Archive for September, 2008

Dog Show Rashamon

September 30, 2008 - 6:49 pm Comments Off

Just about everybody has heard the old saw that tradgedy plus time equals comedy. From the appearance of the Titanic in “Ghostbusters 2″ to various Hindenburg jokes, this pattern plays out again and again. Some of you all may remember that a few months back, we took Kang to her first dog show. LabRat noted at the time that her take on the event was somewhat different from mine. Well, time and the fact that there is another show looming in her immediate future have given me the urge to look back and remember just what happened that weekend in May.

The entire ordeal started out on shaky ground. When LabRat first got the invitation to the show, the timing was less than convenient right out the gate. In a best-case scenario, we would’ve driven to Albuquerque with Kang on a Friday to drop her off, driven back on Sunday to pick her up, and then driven right back on Monday for the tattoo appointment I had already scheduled a month or so in advance. With an even hundred miles from Los Alamos to Albuquerque as the redneck drives, this six hundred mile plan did not seem terribly appealing.

After a bit of debate, organizing, cajoling and general acts of juggling, we wound up with a reasonable plan. We would drive down on Friday, drop Kang off with her breeder for showing, and then spend a leisurely weekend in the Big City, tending to our myriad of standing errands to run whenever we’re someplace with more than a half dozen or so retail stores. With fingers crossed, we called Mark in hopes of moving my tattoo from Monday to either Friday afternoon or Saturday. While the show would be a trifle inconvenient and certainly a tad expensive what with the hotel room, it seemed do-able at least.

In retrospect, given Murphy’s residence in this house despite our best efforts to evict the bastard, that should have been a warning sign that all hell was about to break loose.

The Friday in question eventually rolled around. With the schedule calling for Kang to be on-site and ready to go shortly after noon, this left us with considerably less time than we would have prefered in the morning to attend to all last minute details and arrangements. Kodos had to be dropped with my parents for the weekend, LabRat’s habit of not packing until the jet is taxiing down the runway, as it were, and my general aversion to mornings (which for the purposes of this post, I will blame on LabRat, as before I met her rising at 5am was reasonably common for me), and all the last minute “what will we need for the show?” factors had to be accounted for. Before this morning, I was led to believe that Kang would be washed at the show grounds, as they would presumably have better equipment to handle the operation, and she would need Proper Grooming, whatever the hell that was, before she went into the ring anyway. Instead, while in the midst of gathering my last items before mistakenly believeing myself ready to leave, LabRat marched a confused looking Kang up to me and wanted to know when I was going to wash her this morning.

Having only minimal coffee in my system at that point, I made my first mistake of the weekend, one which I would sadly repeat as time went on. I froze in confusion.

“What? She’s getting a bath down there, remember?”
“Yeah, but I just went over the schedule and she’ll need more time to dry and if we get that out of the way here we can –” She went on like this. I relented.

Bathing the dogs here is a tricky proposition at best. With one well over 100lbs, and the other just shy of same, control becomes something of an issue. As such, it winds up considerably easier to simply coax/drag/shove/bait the dog into the shower stall, and climb in with it to perform the scrubdown. I’m sure your own mind can fill in the details of a grown man and a nervous large dog in a shower stall attempting to engage in vigorous acts of scrubbing. There was much howling involved and some disturbing amounts of licking the shower door. I am pleased to note that I had no part in the licking of the shower door.

With Kang’s shower done, and my second shower just begining so I could remove the 20lbs of loose fur she shed (which through one of the few bright spots of luck for the weekend did not clog the drain), we were only running slightly behind schedule. We packed up the dogs and our luggage and the assorted support gear we deemed necessary for Kang into the truck and made for my parent’s house to drop of Kodos. A short ride, and one the dogs have made many times, this was uneventful. Once we reached the highway, however, things changed.

It should be noted at this point that, despite my best efforts, Kang is a daddy’s girl. When we first went to pick her up from the breeder at the tender age of eight weeks, it was love at first sight for her. While the breeder dealt with another couple who happened to be picking their puppy up the same day and were on their way out, we were asked to simply have a seat and enjoy the puppies. Puppies! Fuzzy! Cute! Cuddly! Et cetera! Plopping myself down on the floor to pet the little balls of fluff, the one that was to be Kang trundled over to me and gave me a vigorous sniffing. She then stomped through my lap, leaving of course no delicate bits un-squished, marched a few feet away, peed on the floor, and then marched back to curl up and fall asleep in my lap. Aside from the location where she pees, surprisingly little has changed since. Anyway, back to the highway.

