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Dog Lives Matter

September 10, 2021

I am a dog person.

Pretty sure that qualifies me as somewhat insane (less so than cat people).

I’ve always had small dogs. A poodle, a mid-size mutt as a kid, then the best dog in the world when I was an adult who was maybe 10 inches tall. After him, a Chihuahua and a Rat Terrier (Andy, Behaire, Rainier, Grizzly and Thunder). All small, and only the Chi shed much. Short white hairs everywhere. Or so I thought.

NOW I have a beautiful Lab/Hound mix, McKinley, our first girl and first “big” dog (there are bigger, but at 70 lbs and a foot and a half tall (on all fours), she’s twice as big as any other dog we’ve had), and a golden Huskita, Tehachapi, who is an inch shorter than McKinley, but about 4 inches wider. Kinley is needy, Hatch is independent.

Oh, and Hatch reproduces his non-fleshy parts copiously. I mean this dog SHEDS. We sweep a couple times a day and wake up to drifts of undercoat all over.

Further, these big dogs wreck sofas. We’ve never been a no-dog on the furniture family, and yes, our house has always had the dog smell funk, but these two can tip over the couch and regularly move it all over the rooms. Once they shredded a cushion.

They’ve also destroyed the back lawn. We had my daughter’s dogs with us for a while and they wrecked the side yard, but these two took out the whole thing. Our grass is rooted in sand, so when they chase each other (hours every day), they rip up anything they run over. The aggressive summer has brought some of it back, just the area around the pool enclosure is bare. They also realized when it was all gone that pooping on grass is better than pooping on sand (as the person who scoops it up every week, I can’t agree). And walking in the backyard is an adventure because big dogs never poop small.

Both love to get up close and breathe heavily in your face. More than once it’s occurred to me that I have an animal who could literally bite my face off just inches away from it.

You’d have to be crazy. Just stark, staring bonkers to have dogs.

But right now, one is sacked out by the door (hope Lynette doesn’t open it suddenly), and the other is asleep under my desk (have to remember not to move my feet much). They are both beautiful, one in sleek, black dog-perfection, and the other in golden hair, golden eyes wonder. They pine when I’m out of town, and they pine when Lynette is out of town. They love to play with each other, tearing through the house. And they love to cuddle. Kinley a lot and Hatch occasionally and not for long (people are hot!).

The Ying and Yang of it.

They also fill the house with presence. We’re older and either don’t radiate presence as much or can’t sense it as easily, but the house overflows with life. That’s probably why I’m a dog person. Houses need life.

These 140 pound puppies look to us for everything. They occasionally obey, and they look great draped over the couch.

I mentioned they are both puppies. Kinley is almost done growing and will max out around 75 pounds. Hatch, old thunderpaws, is nowhere near grown into his feet. My guess is he’ll grow 5 more inches and jump over 100 pounds.

The worst/best thing is that with these monsters, we can’t have people over. Best because we’re introverts who are happy not to have people over, and worst because sometimes it’s great to have people over.

Mostly, though, these dogs deserve a good life and they weren’t getting that before us. The beautiful, 14 pound McKinley was in a dog shelter, and little Hatch was… well, he’s safe now, and regularly fed.

Black Lives Matter

July 20, 2021

Of course they do. Black Lives Matter, which has an element of a corrupt organization, mostly has brought a real struggle to national conversation. But who do you have the conversation with? Yes, I have black friends, but we talk about friend stuff. I don’t want inelegant, often not-fully-formed ideas to harm a relationship. I’m happy to respond if it’s instigated, but it seems gauche to expect my friends to represent some black ideal. Fortunately, I have a blog for this stuff.

The question I’d want to ask is: Where do you feel your American Identity begins?

The Thirteen Colonies America's Beginning. Who were the First People in  America? One may think that Christopher Columbus was the person in America,  but. - ppt download
For All Americans!

I would hope with at least the Mayflower. Definitely the Revolution. But please, please, please, don’t let it begin with Slavery.

My family did not come over on the Mayflower, but it is the beginning of my American Identity. Much of my easily-identified family came over after the Civil War. Some could argue that my cultural identity begins in Ireland or Norway, but I don’t identify as Irish or Norwegian in any cultural way. I don’t know their cultures. I’m an American. (I don’t care for the terms African American, Asian American, Native American. We’re all Americans, why modify it?)

