Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rugby intramural

Okay, time to start sharing a few photos, starting with pre-play warmups...

Love those legs!

Our new coach, who also is a longtime member of the team

Rugby's not rugby without a canine observer!

Okay, we haven't gotten past the warmups yet, but I think we'll hold it there! More to come!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A couple of photos

I'm not sure if I ever shared this photo before. I hope not. Anyhow, what does it say when you go to take a photo of one of your dogs and she sticks her tongue out at you?

On another note, we were on Randall's Island yesterday for a rugby intramural (and yes, there are photos--we'll get to those soon enough!). Randall's Island lies between a few boroughs of New York City, and we had a good view across the water to part of the Bronx. Looking that way, I noticed that the city apparently has given up and is putting that particular borough up for bid.

Any takers? Just call the number! ;)

Social awkwardness

On this morning's CBS Sunday Morning, they had a piece on Mensa, the organization for exceptionally smart people. This group always made me a little sad.

For what it's worth (and it isn't much!), my IQ and SAT scores qualified me for membership. I think the appropriate view of that is... BFD! My problem with Mensa is, and always has been, that raw brain power means very little. Above a certain IQ level, we're all pretty much equal in our ability to succeed (because hard work, imagination and creativity mean just as much). Above that level, it's all what you do with it. The only exception to that are the people who are so extraordinarily smart (such as Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking) that they can conceive of things well beyond the grasp of most of us.

For the average Mensa member, their issue seems to be a lack of social skills. I can relate, but I also wish there were a way to help these folks relate to the rest of the world better.

I never was one of the cool kids. I get along with people well enough, but there always were other people who everyone else wanted to be around. That wasn't me.

So back to Mensa. Watching these folks on TV, I'm happy to see them in a setting where they can enjoy each other's company, but I wish I could help them fit in with the crowd. Perhaps that's overrated, but seeing some of the young kids who already are Mensa members--and hearing these kids talk about being picked on for being so smart--I'd like to give them tools for enjoying life more. In time, I learned how to enjoy the world in ways that work for me, but I wish I'd figured the social things out sooner. That's the thing that isn't helped by Mensa conventions. They still should have their fun together, of course, but I ache to see how awkward so many of these people seem to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The expected response

As predicted, Amazon's representative, having no grasp of social responsibility and throwing out the red herring of "censorship" provided the predicted response:

Thank you for writing to Amazon.com with your concerns.

I understand that you feel very strongly about this issue.

Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to choose his or her own reading material or entertainment.

As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our website represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.

Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we'll continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they're prohibited by law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our website. However, Amazon.com doesn't endorse opinions expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.

We value all feedback from our customers, and I thank you again for taking the time to send us your comments about this issue. Although we won't be able to comment further on this topic, we hope you'll allow us to continue to serve you.
(I added the underline.)

Then, being the cooperative type and reacting pleasantly to their "we won't be able to comment further" (translation: fuck off), I sent a follow-up note, saying that I understood their position and would appreciate their pointing me to their hardcore porn, as I can't find it on their website.

Since they don't sell selectively based on content and it's legal for me to order such material to be sent here, it must be on their site. For some reason, I can't find it. I'm sure someone at Amazon will be annoyed by that one. Well, too bad.

There's no excuse for selling how-to materials on dog fighting. None whatsoever. It is a cruel, illegal activity, and the fact that the sale of material on how to do it isn't illegal is a sad excuse for what they're doing! The government banning the material would be unconstitutional censorship. A responsible retailer refusing to sell it isn't. This isn't political speech. Neither is it art. I realize I'm tilting at windmills, but "if our cause be just..."

Okay, I'm done with this topic, barring anything new coming up. I don't want to bore you even more than my posts usually do!

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Attention Amazon shoppers!


Did you know that Amazon.com sells materials on dog fighting? I don't just mean documentaries. I mean things that will help you raise and train dogs to fight. They encourage the disgusting, illegal practice of making dogs fight, injure, maim and kill each other. For this reason, I stopped buying from Amazon a long time ago. I also sent a note to their CEO, but I never received a response.

I just went back and checked their website. They still sell this disgusting material. Lest you think I'm kidding, let me share a listing with you: The Dog Pit - Or, How To Select, Breed, Train And Manage Fighting Dogs.

In case dog fighting isn't enough, they also offer The Breeding and Management of Fighting Cocks.

Before anyone cries censorship... well, okay, in some way, what I'm suggesting is censorship, but businesses are free to do so. This is very different from government action. While I'd never suggest it for most things (like divergent political views--heck, I'd even protect the right of that evil woman Ann Coulter to have heard books sold), when a practice is so abhorrent that it's illegal and constitutes cruelty and brutality to animals, then materials that aid it shouldn't be sold!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old school hottie

We're watching American Idol. Randy Travis is the special guest tonight, and I commented to Marc that he reminds me a little of an older version of Kent McCord. Of course, as compared to the TV star I remember from my childhood, Kent McCord is himself an older version of Kent McCord, so he doesn't need Randy Travis' help! :)

So how many of you remember Adam-12? Are any of you old enough to remember the thrilling police show with Mr. McCord and Martin Milner? Considering the years it was on, I must have been watching it mostly in reruns, but no matter. My young heart would race with excitement when that show came on! 1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, a 2-11 in progress. 1-Adam-12, handle code 3. *cue music*

"Code 3" was the best, because it meant they would turn on the lights and siren! Woo hoo!

