Granddaughter Joelle all tired out after a fun day with her cousins.
Granddaughter Joelle gives me the look I get from most young ladies...
Just a couple buds hanging out on the couch.
Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing.
Granddaughter Joelle all tired out after a fun day with her cousins.
Granddaughter Joelle gives me the look I get from most young ladies...
Just a couple buds hanging out on the couch.
Pumpkin turns 17 today and retains the title of oldest non-human mammal in the house.
Her nickname for the longest time was "Demon Cat From Hell." She does not suffer fools gladly, and she pretty much considers herself to be surrounded by fools.
Fortunately, she's mellowed somewhat in her old age. Treat her with respect, and you'll get it in return.
As long as you feed her.
Granddaughters Joelle and Lea. Joelle appears to be thinking, "I don't mind the sleepover business, but she's touching my bear."
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) on marriage between a man and a woman:
'The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice. The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.'
To be fair, it sounds better in the original Klingon.-Zay N. Smith
I'm a non-violent kind of guy, but I sincerely believe anyone who uses the word 'whilst' should be soundly thrashed.
"Secret formulas" abound on social media for wondrous cleaning solutions you can make in your home.
Don't waste your time.
Homemade whatevers - rug cleaner, spot remover, detergent - all contain just one real, active ingredient: dishwashing liquid. That's it. Period. Be especially wary of the ones which include both vinegar and baking soda. When mixed, the acetic acid in the vinegar and the baking soda react to form carbonic acid and sodium acetate. Carbonic acid sounds impressive, but all it really is carbonated water. And when it stops fizzing, it's because all the carbon dioxide has escaped from the mixture. Take the carbon dioxide out of carbonic acid, and you have... water. So you're left with just water and sodium acetate. Sodium acetate is a nifty chemical, with lots of uses- but cleaning ain't one of them. Just just save yourself the trouble and just use the soap and water.
(Courtesy of the late George Kraynick, my sophomore chemistry teacher.)
Ok, maybe it is a real dog and pony show...
I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.
Funeral home directors: when the only phrase in a death notice that appears in initial caps and within quotation marks is "Dear Wife", you're sending a mixed message...
"It was the first kiss between an African-American woman and a white
Canadian in a toupee."
-Craig Ferguson (describing Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner in the original Star Trek tv series.)
"Kraft has recalled over 1.7 million pounds of Velveeta products for
mis-labeled ingredients. They accidentally called it 'cheese'."
Alcohol is really just the liquid version of Photoshop.
Am I supposed to feel safer because corporations, not terrorists, are
blowing up fertilizer plants, drowning towns in oil, and poisoning the
It's a girl my Lord
In a flatbed Ford
Slowing down to do
Agnostic apathetic isolationist.
I don't know. I don't care. Go away.
I'm no scientist, but legalizing marijuana in your state seems to cause
immediate football superiority.
Granddaughter Joelle takes the term "menu sampler" literally.
(With her mom, Angela, and senior granddaughter Leanna.)
Excluding starches, preservatives, emulsifiers and artificial flavoring,
Soylent Green is actually less than 2% people.
-The Covert Comic
Son Douglas and granddaughter Joelle enjoy a quiet Sunday morning.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released
its first smartphone app, a free program that allows consumers to
measure the broadband speed they are getting on their mobile devices and
to determine whether it is as fast as wireless companies say.
Gee, wonder what else it can do?
A group of eleventh graders from Homestead High School, Homestead, PA, in the fall of 1969. Believe it or not, I'm one of them.
This past Friday, November 15, marked the start of my 23rd year of residence here at Dr. Barkes' 3-D House of Shedding Fur and Domestic Bliss, which has, since those halcyon days of the early 90s, sheltered scores of fish, eleven dogs, four cats, and three pairs of children, grandchildren, and spouses. And that's just the interior.
Positioned as we are next a wooded area bordering a 3,000 acre county park, there's an endless parade of indigenous fauna. They effortlessly ignore the fence surrounding the back yard as they go about their daily routines. Some actively reside within its confines. I see deer almost daily, and groundhogs, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and skunks from April through November.
