30 November 2008

Heads should roll, but they won't

Now that the initial pain has subsided, I have had time to get mad. I won't even bother to explain. Just read the letter. It's going in the mail tomorrow morning. I thought I was extraordinarily kind and calm considering the chain of events.

December 1, 2008

John B. Finley, DVM, Gail Sesock, DVM, Deni Benns, DVM, David M. Lane, DVM
Lakeside Veterinary Hospital
2001 Sweets Drive
Carbondale, IL

Dear Drs. Finley, Sesock, Benns, and Lane:

On Friday, November 28, 2008, my 14-year-old dog became severely ill. She was dying and obviously in extreme pain. Unfortunately, it was after hours at her regular vet, so I attempted to get her emergency veterinary care. To put it bluntly, Doctors, I wished to have my beloved pet put down to ease what was obviously a supremely painful death. I wished to give my dog a humane end to her life.

I contacted the Emergency Service number listed in the phone book under Lakeside Veterinary Hospital. The first question I was asked by the man who answered the phone had nothing to do with the nature of the emergency. I was not asked any information about my dog at all. I was asked the name of my regular vet. I told them that our regular vet is Dr. James Bates of DuQuoin, IL. I was told, quite tersely, that your emergency service would not accept clients of Dr. Bates. No explanation. End of discussion. I explained that my dog was dying and in pain. It didn't matter. I was told I could seek service at 8:30 am when your practice opened in the morning. After two more hours of whimpering and suffering, my dog died at 1 am on November 29, 2008. She got no relief from her pain. She suffered needlessly, I believe due to your supreme arrogance.

I have no idea what your beef is with Dr. Bates and I honestly don't care, but as people dedicated to the care and treatment of animals, I can't imagine any circumstances under which a professional emergency veterinary service would deny euthanasia to a dying animal in severe pain. I wasn't expecting a house call. I realize it was late. I realize it was inconvenient. I realize I should have been expected to pay top dollar for service at that hour, but I would have paid any price to alleviate even one moment of her pain.

I don't understand why I was denied service. Isn't it the very nature of "emergency service" that it should operate like an emergency room? As a treatment option of last resort? Accepting all in need? I was not rude or hysterical. I was desperate. I had no other option and you took my only hope away from me, based on what? Discrimination? Do you have some sort of problem with Dr. Bates? What if I was a person traveling with my pet? Where were your professional ethics that night? What about simple compassion for another living being?

I hope one day that you get to experience the total frustration of seeking competent, compassionate professional help to ease the suffering of a loved one and are flatly denied it. Denied it without hope of convincing them of your worth. Denied it without any explanation. Denied it without exception. On a personal level, I think your unnamed representative on the phone is an asshole. On a professional level, I intend to tell everyone I know with pets of my experience with your veterinary emergency service and by extension your veterinary practice. I hope more than anything that knowing about my experience will cause you to reconsider your discriminatory policies and encourage you to consider offering emergency treatment to all members of our community fairly and with compassion regardless of where they obtain their primary veterinary care.

No one, least of all a helpless dying animal, should be treated this way. I hope they roast in hot places with persistent painful attacks to their genitals.

29 November 2008

14 Years and 14 Days

Was all I got with my girl.

She passed away this morning. I would love to say that she went peacefully. I was unable to find an emergency vet to ease her pain. She went not so gentle into that good night. Maybe she was raging against the dying of the light.

In the end, all I could do is be with my girl. I think she wanted that. I think that gave her some comfort. Watching her life slip away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

She was a great dog, my sweet pea, and will be forever missed.

28 November 2008

I love math

I love the simplicity of it. I love the way it comes out the same way every time. In these uncertain times, it is comforting to know that math is constant.

Call me weird, but I love proofs. To wit:

Bwwwahahahahahaha. Keep that in mind this holiday season

25 November 2008

Sexism in America: Holiday Edition

Feministing had a little article on sexism in the media this morning, which reminded me about my ongoing war with Victoria's Secret. For those interested in the background, the Feministing article was a summary of this WSJ article giving examples of blatant sexism in the media during the Clinton campaign. Save yourself some time and just watch this video from the Women's Media Center aptly titled Sexism Sells But We're Not Buying It.

Look, I understand that sex sells, and the market isn't JUST for men. Women buy into the sex as well. Think men's cologne ads.

But back to Victoria's Secret. Last year at Christmas time, Victoria's Secret was sending me catalogs every 5 days. As I enjoy their products, I flipped through a few of these. In one, I found a girl dressed in a baby doll lingerie getup. The outfit itself was satin, deep blue, had fluffy white trim. Embarrassing, sure, but in and of itself, simply tacky. What was deeply disturbing and personally objectionable to me was the model they chose and they pose she struck. The model was the same one pictured above. She was kneeling on the seat of a straight back chair, bending over the back. She was shoeless. Back arched. Legs together, toes pointed toward the ceiling. I think the style was meant to represent the intersection of haute couture and high school musical innocence. Her image was blatantly stylistically sexy and decidedly underage. It was a pin up for the pedophile market. It was so bad that I wrote Victoria's Secret an email about it. Me. Little-miss-could-give-a-shit-what-people-do-in-their-bedrooms. This was just not okay and it shouldn't have been okay for anyone else IMO.

Do you doubt that a 20 yo model can be made up to look pre-teen? Take a look at this. This model is made to span 10-60 years.

But no doubt, sex sells. Fashion mags. Women buy them. Teens buy them. Ads like this appear in them regularly. We don't even flinch.

Cause God knows there is nothing I'd rather do that roll around with my legs apart with sand making its way up my hoo-ha. But make no mistake. If I could get an ass like this by drinking Cabana, I'd be downing barrels of it this afternoon. But this ad says something different to a 40 yo woman than it does to a 16 yo woman. In fact, a 40 yo woman might look wistfully at the ass, but trust me, she's gonna take one look at those shoes and say "let's see her walk in sand in those". But a 16 yo woman looks at this ad as an objective for herself. She buys into it lock, stock, and barrel. If she doesn't look like this, all is lost. A 16 yo doesn't get that NO ONE LOOKS LIKE THIS. Not even this lady, whose every blemish and dimple on that ass has been air-brushed to perfection. Of course, it means something entirely different to a male. Although, in all honesty, I think the ad screams that the woman you are with can look like this with enough alcohol in your system.

And women are not innocent here. Who do you think these ads were intended for?

Try as I might, I can't find anything inherently wrong with this ad. I mean, he isn't doing anything inherently sexual. He just IS sexy. But really, someone needs to tell the advertising business that banana hammocks haven't been sexy since 1972.

That' s just WRONG. I think what bothers me most about this ad is the idea that bad fashion as gone international.

I think the question becomes, as it was for me with the Victoria's Secret ad last year, who is the intended audience for these ads? I think largely it is teenagers and very young adults. Teenagers buy Calvin Klein boxers and Victoria's Secret PINK lines. And that I find terribly disturbing. That young girls are taught that their value lies in straddling that thin line between innocence and slut. That men are taught their entire sexuality should lie in a perfect body. If you aren't a show-er, you better be a grower. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

If sexism sells and we don't like it, why are we buying it for our kids? If I was a parent, my child wouldn't be stepping foot inside a VS, and I certainly wouldn't be buying them a gift card there either. Good thing, I guess, that I'm childless.

24 November 2008

Is this okay with you?