On the short drives to my parent’s house, or to the vet, Kang had traditionally been happy to look out the windows, or annoy Kodos, or occasionally stick her head up toward the front seat for a quick ear scritch. For longer rides, she apparently gets nervous. When nervous, she seems to want reassurance from daddy. Thus, for the next two hours, I learned to pilot a full-size pickup with dangerously insufficient caffeine in my system through the New Mexico highways and interstates with this head planted firmly on my shoulder, breathing wetly into my ear. At least I probably blended in with the rest of the drunks finally going home.

Arriving in Albuquerque, we had left time for lunch. This went surprisingly smoothly, despite the gigantic fuzzy mooch in the back seat. We called Mark to see about the tattoo reschedule, and for the most part the biggest worries of the weekend were the early morning and the unexpected bath. Then we tried to get Kang to the show, and that is where engines 2, 3, and 4 caught fire, the controls locked, fuel pressure went out, the bombadier puked all over and all the guns jammed. Metaphorically speaking of cousre.

After three or four passes on one of Albuquerque’s busier streets attempting to find the lone open gate to the appropriate area of the state fair grounds, we finally found a way in. We promptly blew our other lone piece of luck for the weekend by getting past the gatekeeper without paying a parking fee on the grounds that we were simply dropping the dog off to be shown, and wouldn’t be staying. We pulled in to an area reasonably near where the show was supposedly being held, and tried to call the breeder. Meanwhile, our lunch stop not having bathroom facilities easy to access, or of general maintenance above “might not explode,” my bladder was threatening dire consequences if I didn’t find at the very least a secluded shrubbery. Leaving the phone and dog in LabRat’s care, I set off to the clearly labled facilities in plain view from the parking lot. As it turned out, those facilities had not been unlocked since shortly after the fairgrounds were first built. With a few choice phrases directed at the door locks, I went in search of other suitable facilities.

Twenty minutes of marching through the mid-90-degree heat and relatively high humidity of Albuquerque in May, the only option availible was a vacant horse stall. After a series of looks from my neighbor, which I presume translated from horse into “Dude, aren’t you done yet?” I made my way back to the truck to find that LabRat had still not managed to reach the breeder. Taking Kang from her, she went in search of anybody who could point us in the right direction. At this point, regardless of the impact to the morning’s schedule, I was glad we had bathed her at home, since showtime was looming a fair bit closer than we had originally planned. In my head, by this point in the day, Kang would have been well off with the breeder, we would have checked into the hotel, and the leisurely weekend would be well underway, checking out various interesting looking shops we never had time to stop into before and the like. Eventually, LabRat came back into sight, moving at a fairly brisk pace compared to normal. Having finally found the breeder’s area, she reported, we threw all our stuff small enough to fit into the cab of the truck, crossed our fingers about the dog’s crate (the Albuquerque fairgrounds are not in the low-crime section of town) and went to make the handoff.

At this point, the fourth engine burst into flame, half the starboard wing fell off, the ball-turret gunner went plummeting off towards the green earth below, the radio went out, and the last transmission from friendly territory involved phrases like “on fire” and “court-martial.” Metaphorically speaking, of course.

“Oh, great! You’re finally here!” the breeder announced. “Sorry, my phone was in the glove-box in the car. Been kinda busy here. Look, the show is in about an hour and a half, which will be just enough time to– oh no! You didn’t groom her?!”
“We gave her a bath before we lef–”
“Throw her — what’s her name again?”
“Ka–”
“Throw her up on that table and get her groomed. There are tools on the other table where they’re grooming Uzi right now. Don’t get too close to her head, she’s cranky.”
“Uz- ?”
“I’ve got to run talk to the judge for a minute and get some other details squared away. You don’t mind and have time for this, right?” I repeated my earlier mistake and hesitated, confused.
“Um, I gue-”
“Great. Do you know how to groom.” It was not a question.
“What?”
“Oh. Frickin’ great. Ok, get her on the table and just start brushing her real good. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

We got Kang up on the table in question, and not knowing what else to do, set about our usual procedure for getting loose hair and undercoat off her. Uzi’s crankiness (and yes, the other akita was named Uzi, and yes, after the gun) had been fortunately overstated, and amounted to giving me a friendly lick as I moved past. LabRat held Kang’s collar and I worked her over with an undercoat rake and shedding blade I found nearby. The breeder came back into view, moving at full steam.

