September 4, 2009

Political Rant

It's probably because most of the media I pay attention to has some kind of left-lean to it, but I'm going absolutely crazy reading or hearing about all of the nut-jobs in this country. Oh. My. Dog!!!

Of course almost everyone has heard about Obama's plan to address the nation's school kids. And the right wing has once again lost their minds! "Oh, no!" they cry. "He's going to turn them into little socialists."

Can we please just sit down, shut up, and realize the world hasn't ended since Obama took office in January or was elected last November? Can we? Please? For my sanity?

I was listening to an older "Wait, Wait" episode over lunch. Peter described some of the antics at town halls regarding health care. While these crazies are entertaining, I couldn't laugh because they scare me so much. WHO really believes that Obama will turn the U.S. into just-post-WWII Russia? (It's in the "Who's Carl this time" section at the very beginning of the August 15 episode.)

I'm just so sickened, disgusted, and downright scared of these people that it can get hard to even leave the house. I liked Motherreader's response today, but again, preaching to the choir. I'll show you "Death Panels," dear crazies of America, oh, just wait until I get those death panels in place. Trust'll be the first to know.

UPDATE: Just read David Sirota's "editor's pick" Open Salon blog post from yesterday. I think he puts my concern into even better words. These are scary times, and while the crazies are amusing for their very craziness, those of us who still have some sanity left may become an ever-dwindling minority....

January 30, 2009

Just what century is this?

Um, really? A 15 year old girl in Oklahoma has been accused (by her school) of hexing a teacher and causing the teacher to become ill. Needless to say, the ACLU is involved now.

Between that and the mother of 6 children already between 2 and 7 giving birth to octuplets, I'm just ready to find a cave to live in for the rest of my life.

September 4, 2008

Difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?

Pit bulls don't deserve the bad rap.

Can we please, please, please move beyond the demonization of certain breeds? John Woestendiek gives us several famous examples of rhetoric that simply must go.

I only caught a bit of Palin's speech before I couldn't take any more. I'm the eternal pessimist, and I hope to Dog I'm wrong, but I'm afraid McCain's choice was a brilliant move. How can anyone not support her? She's a working mother who fired the Alaska governor's house chef so she could prepare her own meals, she's a special-needs-children's advocate, she's against waste and corruption, she's for ethics, and heck, as an Alaska governor she's well-versed in international politics, particularly with Canada and Russia. And that list doesn't even cover all of her redeeming qualities for a VP option. I'd even be willing to bet she'll do better in debates against Biden than many are willing to credit her.

I mean, how bad can it really be to fire people who don't agree with you or do what you tell them? Don't they serve at the pleasure of the mayor/governor anyway? And a pregnant 17-year old? Well, she's "chosen" (like there was actually a choice in her case) to keep the baby and is going to marry the father. "Yes, we have dirty laundry," Palin is saying, "but we are acting within a family values framework given the circumstances."

July 22, 2008

"If I don't see it, it's not there"

Birdchick just posted some very disturbing news: members of Congress went to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and didn't see any wildlife. Apparently, if you don't see any wildlife (specifically trees and caribou), it's not there, so drilling for oil won't cause any environmental hardships. I really despise congress people (and I'm not calling them congress critters because that's an insult to critters) this round.

Here's the final passage from Birdchick's entry that sums everything up:

So, any blog readers been to this area of Alaska? Would you care to let Ms. Bachmann know about the wildlife you have seen (202-225-2331)? I don't see this as a republican vs democrat issue. I don't even see this as a do we drill there or do we not drill there issue. I see this as an issue of--Did you actually have your eyes open while you were there issue. Don't tell the country that there's no wildlife just because it's flat and there's no caribou. That's like calling the prairie boring. There's more to wildlife than what is big and obvious and easy to see.

It's almost tempting to start a campaign of birders mailing her a copy of Sibley with Alaska birds highlighted.

Here's a list of all who went in case you want to check on your state's rep and their report.