Okay, so back to the original point of this post (although I must say I enjoyed that little trip down memory lane). There was one other thing that may have attracted the young Jess to the show...

Now, if I could find a shot of him from his guest appearance on World War II show, Baa Baa Black Sheep. Wow, he looked good in that! I mean, not that I would have noticed, since I was only 10 when that came out! ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Someone explain how the GOP supposedly has the moral high ground

Statistics demonstrate that the divorce and teen pregnancy rates are highest in the "Bible Belt" states. I always found that to be quite illuminating. It also makes me want to tell all of the "sanctity of marriage" hypocrites to worry about their own corner of the world and stop trying to dictate how everyone else lives! By the way, all of you people worried about our undermining marriage, Marc and I--who aren't allowed to get married in this state and aren't recognized as a couple by the federal government to which we pay a ton of taxes--will celebrate 14 years together this summer.

While we're on this subject, let's all take a moment to share our respect for the sacred relationship of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston. I'm sure you'll recall these two fine young people. While the American people were asked to stomach the idea of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat from the Presidency, these two were dealing with the results of unsafe sex. But who could blame them, when people like Bristol's brilliant mother think "abstinence only" education is the only way to approach sex education. Yes, that works great. Don't teach them about condoms and safe sex in general. Instead, tell teens who are discovering how much fun they can have with each other that they should just say no to sex. Uh huh. That should work great. Clearly, it did with Bristol and Levi.

Of course, I'm biased. Sarah Palin, and her glorification of the all-too-widespread contempt for education, science and intellectual achievement, represents a political mindset that I find repulsive and counter to the best interests of our nation.

So anyhow, let's take a moment to admire the love and commitment enjoyed by Bristol and Levi. What's that you say? They split up? They're not going to get married? Shocking! How can that be? Straight kids from a conservative, Republican upbringing getting pregnant and not even marrying to try to legitimize things after the fact? Amazing!

Hey, Palin and the rest of you "conservative" cretins, clean up your own act before you presume to tell me how to live!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The dumbest show I've ever enjoyed

We're watching Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel. This is the dumbest show I've seen in a very long time. I can't see myself watching it again, but it does have one redeeming value: host Zak Bagans. He's dumb as a box of rocks, but, for some reason, I just keep watching. I couldn't find really good photos of him online, but perhaps a photo or two of Zak that I did manage to find will give us a hint:

BTW, congratulate me! According to an e-mail from "WESTERNUNION OFFICE," they've been mandated to open an account for me "to the tune of $1,500,000.00 united states dollars." Yes, "to the tune of." All I have to do to get things started is send a bunch of personal information. What harm could come from that? *eye roll*

Anyone stupid enough to fall for this random e-mail (make that "semi-literate random e-mail") deserves to be ripped off!

Okay, on that happy note, I'm going to go back to staring at Zak (although I may have to shut off the sound--a date with this one would definitely have to include the line, "No, no. Don't talk.") ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Separated at birth?

Just-eliminated American Idol contestant Jorge Nuñez...

And Romulan Commander Tomalak...


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Well, isn't that just f*!#ing fabulous?

Bernice has been wearing a t-shirt since her surgery, tied at the back to keep it tight and help keep her away from the wound. Also, she has been wearing her cone (that the vet calls an e-collar... but it's a plastic cone that surrounds her head).

Today, we decided that it was time to wash her t-shirt. So we took it off and also took her cone off. Yup, you guessed it. She only had a few minutes, but she managed to pull out a few staples and make a bloody mess.

We're kicking ourselves, because we knew we had to be careful since she wouldn't need long to do damage, and we managed to give her that chance anyhow.

We cleaned her up, put some antibiotic ointment and a large bandage over the part she damaged, as well as putting her cone and t-shirt back on, and then we called the vet. The answering service got him on the phone, and he said to drop her off in the morning, so they can fix the damage. There goes more money out the window!

This isn't easy. But it's worth it if the big goof is okay in the end. That is, if we don't murder her first!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

She's home

Bernice is back home. She had her surgery yesterday. They felt she'd do best if she stayed overnight. It seems the mass on her chest was more extensive than it first appeared, so they wanted to keep her chest in a pressure wrap (so the space didn't fill with fluid) and keep her sedated overnight. They did that, and they say everything looks good, so now she's home.

She was still dopey from meds when she came home. In fact, she was literally cross-eyed at one point. Now she's just exhausted (and having some pain, I would think).

