Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dearest Gaga,

Ya know I love ya, but this is not fair and balanced at all.

If you read the article linked in your blog then you already know that. You are a good writer and a student of history. Of all people, why would you deliberately twist words simply to agitate? What happened to your ability to view both sides of an issue before making a decision? Who or what is influencing you to react instead of think? You are a brilliant thinker…don’t lose that.

You wrote that whole list just to be inflammatory. (You could certainly spice up the front page of the Mullet Wrapper. You would increase circulation exponentially.) You have taken great license. You should be ashamed of yourself, unless you are running for office, and then this type of hyperbole is expected and sadly acceptable. The article you refer to does not include anything like your diatribe…er, I mean list. You have deliberately ignored the article’s statement about this “tax increase” (as you call it) being the nonrenewal of Bush era tax cuts. Sorry, but I could swear you just bitched a blue streak on Facebook (January 9, 2009) about Obama tax cuts. So which is it? Tax cuts are good or tax cuts are not good? How can you have it both ways?

People will jump on this bandwagon, and pretty much any other one you want to put out there that lets them believe that they are victims. People are always anxious to find a scapegoat for problems. The sad fact is that most people will never truly examine the underlying issues, but will take everything you say as gospel truth, then share their (your) viewpoints with friends, and so on and so on, and with every sharing you have less and less fact passed on until the movie “Idiocracy” becomes a documentary rather than a stupid, low budget comedy. If each side is so busy beating its own drum that it never hears what the other side is saying, then what has happened to the “united” in United States of America?

We are hamstrung by all the finger pointing and name calling on all sides. Our country is a mess, and it needs fixing soon. It’s time for people to come together to work toward a solution based on actual facts instead of going off on emotional tangents that certainly generate energy, but do not create any positive movement. It may be time to consider that our Presidents are not deliberately trying to destroy our nation and that if we would come together as Americans, rather than claw each others’ eyes out as Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians, we might make some progress.

You will note that this does not say anything about what I think about the current tax situation, the election in Massachusetts, or the current or previous administrations. Why should anyone care what I think? They need to think for themselves. Read. Listen. Consider. Read the Constitution. Make decisions based on facts, possibilities, objective analysis, and human consequences. Until all those things are considered, no one should express an opinion. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

I’m just sayin’.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Helping comes in many forms

Yesterday at the supermarket a beautifully dressed young woman was methodically taking the coupons off every Kashi product on the shelf. She would go through a row of boxes,remove the coupons, place the boxes back neatly, then start on the next row. Being nosy (and wanting to grab a box of granola being held hostage by her mission), I asked her if she was nearly done. "Oh here, do you want one?" she asked. "This is such a good deal, I thought I would give them to the homeless!"

You have to give people credit for wanting to help others. I hope she plans to give them freezers and microwaves, too. The coupons were for frozen dinners.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The holidays are almost here. The end of semester has been filled with the usual challenges and successes. First semester freshman are discovering that they have what it takes, or that things did not go as planned. Staff have been dealing with deadlines for final exams, graduation, commencement, grades, petitions, and insufficient sections of required courses to meet demand. Everyone is tired, the students have gone, and we are all looking forward to spending a little time with our families and friends.

Of course, we all know that somewhere between our now quiet university and some distant locale is that one complete idiot who will decide that December 23 is the perfect date for her perfectly wonderful child to visit the university that he wants to attend "more than anything else in the whole world". And she will stop at nothing to try to make this happen. She will never acknowledge that she has been given all the tour dates, and we don't do them this particular week. She will not consider that if it were really that important she might want to bring her wunderkind to campus when he can actually see something. She won't even admit that she screwed up the office address -- even we don't have what it takes to direct an obnoxious parent to "a pole barn on the Vet Med complex."

Here's how it goes down: Mrs. Idiot I'm-the-Only-One-in-the-World Who Matters, calls a week before the university is closing down to schedule a tour for her baby Einstein. We explain that we'll be glad to meet with her and her son, but that we don't have tours available, the students have gone home, labs are closed for the term, etc. We arrange a meeting with the department that her son just has to meet with, but she can't find a way to program campus addresses into her GPS. So, she contacts the dean - not once, but twice - and says no one will help her. She has to travel "hundreds of miles" to reach us. Oh, dear, your area code is in-state. You gotta love this. She's already pissed off every single person her son will need as a resource if he actually comes here. I hope it made her feel powerful.

So once again, my favorite rant: if you are really interested in a college or university, then plan your freakin' campus visit so that you can get something out of it. If your college visit is so low on the priority list that the only day you can squeeze it in is when "your college of choice" is closed, then maybe it's not so important after all.

