Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Compassion, Evil and Morality: Spiritual and Philosophical Musings

I always liked the saying, "We are spirits having a human experience."

I think compassion is natural to human beings and that we tend towards it a great deal more, and certainly more easily, than we do towards hostility and warlike behavior. The latter is acute and profoundly draining. You simply can't keep it up all the time. The former is heartening, rejuvenating and reassuring. It makes us feel better to be on either side of it.

Rather than think of lofty ideological reasons for why we care about what we do to and with others...why we care about others and take account of them in our decision making..., I think it is fair to say that we do it because it feels good. We were made to interact this way.

We are also built to make meaning of events in life. We are meaning-making creatures. That is what the Fall, the eating of the Apple of the Tree of Knowledge did to us. It granted us not just consciousness, but self-consciousness -- the ability, no, the NEED to make meaning of our circumstances, and the need to feel that we are doing the right thing.

Just the ability to make sense of something makes it possible to get through incredibly challenging and upsetting situations. If it makes sense to you, you can deal with it. If it doesn't, it's very upsetting. One feels helpless. That is the worst.

So we vary in our need for contact and interaction which is often in tension with our need to protect ourselves and have reasonable personal boundaries.

What is amazing are the insights of minds such as Solzhenitsyn, who said that people do not commit genocide or perpetrate atrocities because they woke up one morning and decided to be evil dictators. They do such things because they believe it is the right thing to do...that they are justified. We need to feel justified.

In "People of the Lie," N. Scott Peck described evil as people who could turn off their consciousness, and kind of blank out to the evil of what they were doing. They made it okay with themselves. Such as the parents of an 11 year old boy whose brother had just committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a rifle... Peck discovers that on the Christmas after the brother had died, the parents gave the surviving boy a rifle for Christmas.

Peck, stunned, asked the boy how he felt about receiving the same kind of gun that his brother had used to shoot himself. The kid replied "It wasn't the same kind of gun."

Peck gently presses the point that it is the same kind...to help ease the kid of out of denial.

The kid insists. "It wasn't the same kind of gun. It was the same gun. It was THE gun.

Peck talks to the parents about this, they explained: "It was a perfectly good gun. Why let it go to waste?"

THAT disconnect RIGHT THERE, my friends, is where immorality happens.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What DeeDoo is DeeDooing

Dee Doo had a very good Thanksgiving weekend. He hung out with my brother, Larry, and me all day Saturday, got lots of rubbins and play time, successfully ignored Sweet Pea and had himself a wonderful time. Later in the afternoon, he parked himself in the bedroom windowsill and had a nap, with Sweet Pea, 4-5 feet away from him, out cold in the office chair.

The big test came later, when Sweet Pea decided to get up, stretch her legs, catch a bite and have a pee. She jumped around a bit in the bedroom, wandered from the chair to the food dish, jumped up onto the desk, headed out to the kitchen, and returned to the bedroom in a single zoomie. Dee Doo opened his eyes, watched, yawned and stayed put.

That was huge. In the past, he would have gone on alert, abandoned his post on the windsill, and gone after Sweet Pea at her food dish, in the litter box or on her way to the litter box. Yesterday, he just let her be. Good boy!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dear Fellow Sportsfans: I told ya so about ARod, Love, Schnitzie

They all said it was because he was my husband, along with Mariano Rivera. Yeah, I have two husbands. So? I accept only the very best. And, it should be known that my love for Mariano is virtuous, chaste and pure while my love for Alex is of the more earthy variety...in addition, of course, to my sincere admiration of him as a primo athlete.

So yeah, while conversations went on about how the Yankees would fill the hole at 3rd, and names came up like Wilson Betamit (Hello, he's a bench player, not a starter; an upgrade on Miguel Cairo, and that's not saying much), Mike Lowell (WS MVP for the Red Sox, are you fucking kidding me?), and Scotty Brosius (Oh not *that* again. Please compare Brosius' stats to Alex's and just stop talking), I would stubbornly post, "The Yankees need to stop the nonsense and sign the best player in the game, at 3B or otherwise, and that's ARod."

People said, "I'm sorry, Schnitzie. I'm afraid that boat has sailed."

And I said, "Nonsense, I'll believe he's really gone when he signs with another team." The mere thought nauseated me. I posted about what I saw as the most important issue in Alex's consideration: He needed to be with a team that would be in the running for the post season, not in a few years, but every year over at least the next three years. Alex wants to play in a World Series. He's never done that before. He wants to win a World Series too, but first he'd like to make it past a 7-game championship series.

