Category Archives: Uncategorized

pooch’s SLO update

Brief update on Kenta the Wonder Dog, aka “Mr Fluffypants.” We had a checkup with our incredibly wonderful allergy/immunology vet in Springfield Oregon, Dr Ashley, a little while back. She said that his little tootsies looked so good that if she hadn’t seen him during his flare-up, she wouldn’t have believed he’d ever had one.

He’d started to refuse to eat his super-expensive Super Special Bunny & Sweet potato prescription food a few months ago, so she said to put him back on regular food (no use having healthy feet if you’re anorexic, I suppose). So for the last 2-3 months, he’s been on nothing but the fish oil (300 mg/day) & ToW non-chicken foods. Still looking good & being wonderful enough to provide me with sufficient oomph to keep slogging on.

Words can’t explain –tho I tried– how terrified I was at the prospect of him having chronic pain…just like Mom. At least Mom knows what the heck is going on. It’s so wonderful to see the little guy feeling good & being healthy again! SLO is a fairly rare condition, especially in small breeds, but anyone who has to face it in their beloved dog may take heart in the story of one dog who’s doing well. So far. And Dog, I hope it stays that way. I read a lot on the Net when he was diagnosed, & didn’t run across of terribly optimistic tales…it seemed divided about 33/33/33: a third have the initial flare-up then never again, a third have repeated flare-ups that aren’t too bad, a third a crippled & in agony. I didn’t like the odds at all. There’s no guarantee that he’ll never have another flare-up, but I’ll keep hoping & giving him the fish oil. The hair loss from the doxycycline was just bizarre…another trait he shares with Mom; weird side effects. Grrrrreat.

So, all two or three of you who’ll ever read this, thanks & pass it along to someone who could use a hopeful boost.

Book recommendation for the month: “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal. Lots of ape stories, but he also talks about crows & other corvids, & there’s some dog stories. Really well-written, very accessible to anyone who’s interested in animals & how their minds work, many terrific stories and descriptions of his studies of animals over the years, sprinkled with wit & humor. I’ve read science/nature/natural history books* for decades, & about halfway thru the first chapter I flipped to the author info & exclaimed “How have I missed this guy?!”(Kenta jumped about a foot & looked at me the way he does when I talk to books instead of him). The book is outstanding. Kenta sez check it out; he’s all for animal cognition, even if he’s not a canine Einstein.  But he’s still perfect.

* Stephen Jay Gould, David Quammen, Harold Klawans, Natalie Angier, Cynthia Moss, Konrad Lorenz, etc. Lorenz’s “King Solomon’s Ring” is a must for anyone who loves animals, btw. I’ve  given away probably 3 dozen copies over the decades, & nobody’s not loved it.

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Dogs; adore them, be terrified for them

those big black eyes…

Brief update on the travails of Kenta the Wonder Eskimo. Hard tho it is for those who see him to believe, he’s losing hair at a highly abnormal rate. His fur is much thinner than it was this summer when the temperatures were in the 100s, & that just ain’t right. The hair loss has accelerated just over the last few weeks, so I have to wonder if it’s a side effect of one of the treatments for the SLO (auto-immune disorder) or something else.

Here he is in all his heavy-fuzzed glory enjoying his kiddie (Kentie?)pool in August, when it was over 100.

Here he is in all his heavy-fuzzed glory enjoying his kiddie (Kentie?)pool in August, when it was over 100.

One of the things I’ve worried about since starting the SLO regimen is the diet; SLO attacks can be triggered by ‘attack’ proteins, so the dogs are put on very restricted diets –usually proteins that they’ve not been exposed to before, so their immune systems aren’t predisposed to get hysterical. A common restricted diet is rabbit & sweet potato, & he’s been on just that for… about a coupla months. I was concerned about Vitamin A hypervitaminosis, something I learned about after reading a number of books about Polar Exploration. There are some astounding, riveting books about the brave & insane men who explored the Polar regions & attempted to reach the Poles, & one of them is “Racing With Death,” about Douglas Mawson. Mawson was an Australian who ended up, at one point, plodding alone for about a month for hundreds of miles through subzero Antarctic wastes. Running out of food, he did what the explorers did in those days; ate his sledge dogs. Not knowing that there’s a reason that the Inuit never eat the livers of their sledge dogs, no matter how dire the situation, Mawson ate the dogs’ livers & developed Vitamin A hypervitaminosis (though they had no idea in those days what that was). The symptoms of what Mawson went through from this excess of vitamin A are unbelievably hideous; one of the more gruesome was the shedding of great sheets of his skin, including the entire bottoms of his feet (he felt an “awkwardly lumpy feeling” in his feet as he was trudging along, stopped, removed his fur boots, & found the compete soles of both feet had separated. He smeared lanolin on them, wrapped them back in place with string, put socks & boots back on, & trudged on into the frozen white. Folks were different in those days). He also lost huge sheets of skin from thighs, groin, & elsewhere.

