Thursday, July 31, 2008
The one that particularly amused me was the shot of the cat skittering across the water of a pond. I know Jesus was said to be able to walk on water, but didn't know cats could!
H/T to "Pokey" on Baristanet.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Baxter here. My Female Human has been all tied up this Week trying to finish Packing up her Office as her Group is Moving to Another Part of the Building. And on top of that, she and my Male Human are trying to buy Property in that Place they call the Adirondacks. They are still Waiting to hear back on an Offer they have made. Apparently buying Property involves much Waiting and Anticipation. So, in the Meantime, she suggested that I fill in here and Post some Updates.
Now, you have to understand, it is the Middle of Summer. The biggest News around here lately was people getting hit by Lightning at the Jersey Shore and on Long Island. One Human man died. Very Sad. However, at least there were no Shark Attacks, which usually also make it into the News in the Summer.
Since it is Summer, we Cats have also gotten some Attention. There's the cat whose Fur looks like Jesus. Personally, I can't see it. But some People claim they do see His Face in the Fur. (What is it with Humans always trying to find the Image of this God-Human they call Jesus in all kinds of Incongruous Materials? It's either Him or His Mother. Once they saw Her in a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. And then the Owner of the Sandwich sold it on E-Bay for $28,000. I'm not Religious, myself, but don't you think it's a little Sacrilegious to be seeing Jesus and Mary in Cat Fur or Grilled Cheese Sandwiches? And then making money on the Sandwich? Sheesh.)
In other Cat News, a 44-pound Cat was found in Voorhees, New Jersey. They are calling her Princess Chunk and will try to Adopt Her Out if Her Owners do not come forth to claim Her. Not only is this Cat getting all kinds of Press, she now is scheduled to appear on Good Morning America and Regis and Kelley. Here is Her Picture. She makes Me look positively Petite. Do you realize she only weighs 8 pounds less than Diva, That Dog that I am Forced to Live With? And she's twice MY Weight.
On to Other Subjects. Since it is the Depths of Summer, it has been Hard to Concentrate on Politics that much, but I have Followed the Obama Human's World Tour with interest. He really knows how to Wow them Over There. 200,000 or so turned out to hear him Speak in Berlin. He was looking all Presidential and Important and people were Enthusiastic.
In the Meantime, the other Human running for President, John McCain, was trying to make an Impression on the Folks Back Home by being interviewed in a Supermarket near the Dairy Case. It didn't really Go Over very Well, what with falling Applesauce and various other Mishaps.
But despite these Contrasts, the Polls remain extremely Close. There could be Many Reasons for this: Fear of the Unknown (McCain may not be Perfect but he is Well Known). Possible Racism. A Myriad of other Possibilities.
But on The Daily Show last night, another Theory was advanced: The Pity Vote.
John Oliver's Theory is that McCain is so Inept and Incompetent that people will Feel Sorry For Him and he will Win. Oliver also compares Obama to Lassie - almost Too Perfect - and McCain to an appealingly Scruffy Dog called Mr. Sniffles.
This Pity Theory may Very Well be Accurate. After all, we got George W. Bush because people "felt like they could have a Beer with him." If People don't feel as if they could have a Beer with Obama, he is at Risk of Losing. The American Humans have proven Time and Again that they don't have the Sense they were Born With and will vote for Anyone they feel is Ordinary enough that they could Relate to them. None of those "Elite" people will Do.
It's Time for the Obama Human to come home and eat some American Hot Dogs and hang out with the Ordinary People talking about the Price of Milk. (And of course, the Price of Milk is Very Important to us Cats as Well.)
Until Next Time, this is Baxter, Signing Off. Have some Catnip and we can All try to make it through the Dog Days of Summer. (Why are they Dog Days, anyway? Cat Days would make more Sense and be more Suitable. Cats like to relax on Hot Days! Dogs run around like Idiots and lie in the Midday Sun.)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
For anyone who doesn't already know, Double Dutch is a type of jumproping. In my long-ago youth, people did it for fun. There were all kinds of rhymes that were made up to help kids keep the rhythm of the two jumpropes that the participants had to keep jumping over.
Apparently in the 70's they added rules and point-scoring to what had once just been a fun thing to do on a summer day.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't think it will be a good sport for kids to play in school. But why does everything in America have to become a competitive sport? It's just one more thing kids will do in a regimented way, under certain rules, on a specific schedule. I guess there will be semi-finals and championship matches. There will be winners and losers. Hearts will be broken, kids will feel like misfits if they can't compete.