John Boehner (R-OH)
Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)
Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Mary Fallin (R-OK)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Robert Latta (R-OH)
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Adrian Smith (R-NE)

Just in case anyone missed it, here is the link to Bachman's report. And here's another (pro-environment) summary of the topic. According to John Boehner, the GOP trip leader, ANWR is a "desolate coastal plain." Gee, as Born Again Birdwatcher noted, preconceptions anyone?

June 4, 2008

Mining and Destruction

Please visit Julie Zickefoose's entry from Monday and spread the word. She has a follow-up post on Tuesday to explain more. Julie says what needs to be said far more eloquently than I ever could.

April 30, 2008

We can't spell because we don't read

There is a notorious website out there where angry and naive college students can post and find information about their professors. I'll link to it, but it does not really deserve to be named expressly; I'm sure we all understand the difficulties college students face in giving professors honest, helpful, and meaningful feedback.

In response to said website, a very popular blog has sprung up for professor types to comment on their college students. Those of us in the biz, so to speak, find relief in knowing that we are not alone, horror in the prospect that there seems to be a plague that runs through colleges on a regular basis, and humor in watching someone else deliver the smackdown we so long to make ourselves.

So I was relieved, horrified, and amused to read the following entry (I've linked to the whole entry, but have only quoted the relevant part here):

I teach classes online. So I have my students reading an article about how text messaging and IMming are ruining our children's ability to spell. Here is one of my best responses to date! However the week is still young!

"i don't think that text messaging and iming is messing up our spelling and grammer at all I do it all the time and i can still spell the words out its just that when you are text messaging you are trying to do it fast its just a fast way to communicate not a replacement for spelling plaus every1 knows whut i am typing when i type b4 everyone needs spelling if no one could spell how would anyone have a job? i am not the best speller in the world but i dont think that any thing is running our spelling or young kids i think that they just have to step up the spelling with the math and reading you can read a word all day but u should be able to spell it like its nothing."

Isn't it wonderful when they prove our point while trying to argue against us? I wonder about the author of the article, though. S/he seems a little behind the times, because I was bemoaning spelling habits before texting and IMing were really out there. My position is that we've become such an aural and visual society that we're hearing things and seeing ads and commercials, and not really reading and learning the language. I'm not good at spelling and grammar because I'm an English major. My major did not teach me spelling and grammar (my foreign language studies taught me a LOT about grammar). I'm good at spelling and grammar because I read.

My two favorite examples of this are "should of" and "chip and dale". Okay, the first one is fairly obvious. When you hear someone say "should've," which is the contraction of the words "should" and "have," "should of" seems like a logical conclusion for the word(s) spoken. Incorrect, but somewhat understandable (I cringe when I see it in print when that should have been caught by and editor).

So what about "chip and dale?" Here's a screenshot of when I googled (note the new-ish verb there!) the term:

(click for a larger image)

This was the actual phrase someone used in an essay they turned in to me when discussing the Chippendale dancers (don't ask, I don't remember the details). You know, those two little chipmunks who take off all their clothes at women's only parties? No? You don't know them? Hunh. Again, I believe this is a student who doesn't read (apparently doesn't even read magazines or advertisements), and rather than look something up in a *gasp* book (because the internet had barely even been invented way back in the 90s), the student just relied on his/her auditory capacity.

April 10, 2008

Completely Inappropriate

The National Weather Service has placed us under another "Winter Storm Warning." They're predicting another 4-6 inches from tonight to Saturday morning. While not particularly bad, per se, this winter has been dragging; too long, too much grey, not enough sun. Just yesterday I was out in short sleeves clearing the leaves from my garden. Things are not only coming up, but there was an actual crocus struggling to survive under the wet, starting to mold, leaves. Clearing needed to happen. It's not like this is Wyoming, or something, where I've seen snow storms in June, TWICE!


Photographic evidence (we'll see what the real thing produces....) (as always, click the pictures to make them readable):


March 5, 2008

Why, Etsy, Why?

