Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What It's Like To Be Me

I may be late to the party but thanks to Pharyngula for turning me on to Roy Zimmerman.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To add insult to injury

Louisiana Senator John Alario had proposed SB 26 to raise the state supplemental pay of police officers and firefighters. However, today he pulled the bill because it would have been vetoed by the governor. http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/20009129.html

The legislators just got a 200% pay raise yesterday that Jindal won't veto but he would veto a $75 per month raise for cops and firefighters??? Oh hell to the no.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Once again proud to be a Louisianian

For those who don't live here in Louisiana and who may not have heard, today our state legislature finalized a vote to give themselves a 200% pay raise. This was a compromise because a 300% raise didn't pass. Not only that, our governor has already stated he won't veto it because he's being strong armed by legislative bullies who threaten to kill any of Jindal's initiatives if he does so.

While the pride referred to in the title of this post is truly tongue-in-cheek, I am quite proud of my sister, who sent the letter below not only to each of the 77 legislators that voted for the pay raise but to the governor, the newspapers, and local radio talk shows instead.

Dear ...,

As a hardworking taxpayer of this great state, I want to congratulate you on the raise you have given yourself and your friends in the legislature!! If my life could only be so simple to be able to give myself an undeserved 200% pay raise compromise, after failing to get a 300% pay raise.

I am expecting great things from this legislature now that you are the 14th highest paid state legislature in the US ~

#1 as healthiest state instead of #48

#1 in teacher pay instead of #45

#1 in road system overall performance instead of #30

#50 in infant mortality instead of #3

#1 for people with a bachelor's degrees instead of #47

#50 in violent crimes instead of #9

#1 in annual average pay instead of #38

#1 in median household income instead of #47

#50 in traffic fatalities instead of #9

#50 in unemployment instead of #2

#50 in persons below the poverty level instead of #2

#1 as the smartest state instead of #44


In the business world, CEO's who perform well are rewarded with high salaries and bonuses. Those who fail to meet their goals are fired. There is no reason why the same standards should not apply for you. If these goals are not met to justify your raise, prepare yourself for a difficult re-election.



They'd better not screw this up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Farewell, Tim Russert

The shocking news came just before 3 pm here this afternoon that Tim Russert, well known political pundit and host of NBC’s Meet The Press had died in his Washington office of an apparent heart attack. He was only 58 years old.

I was a Today Show fan for many, many years before switching over to Good Morning America in the mornings. So I got to watch Tim Russert a lot. I will never forget the fiasco that was the 2000 election. Russert had a white board that he would bring on the show with him. He had Al Gore in one column and George W. Bu$h in the other and he would run the electoral college numbers in every way he could imagine. I was watching the day he made the now famous remark, “It will all come down to Florida, Florida, Florida.” How right he was.

It was Tim Russert that I watched that fateful night in November of 2000 with the rest of a stunned nation as the returns showed a virtual tie. It was also Russert I watched four years later when it was “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio” that was pivotal state. By 2004 he was no longer carrying around his white board. Instead he had fancy schmancy computer tools that allowed him to play his numbers in every way imaginable. In an election that should have belonged to my candidate Howard Dean, I watched Tim all evening with what felt like a stone in my gut as Kerry was defeated.

My passion for politics started late in life. As a Sheriff’s deputy for so many years, I had enough drama with local politics to keep me quite uninterested in national stuff. All of that changed for me in 2000 and Tim Russert was there, feeding me information and fanning that flame that would turn into a passion. I always felt Tim was giving me pretty straight up information. Though he had Democratic roots, he'd become much more centered because he had to play both sides as a moderator. Although he was never my only source, I watched him more than anyone else.

Unlike so many people, my Sunday mornings are not usually filled with politics. Sunday is often a day of unwinding for E and me so I rarely watched the Sunday talking heads. But when I was in the mood for a good Sunday political debate, I spent my time flipping between Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos. They could always be counted on to provide the best discussions. Tim was like a bulldog when he was interviewing someone of questionable ethics and I loved that.

So it is with a heavy heart that I join the rest of the nation in saying goodbye to Tim Russert. Thanks for helping fan that fire in me, Tim, and for great content. My thoughts are with your family.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An Open Letter To The American Kennel Club (AKC)

Dear AKC:

Regarding the latest news story of the elderly Arizona couple who had over 800 dogs in their triple-wide trailer http://www.kpho.com/news/15579448/detail.html, I am contacting you to express my concern at the AKC’s failure in this matter and matters like it.

