April 26, 2009

Lazy Sunday

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it: Smoke keeps the chair warm while your servant slaves away over the laptop. [Click for bigger.]

Let's give Heather a pullet surprise

It's Little D! OMG, he's been plucked, er... snatched, somehow or other, from the loving environment of Room 1-208 and now his captors are calling him "Dale" and threatening to... OMG, I can't even bring myself to type it! [Links, though — links we can do!] From this:

To this:

Unless... What's that up in the sky? SoCal to the rescue...!!!

OMG, how I suck at Photoshop. For those lacking faith in the San Diego Chicken, please donate here to save the world's cutest little chickenbird and not so incidentally help dogs in need. Little D and a whole lot of the rest of us, including Heather's mom, thank you for your support.

April 25, 2009

Bring it on! [I'll be in the fallout shelter]

If Americans can think up a "we go to eleven" method that works against plagues of locusts, we should be able to come up with a defense against a measly bunch of sub-microscopic swine flu agents, shouldn't we? I mean, how hard can it be?

"Unnecessary preparation beats being caught unprepared by a flu pandemic." [Hilzoy]

But seriously, folks, we all know that a stitch in time saves nine, fortune is infatuated with the efficient, etc., so unless you've already stocked up in preparation for Armageddon or the Give All The White People's Guns To The Black People Program, this is a great time to stockpile everything from Acetaminophen to Pedialyte®. Water, check... manual can opener, check... And don't forget the dogfood!

From dKos via Obsidian Wings, here is an excellent [pdf] Pandemic Influenza Preparation and Response Guide. Check out the Appendix:
A. World Health Organization and Pandemic Phases - 48
B. World Health Organization Advice for Travelers - 49
C. Items to Stockpile for an Influenza Pandemic - 50
D. Items for Treatment of Severe Influenza - 51
E. Homemade Oral Rehydration Solution - 52
F. Possible Roles for Community Volunteers - 53
G. Example: Home Patient Medical Record - 54
H. Overview of Influenza Surveillance in the United States - 55
I. A Doctor’s Letter during the Height of the 1918 Pandemic - 57

It's as thorough and sobering as I suppose a guide for citizens in a pandemic ought to be, and I am totally printing it all out for when the Intertubes go down. Off to the fallout shelter —

[Drawing by Marc Johns via Flickr.]

April 14, 2009

Wonkette for the win

The new BFFs. [Click for bigger.] Photo by Chief White House Photographer — and American of Portuguese descent — Pete Souza.

Money quote [bowdlerized version]:

Hmm let’s see should Obama maybe not 100% please every [gosh-darned] animal fanatic in America or should he just look right into Ted Kennedy’s eyes — yes this is the same Ted Kennedy currently dying of brain cancer — and say, “You know, Ted, I just don’t want your [darn] dog, right?”

From the totally not PG-rated Rescue-Dog Fanatics Hope Obama Will Kill Ted Kennedy’s Elitist Water Dog over at Wonkette, via the most excellent YesBiscuit!

April 11, 2009

First Best Photo Blog of 2009

I've died and gone to heaven: visit Logcabineer and click on Joakim Simonsson's photos for big. That is all.

[H/T: Materialicious, via A Continuous Lean.]

Factory farmed pork safer than free range? In a pig's eye

Maybe you saw the NY Times op-ed by James E. McWilliams, author of Just Food: How Locavores Are Endangering the Future of Food and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly.

"[S]cientists have found that free-range pork can be more likely than caged pork to carry dangerous bacteria and parasites," warns Professor McWilliams:
Free range is not necessarily natural. And neither is its taste. In fact, free range is like piggy day care, a thoughtfully arranged system designed to meet the needs of consumers who despise industrial agriculture and adore the idea of wildness.

To equate the highly controlled grazing of pigs with wild animals in a state of nature is to insult the essence of nature, domestication and wild pigs.
I wasn't under the impression that anyone was equating wild pigs with domestic pigs raised in a free range environment. But if McWilliams is suggesting that the choice is between the very real horrors [moral and environmental] of factory farms and "piggy day care," I'll vote for "day care," thanks. For anyone truly hell-bent on insulting pigs and domestication and the essence of nature, factory farming is the way to go.

And those dire warnings about "dangerous bacteria and parasites"? Marion Nestle to the rescue:
The study on which McWilliams based his op-ed is published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. The investigators actually measured "seropositivity" (antibodies) in the pigs' blood. But the presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean that the animals--or their meat--are infected. It means that the free-range pigs were exposed to the organisms at some point and developed immunity to them. The industrial pigs were not exposed and did not develop immunity to these microorganisms. But you would never know that from reading the op-ed. How come?

Guess who paid for the study? The National Pork Board, of course.
Read all about it here: "Sponsored Science" Strikes Again, by Marion Nestle at the Atlantic Food Channel blog.