When winter is dragging on, and the world outside is drab and drear, why do you showcase black/white/grey items on your main page?


February 22, 2008

Of Money and Madness

We have suddenly found ourselves in a position that I would never have expected us to be in with this remodel. We both have good jobs, we're financially solvent, we have excellent credit, we have been with the same bank for many years, and yet, suddenly, we find ourselves with our line of equity frozen, in the middle of having our house torn apart.

Due to the housing market crisis and the losses big banks are posting, almost every bank across the country is freezing all home equity loans. Apparently, though, they're following a typical senior management policy of reacting without paying attention to the smaller details of what will this really mean, not only for customers, but for the staff who have to deal with the fallout.

We found out about the situation last Tuesday. We were supposed to have received information in the mail, but hadn't. A service representative caught the Husband at work to apprise him of the situation. When he explained that we're in the middle of a remodel (that will increase the value of the house, but that has currently rendered the house unsellable at this moment in time), he was referred to that person's manager. At that time, the Husband was assured that there should be a process in place for this kind of situation and that our case would be reviewed and that we would hear back in about 5 days.

Yesterday was day 7, so we called. Apparently, the manager with whom the Husband spoke was not authorized to say such things; the underwriters sent him a response saying he needed to contact us to explain {I'm fuzzy about what he was exactly supposed to explain]. In a compounding of errors, it turns out that person can't make outside calls, and the underwriters should have known this. Long story short, we were never contacted.

So now, we have to send the bank details about the project and they'll review the case, supposedly in another 5-7 days. If they decide to unfreeze our loan, we'll probably also have to schedule an appraisal in order to actually access the money. So we're looking at probably another 2-3 weeks.

The good parts of the situation:
1) We have a contractor who is willing to work with us (after all, this situation will significantly impact his business, too).
2) Because of the good jobs mentioned above, we could scrape the money up to finish (we're about 80% done at this point).
3) My mother can loan us some of the money to finish, at a much better interest rate.

The bad parts:
1) We've been living in the living room of our house for nearly two months, which means sleeping on a futon.
2) We haven't had a shower in our bathroom for that amount of time (we have a temporary shower situation in the basement, but the hot water hose split last weekend, so it's getting very important to get the upstairs bathroom completed).
3) We'll be borrowing money from family. That's not necessarily bad per se, but I'd rather owe the bank than friends/family.

The future impacts:
1) If we scrimp and save and finish ourselves, that means we will probably not be paying off our credit card, which means interest and a higher balance that we will still have to pay off.
2) If we ever find ourselves getting a home equity loan again, we'll just take the money and run rather than using it as a line of credit. Again, that means more interest that we'd have to pay.

So, while we are extremely lucky in that we can finish the job, and we can tell our contractor to keep working because he'll still be able to pay his subcontractors, it's just a sucky situation that we did not quite anticipate. Bleah.

February 19, 2008

No, no, no, no!!! Bad "breeders"!

We all know my position on designer dogs...mixed-breeds with fancy names and high prices. Maybe shelters are taking the wrong approach. Instead of saying they have lab-mixes who need good homes, they should go out and market Labraweilers or Rottradors. How about German Sheprador Retrievers? Lab- and -(r)ador seem to go with a lot of different names.

For the smaller set, you could have the Puget Hound or the Jack Russell Cock-a-poo. Or the Pootzu? Dogs would fly out of shelters if the staff could figure out the right combination to advertise the dogs.

Okay, so why am I ranting right now? I'm reading Susan Conant's Gaits of Heaven: A Dog Lover's Mystery and was laughing at what I thought was her over-the-top deslgner dog breed called a "Golden Aussie Huskapoo." Surely designer dogs haven't gone that far yet, have they?

Until I saw today's Daily Puppy: a Standard English Goldendoodle. Hence the title of this post: NO, NO, NO, NO! I assume the "standard" goes with the "oodle", and "golden" is fairly obvious. But "English?" There is no "English Poodle" or "English Golden Retriever" that I know of. (Yes, the puppy is cute, adorable, and I'm sure very sweet, and, of course, he must be smart. But he's still an over-priced mixed breed.)

