Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snakes on the Plain(s)...

Hi all! Tippi your intrepid "Guest Editor" here. (Sorry, I really should be the head writer, but I got overruled.)

Here in the middle of Illinois, we had a lovely Christmas. Apparently, the human parents aren't used to dogs who REALLY like toys. Our respected elder dogs who've gone before us were used to milk jugs and the odd frisbee, but Quinn and I get the good stuff!

River just plans to kill them all.

So this Christmas, we hit the jackpot! We got a SNAKE! And it SQUEAKS! We got it from my hu-Mom's favorite pet shopping place: Fun Time Dog Shop. You can find them, she says, on the Internet --- which I'm not sure what that is, but here's where they are on that thing:

http://www.funtimedogshop.com/  And the neat thing about them is that they donate their profits to rescues like me and Quinn! Check them out. There's even a "snake fan page" because they're really popular. Lots of good, organic and tasty treats, too.

Here are some pictures. Dad got us some Kong toys, and I admit -- I'm smitten with the Chris-Moose. I tore a hole in his hat right off the bat. And Quinn tore off the fuzzy thing on the Kong Santa. The snowman's nose is still there, though.

I really AM staying!!!
 Here's Quinn - just waiting. Finally. She's a bundle of energy, and this is the longest I've seen her sit still. She really thinks it's HER snake, but it's MINE!

It's MY snake.
She has learned to take all the toys OUT of the basket, but she needs to learn to put them back in. The humans have a hard time walking around us AND our toys! Here's one of me. It's MY snake! But I can't choose between that one and the Chris-Moose.

I finally had to resort to napping with it. And the flat-rat beaver thingie that River tried to kill. That was one of my favorites, but River got them all. We call them "flat rats" because they're the toys without stuffing, but they do squeak. River doesn't like the squeakers, so she's trying to figure out the snake. Everyone says it's "indestructible" but I can see in River's eyes - she's figuring out a "destructible" method. One of these days, we'll come home and no more squeak.

Here's me. I'm just figuring out that if I whack it good and hard, it squeaks. And the tail rattles. And it's been THREE DAYS and it's still alive, and has its tongue, though Quinn likes to chew on it. I sometimes have to carry it around. But sometimes, that snotty little Quinn grabs it and we have a tug-o-war with the snake.

Snake Fight!!

I think this is almost (notice, I said almost) as fun as the dog park on a snowy day.

Speaking of which, I went to the vet on Monday. Those tasty treats I've been getting for obedience classes have gone right to my waist. Why does my hu-Mom call me "Wide Load" now?? We go to the dog park nearly every day, and the vet's not too worried, but he did say I need to "lighten up" and I think my humans are starving me. I try to look pathetic. We Elkhounds really have that down. Those Labs and spaniels think they can do the "sad, starving dog" look, but nobody does it like an elkhound!

All we get is fruit. At least they finally stopped trying to give me carrots. Quinn and River eat carrots. But I have standards.

One final picture: me with Chris-Moose. It's tough having all that stuff to play with. A girl needs her beauty sleep.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yippee Tippi!!

Hi everyone, Tippi here.

I’m a GRADUATE!!! We had a “mom & me” commencement weekend, because on SATURDAY, my mom got her MBA. And then TODAY, I got my certificate for Intermediate Obedience. I’m attaching some pictures.

It was fun. Myla had a bit of a rough day and I had to growl at her for a moment; her mom needs to work on her “big” voice…Because after that growl, *I* got my mom’s “big” voice and I straightened right up. What happened was that Bobbie, our teacher, let me “give a speech” and I got a whole cracker to myself. Well. There’s some serious scraps of treats on Bobbie’s cart because I was “hoovering” them up like crazy even when mom told me to “leave it.” So Bobbie gave me a piece of the bone. Myla wanted it. I didn’t want to share. My mom said I don’t have to share food, but I do have to be polite – not sure what that meant, but I lifted my lip and growled at Myla. She’s only 6 months old and needs to mind her elders.

Me and Shallot ready to graduate
Shallot’s owner asked if I could sit next to her for our class picture, because Myla was snapping at Shallot. Shallot and my mom played, and don’t you know – Shallot got her FACE into my mom’s treat bag and snagged a treat. Now, Myla does that, but she’s a GSD with a big old nose – Shallot’s tiny, but she did get the treat, and I think she was laughing! My mom kept laughing because I guess it looked like I was going to sit ON her! Shallot and I did a really, really long “stay” – almost 10 minutes, waiting for Myla to get it together. I finally just laid down because my butt was getting sore sitting on the concrete floor!

It was very crowded in the PetSmart. Lots of dogs getting pictures with Santa and again, I really WAS “just saying hi” to the cats. They weren’t interested. Not even a hiss or anything. Bummer.

So our “Advanced” class starts in January, and then I’m going to take my CGC. Then I’m going to work with mom for Therapy Dog training. I think I may have to wear a jacket that says, “Don’t bother me, please – I’m in class” because lots of people wanted to say hi. I had a bit of a problem, because I really wanted to say hi back. Somehow, I think it was the full moon – mom kept saying I wasn’t “focused.”

Me with my graduation hat
But we did all the stuff we had to do and I got my diploma. And as you can see, I wore the funny hat. My mom has one just like it, but *I* have a red tassel. I think that means I’m special.

I'm also going to put a picture of our whole class on here. I'm not sure what happened to Elphie, the golden retriever, but no matter. The 3 of us are going on to Advanced and Bobbie says that it'll be good for Shallot and Myla to be in the class. They need the work and they need to mature, Bobbie says. I guess that means I'm already mature.

Our Graduating Class
Bobbie would like Shallot and me to take the "Tricky Dog" class. My dad thinks Quinn would be better at that, but maybe we could take it together. I'm already "pre-loaded" with some tricks. I can sit up, shake and speak. I used to "high five" but if I can get treats doing a shake, I figure I can just keep doing that.

Your friend, Tippi

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm D-O-N-E!!!

Last night was The Night. We had our presentation and got our grades.

And I need to vent a little bit.

There were 3 groups presenting, and we were lucky (thank you, St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of students, and St. Bridgid of Ireland, the other one!) to be able to go first. As we were setting up, B, one of our group members, asked the prof how long we had, and the prof said, "Oh, about 40 minutes." Well...T in our group had asked that question the night of our "final" which was thinly disguised as a "mid-term" exam and we were told "about 1 hour." So that's what we planned. Since we had so few groups presenting, we figured, heck with it. We did our hour. That included a 20-minute video segment of W in our group, since W was absent due to a job interview -- and in this market, Lord knows you just go to the interview, and we make do with what we need to do to get our presentation off the ground.

