Around The New Home

This evening after work, I drove to see our new home. While we don't take possession for another month, I figured I would take a few photos and explore the streets around. When I got there, the sun was getting low in the sky - it was around 5:45.

I captured a few images, and thought about how the next month would bring warmer weather, and bring buds and leaves to the big maple tree in the front yard of the house.

I drove down the road slowly about a hundred yards and parked - looked around and noticed that parking was allowed on the side streets - a rarity in Toronto these days, it seems to me.

The park is wide and rolling, with a playground for kids, and at the front of it a few trees ready for finches and other small birds that seemed to be feasting on seeds, and hopping about on the lodgepole pines.

The birches and the willows and the maples scattered about the green.

Red bursts of buds are emerging in the warmth of the closing days of March, soft new green leaves are just around the corner.

Can't wait until we move in!

It's a GO

We've been on tenterhooks for the past 24+ hours - a hiccup in the mortgage financing seemed to be afoot, but we've found out 10 minutes ago that it's a go.

We'll be moving into the house in about a month.

Mungo says phew. Oh, and Bah.

Mise En Place

  • Sun Tzu, The Art of War
  • A Cook's Tour, Anthony Bourdain
  • How To Stay Alive In The Woods, Bradford Angier
  • Topicalizing The Patient’s Action In Psychoanalytic Interaction, Sanna Vehviläinen

The four pieces of writing listed above all resonate deeply with me and have something deeply in common, and while walking Monty outside before in my t-shirt and jeans (yes, you read that correctly, it is THAT warm here in Toronto), it occurred to me what that commonality was. The Mise en place.
The mise en place, literally translated from French, means "setting in place." The Culinary Institute of America describes the term as "Everything in place". When cooking, the term is used to describe preparation done before starting the actual cooking process. Included but not limited to flatware, cookware and sauces.

Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints. Also refers to the preparation and layouts that are set up and used by line cooks at their stations in a commercial or restaurant kitchen.

The concept of having everything in its place as applied to the work in a kitchen likely became a staple around the time of Auguste Escoffier, who is well known for his development of the brigade system of running a kitchen.

Well, I don't know who Auguste Escoffier was or is, but that is one heck of a name, Monsieur Escoffier. Eh? Would you like a coffee, Monsieur Escoffier? Eh? Coffee?

Sorry - I'm tired and beginning to wonder if I will be able to wander through writing everything I want to regarding this concept. Bear with me please.

In that most wonderful of travelogue/cooking memoir that Anthony Bourdain wrote with such flourish and swearing, he mused about the essential truth or secret behind good cooking. It is the mise en place. If you prepare everything diligently, lovingly and all in the right place and order, you can swoop down and invoke the alchemical gods and bring out from this mix a dish that would result in a 4 star Michelin award (not the tires). It is in the measuring-out, the washing, the chopping, dicing, slicing, placement and preparation of all ingredient, cutlery, foil, plastic wrap and soaked shishkabob sticks, that the magic is prepared - luck favours the prepared as they say - and so preparing the final dish. If you cook a simple dish like a pot roast in this manner, carefully, precisely, you can make the most wonderful and memorable of meals, and never break a sweat.

It has been a while since I read Sun Tzu's The Art of War. This is not the Wesley Snipe movie, which incidentally was okay, if you have had a few beers and have nothing else to watch on TV the evening that Spike TV is showing it. But the most famous of his lessons (Sun Tzu, not Wesley Snipe) describes the deliberate infiltration of the enemy's ranks, the build-up, the preparation, the placement of forces in such an exact and stealthy manner, that upon breaking of dawn, and the rousing of the opponents' first sentries, your forces can clatter their armour, brandish their weapons inches from the necks of all the officers, affect a series of surgical arrests and thus win the war without striking a blow. This is the mise en place. Preparation, and strike.

In How To Stay Alive In The Woods, by Bradford Angier, that most classic of survival texts, written in a most classic and soothing cadence, he talks about lighting a fire with flint and steel. My experience has shown me the wisdom of his words. Let me explain how I did not prepare and strike years ago. It was January, and it was maybe 14 years ago. I had driven up to Algonquin Park in the depths of winter, and arrived late at a drive-in camping spot on Mew Lake by myself. Darkness had fallen, and all the firewood was buried in a foot of snow. Trying to light a fire, I went through 2 boxes of matches, several firelighting sticks (compressed fiber with paraffin), and a tube of firegel. It was literally my final match that got a pile of Globe and Mail newspapers, half a roll of toilet paper and a firelighting stick to ignite, and get the damp firewood to start afire. I am sure that I could have gotten the fire going with one match had I prepared the newspaper as tinder properly, along with twigs and kindling from the base of the pine trees scattered around the site, building up successively larger pieces of firewood until I had my mise en place - striking one match, the conflagration starting in one slow but steady blaze. This is how I set my last campfire. And it took only two strikes of my ferrocerium rod with my carbon steel knife to set fire to crumbled bark, carefully arranged tinder and kindling and firewood, with a spark of iron.