“What are you doing!? I said start grooming her! It’s nearly show time!”
“I –”
“Here, get this noose over her head so we can control her.”
“She–”
“Raise that post to keep her head in the right spot.”
“It –”
“Twist the other knob.”
“Ok.”
“We’ll start with her nails. She’s fidgety, so control her head. Just put her in a headlock.”
“Right.”
At this point, Kang felt it prudent to become involved in the process.
“ARRRRooooWWWOOoooOWWWOWOOOO!”
“Aw, you’re a fidgeter aren’tcha! Hold her head tighter.”
“Right.” I clamped down on my headlock.
“ARRROOOWWAHAHAAAARROOOOOAHHHH AHHHH AHHHH!!!”
“Tighter!”
“Right.”
“ARRROOOOOOOAAAAOOOOOOHHHOOOOOWWWWWWOOOOOoooOooOOOohwwwaaaO”
“Too tight. You’re hurting her.”
“Oooh-kay.” I eased off the headlock. Kang instantly transformed into a land-based Marlin. At least this is the closest description I can muster for the transformation in to “wildly-bucking and howling fur-beast.”
“Ok, put your fingers under her chin like this – ” she jammed two fingers under my chin for demonstration – “and push up like this” – which she also demonstrated on me. “That’ll control her head without making her afraid you’ll choke her.”
“And who’s idea was the choking?”
“Huh? Just push up.”
“Right.”

“AROOOMMPFFOOOOPMMMMMOOOOO!”
“Harder!”
“Right!”
AROOOOMMMMMMPPFFFFOOMMMFPFF!
HARDER!
RIGHT!
ARRROMMMMFFOOOOOOOOFFFMMMMMOOOOOOO!
“Too hard!”
“But you said –”
“You’re pushing too hard, it’s scaring her!”
“You just told me to-”
“You’re a crybaby, aren’t you!” She bonked Kang on the nose. Kang gave me a confused look. I returned it. “Ok, her nails are done. You can do her coat, right?”
“Huh?” I began to wonder why she was turning to me for all this, while LabRat hovered nearby.
“Oh, God. Ok. Take this,” she handed me a collection of brushes, “this,” a squirt bottle filled with something, “these,” more squirt bottles, “and this” a shop-vac set to blow, “and {perform a miracle}. Got it?” I’d offer a more detailed account of what she actually said in place of “perform a miracle,” but really, that’s about all I got out of her instructions.
“Well, I — ” she flipped the shop-vac to high.
“I’ll be over here working on Uzi, so I can walk you through it from there!” she yelled over the noise. Unfortunately, with the noise, all I heard was “I’ll…. work…. uzi…you…there!” I was unsure if I should take that as a threat, not having yet confirmed that the dog’s name was Uzi.

From there, through a series of interpretive dances, wild hand gestures, and a growing cloud of removed fur, Kang was Groomed. Kang did not like being Groomed. The only thing louder than the shop vac were Kang’s howls of disapproval and torment. Judging from the noises coming from this previously 99% quiet creature, it would be quite reasonable to conclude we were performing surgery sans anesthesia. The shop vac howled. Kang howled louder. I choked and sputtered as the cloud of fur reached densities high enough to spark fears in the back of my mind that gravity would take over and the cloud would condense and reach the point necessary to start a fusion reaction. My shirt was no longer blue, and the stubble I had foolishly failed to shave earlier in the morning was gathering such quantities of airborn fuzz that I’m told I took on a rather akita-like appearance myself, only with my mouth forming much more clear profanity, thankfully for bystanders drowned out by the shop-vac.

Forty seven hours later, the grooming was complete. Kang was resplendant in her show coat, fluffed to a volume I did not believe she was capable of, and looking every bit the (rather shocked and confused) ring queen. From there, we discovere (as LabRat mentioned in the original post), that Kang expected us to save her from this bizarre world of chaos and confusion we had thrust her into whenever she could see us. I sympathized, and was hoping someone would save us. We were thus banished from watching her compete. Hovering around, trying to keep a layer of spectators thick enough to keep her from noticing us, but thin enough to have some idea if we were even looking at our dog, the show progressed. Unaccustomed to being handled in such a manner, Kang dug her heels in and gave donkeys a good run for the title of “Most Stubborn.” Then, waving her front paw wildly about in the most clear demonstration of “DO NOT WANT” I have ever witnessed, she punched the judge in the face. The judge, a burly woman, took it in stride, fortunately. We later learned that she was a former U.S. Marine, which explained a lot.