Luckily, Hubby was able to videotape W and B was able to get that into the presentation. I'm tellin' ya - it was slick! It was funny, because we talked about what to wear, and it ended up we all did "office fancy" --- and T and I nearly wore the same top, which would've been funny, since we'd have looked like Tony Orlando and Dawn... But both of them, B and T, are too young to know who those people are. Ahhhhhhh, youth.

We did our presentation and it went well. There were no typos on our slides (of course), and the majority of our slides had a "hook" to them, if you were paying attention, that related to the subject being presented. We all looked at our audience and only briefly noted the slides on the screen behind us.

We were peer-graded, plus the instructor. The other two groups (here's where the rant comes in) did their presentations in less time than we did, though the second group did do about 45 minutes - they had one less person in their group, so that made sense.

But....(cover your ears, here's the rant - or at least Part A of the rant) they had typos on at least 50% of their slides. Both of the other groups. And several times, they read from the slides. With their bodies partially turned toward the screen.

OK, I'm picky. This is the last class in your MBA. You're an adult student. That presumes that at some time, somewhere, you've had to speak in public. It also presumes that somewhere along this track, you've had a communications class or two, and you've done small group work in other classes, and presented in front of at least a class-sized group. And you may have had to use a PowerPoint presentation. You need to spell-check them. Twice. At least. And please don't read to us. We can all read, I hope, by this time.

Part B of the rant: Today, I heard that one of the people in one of the other groups was "mad" at us, and put that complaint onto FaceBook because "we graded poorly."

Well, your presentation was poor, and if it was mine to do, there'd have been extra points taken off for "reading to the screen" and "typographical errors." Look, I know everyone's human and there are people who are petrified of public speaking, but by this time - again - you should either have had a chance to rehearse or you should be a little more adept at faking being able to do it well.

I talked to W in our group, and explained my objections. Met with agreement. It's not that I'm overly-exacting, though I am. It's that I expect a certain amount of professionalism at this level. We had a bloop in one of our video pieces; you just move on. Like when I flub a chord --- I've learned that people notice it less if you keep going. When you stop dead in your tracks, they kinda notice that the music isn't playing!

W says that it might be that the other groups "wanted to do the bare minimum." And if that's so, my grading of their presentations reflected that. If my work and the work of my team is "A" level, then I demean my efforts and those of team by giving a sub-par group an "A" grade.

Anyway, it's done. The book will be resubmitted (it's in proof stage right now) and will be ready for sale shortly. The instructor stopped dead at my desk and picked up our book, saying "Wow, this is gorgeous!" Yay!!!

So now, I can concentrate on some freelance gigs that I've got, I can knit and I have to find something else to do with my Tuesday nights. My mother says I'm "much more human" and not as cranky. She mentioned something about tossing raw meat to me during the class, but I told her today that like as not - I'd probably have whipped it back to her!!

Off to go see what the weather is doing. Supposed to be a winter storm watch, but so far, nothing but cold.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So I've Been a Little Busy...

IT'S ALMOST HERE!!! No, not Christmas (though it's causing me no little angst), but COMMENCEMENT.

I finished my final paper; the book is due on Monday from the publisher. Our presentation is Tuesday. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I can smell the diploma cover. This weekend, I'm taking the cap and gown out of the box and hanging it up to "unwrinkle."

2010 Ornaments
But lest you think I've been "all work and no play," I can tell you what I've gotten done for Christmas. My baking is woefully behind, but here are the ornaments I made for the nieces and nephews.  If you want an up-close view, click on the picture - you should also be able to zoom in a bit.

As you can see, the list is getting a little smaller. I'm still not sure if I'll do ornaments for my nephew's coming baby. The issue isn't necessarily the painting. It's the getting of the ornaments! I had to buy out what I could get my hands on, and it looks like, if I do decide that, I ought to go buy more. Luckily, we know it's a boy, so I could technically pick up 18 of the same thing and just vary the paint schemes. I usually try to do that anyway. See the little angel with the star? That's my niece's - she's gotten an angel in some format since I've been painting them for her. I can't always do that, so the kids get what I can get my hands on.

And of course, there's the knitting. Today I learned a new skill: double-pointed needles, also known as DPNs. It's kind of like wrestling an octopus. And not only that, they were size 3.... like knitting with toothpicks considering that the baby afghan is on a set of size 8s and my "foofy" shawl (still on the needles, by the way) is on size 10s.

Still on DPNs

I was at the LYS today and I needed the respite. I've worked a truckload of hours this week including the homework stuff, and I just needed my "fiber" today. As I was rearranging my office closet, which has once again, despite my best efforts, become Christmas Central, I found the baby alpaca hat I started what? Two years ago? I thought it was lost, but hey, there it was! It was in my "Sisters of St. Benedict" bag. As the pattern progresses, you go from 16" circulars to DPNs when necessary. I figured I needed expert help. I kind of got the hang of it right away. This shot shows the hat still on the DPNs.  You can see that I'm nearing the point where I can just pull the yarn through and quit. When I was at the LYS, we were looking at buttons. It's a lovely yarn, but the hat is plain. I thought a button that I could put off-centered on my head when I wear it would be a nice touch - or maybe 3 buttons in a cluster would be nice. I can bring it in next week and see what looks good. As I progressed, though, I think  something went slightly awry in the pattern. It was supposed to be a flat-topped hat. Well.... It's not. As you can see by this picture, there's a little "nose" on the hat. No phallic jokes, please!! I really don't even like tassels, but I figured this puppy needed some help.

Finished hat matches my snow jacket

Here are the yarn and pattern specs: I bought both from Chix with Stix, located at http://www.chixwithstixknitting.com/ - you should check their website; it's awesome, and they have great specials. Anyway, my friend Sue hooked me up (ba-dum-dum) with them when we went on a little jaunt, so I figured I could get input into the stash. The store is in a lovely historic shopping district; the floors creak invitingly when you come in, and the staff are a friendly bunch. Too far away for me to make it my LYS, but hey - you never know when you'll want to take a drive to go play with yarn.

Well. I'm a "yarn snob" apparently! OK, I earned that.  So here are the details. The pattern is "Whimsical Hats" by Linda Niemeyer, out of Blue Sky Alpacas, http://www.blueskyalpacas.com/ - another great spot to explore on your web wanderings. The yarn? Come on, you can guess.  Blue Sky Alpaca, of course. Sport weight 100% baby alpaca. I was diving for the pale blue, wearing my blue & periwinkle jacket, when one of the Chix said, "Hey, that grape matches your coat." Which it did! In spite of the "grape" moniker, it is more periwinkle. Click on the picture to see it up close.