Slavery is the greatest national evil we’ve ever embraced, yet even at the founding of our country, it wasn’t fully embraced. The ability to change the Constitution was included specifically to enable the abolishment of slavery. And end it did.

Abolition meant everyone born here is a fully-invested American. Certainly, not everyone was always treated that way, but the fact of the matter is that every free person who is an American citizen owns the entire ideal of America. Freedom.

The ideal falls short far too often. But freedom isn’t meant to be easy. It is to be fought for, and yes, some have to fight harder for it. Not all of those people are black.

Here’s one of those half-formed thoughts. Today’s black people have more in common with our forefathers than they do with slaves.

Is where our identity begins really that big of deal? YES!

I imagine my great great grandfather Ole first stepping foot on American soil. The excitement! The bindings he sought to escape fell off, their weight suddenly absent. Ole knew he could be anyone in America! What he worked for would be his. I’m sure he quickly found out that it wasn’t that easy. Maybe they didn’t speak English. Maybe they didn’t have the skills or fortitude they’d need to succeed, but they worked hard, learned skill and gained fortitude from the struggle.

As his great great grandson, I didn’t have the immediate excitement. Freedom that was free isn’t as keenly felt. Yet as I learned about the promise of America, I did get excited.

I want that for black people. To begin your American identity with slavery is to begin with oppression. That is not who you are. You are as the founders were. If the color of their skin bothers you, imagine them in the dark. We’re all the same color in the dark.

You are an American. Like all of us, you have to build skills, learn fortitude, turn your personal story into strength. The forces against success are strong, but as an American, you have the ability to be stronger. Ole didn’t ask that it be easy, just possible.

For you, American, it’s possible. Work hard. If you have to, work harder. With every beat down, remember it’s possible. That’s what we all have as Americans.

A Bill of Responsibility?

April 22, 2021

I love the forethought of the Bill of Rights. The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, while not original, show tremendous forethought. Consider them (Simplified):

The Bible takes a different approach with the Ten Commandments, which serve as a Bill of Responsibility, you might say. A few of those apply in contrast to the Bill of Rights, but perhaps we need an aligned Bill of Responsibility. Such as:

  1. Check your facts, speak kindly, report responsibly, tolerate (not agree) with everyone, protest peacefully.
  2. Thou shalt not kill. (Excepting self-defense, war, and martial force when necessary, and arguably, capital punishment (which I disagree with if we can’t do it well, but darn it, some people need killin’!). Get training, use your head.
  3. No mandatory quartering, but be hospitable when you can and even when you can’t with friends, family, and the needy.
  4. Don’t keep things that are illegal!
  5. Be respectful of an admittedly flawed justice system, but still the best in the world. Serve willingly on juries. Be fair and impartial. Don’t lie, and use the 5th when you need to.
  6. Don’t be a criminal.
  7. See #6.
  8. Be glad you live here.
  9. Don’t make up rights that require the labor of others. Rights are individual.
  10. YES! Follow this amendment, politicians! The closer the solution is to the problem, the more effective. The further the solution from the problem, inefficiency, pork, graft, and uselessness grow exponentially!

You’d think this would all be obvious, yet clearly we struggle with it.

[And just to rile the world: The 2nd Amendment is not about establishing a militia. That comma sets that off as “Because there is a well-regulated militia” you may be armed. Every other amendment contrasts “people” and “government” and militia is government as used here. So our right to be armed because of an armed government cannot be infringed. This amendment is about self-defense and rogue-government prevention (not with a fire-fight but because an armed public makes government bad guys leery).]

And: All Amendments are equal, but the 1st is my favorite!

Git along little doggies

April 16, 2021

And by doggies, I mean feet.

My feet have always caused me problems. Balance, chief among them. I have little feet for a 6’2″ guy. Mom used to make fun of me for “falling off my shoes.” I also have pain, just general soreness most of the time, but a few years ago, I had searing pain that made walking difficult and hobbling easy.