Making something a competitive sport doesn't mean it will result in more kids getting exercise. What happens is they get driven to the site where the sport takes place; parents must provide snacks for their kids and their friends to eat afterward; kids jump for a short period of time and then their round is over. It's not like the old days when a bunch of friends would gather in a seldom-used street and jump rope all afternoon just for the fun of it, and get real exercise.
When I was young, my friends and I used to go off in the woods for hours at a time and not come home until it was almost dark. No one worried about us. And we didn't even have cell phones back then to let anyone know where we were!
We played hopscotch in our driveways and jumped rope. We played baseball in the streets. Yes, we had gym class and played basketball and other sports. But when we were home we were also playing outdoors and getting much more exercise than we ever would have done as part of organized sports.
I guess organized sports are better than nothing. Kids don't go play outside by themselves anymore; too dangerous. And anyway, they'd rather be on their computers messaging their friends or playing games. So I understand why they added this "sport" to the physical education classes in schools. But it's sad that so many games are no longer just for fun.
Sigh...I know, I'm getting old.
On a more cheerful subject, we just got back from two nights in the Adirondacks - and we found a place! We're making an offer and as soon as I know if it's been accepted, I'll tell you all about it and post some pictures. I'm superstitious - don't want to jinx anything!
Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
D.K. Raed of Redheaded Wisdom bestowed the "Arte y Pico" award on me a couple of weeks ago, so I wanted to thank her for the honor and pass it along to some other deserving bloggers!
This award, which originated in Spain, is given to bloggers who inspire others with their creative energy and talents no matter whether it be in the form of writing, artwork, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogger community. When a blogger receives this award, it is considered a special honor and, once presented to you, it is to be passed on to 5 other bloggers who meet the criteria. So first, let me thank D.K. Raed for the honor, and now go into the rules of the award:
These are the rules for keeping the nominations going forward. The newest recipient must:
1) Do a post naming 5 blogs for this award with a link to each blog;
2) Notify each blog you awarded by leaving them a comment;
3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award;
4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the original link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award; and,
5) Do a blog post showing these rules.
So far I think I've done everything except list the 5 new awardees. So here goes - since many of the blogs I read have already received this award, I am going to concentrate on some blogs that focus on poetry, writing, art or photography, since this is a kind of unusual award and I thought I'd branch out a bit in spreading the link love. So here are my five:
1) Odessa over at Freefalling Me blogs about her life in San Francisco, and posts lovely pictures, and poetry in an eclectic mix that is always engaging.
2) Ruth at Ruth's Visions and Revisions. Ruth writes about her experiences and reflects on them with a wider vision - seeing the parables that occur in our daily lives. She also posts lovely pictures and is a gardener, sharing her life with her readers.
3) CR over at Little Bang Theory. Fantastic photography and commentary mixed with an occasional dash of politics.
4) Two Crows and Mary Ellen over at All That Is. Two Crows has been posting for quite awhile now on the progression of the soul via reincarnation. If you have an interest in this philosophy, check it out - it's fascinating. Mary Ellen also has some great posts on the Catholic Church. Go, read, think...
5) Randal over at L'ennui Melodieux for his great blog full of satirical, astute commentary and great pictures.
So that's it - congratulations to the deserving awardees!
Update: I just noticed Randal already has this award on his sidebar - what the heck, so I've awarded him again! He's worth awarding twice!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Hi! Mommy said I could blog today instead of Baxter The Cat. It's only fair if I get to talk sometimes, after all. (He would say I get to talk a lot more around the house than he does but I don't care. Mommy says that's because I'm a "diva" whatever that means. I know I'm a Diva, that's my name. I don't understand what she means by that.)
I heard some really good news about my distant relatives - the pitbulls that were used for dogfighting by that awful man, Michael Vick. Apparently they are making great progress since they were rescued last year and that mean man had to pay a million dollars to take care of them.
This article Mommy found says that:
"Of the 49 pit bulls animal behavior experts evaluated in the fall, only one was deemed too vicious to warrant saving and was euthanized. (Another was euthanized because it was sick and in pain.)
More than a year after being confiscated from Vick's property, Leo, a tan, muscular pit bull, dons a colorful clown collar and visits cancer patients as a certified therapy dog in California. Hector, who bears deep scars on his chest and legs, recently was adopted and is about to start training for national flying disc competitions in Minnesota. Teddles takes orders from a 2-year-old. Gracie is a couch potato in Richmond who lives with cats and sleeps with four other dogs.