Baby alpaca, at least this stuff, is hand wash or dry clean only. Since the hat is for me, I'm fine with that. I can take care of my own stuff!! Each ball is about 110 yards, the hats take about 2 balls, and I used size 3 needles. The pattern is a cute one; you have the flat-topped hat that I somehow failed to make, and then 3 "lengths" of stocking cap. I can see myself making the middle-sized one for my Hubby.

 I can tell you that I think I screwed up the decreases. And I need to fiddle with knitting in the round more. I had a mental-pause and couldn't get my markers right. Also, I think I was a "tad" stressed, because as I progressed with the DPNs, the stitches got tighter. I'm not a tight knitter --- I think I was afraid I was going to drop something. As a hint, use bamboo needles your first time out. They "grip" a bit and you won't scare yourself silly.

I don't normally wear hats; I'm an earmuffs kind of gal. But THIS hat matches so well that I think I'll break tradition and use it often.

What's your favorite hat pattern? And how are your holiday plans coming?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama

Yes, I'm at it again. And this time, it's going snail-mail. E-mail is likely to be ignored. So is this, but heck -- I'll feel better.

Dear President Obama:

Please forgive the informality of this letter. I have something to say and since I’m sure the White House is buried in e-mails, I figured I would put fingers to keyboard and let you know what’s on my mind.

The clip art included in this letter shows something you need to use. It’s a “veto pen.” I suggest you find the drawer in your desk where that item is kept and get it out and inked up. And if you can’t find it, please ask the First Lady to get you one for Christmas. Or call me. I’ll give you one. I’d be happy to do so.

I have been a life-long Democrat. Actually, a tree-hugging, Birkenstock wearing liberal. I have voted in every election since I could vote. I voted for you.

And now I’m having a problem. My problem is you. I work at a university, with adult students, so I see the fallout from the economy: tuition benefits cut totally or greatly diminished; jobs lost mid-semester; reinventing yourself after a downsizing and paying your own way. These are adults who will be affected by what you do in the next year and a half, not counting how often you’ll be away campaigning.

Look, if you want to be a 1-term President, fine. But please leave our country in better shape than when you got hold of it. This is not the University of Chicago. This isn’t even “Chicago-style politics.” This is worse. This is a bunch of rabid rats that are teamed up to exterminate the black guy in the White House. Blunt, right? Well, that’s what it looks like from my seat. We Midwesterners are typically straight-to-the point people, so please hang on and listen to me.

You can’t negotiate with people who are determined to bring you down, and who apparently have the resources to make you look like the embodiment of evil. That’s what the Republicans are doing. They’re making your presidency as much of a joke in Washington DC as Blago’s stint as governor here in Illinois has become.

Conciliation doesn’t work with these people. I am reluctant, being an “elitist, over-educated liberal,” to call names, and I really don’t like the “these people” connotation, but when the shoe fits, you buy it. A total of 42 Republicans have signed up threatening to block everything you propose. And you’ve done what? Come on, Mr. President. I’ll give you your lines: “If you fail to give me what I want in the tax cut legislation, I will veto every bit of it until I get what I want.” Or better yet, “I will sign an Executive Order recasting this legislation in a form more conducive to the welfare of the majority of American citizens, not just the wealthiest 2%.”

Here’s another suggestion; you can use your own lines: Get the Democrats in line – it’s like Bo herding cats. Stand up and tell them to resolve their rectal-cranial inversion.

Look, it kills me to have to argue for you when I talk to people who are Democrats. There’s a wide swath of disillusion in the ranks of the Democrats. If you want to capture the “Yes, we can!” spirit of the election that swept you into the White House, you’re going to have to do more than make inspiring speeches. You are going to have to stand up to the Republicans, and some of your fellow Democrats. They don’t seem to have a problem standing up to you and rewriting the news to make it seem like you’re an idiot and they can manipulate you all they want.

Where are your advisors? And what do they say? Either way, if it’s not “You have to stand up for the people who voted you in,” then you need to reconsider who’s advising you. Unless, of course, as I said – you want to be a 1-term president. At this rate, a number of loyal Democrats I know would elect my half-blind 11-year old Siberian Husky as president rather than you. At least she barks.

You cannot cave in or compromise in the matter of tax cuts for the wealthy. You just can’t. You promised us. And that’s an easy promise to keep – much easier than the one you made (and summarily broke) to get us out of Afghanistan. You need to prove to us -- those of us who live in the rapidly dwindling middle class, who are for the most part employed for now, who may have kids who’ve moved back in because they can’t get, or lost, a job – that you are the man we elected to get the job done. Who keeps his promises to the people, not the cronies.

You don’t have to turn into a flaming ignorant jerk. But what you do need to do is get out of “collegial” and into “presidential.” I’ve been in higher education long enough to know that “governing by consensus” means that you spend lots of time in committee meetings and nothing really gets resolved. But you’re supposed to feel better about it because you’ve come to an agreement. Or stalemate, which is how I see it.

Let me put it in canine terms. We do a lot of rescue work and this past year, we added 2 dogs to our pack. When you have a pack of unruly animals, one of them has to be the alpha. In the dog part of our family, the half-blind husky is the alpha. If one of the other dogs misbehaves, she disciplines the rule-breaker and it's a swift and sure punishment, no questions asked. In the entirety of the pack (human and canine), I am the alpha. I didn’t get there by consensus. I got there because I know where I want my pack to go. I see where the future of my pack lies. And I know that I’m the alpha that they need to get them there. My kids will tell you that I don't operate by consensus; I operate in a framework of what needs to get done, who needs to do it, and when I need to see results. You can do this. I know you can.

Are you the alpha who can get us out of 8 years+ of mess? Or have we just elected a place-holder and is Rove’s dream of a permanent Republican majority going to come true? Contemplating that prospect gives me the cold shivers, because I don’t want my kids living in that world.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"The First Rule of Holes:..."

"...when you're in one, stop digging."  ~~Molly Ivins

OK, so I'm no math genius. But I can add. And I have a reasonable grasp on reality. Those two things alone put me head-and-shoulders ahead of embittered almost-Senator and Palin anointee Joe Miller.