Plantar Fasciitis is a tear or inflammation of the Plantar facia, a band of tissue that runs under your heel. It was awful, to the point I was considering surgery to correct it.

57 Hey So Funny Feet ideas | funny, bones funny, humor
I’m probably breaking copyright, but these are so disturbing I had to…

Then someone told me about Crocs. Those ugly sandal things. Desperate, I went to their site and discovered they have sneakers and loafers, too. I bought a pair of expensive loafers (I try not spend more than $20 for shoes; these were in the $60s). They were comfortable and within 3 weeks, years of pain were gone! I wore them all the time and being a heel walker, the heel wore through. Off to buy another pair…

Crocs are weird, though. My left foot is size 9, my right foot is size 10. I normally buy 9.5 shoes, but Croc doesn’t offer half sizes. The first pair fit well, but that style was gone. I bought another. It wasn’t comfortable. One shoe was too tight, one shoe was too loose, and the insole was plastic with bubbles. I bought a different pair, size 9. Too tight, but better. I admit to owning half a dozen pairs of different kinds of Crocs.

So, my wife needed nursing shoes and Crocs don’t serve for that (though I’ve seen nurses wearing the ugly ones). Sketchers did carry an appropriate kind of shoe, so off to the outlet mall.

While she looked, I shrugged my shoulders and tried on a pair of 9 1/2 loafers. With memory foam. HEAVEN! I had to have these shoes! Talk about comfortable AND stylish!

I love the shoes.

But the plantar fasciitis is coming back. But they are so comfortable! But after while they hurt. But they’re comfortable!

I now go back and forth between my Sketchers and my tight Crocs, depending on how long I’ll be on my feet. A long time is for Crocs, a short time is for comfort and Sketchers.

There’s a life lesson there. I love comfort, but comfort isn’t always what’s best for you. Sometimes you need discomfort. I know I live far too comfortable of a life. I avoid risk of danger, of social interaction, definitely of commitment. I avoid new experiences in place, food, and relationships. My life is encased in memory foam (that doesn’t improve my memory). I’m going to try and change that.

How about you? Do you accept discomfort as growth?

Flat Frogs & Morning Walks

April 1, 2021

Morning walk with the pups is like striding through a minefield right now. It’s frog season, and not the fun Florida frogs but the illegal alien Cuban Frogs, which are an invasive species and have a knack for getting run over. Our street is a curious mash of creamed frog, which we find disgusting and the dogs find riveting, and flat frogs. Those are frogs run over so often, and ants or whatever having carted the juicy stuff away, that the frog skin completely merged with the concrete. There is no discernable edge. I haven’t tried, but I doubt I could peal it up, it seems to be a permanent feature of the road.

And the dogs couldn’t care less. The mangled they love and they don’t even notice the flat frogs.

Far too many people’s lives are flat frogs. They leave no discernable presence on the planet. In old photos, no one knows who they are.

FlatFrog | LinkedIn

Such people come in a couple varieties.

  1. People intentionally trying to go unnoticed. Typically related to fear, be that shyness, impostor syndrome, or lack of personal faith in themselves.
  2. People who intentionally want to be left alone. Typically rooted in selfishness, these people don’t recognize they are part of a society and want to be left alone. Forever. And they will be.

We don’t often think about the need to contribute. We have our own lives, and for some of us blessed to have family, investing in others is second nature, but after the kids have gone, after no one expects anything from you, it is so easy to sink into complacency. With Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, ESPN, and so many other entertainments, the couch can become our personal street that we flatten into.

I read an article written by a pastor asked to perform the funeral eulogy for a local man. The pastor asked his neighbors for stories. They had none. No one even knew his name. He talked to his co-workers. No one knew what department he worked in. He had no family. The person who asked for the eulogy was the delivery person who discovered he was dead. She called the police, followed up because she’s a caring person, and no one had claimed the body. No heirs, no family, no friends, no co-worker relationships. The guy was the flattest of frogs. The pastor considered having fun with it and making up daring stories about the man, but instead delivered a dour eulogy. There was only one person in attendance, the delivery woman. They cried together afterward not because he was dead, but because he had never truly lived.