In the midst of trying to watch the show, my accursed phone rang. The tattoo shop was calling about the reschedule. To make things worse, rather than hearing Mark as I expected, I heard a female voice. Apparently the shop had finally found some help to run the counter, adding just that extra dash of confusion for good measure. In keeping with our luck for the day, the only session possible other than the original as scheduled, was that very evening at 7pm. And as LabRat mentioned in the other post, we had for some reason agreed to have dinner with the local Akita club after the show. At 6pm.

Finally, the show wrapped up. I was more than a little concerned about the timing issues at this point. The last time we had been to our breeder’s house, where Kang would be spending the weekend, it was in a location best described as “Way The Fuck Out There,” at least 30 minutes each way, and it was already 5:20. Amazingly, she had moved to a location only slightly The Fuck Out There, and we were able to pack up dogs and equipment and make it from the middle of Albuquerque to the north end of town in reasonable time. Of course, when we got there, we discovered that Kang had picked up a case of worms from one of her kills. Nothing quite like marching your dog to the expert’s turf and noticing a white wriggler sticking out of her butt after a day like that to make you look like a competent owner, I can tell you that.

With dinner scheduled back near the fairgrounds for 6pm, we were a trifle behind schedule at this point. I will save the lurid description of the drive from breeder’s to restaraunt that I suspect LabRat would qualify as “death defying” and “bone chilling” because such claims are obvious hyperbole and have little in common with how the drive actually went. I will say that the engineers at Dodge did a hell of a job, because a full size pickup isn’t normally a vehicle folks consider capable of maneuvering well at 90mph through moderate to heavy traffic. Good acceleration too.

As we arrived at the eatery, it became obvious that we were a very distinct minority in considering punctuality that important. The judge Kang punched was there (once a Marine, always a Marine), and one other couple. The couple promptly began condescending to us, while the Marine was friendly to LabRat. Unfortunately, I missed a key section of conversation whilst washing up (buttworms before dinner? No thanks), and so some of the Marine’s conversation seemed a tad down her nose at us as well.

Finally, after a dinner in which I could not have understood less, we made it to the tattoo shop. I had never been so glad to be in agonizing pain before in my life. Mark was working over a section of my ribs which wasn’t technically the worst spot possible as far as pain generation, but was very high on the list. Throughout relating the day to Mark and the other artists, I think it tells all that needs saying that they all commented that nobody had sat that still for that much in that section in their memory. It was just that big an improvement over the rest of the day.

Finally, the day was over. Wondering if our reservation would still be good, we trekked off to the hotel. As we pulled into the parking lot, our luck held. The lot was full of school buses. A girl’s softball team was in town for whatever it is they do, and they had chosen the very same hotel we were in. And yes, they were on the same floor as us. In the next room on either side.

If you don’t hear back from us after this next show, I think you can safely deduce what happened. Hopefully the spot on “America’s Most Wanted” will be flattering.

Some Things Need Not Be Virtual

September 29, 2008 - 7:58 pm Comments Off

Some of you have probably noticed the link over in the sidebar to CrossFit. While we’ve slid off the religious schedule and generally slacked our way through the hottest months, favoring old fashioned manual labor, we still like the program overall, and appreciate the emphasis on functional strength and conditioning rather than sculpting very large muscles that aren’t so much for using as they are simply for aesthetics. On the other hand, nothing is perfect, and the normally sane (more or less) folks at CrossFit took a turn into left field the other day.

In order to keep things interesting, and to keep folks from falling into a rut and getting bored with the workout program, CrossFit is organized into Workouts Of the Day, or WODs. These vary from running 5k or so, to a maximum effort day in which you try to find your physical limits at some particular weight lift, such as the deadlift or various olympic lifts (the reasoning being that these stress more muscles at once rather than taxing exclusively a very small set of one or two muscles). Last Tuesday, however, the workout was something called “virtual shoveling.” The description from CrossFit’s site:

“With an Olympic bar holding only one plate (men use 45 pound plate, women use 25 pound plate), touch the plate on one side of the barrier then the other for one “rep.” Barrier is 24.””

Apparently we weren’t slacking off the program after all. Except ours was called, simply, “shoveling.” This led to an interesting exchange with some folks I chat with around the virtual water cooler most days.

