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Jean McDermott is a freelance writer and professional muscian.
I think the idea that women would vote for McCain simply because he has a woman running mate is absurd and insulting to women. Palin thinks creationism should be taught in school, that we should drill in ANWR, is anti-gay, anti-abortion (even if you are raped or molested, even in cases of incest), and thinks that polar bears should be shoved out of the way for the oil companies. She's suing to take them back off the endangered species list.
Clearly, she shares no positions in common with Hillary Clinton. And they think we are going to get all excited about her? I don't think so.
Palin is female, and that is ALL she has in common with Hillary Clinton. If McCain thinks that we wouldn't notice the difference between the two women, then all I can conclude is that he thinks women are incredibly stupid.
McCain, I have news for you. I don't vote for skin color, hair color, accent, figure, or which dangly parts you may have. I vote for the person who I think can do the best job, has the best brains, best grasp of the issues, and is best able to lead.
Sorry, you aren't going to fool us as easily as you think.
lileks.com: A wide variety of retro stuff that becomes even funnier with the notes written by Mr. Lileks. I remember when he had the Interior Desecrations all online and almost screamed every time I got a new page up. It's one of my all-time favorite sites.
Baby Plucky Duck Cartoons: For those of you who have ever had a toddler! Maybe it's just me, or maybe raising my son was more hair-raising than normal, but these still crack me up!
The birch trees are sporting small patches of bright yellow leaves, a warning that Autumn is imminent. I'm already brushing yellow leaves from the windshield every time I drive.
If you haven't experienced an Alaskan winter, especially one in the Interior, you can't begin to understand how it looms over you. I walk around and repeat to myself, "It's still above zero, it's still above zero," several times a day. It's been in the 70s and quite wonderful for the last few days, with only a little rain. Before that it rained for almost a month straight, with the high temps being 53! During the fair I was huddled over a heater and wearing long underwear, and that was the first week of August! The temperature was mostly around 45 and if I didn't walk constantly I would get quite cold. I wasn't the only Alaskan wearing long underwear that week. MAN I'm glad that's over!
Ignoring the leaves, we are all hoping and praying for an Indian Summer.
When you decide to have a dog, you take on a sacred trust. You are responsible for the life and health of your dog, whether you like it or not. Far too many people do not take this responsibility seriously.
Just because a dog wants to run around, doesn't mean it's good for him, or natural. Dogs are domesticated animals. They are not wolves, coyotes or foxes. They cannot fend for themselves in the wild. Most dogs will die if not cared for.
Sure, your dog wants to run loose. But he also wants to eat hamburgers until he barfs, or drink anti-freeze, which will kill him. Just because a dog wants something doesn't mean it's good for him.
I just returned from an aborted walk with Ole and Sofia. As soon as I got to the end of my short driveway, two dogs came out of my neighbor's yard just a few hundred feet away and headed toward us. Sofia has leash aggression and meeting loose dogs is a prescription for a fight. I've kept her from harming any dogs so far, and from being harmed herself, but two dogs is too many to deal with. I shouldn't have to be put in this position on a daily basis! We should be able to go out and walk! But when people who don't take care of their dogs and let them roam all over the neighborhood, getting into garbage and hassling other dogs, going for walks becomes impossible.
The dogs are just doing what dogs do. It's the owners who are the problem. Perhaps they don't realize what a terrible risk they are taking in letting their dogs run loose.
1. People hit dogs with vehicles all the time. My neighborhood is between two very busy roads. Plus, people drive way too fast on the dirt roads, and a dog who darts out from between bushes and trees will be dead before you know it.
2. Moose. Moose see dogs as "wolf" and stomp them to death. We live in a very high moose area.
3. Wolves. There is a pack of wolves living neaby on and off. In other parts of Fairbanks they have learned to catch and kill dogs for a quick meal.
4. Anti-freeze. People very often change antifreeze in their vehicles this time of year, spill it on the ground, leave it in open buckets or otherwise available. It tastes sweet and dogs and cats and other animals will readily drink it when found. By the time your dog is staggering, it's probably too late.
5. Traps. There are still trappers putting up marten sets and other traps. Your dog might disappear forever, or lose a leg or worse.