From IRC.
A January 2008 IRC survey found that 5,400,000 people have died from war-related causes in Congo since 1998 – the world’s deadliest documented conflict since WW II. The vast majority died from non-violent causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition—easily preventable and treatable conditions when people have access to health care and nutritious food.

That's 5.4 million. People. Not people dying from the violence of war--although the violence of war in the DRC is bad enough--that's the majority of people dying from a lack of mosquito nets, simple antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, and hunger. That's a rate 57 X normal for sub-Saharan Africa. How does this happen when the fighting between rival ethnic groups stopped in earnest in 2002? It happens because the infrastructure responsible for moving food, medicines, and goods around the country has been disrupted. Health care is virtually non-existant in the Congo. The government is either facilitating the disruption or incapable of overcoming it. Aid workers are not safe in country. The Congolese, less so. The fact that this continues, that each month another 45,000 people suffer a similar fate, is is a blight on our human existence.

In the Congo, death is the norm and it is everywhere.

There is a vastly interesting and devastatingly pitiful report, Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: An Ongoing Crisis.

I was introduced to the Democratic Republic of Congo through Brookfield Zoo, which highlights some of the endemic wildlife of DR Congo in its collection. My introduction to the people and culture of the Congo was first through public presentations at the zoo. Dance troupes, music, you know, the same cultural exposure that constitutes the totality of contact that most Americans will ever get with actual Africans. And the misfortune of such presentations is that most people walk away never having met or spoken with the performers and think that this is how everyone dresses and every night is a tribal dance around a camp fire as natives lift their ignorant voices skyward in deference to a pagan god before they retire to their mud and straw huts.

Wacongo Dance Company

I saw something else. Ok, I should explain that I'm not a dancer. I don't particularly like dance. I don't get dance. Dancing is something you do on a date because you have to. I find no personal joy in moving to music and looking silly. And trust me, I do look silly. I have no rhythm. I have no sense of my body. I am a white girl. An American. A southerner. The trifecta of bad dance moves. Second to last on the list, slightly better than white and British. Of course, that may have something to do with the stick they insert up their collective posteriors, but I digress. But watching Congolese dancers, I saw what people say they enjoy about dancing. I saw the most remarkable fluidity of human movement and it captivated me. It is happy. It is right. It makes me smile.

A group of Congolese wildlife officials, something akin to our national park workers, came to advise the zoo on the design of the exhibit and its signage. They were two men in their mid-30s. They were charged by whatever central government still remained with protecting the DRC's wildlife. It was in the middle of the civil war and they spoke of how rebel forces would drop soldiers into the rainforest with no supplies. Only guns and ammunition. They were expected to clothe and feed themselves. These officers spoke of how they literally stood between the barrel of a gun and the wildlife...between a soldier and a meal.

I thought to myself of the remarkableness of this. Would I have the bravery to stare down the barrel of a gun over my job? Would I have the diplomacy necessary to dissuade a hungry soldier from filling his empty belly? Would I be willing to put my life in danger every single day in the worst of conditions? Would I do all this knowing that there was no paycheck coming from a government about to fall? Would I do what these men were doing? And at the end of the day, would I be able to smile and laugh and dance?

Because dance they did. That afternoon, a Congolese dance troupe performed on the main plaza at the zoo--part of the pre-opening advertising for the new exhibit. Lest any of us doubted the authenticity of their performance, those gentlemen who had told me their incredible story joined those dancers in the middle of their performance. They moved in sync with the dancers. They transformed from biologist to what....honestly, I just don't understand why I don't have this ability. To move. To express myself physically. I realized that day that not only was I white, American, and southern, but that my ancestors had lost something precious. They had lost the ability to express themselves with their bodies. There is nothing that I envy more than the ability to do this.

Is it possible to fall in love with a place you've never been and it's people that you have never met?To celebrate a culture and a nation, no matter its politics and no matter its difficulties? I admire a country that produces men who will stand up to guns to save animals and a people that dance when death settles in for the long haul. To say the least, the DRC is on my life list. And that is why a little part of my cries for the horror that these children suffer. I don't know what to do to help the DRC. I don't know what to do to solve their incredible problems.

But I refuse to ignore that there is a form of genocide underway there. And that is better than nothing, isn't it?

Why Being Single Sucks

Liv wrote a lovely post about camping. She took it down or the post is otherwise gone AWOL, so I can't link to it, but it did show up in my reader. It was a great post. She should repost it IMO.

Anyhoo, there was a pic in there of her camp mates. Boy-girl, boy-girl, boy-girl. Even if boy-girl aren't exactly the sort of key-and-lock boy-girl parts type relationship, I did notice it. And I thought how I was talking about going on that trip. It'd've been boy-girl, boy-girl, boy-girl, girl. And being that last girl is sometimes just ugh.

Here's the thing about being single. You notice things like everyone else on a trip having a partner. Take camping. Now the obvious lack of a partner can be alleviated somewhat when one has dog in tow, especially if that dog is particularly popular, but when one has old dogs that must stay home, they do the single person no good. And so there is the pitching of the tent alone. And the organizing of dinner alone. And the single camp chair. When it's daylight it is hardly noticeable. And then there's the whole thing at the end of the night just before tent-time when the talk dies down and the couples move their camp chairs a little closer and then all toddle off to their tents with their partners, hand in hand.

About then, I'm usually opening another beer and trying to act like I'm intensely interested in the state of the fire. There's a lot of "no, no, you go on, I'll take care of this" kind of thing. It's been this way a long time. I have been single a long time now. I keep meeting people who don't share my interests. And I refuse to stop doing the things I enjoy just because I'm single, but I am tired of camping alone.

I had a date with Curtis on Saturday. Yes, I agreed to see him after all that pseudonym business. He likes riding go-carts and bowling. His idea of a great vacation is puttering around on a cruise ship, only stepping off to explore one sandy beach after another. I think my opinion of sand has been well documented. He hasn't been fishing since he was a kid. He's never been camping as an adult.

*deep sigh*

I am really tired of camping alone.

23 November 2008

My Dream Bath

I may have told you about my shower. It's a corner shower. Looks something like this.
Except that I have carpet in the bathroom. I know. And I agree. What isn't pictured is the shower actually in use. Let me give you a run down of the corner shower experience. The shower head is so low, if you are taller than 5'6", you knock yourself in the head with it. When you attempt to wash your back, your elbow hits the door, which swings open and water goes all over the floor. Don't even think about bending over, because then your butt opens the door and your back acts as a springboard for water to jettison directly into the center of the room. Oh, and did I mention I have CARPET in my bathroom?I'd like to shake my fist at the brainiac that came up with that idea.

The thing that is so bad about this corner shower deal is that corner showers are designed for small bathrooms. Mine is NOT a small bathroom. It is nearly as big as my bedroom. Granted, my bedroom is small, but relatively speaking, that is a giant bathroom. I have a full sized clothes closet and a linen closet in there. I have a fairly large sink base cabinet, a good bit of unencumbered wall space, a toilet with plenty of elbow room and this measly corner shower. Let's just say, I'm not hurting for room. So why in all this space, I've got a stinking 36" corner shower is beyond me.

But it is not beyond my vision for the future. A few weeks ago, my dear friends at Lowe's sent me some coupons for a "project starter". In all, $35.00. I was in a hurry to spend them because I actually found someone, who, for reasons unknown to me, has both 1) a truck, and 2) a willingness to help me out with it. And when you find someone that gullible friendly, you have to jump on that puppy and ride because you never known when your fickle friends are going to toss them back into the pond and leave you all truckless and longing for the dream bath that got away.

