Archive for July, 2008

30
Jul
08

I don’t like dogs

I don’t like dogs. It’s not that I hate them, I just don’t like them. Some people, if not most, don’t like cats. Many don’t like rodents, be they guinea pigs or rats, and most detest snakes. I don’t like dogs.

In my mind’s eye I can see all (both) of you wearing stunned, then hurt, then suspicious looks. “He doesn’t like dogs?! That’s…UnAmerican!!”

And in a sense, it is UnAmerican because God knows, Americans love their dogs. They spend billions of dollars every year buying, grooming and caring for them. They take them on vacation (and pay extra for their rooms) and when they expire (finally), they bury them in pet cemeteries, complete with headstones and flowers.
And that’s cool. You want to spend your hard earned bread that way? Go for it.

That’s not my argument. This is:  People let their dogs do things they wouldn’t let their kids do. Here’s an example:  I was at a private hunting retreat with 6 friends and my wife, for a weekend. We don’t hunt; it’s just a chance to be together and have fun, drink a little and escape parenting. Since the owner brought his dog last year (2 dogs this year), everyone else felt it was ok to bring theirs. Maybe they even got approval, I don’t know. Anyway, we spent most of the weekend inside with 6 dogs. The one that greeted us at the door weighed in at 95 pounds. The remainder were from small to medium-sized animals.

The first evening, I was sitting on the couch watching most everyone else play Rock Band. Then, in comes the herd. The big dog proceeded to put his face in my face, then two of the smaller dogs climbed onto the couch and crowded up next to me. Finally, a 3rd dog climbed onto the back of the couch in an attempt to crowd one of the others out. At this point I got up and moved to a barstool. One of the other, non-playing guests assumed my seat and began snuggling and baby-talking the dogs. No one else seemed to notice.

When my wife and I arose the next day, I opened the bedroom door and there was the giant dog, nose to crotch, so to speak. He escorted us into the kitchen where people were relaxing with coffee while 5 more dogs scurried from place to place. There were more incidents, including nearly breaking my neck because of a tethered dog’s reaction to another dog, but I think I have made my point.
None of these otherwise gracious and caring people would ever allow their kids to behave that poorly. And I’m not sure I really blame the owners. They are no different than the average American, after all. Simply stated, we now have a culture that allows dogs greater rights than children.

So I don’t like dogs, ok? I like my space. If I am in your home and you have one, great, but please, make it behave at least as well as you would your child.

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30
Jul
08

Cat, Dog or Goat

Our dog Daisy is a small dog.  She’s about 1.5 years old.  She doesn’t get into things or cause problems.  When she needs to go to the bathroom she will go to the door and we let her out.  She will take care of her business outside and come back to the door.  All in all, she’s pretty easy to deal with.

That’s what makes the last week and a half so difficult around here.  While I was sitting on the couch reading the latest KarmaGirl blog posts, my wife was in the kitchen eating steak that I had cooked earlier.  Suddenly, her cell phone rang in the bedroom.  She jumped up and ran in there to answer it.  About 5 minutes later she returned and started yelling.  The innocent dog Daisy was standing on the kitchen table finishing off my wife’s steak.  According to my wife, Daisy ate the entire steak.  The dog noticed my wife’s chair pushed away from the table, so she jumped up into the chair.  From there, she jumped on the table and had steak for dinner.

Apparently, that was a bit of a watershed moment for Daisy.  The light came on.  She has figured out that by jumping onto things, she can then jump to other, formerly unreachable objects.  Over the last week I’ve found Daisy in the most surprising places, including on a book shelf.  She reminds me of a cat or goat.