“Wait, the workout was shoveling?! Damn, apparently I’m still on the program. What else have they included? Virtual wood-splitting? ‘Cause I’m a champ there too.”
“Dude, you’re a homeowner. What do you expect? And virtual firewood is called ‘turn up the thermostat.’ ”
“I expect I can start writing my own workouts any day now. ‘For time, spade fertilizer into a 30′x30′ section of land.’ ‘Spread four yards of gravel over the driveway. Alternate by sprinting after the dog who has stolen your gloves when you stopped for water.’ ‘The concrete truck is due in 20 minutes. Dig the four postholes to a depth of two feet before it arrives since you couldn’t dig in the pouring rain yesterday.’”
“That gravel one does sound like a pretty standard WOD…”
“Move four three-foot diameter basalt boulders to your parent’s house without destroying the bed of the truck.”
“You’re getting a little carried away.”
“‘Hoist and carry one 50′x6′ roll of chainlink uphill a distance of 50 yards because the truck won’t fit to drive it there. Do not accept assistance or your mother will be upset that you put any load on your father’s strained back.’ ‘Mix 8 80-lb sacks of concrete by hand, before the rain. Transport the results uphill to 2′ deep holes at 8′ intervals. Use your judgment as to how. No motors or electricity permitted.’”
“Remind me never to buy a house.”
“And I haven’t even described the drywall exercises yet. Chicken.”

More Nerd Approval

September 29, 2008 - 7:25 pm Comments Off

The pollen bloom continues, as evidenced by the fact that the decongestant section at the grocery store looks like it was hit by a mongol horde with runny noses. In a strange coincidence, we’re still not firing on all cylinders yet either. But there is one thing which has made the various pollen blooms this year at least slightly more livable.

trane1

That is a Trane CleanEffects air filter, and it is utterly frickin’ amazing. The basic jist of Trane’s claims is that with a combination of electrostatic charges, a thin regular pre-filter, and this nifty little honeycomb collection grid, it will remove just about anything from the air.

trane2

They are not exaggerating.

The unit as a whole sits inline with your furnace and/or AC system and replaces the standard fiberglass filter that everyone has used since the dark ages. It needs cleaning roughly once a year, depending on load, and it’ll go you one better and tell you when it needs cleaning rather than making you guess when it’s due (that’s the little LEDs on the front – they go from green to red, and you can probably work the rest out).

Before we got this thing, the procedure for a pollen bloom was basically to suffer. Dope up with as much and as many antihistamines and such as would clear an elephant’s sinuses, and still we would sit around with all the mental capacity of an eggplant, and go through a rain forest’s worth of tissue every ten minutes. We’d close the windows, heat be damned, wash our faces religiously, and not a damn thing would change. Now, we close the doors and windows, and use a very nifty feature of the thermostat that came with the system which will circulate the air without actually running any of the heat or AC functions. On bad days, we just kick the system to run those fans non-stop. Within about an hour, our noses are clearing and we feel at least vaguely human again. We may not be back up to 100%, but we can at least function beyond staring blankly at everything. Even better, it doesn’t produce that ozone smell that so many air cleaners leave. As yet another bonus, there’s no more periodic “Damn, what size was that filter again?” checks for replacements. It’s washable.

If you’re more than a little tired of being laid low by seasonal plant-bukakke, I cannot reccomend this gizmo enough. Even bringing in “dirty” air through the vents in the attic rather than just scrubbing the already-indoors air over and over, this device flat out ends the worst effects of hayfever and allergy seasons.

Why Are We Talking About This As Though It Mattered?

September 28, 2008 - 6:22 pm Comments Off

The rocky streak Stingray alluded to on Friday has done nothing but continue, and it hasn’t been till this evening that either of us had the energy to do much beyond slogging through chores and going to bed early. (An effort rather sabotaged for me by the fact that all the decongestants and antihistamines I have only last a fraction of the time they’re supposed to no matter how much I take or how many, so that I invariably snap awake very early because I can barely breathe.) A light dose of food poisoning damn near finished me off yesterday, but fortunately, food poisoning is quite transient.

Since the only part of my brain that has really been working is my sense of irritation- it might even be fair to describe THAT as a bit disproportionate at the moment- so I’m going to take the easy postfodder and bitch about some of my pet peeves that have been sucking up a lot of light and energy in this election that I can see absolutely no goddamn reason why they should have.

“Obama/Palin has no foreign policy experience!”