Oh yeah, Mawson also suffered hair loss. (You knew I’d get back around to the point eventually). Hair loss is also a symptom of excess Vitamin A. Only thing is, just how much Vite A is too much in canines is poorly understood. Like all the fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K), bad things can happen to any body when you dump too much in, because it doesn’t flush out like the water soluble vitamins (which is only one of the many reasons the whole ‘megavitamin C’ craze is asinine; all you do is supplement your sewer system with whatever Vite C your body doesn’t need at the time, since it is literally flushed out with bodily water).

So, nobody really knows how much is too much when it comes to Vitamin A in dogs, though they’re not as easily overloaded as humans. Since it’s another stupid holiday in the middle of a glut of holidays, I can’t talk to the vet til the middle of next week, to start trying to figure out which of the myriad possibilities might be behind the hair loss. Many of the possibilities aren’t too bad –hypothyroidism is one, tho he was just tested a couple months ago. I’ve been hypothy for over 30 years, & it’s no big deal. Many of the possibles are horrific…Canine Cushings is one, & since my previous Eskimo died of that, to say that this hasn’t helped my stress levels is one of the understatements of all time.

Portrait of the sweetie as a young dog. Is it any wonder that the first time I saw an Eskimo puppy I had to have him? This is Kenta at about 10 weeks.

Then there’s stress: could he be picking up on my drastically raised stress levels from recent catastrophes, starting with his own SLO diagnosis? How’s that for cruel irony? I lost about half my hair before I finally had the sense to jettison my ex-husband (the one I refer to as “The AntiChrist”…he was not a nice person). It grew back.

There’s a constant, underlying level of stress involved in loving dogs (and cats), at least there is for me.  Like the near-subliminal hum of being under high-tension wires, the visceral terror of knowing that I could lose my beloved friend is always there, though usually I’ve at least had the comfort of it being reduced when the animal is very young, like Kenta –he’s not yet 3 years old. Anyone who responds to this idea with something like “good grief, it’s just a dog [cat]” is someone who might as well be from a different planet on this subject; for me, no he’s not “just a dog” & Foster is not “just a cat.” They are beloved, adored friends, always true, innocent of cruelty or evil intentions. They are a part of my soul, a huge part of the reason I’ve been able to deal with chronic pain and numerous health disasters of my own.

Kenta especially, in the last year or so, has literally kept me from seriously considering checking out of this miserable, hopeless existence (i.e. suicide).  No matter how hard I try or what I do, damn near every time I turn around some great load of cosmic crap dumps on my head (or house or car) from out of the blue, and I don’t have the psychic or especially the financial resources to shovel out from under repeated catastrophes.

My doctor first recommended I apply for disability because of my migraines in 1989; I was so appalled and horrified that I damn near fainted; I wasn’t going to stick out my hand for someone else to put money in it. I tried to keep decent jobs for the next 20 years, despite being completely out of action 15-40% of the time, with no warning, never any idea when or how long I would be struck down with literally blinding pain that kept me in bed for up to a week at a time. Achieving professional or financial stability & resources under those conditions ain’t possible. I surrendered in 2009, when I spent the last 7 out of 8 weeks of my last job unable to get out of bed except to go to the bathroom. I wanted to die from the shame of it…somehow I ended up with a deep conviction that it’s valid for other people to need help, but I’m supposed to be able to take care of myself.

So now I have an old doublewide trailer that’s in okay condition. I live as cheaply as I can; I get my clothes from the free church resource or garage sales or St Vinnie’s (Goodwill is too expensive). I try to raise money by selling Mom’s jewelry & stuff I make on Etsy and ebay. And I have my dog and my cat. They are my luxuries, where I ‘treat’ myself. When I sell something online & am not too far behind on too many bills, I buy dog or kitty treats to celebrate.