See these two articles from Huffington Post:



See, the thing is, Lisa Murkowski is about 10,000 votes ahead of Joe. And at last report, there were 700 votes left to count. So let's do some basic math.
Say that all 700 of those votes are for Joe. That means that instead of a lead of 10,700 votes, Lisa would still win with a lead of 10,000. Net effect: Joe loses.
Say that Joe manages to bribe --err, sorry, persuade -- the court that most of those 10,000 (and maybe all of the 700 left) are spoiled ballots and that they should be thrown out. How about we say that all but 1,000 of those are spoiled.
Lisa still wins with a 1,000 vote lead. Net effect: Joe loses.
Say Joe manages to get Poopsie Palin involved and she invokes the corporatist-leaning SCOTUS. And maybe, in my wildest bad dream, Joe and Poopsie make Lisa's 10,000-vote lead evaporate. Frankly, that's a nausea-inducing thought, and one I don't even think that Poopsie could pull off. One thing's for sure: Elena Kagan can't recuse herself from this one! I don't think the SCOTUS would try to pull that one off - the margins aren't as close as Bush v. Gore, and we're in a news cycle where Poopsie's involvement wouldn't exactly be invisible. Particularly when she "writes" her next book and brags about it, much like Shrub is bragging about his wadings in the pool of torture - enough so that London's mayor suggests he not come to Europe, lest he be arrested.
Even the Alaska GOP is asking Miller to be a mensch and concede. It's time, Joe. Go recreate yourself as a Fox correspondent or reality show host. Your mentor has done as much. You probably can succeed in at least one of those ventures, I'm sure!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like Fur...

Fun-fur, that is! I needed something relatively mindless and quick, and I was looking at the immediate stash-at-hand and trying to think of something that wouldn't require lots of brain power.

I've got the baby blanket as a WIP (work-in-progress), and the lace prayer shawl that nearly got eaten. I'm sick of baby hats for now.

So I spotted 2 skeins of Lion Brand Fun Fur. I haven't knit with fun fur in ages. My first "back to knitting" project was with Fun Fur (how crazy was that???) and my family refers to it as the "dead squirrel." Yeah, they're a very encouraging bunch.

This scarf is a little "nothing" that I knitted in a few days using size 10 needles. Straight knit. No fancy stuff, though I played with a seed stitch at the beginning. What's the point if you really can't see the stitches? Except to make it more dense, which wasn't what I wanted.

The colorway is called "Confetti" and I have another skein left. I thought about doing a two-fer to make it extra long, but when I used the larger needles (the size on the label said 6 or 7), the scarf was plenty long to be almost doubled around my neck. I did a 12-stitch cast on and knitted till I was done. Couldn't have been easier. Even though the pattern on the label was "easy" - this was practically idiot proof. Which was just what I wanted to keep my fingers moving and not have to worry about what it would look like when it was done.

As you can see, I used a shawl pin and it echoes the colors in this scarf. It's not going to keep me particularly warm. For that, I'll use the lovely cashmere blend cable scarf a friend knitted me. It's not particularly waterproof; I have a fleecy one that matches my "let's go snow shoe" jacket for that.

This is just a pop of color that'll go with almost anything I own. When you click on the image, you can get a better picture of the colors in there. The scarf will truly see more time on me than the "dead squirrel" which is a more beige-tan-grey combo.

Hubby was surprised at how quickly it knitted up. So was I. But that's ok. I can tackle the lace shawl and the baby blanket now, and I needed something quicker (for me) than a washcloth. Next up, working on the WIPs and maybe starting that pink and black silk that I have. I was thinking of making each of those hanks into neckties. Hmmmmmm. Lots to consider there.

What "fun" projects do you like to knit? What's your favorite mindless pattern? Share!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pardon My (far lower) Paycheck...

So we're at it again. Bipartisanship just went down the crapper.

The Republicorporatists blocked an up-and-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. And Susan Collins (R-Maine) was among those who voted against it.

Women still make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. Collins said she was "concerned about...small business."  A small business as defined by current law is one that employs up to five hundred people.  That's not exactly your typical mom-and-pop operation, which is the first thing that comes to the mind of anyone who hears "small business."

Read the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/17/republicans-block-paycheck-fairness-act_n_784849.html and make up your own mind.

If you can afford to pay 500 people, you can afford to pay them a living wage. All of them. Not just the ones who pee standing up.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Obedience School Report

Hi Everyone!!!

It's me, Tippi!
I'm reporting about Intermediate Obedience. Mom and I have been going for about 3 weeks now, and so far, I think I'm the valedictorian of the class!!

Certainly the oldest, and I'm nearly 4 years old, but really - some of the stuff they're teaching, I learned in Basic Obedience. Like right turns, heel, long waits. But that's ok. I get treats. I'll do anything for treats; well, ALMOST anything.

Today was really fun, but a little annoying. We go to the PetSmart. The other place we went, a kennel club, had classes when we couldn't get there (Mom won't let ME drive), so we ended up at the store. Talk about DISTRACTIONS! There's stuff to sniff, people to look at, toys all over, and occasionally, a BONANZA when some kibble bag breaks open!! More on that later.

They don't let mom use the pinch collar, and so I do do quite a bit of tugging at her. She keeps saying, "Ack, Tippi - act like you've been to school!" So we go in today. Two rescue agencies are there. And there are dogs ALL OVER THE PLACE. We met a chocolate lab puppy with no name (his parents were "thinking about it") and Mom gave them several good choices.

And a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy that was just rescued, poor little fella: 3 homes and he's not even 4 months old! Then there was this brindle pit bull.

As I passed him, he lunged a little bit at me and was pretty aggressive. I just stood there, with my head held high, my "I'm a NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND so don't mess with me!" look on my face and was just like a statue. The guy who had him on the leash (he wasn't holding on very tight, I can tell you!) pulled him back and had to hold him, lifting the front of his body off the ground before he would back off and leave me alone. We were across the aisle from him. He didn't have to do that. He wasn't very nice, and our teacher was pretty upset. Seems that he was JUST rescued, and he's not too crazy about kids - which they kind of figured out AFTER they brought him! Well, PetSmart isn't the best place to be if you don't like kids! They wanted to pet the kitties and puppies they had, and this pit bull wasn't happy. My teacher finally had to ask them to put him in a crate or take him outside because he almost bit a kid. I think *all* dogs are pretty cool, but if they don't have manners, they don't belong in the PetSmart or the dog park!


I know we've left both places when Quinn acts up (it's never me... just sayin'...). She looks nice and dignified in this picture, but even though she's been through ALL the obedience schools, she forgets what she's learned. She's only 1 year old, so I guess you can understand that. My dad says she has "doggie ADD" - I'm not sure about what that is, but I think it means she's a little bit lacking in the "paying attention" department.

 There were these 2 bigg-ish puppies, too - they were tugging and trying to get close to all of us as we were practicing in the aisles, but they were on a double-leash and their owners had a cart full of dog food, so they were moving right along. And I kept wanting to visit the kitties... (really, just a quick visit). They kept hissing at me. Hmmmmm.