This new behavior was neat for about 2 days then it took a turn for the bad.  My wife and daughter left Daisy out of her crate while they went to an appointment.  They were gone about 2 hours.  When they got home Daisy had found another place to explore and another thing to eat:  Orbit gum.  While still at work, I got a call from the wife detailing the latest escapade.  I hopped on the web while speaking with her and googled Orbit gum and dogs.  DANGER!!!  Apparently, the sweetener in it is deadly to dogs.  In moments, the dog was at the Vet.  Online testimonials didn’t seem promising.  Most included that the medical bills were between $1500 and $2000.  The bad ingredient is xylitol.  It’s not harmful to humans, but dangerous to dogs.  In dogs, it causes severe hypoglycemia and liver failure.  According to our vet, there is probably not a more common, readily available poison in the household.  On top of that, there are few poisons so deadly.  Daisy had her stomach pumped, she was given an IV with medicine and fluids, held for observation for the day, and for 48 hours we had to feed her small quatities of food in an attempt to maintain her blood sugar level, or else it could still bottom out due to the xylitol.  She has had her blood drawn numerous times and I feed her a pill every morning for 30 days in an attempt to minimize liver damage.  On top of that I get the feeling from the vet’s comments that maybe they think we’re irresponsible pet owners.  The good news is that in the end, Daisy will be ok, we’ve learned a lot, and the bill was only $206 total.   Oh, and we also learned to push our chairs up to the table when we get up.

30
Jul
08

about timing

I thought when Obama won the nomination that the idea of “he should wait” would go away. I thought that argument was more attuned to Hillary’s notion of it was her turn. It hasn’t really gone away. I listen to John McCain complain about Obama taking a trip he challenged him to take and hear nothing but “Gosh darn that young whippersnapper!” I get a lot of questions along the lines of “what has he done?” What makes Obama think he should be president? Personally, it is the fact that he challenges us to be a part of turning this country around. I am under no illusions that the country will be miraculously transformed on 1/10/2009, but I believe we can start then. I believe what I think matters. I believe that what I do can make a difference. Wow. That’s hope. That’s inspiration. What a concept.

I cannot claim to be a constitutional expert, but the president doesn’t do this alone. The president doesn’t make laws or pass legislation. The president is our face to the rest of the world. The president sets the tone of the country. He can, if he is good enough, lead the country in a new direction. Over the last eight years, things have gone terribly wrong. The president has made a power grab and the congress has conceded. Bush has led us in a new and most frightening direction. Regardless, the checks and balances are still there. The new president will have a lot of damage to repair. Congress needs to stand up and take back their rightful place as well. So, tell me, when you see Obama meeting with Prime Minister Brown or Prime Mister Olmert or President Mahmoud Abbas, does he look like he can handle it? When you see McCain in the dairy aisle, does that inspire you?

McCain may now be saying Obama is being presumptuous, but it just sounds like sour grapes… er, milk.

As for the question of it is too soon, let’s let Daily Show Senior Black Correspondent, Larry Wilmore, take that question.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “about timing“, posted with vodpod

 

30
Jul
08

Even Stevens

Ted Stevens is not a bad man.  He has done wonderful things for his state and they love him for it.  He is also the man that argued for a tiered access system for the internet that would allow the big guys to get their content through a “series of tubes” a lot faster than the little guys (like me).  He is also the guy that is responsible for “bridge to nowhere” being in our lexicon.  He is the master of earmarks.  He represents the harsh terrain of Alaska in the harsh environment of Washington.  Alaska seems to be a perfect place for preparing someone to fight in the capital. 

 

In a matter of forty years, anyone can amass a record of political highs and lows.  At some point, criminal behavior has to be answered for, however.  With all respect to the cantankerous octogenarian, his indictment yesterday was overdue.  VECO is a large oil field contractor in Alaska.  They paid for his home renovations to the tune of a $250,000.  He is not being charged with performing improper favors for VECO as repayment but, seriously, how could you think that he didn’t?  He has been trying to legalize drilling in the ANWR for 25 years, wouldn’t that benefit VECO? 

 

The coverage of the indictments was funny.  They act as if it is news that he was taking money from these guys.  The FBI searched his house a year ago, so the story is not really new.  What is new is that he was actually indicted.  It is really hard to do for a Senator.  It was also amusing to hear a pundit say that it was sad that, after such a long career of service, he got tripped up by trivialities.  That it is trivial is debatable.  It is the way it is – you indict for what you have the evidence for, even when you highly suspect there other things out there.  Because you are bringing a lower level charge, does that make it trivial? 