I don’t understand how your organization can continue to issue litter registrations to someone like this without red flags going up and bells and whistles screaming. If the purpose of the AKC is further breed standards, how can you not recognize puppy millers such as these? Oh that’s right, it’s because you work so closely with the likes of the Hunte Corporation, the largest puppy broker in the nation.

Rather than being the organization that fights for the dogs and champions reputable breeders, yours has become an organization where the almighty dollar takes preference over the lives of innocent puppies. As long as those puppy millers keep sending you their fees, you’re going to keep registering their litters, no matter how many they have in a month’s or year’s time.

I cannot properly express to you my disgust and disappointment in the AKC. My breed of choice happens to be the Bichon Frise. I am not a breeder but am very involved in rescue. Every time we get some poor little pup out of a puppy mill with a grade 6 PDA heart murmur or a group of 30 breeding females dumped on us with diseases and mange and broken spirits, I get angry that these places are allowed to continue mistreating dogs and passing along genetic diseases and traits detrimental to the breed. I understand that the USDA is in charge of inspections but your organization is part of the chain as well. And both you and the USDA have dropped the ball.

Your organization can make a difference in the lives of these innocent little dogs but you must regroup and remember what your original purpose was. Until you change the way you do business and get involved in shutting these places down, I will continue to spread the word of your willful impotence and liability in these matters. I will scream it as loud as I can and encourage others to do so as well.

This is a time when the AKC has a choice. You can continue to go down the current path and focus on the money or you can do something heroic and help save lives. The decision is yours to make. I hope that you make the right one.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Puppy Mills

I’ve mentioned here before that I volunteer for a wonderful Bichon Frise rescue group called Small Paws Rescue®. It started 10 years ago when two women, who met on the internet and shared a love for Bichons, decided they needed to do something for all the hurting little Bichons out there. From there Small Paws® has grown into one of the largest breed rescues in the world with over 6,000 volunteers.

Our Nate came from Small Paws® just over two years ago. He had been a stray found in north Texas and placed in a kill shelter. His time was just about up when Small Paws® found out he was there and took him in. He was sent to us as a foster but we failed Fostering 101 and happily adopted Nate a mere 11 days later.

Since Nate’s arrival we have managed to successfully foster Sam and Sadie, who are half-Bichon and half-Shih Tzu. As you can read here they are now living a wonderful life in North Carolina. I get updates on them periodically and my heart just bursts to hear how great they are doing.

E and I recently decided to open our hearts and home to another Small Paws® rescue and this morning I drove to the airport and picked up Leah. She is a puppy mill rescue out of Missouri and this is a first for us as we’ve never had a dog from a mill. She’s really skittish and wouldn’t even get out of her kennel for me a while ago. Of course, coming from a puppy mill, she doesn’t even know what it’s like to be a dog.

Leah is here in my office right now. The door to her kennel is open but she isn’t venturing out. That kennel is her little den; her safety zone. As I sat here watching her I realized that she’s lived her entire life of three years in a cage. She’s had little or no human contact. She served only one purpose – to have litters of pups to make money for the miller. Puppy mill dogs are not pets and if they get treated as well as livestock, they are lucky. Leah has no idea what it’s like to be loved. She doesn’t trust humans. Her little soul is broken and it makes me both sad and angry.

Leah and others like her are the reason that no one should ever buy a dog or cat from a pet store. The puppies are taken away from their mothers too early and shipped in large trucks to the pet stores where some of them don’t live to be sold. The mothers and studs are kept in cages all of their lives usually stacked one on top of the other. No one lets them out to potty. Most likely they’ve never even touched grass. Their little toes are splayed from having to walk on the wire cage floor. They are kept outside in rickety buildings with little or no heat or air conditioning and often no windows.

Puppy millers are not legitimate breeders. They couldn’t care less about the breed itself. They don’t care about puppies born with hereditary diseases or genetic deformities. I can’t tell you how many of these puppy mill dogs have heart murmurs – huge holes in their hearts – that are then passed on to their offspring. Puppy mill dogs don’t often get to see a vet if they are sick or hurt. They’re just put down as vets are way too costly and eat into the puppy profits.