Of the 47 surviving dogs, 25 were placed directly in foster homes, and a handful have been or are being adopted. Twenty-two were deemed potentially aggressive toward other dogs and were sent to an animal sanctuary in Utah. Some, after intensive retraining, are expected to move on to foster care and eventual adoption."
I am not surprised by this because, as I may have told you, I came from a great rescue place, The Animal Farm Foundation, which rescues pitbulls like me and adopts them out after making sure we're friendly and have good temperaments. Of course I passed my tests with flying colors since I wag at everybody and would never ever bite anyone. You can take a bone right out of my mouth and I just hope that maybe I'll get it back but if I don't, that's OK too.
In other pitbull-related news, the Dutch government has lifted a ban on pitbulls that was in place for a really long time! They found out that banning us did not reduce the number of dog bites. Instead they're going to try to educate owners and enforce leash laws! Well, that certainly makes sense to me! Those Dutch people are always so sensible.
So that was all very good news and I wanted to let you know about it.
There are some other things going on this week that I can tell you about too. I heard that Dr. Michael DeBakey died. He was 99 years old and the reason everyone knows about him is he invented cardiac bypass surgery and a whole bunch of other methods of helping heart patients.
I like surgeons myself because I had both my knees operated on when I was still at the Animal Farm. They had to fix something in my knees called "ligaments." It hurt but I got over it and can run around really fast now so I'm really grateful to the doctor who fixed my knees.
I haven't been following politics much since Hillary left the race. I know Baxter and my Mommy and Daddy are supporting Barack Obama but I was for Hillary. So was my Mommy's mother. The Animal Farm is run by women and ever since they rescued me from Animal Control in New York City, I just love ALL women. It doesn't matter who they are, if they are a woman, I love them. I love most people anyway, but I really wag for women the most. So of course when I heard that a woman was running for president I wanted her to win!
Now that she didn't win I'm not paying much attention; I don't have the patience Baxter has to keep up with all that stuff. I hear some of Obama's fans are getting mad at him and even Baxter is a little worried because he's going back on some stuff that he said. I'm waiting to see if he'll pick a woman for Vice President. If he does I might get interested again. Otherwise I think I'll sit back and wait and see what happens later in the year. We dogs have better things to do in the summer than think about politics.
Right now I am having lots of fun playing in my pool. Mommy and Daddy found this wading pool by the curb right after they got me. Somebody was throwing it out! So Daddy brought it home, cleaned it, and we use it all summer for me to jump in and cool off. They throw my Ball and I jump in and get it. I hate when they spray me with water though. It's different getting sprayed with the hose compared to jumping in the water on purpose!
Of course my favorite thing is going swimming in the lake they take me to at Cape Cod. Last weekend I also got to go in a lake in the Adirondacks. Mommy and Daddy make sure to take me to places where I can swim because they know how much I like it.
Mommy wants me to tell you an update about the Wrens that were living in the bird house in the yard. The boy Wren has been singing a lot again and she thinks they may have a new nest nearby! This morning there was a lot of chattering and both of the Wrens were up in the pine tree. Mommy saw two of the neighbor's cats under the tree so she sent me out to chase them. They were on the other side of the fence but all I had to do is bark and they decided to move farther away. Then the Wrens could relax and start singing again.
That's about it from here. I'm really happy Mommy let me have a chance to talk to you again and tell you more about my distant relations that used to belong to Michael Vick. I am always happy to tell people about happy endings for fellow pitbulls. If you want to help pitbull rescue organizations, Mommy has a whole list of links down the side of her blog that you can choose from!
Have a wonderful weekend and maybe I'll get to blog again soon! Baxter will be back next week!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Many feel he has swerved rightward now that he has become the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party; or as Bob Herbert put it recently, "lurched with abandon."
But has he really? Or is he simply being the same Obama he has always been, but now that the fog of the primary campaign has lifted, we can now pay more attention to what he's actually saying about the issues, rather than the "he said, she said" of the primaries?
Obama has said all along that he will reach out to the other side of the aisle. He has operated as a consensus builder all his life. He has said he will be different from other politicians. Perhaps one way he is different is that he can actually see more than one side of an issue. What a concept!
Take FISA. Yes, he was opposed to the bill but changed his mind and voted for it. But he apparently felt he had a good reason. Here is what he says about it:
"This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses..."