 

The spin will come.  They will say it is political because the Dems had a shot at the seat and now are more likely to win it.  Coming from the Republicans that fired federal judges if they weren’t far enough to the right, well, irony doesn’t cover it.  We will also get a lot of talk about how old he is.  Every good thing he has done will be pushed to the foreground.  It is sad.  I don’t agree with this man’s politics.  Nevertheless, I know that he probably has very good intentions.  I wonder how much of the shady dealings simply bubble up from the culture on the hill?  It makes me think about term limits.  Maybe after so long, it is almost impossible not to fall into the traps.  It makes me wonder about how easy it is to be jaded by the system. 

 

It makes me think that having only a few years in the Senate is a good thing for Obama.  He still has room to be idealistic.  He doesn’t have a long record.  For all the arguments that he is too young and inexperienced there are the counter arguments that he hasn’t been corrupted or cooped.

28
Jul
08

Who said you had to get old?

“Hope I die before I get old.”  The Who wasn’t talking about my generation, but I remember that the first time I heard that line I adopted it as my creed.  Then, I had to decide what “old” meant.  I never really thought it meant an age – not 30 or 50 or 100.  No, old was a mind set or way of being.  Old would be when I stopped moving forward.  Then, I decided never to be old. 

 

Now, I’m, er, less young.  I’m not old and like to think I don’t even look my age.  Yet, I’m getting old enough to realize how easy it is to be old and how difficult it is not to be.  It just takes a lot more time and effort than it used to.  Take my hair, for example.  I was proud of the handful of gray hairs when they showed up.  I had earned them and I like to think I’m not high maintenance.  I didn’t need to color my hair.  Then more gray hairs showed up.  Is it vanity to dye your hair?  Should I look older than I need to look?  I still haven’t fully resolved those issues, but I dyed my hair.  Add that to my list of things to do every few weeks.  The maintenance becomes more important.  More tweezing of the eyebrows and moisturizer, everything requires more time and tending. 

 

Working out is my drug of choice.  I have always worked out.  If I missed a few weeks in the past, it never showed in the mirror.  Now, if I miss a day or two, I can tell.  In the gym I can still do everything I did 15 years ago, but it is harder to work up the desire and energy.  Sore muscles take a little longer to get back to normal.  It would be so easy to just say that I don’t have time.  I have a husband and a child and job.  That translates into there is never enough time.  Then there is diet.  I don’t diet, but I do watch what I eat a lot more closely.  I notice that it effects me a little more than it did the year before.  It isn’t just calorie and fat counting.  It is did I get enough vitamin C and enough fiber.

 

Sure, the focus changes.  My priorities change.  I’m not trying for the fountain of youth here.  I am not trying to recapture my glory days or hold on to the past.  I am not dressing in the current trends.  I’m not the current hip word – a “cougar”.  I know my responsibilities.  My husband and I don’t go out dancing until 3 AM any more.  We don’t party all weekend long and our margarita consumption is moderated.  We have a kid.  We are uber responsible because of the kid.  We also have plans and goals that we work towards and we plan for retirement.  That doesn’t mean we stay at home and do nothing all of the time – we are just less nonchalant about it.  We have to plan it and have a sitter and a designated driver.  When the kid goes off to college, I will break out the bong and throw a kegger.  Metaphorically speaking, of course. 

 

Growing up a little, doesn’t mean growing old.  It is more about giving up and giving in.  It is saying “I’m too old” to start that now.  I’m too old to change.  I’m too old to workout.  I’m too old to pick that up.  I’m too old to learn new things.  Growing old is being satisfied that you have gone as far as you can go, you have done all you can do.  Growing old is saying I can just sit back and enjoy it all now. 

 

It sounds so selfish, the desire to never be old, if for no other reason than it does take more time.  But, if I become old by stopping, what would I have to offer then?  If I stop learning, if I stop thinking and progressing, what is the point?  To sit back on the sidelines and watch the world pass me by seems to be an awful waste of time.  So, I keep going when it hurts.  I keep bending down when my back doesn’t really want to.  I keep typing when the carpal tunnel is bothering me.  I keep running because the alternative seems to be too terrible. 