This relates in turn to a passionate, albeit less attended-to interest of mine - psychoanalytic writings. The paper Topicalizing The Patient’s Action In Psychoanalytic Interaction, by Sanna Vehviläinen is a recent but oft-repeated (at least within the sparse amount of literature I have covered) examination of instances where the psychoanalyst topicalizes the patient’s action in the here-and-now of the psychoanalytic hour - which existential psychoanalytic approaches stress most. Using conversation analysis, Vehviläinen looks into the sequential context and the interactional consequences of such topicalizations - bring them alive within the context of the therapeutic hour. The analyst also does particular preparatory work to create an interactional ‘slot’ for the interpretation and, thus, co-constructs the issue (or puzzle) with the patient within the meeting itself. The analyst problematizes some aspect in the patient’s talk, presenting it as noteworthy and contradictory (this I have seen referred to as 'tagging'). The analyst and patient then engage in psychoanalytic interpretations that follow and provide some clarification these puzzles. They provide explanations that draw on the materials the patient has provided, but add to them something new – something the patient ‘has not been aware of’, thus shepherding and drawing the patient along an unfamiliar but comfortable (i.e. less anxiety-ridden) path. The analyst may carefully bring up how the patient is currently presenting within the therapeutic hour, and focus on this dynamic. The intervention is then concluded (or 'primed') with the element of the patient's behaviour as revealing something of the patient's unconscious (or as Alfred Adler - a fascinating man - liked to put it, the 'unknown part of the goal').

It is 11:00 PM and I know I could probably write for another hour on this concept, and perhaps I will follow up another day. You can likely see by this point how relevant the Mise En Place is to many parts of our lives. But now I must prepare my pillow, and put Monty to bed (Spring is in dreamland currently), and turn off the lights and prepare to dream.


Knee Knee Knee

Well it appears that it is actually Monty's other knee's cardinal cruciate ligament that has ruptured, and not actually anything to do with his hip. His X-rays and 2 surgeons confirmed that this was the case. Now he had the same surgery in October of 2005 on his right-knee, so we know what to expect more or less in terms of recovery and the actual surgery. Just wish he didn't have to go through it.

He'll look like this below, and for the first few days he'll need to be supported while he walks out for his business. But within a couple of weeks he should start to recover, and hopefully within 8 - 12 weeks he'll be walking fine.

Poor little guy.


House and Backyard

Today we bought a house and now we don't have to worry about moving out of this condominium that we sold, and having nowhere convenient to go.

We are relieved. Mrs. Mungo has never lived in a house. She is happy. I have drawn an elegant sketch of the house and backyard on a pair of Post-It notes - click to see a larger image with more details (as if you didn't know to do that already):

Monty has been told he will now have some grass and a backyard, where we will build his doghouse. He is going to the vet for a surgeon's consult tomorrow afternoon, so he is somewhat distracted and can't appreciate the good news yet.

Mungo says bah.

How to Say Bah with Mungo - Help Feature

If you are new to this blog, here is a description of some functional elements on a typical blog posting on Mungo Says Bah.

First of all, please note that Mungo says Bah, and not anything else. Mungo is me, and what I say is Bah.

Okay, the following image has a number of items circled in red, with a number beside it. If you click the image, it will open a new window with the large graphic in it. Carefully note the number, and scroll down to the legend beneath the image within the posting below. It will tell you what each functional element provides to you as a reader.

  1. Search Box - find any word or partial text string (i.e. part of a word) within the blog. Quite useful.
  2. Home Title Banner - click here at any time to be brought back to the home page containing a list of the most current postings. Note that a blog entry is called a 'posting'.
  3. Date of Posting - This is the date on which I published (and generally wrote) the posting.
  4. Profile Link - a brief profile of yours trulym, along with a contact e-mail address.
  5. Latest Posts Links - a brief list of clickable titles of the most recent postings.
  6. Update subscription feature - if you put your e-mail address in this box and press Subscribe, you will be able to get an e-mail generally within 12 hours of the previous day's posts - whether I have posted 10 posts or just 1. No e-mail if I don't post anything. This is a good way to keep up with my latest Bahs. Note that a Bah is something expressed within a Post.
  7. Labels List - When I write a post, I assign one or more labels to the content, which helps categorize the topic of the post. I can add, subtract or change any of the Labels categories at any point, but generally don't. Useful for some.
  8. Links - Web links that Mungo Says Bah to. Check them out - I like to.
  9. Archive - This list contains a listing of previous months' postings - along with an indication of how many posts are within a given month. Click on one and you'll get that month's set of posts. Peruse and meander if you wish.
  10. Photogallery - this is a random list of thumbnails obtained automatically from my Flickr photo account - click on any of the images or the link at the bottom entitled "My Photogallery" to see what images I have captured and imprisoned online.
  11. Labels - as in the list described above, this Label section identifies which Labels I have assigned to the particular posting. It might give you reason to click on any of the clickable Label categories to view more in that vein.
  12. Digg It - This link will send through a URL to - allowing you to submit a given posting to the peer news sharing site. If you have an account, and others find it interesting, I could find my posting on the home page of (which has happened once before on my Firefox Privacy posting) and endure the Digg effect - tens of thousands of readers per day.
  13. E-mail A Friend - this button will open a form allowing you to send a posting along with a message to a friend or colleague.
  14. Post a Comment - this feature will allow you to add a comment to a given posting. Try it. I get lonely.
  15. Subscribe to Posts - this RSS feed will permit you to keep abreast of the latests comments to that post. Good if you have an RSS reader like Google Reader.
  16. Home Link - at the bottom of each story, a quick way to get home.
  17. Older Post(s) - a much-overlooked link allowing you to go back in time, viewing older posts for each click.
  18. Blogroll - this is a silly term, describing the list of folks who have mentioned Mungo Says Bah in their blogs. Link goes to, a site and search engine for blogs.