Surprisingly, I had never encountered a raccoon until last week. It did not end well.
The dogs were frantically barking at the far end of the yard. They had the poor little fella surrounded.
When you see a raccoon during the day, there's something amiss. This guy was, fortunately, sitting quietly and not responding to the two adult shelties and one shih tzu puppy surrounding him. I got the dogs back into the house and quickly checked them out. They had no bite marks or scratches, which was a relief. While they all are current on their rabies vaccinations, they would still have had to be quarantined if they had been bitten. Relieved, I called the township and within ten minutes a personable South Park police officer arrived.
"This doesn't look good," the officer said as we approached the animal. "A healthy raccoon would run away from us." He picked up a fallen branch and gently poked the raccoon in the side. No reaction. The officer sighed, took out his can of pepper spray, and delivered a short blast. The raccoon slowly turned his back to us, but otherwise didn't move.
"Do you have a couple plastic garbage bags and a shovel?" he asked. I nodded. "Please get them."
I walked back up the yard. Halfway to the house, I heard the discharge. I returned and the officer bagged the small, inert form. It was clean shot at point blank range. The little guy hadn't felt a thing.
It was a series of firsts: first raccoon, first police officer in the back yard, first firearm on the property. The first, and, I sincerely hope, the last.
Vaya con Dios, pequeño mapache.
(Originally published November 4, 2002)
Hobbes came home yesterday.
More precisely, our late feline's cremated remains were delivered to my unsuspecting wife, who received a telephone call from the nice lady at Backyard Burials a scant 30 minutes prior to his arrival.
Hobbes' true pedigree had never been firmly established. He had been harvested from a litter of feisty farm kittens of various flavors. We surmised a good percentage of his lineage was Maine Coon; a Mostly Maine Coon, if you will.
He was a big fella, 16 pounds, even in declining health. He was various shades of orange with a few swirls of white, the color depending on his current degree of shedding or attitude toward personal hygiene.
His gargantuan skull bore the distinctive dark "M" above his forehead, which I jokingly said stood for "moron." His temperament matched the breed's description: a big, gentle, good-natured goof. He had a high-pitched, trilling voice that was consistent with Maine Coons and totally out of character for a creature of his impressive bulk. Think of a feline Mike Tyson, and you'll get the effect.
My then pre-teen daughter Sara named him after the stuffed tiger in Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I always believed the moniker was more accurately a nod to the English philosopher. The cat was a living example of Thomas Hobbes' theory of materialism: people (and, apparently, big goofy house cats) are motivated by appetite and aversion. Hobbes the cat demonstrated this on a daily basis. It became a family game to place a tempting morsel near an object that frightened him, to watch his reactions as his "fear/food" calculator kicked in, and to wager whether his innate gluttony would overcome his intrinsic cowardice.
Like most house cats, Hobbes really had no useful function in our household, other than to use the white wall to wall carpeting as a canvas for his prodigious hairball output and to generate carbon dioxide for the house plants. He could have been the prototype for Star Trek's tribbles. Like the fictional creatures, he was warm and furry, semi-mobile, possessed a ravenous appetite and made purring noises that engendered a feeling of serenity in the humans around him.
Hobbes was a karmic grounding rod, especially in his later years. He was always serene, almost Buddha-like, dozing in the sun, intently watching the dust motes float by. Dogs can sense emotional turmoil and, in response, express empathy and concern. They're reflectors of anxiety. Express anxiety in the presence of a dog and you have an anxious dog. Hobbes was an angst heat sink. You could feel the distress dissipate as you petted him, his aura of imperturbable calmness surrounding you.
While we received his ashes yesterday, Hobbes departed over a month ago. The cremation of animals doesn't seem to warrant the same sense of urgency as human dissolution. There are no wakes to hold, no religious ceremonies to conduct. Indeed, many claim there are no animals in the afterlife.