We go out of our way every single day for our students, both current and prospective. I suspect that this particular mother either wants her baby closer to home, or is trying to make up for the campus visit being an afterthought on her part.

Have a nice holiday, Mrs. VIP. Bask in the hassle you have created, and understand that you have done your son no favor at all. It's not all about you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Tis the Season

Greetings, All, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

As usual, the holidays have arrived without my quite knowing how they sneak up on me each year. Maybe someday I will have everything planned in advance. While I'm waiting for that particular fantasy to come true, I figure I might as well jump into the spirit of the holiday season and try to spread a little goodwill.

Most of you know that I volunteer with H.A.L.O., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing emergency care for animals. The good news is that we have been successful in getting the word out. In the past few months, H.A.L.O., in cooperation with the Humane Society, has conducted three "trap, neuter, release" missions for feral cats. Many of these cats required additional medical treatment and were cared for post-surgery by volunteers. These missions are great, but what happens most often at H.A.L.O. is that people drop off wounded, sick or unwanted pets. Tomorrow, a beautiful little Shih-Tzu puppy will be placed in the home of my friend and co-worker. The puppy's original family is no longer able to care for him, and his new family is excited about his arrival. This was one was easy -- healthy, cute, purebred, well-cared-for -- lots of people want a pet like that.

Most are not so easy. This morning when I spoke to Stacey, she was on the way to a vet with a cat who had been attacked and seriously hurt by a dog. The surgery and meds will cost hundreds of dollars. This is a typical H.A.L.O. story. In the past 6 months Stacey and Sue have accumulated huge vet bills for the dogs and cats they have saved. So far, no animal has been turned away. But so far, no animal has been dropped off with anything in the way of financial support for the medical care needed.

With a little help from our friends, we can continue to provide care for any animal in need. Please consider making a small donation to H.A.L.O. to keep the lights on and the animals safe and healthy. Everything helps, and every donation is used to care for the animals. We promise not to share your info with anyone, ever.

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!
(Donations are processed through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to donate.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Introducing The H.A.L.O. Chronicles

What do you do when you find an injured animal on the side of the road?

My friends Stacey and Sue were faced with this dilemma last New Year's Eve when the vehicle traveling ahead of them hit a German Shepherd and continued driving. The dog was thrown by the impact. Whether the offending driver had stopped or not, the question still remains. Who do you call?

There are few emergency animal rescue operations. Those that do exist are often overwhelmed, understaffed, and unable to respond to emergencies in a reasonable time. Stacey and Sue rescued the dog, took him to a 24 hour veterinarian, and finally reunited him with his owners. That story had a happy ending. Many do not.

In response, Stacey founded H.A.L.O., a nonprofit organization dedicated to becoming "The Planet's Animal Ambulance." H.A.L.O.'s mission is to network with other rescue operations to provide emergency care and transport in this kind of situation. I am very proud to be a member of H.A.L.O., and hope that you will join me in following the development of this worthy project.

I met Stacey in October 2007 at a weekend seminar that challenged us to let go of old excuses and see the possibilities in life. By Sunday evening, I knew that Stacey would take what we had learned and run with it. A few months later, she had founded H.A.L.O. (Healing Animals with Love Organization), and within weeks had connected with animal rescue groups across the country. She is currently enrolled at the University of South Florida and plans to enroll in veterinary school by 2010. Her goal is to provide free emergency services, and to develop a national network of emergency service providers.

We are proud to have our first animal ambulance, HALO-1. Stacey and other supporters have also attended a multitude of training sessions to prepare them for carrying out our mission.

While we have made connections nationwide, we must start locally. At this time, HALO-1 operates in Pinellas County. We will expand. Our long-term vision includes an institute where we can offer animal rescue training and veterinary care facilities.

We are working on a website. The current one is sparse, but we are in the process of developing a site that will provide complete information about H.A.L.O. Please bear with us, as we are all volunteers working at other full-time responsibilities.

Meanwhile, I invite you to follow the H.A.L.O. Chronicles blog to see what we are up to.

Helping us to get the word out will support the organization and provide care for animals in need.

Thanks for taking time to read this. Please pass the link to the H.A.L.O. blog along to you friends.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Dark Side of Designer Dogs

With man’s best friend enjoying the current surge of dog popularity, it seems that everyone wants to be in on the act. Celebrities have dogs, politicians have dogs, college students and their professors have dogs. Big, burly men walk Toy Poodles, while pretty girls strut their stuff with Pitt Bulls at their sides. Dogs join their owners at outdoor cafes, and pampered pooches go along on shopping trips, ensconced in elaborate (and expensive) carriers designed for this purpose. The dog world has become a topsy-turvy place. New breeds, questionable registries, and the entrepreneurial spirit have combined to make buying a dog a complicated affair. Do your homework, and hold on to your wallet. You might not be getting what you expect.