So today, I hoodwinked D-pal D-ennis into doing a little home delivery from Lowe's. It's true. I laid out my treasure on his bed and made good use of his power train. Ok, enough with the double entendre. Daktari has begun another massive bathroom remodeling project without having first finished the current project. But we can no talk about that now. Because look! Avert your eyes from the pantry with no cabinet doors and feast your eyes on the vision that is:

Daktari's dream bath.

(I think at this point, pink My Little Ponies are supposed to gallop across a rainbow sky with red, blue and purple stars cascading from their pink silken manes.)

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Isn't it lovely? 48" of elbow-stretching room. Shelves for all my girly stuff. Nice little Greek column details so that I can feel all Architectural Digest. Can't you just imagine me dancing around under the water cascading from my new shiny chrome shower head? The one that no longer knocks me in the head. Ok, scratch that image. I'm not kidding. Right now you little perv.

You're still thinking about it, aren't you?

God, you are just sick.

Anyway, anyone who wants to come help with the remodel project, can sign up now. There are plenty of wonderful learning opportunities available for the industrious graduate student seeking construction skills. There's plumbing, electrical, tile work, framing, drywall, and the very very very best part: demo! There's tearing down old shower stalls and icky shower doors and pulling up shower pans and ripping out carpet! Think of the glamour! Think of the broken fingernails! Get out your frustrations! And remember: it's low-cholesterol and heart healthy!

Trust me. Remodels can be fun. How much fun? This is my second remodel on this bathroom in only 5 years. And maybe as part of this remodel, I'll finally get the ceiling fan installed. In any event, I work on the premise that the more money you spend up front on a project, the more likely you are to finish it in a timely manner. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

And reallly. You have to stop thinking about me nekkid in the shower. It's not good for either of us.

Why I've Broken Up with iTunes

Ok, I admit it. I was sucked in. I liked the idea of being able to sample new music types and new artists for a mere 99 cents. I had an iPod. Everything is working fine. Just when I thought everything was going right in my love affair, I get this nagging feeling. I hear whispers. And now, I'm face-to-face with the hard facts. I've been duped. Betrayed. I was so blind.

It's this MP3, MP4, ACC, Digital Rights Management bullshit. Call me American, but I don't like the idea of being told by a company that I have to buy their products until the end of time if I don't want my purchases to have all been in vein. Vein? Vain? Vane? Well, shit. Wasted. Neither do I want to rip roughly 500 songs to an audio CD only to reload them into my computer in MP3 format.

It's Apple yanking me around by the short hairs. Plain. And. Simple.

Oh, they were smooth with their all-in-one package deals. Ok, they raised my eyebrows with their "exclusive to iTunes" business. I mean, what artist would limit themselves to one sales outlet? But when I realized that I cannot purchase any other portable music player other than iPod, it was over. I'm done with iTunes. When my iPod bites the dust, I'll be purchasing a replacement portable music player that is something other than iPod. And on that day, I hope that some brilliant software upstart has figured out a way for me to convert all my music without that burn-reload-reformat procedure. Because I will gladly pay the difference betweeen an off-brand music player and an iPod just to be done with that bastard lover. Oh yes, Daktari is pretty pissed about the whole deal.

Apple can bite me. And not in the way they already have.

22 November 2008

Sagittarius and the House of Rock

From those astrological wizards over at MSN. I've bolded everything that describes me accurately and left snarky comments in italics on everything else.

Sagittarius Fun Facts

Inquisitive and energetic, the Sagittarius is the traveler of the Zodiac (i.e., on the lam). Their philosophical, broad-minded approach to life motivates them to wander far and wide in the search for the meaning of life (Oh great! Now I'm that freaky hippy co-worker that talks about stuff no one understands but curiously always involves moving to Seattle. But none of it belies that I have no plan and drift from job to job).

, optimistic, and enthusiastic, it can be almost impossible to keep the Sagittarius down (i.e., better eat your Wheaties if you want to hang out). They love change (dimes, quarters, nickles, it doesn't matter). In fact, change is essential for this sign to feel their best (so don't get too comfortable because you aren't going to be around long enough to bring a toothbrush over).

Friends and Family

Whether it's stimulating conversation or a hike through the mountains (both are equally as exhausting with a Sagittarian), you can expect this sign to be surrounded by friends. Sagittarians are a ton of fun and downright wacky at times (which means, expect to bear the brunt of practical jokes and be ready to laugh at fart noises). They love to laugh and to get everyone around them going. Sagittarians make friends from around the globe (usually through internet dating sites, particularly folks from Ghana and Nigeria) , enjoying the various takes on life and culture (doesn't say much about other folks strange sexual habits). They're generous and are not ones to hold a grudge (easy come, easy go). Anyone who can sit a spell and talk about the deeper things in life will suit a Sagittarius just fine (And if they can't find one, they will pay a therapist to listen to their crap for HOURS. Save them the trouble, ask them for the money up front). They make friends easily and remain steadfast through the years. When it comes to family, the Sagittarius is dedicated and willing to do just about anything. Freedom and independence are extremely important for this outgoing sign. Providing these traits aren't infringed upon, all relationships go well.

Career and Money

Visualization is the keyword for the Sagittarius (Visualization?? Is this like the Power of Positive Thinking?). When this sign sees something as possible in their minds, they will go to great lengths to rally enough people to make it happen. Straightforward, they don't usually mince words (e.g., open mouth, insert foot) about what they want, and they seem to know exactly what needs to be said in a given situation. (Unfortunately, they will most often say something else.) They make excellent salespeople, and it's even better when this involves travel (so when customers want their money back, a Sagittarian is long gone). When the Sagittarius gets a sense of the big picture, they'll work night and day to reach a goal.

A variety of tasks and a dynamic atmosphere favor Sagittarians. Careers such as travel agent, photographer, explorer, artist, realtors, ambassador, and import/export trader all suit this free-spirited personality (Yes, I have always wanted to be an import/export trader).

Fun loving Sagittarians enjoy making - and spending - money. Considered the luckiest sign of the Zodiac, they don't worry too much about where the next buck is coming from (Wrong. Dead wrong. I've woken up in the night with sweats at the size of my student loans). Sagittarians are risk-takers and highly optimistic, trusting in the universe to provide what is needed. Money-management tasks will bore the Sagittarius to tears (a necessary evil), so getting a bookkeeper or accountant is the best plan in order to stay on top of what's coming and going.

Love and Sex

Sagittarians are playful and love to have fun with their lovers. Passionate, expressive, and willing to try just about anything, partners who are equally outgoing are best suited to the Sagittarius (and I do mean anything, big boy.... mrrrrrrreowwwrrr). There's a fine line between sex and love for this sign (Sex is fine. Love is fine. I'd have to agree here). Their love of change and variety can bring a lot of different faces to the bedroom. (Ok, just how many is a LOT?) But when it comes to love, that's an entirely different thing. Once taken (what the hell does THAT mean?), the Sagittarian is loyal, true-blue, and devoted. Mates for this sign need to be intellectual, sensitive, and expressive for the best results. As the key phrase for this sign is I understand, having a good sense of how their partner thinks is quite important. (Ok, but I *don't* understand that getting "taken" remark.)