I once got into an discussion with a minister about the seeming exclusion of non-humans from Paradise. I pointed out that in the Book of Revelation, the apostle John says "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse."Revelation also states "the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." Which indicates to me that not only are there animals in heaven, they're really snazzy dressers. (One could argue that if John had his vision today, he would see Humvees instead of palominos. But I'll leave this exercise in operational semantics to the Left Behind folks.)
Of course, the real question here is: do animals have immortal souls? Pope John Paul II said in 1990 that "animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren"; that all animals are "fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect" and are "as near to God as men are." The Reverend Billy Graham sort of sidestepped the issue by stating "God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."
It was a very stressful time. Sara was dealing with severe morning sickness and emotionally wasn't up to it. Pam was recovering from her bypass surgery and couldn't be alone, so Doug had to stay at home with her.
It was just me, sitting in the small examination room, waiting for them to return with Hobbes and the IV apparatus. I desperately wished Doug or Sara was there. Their presence would have switched me into Dad Mode, where the neurons and synapses arrange themselves in a way that causes me to become the gruff but sensitive old curmudgeon who provides emotional support and words of sage advice.
Instead, it was just me. The guy who cries at the end of Field of Dreams. The fool who was scarred for life by Old Yeller. The idiot who has to leave the room when Emergency Vets is on. The sap whose last act before filing for bankruptcy was sending a check to the local no-kill shelter.
The doctor returned with Hobbes, who was his normal placid self. Only the slightly labored breathing belied his condition but, as always, he maintained his ineffable cockeyed equanimity. He studiously ignored the hideous, lethal device attached to his leg. Decorum demanded it.
He sat sphinx-like, front legs outstretched. He opened his eyes, focused them with some effort, became aware of my presence. He emitted that ridiculous girlish chirp of his. It was a sound he reserved for those rare instances in which he felt it necessary to summon me to witness an event of tremendous import. His last great discovery was that dry cat food batted into a cold air return would cause the furnace's electrostatic air cleaner to make an amazing zapping sound.
I believe he sensed he was on the threshold of an even more significant revelation.
I knelt down, level with his ears, and softly told him what a good Hobbers he was. I put one hand across his front legs and scratched his neck.
His head slowly pointed upwards and he sniffed the air. He made that goofy smile of his, then opened his eyes and looked into mine.
He rested his head on my hand. I focused on that big stupid "M" on his forehead, but peripherally I was aware of the plunger slowly sinking into the barrel, fluids flowing in clear plastic tubes.
Hobbes relaxed. He leaned against me, closed his eyes again, and began purring. He didn't stop until the syringe was empty.
I don't know what Heaven looks like. But I know it sounds like the purring of a mostly Maine Coon.
(YouTube video: Bunny Dash)
It's probably because 15-year-old Lucy's vision, hearing, and sense of smell aren't what they used to be, but I like to think she doesn't mind sharing the yard with the bunny that lives in the tallgrass stand. After the rabbit ran away, Lucy took no notice; she just continued her twice daily inspection of the back yard and reported in that everything was fine, and that it was time for me to carry her upstairs to watch television on the couch, and to wait for her 9 pm cheese-and-phenobarbital treat.
The Family Research Council is either adorably oblivious,
or their PR outfit is just plain evil.
Variations on a theme:
When this man smiles, a fairy dies:
Speaking of smiles:
(YouTube video: formerly captive ducks see water for the first time).
Kaiser, a 30 month old German Shepherd canine officer for the Plymouth, Massachusetts Police Department, was euthanized last Friday due to the ravaging effects of severe liver and kidney disease.
Kaiser's handler, Jamie LeBretton, had announced last Wednesday that his partner had retired from the force that day. He sadly noted a ceremony at Angel View Pet Cemetery would follow Kaiser's final trip to the Court Street Animal Hospital.
Kaiser was met by a silent, respectful group of his fellow officers, who stood at attention and saluted him as he followed his partner and friend.