Foster hangin' in his window hammock.

Foster hangin’ in his window hammock.

And all this crap keeps happening, and I could deal with that, but with crap happening to Kenta, the level of terror gets so overwhelming I can barely breathe. Love so great comes with a fear of loss so huge, I sometimes wish I’d never gotten a dog or cat to begin with. But the joy I get from every minute with them makes me reconsider that. Then they get old or develop health problems young, and the cycle turns again and I fold into a fetal ball of fear.

Kenta is telling me it’s time to stop fiddling with this useless thing that has nothing to do with him and start paying attention to the object of my affection, like, “Take me for a walk, Mom!” Wise folks listen to their heart, I s’pose. Or their dog…same thing, sometimes.

Eskimo move known as the "Shnozz snow plow." They have more fun in snow than anybody anywhere.

Eskimo move known as the “Shnozz snow plow.” They have more fun in snow than anybody anywhere.

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Raptor of Rockies

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Catastrophes, fantastic friends from out of the blue, plus chocolate.

“You can easily recognize the good parts of your life because they are starkly outlined in crap.” -John DeChancie, from Starrigger.

feet

This was before the yard got really deep; the really neato part was that the flooding was coming out of the storm drain, rather than the drain actually…draining.  Veneta must be Backwards-ville.

This has been one of my favorite quotes for years.

Been a Hell month around here –with some amazingly good stuff snuck in here & there. My much beloved support dog, Kenta the American Eskimo,

regal

was diagnosed with SLO. It’s a very rare auto-immune disorder wherein the immune system attacks the nail beds, causing the claws to die back at the quick, fall off, and,  if they grow back, they’re usually very deformed. Their claws/toes are easily bruised & it’s very painful when they’re having a flare-up. So I’ve been horribly worried about the poor baby and I cannot stand to see him in  pain.

We did find a vet who knows about as much as there is to know about it, he’s on a special diet, meds, & supplements, and mostly is doing well….except when he bruises a toe, then he gets just pitiful.

Last week my yard & house flooded very badly; the insulation under the house was saturated, as were the floor joists, & the water came within about an inch of coming in the heating ducts. Turned out the city of Veneta never bothered to design a stormwater system that can actually deal with water….this is in Oregon, remember. Land of temperate rainforests. The City Manager basically said, “Tough luck, lady.” He also suggested I get a tanker truck, pump water from around my house into it using my sump pump, & dump it somewhere else (I am not making this up!! I really wish I’d taped that bit….I’d put it on YouTube).

side yard

The side yard before it got really deep.

 

So now I’m diving (so to speak) into my first foray into community activism, trying to find & organize everyone in the area with flooding problems, and there are a ton of them. I hope to lead them to the next City Council meeting, preferably carrying pitchforks and torches. I need lawyers, engineers, the Corps of Engineers, hydrologists, and God knows what else…money, mainly. I can’t even afford to fix the insulation & whatever else is currently rotting underneath my feet.

the hatch to access under the house weighs a zillion pounds, but at least it’s wood…when the water gets high enough, it’ll just float open.

Then, the day after the Great Flood, a huge tree limb fell & crushed my car trunk. Thank God & Allstate for Comprehensive coverage (& they told me I was a fool for keeping it on such an old car!).

huey got whammed

Poor Huey…and he just got a brand new paint job a year ago. Now his spare tire gets flooded just like the house, so nobody gets jealous.

But then from outta nowhere snuck in the good stuff; I found a woman that I’d been trying to find since high school. She and I were great friends from middle school thru HS & I’ve always wondered how & where she was, because I thought she was absolutely amazing. Somehow,*poof*  up she popped the other night in a Google search I’ve done dozens of times before w/o success. We’re getting reacquainted via email.

Ditto reconnecting with two other old friends, one I’d thought had vanished into a black hole. So that’s been very cool, getting to know “lost” dear friends again. I decided to celebrate with some chocolate tonight, & found a recipe for Chocolate Chewies that remind me of some that my mom & I were addicted to in the 70s-80s, on Hilton Head. They are GF (no flour at all), DF, incredibly easy to make, & as droolicious as it gets.

aseasyasapplepie.com/flourless-chocolate-cookies

So, something yummy amid the catastrophes…and some good things –good people I mean– slid in amongst the crap. Both of my friends do terrific things; one of ’em does amazing work with raptors; writing, photographing, rehabilitating, educating about, and saving them:

kate's ctr

Kate Phillips Davis’ Raptor Center

My other friend, Felecia Walton, went to Med school at UNC-Chapel Hill & is a Laboratory Research Analyst at Duke University.