And yet I plan to blog all afternoon

Renny Gleeson would like to see tech that makes us more human. As opposed to, I guess, whatever we are now. An R-rated, yet strangely wonderful road sign appears briefly in this video.

[H/T: swissmiss.]

Peep it

"NightPeeps by Melissa Harvey, Arlington. "I wanted to re - create the bleak urban landscape and the fluorescent light, and add a little pink and yellow," says Harvey, 44, a graphic designer for WETA who spent 45 hours over two weekends on the diorama."

"Peeps of Wrath"! "Bernard Peepoff: The Game Is Up"! "Peeptanamo Bay"! "Peepzilla!" Check out Peeps Show III at WashPo. The most excellent Dolittler offers more Peep sites and her own Peep medicine [my fave: Peep surgery]. Disclaimer: I have never, not once, eaten a Peep. They look almost as gross as kiwifruit, if you ask me.

Shovel detail: minpin edition

This would so not work with my pack: How to make a minpin poop compost bin: an illustrated guide by Lisa Katayama over at Boing Boing Gadgets. Not for the veggie garden! Comments include a link to the rather misleadingly titled How to Design a Septic System for a Dog Shelter, at eHow.

New pup in the White House and no one consulted ME, dammit!

The cat is out of the bag, so to speak: a returned-to-breeder Portuguese Water Dog will be the nation's new First Pup.

And not to go off on a tangent or anything, but I'm totally gobsmacked the Obamas chose a dog without consulting me. The nerve! The [how should I put it?] — the audacity!

After all, I love dogs more than practically anyone. I love dogs so much, in fact, that I am ideally qualified to determine not only who should be allowed to keep a dog, but what type of dog she should be allowed to keep. [I know what you're thinking: "Sounds like she'd also be a good one to decide who should be allowed to have children!" Obviously.]

In my world In a perfect world, no one, but no one would have the "right" to choose the size or age or coat-length or temperament of the dog she adopts.

People, when you choose a friendly dog, a shy dog dies! When you choose a small dog, a big dog dies! I trust that I am making myself clear. You'll take the dog I choose for you, thank you very much.

Also: a potential adopter should work at home, and should have six months' salary in an emergency savings account, a well-maintained house with a fenced yard, no children under twelve years of age and a body mass index no greater than 24.8. Needless to say, I am exempt from these standards since I care about dogs so much more than you do.

If the Obamas really loved dogs, they would have followed the example of humane movement leaders like Wayne Pacelle and John Goodman and Ingrid Newkirk. That's right: Wayne and John and Ingrid have stepped up to the plate and adopted pit bulls from their local shelters! Gamebred pit bulls... geriatric pit bulls with bad knees... big, untrained, energetic young pit bulls, and... what? Say again?

They haven't? You're kidding me.

But... all those other people jumping on the Prez for not getting a rescue dog — those people have shelter pit bulls, right? After all, pit bulls are totally over-represented in shelters — they're the dogs most likely to get killed! That's why Wayne and John and Ingrid promote pit bull adoption every chance they get, right?

Say what...?

They don't?

But that would mean they're just... sanctimonious hypocrites! Insufferably sanctimonious hypocrites. Say not so! OMG, my faith in the integrity of humane-movement talking heads has been shattered. Please excuse me while I take my pound pit bull and my pound pit mix and my pound border collie for a walk to mull all of this over.

Seriously, I'm delighted for the Prez and his family. They have years ahead of them to adopt strays, pound pups and lost kittens, if they choose.

And I invite anyone who feels the need to whine, "But... but... but... it isn't from a shelter" to visit her local pound and adopt a pit bull, because it's a pretty sure bet not one of the critics has a rescue pit bull or two or three already.

[L.A. Times photo by Mark Boster of a pit bull at the Los Angeles County animal shelter in Carson, CA.]

Two from Terrierman —
Barack Obama, Ordinary Consumer
Obama Is on the Edge of a Canine Mistake

Obama dog puppy to arrive Tuesday–TMZ is my source! [Retrieverman]

OBAMA GETS DOG FROM PUPPY MILL! [LA Animal Watch (with interesting comments/discussion)]

Memo to the Obamas: All You Need To Know About Portuguese Water Dogs! [The sort of boundless inanity you'd expect from "People Pets."]

"Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." [Mark Twain]

Darn those inscrutable Asians and their impossible names! What's a real American to do?! Join us after the break when we discuss this problem with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Stay tuned!

April 6, 2009

Greenwald on hate-mongering

The most excellent Glenn Greenwald writes about bigotry, stereotypes and slaughter:
Obviously, there is nothing at all wrong with discussing incidents of violence, including those committed by Muslims or Arabs. But when those are the only incidents one discusses to the exclusion of all others, and when one highlights those incidents over and over, there is obviously a point being made by the person engaging in that behavior. It would be as if someone created a website for the purpose of posting every story of every actual crime committed by African-Americans, or by Jews, or other minorities, but no others. There are such sites, of course, but one never hears about them, because they are white supremacist sites outside of the mainstream.
If there is a prevailing view of Arabs and Muslims as hopelessly primitive savages, is it really all that bothersome if we slaughter lots of them? One could even say it's their fault for having brought it on themselves.

