Dogheart Video and Walking Your Dog Without Pulling

This Thursday we shoot the 60 second web video spot for the Dogheart one on one dog training program.  To quote John Speiser, owner of Dogheart, ”Dogheart has set out to raise the bar of cultural canine consciousness.” 

When I first spoke to John about my dog Sadie I was frustrated about walking her, or basically having a tug of war contest down the street.  If another dog showed up, which was frequent, I’d better hope there was no ice beneath my feet because I was sure to go flying.

It was getting to the point where I was dreading taking my dog for a walk. I had so many types of choke chains, halties and other restrains that my neighbors had given me, but none worked very well.

It turns out the Sadie is a very neck strong dog.  She’d pull herself ’till she was dead.  She was starting to choke and cough a lot from the pulling on her trachea.  Not good.  John showed me how to properly use a pinch collar. While it looks like a dreadful torture device, when coupled with the correct words and pulls at the right time it is actually much more humane than constantly pulling on her throat.

Now when we go for a walk I use a 20 foot piece of nylon rope and the pinch collar.  She responds to my voice commands and will walk next to me, or out in front a bit, with no tension on the line.  We take walks without the collar on too and she does well, but occasionally begins to revert back to the old ways so I go back to the pinch collar for reinforcement.

We’ve been working for a couple months and making good progress.  Working with your dog is a lifetime commitment, I think.  My plan is to get her to the point where she doesn’t need a leash.

New Photo Assignment

We received a new assignment in the digital photography class. I’m going to make a book of about 10 pages of composited images.  Since I’ve rehabbed several old houses I thought it would be cool to put together a book on one of them;  it’s the before and after pictures. However, the images have to be “blended together” and I’ll have to create a bunch of new ones.  (No side by side images.) Hopefully the old ones of before will work.

I also have a large folder of historical documents, letters between the architect and the person who was paying to have the house built, that I will scan and add to the collage.  It should be an interesting project. 

 I’m using my house, the latest in the old house rehab projects.  It was built in 1912 so it’s nearly 100 years old. I’ll be sure to provide a link and post this project on the web as I think it would be interesting to the old house junkies like me.

Starting a New Category – Old Houses

Based on my last post I’ve got to admit that I am completely fascinated with old houses.  There are many reasons for this but I think that old houses I’m attracted to have such a strength about them.  Most have plaster walls and very thick wood moldings.  The really awesome ones have dark wood that has aged over the years.  The darkness gives it a strength that you just can’t get from clear polyurethaned red oak flooring or beige carpet.

Old houses are not for everyone.  You’ve got to appreciate doors that don’t close well, and tile that might be well worn as a feature, not a mess.  You should see the really cool old sink in the upstairs bathroom.  It is porcelain and has numerous crazing cracks in it that I find delightful, but I can see how someone else would think it was nasty.

And my plaster walls are so not smooth either, but they have so much character and strength in them. When I see massive expanses of drywall I want to run.  I can’t image ever living in a new house unless I built it by my own specifications, with lots of plaster, dark stained wood floors and paint with actual color in it.

If you ever want my advice about decorating an old house, I can help.  I’ve rehabbed several in the last few years and have quite a knack at it.  I get lots of favorable responses from people who see my work.  Of course it’s easy when you start with good bones!

Video Today

Today we have Hatcow Productions at my house shooting a movie, or at least part of it.  They are really shooting too, using a blank gun.  I can’t believe my dog isn’t going ballistic with the rounds I’ve heard.

Well that’s what you get when you live in a cool old house (besides the extremely large tax bill). Lot’s of people want to film their movies here.  This will be about the fifth or sixth one.  One day I was driving up and I saw a group of students in my alley with a very nice looking HD movie camera.  Apparently, in the 1970′s a Chinese scientist, famous to some now, lived in my house.  It was part of their documentary on the guy.

I have pictures of this house before I saved it from the wrecking ball. Not a pretty site. But now that I’ve spent about every last dime on it I have a place to stay.  Well, it will hold it’s value better than drugs, I hope (becuase houses are like addictions to some). And if I could just get someone to pay me to use my house, now that would be enterprising.