Each sign has a part of the anatomy attached to it, making this the area of the body that is most sensitive to stimulation. The anatomical areas for Sagittarius are the hips, thighs, and upper legs. (chick-a-bow-wow)

Ruling Planet
The ruling planet for Sagittarius is Jupiter. Considered the luckiest of planets, it rules wealth, leisure time, big business, the higher mind, optimism, growth, morality, prosperity, indulgence, long-distance travel, aspirations, sports, and fondness for animals. (Have suitcase, will travel at the drop of a hat, and usually take the dogs.)

The color of choice for Sagittarius is rich purple. (Keep that in mind if you want to buy me a Cadillac. Can ya dig it?)

Sagittarius's star stone is the topaz. (Wrong. It's sapphires. Pink sapphires. Or turquoise. Preferrably in a sterling setting. Don't forget. My birthday's coming up. )

Lucky Numbers
Sagittarius' lucky numbers are 3, 5, and 8. (Umm, not even close.)

Sagittarians are most compatible with Leo and Aries. (Not if those Aries include my mother and sister.)

Opposite Sign
The opposite sign for Sagittarius is Gemini. (And I thought it was Yield.)

The Perfect Gift
The best gifts for a Sagittarius are pet-related items or something for the outdoors. (or better still....something for me)

Travel, being outdoors, freedom, philosophy (also world peace and Denzel Washington)

Details, being constrained, off-the-wall theories, clingy people (ex-husbands, mushrooms, most Indian food)

Natural sign of the Ninth House. This house focuses on religion, philosophy, super-conscious mind, long trips, laws, and in-laws. (It's actually the house of rock)

Famous Sagittarians
Steven Spielberg, Mark Twain, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, Christina Applegate, and Daktari

Best Travel Destinations
South Africa, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Toronto, Naples (and just about anywhere in Utah)

Great sense of humor, idealistic, generous

Will say anything no matter how undiplomatic (yeah, there's that), promises more than can deliver (ok, and that), can be impatient to the point of rudeness (aka: doesn't tolerate stupid well)

Charismatic marks
Open and interested. Generally tall, strong legs (and pretty fantasitc calves). Clothes for comfort, not style (hey! That's hardly fair. I'm pretty damn stylish for a systematist-ecologist-botanist type who "sandwich beezleday"). Women act in a “tomboy” manner. (Geez, you play with green army men ONE FREAKIN TIME and you are branded for life.)

Best environment
Outside, on the move (alternatively, in bed)

They Wanna Make a Big Star Outta Me

This is my big debut! Do I look a skeert of Bigfoot?

My Life on a Table

Early Birthday and Doggie Play Dates

So I like to go to Red Lobster for my birthday. And since, of course, December birthday's suck, we have to go early, because you can't get near a Red Lobster in the month of December.

So we went and had lots of good food with doggie bags left over.

Bek stayed the night and Dixie and Jake had big fun playing. Nevada was not so thrilled about the whole sleep over deal. I do want to mention that Nevada has developed the mistaken impression that if she doesn't look at Dixie then either: A) Dixie doesn't exit, or B) Dixie can't see her.

In any event, it is funny to see her face the wall in the kitchen or stare at a chair to prevent her from actually looking at Dixie.

21 November 2008

Coming to Terms with a Paradigm Shift

We've all heard about it. Read about it in history books. When events and people and ideas so extraordinary present themselves that the very way that we look at the world gets turned on its head. We've also read of the people who failed to embrace the change and clung desperately to the status quo, only to be left behind. Those who have seen the end of civilization in everything from women's suffrage, cheap, reliable birth control, and equal rights, to television, rock music, and TV dinners . We feel sorry for these people, but realize their efforts to impose threats of moral and religious wrath or the unraveling of the social fabric are as futile as trying to hold back water.

We've all read about it, but not everyone has experienced it.

Ideas have revolutionized our world. Think printing press. Automobile. Electricity. Mass agriculture. Antibiotics. Mass computing. Some were integrated into society easily, naturally, and with little fanfare. Others may have seemed more entertainment or curiosity but became integral to an evolving human environment. Others still, were so valuable that their widespread acquisition and use were hailed as birthright.

In the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s, scientists and engineers were hailed as national heroes. The innovations that came out of places like NASA and Bell Labs motivated a generation of young men (and fewer women) to cash in their GI Bills and pursue undergraduate degrees in great numbers. Possibly seeking escape from the cold war, or possibly motivated by it, this country created a cadre of highly educated, optimistic , and young upstarts like the minds behind Microsoft and Apple. And then something happened.

The point moved from professional success and innovation to acquiring all the trappings of wealth and comfort of the "middle class". The pursuit of paper replaced the pursuit of durable goods. There was no vision for the future of America other than making more money. The 80s were hailed as the most decadent decade. Wealth was the objective. Wealth at any cost. And wealth was to be achieved not through innovation and ideas, but through business. More specifically, through Wall Street.

The trappings of a sound economy, for reasons that I surely don't understand, were able to sustain the two and a half decades of rape and plunder perpetrated by the MBAs of the world. Money was diverted from research and development to chasing more and more paper. To building up false armies against non-existent enemies in space. Our sense of entitlement lacked any sense of humility. Our ability to waste money was without peer. Our inability to see the shadow we cast was extraordinary. At a time when science was coming up with ideas that would revolutionize the way we look at the world, we couldn't see past the tips of our collective noses.

My father was a chemist and an extraordinary man. If there is one thing though, that I thank my father for it was instilling in me a sense of personal responsibility and the idea that ideas are fascinating things. When my father would talk about his work, sometimes he would just sparkle. I didn't understand it at the time. His work as a chemist really didn't interest me. But the idea that ideas were fascinating did.

I am a scientist. Well, at least I am training to be a scientist. I am surrounded by brilliant people with plausible ideas just begging for money to give them a try. Money cannot be found. In today's world, we are all feeling the pinch. But the thing that concerns me more is that in the days when money flowed like water, when the economy was at its height, when the average American had cash to burn on hot tubs and dinners out and pet chinchillas, research dollars for new ideas could not be found. For decades, a few insightful individuals have decried the end of innovation. I think our failure to hear their cries have landed us squarely in the place we are now.

The exciting thing is that everything has changed. The bad thing is that everything has changed.

Taken individually, bits and pieces of the economy seem an overwhelming mess. The Big Three automakers coming to Washington with their hands out. The house of cards that is Wall Street already benefitting from the largess of an old-school government bent on keeping the status quo.

They might as well be trying to hold back water.

I predict that now is a time when everything comes together to change the way we look at the world. To change the way we approach the future. Now. It's right now.

With a h/t to Dickens, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

Change is not going to come without pain. Change isn't going to be great for everyone in the short term. And those who only have the short term on which to live are going to be hurt the most. Those who are reluctant to change under the best of circumstances are going to be particularly hard hit now. I know people *cough*Alvin*cough, who can't be motivated to get up off their couch for virtually any reason. They are comfortable where they are. They were happy with the way things were. Those people are going to feel mighty uncomfortable for a very long time. Some of them will get left behind. I can't change that anymore than I can hold back water.

At the beginning of this year, I had a retirement fund worth nearly $30K. I believe it is worth about $9K now. My IRA is worthless. I honestly am not that concerned about it. After all, 30K wasn't enough to worry about. I wasn't going to be able to consider retirement on the strength of that account anyway. My brother, on the other hand, is pissed as hell at the devaluation of his retirment fund. He believed he DID have the funds to consider a comfortable retirement on the basis of his investments.

