suspicions, but publishing them would probably offend a lot of people.) So, I thought what is really needed is an organization to help those of us who dread the holidays. We need Christmas Anonymous.

Now, Christmas Anonymous would be built on the basic principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the foundation for many successful recovery programs. Even people who have never had a drink have probably heard of the Twelve Steps. (In fact, somebody may have already done this work, in which case, I apologize. Doing it has been rather cathartic for me.)

I’ve only been to one AA meeting in my life (on a date – which can tell you how well the relationship worked), and it was an amazing experience. It was a religious experience, as well – only people who share the same dark secret can relate to your true issues and from that relation can come salvation.

So, I’ve taken the original Twelve-Step program (quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous – thank you, Bill W.), and translated it for those of us who can’t seem to cope with the holidays. You’re out there. You’re hurting. You’re not alone.

I read the Twelve Steps just before I went to the AA meeting. Until then, I had no idea what the steps were (although since then I’ve received apologies from alcoholic friends over the years, so I recognized that was one of them.) Some people think AA’s Twelve Steps are very close to a religion – God is mentioned everywhere throughout them. While this may offend some non-alcoholics who think “it’s only a drinking problem”, in the case of Christmas Anonymous, I believe it is absolutely a core part of the solution. (As the sarcastic would say: What? God in Christmas? Surely not.)

Here are the Twelve Steps, for members of Christmas Anonymous.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over Christmas. No matter how hard we wished or bitched, it would still arrive every year on December 25th. Ads begin just after the Fourth of July.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In this case, perhaps trying to restore the true meaning of Christmas as a religious holiday rather than a reason to spend ourselves into debt will help us through the season.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Wouldn’t Christmas be an excellent time to rededicate yourself to your beliefs? You don’t have to be Christian, but if you’re pummeled by Christmas music and commercials anyway, take a moment to connect with your God. 
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Why do we hate Christmas? Is it religious? Financial? Fear? Relationships?
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our hatred of Christmas. Tell your significant other, friend or family member why you’re so cranky during the holidays. Find someone who will actually listen. If nothing else, blog about it. 
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. This should always be true whether you hate Christmas or love drugs.  
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Perhaps this would be a good private prayer during Christmas services. If you avoid services, take a moment on Christmas to ask your God for this. 
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Who avoids you during the holidays? They’re on this list.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In most cases, this is probably a sincere apology to friends and family for being such an asshole during the holidays.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. You’re not going to get through every Christmas unscathed. Remember this. Keep trying.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. If you can find God, you can celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. It was one at one time. 
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others in pain during the holidays, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Find others who hate Christmas, and give them this message. Think what else you hate as much as the holidays, and apply the steps. 

Merry Christmas!