6. Dog mushers will tell you (and there are at least two within a block or two of my place) that stray dogs kill their valuable sled dogs. Many mushers will shoot a stray dog on sight. It's just not worth taking a chance. And you know what? They have every right to do that. Your dog should not be on their property.
7. Chickens, goats, horses....just as with sled dogs, these animals belong to others, and the law says that if you catch a dog killing or harassing your livestock you have every right to shoot it.
8. Garbage. At the very least your dog will come home and vomit in a very inconvenient place. At the worst, and probably pretty likely, too, he or she will eat cooked pork or chicken or beef bones from someone's garbage, or plastic, aluminum foil, or great wads of paper, sanitary napkins, pills that people have thrown away, you name it. And die from poisoning or an obstruction. If your dog doesn't die from garbage, he can certainly get a serious case of gastroenteritis and need to be hospitalized. We are talking pretty big bucks here. Or would you rather just keep him or her home so he or she stays healthy? It's your choice.
Don't let your dogs run loose, people.
Here is another reason to walk your dogs on a leash. MY dog, Sofia, can be aggressive to other dogs. So I keep her on a leash, and I don't take her to the dog park where she might hurt another dog. Just because YOUR DOG is friendly, doesn't mean it's a good idea to walk it off-lead in a public area. If YOUR DOG runs up to MY DOG there will be a fight. And yet I am the one acting responsibly here. "Oh, he's friendly!" I hear all the time. Right, but what if MY DOG ISN'T?
Put your dogs on leashes, people!
There is a woman who walks at least FIVE dogs off lead past my house. I've told her that it makes me very nervous. "Oh, they're friendly!" she chirps.
All I'd need is Sofia to curl her lip and her dog pack would kill her as I held the lead. This woman clearly does not understand dog pack psychology. It's just plain STUPID to think you could control FIVE to SEVEN off-lead dogs!
As far as I am concerned, unless you live in the middle of 100 acres and you have an incredibly well-trained dog, or a fenced yard, your dog should never, ever be loose. It should stay on your property, and it should definitely not be using the end of my driveway as a bathroom.
People complain all the time about what's wrong with the world. It's true, there are always going to be things wrong, terrible things happening, injustice and war, sick social attitudes, mental illness and so on. Some people think they can escape this by moving to a far-away rural place (like Alaska) but as John Lennon sang, "There's one thing you can't hide, it's when you're crippled inside." People take their garbage with them everywhere, it's just the way we are built.
Then there are those who spend a lot of time trying to get back to the "Good Old Days," as if people were better in 1886, or 1940 or 1207. Sorry, but I think people have always been people, love 'em or hate 'em, with all their good and bad points.
Change is disturbing to all of us, some more than others. The world is changing very quickly now, much more quickly than in history. This acceleration has been going on since the 1800s. I've seen some amazing things in my time, and have reflected on how things have changed over history.
For one thing, I'm glad that it doesn't cost me a quarter every time I want to play a video game. I can play all the games I want on my own computer in my own home! For free!
A list like this isn't complete without some thanks to Apple for making computers easy to use. Thanks, Steve and Steve! The rest of you ought to be happy that Bill decided to steal the idea, too. It's made everyone's computer easier to use, by far.
When I was in high school I was told that physics was "too hard" for girls and that chemistry was "for boys." Now I have music students who happen to be girls, and who have taken calculus in highschool, as well as physics!
We went to the moon! The MOON! And now we have a robot explorer on Mars and it found ice!
Cell phones. If I break down on the road, most of the time I can call for help. I think that's just wonderful. You younger people don't realize that cell/mobile phones have only been around since the 80s.
Money is a good thing. Oh, that's obvious, you say. Well, it gets tedious carrying all those cows, sheep, camels or whatever around whenever you want to buy something. Or trying to figure out a trade. Don't get me wrong, barter is a great way to do things off the grid, but filling up the gas tank would be really inconvenient if I had to haul in a herd of goats to pay for it.
Paved roads are a wonderful thing. Sure, it's been hard keeping them maintained, but the alternative is pretty awful, and consists mostly of mud and holes.