The Most Melodic Wind Chimes Ever Created by Man

I want to tell you about the most awesome wind chimes I discovered in the Downtown Home and Garden store in Ann Arbor, MI.  They are called Music of the Spheres and they have the most incredibly and beautiful sound you’ve ever heard from a wind chime.  They are not the twinkly high pitched ones that seem to annoy some people (although I like those too).  No, these have an ethereal quality and are divine in nature. 

There is a size and melody range to these chimes.  The chimes come in six sizes from soprano to basso profundo.  These are very profound, the size of a human being!  They also come in a variety of tunings, eleven total to suit any personality or mood. 

I plan to sell these awesome beauties in my online garden store,, in the very near future.  I will be telling visitors about all the wonderful characteristics of the chimes and how listening to these sirens can improve your health and mental well being.  Visitors will also be able to listen to the individual tunings available.  However, one must truly be there to experience the dynamic, resonating tonal quality these chimes produce.  The laptop speakers don’t do it justice.

I might provide a down-loadable music file that could be played over good speakers or headphones to get a sense of the musical magic.  I’ll keep you posted!

A Message From Bob Kessler Regarding Medicaid Spend Down

On February 8, 2006 President Bush tightened asset spend down rules on seniors seeking nursing home assistance. These rules will force more families to cover the costs of nursing home care and delay coverage for those most needy.

The bill is designed to tighten loopholes that allowed transferring assets to children so they then could qualify for Medicaid. With nursing home care increasingly becoming more and more expensive with the average yearly care costing $74,000 nationally one can expect further tightening.

To qualify for Medicaid nursing home coverage, most states require a single individual to have no more than $2,000 in cash including other forms of income. There are certain assets such as a home, car and certain trusts that are not counted. Married couples are allowed more. After qualifying an individual must spend all their income on their nursing home care except for an amount under $50 a month for personal expenses.

Medicaid allows individuals to reduce their assets by prepaying for funeral expenses, buying a car, paying off debt and making home modifications. A person with more than $150,000 in equity in a home may be ruled ineligible for Medicaid. Other methods such as gift giving to family members, transferring property and creating certain annuities may trigger a penalty and further delays.

If your currently in a situation where spend down is happening or you wish to prevent it in the future. Get a free analysis on your situation and a plan of action. Please feel free to write or call me Bob Kessler at 1-800-690-8969 or write me, Bob Kessler, at my office — American Benefits Company LLC, 30095 Northwestern Highway Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334.

Asset Spend Down in Nursing Homes

I found this info on this webpage

“Asset spend-down in nursing homes is the process by which individuals enter nursing homes as private pay clients, deplete their available assets in paying for their care, and then enroll in the Medicaid program once they are impoverished. “Medicaid asset spend-down” is a source of considerable concern to disabled elderly persons who face the prospect of extended nursing home care.”

 Just the sound of this is frightening.  Work your entire life, then, faced with some terrible illness that requires strangers to take care of you, spend all your money on your health care so that you can have the government finish “taking-care” of you for the rest of your life.  And if you have a spouse that is healthy, they will become impoverished too, right along with you as you spend down your combined assets.

And from this site


“What is it like to spend down to Medicaid?

Marlene S. Stum, Ph.D. Family Social Science

What is a spend down?

“A spend down occurs when private or family finances are depleted so far that an individual becomes eligible for public sources of payment through Medicaid. This process of voluntary impoverishment is a transition from private to public sources of payment for long-term care.” (Stum, 1998).

What is it like to spend down to Medicaid to pay for long term care?

A study of families who were spending down to Medicaid to pay for long term care and those who had already become eligible for Medicaid, found that families experienced multiple losses including; loss of control, choice and dignity (Stum, 1998). The following are quotes from the study that illustrate the specific themes that emerged from the research both for families that were in the process of spending down to Medicaid and those who had already become eligible for Medicaid.

Families in the Spend Down Process
Stretching Personal Resources

Lack of Control
“I just keep hoping that our money is going to hang on and that the house will sell. They say, ‘Oh this must cost $100 per month in here!’ I just say ‘yes’. I know it would kill both of them if they felt they were going to run out of money.” (Niece caregiver of two aunts in their nineties in a nursing home.)