This is because setting and executing foreign policy is the sole responsibility of the executive branch, although Congress can occasionally do an end-run with funding slashes. The only way for a candidate to have truly meaningful foreign policy experience is either to have been the sitting President of the last four years- which is why election years in which one candidate is the incumbent executive usually turn into referendums on his foreign policy unless the other guy strikes the voters as too naive or aggressive to be better- or to have been a high-level Presidential appointee in a relevant arm of government, like the State Department or the Department of Defense.

Biden, the supposed master of foreign policy in the race? Given that in forty years he’s managed to: vote against funding the South Vietnamese government in the seventies (which moved the timetable of its collapse and the subsequent depredations and “boat people” up to “nearly instant”), to vote against Reagan’s Strategic Defense Iniative (which was one of the things that led the Soviet Union to spend itself to death rather than explosively combust), to vote against the first Gulf War (in which we were defending an ally from a naked land-grab), to vote for the second Gulf War but THEN for partitioning Iraq along lines of warring ethnic groups- and finally against the Surge, which even the Washington Post admitted has worked better than they’d ever dreamed… and they wondered why Obama won’t admit this as well. Biden’s foreign policy experience is mostly limited to being insulated from the consequences of his bad decisions.

As for McCain, his foreign policy experience is mainly suffering through the consequences of someone else’s bad foreign policy decisions- which does not necessarily mean he’s taken away a great deal of accurate wisdom from it. The separation of powers may be apparently considered quaintly outdated by Republicans, Democrats, and all three branches of government alike, but asking for real foreign policy experience in a candidate who has not done some very specific jobs- including President- is asking for the unrealistic.

“McCain voted with George Bush 90% of the time!”

Yeah, and? Obama voted with the other Democrats 97% of the time. Deeming him to be seven percent worse is splitting hairs, because there’s a very simple reason for this: McCain is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. If they did not vote like Republicans or Democrats, they would not be the nominee for their party. See also: Joe Lieberman’s political career, and what happened after the current incarnation of the party started its hard slew to the left after 2000.

“Do you want another eight years of George W. Bush? If you don’t why the hell would you vote for McCain?!”

Uh, because he’s not George W. Bush? They freaking hate each other, mostly because Bush did some very nasty stuff to McCain in the 2000 primaries and McCain shivved Bush in the media or in Congress a few times- hence the only 90%. They may look basically indistinguishable to liberal eyes, but that’s because they’re both conservative Republicans- to whom they seem pretty darn distinct.

Besides which, even candidates who are so politically simpatico that they run on the same ticket usually produce very different administrations if and when the VP is upgraded in the next election cycle. LBJ’s administration was not JFK II, to the disappointment of many. George H. W. Bush was definitely not Reagan II, to the disappointment of many. Andrew Johnson was not only not a thing like Abraham Lincoln, he was the first President ever to be impeached- although he remained in office when Congress unhappily realized that being a raging asshole is not, technically, illegal. Electing a President has a high degree of uncertainty to it, partly because a lot of events are unexpected- such as the massive foreign policy changes 9/11 sparked, after G.W. Bush ran on a platform largely dedicated to domestic issues- and partly because for many, the Presidency is the first chance they have to do what they really want and not what they have to promise to do to stay in the party’s good graces. Hence the shock of conservatives when, again, G.W. Bush proceeded to massively expand federal government and spend like a drunken trophy wife on entitlement programs.

This election is so divisive! Why can’t we all just work together for the common good?

Uh, because the reason we have two major parties and a host of minor ones for hardcore ideologues is that everybody has a very different idea of what the common good is. Republicans and Democrats both want to protect and strengthen the economy, preserve and strengthen our position abroad, and support the common man- they just very often have completely opposite ideas of how to go about this. The same candidate that scares the shit out of one side may look like the Second Coming to the other because of these ideological reasons. Policies that are demonstrably logically inconsistent with the problems at hand also plague both sides. The government is deeply in debt and federal programs are riddled with corruption and inefficiency, so we should nationalize health care. Drugs are bad, so we should throw tokers in next to violent felons to learn new tricks. Suicide and psychological problems are more prevalent among homosexuals, so we should disapprove of it harder so no innocent youths think it’s a fun lifestyle.