To quote Bruce Hornsby, “What the hell happened to me?”

But I’ve been lucky to have known some amazing, amazing people.

 

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Quick ‘N’ EZ Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Green Enchilada sauce

Never planned on making a cooking blog (I’m way too lazy to imitate the cooking bloggers I’ve seen, which is take a picture of every single ingredient and at every step of a recipe, so they end up with 47 lovingly arranged pictures even when it’s a recipe for toast). But I’ve always loved to cook and write. And fifteen years or so ago I got so tired of feeling awfully tired, bloated ‘n’ brain-fogged now & then that I looked to dietary triggers. A friend gave me a huge bag of apples off his tree, and one of the things I made was an apple cake (carrot cake recipe with grated apples instead O’ the carrots). It was magnifique, and I ended up totally pigging out on it…ate the whole frigging sheet cake that night.  Awoke the next morning feeling like the Michelin Man who’d gotten stuffed full of lard, only dumber. Realized that often happened after I went nuts with starchy things.

So I cut out starches. All starches. Rice. Potatoes. Wheat. Corn (not totally a starch, I know, but figured tortilla chips are sorta like a starch).  Every starch: No noodles, chips, bread, crackers, gravy, fried foods, etc etc, any of that stuff. For SIX MONTHS. Six long months. Lost weight, darn near went insane for the lack of chips & salsa –celery with salsa just ain’t the same, even if it does have a lotta crunch.

So corn was the first to come back —had to have those chips.  Waited a month before introducing the next starch; during the month I had almost no Lardo Michelin Man days. Rice came next, no probs. Another month; wheat. Wham! It took 2-14 days after ingesting, but wheat or anything with ANY gluten did it. What a pain it was in the days before anyone had ever heard of “gluten free” other than the very few who’d been diagnosed as celiac, & they usually figured it out themselves & it took an average of 14 years. This was even before the Atkins Diet really got going (remember it?). There were no pre-made GF products, no flours, zip, nada, zilch.  And of course I had to walk 5 miles in the snow to the grocery, uphill both ways.

Really though, it has gotten a lot easier for those of us I call “gluten mutants.” But I’ve never found a pre-made GF green enchilada sauce that didn’t have gluten & tasted good, & all the recipes I’ve tried were sort of a pain in the neck to one degree or another. This stuff can also easily be made without dairy of any kind (had to ditch cow milk 5 years ago, tho I did find I can tolerate goat or sheep milk ok…thank heavens it’s possible to get good goat cheddar, goat yogurt (if you can find it), and there’s even one dairy that makes great goat mozzarella…but only one; the others range from blah to toxic waste (I can’t decide whether or not to name the good go-mozz maker; I just found some after it being almost completely unavailable for about 2 years, even online…don’t wanna create a stampede & not be able to get any more for me).

Anyhow.  The sauce. I tend to approach cooking as a creative enterprise & throw things together without measuring, unless I’m baking. Baking is chemistry; cooking is art. I’ll just tell how to make it, but don’t have precise amounts…I can probably figure it out if (A) anyone actually reads this & (B) wants amounts. I’m describing it as I made it; if dairy isn’t an issue, just use regular butter or whatever cow/cowlike product you prefer.

Ingredients

DF butter-like substance*
Potato starch/potato flour (same thing)**
Beef bouillon
good Salsa Verde (I love Herdez)
dash each garlic powder, cumin, turmeric, salt

Make a roux with the butteroid & potato starch. Add bouillon & green salsa, toss in seasonings as it thickens. Slosh onto & enchiladas, bake, snarf. I’d include a pic of the chicken enchiladas I just made, but would have to lower the camera into my belly, & that plays hell with digital cameras. Not to mention that the photo wouldn’t be too appetizing.

Bon appetit, folks!