It is time for retooling our thinking about our lives. Idle time is a luxury and perhaps the loss of that is the price we pay for living in such exciting times.

Everything is coming together to demand change. The economy has tanked. The bottom fell out of the paper basket we carried our retirment dollars home in. Our government has tanked on a failed and outdated idea that 20th century oil is the answer to 21st century problems. Our society has failed on the idea that we can squash equality by agreement of the slimmest of majorities.

Say goodbye to Robert Byrd. Say goodbye to Ted Stevens. To John Dingell. To Rush Limbaugh. To stay the course. To Wall Street largess. To MBAs. To outsourced jobs. To calling up American companies and getting decidedly Indian accents. It's a new world.

I predict the reinvestment in American research and development. I predict a reinvestment in America's manufacturing arena. I predict that America, rather than outsource our ideas, our services, and our products will come to embrace those things that are imperative to regain a leadership role as a political and economic powerhouse in the future.

I predict that America will invest in exactly those sorts of technology that hold the greatest promise to our collective future. I think there is no place on earth more capable of leading this change that right here in America. No other place but the world's oldest democracy and the world's youngest visionary could such a revolution take place.

Oh things are gonna change. Its a great time to be alive. Mark my words. Obama is just the tip of the iceberg. This kind of change is going to make the Segway look like a carny trick.

But if America doesn't, if the old guard prevails, the water will find its way downhill. I for one will ride the wave wheverever it leads. Because unless America embraces the best we have to offer, she isn't worthy of it either.

18 November 2008

Today we are going to play "I Don't F***king Believe It"

I was supposed to have a date last Saturday. It was postponed. I'm actually thankful that it was. Curtis, the gentleman that I canvassed with on the Obama campaign, called me several times, certainly expressing sufficient interest. He sent several emails. Turns out he is living with a woman that "used" to be his girlfriend. Wait! Wait! She is dating someone else. He's met her boyfriend. They just haven't sold the property they own together. He wasn't much motivated to move out on his own and then "poof" he met me.

He can only check his email once every couple of days. He doesn't have an internet connection at home. Hmmmm.

As we were only a first name basis while canvassing, I asked for his last name during the course of our phone conversation. He said his name was Mayfield. I laughed. Curtis Mayfield. I asked him if he was Superfly. Today, when he called with a new cell phone number (??!!!??), he admitted that his name wasn't Mayfield. That was a big joke (at my expense apparently). He signed his text message: Charlie Brown--his nickname apparently. But here's the kicker, when I asked him what his real name is he said he would tell me on Saturday when we met for our date. He wanted to tell me while he was looking in my eyes.

Ummmm. First. That just sounds creepy. Second. Do I have MORON tattooed on my forehead? Thinks I'm going to meet someone who can't even tell me his f***king name?

Step up to the wheel, Curtis....if that is your real name, and take a spin because I DON'T F**king believe it. Let me explain how this looks to the average woman my age who has been around long enough to see it all.

  1. You are either married or living with someone and shopping around. You may or may not be willing to leave the wife/girlfriend, it probably depends on how much money she makes and how often she is willing to put out.
  2. The new phone is the price of having an affair and keeping said wife/girlfriend in the dark.
  3. You can't check your email at home because the computer keeps a record of your internet history and I'll bet your wife/girlfriend isn't stupid. I bet you learned this lesson the hard way.
  4. The lack of a last name is to either prevent the other woman (me) from doing a background check on you (and oh yes, Curtis, we do background checks), or to prevent us from calling up the wife and innocently asking to speak with you. My, wouldn't that be inconvenient for you.
Is it possible I am wrong? Yes. Is it probable? Not likely. Honestly, sometimes I could just cry.

Poltiical Chuckles

Liked this so much, I wanted to share it. From Richard Valeriani over on Huffington.

NOV. 17, 2008, NEWS UPDATE

Barack Obama goes to White House to see George W. Bush. President-Elect meets President-Reject.

Bush told Obama that John McCain said Obama didn't need to see the Oval Office because Obama had already measured it for drapes during the campaign.

Afterward, Obama said "We only have one President at a time." Stock Market plunges another few hundred points.

Two days later, Joe Biden meets with Dick Cheney. Took him that long to find the bunker.

New book, "Angler, The Cheney Vice Presidency" published. Reviewer writes, "...Cheney doesn't seem as bad as you might think. He's even worse."

Bush observes Veterans' Day by visiting refurbished aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a museum in New York City. Wonders if he could have actually landed on one of these things if he'd really served in the Alabama National Air Guard.

Cheney observes Veterans' Day by laying a deferment at Tomb of the Unknowns.

Leaders of world's most powerful countries hold summit in Washington to discuss global economic crisis. Main theme of meeting: Waiting for Barack.

In advance of summit, Bush speechifies that "the crisis was not a failure of the free market system." Right. It was a failure of high-priced bozos who had too much freedom in a free market system.

Bush hosts White House dinner for world leaders. Menu includes crow for appetizer, roasted breast of lame duck as main course and humble pie for dessert. Beverage of choice was Kool Aid.

Obama staffing his administration. Potential hires required to fill out detailed 63-page questionnaire. So, if you smoke, bite your nails, wet the bed, drink Jack Daniels with Coke, watch "The View" regularly or voted for Joe Lieberman, you're out.

Obama says one of his top priorities is to get Osama bin Laden. Dead or Alive? Here we go again.

By the way, what about Michael Bloomberg for Treasury Secretary? With the understanding, of course, that it's not a lifetime job.

Obama's favorite foods said to be chili, Mexican food and pizza. White House chef said to be looking for another job.

Obama also said to like spinach and broccoli. Oh please, that's taking image-building a bit too far.

CNN commentator refers to Obama caravan of SUV's traveling "OJ-style." Sounds more like Fox.

AIG gets more billions of federal bailout money. Original request failed to include budget for Christmas Party.

Automakers go to Washington to beg for bailout money, but Republican lawmakers throw up impassable roadblock. They also just throw up.

What about former General Motors CEO Charlie Wilson's observation that what's good for GM is good for the country? Problem is that GM now stands for Gross Mismanagement. Where's Lee Iacocca when we need him?

The real need for bailout in Detroit is 0-10 Detroit Lions.

American Express declares itself a bank so it, too, can feed at the federal trough. Can I do that? I once tried declaring myself a movie so I would never have to show a profit and therefore never pay taxes, but that didn't work.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, 84, replaces Sen. Robert Byrd, 90, as Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee. Who does the committee think it is, the Mormon Church?

McDonald's is "lovin' it" with profits up. Starbucks is losin' it with profits way down. That tells you what you already know about this economy.

Living Sustainably

I think that as biologists, my peers and I struggle with the knowledge of human impacts on the Earth and a desire to live sustainably in the realities of a modern civilization. As biologists, we are probably more likely to seek out environmentally friendly purchasing options, but like everyone else we let a lot of our consumption slide beneath the radar.

Packaging. Imports. Durability. Quality. Disposal. Pollution. Human rights. It seems to me that these are some of the issues of which we need to be cognizant in our purchases. And in my case, there are also the issues of poverty and obsessive-compulsiveness to balance.

I've been giving this some thought lately and there are a few changes that I need to implement in my lifestyle to meet my objectives of reducing my impact.