So when the Yankees -- with new owners in charge, Joe Torre gone, and the new manager unknown -- started talking about having "a transition year" to rebuild the rotation and bull pen, ARod likely bridled at the possibility of being on a team that wasn't aiming to make the post season and go for the Ring now.

The Red Sox were on the verge of sweeping the World Series. This was the team ARod had accepted a pay cut to join, but the Player's Association nixed the deal. Had the deal gone through, ARod might have had 2 Rings by now. Perhaps this idea was in his thoughts and conversations with Scott Boras. Still, I could not imagine ARod, having already fought for and won over the fans in New York, would then want to start all over again, from scratch in Boston, with fans whose scrutiny could make a colonoscopy seem relatively non-invasive by comparison.

For all he knew, if he came back to the Yanks, PoPo, Mariano, Melky and Cano would all be gone. Torre was already gone, but I don't think that influenced ARod's decision. Torre was always milque toast in his support of ARod. He batted him 8th in the Division Series against the Tigers, without telling him beforehand. Not nice. No love lost there.

So Alex opts out in Inning 6 of the World Series, effectively forfeiting $21 million dollars of Idiot Texas Rangers subsidy. The Steinbrenners say, "Don't let the door hit you...!" New York loses its mind -- as if every man in the Tristate area has been unceremoniously dumped by the hottest, most beautiful chick ever to give him the time of day. And now that she's given him the heave ho, he's made it his mission in life to expose the ho in the heave.

"ARod is a ho," they said. "It's all about the money."

I said, "Hogwash," it's all about "the Ring."

In the midst of this, before word of the secret negotiations leaked, I sent a letter to ARod in which I said: "I hope with all my heart that cooler heads will prevail and come to terms and that I will continue to enjoy the privilege of watching you play in my home stadium -- 'The Cathedral' -- every Sunday. I would like nothing more than to see you win your World Series in the Pinstripes. " I also sent him a CD, with Frank Sinatra's rendition of "Soliloquy: My Little Girl," from the musical, Carousel, because when asked who inspired his amazing April power hitting streak, ARod named his baby daughter.

On Wednesday, the next week, word broke that ARod was meeting and negotiating with the Yankee owners. That ship had not sailed. I had worried that my comments, on a public sports board, where many members are more knowledgeable that I, would seem ridiculous, crazy, unworthy of posting amidst the crazed hot stove postings by the Fantasy guys, who were already well into reconstructing the team. I posted anyway, just to say it: "The Yanks need to re-sign ARod. End of story."

Well, well, well. Turns out I WAS RIGHT, and EVERYBODY ELSE WAS WRONG!"

He's back: Hank Aaron award winner, Most Clutch Player 2007 , Silver Slugger 2007 winner, 2007 AL MVP, and the Third Baseman for New York Yankees -- Number 13, Alex Rodriguez.

ARod is coming back to the Bronx.

I was right, and I will never allow any of you who were wrong to live it down. Forget it. I will never allow my fear of what others might say or think to keep me from posting exactly what I think, no matter how crazy or stupid it may be. I am holding this one over your heads forever.

No one can ever tell me anything ever again.

I. Told. You. So.
Oh hell yeah.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Doomsday Cat Toy

Take a tightly crumpled tinfoil ball.
Have a thumbnail or comparable tool.
Use thumbnail to push in a groove around circumference of ball.
Tie pastry box string tightly around groove.
Dangle tinfoil ball in front of cat.
Swing ball and drag on floor.
Watch cat explode.

And now, a word from our attorneys:
You *have to* be very careful with this toy. A chaotic, squiggly cat can easily get string wrapped around its tail, paw or, god forbid, NECK, and something horrible could happen. So don't play with this toy unless you can give cat and toy your undivided attention.

If cat does get something tangled in the string, be prepared to let the string go if you can't quickly grab hold of cat and get the string off.
Do not chase or call after the cat. Cat may go streaking off with ball bouncing behind him. Try to be calm so cat will sit still. Then gently go and check string, and be prepared to just cut it off.

(I did have to cut the string off of Pansy's tail once while playing with this. It's no different, really, than playing with a fur attachment on Da Bird. The tangling can happen, especially at high cat speeds.)

You can play with this toy only when you can supervise without distraction. That means NOT when you are on the cell phone, NOT when you are cooking, NOT when you are on drugs, alcohol, operating machinery, or otherwise preocuppied, and NOT if you're gonna hold this blogger or anybody else responsible for something bad that happens due to your own negligence or stupidity in making or using this toy. When you finish playing, store in a place inaccessible to the kitty.