A mutt with any other name is just as sweet. Adopt a shelter dog if you absolutely must have a mixed breed.

February 15, 2008

Boycott Air Travel, Part II

Ah, how time can heal old injuries (and allow for new ones, but that's not the subject of this post). A friend recently reminded me that I never finished my tales of woe over traveling in January.

We left off where I had finally gotten the ticket situation mostly straightened out, with just about an hour before the flight departed. So, as any normal person would do in an unfamiliar airport (we moved just after DIA opened, and I really haven't flown in/out of Denver very often), I followed the signs leading to security, which happens to be down one level from ticketing. I know this, because as I was following the signs that were pointing down, I was also looking at the massive pool of humanity being herded through the security gates below me.


Problem 3: The First Security Gate
I hurry down the stairs to the line, only to be met by a TSA agent in the process of closing off that security area and saying that we need to go to the one on the other side of the airport. (No, this isn't the guy I flipped off, but I was pretty darn close at this point.)

Problem 4: The Second Security Gate
Okay, I'm in line now. I ask an agent what time it is...she makes a very exasperated point of trying to find a clock on a wall somewhere (I never did see the clock), and huffs that it's about 2:10 (my phone is almost dead, there are no outlets in sight, and I've got to save the battery to let my ride know when I've landed). I'm watching two lines getting funneled into one (the one I'm in), and the one line moving at slower than a snail's pace. I just chose the first line I got to, but turns out that my line was the one with the air-puff machine. Who knows what this thing is supposed to do. It's a gate with doors on one side. You step in, it puffs air over you, you step out, then take off your shoes and go through the normal security gate. But that description makes it sound like it goes quickly. It doesn't, especially when you're in line. It's like going through the car wash...the other car is already out but the doors don't open for you. Actually, going through a car wash is even quicker than this machine.

The woman behind me is checking flight info on her phone and finds out her flight is delayed by 30 min. I jokingly ask if she's going to Mpls, but no such luck. My flight boards at 2:25, and by now it's around 2:20. At the urging of the people behind me, I go up to an agent to ask if there's anything that can be done to get me through quickly (DIA is a tram airport, so I know I've even got a way to go once I get through this mess).

This guy was the proverbial straw. He was such an arrogant, condescending prick as he told me there was absolutely nothing that could be done because everyone was in the same situation. It's impossible for the slime factor to show up in the written version of this story, but trust me, it was there. People around me are nice enough to let me move ahead, and my cheerleaders behind me tell me to just go to the front of the line (by this time, I'm in tears because I have a physiological reaction to stress that results in me dissolving into a weeping puddle). The nice people at the front let me in, I wait forever to go through the puffy thing, then wait forever for my bags to go through security. (Forgot to mention that while in line, the zipper on my carry-on bag breaks. Not too much of a problem, but I like to know my stuff won't go spilling out everywhere.)

While between the air-puffer and the regular security gate, I catch sight of the prick, and, on the spur of the moment, flip him off. Yes, I know this is not wise, but damned if I care at this point. I don't really want to leave Denver anyway, and it's freedom of speech, isn't it? I really didn't do anything wrong....

Finally get through security. I have no idea what time it is, but I know the flight's boarding and I've still got a ways to go (my gate is B37, which in Mpls, would literally be the end of the C concourse). Catch a tram, get to the terminal I need to be at when the first good thing happens! My gate is at the near end of the concourse!

Problem 5:The Mechanical Problem
Sure enough, the line is in place to board. I've sprinted hard enough to aggravate my exercised-induced-asthma, and can barely talk to the guy to get my boarding pass, but get that settled. Sit down to wait my turn (I'm in the last boarding stage), when the United guy comes on the intercom to announce that there is a mechanical problem with our plane and our flight will be delayed. When I don't have a connecting flight, and am just heading home, delayed flights really don't bother me. But I was pissed that I probably pissed a lot of people off cutting ahead, pissed that I couldn't really breathe because of my sprinting, and then it all turned out to be for nothing.