1. Drive less. I live a constant distance from work. That can't be altered. I'm in the boonies, so carpooling isn't feasible. On the upside, the high gasoline prices earlier this year "broke" me of the habit of hopping in a car whenever the spirit moved me. I used to visit my family twice a year. Now I go once a year or less. However, lower gas prices might encourage me to drive more. I must remain vigilant.

2. Buy less. This is helped a great deal by poverty and Jake-ownership. I have learned the hard way about replacing things Jake is prone to tear up. Can anyone say window blinds? However, I do have the issue of O-C behavior that sometimes causes me to become fixated on a product, which I purchase beyond my needs(food, shampoo, socks, and t-shirts). However, I can discipline myself. I know this is going to be a difficult one to stick to, but my objective is this: If I can't afford it right now AND I can't start using it right now, I can't buy it right now. Even if it's a great deal. Even if it's on clearance.

3. Buy smart or don't buy at all. I have a lot of things that are not very valuable. My furniture includes a 12 -year old futon, a 20-year-old coffee table, a hand-me down sofa-bed, a 15-year-old recliner, a hand-me-down upholstered chair that was liberated from Bek's old apartment. I think that chair was on her front porch when she moved in. I have two antique dressers, a 10-yo king-size bed, and a new breakfast table. I have a series of three shelves that I have hacked to make a tv stand for a tv I seldom watch. None of it matches. This used to bother me. It doesn't anymore. They are functional. But in the future, when I buy durable goods, I will do so with an eye toward quality and durability. No more crappy furniture or appliances. No more temporary shelving to hold crap I don't use. Which brings us to.....

4. Downscale my belongings. I just sold my dining room suite that seated 12 and replaced it with a breakfast bar that seats 4. It was the best thing I have done in years. It opened up space to move in my house. I should be doing this elsewhere in my house. Every time I move, I have boxes I never unpack. My brain tells me that if I haven't opened a box in 5 years, I should just not open it and take it directly to Goodwill. My fear is that they are full of "heirlooms". In reality, they are probably full of crap. I need to get organized and sell or give away the things I don't or won't use again. No longer will I devote space, time and energy to maintaining and storing things I don't use.

5. Clothes. Clothes demand their own category. I have winter clothes that are only appropriate for Chicago. These are quality clothes and I'm not getting rid of them in case I move back or move to northern climates. Ok, maybe I'm living in denial, but these are good clothes bought when I had money to invest in quality clothing. But I have a lot of other junk that is crap. I have clothes that don't fit. Two sizes too big or two sizes too small. Clothes that I might wear when and if I, oh let's say I ever get asked to go to the opera. I can only wear so many clothes in a week. If I don't wear it, I'm gonna sell it or give it away. I did this a few years ago and cleaned out quite a bit of stuff. Still, I couldn't manage to get rid of some of it and it remains there, back in the back of the closet, waiting for it's turn in the sun. This process, however, did have a bonus: I started wearing clothes that I normally wouldn't, and Bek noticed that I was beginning to dress "nicer". I think that was a compliment. :\ In any event, I am going to get a handle on the clothing situation so that it is manageable within my living space.

6. Buy quality only when durability, comfort, or safety are considerations (home repairs, furniture, automobiles, work boots, shoes, dress and winter clothes), otherwise go as cheap as possible. Realistically, I think clothing should be expected to last 5 years with daily wearing and weekly washing--socks and underwear excluded. Dress shoes should last 15. Tennis shoes should last 1 year. Over the years, I've begun doing most of my clothes shopping at discount stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart. I'm going to start doing most of my clothes shopping at Goodwill, especially for field clothes. I've gotten great compliments on some of the stuff I've managed to pick up in there.

7. Buy local when feasible. Buy used as often as possible.

8. Buy with an eye to wasteful packaging and disposal.

9. Stop buying on credit. This was harder when gas prices were high--I did have to get to work and back. Even then, I attempted to alter my work schedule so that I could work from home 2-3 days a week.

10. Buy things that can be reused and recycled. No more plastic water bottles. No more one-time-use batteries. Although I am torn. Should I buy in glass bottles and reuse them for storage or buy in plastic and recycle? Any thoughts?

11. Set up some sort of scheme to exchange items among friends and peers. I think I'll start with our listserv.

12. Start finding free things to do with my friends. Hikes. Camping. DVD night complete with popcorn and juju beans. My social life does not have to revolve around the cinema, the bar, and restaurants. Nor does every get together have to be a "party". Sometimes, we can just hang out. How about a host-revolving "game night"? It can be poker. It can be Cranium. Want to spend time with a boyfriend who wants to spend time with his friends? Why not bring your friends and his friends together? Besides, who doesn't need more friends? Who's in?

15 November 2008

Discrimination is Legalized

I'm just going to say it: Prop 8 legalized discrimination. Plain. and. simple.

I am not gay. I don't much concern myself with what people do in their bedrooms and with whom. In fact, I go to great lengths NOT to think about what other people do in their bedrooms and with whom. I am also not religious. I don't much concern myself with what people do in their churchs, synagogs, tabernacles, and mosques. I don't much bother to learn about the entity to whom they whisper their greatest desires, on whom they thrust their most wearisome burdens, and in whose essence they seek their solace. I seek my solace in alcohol, yard work, and great dogs.

But I have been married. I was not making a religious statement by that choice. And that makes an important point. Marriage is not a religious invention. It is not the exclusive provenance of people of faith. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can walk over to any courthouse and marry Mary, Stella, or Pam. A great deal of a marriage is the social and cultural statement you make to people around you. To imply that matrimony is a Holy bond between man, woman and God is total poppycock.

There, I said it. Poppycock.

Marriage between a man a women and God is a dysfunctional three-way, but if that's your gig, own it. Just sell crazy somewhere else, because America ain't about one belief system getting to make all the rules.

Why? Because I do not play by your rules. That's right. I don't believe what you believe. In fact, not only do I not believe what you believe, I don't give a flying fig what you believe. Your rules do not apply to me. I reject them forthwith. Be gone with them.

And this is how it should be. This is America. This is the way of democracy.

Over on Huffington Post, Dan Agin wrote a cogent piece on the relationship between religion, politics and democracy that I think sums it up quite nicely. Read it. Seriously. It's short.

The fact that the LDS and the Catholics made gay marriage a banner issue in this election is, quite simply a level of heavy handedness by institutionalized religion in the democratic process that I am not comfortable with. I am neither Mormon nor Catholic and I do not want the Pope or the leader of the Mormon Church making the rules for America.

As Keith Olberman recently pointed out, the parents of our president-elect were prevented by law in a number of states from marrying at the time Barack Obama was born. Just because some people think imposing their views on everyone else is acceptable, doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it fair. And in cases where allowing dissent of opinion harms no one, it doesn't make sense.

If the LDS and Catholics don't want gay people to marry, they shouldn't marry them in their churches. But please, keep these religious views out of other people's lives, bedrooms, and legal contracts. One religion's views are of no concern to the people who hold conflicting views...or even hold no views at all. How dare any one group attempt to limit social and cultural bonds to only those of whom they approve? What if next they say that only Catholics should be able to marry? Would we continue to support their bigotry? Would we claim they had gone too far?

They have already gone too far.