That said, holy crap...what a way to get a full run out from a 6-and-a-half-year-old, way-too-smart and easily bored cat like THIS GUY:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Yankees are Talking to My Husband, ARod

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Just so we are CLEAR. I am officially on record that I want the Yankees to sign Alex Rodriguez. I want to see my husband in the Cathedral of Baseball next year. I want to watch the rest of his career and his retirement IN PINSTRIPES.

To hear that these discussions are in progress is officially my Epiphany of the Day, and if he signs with the Yankees, it will be one of the Epiphanies of my lifetime.


This is what I live for: Lily is adopted

Now this is what it's all about.

Back in June, I learned that my now dear friend Benny at North Carolina Saint Bernard Rescue was trying to get this poor girl out of jail in Georgia:

She was a nameless, stray Saint Bernard, who had landed in a brutal shelter in Liberty County, Georgia. For weeks Benny and the director of NCSBR had been trying to get her out, but the poor girl got stuck in lockdown due to a Parvo outbreak. Unable to liberate her, NCSBR tried to have their own privately funded veterinarian come in to examine and try to help this dog, but the authorities at the shelter refused permission.

Left with no alternative but to pray for the girl's survival until they could come and get her, the good folks at NCSBR did the one thing they could to afford her some dignity and elevate her out of the dire straits in which she had found herself. They gave her a name.

They named her Lily.

After 2 weeks in Parvo lockdown the PTB at the shelter finally approved Lily's application for parole. Starting out one Thursday morning at 5 a.m. Benny drove 17 hours round trip to fetch Lily and bring her back to North Carolina. A more detailed account of Lily's journey, including their close brush with a 5-car wreck on the highway, is here:
Lily's Story

Benny found Lily in such bad shape that he took her straight to the NCSBR's veterinarian, where she stayed for several days. She was filthy, emaciated and had every parasite known to dog, including the potentially fatal heartworm. The vet's office cleaned her up, treated her for the easy parasites -- fleas, intestinal worms, ear mites, etc. -- and returned Lily to her new foster home. Because Lily was so weak and ill, the director of the NCSBR personally fostered Lily in her home.

The next order of business was for Lily to gain enough weight and strength to undergo her spay operation. This is where I came in. I decided to sponsor Lily, and along with a group of kind animal lovers on a private Craig's List forum, who donated cash, food, supplements and supplies to this sweet girl, I pitched in a nice chunk of inheritance money that I had gotten upon losing my father earlier this year. I offered the money as a "matching donation."

Before Lily could make it to her spay operation, she came down with a bad intestinal virus. You worry about such illnesses in a healthy dog, but in an emaciated dog, already compromised with a bad heartworm infestation, such a condition is life-threatening. Fortunately, Lily pulled through and finally started to gain weight.

During the operation, however, Lily crashed on the table and almost died. The vet put her in their ICU, and Lily managed to pull through. Thank doG!

By this point, Lily had cheated death at least 5 times: She wasn't PTS at the shelter; she survived the Parvo outbreak; she narrowly missed being in a major car wreck on the highway during her transport to NC; the stomach virus; crashing during her spay operation.

Now she faced the ultimate hurdle in her journey: Treatment for the heartworms. A dog infested with heartworm has a heart that looks like it's been shot through with linguine. It is a disgusting thing. The treatment involves painful shots, given in the dog's lower back. The medicine shot into the dog contains arsenic and can itself be fatal. Then, as the dog sheds the heart worms, they can travel to the veins and arteries and cause fatal blockages, so the dog must stay completely stationary -- confined to a crate.

Lily's breathing was very labored for at least a week, and when she started coughing up red blood, the foster mom took her back to the vet for a steroid shot and observation. Within a few days, her breathing became more normal, and she was back on the road to recovery. A bunch of us on Craig's List pitched in for her feeding, for supplements, even for CDs with harp music to help her heal while confined to her crate, and always always always prayers and PAWSitive juju.

Finally it was time for Lily to go to the vet, to see if her crate rest was at an end and how soon she would need another treatment. When the vet reviewed the records on Lily, he discovered that she had been given a dose for a dog half again her size...in other words, an overdose, which by all rights, should have killed her. Yet again, Lily cheated death. And having survived the overdose, she was now heartworm-free. No further treatment would be necessary. The vets had inadvertently put Lily on an aggressive treatment regimen, and what didn't kill her, for reals, actually made her, if not stronger, than at least free of all heartworm and ready to begin a whole new chapter.

About 4 weeks later, a foster family came forward to take care of Lily until she was strong enough to be adopted. The family had two children, 5 and 1. The five-year-old had once gotten knocked over by a rambunctious St. Bernard and was afraid of them as a result. But sweet, easy-going Lily proved to be a gentle, trustworthy friend. The family officially adopted Lily a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. They love her.