Legitimate breeders will not sell their pups to pet stores - I promise you that because legitimate breeders care about the breed and breed for standard. Big stores like PetsMart and Petco do not sell dogs and cats. These are corporations with scruples. Other chain pet stores don’t have these same scruples. We have one of those stores here in Baton Rouge too. I won’t go near the place. Well, once I did because I knew they had Bichon puppies in there (for $1200!) and I wanted to see if they were healthy. I went in and asked to look at them one at a time as if I were interested in buying one. I checked each little pup from head to toe. I also questioned the sales clerk about where they get their puppies. Poor kid gave me the spiel that they are taught – “We get them from local breeders.” I told him I knew better then left and cried when I got into the car.

Small Paws® has worked hard over the past few years to get the broker prices down on Bichons and make them not worth breeding. Since it has become hard to make money on them bred to other Bichons, millers have started cross-breeding them with other breeds to make “designer puppies” like half-Bichon and half-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to create a “Cavachon”. They then sell them to pet stores who sell these pups for over $1,000.00 even though they are just mutts. You can’t register a “designer dog” because they aren’t pure bred. They are truly no different than your run-of-the-mill shelter dog except that someone paid a LOT of money for them and that their parents suffered in a mill somewhere.

Fortunately, a lot of breeders have gotten rid of their Bichon stock and have given them to Small Paws® and other Bichon rescue groups. Dogs like Leah will finally have good lives. It’s going to take her a while and she may never be as outgoing as a normal dog but Leah will learn to trust humans and she will know love. I can guarantee that because until she is adopted, she will be living with us where she will be spoiled and well loved. Leah will never have another litter of puppies again. No one is ever going to make money off of Leah again. Our dogs have a job now to teach Leah how to be a dog. She will someday feel safe outside of that kennel. Beginning today we start working on healing that broken little soul.

Want to read more about the horrors of puppy mills? Click the links below or Google "puppy mills" and please help Small Paws® and other rescue organizations put puppy mills out of business by not buying dogs or cats from anyone but a legitimate breeder, never from a pet store and by not patronizing pet stores that sell dogs and cats. Only when the demand stops will the supply cease.

I thank you and Leah thanks you too.




Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thank you, Johnny Mathis

I don’t know about most of you out there but music marks so very many moments in my life.

We have a new radio station KDDK 105.5 in the area that plays what I consider to be classics – Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett and all the greats. They also throw in some show tunes and the most eclectic mix of Musak-type tunes, songs in French and Spanish, patriotic songs, old time religious songs, and the occasional operatic aria. After my Kidd Kraddick fix every morning, I tune in to this new station promptly at 10 am. I spend the rest of the day either singing or humming along or laughing as I try to figure where they dug up a particular song. I would go out of my mind if I couldn’t have music in the background while I work.

One of the first songs I ever heard played on this station is the one that endeared me to the place forever. I was driving along and heard Johnny Mathis’ “Sweetheart Tree” - a song written by the great Johnny Mercer for the movie "The Great Race" directed by Blake Edwards.

They say there’s a tree in the forest
A tree that will give you a sign
Come along with me to the Sweetheart Tree
Come and carve your name next to mine

They say if you kiss the right sweetheart
The one you’ve been waiting for
Big blossoms of white will burst into sight
And your love will be true evermore

Johnny is Mom’s very favorite singer. She has been fortunate enough to have seen him live several times through the years. “Sweetheart Tree” is one of Johnny’s lesser known tunes so it’s not an easy song to find (as I found out one birthday sometime back when I decided I had to find it on CD for Mom). But the second I hear it I am transported back to 1965 at age 4 when Johnny’s album “The Sweetheart Tree” was brand new. I was an only child at the time and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. “Sweetheart Tree” quickly became our favorite and I remember I would often beg Mom to play our song. She would put that album on the phonograph and we would dance.

I hadn’t heard the station replay “Sweetheart Tree” since the first day I listened but this afternoon they dug it out again. On the first occasion, I had called Mom and turned up the radio so she could hear it over the cell phone. Today I just sat back in my chair and let my mind remember a time when it was just my mom and I at home every day. There wasn’t a set up twins there taking up a lot of her time (not that I’m not glad they came along later), none of the mother-daughter battles of the teenage years had happened yet, I hadn’t discovered The Beatles, and I still believed moms were perfect in every way. Johnny Mathis sang and we twirled and giggled and sang “Sweetheart Tree” together - just Mom, Johnny, and me. I have lots of wonderful childhood memories but this one ranks way up there.

So Johnny, I’ve made fun of you through the years and have given my mom a hard time for being such a huge fan of yours, but the truth is that 40+ years ago you gave my mom and me something special to share and I really have to thank you for that.