So, that is the saga of my family vacation flight. Again, WHY DO WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN? CAN'T SOMEONE BE ACCOUNTABLE? CAN'T WE RETAIN SOME OF OUR HUMAN DIGNITY? (I've seen especially elderly travelers completely humilitated by having to remove shoes, belts, etc.) DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF MY LIQUID CARRY-ON IS 3 OR 4 OUNCES? WITH ALL OF THIS fucking bullshit (yes, I said it) THE TERRORISTS REALLY WILL WIN!!!!!

February 1, 2008

Boycott Air Travel...

Or, How I was Lucky Not to be Detained and Never Heard from Again

Whenever possible from here on out, I will not fly. At least not until the government/TSA gets a few brains and changes how they do things. Last weekend, I flew out to Denver to celebrate my paternal grandfather's 90th birthday party. My aunt, who organized the whole shindig, convinced all of the grandkids to come in (we're scattered almost literally from sea to shining sea: Washington, D.C. to Las Angeles). As a very generous gift, she used her frequent flyer miles to purchase a ticket for me. The story of my woes are shared amongst Denver International Airport, United Airlines, and most importantly, the TSA. See, I got so pissed that I actually fipped off a TSA agent. Yes, I really did. He was a prick (more later). I don't think he saw me, else I'd probably still be in a holding cell somewhere where my body would never be discovered.

Problem 1: Checking In
As a responsible traveler, I like to check in ahead of time. Especially when I'm going all carry-on, so really can just go to the gate. Um, nope. Not this time. Apparently, someone else can't buy you a ticket if your names are different unless you have the physical card with which the ticket was purchased (what happens if someone pays cash?).

So, I arrive at the airport and stand in line. A helpful United person tells me that for carry-on, I can just go to one of the self-serve kiosks. I'm skeptical, because I couldn't check in online, but hey, we're actually at the airport now. Maybe the kiosks are different. Nope. Can't do it. Helpful United person says, "of course you can, you just need any card that identifies you." So he takes me over to try. Nope, have to talk to a person. Get back in line.

Find out that someone can't buy your ticket unless you have the card. Only solution is to buy the ticket myself; my aunt says she'll just write me a check (still, very generous). Fortunately, I can buy the ticket (I know others who probably couldn't). Somewhat helpful United person with whom I am now speaking does a lot of typing and writing and writing and typing. In the end, I have a boarding pass, my reciept, and a receipt for my aunt showing the credit to her card.

I got to the airport 2 hours early, so still have plenty of time, which is good, because I should have checked my too heavy non-rolling carry-on that I have to lug to the far end of the concourse. Board the plane, someone's in my seat. No worries...he thought he was in F but he's in A. A is open, so I just take that. My seat light is burned out (evening flight). Again, no worries...I have a little clip-on flashlight so I can still read.

Get to Denver, catch up with family, celebrate birthday (to be described in a later post).

Problem 2:
Don't bother trying to check in online ahead of time. Get to Denver airport 2 hours before flight and plan to check stupid non-rolling bag. Stand in line for 20-30 minutes for a kiosk. Enter my credit card with which I purchased my ticket. Um, nope. I need to get further assistance. Even though this ticket should be on my card.

Stand in line for further assistance for 30-45 minutes. Really. Here's where I blame United the most; they only had 3 people working there. For a busy departure time. And in the "needs more help" line, everyone has some type of problem. The line keeps getting longer. I feel sorry for one woman flying with her two large dogs. But she has 3 people working with her alone, leaving just 2 people to serve the rest of the line.

FINALLY get to the person, who is just as confused as I am. She gets me straightened in the system, but all I get from her is an authorization card; I have to actually get my boarding pass at the gate.

Aty tuned for the rest of the drama. The good part is still to come.

December 13, 2007

Dogs on Thursday -- the Rant Edition

Today's official Dogs on Thursday is out sick (get well soon, Paula!), so I thought I'd take this opportunity to return to 3, 4, 5 (?!) of my favorite rants.