Here's the happy ending to Lily's story:

Here is Lily now, well, rid of all the parasites, including the heart worm, spayed and UTD on her shots, and in her very own Furever Home, growing up with children who love her:

This is what I live for. I'd love to meet her some day. =:-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On a slow day for epiphanies

I've got these guys!

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Dee Doo
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and Da Krayzee Peanutty (aka Sweet Pea)
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Another, more recent pic of the Sweet Pea
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These are my fluffies, my furkids, the little posers (and hosers) who make me laugh, keep me company, occasionally stress me out, and mostly melt my brain.

My brain needs melting on a regular basis, to keep it from overwhelming the universe... These guys are really good at their jobs. They'll be regular characters in this blog, so I figured I should introduce them already. Plus, I felt guilty that I still didn't have a picture of Pansy in here.

She really deserves it. Pansy is my Zen kitty and my sanity saver. And she puts up with a load of shit, particularly from this guy, for example:
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She's a great girl and has an outstanding sense of humor. At some point, I will give you the bios on each of them. But I'm tired and need to give Dee Doo his night time snicky snacky. If I can get him up -- 1st day of his daily Prozac regimen and all.

Wake up, Dee Doo, it's time to go to bed!

Feline Epiphanies: What Dee Doo is Dee Dooing

Let's start with what he is not doing this morning. Dee Doo is not attacking Sweet Pea. Or he is not attacking her yet. Either way, this is progress. As we embark on Day 9 of Dee Doo's Prozac regimen, he continues to have mini-kitten-sized epiphanies, like walking into the bedroom, seeing Sweet Pea on the bed and walking past her, which is a big improvement over walking into the bedroom, seeing Sweet Pea on the bed and making a beeline to her carotid artery.

This morning Dee Doo's entrance into the bedroom was more of a relaxed, leisurely stalking session. He strolled in, took a look at Sweet Pea, who was parked on the end of the bed, walked below her on the floor, and just as I prepared to get up and intervene, he continued past her and under the extra desk, towards me. I gave him a nice rub to reward him.

Then he circled back and sat on the floor, again, just below Sweet Pea, and pretended to look away and focus on other things. After about a minute, he got up, walked towards the head of the bed, with his tail lightly flicking, and made like he was going to jump up on the bed. With that, I got up from my chair and went towards him. He continued to loiter around her and wouldn't obey my command to walk towards my left pointer finger (with treats and the clicker ready in my other hand).

I suspect he is using the approach to Sweet Pea as a way to get me to give him a play session. That is, the smart, little bazturd has made the connection that going near her gets my attention -- same as with scratching at the closet door, jumping up on the credenza in my bedroom, or jumping up on the buffet in the living room and knocking shit on the floor -- behaviors that had eased with the meds and with my making a loud, nasal buzzer sound.

I caved to his feline persuasion techniques, aka extortion -- Play with me, or the fluffy silver thing gets it -- and gave him a play session in the rear room. At least what Dee Doo wanted was in line with the Cat Shrink's orders: 2 daily play sessions, pointer treat training, plus.25 mgs of Prozac, every other day for a week, and then every day. Today will be his first day on the daily dose regimen. Let's see how he does on twice as much of the heavy stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Epiphany Bulletin: Jorge Posada Will Retire a Yankee

Tonight we get a bonus epiphany! At the eleventh hour, before he hit the free agent market, Po Po signed a 4-year $52 million contract with the Yanks! Woo hoo!

Now the Yanks just need to sign to sign my husband, Mariano Rivera. Don't let him get away, Ca$hmoney!

And while you're at it, it's time for Little Steins to stop being a dick and sign my other husband, Alex Rodriguez, you know, the AL MVP, the greatest living player in baseball? So what if Scott Boras is a money grubbing sonofabitch! That's his job.

Alex needs to bust 756, 757 and 800 in the Pinstripes. Hellooooo.

Hood Pumpkin Egg Nog

I am dead meat...or just meatier. Not yet but soon...guaranteed.


Pumpkin egg nog.

I came across it while food shopping after work today: Hood Limited Edition Pumpkin Egg Nog.

Of course! Why didn't I think of that? Egg nog, nutmeg, nutmeg, pumpkin.

I took a swig as I filled the fridge. Unbelievable. Like pumpkin pie in a carton. I hadn't had dinner yet, but one good swig deserves another. Smooth, creamy, sweet, absolutely divine. I made a liquid dinner of it...because I can.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Limited edition, huh? I need to consume as much of this as possible before it goes away. Before the end of this holiday season, there will be a whole lot more of me to love. Goody goody!

I wonder how this tastes with rum? (Holy shit!)