I do not believe that Proposition 8 should even have been placed before the voters in California. Just because 50 million people can agree to discriminate against a group does not make their agreement just. Or right. Or humane. Slavery. Denying women the vote. Blacks being only 3/4 of a man. Tell me...what is the difference between any of these things that we consider blemishes on our American historical record and our legalized discrimination against people whose sexual orientation differs from our own? I think that denying equal rights to gay people is sinful. That is my belief. How dare anyone attempt to outlaw my beliefs?

Some perfectly decent, loving people among us have been denied the affirmation of their relationship that should be available to all. The right to love and have one's relationship formally accepted in our society is not a God-given right. It is not a government-given right. It is a basic human right and this country should be ashamed that it continues to deny it to anyone.

I think it's time we started being a little more humane to one another. I think it's time we stopped bitching about someone stepping on our toes and started helping other people cross the street. What California has done is not right. It should be undone as quickly as possible. I hope that the rest of our states follow suit.

Don't get me wrong. If you are Catholic or Mormon, I don't blame you personally for this anymore than I blame Catholics for the atrocities perpetrated on children by their priests. I don't agree with those who have made supporters of Proposition 8 the target of economic boycotts or protests. People have a right to support or oppose any legislation that is put before them. This legislation should never have been put before them. This legislation denies one group their human and civil rights simply because the majority do not approve of their lifestyle and vilify them for it. People have a right to spend their money however they choose. If they chose to spend it to support institutionalized discrimination, that is their right.

I am saying this: church thinking is seldom the best thinking for a democracy. Your relationship with your God is a personal thing. It has no bearing over others and should not enjoy the rule of law. In a functional democracy, we have to allow dissenting opinions and we have to acknowledge that those opinions are equally as valid as our own. We must acknowledge that there are times that our beliefs are not what is best for the country. We have to allow for our own beliefs to be wrong. Without the possibility of other opinions being superior to our own, without an understanding that our beliefs can be fallible, we are a theocracy. Without tolerance, we lose democracy. If you so threaten democracy, I will fight you to the bitter end. I choose freedom. For all.

To head back to Feministing, click here.

Celebrating My Favorite Older Lady: Canine Edition

Today, Nevada is 14 years old.

She was born on this day in 1994. That makes her, in human-equivalent years, roughly 98. Now this may not seem like any big deal, but if you consider the challenges that this little dog has faced over the years, it is pretty damn amazing. You see this really is a remarkable dog. You might even call her a miracle. And I'm going to tell you her story. It's pretty amazing. But first, in her honor, a little poem.


By A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride,
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

This is, in fact, my favorite poem. A little poem with a little message: Carpe Diem. When your companion approaches the ripe old age of 100, the lesson here is not for Nevada, but for me. So while today is my little dog's birthday, it is one of many days we will celebrate in the time we have remaining.

And this is my celebration of Nevada's life.

Nevada almost wasn't my dog. At the time, I was married and living in Riverside Lawn in the Chicago area. We had this really cool place on the river. It flooded every February, but it was pretty darn cool the rest of the time. My other dog, Dakota was about 7 and was suffering from early onset hip displaysia. She had lost interest in playing and didn't want to interact much with us. So I thought she needed a companion. So I set out to find Dakota a pet. The ex and I looked at shelters and while I did fall for a basset hound in one, the ex refused to consider it. Other than that, we didn't see any dogs that were appropriate for us.

There was a place down First Avenue that sold dogs. Most of them came from private homes. It was November and my ex and I stopped by and found a really cool lab/border collie mix and took him home. The first night the dog became very seriously ill. I suspected parvo. I took him back the next day, they said they would get him to a vet and call me to pick him up when he was better. I called several days later only to learn that the puppy had died. I suspected that they hadn't taken him to a vet at all.

Since I had paid for a dog, they suggested I come in and pick another. I went several times, but could never find anything that struck my fancy. One Saturday in January, I walked in and the place was bursting with puppies. I was looking for a border collie. They didn't have any. So I was just wandering around looking at all the pups. And I came upon a kennel in which there were 13 pups, everyone identical to the other. Twelve pups were yapping and jumping and eating soggy puppy food. In the midst of this cacophony was one pup curled up in the corner, sound asleep. It was like trying to take a nap in the middle of Union Station at rush hour. Amazing.

I took one look at that pup and said "that's the one!"

I put her in my lap. She was scarcely bigger than a stick of butter. She was so tired, she couldn't wake up.

She sat in my lap and slept for at least a half hour. You know how sometimes you just know? Well, I knew. I didn't call the ex. I just took her home. She seemed fine. She met Dakota. She wandered around a bit. But that quiet little dog that I saw in the kennel just hours earlier had big plans in store. She was just waiting. Waiting until nightfall.

That's when the howling began.

These were not just little puppy yaps. These were mournful, heart-wrenching sobs of a dog that was lost and alone and facing certain death. From a litter of thirteen pups, I plucked her half asleep and she wanted to go home. She wanted mama. She wanted the comfort and warmth of twelve wriggling, sleeping litter mates. I tried to comfort her. I tried to console her. I tried to ease her fears. She was having nothing of it. She didn't stop howling for three days. I could only look at her, shake my head and think "you fooled me". It was so bad that my neighbor put a ladder against the house to look in the windows to make sure everything was okay.

Dakota didn't know what to think of this. All in all, I don't think she thought this was a good idea. Soon enough, though, Nevada had found a mama substitute in Dakota. In fact, one of Nevada's favorite things to do was to sit on Dakota. She would straddle Dakota's behind and sit on her. Dakota had the patience of Job. She never once chased her off. Considering that Dakota had hip displaysia, I think that was pretty tolerant. They became fast friends. And Dakota did perk up again for many years.

Out in the back of our house, behind the garage, we had a fire pit. One of Nevada's favorite games was to entice Dakota to chase her around that fire pit. Until the day I die, I will remember the two of them running circles around that pit. They had run a path in the dirt. Nevada could run fast, fast, fast around that fire pit until she almost lapped Dakota. Then Dakota would change direction and Nevada would high-tail-it in the other direction. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Dakota would always run at the same speed. Like a metronome. Cautious always to never seriously threaten to catch Nevada. They loved that game.

Dakota was a world-class Frisbee dog until her hips gave out. I mean the twisty, aerobatic superdog-like-on-tv kind of Frisbee dog. So I thought I'd teach Nevada Frisbee. I tossed a Frisbee at her once. It hit her in the head. I tossed it again. Frisbee. Flinch. Head. I tried one more time. Whether Nevada intended it or whether it was amazing coincidence, she opened her mouth and t he Frisbee landed between her choppers and seemed to catch on one of her canines. She dropped it immediately. Blood poured from her mouth. Somehow, in that single game of Frisbee, Nevada had split her tongue. I never did heal back together. The split remains. Her Frisbee days were over.

Dakota got older. In January, 2000, Dakota died of liver failure at the age of 12. While Dakota could have lived out her days alone, Nevada was not a loner. Nevada was heartbroken. So was I.

Shortly after Dakota's death, my marriage failed and the ex moved out of the house. Undeterred, I sought out a companion for Nevada. A friend had gotten a dog at a border collie rescue, so I went on the site and began my search.