I was part of a conversation this morning that took about 30 seconds before my head was about to explode. We were talking about a Great Dane puppy that a co-worker is going to take for her mother. The pup needs a new home because her family can't give the time she needs. Why is that? The pup is 6 weeks old (Yikes 1)! She was purchased at 4 weeks, from a backyard breeder (Yikes 2) (the litter was originally 11 pups) whose bitch wasn't able to take care of the pups because she was bleeding excessively (Yikes 3)! The new owner had been looking for a dog for their 16 year old son who is missing his grandfather who recently passed away; when they found the ad for the pups in the paper (Yikes 4), they checked in, and the woman said that she had to purchase a pup because she couldn't leave them there (Yikes 5?). I was already familiar with the situation (co-worker and I had discussed it earlier), so we got through that part of the conversation in 15-20 seconds.

From there the conversation turned to a beagle that my co-worker is looking at for themselves; they were planning to go to a local humane society that just took in 3 beagle pups. Co-worker 2 mentioned that her daughter purchased a beagle from a local pet store (Yikes 6). Finally, the conversation ended with co-worker 1 talking about a cute pug-beagle mix she had seen (I'm not going to grace that with it's "cute" "breed" name--a mutt is a mutt) (Yikes 7).

So in the space of about 30 seconds, the conversation touched on: backyard breeding (potentially puppy milling on a small scale), neglect/abuse, improper weaning which has led to pup needing a new home, pet-store animal purchases, newspaper breeder advertising, and designer dogs. So, my head exploded.

October 29, 2007

You know you're driving in MN when...

I know I've complained about Minnesota drivers before, and I'll continue to do so until I can drive my <10 minute commute to or from work and not see someone do something completely stupd/illegal. I still maintain that MN drivers are the worst because there is just no way to predict what you're going to get. Will this be the driver who is slightly aggressive and impatient, or will this be the passive-aggressive tailgaiter, or will this be the oblivious one who turns right with his left turn signal on? I've definitely seen examples of these drivers everywhere I've driven, but I've never seen them in the numbers or random patterns that we seem to get here.

I tried to find some good images online to explain some of the recent traffic nonsense we've seen recently, but can't really come up with anything. So you'll have to use your imagination.

Scenario 1:
You are driving on a four lane divided road (two lanes in either direction with a median in between). You're in the left lane, because you know that you will come to a T intersection at which you will have to turn either left or right; you need to turn left. There are no signs indicating that a double-left turn is appropriate. As you patiently wait for the line of cars in front of you to turn once the light changes to green, you notice the car in the right hand land decides to turn left.

Scenario 2:
You are driving on a four lane not divided road. You are in the left lane because at many parts of the road, cars are parked in the right lane, effectively leaving only one lane for driving. At the traffic light coming up, you see a car in the right lane with its left turn signal on, and a line of parked cars in the lane across the street. You slow down to allow the car in front of you, only to watch it turn right instead.

Scenario 3:
You are stopped at a red light, third in line. You can see through the car ahead of you and realize that the car is stopped a good 1.5 car lengths behind the first car in line.

Scenario 3.25:
The traffic light for the cross traffic starts to turn to yellow then to red. At the first hint of yellow, the first car (and maybe also the second car) starts creeping out into traffic. There is a delay between the red light for cross traffic and the green light for your direction. By the time the light turns green, the first and/or second cars have crept half-way through the intersection.

Scenario 3.5:
The first car stays put through the whole red light and begins to move when the light turns green. You realize that the car ahead of you stopped so far behind the first car because the driver needs to spend the whole light cycle slowly creeping up and up and up until the light changes.

Scenario 3.75:
You are actually the second car in the line. You can see through the car ahead of you and realize that the driver stopped a good 1.5 or more car lengths behind the stop line. The car either a) stays put the whole time, refusing to move up to the stop line, or b) uses the entire length of the red light to creep into the intersection.