“Everytime we have to dip into savings to pay for some of Dad’s care, it is a real concern to Mom that eventually she is not going to have anything. We try to reassure her that it will be okay, that we can only take it day by day. I think she feels that she is no longer in control and that she is going to lose her savings. We don’t know if Dad’s care is going to increase or if he might live to be 102. I say, ‘you know Mom, Dad could die tomorrow and we wouldn’t have to worry-we just don’t know-and we can’t sit and worry about the unknown.’” (Daughter of mom (age 75) and dad with dementia in a nursing home.)”

My friend Bob has a plan for you.  He’s recommended this plan to many low income seniors as a way to hang on to some personal assets and still have coverage for medical expenses.  We’ll be letting you know about it in the very near future.

The 60 Second PSA is in the Rough Draft Stage

Who likes to edit video? It is a very addictive process.  You can keep tweaking for hours at a time.  After some point you have to stop. And I have. I’ll take it to my group for a review tomorrow and make any final adjustments, then publish it for all to see, probably on youtube. The next step is to make a 30 second version. Hopefully that doesn’t take several days. 

On a completely different note, a friend of mine and I are putting together a plan to save your money if you are in retirement and sick (nursing home sick), and not rich. Usually Uncle Sam would like you to spend just about all your money on health care, leave about $100,000 for your spouse, then live the rest of your life in one of their sponsored take care of you until you die places. 

Sounds pretty scary to me. If your spouse isn’t sick I’m sure the stress of having no money left will fix that. There is a way to protect your hard earned assets.  And you’ll have an opportunity to read about at a later date.  Stay tuned. 

You Can Add WordPress Directly to Your Own Website – It’s Easy

Guess what?  I’m amazing!  And if I can be, so can you! Part of one of my current learning assignments was to start my own blog on my own website.  I’ve made a few websites before so no problemo. Well, the next assignment was to activate WordPress from my control panel of my hosting service. Hmmmm.  That didn’t really come with my hosting plan. What to do?

Maybe I didn’t really need an official blog. Maybe I could just write a bunch of articles on my website using my lastest and favorite website software, XSitePro.  Well geez, this is the information age and I am sitting in front of my computer.  I’ll google it — “WordPress”.  Well I came to the site and it looked like I could start my blog at their place.  Not quite the assignment.

After looking around for about ten seconds I found the clue. has a link on the main page that says “set it up on a web host”. They give you the software for free and you can load it to your hosting service and have an awesome weblog/blog.  It didn’t take too long either, but considering this was the very first time I did something like this I followed the amazing directions step by step and to my utter amazement, it worked.

Incandescent Bulbs are Energy Wasters

Currently I’m putting together a sixty second and a thirty second Public Service Announcement (PSA) for my web video class at Washtenaw Community College.  Did  you know that in the USA 8.8% of all the electric power usage is for lighting? That is about 101 billion kilowatt hours of energy used per year on lights.  That energy for lighting alone costs roughly ten billion dollars per year, $9,958,600,000.00 based on a cost of $0.0986 per kWh (in March 2006).

In a given house the lighting bill (only the lights) might add up to $300 per year. If all the incandescent bulbs in the US were changed to compact fluorescent bulbs there would be a potential savings of $7,800,000,000.00 per year.  In that given house this might be $235 per year savings. That’s a nice lunch out!

The light given off by a 60W incandescent bulb is about equivalent to the light given off by a 13W fluorescent bulb, hence the huge energy saving.  The fluorescent bulb saves about 78% of the energy of the incandescent bulb.  Most of the wasted energy in the incandescent bulb is given off as heat, so those people living in warmer climates can also benefit by changing bulbs because their air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to cool the house down.

Of course not every bulb can be replaced with a fluorescent.  Most fluorescent bulbs are not dimmable. However, there is a low energy LED bulb that is dimmable. 

The fluorescent bulbs cost more than the incandescent bulbs, however, they last years, not months.  This is great because they pay for themselves in the long run, plus you’ll spend less time shopping and replacing them. And, less trips up and down the ladder.  This is great for the keeping tottering old folks off ladders and safer.

One more thing about the fluorescent bulbs, they need to be recycled properly.  They contain mercury which I know is nasty stuff, so please take those to your waste recyclers for proper disposal.