Coming soon: my reaction to my doc informing me, just this morning, that [somebody] is going to convince “them” to ban all opioid pain medicines because [according to somebody else] 80% of opioid prescriptions are being diverted for illegal use (he wasn’t real clear on the who/what/where/how of this). (A) I seriously doubt the 80% figure. (B) I am not able to completely discount this…concept… that doesn’t even qualify as a rumor, because I know there are a lot of people out there who’re devoutly against opioids for anyone, whether they’re using them to get high or simply to try & live a relatively functional life amid constant, excruciating pain. I use the term “devoutly” intentionally, because many of them approach the topic in a truly messianic, religious fashion, and persevere in their quest because it literally is a crusade. Some believe it’s good for the soul of the sufferers to suffer. Like the folks† who fought mightily against allowing women to use any type of anesthesia (when ether & such came about) or pain relief when giving birth on the grounds that God decreed that Woman should suffer because of that original evil witch Eve & the whole snake/apple thing. I mean, what if poor Eve was just trying to help Adam to get his Five-A-Day, keep him healthy & regular? Talk about a bad rap.

But that’s later. Now it’s bed time, after I walk the Eskimo (that’s American Eskimo dog, lest anyone think I’m not only politically incorrect but have imprisoned an Inuit).

 

*I find Earth Balance brand Vegan (gold package) the best; use stick form for cooking.

**or tapioca starch or a GF flour mix, like Bob’s Red Mill all-purp or his pizza crust mix

†how much ya wanna bet they were all men?

 

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UO Punishes Maybe-Rapists (or maybe they’re not)

bball in jail

Sort of a Disclaimer:

Gosharoony, I’m on a roll lately; yesterday I’m supporting opioid use (well, sometimes, for some people), today I’m –or at least will be accused of– supporting rape and rapists, blaming the victim, being a proponent of “rape culture*”, and just generally being all-round vile. I’ll be right down there with the “legitimate rape” guy and his compatriot the “real and genuine rape” dude, with the genius who implied that God sanctions rape to give the gift of pregnancy and his compatriot the “God chose to bless [the rape victim] with a gift” fella, and their team member who called rape another of God’s method of conception, and their female teammate –turns out it’s a big team– who said God plans rapes (that naughty scamp God, He’s much wilder and crazier than I ever imagined).  Heck, I’m practically in bed (so to speak) with good ole Wisconsin state Senator Roger Rivard quoting his Daddy warning him about those girls who are “easy to rape.”

And of course all those mentioned above are Republicans and it’s downright horrifying to think that I’ll be accused of siding with not just Republicans but with Far-Right Tea Party Republican Nut Jobs. But I suspect that the FRTPRNJs will not be hopping on my bandwagon of wishing that the three young African-American men were actually proven guilty before they get punished, because, you know, the FRTPRNJs probably think….they’re black, so they’re no doubt guilty of something anyway.

So I moved these explanatory paragraphs up to the front, hoping that it’d help stay (or at least slow down) the mob with the torches and pitchforks. Call me chicken.

Finally, the meat:

So you’ve heard of baby-rapers; a foul creature and no argument. Here in Eugene we have Maybe-Rapers; three University of Oregon basketball players have been banned from the UO for four years—three uncharged, never-tried, never-found-guilty players. Three players whom the local DA declined to charge because of lack of evidence that a crime had been committed. A reading of letters to the editor of the Eugene paper indicates that few folks around here seem concerned about them, other than wanting to make sure they’re punished for something no one has proven they actually did.

God knows I do not mean to minimize the gravity or horror of rape; being raped has to be about as bad as it gets in this life. But having your future ruined by unproven accusation is no minor matter, either. Carol Stabile, the director for the UO’s Center for Study of Women in Society*, was quoted as saying the suspension is “keeping the students safe, so bravo for that.” Who’s kept safe? From what? Mz Stabile makes it sound as if the three had been charging about, attacking every female they saw. No one has hinted such a thing, though supporters of the “Punish them!” crowd have gotten considerable mileage from the fact that apparently one of the players had been the target of a sexual assault investigation (again, no charges in that one either). Those ‘presumed innocent’ young men aren’t being kept safe from anything. The police report called it consensual sex. Nobody knows exactly what happened except the participants, though detailed accounts (including the woman’s own telling) are awfully murky. Those players may be having their futures destroyed because a young woman experienced regret.

