Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Year’s Eve 2011!
December 31, 2011

Most of the country is already safely into 2012. They are reassuring those of us here in the Pacific Time Zone, where it is still 2011, that all is well in the New Year. The world still exists, 2012 is nothing to fear. Whew!

A Springsteen lyric is apropos for those ahead of the Pacific Time Zone: “…We’re livin’ in the future, and none of this has happened yet.”

Happy New Year! May 2012 be filled with nothing but health, happiness, fun times and prosperity for all of us. May all your wishes come true!

No creatures were stirring….BECAUSE EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED!!!
December 24, 2011

It’s Christmas Eve, and not even a mouse can get some cheese tonight. Because every damn store and business feels obligated to close down.

This despite the proliferation of highly sensitive individuals and groups who feel deeply offended by the very mention of Christmas. Despite the fact that Americans are fleeing religion en masse, and membership of non-Christian religions is growing thanks in part to the large number of immigrants. Thus, we have a large population of people in this country who either do not celebrate Christmas, or else do celebrate, but do not think it a sacred enough day to shut down entire cities.

Then there is the economy. So many people in the US are out of work, or under worked. Even most Christians today would be happy to work on Christmas Eve and Day in order to get much needed funds. Others prefer to work as they have nothing else to do today.

So why do most businesses still close early, or do not open at all, or even remain closed for days or even weeks?

If they cannot find the staff to work these days, then that’s a different story, of course. But it would benefit society in so many ways to keep these places open.

11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month of the 11th Year…Happy Veteran’s Day!
November 11, 2011

Even though I did not celebrate such a special Veteran’s/Armistice Day the way I would have liked, I did manage to do a little something today and drag a vet to one of the many restaurants whoch were kindly serving free meals to veterans on this day.

His choice was Applebee’s in Chatsworth. He wore his Marine vet hat and a USMC sweater. I wore my Absolute Marines t-shirt. On the way up to the place we encountered others wearing Marine jackets, shirts or hats. My friend exchanged cheerful remarks with others waiting who noticed his hat and shirt.

We arrived around 5:20 and the joint was already packed. The wait was said to be 1:15 hours.

My friend made the best of the time by greeting other vets, and I enjoyed watching them. I would say a small majority of the parties included at least one Marine. The next most common would be Army, then Navy. I believe I saw two USAFs. Perhaps more. It was nice to see that there were quite a few WWII vets in attendance!! Always so heartening to see them out and about! I’m very happy they got a free and high quality dinner tonight. I think these vets should always be offered a free meal. It’s the least they can do for them.

The wait was actually much shorter than they said it would be. The meal was brought to us promptly, and I splurged and ordered a Kahlua for myself as well as a meal. We had fun, and then some real laughs (or, more likely, giggles) occurred when a band of Marines – in dress uniforms waited outside. A few came in and stood by the bar. One of them bore a striking resemblance to a character in a war movie I’d seen recently. Possibly  “The Pacific”.

We did not take our time; we figured we should eat and leave so as to not make people wait any longer than they did.

On our way out, my friend was greeted with smiles and camaraderie from the rest of the young Marines still waiting outside. I leered at each one of them and smiled, and got bright-eyed looks & smiles right back.

Now THAT was a pleasure!

Who did they think they were?
April 16, 2011

Unfortunately for us, with progress usually comes regress.  For every step forward, we take one or two more back.  Major problems facing our society today include the sad fact that nothing is sacred, one must always take the easy way out, and everything – and everyone – is replaceable. We throw good stuff away. By good stuff, I not only mean objects, but animals and people as well.  Yes, we throw away people too. I’m not talking about literally, although we do have plenty of examples of that with all the murder victims found in dumpsters, and babies thrown out. But we also throw out people every time we give up on someone or stop associating with someone, merely because the individual is no longer pleasing us; perhaps they said something we don’t like, isn’t living up to expectations, or did something to anger us. So we toss them out. And replace them with someone else.