*John Walcott: Truth is not subjective

April 5, 2009

California's future foretold

Tenochtitlan, back in the day. Click for bigger.

Crónica de una muerte anunciada, perhaps? From Daniel Hernandez's most excellent blog, Intersections:

And this is where life in the city starts getting a just a bit more stressful. La Prensa is reporting that the Mexico City government will be cutting off the main flow of water to the capital "100%" during the end of Semana Santa, April 9 through 12. We can't repeat it enough: the water supply right now is at critically low levels. El Universal confirms that the Cutzamala valve will be entirely shut off on Thursday, and that the city won't feel the effects until probably Friday, the 10th.

So that's 36 hours without water flowing from the largest supply plant for a city of 20 million people, which, in high cosmic irony, used to look like the image above only about 500 years ago.

Back home in California, I suspect it may be just a matter of time. Read the rest of Daniel's blog post here.

The grossness (and did I mention awful breath?) of gingival hyperplasia

Gingival hyperplasia is one of those conditions that fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. [Grody photo link: bleeeccchh.] Imagine abnormal gum growth that in some cases actually covers a dog's teeth. And if you think it looks bad, think what it does to a dog's breath — specifically to my dog's breath, the breath of the world's cutest and friendliest, the breath of the dog that sleeps on my bed, ay caramba.

Everyone tells me that gingival hyperplasia is most common in boxers, but any dog can develop the condition. Certain drugs can trigger it as well: more info here and here.

So my good girl had a gingivectomy last month. "During a gingivectomy ["deep pockets," heh], hyperplastic or excess gingiva is removed," which means that a specialist with mad skillz in veterinary dentistry cuts away lots and lots and lots of weird-looking tumor-ish gum tissue. Benign tumor-ish tissue in this case, thank heavens. The doctor [Eric Van Nice, who specializes in advanced veterinary dental care at Animal Dental Services in Tustin, CA — that's Dr. Van Nice in the photo] was totally ossum and Bounce has beautiful teeth and minty-fresh breath now.

Why did you wait so long to get this done, you may ask.

Short answer: because once removed, in most cases the abnormal tissue grows right back.

My vets have told me for years that if the excess gum tissue doesn't seem to be bothering the dog, I should leave it alone.

But her breath got worse and worse. Remember, I sleep with this little animal. ["Pit bull kills owner — with its breath!"] During a recent appointment, my vet raised an index finger in the air like a frontiersman checking wind direction, and announced, "What I said before about this? I take it back — your dog needs to see a specialist."

Note to self: in future, see specialists earlier rather than later. "You dodged a bullet," said Dr. Van Nice. Excess gum tissue traps bacteria and causes tooth decay along with the noxious smell, duh. It's something of a miracle that none of my girl's teeth were rotten.

The procedure itself was over in the time it took my cousin and me to spend more money than we should have, all things considered, at a local Ikea. I dropped Bounce off at 8:00 and picked her up just after 12:00. She was very drowsy for the rest of the afternoon. She was on antibiotics for five days and needed soft food for a week, and now [after nearly two weeks] her mouth looks terrific and she feels shiny and new.

The doctor explained that in some cases, when the condition is caught early enough, it's possible to eliminate it completely. Generally, however, the excess tissue will grow back and dogs will need repeated care. In Bounce's case, subsequent gingivectomies - if needed - will be a lot less work than the first one.

And you should have seen the drawer of dangerous toys the doctor shared with us! "Plastibones," "WussieSticks" [you know the chew toys I'm talking about], rawhide items hard enough to shatter a car window... the doctor is perfectly willing to repair the damage, but he would rather your dog avoid those tooth-ruining toys in the first place. Kongs, though - Kongs are excellent. Kongs are your friend.

In the scan below: Dr. Van Nice, UC Davis grad, Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry and Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, works on a really big cat.

April 4, 2009

Magic in the sky on a cloudy night

Milky Way through Scorpio (Mesr Village, Dasht-e-kavir, Iran) by Alireza Teimoury on Flickr.

That's downtown L.A. to the left [by Joits on Flickr]. Bright lights all night long and not a star in sight: "Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!"

Great place to look at the night sky: the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, on a road south of Second Mesa. Especially after you've stood for hours on a Shongopovi rooftop watching the conclusion of Niman [the Going Home ceremony], and after you've enjoyed a fine dinner with a Hopi family and friends. I never expect the stars to be aligned like that again.

A Southern California suburb, on the other hand, is not the best place to look for the Milky Way. Just saying. Not that we don't look up and hope, night after night. And once in a while something amazing happens: it's after dark, there's heavy cloud cover, I'm outside with the dogs and from far above, faint but just loud enough to recognize, come the calls of geese flying north. Time's arrow, time's cycle.