I couldn't find any dogs that seemed appropriate. They recommended Jake, who back then was known as Keifer. Keifer! What a name. Ugh. I didn't think he looked like much, but I agreed to meet him. He had big bat ears and a goofy look in the picture they posted. But I invited them to check us out and his foster parents drove "Keifer" down from Janesville, Wisconsin. He seemed okay. But I'll tell you what, Nevada was star struck. She had picked her companion. When Jake left she was heartbroken again. Now Jake has his own set of issues for another day, but for now we'll set those aside. Jake has been a wonderful companion to Nevada. He's allowed her to dote on him, lick his ears, his eyes, push him around, tell him who and what to attack...he's allowed Nevada to be the mother she never was. I don't think she was ever happier.

In late April 2005, Nevada became ill. She began to stumble. I took her to the vet. It was a mystery. She got very, very sick. Very sick. The vet didn't know what was wrong with her. I was trying to prepare to defend my masters thesis. I was sleeping on the floor with the dog at night, fully expecting to wake up next to a dead dog in the morning. I tried to work, unsuccessfully during the day. I was at the vet's every other day looking for an answer. I was frustrated. I watched Nevada waste away to nearly nothing. She was miserable. She couldn't walk. She had to be carried in and out of the house to relieve herself. She couldn't keep any food down. Finally, I decided she couldn't take it any longer. I asked the vet to put her down.

He talked me out of it and scolded Nevada to stop scaring me.

Two days later, he figured it out. Nevada has Addison's disease. Her adrenal glands are non-functioning. She is on lifetime hormone replacement to keep her sodium-potassium pumps running. I expected her to live six months. I think the vet thought that was being generous.

But she got better. A lot better. It was nothing short of a miracle. Oh things changed. Nevada never wanted to chase ball again. She became fixated on eating red worms in the yard. I chalked it up to a little brain damage perhaps from her health ordeal. A little bit squirrely, but still my same ol' girl.

Three years have passed since then. Nevada is fourteen years old today. I don't want to think about how much I have spent in vet bills and medicine keeping this wonderful old dog of mine alive. She has been worth every penny. Despite getting really, really old and crapping on the wheelchair ramps and waking me up in the middle of the night, she is still my girl. We've had Christmases I never thought we'd get.

Nevada has always been my rock. She's the one that used to rest her head next to me on the couch while I watched tv. The one who follows me wherever I go in the house. The one who snores so loud that sometimes I have to wake her up in the night just to make her stop. The one that reminds me it's 10 o'clock and time for biscuits. The one who gives kisses just for the asking. The one whose fur absorbs my tears in my moments of weakness and sorrow. The one who comes in the bathroom when I'm getting ready in the morning and just leans her head against my leg. The one who reminds me, in her old age, that slowing down isn't always a bad thing.

Nevada is a world-class dog and today I am thankful for every day I've shared of her 14 years.

14 November 2008

And I'm knot the only one

...who gets my panties in a knot. Proof forthwith.


See, I've been saying that deflation in the oil and gas department has everything to do with the economic slowdown and its effects directly on China and India. At last, the New York Times offers some corroboration. When Americans and Europeans no longer desire (or can afford) the largely cheap luxury goods (in the sense that we don't NEED them) that are produced in China and India, they close factories, transportation (read: export) dwindles, and global demand for fuel falls.

This is the ONLY explanation I can come up with to explain why I was able to purchase gas for $1.86 the other day.

13 November 2008


More weird and strange around the web:

So You've Decided to be Evil, after all, who hasn't considered the dark side?
You know, I have friends in Canada and not one of them is this weird. Although I am quite fond of the John Deere Zamboni.
You know, these might make getting junk mail just a little more fun.
Crap. As if my life list wasn't long enough already. Now I have to add this.
Total bee death and destruction. I'm thinking honey BBQ sauce.
More beard envy.
Food porn. One of my favorites.

Ok, enough of that.


So D-friend Bek and I went shopping tonight at the Walmarts, where we ran into Liv. Hi Liv! Anyhoo, I realized something in there. I like talking about products. Really, I think the thing is that I detest wasting money, and I'd rather solicit input, detailed if necessary, from those who can help me make informed buying decisions. And then again, I just like talking about products--what I like about them, what I don't like about them, and so forth. I think that's why I put up so many product reviews on my blog. But really, this only scratches the surface of product reviews I've done online. I can spend hours reading recipes and product reviews on web sites. So Bek does seem to enjoy going shopping with me, and she listens to me drone on and on, but she isn't very good at this game. She never takes a turn. I need a shopping partner who likes to tell me about the products they like. Geez, I just realized that I'm shopping for a shopping partner. I seriously need a life.

But that brings up an interesting point. If anyone wants to talk about products they like with me. I'm all ears. Seriously. I'm that geeky. Oh, and I'm looking for a new sleeping bag (my old new 20 degree bag did not keep me warm out west). So I'm looking for suggestions on brands, down vs. synthetic, mummy vs. rectangular, and any other two-cents-worth people are willing to toss in. Give me your suggestions and comments.


Today was a banner day in Daktariworld. Old sick dog #1 (Nevada for those in the know) ate her breakfast (with all her medicines in it) and immediately threw it back up. Then, she refused to go outside. Then, she suddenly (as if it sneaked up on her) realized she had to go RIGHT NOW and began to deposit turds across my kitchen as she made her way to the OPEN DOOR TO THE OUTSIDE. Yes, I believe I may have forgotten to mention that the door was open the whole time! Old dogs are going to be the death of me. Oh wait, I neglected to mention that Nevada has also taken to pooping on the wheelchair ramp such that at some point between my back door and my car, I managed to step in dog poop and didn't have time to go in and change my shoes, the result being that I had to teach my first class wearing only one shoe and the other left in the hallway. I know. But the answer is no. You. Can't. Be. Me. Take that, bitches!


And of course, all of this blog activity is just fodder for procrastination since I really do have to prepare a spreadsheet for my students for tomorrow. Argh. Real work sucks sometimes. I'm a little frustrated in my teaching right now. I think the problem is the lack of control I have over what goes on in class. That's the bad part of having a different teaching assignment every semester. You never get to improve the presentation/material, etc. in the class you just taught. I'ts wasted experience.

Well, not completely wasted experience. I've realized a couple of important things for the future. Labs should support and demonstrate concepts given in class, not introduce new concepts. Labs should ALWAYS have a defined objective. Labs should be designed to be virtually fail-proof. If someone walks away from a lab and isn't sure about what they were seeing/were supposed to see, or simply doesn't see it, that lab was a failure. Labs should not frustrate the students to the point of tears. Labs should be fun when possible.


I am bad with names. No. I take that back. I'm attrocious, horrendous, unbelievably incompetent, and pathetic when it comes to remembering people's names. It's an embarassment to myself and my advisors. So teaching presents a particularly difficult challenge to me. I tried something new this year and it made a world of difference. On the first day of class, I asked every student to stand up, state their name and tell the class the most interesting thing about themselves. I then repeated their name and made some comment on their point of interest. Then as each row of students finished, I repeated the name/interesting factoid of all the students who had introduced themselves already. I will admit that the combos of John/Brainiac (he mentioned he had a brain tumor) and Richie/poker czar (he was in the World Series of Poker) got giggles from the class. At the end, I repeated the names of everyone in the class. I allowed them to correct me when I was off. At the end of the class, I repeated everyone's name again before they left. I repeated every name in the class again at the next class meeting. By then, I had the names down. It worked. I got applause when I got them all right.

I do have trouble with the fact that Kirsten and Kristen sit next to each other in lab and lecture. As do Ashley and April. You can't have everything. I just realized that a better name for Richie would have been "Baseball cards". Ha! I crack myself up.