Today, I was THE STAR!! We did "heel" when mom's back was turned. The idea is that I should be able to come right to her when she calls, even if she's not looking at me, and land at her left side. Well, Bobbie, our teacher, had me on a really long lead (she was worried about all the dogs and stuff, so we were all on that thing, which was a good idea!!) and told Mom to go to the end of the aisle. So Mom says, "Tippi, heel" and pats her left leg. I took off like a ROCKET!! I landed right at Mom's left leg, exactly where I was supposed to land. The teacher was amazed - she said something about "boy I didn't think she could move THAT fast!" I wanted to show her that I was quick, even if I'm not the tallest dog in the class! I went faster than Myla, the GSD puppy (she's my friend) but I don't think I was as fast as Shallot, a Chinese Crested - who I'd love to meet if the darned thing would HOLD STILL for a minute!!! I just sit there and bark at her telling her "calm down, dang it!!" She doesn't get it. Maybe she doesn't speak Norwegian Elkhound??? I thought I was making myself clear. When we did that move a second time, I started to sit a bit too soon, and wowza - I skidded about a foot in front of Mom, but I was looking at her! Bobbie said something about slippery floors. She should try living in MY house - we have a time with those wood floors!

We learned "Quiet" and I did that pretty well. The Golden retriever puppy and Myla had a little trouble with that one. They got sent to the "time-out" room quite a bit. I never had to go. Mom pulled a squirt bottle off the cart. That was all *I* needed!! :) Bobbie says that we SHOULD bark, but we need to know "quiet" when it's time to be quiet - and without a squirt bottle, if we can. Well, freeze-dried chicken persuaded me that "quiet" was a pretty good thing to learn. Now, if we can teach QUINN that.. (again, just sayin'...)

So then we had to do a sit-stay-wait (still on the leash) as if Mom was looking at something on the shelf. Mom was pretty crafty there. She took me to the DOG FOOD aisle! And there was a busted bag of kibble SOMEWHERE, because there was stuff on the floor. So not only did I have to sit-stay-wait, I had to LEAVE IT, too. And I did it!! Mom was so proud of me and Bobbie said, "Oh, what a SMART dog!" I got lots of ear rubs and a few extra turkey treats for that one.

Next week, we learn "park it" which has something to do with our bed. I wonder if it's the same as "good night" - which I already know. Hmmmm. It'll be interesting. Mom bought me a long (20') lead to practice on - if she ever gets done with her homework! And some Blue soft treats. The salmon is good, but not as good as the stuff she got from Fun Time Dog Shop (look for them here at http://funtimedogshop.com/ -- all the proceeds go to Rescue Agencies to help dogs like me!). And the turkey's pretty tasty, too. I have to watch because sometimes I do get a little nippy with the Pupperoni she stuck in my treat bag, and then I get a little bop on the nose. I think that stuff ought to be illegal (the Pupperoni, I mean. I'm not supposed to nip Mom's fingers!)! LOL

We get to have another week of class tacked on at the end - there was one family (and I mean the whole family came in!!) who missed 2 weeks (yikes!!) so we reviewed a lot this week. That's ok. I can't wait till Advanced, then the CGC. I would like Mom to take me to Tricky Dog. I showed Bobbie that I could sit up and shake, and boy-o-boy, I got freeze-dried chicken and another ear rub. Pays to be cute, I think!

Your pal,


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day...

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
     Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
       In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
     In Flanders fields.
--John McCrae

I'm sad today, and I was all set to blog about something else, because I'm annoyed with the Dickensian Debt Commission "draft" report.

But something else has gripped my heart, and I hope you'll understand why I'm sad and how this all ties in together.

Pfc Andrew Meari died November 1 in Afghanistan. He's home today, but truly not how any parent wants their child to be home. He's on his way to a funeral with full military honors at Abraham Lincoln cemetery. My husband was coming back home and he told me that there were "at least 150" patriot riders biker folks, several fire department vehicles, police and officials... and people. Lines of people up and down the street, each holding flags. Here's the link to the story: http://triblocal.com/plainfield/2010/11/11/soldiers-funeral/ - and I think you should read it. It's not long. It's not like he was a veteran of many years who'd come home and been able to live his life. He died in his 20s.

When we heard that Meari died, we noticed the streets start to line with flags. It's what we do here. But to have people take time out of their day to stand there and honor a young man that many of them probably didn't know reinforces my belief that we really aren't curled up around our electronic devices. We can still take time to show our humanity.

And what else strikes me is that that boy could be mine. He is of the age where either of my kids could've gone to school with.

When I grew up, at the tail end of the Viet Nam era, we saw the flag-draped coffins. We saw the news footage. We knew people who'd been there. I have second-cousins who've been there. And somehow, I thought, "This'll be it. There'll be no more wars that we have to worry about."

And for a while there, Shrub tried to make that so. He declared an illegal and immoral war, based on "intelligence" that he selectively ignored, and now trumpets how proud he is that there have been "no further attacks" on American soil since 9/11. Conveniently, this intellectual gnat fails to point out that the first one happened on his watch and memos dating back to the August prior to the attack proved that something was brewing.

So when the war actually happened and it wasn't as "sanitary" as he might've wanted, he declared all photos of military caskets forbidden. Instead of a hero's welcome, our military dead were snuck back home under cover of darkness, and woe betide those who dared to take a picture of a casket. Because you know we weren't allowed to see that things got ugly, fast. That's one way that the 24/7 news cycle wasn't helping Shrub's version of his legacy.

Afghanistan has fought with itself since before Christ. And after us, they'll still be fighting. We had no valid reason to be there, and we're not going to come in guns-a-blazin' and change a culture that refuses to be changed. We may improve it here and there, but we will not make it a mini-USA. Nor should we try. As parents, we're told "pick your battles" and as a country, our leaders need to know when to do that as well. The past leader failed miserably.

So Pfc Meari gave his life. He and the buddy that died with him were in the direct line of fire of an IED. They saved the rest of the unit.

The Debt Commission (this ties up nicely, don't worry) published an early draft in which they want to cut lots of things to make up the budget shortfall. Among those things, you can include Social Security, military spending and other social services. Let's see... military people are now asking their families for Kevlar vests as presents since they can't get them from the government. And when they come home, they're lucky to get "on a list" at the VA. On a list to see someone. That's only for the physical part - don't even talk about the mental health services.

What galls me is that nobody is talking about the obvious: let the Bush (actually Reagan-inspired) tax cuts expire. Even Reagan's economic advisor recently said they weren't working and they should be allowed to expire. I suppose if the Republicorporatists could find an ice floe big enough, they'd put this guy on it for daring to suggest that something St. Ronnie decreed was a failure.