Hope you enjoyed this help feature!

My New Job, Dwellings, Caput Ossis Femoris

My new job is great - I am managing a portfolio of projects which involve everything from infrastructure to digital media to web sites and more. It is sort of surreal being back at this company, I was here 6 years ago and due to department changes, corporate ownership swaps and finally the dissolution of the division I was in, I ended up being laid off and looking for new adventures. But now I am back and enjoying it muchly.

We are waiting to hear back by end of day today whether or not the potential buyers will accept the status documents and finally say "Yay or Nay" about buying our place. And this weekend we're looking at houses in Oakville and Toronto again.

Monty has been limpy for the past year, and we assumed it was due to his right knee operation's side effects/recovery - he had his cruciate ligaments replaced with plastic and metal because he'd blown out his knee. Well, it seems that perhaps his knee problems actually originated with the significant hip dysplasia most apparent in his left hip, and that he was favouring this side, and putting extra strain on his knee.

Over the past couple of months I have had him at the vet's, picking up NSAID anti-inflammatory medications and pain-relievers for him, and been carrying him out and in from his pee and poop and sniff trips outside the building. I have not taken him for walks at Cherry Beach etc... and this has been really disappointing for us all - Monty too I think, as he will stare longingly across the road, wanting to go the park.

So on Monday morning I am driving him to the vet's, and he is going to have an X-Ray done on his hip - fully sedated and all. Based on the vet's recommendation, and subsequently a surgeon's recommendation, Monty will have the caput of his left femur excised, and he will then be able to recover - at least that's what the vet told me yesterday.

In the normal anatomy of the hip joint, the femur is connected to the pelvis at the hip joint. The almost spherical end of the femur (the caput, or caput ossis femoris for those who dig anatomy) fits into the socket of the hip joint (the acetabulum), to form a smooth joint with a wide range of leg movement, and the force of movement and walking is buffered by the joint itself, a mold made partly of cartilage into which the caput neatly fits.

In a hip suffering from dysplasia, two things are commonly abnormal. First, the caput is not deeply and tightly held by the acetabulum. Instead of being a snug fit, it is a loose fit, or a partial fit. Secondly, the caput or acetabulum are not smooth and round, but are misshapen, causing abnormal wear and tear or friction within the joint as it moves.

The body reacts to this in several ways. First, the joint itself is continually repairing itself and laying down new cartilage. However cartilage repair is a relatively slow process (the most rapid bodily repairs are often in systems with a blood flow, which cartilage lacks).

So the joint may suffer degradation due to the abnormal wear and tear, or may not support the body weight as intended. The joint becomes inflamed and a cycle of cartilage damage, inflammation and pain commences. This is a self-fueling process, in that the more the joint becomes damaged, the less able it is to resist further damage. The inflammation causes further damage. The bones of the joint may also develop osteoarthritis, visible on an X-ray as small outcrops of bone, which further degrade the joint.

The underlying deformity of the joint may get worse over time, or may remain static. A dog may have good X-rays and yet be in pain, or may have very poor X-rays and apparently almost no problems. The hip condition is only one factor to determine the extent to which dysplasia is causing pain or affecting the quality of life. In mild to moderate dysplasia it is often the secondary effects of abnormal wear and tear or arthritis, rather than dysplasia itself, which is the direct causes of visible problems.

Monty's vet is currently recommending femoral head excision. In this operation the ball portion of the hip is removed. Because arthritis develops from the ball rubbing abnormally in the socket, removing 1/2 the hip joint, and thus the bone to bone contact, relieves the pain. Once the ball is removed, a piece of muscle or joint tissue is placed between the thigh bone (femora) and the socket. This causes scar tissue to form which in turn supports the leg.

Not sure when the surgery will happen, we'll have to schedule it for the best time, but out of it all, hopefully this will allow him to return to the playful, mobile beagle who liked to go camping...

Playing with Kibble.

Playing with Garfield.

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