Besides, for those that think Bush (or Clinton) is/was Satan incarnate- you really think it would be better if both parties were functionally the same and did not frequently act to rein each other in? Teary-eyed pleas for bipartisanship and cooperation are usually code for “This country would be so much better off if those assholes on the other side just did things our way, which is clear to anyone that is not an evil retard is the right way.” Examples of bipartisanship: FISA. The PATRIOT act. The War On Drugs. Those have all been awesome for the country, yes?

“What we really need is a President who will protect the little guy and hold corporations responsible”.

Unfortunately, Obama and McCain are in agreement on this- apparently completely unaware that corporations employ millions and millions of little guys. Beating up on corporations with taxes and crushing regulations means layoffs and relocations overseas. I’m not in favor of NO regulation- and the unholy blend of government self-servitude and lack of oversight gave us the current financial crisis- but punishing “the rich” (read: big employers, not Scrooge McDuck with all his money in gold coins in a vault) usually doesn’t lead to anything but empty satisfaction before the economy gets even worse.

Given that Stingray has had to get me to correct or revise roughly fifteen times as many typos, awkward sentences, or clear omissions as normal, I’m going to take that as a hint and stop here. I’ll be sure to let you know what else pisses me off…

Friday Fluff

September 26, 2008 - 3:29 pm Comments Off

Sorry folks, but if you’re looking for deep thoughts and heavy science here today, you’re out of luck. Kang went into heat today, they’re still doing controlled “prescribed” burns in Bandelier, which is dumping all sorts of pollen, smoke, and other assorted crap into the air to make our noses threaten to abandon body in favor of a nice cleanroom, and the various forces of bad luck, Murphy, and coincidence are conspiring to keep us from getting a good night’s sleep for the past few days. On top of all that, it’s homecoming so our one venture out for errands and supplies was met with fierce resistance and utterly clogged streets filled with pointlessly reveling demons, more commonly known as teenagers. Honestly, I didn’t get what the big deal about homecoming was when I attended the school, and I sure as hell don’t get it now. “Rah rah, our jocks are dumber than your jocks, whoopee. Trying to get a handle on Maxwell’s equations here.” Anyway. So today you get a recipe. This is one of our favorites, but being locked on a mesa in the middle of the desert, coming by decent fish is a tricky proposition and we can’t make it as often as we’d like. At least not without a better-than-average risk of becoming rather fond of the room with extra porcelan.

Five Spice Orange Salmon, serves two
1/4 cup orange juice (fresh prefered)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs sherry (remember, don’t cook with anything you couldn’t drink on its own)
1 Tbs orange marmalade
1.5 tsp five-spice seasoning
~1/2-1 tsp ginger powder, depending on your taste
1 tsp dark sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 salmon fillets, roughly 1/2lb-3/4lb each, skin on
1 cinnamon stick

In a gallon-size ziplock bag, combine the first 11 ingredients and shake to combine. Place the salmon fillets in the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and marinate for 15 minutes, turning once. Don’t let this go longer than 20 minutes or the acid in the OJ will start to “cook” the fish.

Preheat your broiler.

After the 15 minutes are up, pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, bring up to a rapid boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Toss the cinammon stick, and you now have a glaze for the salmon.

Put the salmon on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, skin side up and broil for 4-6 minutes. Turn the fillets and baste well with the glaze (but save a bit for later). Broil another 4-6 minutes (and hit it with a little more glaze if necessary during this time).

Serve over a bed of brown rice and drizzle (fo shizzle) any remaining glaze into the grains.

Guestblogging Day

September 25, 2008 - 11:03 am Comments Off

Get your fill of marvelous me over at Marko’s today. (Yes, “whiterat” is still me. For some reason “LabRat” is already taken as a WordPress username. I can’t imagine why.)

This is one for those who like my dog thinkypieces…

Some People's Children…

September 24, 2008 - 3:21 pm Comments Off

Don’t you think it would be the sort of thing that parents would teach children that it’s dangerous to provoke strange dogs in other people’s yards? I was just out seeing what on earth Kang could be barking at- as she never barks, except in cases of snakes, trespassers, or Jehovah’s Witnesses- and found a couple of uterine dumplings climbing on our fence, peering over it at the strange never-before-seen wolflike creatures in someone’s YARD. Clearly an unprecedented thing.

Look, my dogs like kids and recognize the difference between them and adults, and I don’t think they (the idiot children) would have been bitten- the dogs’ reaction was more consternation than real aggression, as it probably would have been for a similarly foolhardy adult stranger.

Still, though, they are guard dogs, and even if they weren’t, lots of dogs are both territorial and not necessarily thrilled by children. Shouldn’t it be a useful damn lesson to teach children that you never, ever do this?