The Debt Commission's chairs are two banker types. Rich bankers. Or is that an oxymoron? Anyhow, their best bet is to cut the stuff that we middle- and lower-class families rely on. The government "entitlements" (they aren't entitlements if we've paid for them, by the way) that we have earned: like Social Security and if you're a veteran, VA benefits.

If you read the first few chapters of any Charles Dickens novel, you'll see that he paints a very vivid and nasty picture of what it's like to not have any money. Which is pretty much where our middle class is heading now. So I've saved you time in reading - you don't have to read the Debt Commission report: just read Dickens because the first half of any of his books will paint you the same picture.

I am reminded of the Flanders poem I posted above. It's not the most appropriate because it was written in WW I...but then again, maybe it is. The combined military and civilian casualties from the Bush wars now tops at least WWII - and it'll surpass I, II, Korea and Viet Nam at this rate. We won't count the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Yet.

Pray for a vet. Hug one if you know one. Shake the hand of one and just say thanks.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

It's Really Not...

...a "mandate" when you win an election by a hair's-breadth margin. I'm speaking about our recent nail-biter of a gubernatorial election in Illinois.

Governor Quinn, no longer the "accidental governor," was declared the winner and his rival Bill Brady finally conceded on the Friday after the election. It was mathematically certain that Brady had no chance of winning - and personally, I'm tickled to death about that. But all the same, he was within his rights to wait to make sure. At last count, Quinn won with a margin of almost 20,000 votes. Hardly a landslide.

A "mandate" as defined by Merriam-Webster's Desk Dictionary (the 1995 edition) is: an authoritative command; an authorization to act given to a representative.

So maybe he has the secondary definition in his favor, but in popular parlance, "mandate" has come to mean "landslide," which is unfortunate. Because it's not the same thing.

Facts are these: Illinois is broke. It's in debt up to Lincoln's eyeballs. We've had two recent governors convicted on criminal charges. We're taxed to the hilt and we still can't pay our bills. Unemployment is horrible (though better maybe than Michigan's) and the state is the punchline for jokes all over the place. Corruption is the state's new slogan.

All that being said, I have to agree with Quinn on a couple of points. Our education system stinks. The way we fund education is draconian. We have funded our education system on property taxes. Which is fine if you live in a high-rent district like New Trier where the average spent on a student is somewhere around $14,000 per student. In the smaller, more rural school districts, the spending is somewhere around $4,500 per student. In my school district alone, we have the dubious distinction of being "one of the poorest districts" in the state. How's that for a warm fuzzy?

And many communities have put tax caps on the property taxes. Which seems reasonable and seems like you are truly guarding that the homeowner won't be taxed out of his or her home. Until you hit the cap. Which is like hitting a brick wall. Something has to give because you're now in a state of diminishing returns. The schools can't afford basics. I'm not talking a laptop for each student.

I'm talking about textbooks that are 12 years old. That's too old no matter what side of the "spending for education" coin you're on. I'm talking about putting the school's "library" into a space the size of a closet and making the former library into classroom spaces because the school was built for 400 students but now as a population nearing 560 or more.

I'm talking about a high school built for 2500 students when the student body is topping that and is now in the neighborhood of nearly 500 more students. Crowding? Yeah, but look at the safety issues, too. We're in Tornado Alley. If you had to move nearly 3,000 students plus staff and faculty, could you efficiently move them - quickly? Probably not.

Quinn says we have to raise taxes. Which automatically sets off all kinds of alarm bells. But you know what? He's right. We do not need another casino. It only sucks revenue out of peoples' pockets. The house always wins, folks!

We do not need to cut social services any more than they've already been cut. We're not a frivolous state: the social services we have, we need. And it would be nice if the State could pay them for what they do.

Unless they're printing money in the basement of the Governor's Mansion, we are going to have to suck this up somehow. And tax increases are the most efficient way to do this.

Do I like it? Nope.

Can I do the math? Yep.

Do I have a better idea? Nope.

If anyone else does, please contact Governor Quinn. He could use the help.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

B/F and G/F Scarf

So I finished the scarf that Kid #1 will eventually ask me to do for his G/F of just over a year. I can see it coming, so I figured I'd get it done before it got too late. He seems to think that I'm sustained by "knitting fairies" who allow me to knit without sleep and still function at work the next day!

I know that his G/F, lovely as she is, is no yarn fancier. Kid #1 gave her an alpaca sweater last year, and she had a tepid response. Heck, I would've loved an alpaca sweater! Anyway, he says that I've "ruined" it because I made him into a yarn snob. Which makes me laugh. So, since I know eventually it'll come to him to ask me, I did a stash-kind-of scarf.

I'm not necessarily a believer in the "sweater curse." If you don't know what that is, I'll tell you. NEVER knit anything for anyone you're dating. Never. Because one of two things will happen. You'll either break up when you're about 2/3 of the way into the project or you'll break up immediately after giving the gift. I didn't knit anything for Hubby - mainly because I wasn't knitting when we were dating! So I never saw the curse in action, but I've read about it enough times.

To avoid any supply meltdowns, I considered seriously what I was willing to invest in this scarf. I knew it wouldn't be alpaca! I dallied with the idea of Lion's Cashmere - it's not horribly expensive, and it has good stitch definition. Then I thought of the time I wanted to invest in actually doing a complicated pattern, or even an easy basketweave. I thought "not much" simply because I don't have a lot of time. And also, you can't exactly toss cashmere into the washer. That consideration always sits near the front of my brain when I think of knitting for others.

I have a friend who's a marvelous knitter. She has a daughter-in-law who is either stupid or has issues. She made her first grandchild (ok, maybe it was over-enthusiasm for the first grandchild) a lovely layette out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. It's what you'd think it was, even if you're a novice knitter. Cashmere + merino - two of the softest things you can put next to your skin.

The daughter-in-law washed the layette. And dried it in the dryer. Yep, now it's doll clothes.

So The Sweater Curse can also be retooled into The Unappreciative Recipient Curse. That's the person who says, "Oh, you made this." In that tone which implies that you were too lazy to go buy something. You know the type. They don't get knitted or crocheted - or ANY hand made items from me. Not even cookies. Fie on them. A pox on their houses. May their store-bought gifts all break upon opening. May their batteries be dead. Serves 'em right!