Animals have it even worse. They are literally thrown out. Sometimes merely because they are no longer new and “cool”.  Other time they made the fatal sin of making a mistake. They peed on the carpet, barked, dug, scratched, bit, chewed. Sometimes they aren’t compatible with new people, pets, or even furniture. Yes, animals get thrown out for not matching the furniture. Or they take too much time. Or a fad goes away. Or “we can’t take him with us.” Or they grew too big, aren’t aggressive enough, are too aggressive, too energetic, shed too much, no longer useful for fighting or breeding, or…or…or…So they get dumped at a pound, where the stench of urine and death linger in their sensitive noses 24/7. Odds are, they will not get adopted. Next they get dragged off and killed like parasites, stored in a freezer, dumped into a trash bag, and thrown out or sent off for rendering.

What gave them the right to abandon their responsibility as a pet caretaker? Why is it acceptable to dump and kill a fairly highly evolved life form such as a dog, cat, horse, or rabbit? It can’t speak your language, so it must not think or feel, and even if it did, its thoughts and feelings are not as important as yours, and thus, it is ok when they die or suffer. It is not like you are, thus its pain is ok. It is lesser than you. Nothing else matters except you and your selfish whims. Some people in dire circumstances really don’t have a choice. But we aren’t talking about those people. We’re talking about those with ordinary difficulties, who should be able to find acceptable solutions.

But solving problems is not EASY! And we want things EASY! It isn’t EASY to cure an animal of bad habits, convince household members to co-exist with said animal, or keep up with the needs of an animal. And it’s so EASY to just dump them in a death chamber somewhere. who cares, right? Out of sight, out of mind! problem solved, just like that! After all, we’ll get another pet someday….

Staying safe – real world advice
February 20, 2011

There is plenty of information floating around out there on how to stay safe from urban predators. Much of it doesn’t seem to come from people who have actually practiced this out there on the streets. So here is some advice that I’ve learned not via others, but through personal experience trying to stay safe in the Southern California area. If you’re smart, you observe things. You figure things out on your own; you don’t need others telling you.

So to start with, keep your phone in your hands and ready to dial 911 at all times.

Just because it’s a nice, ritzy neighborhood, does not mean it is safe. Robbers love nice neighborhoods. They think everyone in them has money.

Worried about someone walking behind you or driving alongside you? Take a casual glance in store windows, car windows, puddles of water – anything that gives off a reflection. This way, you can see what the person behind you is doing – and looking at – without turning around.

Do NOT stare. Do not stare at people, even if they are behind you. Turning around once is fine, but do not get that look of sheer terror on your face just because someone has the audacity to be walking behind you. Assuming an individual is a criminal will piss off even the most mild mannered person. He or she may not have meant you harm before, but they sure do now!

If you really are concerned about being followed, do not go home. Keep walking or driving to the nearest open business and hang out inside there for awhile until the other person has wandered off. If the individual is still following you, now it’s time to call the cops. As a general rule, if anyone is behind you, don’t go directly home. Just circle around and go home after the other person is gone. You never know.

Certain types of cars are more likely to contain criminals than others. Vans, minivans, sports cars, pickup trucks. Vans are good for grabbing people and pulling them inside, and are often driven by shady characters. So are pickup trucks. Those are often driven by illegals, who are very likely to at least disturb and harass you, if nothing else. SUVs and sports cars are driven by assholes who will try to run you over or at least, scream their drunken asses off at you. When you see these cars, pay a bit more attention.

Cars parked along the side of the road are great at protecting you from abductions. Someone driving by can’t just reach out and snatch you if there is a car between you and him. Then again, do pay attention to parked cars as someone who is sitting in one could try to grab you and pull you in. Again, vans and RVs are good for abductions, but any car can be dangerous.

When ever you feel in danger, talk on the phone. Don’t get so into your conversation that you get distracted, but being on the phone can scare off certain types of criminals. Even pretending to talk on the phone can help. It’s saved me on more than one occasion. And speak loudly.

If you see a truly suspicious person, try to get these facts (although try to get them in a casual  manner that doesn’t make it obvious you are studying the suspect): Race, clothes, gender, height, weight, age, car. You may not remember most of these details if all you get is a casual glance at the guy. Clothes, sex, and race are especially important. Even shoes. A suspect may be able to change his clothes quickly, but not likely his shoes. Does he or she have any scars? Earrings? Tats? Any unusual marks on him? Anything unique about this person at all? Hair? Hat? Again, you’re not going to remember most of this in an emergency situation, so do try to practice this with friends before something actually happens.