It's nice to have her home. I just hope she feels better quickly. I also hope she's cured, but the doctor said that there's a fair chance the mass will recur in future. It was deep, with it having some reaching into the space between her ribs. So, as the vet said, "we hope we got 100 percent of it, but there's no way to know if we only got 99 percent."

We'll know more in a couple of days, after the tissue sent to the lab is analyzed. And whatever they say, there's no telling how long it will be gone, if it ever comes back. For that matter, it may never come back. That, of course, is what we're hoping for.

If it does come back, it may go even deeper and go into her chest cavity. To fix that would require something that I don't think would be right. They would have to remove ribs, muscles... in short, I think the pain and difficulty probably would be too much, especially since it probably would only give her a bit more time and, as a terrible trade-off, would turn a big chunk of her remaining days into painful ones. We'll have to decide what to do if that day comes, but my thought at this point is that we'll just let things run their course and let her live with it as long as she's not in pain.

For now, she has to work on her recovery. I hope they did get every bit of it, and I hope it never comes back. At 11 years old, I know she doesn't have a lot of years left, but I hope she has at least a few more and that they're healthy, happy ones. Time will tell.

Monday, March 02, 2009

That's quite enough

The stock market took another dive today. I understand that profits are down enormously at many companies. And I'm following the mortgage-driven AIG mess. I get it. But that's enough of this crap.

Let's take a step back. The idea behind stock prices is that you're buying at a price you believe makes it a worthwhile investment, based upon the economic viability of the company, the future of its products, the future of the economy, etc.

Keeping all of that in mind, we then look to the current economic situation. Even after the cost of this mess, is there any sense in the thought that American companies' futures hold less than half the economic promise they did just months ago? Not that I can see. From the irrational exuberance we once saw in the markets, we're now in a time of irrational pessimism.

Still, it's hard to just grin and bear it. It's all paper losses at this point, but those losses are huge. Marc and I have been saving for a long time. Seeing money socked away over those years disappear is tough.

Of course, bailing out now would be a huge mistake, since there will be an upswing eventually and running to safety now will make us miss at least part of that turnaround. Still, every drop in the market is gut-wrenching. I wish this would settle down already. Emotions are driving the whole mess, and that's the real problem. Logic has little to do with any of this.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Welcome to March

So today we enter the month that heralds the end of winter. And what will tomorrow bring? As of a day or two ago, the weather forecasts were suggesting a bit of foul weather but nothing big. As of this morning, snow and lots of it. The last forecast I saw (about an hour or two ago) was 8 to 14 inches! Isn't that just fabulous?

Newly added to our schedule today: fire up the snowblower and make sure it's ready to go!

Between the above line and this one was a break of over an hour. We went to drag the snowblower out of the shed and put it in its forward-deployed position. What? Forward-deployed position sounds sexier than "put it in the garage, so it will be ready to go in the morning." :)

When we pulled the snowblower out of the shed--after moving lots of other stuff out of the way--we also grabbed the gas can (which is made of plastic, but the "can" appellation persists), only to find it empty. So I dumped one of the special little bottles of oil into the gas can (the snowblower and trimmer both run on a 50:1 gas-oil mix), and then we went to the gas station, filling up the car and putting a gallon into the can.

When we got back here, we filled up the snowblower and proceeded to start it up. Or, rather, tried to start it. It eventually started, but if you ever hear the Toro folks telling you their machines start with one pull, don't believe it! Sure, once it's warmed up, if you shut it down, it will start back up with one pull. But if it has been sitting for months, forget about one pull. Forty-one pulls, perhaps, but not one. We primed it, set the choke and began the workout. I pulled. Marc pulled. I pulled. (Sounds like it should be more fun, doesn't it?) Anyhow, it eventually started, but it was serious work.

So we let it warm up until it would run with the choke completely off. Then we shut it down and put it in the garage, ready to go. Now let's see what tomorrow brings. With the snowblower ready, it wouldn't surprise me if we just got a dusting (like bringing an umbrella usually holds off rain).

Now, having nothing to do with this, I was going through some old photos on the computer downstairs, and I found two that bring back some memories...

The late, great Shirley

Shirley laid herself to rest in the crawlspace under the back of the house. It's too small for a human to fit in (so perhaps "crawlspace" is the wrong name for it), so there she remains, her only visitor being her son. Yes, as creepy as that may seem, he moved back in after he got over the loss. He cried to us, no doubt confused by his mother suddenly dying, disappeared for a while, came back skinny and still was very afraid. Thankfully, with time, he put weight back on and now looks like his old self. However he has made peace with it, I'm glad he did.

Aaron and Mandy

That last photo was when Aaron was saying goodbye to Mandy. He was finishing his stay with us and heading for Florida. I remember the day, and something tells me Mandy does, too. They enjoyed Aaron's company, and I think they missed him when he left.

Well, that was a melancholy ending to the post. Sorry for that. But I suppose life has such moments. Perhaps it's fitting. My thoughts today are largely focused on Pua. She is dealing with her own health issues, as well as her mom's deteriorating health. Pua, you're in our thoughts!