….Huh?

September 24, 2008 - 1:33 pm Comments Off

Rep. Alcee Hastings, on Sarah Palin:

Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.

Because… Jews and blacks are… game animals? I guess?

I’d like to see JPFO respond, but I kinda doubt it.

(This post only here so I have a reference list for when the dust settles and I want to pick out the most nonsensical moment or statement of the election year.)

Reminder: Don't Hate Boobs

September 24, 2008 - 1:18 pm Comments Off

I know you all don’t have a chance in hell, since I’m going to win it, but don’t forget the deadline for FBMG’s Breast Cancer Charity Gun ticket purchases is coming up soon. The drawing is Oct. 4 and proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society, and at $5 per ticket, if you don’t buy at least one then you’re a loser who hates women and breasts. Don’t be that loser!

I know everybody and their cousin posted this when Mr. Correia first announced the raffle, but that was a couple weeks ago, and things move fast here on the internet. A couple weeks may as well mean he posted it in the Pleistocene era. So even if you’ve already bought a ticket, go buy another. If you’ve fallen into the thrall of a strange cult that espouses that beer causes breast cancer, buy two tickets and that’ll offset your beer consumption for the next year and a half. There is no down side to this, and c’mon, look at that sweet pink duracoat job.

Crossposted Filler

September 23, 2008 - 4:55 pm Comments Off

I’m busy nipping my fingernails and overanalyzing about what I’m going to post at Marko’s on Thursday- I mean, I’m pretty sure I know what I want to do, but now I’m worrying because it’s really not quite in the same spirit as what’s been done so far, petty bullshit anxieties like that- so you get what my dog board got today, which is a silly collection of things we have learned while undergoing the process of becoming heavily tattooed.

- Your threshold of pain, like your strength or your reflexes, can be modified.

- Tattoo artists have some awesome stories. They are also one of the few professions left that has absolutely no problem with a jerk fee or a cool-customer discount, so behave.

- You know how you hate seeing the nth spiky tribal design, HotStuff devil, or barbed-wire armband? Chances are the artist hated drawing it, too.

- If your work is good, more people who see it will ask for the artist’s card than avoid you. Keep a supply of cards.

- On the other hand, if you want to be totally left alone in a store by salesmen until you’re ready to buy something, letting the tattoo show is a good way to do it.

- You know how there are lots of punk and metal covers to old vocal standards and classic rock, like “I’m Walking In Sunshine” or “My Boyfriend’s Back”? Turns out there are also lounge covers to punk and metal songs. “Trust in my self-righteous suicide” sounds VERY STRANGE coming from someone that sounds like Tom Jones. It will take your mind off the tattoo right quick, too.

- Pain is a very relative experience. I’ve had headaches that objectively hurt much much less than some portions of tattoo work, but were far more miserable experiences that I felt much sorrier for myself during because the pain wasn’t my idea, served no purpose, and I didn’t know when it would end.

- Conformation people will be mildly freaked out when you tell them you’re leaving early for a tattoo. Except the judge that was a Marine, who will want to see.

- Pain does funny things to your sense of humor, and your sense of humor does funny things to pain. Four hours of “Crikey” jokes after Steve Irwin’s death might be in unbelievably bad taste and you may feel guilty later, but you’ll still be glad you were laughing too hard to notice how much the tattoo hurt.

- It’s cheaper and more effective than therapy, because for one, the tattoo artist has much more screwed up stories than you do- trust us- and for another, analyzing your problems under physical duress helps put them in perspective.

- “A healthy beard is key.” (Its name is Clarence. All you need to know about Clarence is that you should fear Clarence.)

- The dogs can learn your tattoo-day behavior patterns with amazing speed. Grandma’s house! Oh boy!

For those that care, the latter process goes like this: our tattoo artist is in Albuquerque, which is an hour, hour and a half drive from here depending on traffic, and we also eat lunch there, so between the drive time, food time, and tattoo time we drop the dogs off at my in-laws’ for the day. Since we don’t have to rush home anyway, we also stop off at the homebrew store in Santa Fe on the way home. The homebrew store offers a discount if you use one of their cloth bags. So now, when the dogs see the brew bag come out, they start racing around in excitement because they’re staying with the in-laws’ for the day, which they love. It took us quite awhile to figure out how the hell they knew.

I’m sure you all feel more enlightened now.