What kind of person are you? Not to be morbid, but who would attend your funeral? Would anyone be willing to travel to make it? Or would your “friends” think, “looks like rain, we’ll pay our respects later”?

We shouldn’t live our lives for attention. We should live to care, to invest, to contribute, to make a difference in other people’s lives. What are you doing?

Don’t be a flat frog.

Seasonal Mood Disorder

March 20, 2021

I grew up just outside of Seattle. Spent 28 years there ( four of them in Bellingham, where the doom rooms always have condensation on the windows).

Seattle is a beautiful city, the suburbs weren’t bad either. With all that rain, green grass, green trees, green bushes, green slugs, all a assured. It can rain for months at a time, straight through. Except in the summer, the sky was almost always gray and gloomy. Summers could be magical with their blue skies and warmth, and therein should have been my first clue.

I have a bad hip, have since I was six, almost constant pain of some level since then. I hid it for the most part, and rainy days were the worst. But in summer… the soreness didn’t bother me. I could even *gasp* run! I loved summers. I think I smiled during the summer.

Could a Dose of Sunshine Make You Smarter? | The Scientist Magazine®
Almost heaven, sunshine and happiness.

When I was 28, we moved to Orlando, FL. Orlando can get the same rainfall amount as Seattle, but we get it all at once; 3 inches in a few minutes. To this day, on gray days I dress warm only to step outside and find sweltering heat.

I was happy! From the moment we arrived, my spirits soared. Crazy me, I thought it was because I loved my job. Then we had kids and I thought it was babies that cause my joy (they did and still do as adults).

Three years later we moved to Atlanta, and then back to Seattle. I eventually worked at Boeing in the world’s largest building. My office was a half mile in. I’d get there before the sun rose, and often left after the sun set, never seeing sunlight, which was funny, because even when I got out early, there was no sunshine.

My spirits slumped. I hated it there. My thoughts were darker than the sky, and if not for my kids and wonderful wife, I’d have had a bleak existence. For the first time, I realized the gray got me down–it wasn’t “just me.” Before it had been my normal, but now I knew the difference. Couldn’t handle it and moved back to the joy of Orlando.

I suffer from Seasonal Mood Disorder or Seasonal Depression Disorder. My spirits bubbled again! I may be a night person, but I love the sun and the blue! I do still have a laid back personality, and people here would be shocked I could get even lower back home (and it always will be home, even though I’ll never live there again).

What we grow up in is normal to us, even if it’s frightfully abnormal. I think about my friends back home who have never moved away. How many of them would find new flavor of life in the sun?

What do we accept as normal because we’ve never known different? Not just SMD, but life patterns, negative emotions, even abuse? I don’t think one must move away from home base–some should–but for those who stay, explore fresh perspectives. Watch how others live and look at yourself with new eyes. Maybe your normal… isn’t.

I have an amazing family. I’d guess at least one of my sisters struggle with SMD, maybe all of them. My wife and I? We’re moving to Colorado next year, closer to home, and hoping family and friends from both coasts will find time to visit. There’s a lot of fresh perspective out there.

You’ve Got Mail

November 28, 2020

My email is a lot like Covid stats. A hundred-thousand received, 12 that aren’t junk. There are filters and blocking features, but at least they make me feel wanted.

Standard mail is the same way. I get it every day, throw 99% away. My bills are all online, now, checks, while always welcome, are rare, and personal letters… it’s been decades of you don’t count birthday and holiday cards.

Zero junk mail in Europe! - Zero Waste Europe

Couldn’t we slash the Post Office budget by handling things the way garbage pickup handles it? Everyone gets 3 deliveries a week with the 3rd day being the only day with junk mail (which for me would mean the 1st and 2nd day are almost always nothing). My route might be Monday Wednesday Friday, the next-over route Tuesday Thursday Saturday. One carrier can handle both routes. This means half the carriers (Doug would have a job for life), and fewer processing people, because they’d have more time to sort or whatever they do now.

Post Offices could stay open 6 days a week if required, and I think there are package deliveries now whenever needed.

Would you have issues with getting mail every other day?