Soooooooooooo - I tend to think of who it is I'm knitting for and their capacity to care for what I'm handing them. I know the Yarn Harlot says that once you've given a gift, it's out of your hands. But I like to think I'm educating people about the yarn and the significance. If you don't want to wear my hand-knit super-wash wool hat, that's fine. Go wear your Gap or Old Navy hat. But at least with super-wash wool, you can't really destroy it by washing it! For my sister's pregnant daughter-in-law, there's fine pima cotton. She's sensible and she loves yarn. But she'll be adjusting to a first baby. I don't want her to have to worry about the blanket when Baby pees or yarks on it. For my mother: something gorgeous because I know what she likes AND that she'll take appropriate care of it. She doesn't knit but she appreciates it.

Simple Knit Scarf
 Here's what I ended up with for the G/F: Homespun. Colorway Painted Desert. Here's the end product, knitted on size 15 needles. I don't know what Lion calls this, but as I was rooting around the Michael's for the yarn, this was a pattern on the back of some hideous Homespun color (yeah, it was green/yellow/tan and I just couldn't imagine it...) and so I copied the pattern onto a scrap of paper.

I call it the G/F Scarf. You take one skein of Homespun, cast on 11 (I did 12) and then knit on size 15 needles. Straight knit. Nothing fancy. But what you do have to do is pull it from both ends of the skein. Which, even in their skeins, is a major pain in the sit-bones because the yarn is not twisted tightly, it's wound on a skinny acrylic thread and it's more boucle in nature and prone to snagging like crazy. So I took both ends of the yarn and wound it into a ball. Check out http://www.lionbrandyarn.com/ to search for simple scarf patterns - and I think you can go directly to the Homespun and look at it.

I liked the Painted Desert because it was bright; it has flame red/orange, deep blue, a touch of green and some pale versions of those colors. This shot doesn't do it justice unless you click on it to enlarge it. The double-stranding of the yarn adds enough heft for it to be nice and warm, even though it's acrylic. And the G/F is a small person - this scarf is plenty long for her. If you wanted to, I guess you could do two skeins and still double them for a super-long scarf.

And Homespun is easy to care for. And it cost me $4.79. So if she loses it or wrecks it - or if they break up - I won't have spent a fortune. It was done in essentially a weekend.

I was disappointed in Michael's. Their yarn selection is getting really weird. Lots of private-label yarns, and hard to find the old standby selections. I'd have done a crocheted chenille if I could've found it. I did one of those for Kid #2 when he had lost yet another scarf and the kid wore it till it was ragged - I literally had to snatch it from him and toss it. He's now got a lovely wool-blend in black and garnet red.

Kid #1 had a crocheted acrylic that was the cammo-pattern. He lost it. So he got a chenille quickie in black and tan. He hasn't lost that one yet. And if he does, I have plenty of acrylic stash for him.

By the way, they begged for their wool hats early. I swear Kid #2 is living in his! They both love them and since November has turned really toward "cold" it's good for them to be wearing the hats.

Knitting for someone doesn't have to call down "The Curse." Just be judicious in what you're knitting and in the type of yarn you use. I can guarantee that the more expensive the yarn, the worse "The Curse" will be.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Pardon the "F" bombs....

...but I share (and applaud) the basic sentiment of this blogger.


I am amazed at how many people shared in the Kool-aid fest of the past election cycle. Why such enormous numbers voted in opposition to their own rational self-interest is beyond me. Those who didn't vote? Well, y'all got the results you deserve. I hope you're happy.
And for those who couldn't be bothered to research exactly WHAT that reactionary candidate of yours really stood for; who couldn't be bothered to THINK about what you were doing when you were in the voting booth? You, too, got what you deserved. I hope you're happy.
In the end, though, it comes down to this: We need to work together. And that's not an empty campaign phrase. We need to demand of our elected officials that they do what they were elected to do. And I'm hoping that what these people were elected to do was WORK, and not just "say no" to everything that the black guy in the White House proposes.
Because that would be sad. This country needs lots of work to make it work... to keep US working. To keep our country prospering so that our kids and grand-kids have a future. If there is continual gridlock in DC and all that happens is that social service programs get cut, then we will have proven ourselves to NOT be the Greatest Nation. We will have proven ourselves to be bullies - who cut important services to the most vulnerable in our population and who are ruled by the Corporatocracy that has been given the right by our Supreme Court to buy elections.
That's not the America that my great-grandparents came over to live in. Do I want to go "back"?? No. Do I think our country needs to be "taken back"? Taken back from what?? We need to go FORWARD. And we can only do that if we stop hollering at each other and work together. It's not pie-in-the-sky idealism. It's rational, cold-hearted truth. You get nothing done by doing nothing.

Monday, November 01, 2010


"They'll never notice I'm on the couch!"
So on a whim, we entered the middle dog in a "Howl-O-ween" contest with the proceeds (a buck a vote) going to the rescue agency. Here's a picture of her Halloween costume. We had to caption it, and you'll see what we said  here. -->

She won. Seriously. She won. We were so happy to find that out; and equally happy to see that the rescue agency (John Nelson Moosedog Rescue Fund) raised over $8,000 for rescue efforts.

It was really a nail-biter for a while. There were a lot of good costumes (even CATS entered this contest!) and she was neck-and-neck with some really good dogs. With costumes way more creative.

Let me tell you how this came about. She was on the couch. They're not allowed up there unless the blanket is down. So she was all snuggled in for a quick nap. My hubby wrapped her up. She stayed there. For a good 10 minutes. I was able to grab the camera and snap this shot. We uncovered her and she looked at us as if to say, "Are you done with your foolishness so that I can get on with my nap??" and that was that. We talked about a caption and sent it off, never figuring she'd win, since we thought the rescue folks would actually like a picture where you could see the face of the dog! They've put this one up there and one of her "uncovered" so you can see how pretty she is.

It takes about $400 to rescue a dog. The rescuers transport; they vet the dogs; they treat them if they have medical issues (which many do). Did you know heartworm in a dog can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to treat? Well, when a dog comes in with treatable heartworm, it gets the medications it needs.

My husband was recently involved in a rescue with an elkhound that was literally 30 hours from being put to death. His owner had abandoned him, along with some other animals. One of the coordinators took him home, got him vetted, spent THREE HOURS cleaning him up (burrs in his coat, scars on his ears, badly in need of a bath) and then he was subsequently adopted by a woman who had an older female in need of a friend. THAT is what rescue does. It takes dogs that people don't want or which are found and it places them with people in  foster homes and eventually in permanent homes. 