It would not be outside the realm of possibility for a young woman to go a little wild at a college party and engage in –or experiment with—risqué behavior. Or for her to wake the next morning to imagine her parents screaming, “You did what with WHO!?!” At this point, her options are limited. One is to determine to grit her teeth and stand her ground if her parents do find out and go ballistic. This is, to say the least, difficult if not terrifying. It would combine regret, shame, embarrassment, and owning up to an act of misbehavior that shocks and appalls her parents. It involves…what an icky word…responsibility.

 

Another option is to insist her participation wasn’t voluntary. Just shovel the nuances and ambiguities over the cliff, take the responsibility, the blame, and everything else and dump it on the guys. Scream “Rape!”  You can’t change the past, but you can spin the narrative.

 

The recounting of her story as it appeared in the paper made it sound as if she sorta protested, a little bit, in a way. It started at a party, with several people about including some who were the woman’s friends. If the three guys forced her into a bathroom, then through the crowd, out of the apartment, into a car, to a different apartment, then either everyone at the party was complicit in the kidnapping or she didn’t display resistance, in fact pretty much helped things along. Again, here I go blaming the victim, right? But if guys are saying “Let’s do this, then go somewhere else and do that,” and the girl is not intoxicated (the case in this instance, according to everyone except this victim herself), laughing, giggling and sorta-but-not-really saying no once or twice but going along (apparently) willingly, telling friends who ask that everything’s okay, what the heck are the guys supposed to think? It seems the protesters with their “No Rape Culture!” signs are demanding that young men be mind readers and prognosticators, to realize that the woman who is participating in and helping along the process while maybe giving mixed signals really isn’t participating or helping, she’s actually fighting in a new way.

Mature Einsteins couldn’t manage that level of mentation, forget twenty-somethings at a party, even if they’re not wasted. Anyone who’s ever been at a rowdy college party knows damned well that just being surrounded by a crowd of people at the apex of their “I’m gorgeous & invincible” phase, with hormones carbonating out into the very air like the Horny Fairy has been waving around her bubble wand, that even if you’re straight-up sober your IQ can plummet like a rock. It’s like the mental version of a contact high –everyone around you is acting stupid, so you do too. Of course, chances are high [heh heh] that you’re getting a real contact high as well, especially if we’re talking about a party here in Eugene, Orygun, the greatest Last Bastion of Hippieland (and Hempieland), since housing prices in Boulder got so insane. Jeez, the hippies here must be going bonkers at the fact that Boulderites get to enjoy legal pot before they did. But i digress…one of my specialties.

Where were we? Ah, The Three Little Maybe-Rapists. And of course, the real crux of the botheration for me is, I can’t help but wonder at the woman’s race. The players are black, the woman’s race isn’t indicated in any news reports that I’ve been able to find. I’m guessing she’s Caucasian. This is based only in part on the fact that the incident occurred in Eugene, where damn near everyone is Caucasian except for the sports team members. (whee! Now I can be reviled for ‘playing the race card!’). Yes, even in oh-so-liberal Eugene, a white girl having sex with three young black men could be cause for her to worry about her parents’ reaction† If the hues were reversed, would the three white players be suspended? I’d bet not.

It really bothers me that those who violently protest against “the rape culture” are themselves so eager to conduct a witch hunt, to celebrate the destruction of three guys’ lives who haven’t been and certainly never will be charged, much less convicted, of a crime. Maybe the three wouldn’t have gone on to become NBA stars anyway; I don’t actually follow basketball so I have no idea how good they are. But even if you completely ignore their putative basketball careers, having “kicked out of UO for four years (or more) because of sexual assault accusations” is hardly going to be a résumé builder. Presumably they also came to college at least in part to get an education (perhaps I’m showing my naiveté again) so they could have a career of some sort. I’d guess that most careers are now closed to them forever.

I have enormous amounts of sympathy and empathy for rape victims…I’ve not been attacked by strangers, nor tied down or beaten up in the bushes, but I have experienced rape. It occurred in such a way that prosecution or even having charges brought or anything else was impossible, so only one person other than myself knows about it. But I really am enraged by sexual violence, and strongly believe that rapists should suffer serious torture. But I also believe that someone should be proven to be an actual rapist –to the fullest extent that proof is possible these days– before the punishment begins

 

*Another one of those phrases that sound impressive (and fit nicely on protest signs), but…I’m not convinced that it really means a whole lot. On the other but, we live in The  Sound Bite Era, and it’s perfect for that.