"But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.
The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues..."
"Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I’m sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future..."
"I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country....Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course."
I believe that Obama felt that not passing any bill on this issue would be a worse situation than passing the compromise bill. Many may not agree. But I am a firm believer in the old adage, "The best is the enemy of the good" - sometimes you can't always get what you want but if you don't take the second best choice, you get nothing.
Obama may be looking at the big picture here - if the FISA bill didn't pass at all, many of the things being done to watch potential terrorists would end completely - leaving us vulnerable. And let's face it - the Republicans would have happily used his "no" vote to paint him "soft on terrorism." An absurd claim, but somehow these claims always manage to stick. Remember, if the man doesn't get elected in the first place, he won't be able to make any of the other changes we want him to make.
A recent Op-Ed piece in the Times by Morton Halperin explained further why the compromise bill may not be such a bad thing:
"Because I rejected the Nixon administration’s use of national security as a pretext for broad assertions of unchecked executive power, I became engaged with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when it was proposed in the early 1970s. And because I reject the Bush administration’s equally extreme assertions of executive power at the expense of civil liberties, I have been engaged in trying to improve the current legislation.
The compromise legislation that will come to the Senate floor this week is not the legislation that I would have liked to see, but I disagree with those who suggest that senators are giving in by backing this bill.
The fact is that the alternative to Congress passing this bill is Congress enacting far worse legislation that the Senate had already passed by a filibuster-proof margin, and which a majority of House members were on record as supporting.
What’s more, this bill provides important safeguards for civil liberties. It includes effective mechanisms for oversight of the new surveillance authorities by the FISA court, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and now the Judiciary Committees. It mandates reports by inspectors general of the Justice Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies that will provide the committees with the information they need to conduct this oversight. (The reports by the inspectors general will also provide accountability for the potential unlawful misconduct that occurred during the Bush administration.) Finally, the bill for the first time requires FISA court warrants for surveillance of Americans overseas.
As someone whose civil liberties were violated by the government, I understand this legislation isn’t perfect. But I also believe — and here I am speaking only for myself — that it represents our best chance to protect both our national security and our civil liberties. For that reason, it has my personal support."
I still don't like the whole idea of the legislation, believe me. But Obama's explanation does make sense when you think of him as a consensus builder, which is exactly what he has said he'd be. He's someone who tries to work within the system to make change, not be a revolutionary. The change may have to be done in small increments, the way most change is accomplished.
Regarding the death penalty, he had never said he totally opposed the death penalty. In his book, "The Audacity of Hope," he said:
"While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes--mass murder, the rape and murder of a child--so heinous that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment. On the other hand, the way capital cases were tried in Illinois at the time was so rife with error, questionable police tactics, racial bias, and shoddy lawyering, that 13 death row inmates had been exonerated
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 58 Oct 1, 2006"
Admittedly, saying the death penalty would be appropriate for child rape, where a murder did not take place, takes it one step farther. But he's never had a completely anti-death-penalty stance. Personally, I do not believe in the death penalty under any circumstances. But it's not as if he has changed markedly on this issue.
His recent statement about late-term abortion alarmed many pro-choice people as it seemed to indicate that he believed it should only be allowed to protect the physical, but not mental, health of the mother. He later clarified that he meant simple distress should not be a reason but a diagnosed mental condition would be. (Depression would then qualify).
But this position isn't something new. According to Ontheissues.org, Obama said back in April during an interview:
"On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn't have that.
Part of the reason they didn't have it was purposeful, because those who are opposed to abortion have a moral calling to try to oppose what they think is immoral. Oftentimes what they were trying to do was to polarize the debate and make it more difficult for people, so that they could try to bring an end to abortions overall.
As president, my goal is to bring people together, to listen to them, and I don't think that's any Republican out there who I've worked with who would say that I don't listen to them, I don't respect their ideas, I don't understand their perspective. And my goal is to get us out of this polarizing debate where we're always trying to score cheap political points and actually get things done."
He also said:
"I absolutely think we can find common ground. And it requires a couple of things. It requires us to acknowledge that..
1. There is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that's a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.
2. People of good will can exist on both sides. That nobody wishes to be placed in a circumstance where they are even confronted with the choice of abortion. How we determine what's right at that moment, I think, people of good will can differ.
And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion."