Designer dogs have become the rage. These new breeds are usually a cross between two standard breeds. Labradoodles, Poo Tzus, Teddy Bears, Pomapoos, Yorkipoos…the list goes on and on. The cute catchy names alone are endearing. Combine the name with a cute little furball, and you’ve got a winner, right? Maybe not. When two breeds are crossed, the result is not guaranteed. The rules of genetics tell us that some offspring will have dominant traits, and others will manifest recessive traits. A good breeder understands how genetics can affect future generations. But amateur breeders often lack the credentials and background needed to ensure healthy offspring. Many lack interest or concern in these areas, preferring to go for the quick cash while popularity drives demand. Breeding a nonshedding dog to a shedding dog does not guarantee a nonshedding animal. Crossing breeds that have similar health problems almost promises offspring who will manifest those problems. So here’s the secret you need to remember: designer dogs are really mutts.


If you are looking for a purebred dog with papers, make sure you know which group issued the papers on your prospective pooch. For over 100 years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has established and maintained the criteria for breed standards in the United States. There are other registries, too, but it is very important to understand what is required for registration. For a $12.00 fee, anyone can register their dog with the Continental Kennel Club (CKC). If you have a witness who will attest that your dog is purebred, then CKC will register it as purebred. And they will provide litter registration for all litters, no questions asked. (Is is just me, or is there an eerie resemblance here to the AKC web site?) It is the buyer’s responsibility to know what registration papers really mean. Just because a puppy is registered does not mean that it is a purebred dog, or even that the breed is recognized as anything more than a “mixed breed”. Do your homework. Don’t pay extra money for something unless you understand what you are paying for.


For some entrepreneurial types, jumping on the dog popularity trend has been very profitable. Take two standard breed dogs, hook them up, then slap a ridiculous price tag on their offspring while touting all the best characteristics of both breeds, advertise on one of the many free internet sites, and watch the cash come rolling in. Over the past 10 months, the prices of these dogs on have continually increased. Dogs that cost $300-$400 last year, are now listed at $500 and up. Small mixed breed dogs are blatantly advertised with made up names at prices over $800. Because posting an ad to these free sites requires only an email address, it is a simple matter for puppy mills to change the contact info from one litter to the next. It’s no wonder that the same photos get recycled into new ads at different times.


Mutts can make great pets, and it is possible for a purebred dog to fall short of the mark. Hybrids can and do become recognized breeds after meeting specific criteria. Many breeders are knowledgeable, reputable people who take great care and pride in their work. Still, if you are in the market for a new four-legged companion, a little research ahead of time can save a lot of heartache and vet bills later. Know the breeder and ask for references. See the puppy where it was raised, and ask to see the parents, too. If pedigree is not the important thing in your selection, then check the local animal shelters and consider rescuing an animal. Designer dogs are showing up at shelters in record numbers. And exercise great caution in buying sight unseen.

Caveat emptor!

  • The Continental Kennel Club (CKC) is not the same as the American Kennel Club. With a photograph and a fee, you could register Scooby Doo as a Toy Poodle and you would receive papers attesting to that. If you paid extra for a dog with CKC papers, you may only have a registered mutt.

  • There is no such breed as an Imperial or Princess Shih Tzu. These small animals are “runts” and can be very fragile, often with health problems.

  • Truth in advertising does not apply to unmonitored internet ad sites. Let the buyer beware.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our Right to Vote

Hidden beneath the current economic debacle and the usual noise of the presidential campaign is an issue that potentially affects each of us and should make us all shake in our boots. The right to vote is being withheld from many of our eligible voters, specifically, college students.

In 1979, the Supreme Court guaranteed students the right to vote in the communities in which they attend school. But election officials can make it difficult. In Norfolk, Va., the local registrar has reportedly barred students who live in dormitories from registering to vote.

Virginia is not the only state whose election officials are attempting to disenfranchise young voters. Michigan, considered an important state in the coming election, is also discouraging young voters from exercising their rights. If they live in dormitories, or are out-of-state students, then official say they must go home to vote. That can be a very big burden for a college student.

I do understand that the locals would prefer to not have all these outsiders voting on local issues. Really, I feel the same way. But this is a national election, one that will forge the future of our nation for the next four years. It is an historic election, in terms of race, and gender, and the magnitude of the issues facing us.

How can anyone even attempt to justify impeding the election process for voters who are attending school away from home?

The most recent U.S. elections have been plagued with the kind of corruption usually associated with unstable governments. We have lost our integrity in the view of the world. Now, when we must demonstrate our unity, local governments are denying citizens the right to vote for president.

How much lower can we sink?