**The university has a ”Center for Study of Women in Society”?? Despite spending most of my life in academia (albeit mostly in science), there are times when I can understand the sneers of the feed cap-wearin’, chaw chewin’, down-with eddication types. The higher education part of me understands the point –and need—of such a study, but another part of me can’t help but roll its inner eyes and wonder if Center publications spell the female gender “womon” and instead of pronouns “he” & “she,” use “ur” or “zir” or “his’er” and “sh’he” and in other ways spends massive amounts of time and energy battling ancient semantics when other, tangible, serious issues need more attention.

†No, I don’t know where she’s from. Even today, it’d be cause for her to worry no matter where she’s from. I realize I’m doing a lot of speculating based upon little data here, but these guys got banned from a university –i.e. got their futures completely ruined– based pretty much upon speculation, so I‘m okay with it.

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catios: new way to let your indoor cat out

I’ve been a rabid proponent of keeping cats indoors for a long time –it’s better for the cats, better for songbirds, better in a lot of ways. The concept of a “catio” has caught my eye recently, and I look forward to building one in the house I’m trying to buy. If the closing process ever manages to get finished, & if I get through it with my sanity intact (doubtful). But here’s a neat article about catios, with some ideas (click on the title above).

I absolutely love the ‘celestial viewing platform. Those are some seriously lucky cats!

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February 24, 2014 · 3:06 am

Boat envy

My significant other left this morning for a 17 day research cruise on a 187-foot NOAA research vessel.  I’d love to say my feelings are mixed, but the truthier version would be, I’m dying of envy. He’s never been on a research cruise, or any type of large boat for more than a few hours. I’m not exactly Jacques Cousteau (no matter how much I wanted to be him when I was growing up), but I have been on several boat trips of varying lengths, the longest a 10-day trip on the RV Cape Hatteras (135 ft) in 1994, just as I was starting graduate school in Marine Bio at UNC-Wilmington. I never wanted to set foot on shore again after any of them.

btw, the term “cruise” should not conjure up images of Carnival Cruise lines. Research cruises are considerably lacking in luxury, though the cook on my 10 day trip made as good food as I’ve had anywhere (as long as one liked lots of garlic).

I probably got less sleep on the grad school trip than at any comparable span of time in my life, despite being a lifelong expert in insomnia.  My group was aiming to catch larval fish; we used several different methods, the main one being the boat’s huge frame trawl. This was an enormous net, maybe 40 feet long,that tapered down to a PVC barrel about 3 feet long, with mesh inserts. All the larger creatures washed out of the net and small, planktonic creatures were caught in the barrel. We caught miniscule slivers of baby fish, tiny speckled octopi the size of pencil erasers, the transparent larvae of lobsters (looking like weird extraterrestrial spiders, fragile as wet tissue paper– opening photo).  One day we passed the tattered remains of a makeshift raft, probably from one of the groups of desperate Haitians who were risking their lives in attempts to float to America at the time. It was mostly submerged and consisted of old inner tubes, pieces of coolers, part of a box spring, and other junk. We never knew what happened to the poor souls who set out on such a terrifying conveyance.

On other trips I’ve seen humpback whales drifting alongside the boat, waving a startlingly white, 15-foot long pectoral fin languidly at us. Manta rays the size of king-sized beds at dawn, shooting out of the water, turning over in mid-air, gleaming ebony backs traded for white bellies, splashing back into slate blue water with a resounding crash. A basking shark as long as my Elantra loafing at the surface like a cat dozing in the sun. Black and white dolphins surfing in the bow wave, turning over to eye us as we hung over the ship’s side, gaping & grinning like fools. They seemed to laugh at us (which would make them mighty forgiving creatures). The sky at night so velvet black and clear we could actually see satellites passing overhead, which I thought hadn’t been possible since the 70s, but there are some areas with air clear enough still.

R/V Cape Hatteras, my home for 10 days.

A lot of wrong turns resulted in my not spending a whole lot more time at sea. But I’m trying to remember what I was lucky enough to do, and to see.

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Hello world!

Yes, this is my very first post. Why did I start this blog? What do I plan to do with it? Good questions. I’ll make it up as I go along.

Talk to folks about biology, science, animals (fish, cats, parrots, horses, turtles…), books, chronic pain…and so forth.

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