Sometimes criminals will try to stop you on the street and ask you seemingly innocent questions, such as ask for a cigarette, a light, money, the time, where a street is. Most of the time, these people don’t mean any harm, but just in case, don’t stop too close to the person, and do TALK LOUDLY. LOUD TALK can frighten some criminals. “YEAH, VENTURA BLVD IS THAT WAY!!!!!” “SORRY, I DON’T HAVE ANY CASH ON ME!!!!!!!!!”

Do remember, most people out walking or driving at night are NOT hoodlums. Do not stare, but be aware. Do not glare at them or watch them as though it’s your job to catch every scumbag on the planet. Just merely be aware that there is a person there, take proper precautions, and go about your business or just discreetly remove yourself from the situation (i.e, calmly walk across the street and go into a store).

At night, if you are walking while carrying a purse, put it in a shopping bag. A shopping bag is less likely to attract a robber than a purse.

Do not call 911 because you see something suspicious unless you honestly feel someone is about to attack  – or is seriously following you. Call a non-emergency number such as 1-877-ASK LAPD instead.

A few more trips: Keep a working cell phone, pepper spray, mugging wallet or purse (a wallet or purse with nothing in it – just something to throw at a robber) with you at all times. A knife and a large dog do not hurt either. A chihuahua cannot help you on the street, but they are good watchdogs for the home. They can at least alert you that someone is there.

George Carlin on aging
September 17, 2010

“One of the best things about getting old is that you get to forget stuff, even important stuff. You can even make believe you have Alzheimer’s disease. Ah, that’s a lot of fun. Works great at the family dinner table.

You look around and say ‘Who are you people and where is my horse?’ 

Then you stare at your oldest son and say ‘Agnes! I haven’t seen you since first communion!’

It fucks them up. It’ll take them a week to get over that shit, and they’ll listen to you a lot more carefully from then on.

So don’t be afraid of getting old, it’s a great time of life. You get to take advantage of people…and you’re not responsible for anything!”

Thanks to Carlin for giving all of us something to look forward to one day. Wisdom is very nice, but nothing beats having a good laugh at the expense of friends and family members!

Holding Their Horses
August 2, 2010

California’s equine enthusiast community is not in good shape.  It’s at its worst in the Los Angeles are, where horse property has rapidly disappeared from virtually everywhere in used to flourish. Legendary racetrack Hollywood Park faces the wrecking ball as soon as the economy improves (let’s hope it never does). Horse sports and horse shows are almost secretive affairs, with little publicity and hardly any casual fans attending.

Ask anyone if they would like to go riding with you, and you will receive a blank stare and a confused, “huh?” as a reply. Invite someone to a horse show and they will smile condescendingly and reply with an artificially sweet, “Ooh, that sounds like fun,” as if you just invited them to play house with your imaginary friends.

Invite someone to the track and you’ll get a look of disgust and a bundle of excuses. ” A racetrack? I don’t gamble!” “Aren’t there a lot of shady characters there?” “There are racetracks around here?” “It’s too far!” “You mean NASCAR? I love NASCAR!”

Horse sports and horse riding are seen as novelties. Something NO ONE ever does. Something dirty, smelly, icky, old fashioned. Most people today have never even seen a horse; or at least not since they were 5 and rode a pony. Once.

Oddly enough, it is horse people that are primarily to blame. There are horses in the valley, you know. They may even be right next door. You would never know, because their owners make sure to place giant walls and shrubs around their homes so you can’t even see what they’ve got in their yards. A stroll down a Chatsworth street reveals nothing but the usual dull city sidewalks and block walls – until a huge dark head pokes over and dangles itself curiously in front of you.

Try to pet or even look at a neighbor horse and the owners will glare at you and warn you to stay away. Ditto for horses on college campuses. They may not be able to stop you from looking at the horses – from a distance, of course – but they will watch you and make it clear you are not welcome there.

And forget about wanting to work with horses. The equine community only hires its own people, and thumbs its nose at outsiders. Never mind trying to learn – you’re supposed to have been born into the industry. If you are not “one of them,” forget about ever aspiring to be.