27
Jul
08

Tough Questions

I was at work this morning, so I had to catch Senator Obama on Meet the Press via internet. (As a side note, I miss Tim Russert. He was one of the best.) Tom Brokaw asked tough questions. Good question. Many of us have bitched and moaned about the poor job the media did in the lead up to the Iraq war and in general over the last several year. Brokaw could not be accused of not trying to flesh out exact positions from Obama. Again, I will note my bias here. If you disagree, let me know. It seemed that he was doing his best to trip the Senator up. It seems that Obama’s World Tour was like chum in the water for sharks. The sharks didn’t get what they wanted, no big mistakes or faux pas. They are still hungry, gnashing at everything that floats by them. (Homage to shark week.) It seemed he answered everything except who his VP will be. The gauntlet continues.

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**The interview with Gore also on the site was interesting as well.

27
Jul
08

Tree of Life?

At work recently I took a trip to a jobsite where a project of mine was underway. It was around 104 degrees on-site. There was not even a hint of a breeze. It was brutal. I found that you can watch men work for just so long in that heat before the mind begins to wander. On this day, my mind wandered away and I was left staring at a tree and devoid of much conscious thought at all. I didn’t realize I was staring at the tree until I began to pull out of it. I have no idea how much time passed. I was only aware of the episode when I noticed that I could see the tree with perfect clarity, while everything else around was out of focus. It was as if the tree was hurtling through space or time, and all that was left behind became a blur. However, I could see every detail of the tree. I noticed the scars on the bark from limbs long ago removed. I could see the green, almost waxy leaves with small pins at the tips. It was an enormous tree. Despite the oppressive heat the tree looked so healthy and alive. It seemed to be saying to me that no matter what, it could take it. It was still here.

I slowly became aware of my surroundings and pulled out of that meditative moment. Realizing where I was caused me to spin and look at the workers. They were all staring at me staring at the tree. Someone asked what I was doing and all I could muster was, “Just looking.” I have no idea what I was doing, or why for that matter. I just was.

Deciding that I had had all the heat that I wanted for the day, I hopped in the car and left. But before heading back, I decided to visit my birthplace and go by the cemetery there. In no time I was back at the place of my birth cruising a town I no longer knew. I know I was born there. I lived there for 20 odd years, yet nothing remained of my first ‘home’. I did not go there expecting great accolades and a parade to celebrate my return. I didn’t expect anything, and that’s what I got. Nothing stirred inside of me. I did not know this place. Nothing remained, not even the happiness. So I left. I went to the cemetery.

I go by the cemetery when I am down that way. I go to visit my parents’ graves and in short order, I am there. Slowly I navigated my way through the ever growing graveyard. It’s ironic that even the dead grow, so to speak. Finally, I rounded the last corner and headed down the home stretch towards mom and dad’s final resting place. Then I saw something. It was looking at me, gazing through the bitter heat. It was waiting on my return, but it was different now. It was big now. It was that damned tree; that scarred, proud tree marking the passage of time for those that care to notice. In an instant I was staring at that tree surrounded by a Gaussian blurred cemetery. This time, my mind was not lost in aimless wandering. It was active. It was fully conscious of everything.

When my father died in 1990, my brother planted a Pin Oak tree next to the grave. At planting, the tree was roughly as big as my thumb, I think. At my home when I was growing up there were several Pin Oaks that my father had planted. Those trees have significant meaning for my brother and me. In that vein, my brother planted one more tree for our father at the grave. That tree is no longer as big as my thumb. It’s much, much larger. Noticing that, I starting going through the mental calculations: 2008 minus 1990 equals 18! Eighteen? Eighteen years ago?? What? In my mind, my father is as alive today as he was 20 years ago. Yet this damn tree is telling me differently. Never in my life did I ever think a tree would be telling me what was no more; what never will be again. These sentinels of time standing proudly, mocking all the senseless scurrying of man, while they wait, wait, wait. They wait because they know you’ll be back.

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