Some may be alarmed at the idea of him talking about reducing pregnancies. But I think even the most rabid pro-choice person (and I am one) would admit that having an abortion is not an ideal situation. Yes, it is often very much so the RIGHT decision, the BEST decision, and the most empowering decision to be made. But wouldn't it always be better if it didn't have to happen at all?
As for late-term abortions, they are extremely rare and usually only done for very good reasons; his wish to keep them limited to those very good reasons is understandable, in my opinion.
I urge you to go to this link and read the full section on Obama's positions on contraception, women's right to choose, and sex education.
What I'm seeing is that Obama is not a left-wing idealogue. He is open to other ideas. Maybe some of us would rather he would be more of a left-wing idealogue. But that's not who he is. He sees nuances. He sees shades of gray. I think this is all part of his persona, someone who came from two worlds and had to make peace with both.
What he has to watch out for is muddying his message. Up until now his message has been very simple: Change. Given the unpopularity of Bush and the ineptitude of the McCain campaign, that simple message has been working well for him.
If he starts dabbling in nuance and trying to explain complex moral opinions on hot-button issues like abortion, he is going to lose his advantage. Obama is a brand: he has to remain true to that brand. The media are not able or willing to indulge him in long explanations about his thought processes. They deal in short, succinct messages and are always looking for a headline.
This is something he will need to watch out for as the campaign progresses, especially if the McCain campaign gets on track and the 527s start their shenanigans.
I am still supporting Barack Obama with enthusiasm. I am also still trying to figure him out, and reserving judgment on some of these issues that have raised concerns among many of us.
Monday, July 07, 2008
A friend sent me this video with my name emblazoned all over it. So I thought I'd post it here so you can send it to your friends.
For my purposes I decided to pick Robert Rouse as the lucky 3rd party candidate since a) He has the right politics, b) he uses a real name ("Mauigirl for President" just doesn't sound right) and c) He has a great blog, so go read it! And also? He does videos, sings, and has a myriad of other talents! Hey, maybe he should run for President???
Will catch up more later - we were in the Adirondacks over the weekend, and a good choice it was. I understand it was rainy and cloudy and basically awful in New Jersey, while we were blessed with beautiful weather the whole time we were away!
Happy 4th of July, a few days late!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Yesterday morning the wrens were chattering away, with the mom and dad feeding the babies in their usual frantic fashion. Last night when I got home from work it was quiet, although I thought I heard the chattering of a wren in the next yard somewhere. I figured they had gone to bed for the night.
But this morning, when they were usually highly active, there was silence. The bird house was still hanging on the back of the garage, but there was no chattering emanating from it. No adult wrens flitting back and forth with moths in their mouths. Nothing but silence.
Could the cats have killed both parents and all the babies starved to death in one day? I tiptoed over to the bird house with trepidation, worried that I'd find a bunch of dead baby wrens inside. I peered into the hole but there was nothing but silence and emptiness. No baby wrens.
I went inside and Googled "wren life cycle" and found a thorough article on the House Wren. Sure enough, it said that the incubation period for the eggs was about 13 days, and from birth until the babies were fledged was 12 to 18 days. The timing is right. The wrens have flown the coop.
Apparently House Wrens are quite prolific and actually produce two broods per summer. So the first one has to get up and out so they can start working on another one.
I am sure I heard the chattering of a wren nearby this morning so they must be around somewhere. According to the article, once the breeding is over they are much less conspicuous and much quieter.
I expect they don't produce their second brood in the same place as the first so I guess my days of sitting on the deck in the morning hearing the chattering and singing of the wrens are over. The silence is a little sad but now I hear other birds that were drowned out by the wrens. And today I heard the first cicada. The cycle of life continues.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Before we got there, someone, perhaps my mother, had put a catnip mouse on his side. He slumbered on. So DH put another cat toy on his side. He continued to sleep. So then I added another one. Still no reaction.
My aunt has an enormous number of toys for this cat. There is hardly a place in her apartment that is not festooned with some kind of toy. Gradually we managed to find all of the toys within reach and place them gently on the cat, who was oblivious.
Suddenly I realized this was a perfect opportunity to take a Stuff On My Cat picture. How could we resist?
I haven't actually submitted it to the Stuff On My Cat site (they say it takes months before it will show up anyway due to the large number of submissions!) but I thought I would share it here in the meantime!
As you can see, his eyes are open in this picture. He had started to become aware that Something was Happening. Sure enough, the next toy we placed on him was the last straw and he got up, spilling all of the toys every which way, and departed in a Huff.
We didn't see him for the rest of the evening.