I’m Trying to Stay Away from Political Posts, but…

October 23, 2020

Watched the final debate today. Much more civil than the first one. And so much to kibitz over but for some reason this is the quote that stood out to me:

Biden: I didn’t have to tell my daughter when stopped by police to put her hands on the wheel and speak politely and quietly, complying with the the officer’s commands, yet black fathers have to tell their kids…

Um, no. All this tells me is that Joe Biden was a negligent father.

I am as white as they come. My skin can be mistaken for the underbelly of a fish. As a kid I got away with a lot. A simple expression and whatever I did would be blamed on my sister. I was a guilty soul with an innocent face.

Still, when I turned 15, my dad sat me down and explained how to act when stopped by the police. Roll down the window, license out, hands in sight, either on the steering wheel or on the ledge of the door, and speak respectfully. Apologize if I was wrong, accept the ticket and sign it without question. Know my rights, if absolutely necessary, in a respectful tone ask for clarification and express my rights.

Being respectful to those in authority is not a racial thing. I had that talk with my children, all of whom are white upon white. This is what good fathers/mothers do.

I’m sure there are things unique to the black experience. I’m not going to judge someone who doesn’t agree with me or expresses a different view. When a person of color has a grievance, I want to listen to them to understand their experiences and thought processes.

I find it stunning, however, when a man who has voted for every oppressive law against people of color tries to pass himself off as a friend to such people.

Four years ago we had a buffoon running against an (IMO) evil political operator. Didn’t vote for either of them. This year we have a buffoon running against a buffoon.

Sad times, America.

High Cuisine

September 8, 2020

My dog is a connoisseur of high French and Cajun cuisine.

She loves frog legs. And the rest of the frog.

Dog frog : PewdiepieSubmissions
You are what you eat.

This first came to my attention when she was in the backyard tossing something in the air and catching it again in her teeth only to throw it back into the air. It wasn’t until the legs fell out of her mouth that I realized it was a frog.

This is the season where frogs leap into the streets when it rains. And are promptly flattened by cars. After the flies have their fill and the sun dries it out, they become barely visible on the road, little more than a dark outline. So I can be forgive for not always seeing them. McKinley is part bloodhound and I’m pretty sure the part is her nose. Her head dips down and she brings up what she refers to as Frog Jerky firmly clenched between her teeth.

Tonight was the height of dining. On our wet evening walk around the neighborhood we unknowingly walked amidst a migration of frogs the size of pencil erasers. I should point out that we use a halter with the ring in the middle of her back and a leash that has bungee properties with plenty of stretch (to prevent our 35 pound dog from yanking my arm out of its socket when changes direction, which is often). All that to say I can’t immediately bring her head up. That fleet of 1000 micro-frogs was probably 900 strong once she got finished with them.

She looked at me in love, wanting to lick me in devotion.

No way, dog, not for a long time to come.

The Whole Story and Nothing But the Whole Story

August 30, 2020

This might sound like a post on writing, but it’s not, unless it’s posting on Facebook.

So many times now, we’ve heard people being condemned for what eventually is justified behavior.

It happens on both “sides.” We hear a news report and instantly make a judgment. We then post our outrage on social media, or find our blood boiling and act out, some violently, other’s with verbal lashing.

Stop. Hear a story and ask, “Is that all of it?” Worry about unconscious bias. “That fits my narrative! Grab it!” Be patient and wait for the facts.

Police run afoul of this a lot lately. Perhaps some really are brutality. If you stop and get the rest of the story, it will still be brutality.

Email and Social Media Etiquette Tip - DON'T SHOUT! - Hoax-Slayer
Better late than wrong

Also, consider context. We expect perfect behavior under stress, and make no mistake, that’s what even peaceful protests are, stressful, because you don’t know who’s coming to the protest. Most are compassionate, peaceful folks, some are willing to take advantage of the situation and those bad actors will reflect on the protest.

I know I jumped on one such story, because, hey, it looked bad. My mistake. There was so much more to it.

Rather than being the first to shout out, get your facts straight. I guarantee that if you ask ten people about “hot story of the day” you will get ten different answers. Try to be the one who actually knows before you pop off. Or for that matter, what you support. You may firmly agree with the concept and then find out the organization you didn’t even know about preaches some awful things you don’t agree with.

Let’s be wise out there.

I include myself in that admonition.