"I feel privileged to have had a front row seat to witness his bravery and heroic actions while serving the people of Plymouth and my brothers and sisters in blue," Officer LeBretton said. "Although his career was short-lived, he made a huge impact that will never be forgotten."
The Plymouth Police Department depends upon contributions from the public to operate and maintain its K-9 unit. Please consider making a donation online here, or send a check to:
Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation
20 Long Pond Road
Plymouth MA 02360
Attn: Marc Higgins
The fidelity of a Dog is a precious gift, demanding no less binding
moral responsibilities than the friendship of a Human Being. The bond
with a True Dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth will ever be.
No matter how bad your Monday morning is, odds are you didn't have to wade through belly-deep snow in order to pee. There's about five inches of snow out there now and it's still coming down. Late March snows really aren't that unusual, and we get an average of 1.5" in April. And on May 9, 1966, we got 3.1 inches. So quit complaining.
The first day of seizure-inhibiting phenobarbital treatment really zonked her out, and she's still kinda stoned and shaky, but Lucy ate all her breakfast, had a long drink of water, did her business, and made her daily inspection of the back yard.
I'm not sure she even realized it snowed last night but hey, haven't we all had mornings like that?
The other two dogs and the two cats spent the night with me in my office. Lucy was the only one who really got any sleep. The lesser mammals are now all unconscious under my desk, while I have to spend the next eight to ten hours writing a MacroSPITBOL function definition to create, name, and populate multiple table structures at runtime.
That phenobarb is looking mighty attractive...
Lady Lucia (Lucy), the eldest of our Shelties, turned 15 last month. We've been wincing for the past year or so, wondering where the Geriatric Wheel of Misfortune would stop.
And the "winner" is- focal seizures. She started having 30-second episodes every 15 minutes or so last night.
She appears to be responding well to the anti-seizure medication. We'll probably be bringing her home today.
Fortunately, being an old curmudgeon has its benefits. I'm familiar with involuntary snarling and drooling.
And Lucy is one tough little broad. She keeps all the lesser mammals in line around here, and all she asks in return is to spend the evenings snoozing next to me on the couch.
The only difference tonight will be that we'll both be on meds.
It's also probably not safe. Scrape the gray matter off the wall behind you, go back out to the kitchen, and get yourself another cup of coffee. Then go check out Reddit. I hear there's some good stuff over there.
Well, not mine, really. Gabriel is one of the animals helped by Janice Wolf at Rocky Ridge Refuge. Help them out by ordering a 2013 calendar online, or by sending $16 ($20 international) to:
Rocky Ridge Refuge
P.O. Box 105
Midway, Ar. 72651
Tell her you want the humor calendar. Trust me.
More accurately, a regular deer.
I let the dogs out Friday night and about a minute later heard them barking frantically.
I ran out to the back yard, but couldn't see them; the sound was coming from behind a stand of seven foot tallgrass that obscured my view. As I got nearer, I saw a flash of brown and white, much larger than a Sheltie, headed directly at me at high speed.
I started turning to get out of the way, but wasn't fast enough- the doe collided with me at full speed. Strictly on the basis of mass, I should have been the winner- but she was going full tilt bozo and delivered a substantial if glancing blow as she shot past me and bounded over the fence.
I was spun in a vector and at a velocity totally inappropriate for someone of my age and decrepitude. To my credit, I somehow managed to stay on my feet. My immediate feeling was relief (my body had not yet determined the precise location and intensity of the pain it was going to begin relentlessly transmitting to my brain).
Then I looked down.
There stood three Shetland sheepdogs with expressions ranging from pity to disgust. I could almost hear their disparaging comments concerning my absymal herding abilities. "We chased it right to you, Dad. You're bigger! You have opposable thumbs! You let it go right by you! We were looking forward to something other than dry kibble!"
The ring of pain pulsing around my pelvic girdle can be numbed with NSAIDs. But it's going to take a lot of pizza crusts slipped under the table to regain my true alpha standing with the rest of the pack.
At least they didn't tell the cats.