I wrote a little "thank you" for the voters for our dog, ostensibly 'from' her. I didn't include a lot of detail. Here's a little more detail about her. She was 3 when we got her. With us, she was headed to her FOURTH home. She had TWO litters of puppies before she turned 3 years old. She was abused in her first two homes, and in her 3rd home was held by a woman who had good intentions, but lacked both money and sense. Sense because she had an intact male elkhound and was "surprised" when this little girl turned up pregnant. Go figure. Money because she'd only had limited veterinary care. Tippi had her rabies shot, but she also had Lime disease, had a coat that looked like a drowned rat (due to multiple pregnancies and cheap dog food) and was almost world-weary. Like she didn't even CARE whether she went with us or not. It was just one more car ride for her, to who-knew-or-cared where. She was quiet and subdued that entire ride. There was no emotion in her face or body. She hopped into the car, laid in the back seat and just sighed.

All smiles now!
 But all that's changed. She's in her final home. Period. She's happy, well-fed, well-loved and is a beautiful dog, inside and out. Check out this picture, taken in the summer at our local dog park.  

The month after we rescued her, we went back to get her daughter. Did we plan that? No, not really. But was it worth it? Yes. Yes, a thousand times yes. Having a puppy back in the house after nearly 15 years was an adjustment, but we are so happy that these dogs are "in our Pack."

If you have a favorite breed, find the breed rescue organization. If you don't have a favorite breed, donate to your local no-kill shelter. Foster a dog or cat if you can. Too many animals go homeless - particularly now, in this economy. We've seen lots of very nice dogs who have had to be given up because their people lost their homes and have moved in with relatives or into apartments where they can't have the animals.

Those animals break your heart. They just KNOW something is wrong, but they can't figure it out. If you can, give a dog or cat a new "leash on life" by either your donation or your ability to take the animal into your home or your heart. You will not regret the decision one bit. I can probably give you a dozen worthy causes, and good reasons to donate to each of them. But for today's entry, let's just say that I've "gone to the dogs." And I hope you'll join me!

To see the rest of the entries for this particular contest, check out the link here: http://www.elkhoundrescue.org/ 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here's Where YOU Come In...

On November 2, we will get the government we deserve. And it's up to each of us to participate in whether or not we get that government.

Go. Vote. Vote. Vote. I can repeat it. I don't mean "Chicago-style" (early-and-often) - but I mean get out of your bed or out of your office and get your rear-end (and your brain, please) to the polling place and cast your vote.

People (particularly extreme right-wing folks) are hawking their message about loudly and often. "This is an imperialist government!" "We need our country back!" "We don't need government in our [fill in the blank]!" "The Democrats have stolen the election!"

Ok, this is NOT an imperialist government. If it was, you wouldn't be running for elected office. I know logic hurts, but it really does help in the long run.

You  need your country back from WHAT? Pre-history days when women weren't allowed to vote, a black man (don't even talk about a black WOMAN) was 2/3 of a person? The days when only rich white MALE property owners could direct the course of history? Oh, yeah. THOSE good old days.

You don't  need government? How about your police, fire departments, your education system, the roads, bridges and transportation systems?

How can the Democrats steal an election that hasn't happened yet? And if they have stolen it, then why does every news station I hear say that the Republicans could see big wins? How is that stealing if YOUR party is predicted to come out ahead? I know it's just been a full moon, but THINK, PEOPLE!!

Again, logic hurts. But it's for the best; trust me.

I am concerned that people who actually think before they speak will figure they're "voting" by not voting. Or they'll believe the "polls" which say that the Democrats will lose big. Which is kind of silly, since the races have tightened up and in many cases, the Democrat's candidate is ahead. Don't believe everything you hear on the "liberal-controlled media" because (a) the media isn't controlled by the liberals - it's actually controlled by the right; and (b) polls are statistics. I can make a statistic sing Gregorian Chant if I want it to. And you'll believe it. Polls are slanted in regard to who they poll. And if a polling entity polls in a predominantly conservative area, guess what the results might be? Go ahead - guess. It's really easy. Using that darned logic again, you'll see that the poll might lean significantly toward the right. See? That didn't hurt.

Don't vote by not voting. Vote because you have something to say. Vote because our system, even as flawed as it is, is among the shining stars of functioning governments. People in other countries die because they want the right to do what you may consider skipping on November 2. People in many corners of the world actually vote, but vote for the "Ruler for Life" - which isn't really a vote. It's a way to not get shot.

I continue to believe in our system because I think it's better than a lot of the other systems out there. It's flawed. Heck, it's bound to be flawed because humans are involved. And it's corrupt to a certain extent, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to be people.

That reminds me of algebra, where n is a number. "N" is a letter. I could never wrap my head around that, which is why I did so poorly in algebra.

I can't wrap my mind around a corporation being a person. I've worked for corporations. They're about as human as an Asian Carp. Which isn't - if you don't get the joke. An Asian Carp is an invasive species poised to totally wreck the ecosystem in Lake Michigan. They get up to about 40 lbs and have been known to knock people out of boats. They're not a happy fish, and whoever figures out how to catch 'em and sell them to people as food will be a millionaire in no time flat!

So anyhow, X Corporation is now a person, same as you and me. The corporation can donate any amount of money it chooses to support the candidate of its choice. Problem is that the corporation has way more money than I have. And the corporations are using that money to support corporate-friendly candidates.

Corporate-friendly candidates are generally not people-friendly. The main purpose of a corporation is to provide value for its shareholders (see, that MBA comes in handy!). So unless you're a shareholder of a corporation in a major way, you will more likely not see any benefits if a corporate-friendly candidate wins office. You'll likely see fewer benefits, particularly if you work for a corporation. Your benefits (health, retirement, etc.) may be reduced. Your job may be outsourced. To save money for the shareholders.

My Strategic Planning professor says that "if you're not in the business of becoming a global corporation, you're in the business of going out of business." I think that the US needs to make things again, so I am fundamentally opposed to corporations that want to shift as many jobs as they can to overseas job markets. We're hurting here, and yeah, it may cost more to build it here, but think of the marketing edge you'd have with all those uber-conservative uber-patriot types: "This widget is MADE IN AMERICA!" We don't want no foreign widgets in this country! We want only Yew-NITED STATES of AMERICA widgets!

So a corporation which ships say 35% of its jobs overseas buys an election. Don't laugh - look at the corporate donations through the American Chamber of Commerce. It'll make your tummy flop and your innards go to jelly. X Corporation is now NOT paying benefits to American workers (35% of whom it laid off); it is NOT paying taxes (because you don't have to pay into Social Security or Medicare if you don't have American workers); it is gaining money like crazy for its shareholders, but if you only own a small amount of shares, you can't exactly live off the dividends!

So go vote. Speak up for your beliefs. Make liars out of the pollsters who say we're lazy, unappreciative and apathetic. Please.