And the snobs make sure to price any and all horse activities way out of the average person’s league. They make the usual excuses: running a horse establishment is so expensive, they have to charge what they do just to break even, they say. But there simply are not enough wealthy people and established equestrians around to make equine-oriented businesses thrive. One has to think business would perk up considerably if they merely lowered their prices and offered deals and specials, especially to novice riders and those just developing an interest in horses.

Then there are the “breed” people: my breed is better than your breed. My breed is the only horse for you. Oh, and the “My way or the highway” people. The saddleseat people,  the huntseat people, the dressage people, and the western people. If you don’t ride the way they ride, better don a sweater because you’ll need it to handle the icy chill coming your way.  And being a beginner is only acceptable if you are under age 12.

Hell, horse people cannot even get along with their own kind, let alone outsiders!

How much longer until the only horse you’ll see is in a zoo? And all property zoned for horses has become parking lots and condos? Or nurseries? Apparently even plants are more socially acceptable than horses.

Horse people, your anemic hobby is your own whiny fault. You need a transfusion quick.

Get over yourselves, get out of your cliques, and start introducing the new blood.

Living Flame
July 7, 2010

Hold your strength till the barriers fly,

then close with the leaders eye to eye.

Thundering hooves and the mad jammed race,

blood in the nostrils, sweat in the face.

And children, remember wherever you are,

you carry the blood of Man o’ War.

Now hiring: Pet advisers!
April 11, 2010

On my job applications, I used to list one of my previous jobs as being a pet sitter and dog trainer. There is truth there: I have trained dogs, and done quite a bit of pet sitting. But I no longer try to find work doing either one. Why?

The markets for both are over saturated these days. Everyone and their mother is a pet sitter now. Some may be licensed & bonded, or have more contacts and references than I.

Dog trainers are everywhere too. Some have had formal training and have received certification from a dog training school. Some have more experience and knowledge than I do.

But I noticed one of the main problems pet owners have today is that they have concerns, but, without paying for formal training, they have no one to turn to for help. Due to money issues or doggie behavioral problems, many pet lovers today are sending their friend away.

They take the easy way out:  re-homing him on Craigslist, putting an ad in the paper, taking him to the pound, or even having him put to sleep.

Prospective pet owners have a similar dilemma – and yet may not even realize it! The aforementioned troubled pet owners  may not have gotten themselves into this sticky situation if only they had somewhere to turn to for advice – BEFORE getting the dog. One could ask a trainer or vet for help, but they charge so much and often have little time to spend on your individual needs.

People typically assume that because they had a dog as a child, there is nothing to getting  a pet. It doesn’t require any extensive knowledge. The majority of Americans feel this way – acquiring and owning a pet is the simplest thing in the world. WRONG! And overflowing pounds and newspaper ads are proof of this! People don’t know what they are getting themselves in for. And then, instead of working on the problem, they dump the pet. People are simply ignorant; they aren’t aware there are people out there willing to help them.

Thus, in the rapidly expanding pet industry, perhaps we need a new field: Pet advisers. People here to provide you with the answers and information you need. If they do not have the knowledge and expertise required to solve your problem; surely they know someone who does. They then obtain the advice from those individuals and pass it on to you, or put you in touch with the expert directly.

So this is what I have become. I’m not selling experience or skill, I’m selling knowledge and common sense.

I prefer to work with people before they even get a dog: Is a dog even suitable for you at this time? Breeder, pound, or rescue? Which breed or mix? Youth or adult? Do you have a home or apartment? Are there children, elderly, or disabled people in your home? Are the kids good with pets? How much time will you be spending with the dog? Do you have any tasks or work for the dog to do?

If they have already acquired the critter, I offer to start basic obedience training, and then put them in touch with a pro who can turn the furry brat into a furry friend. I can offer names and numbers of reliable and affordable vets. I suggest and even provide good books,videos, and web resources. I relay tips and tricks. I dispel myths. I teach them how to speak dog. If I don’t know the answer, I find it.

Community colleges offer extension programs that feature  a dog training course. How about a course on pet problem solving?

People don’t throw away a car just because a tire blows. Why throw away a living being when it is nearly always repairable?

Get your facts straight before taking action.