I'm very glad that the US no longer has slavery as an ingrained part of our economy. Anyone's gripes about the minimum wage aside, we no longer buy and sell and "breed" actual people.
Toyo and Monitor heaters allow people to heat their homes with very little fuel. I can't imagine cutting wood and storing it the way the pioneers did. Talk about hard work! Plus then you have to keep stoking the stove all night and day and if you run out it's a major survival problem. I'm very happy that my Toyo stove, about the size of a small apartment refrigerator, is totally automatic, and only uses 300 gallons of fuel oil per YEAR to heat my entire house.
While we are at it, those modern, double-paned, gas-filled windows are the best. The pioneers couldn't even have windows because they'd lose too much heat, not to mention a window was just a hole in the wall. So they were stuck in dark, dank, hot or freezing cabins every winter. Talk about cabin fever. No thank you! I'm quite thrilled with the progress we've made in building!
If it wasn't for modern transportation we wouldn't have any vegetables or fruit in Alaska other than during our very short growing season. Sure, tomatoes are $4/lb but that's better than no tomatoes at all.
And how would I even communicate all this without the internet? I have friends all over the world, friends I could visit, and have talked to on the phone, that I met on the internet. Yes children, there didn't used to be an internet. In the 80s there were these things called Bulletin Board Systems that allowed us to send messages back and forth, and that was about it. Before that there was the telephone and that was it.
Now that I get going on this, I realize there are so many things that I'm grateful for that I can't write them all down. And that's another good thing.
It isn't just rain that is annoying, by the way. We've had so much rain that there is serious flooding. I live on a hill, so you don't have to worry about me. But one of my helpers/students lives by the Chena River, and had no water since their well was flooded, most of their yard was underwater, their basement was filling up, and of course then the furnace couldn't be run so they had no heat.
We usually joke about the fair and rain, saying "If it's raining, then you know it's Fair Time," But this time it's been ridiculous. It has rained non-stop (and not Oregon mist, either) the entire fair, except for about 2 1/2 days, and those not consecutively. If I hadn't had a heater in my booth I would have had pneumonia by now, bronchitis at the least. Last year it didn't rain this much but it rained a lot. I didn't have a heater and ended up with a bad case of bronchitis.
Sitting in a clammy tent in the rain isn't much fun. Of course sales have been extremely low. And yet there are Alaskans who will put on rain gear (or not!) and go to the fair, God love 'em!
I pass the time writing, reading (I'm on my third book now--that tells you how slow sales have been) and watching the 'movie' go by. You see the opening of my tent has drawn-back sides, and it creates a bright opening just the shape of a movie screen. The show is pretty good. Plenty of character actors, lots of comedy, and not a little drama. Occasionally a tragedy, too.
I'll write a review of the movie when I bring my notes back from my booth.
Ole the Dog (as opposed to Ole the son) has successfully infiltrated the fair. Dogs are not allowed, but there's a sort of nod-and-wink agreement between the fair manager and the vendors that if the dog is not seen or heard during fair hours that it's okay. He's been an awfully good sport about being crated for hours and hours at a time, only going out for short pee-walks. He's been admired through his bars by a few customers, and loves having me smear small amounts of peanut butter on his crate wires for him to lick off. Sometimes tiny little dog kibbles or biscuits magically appear sprinkled through the holes as well, and he's very good about searching them all out from around, underneath and on top of his pillow. Strangely enough, he's made one pressed rawhide bone last more than a week. Usually he chews them up in a couple of hours, two or three days, max. It's like he knows this is the only one he's getting, and he's making it last.
The other morning I got there early so we were having a learning session in the tent, doing Stay and Over. He got tired of Stay and got a twinkle in his eye, jumped over his bar and zipped under the edge of the tent! That rascal! I ran outside and he tore across the ditch, and ran around in a huge, joyful circle on the grass and then came right back to me as I squatted down and called the magic word, "Cookies!"
I'm kind of glad he got at least one chance to get his ya-yas out. Every night I take him home and he rip-tears around the yard, barking his head off and trying to get Sofia to play. Meanwhile, Sofia has been home alone all day and misses me badly, and won't leave my side. She has been sleeping in my bed, all cuddled up to me, for the last two nights. Being a very independent dog, you have to know that she never does this unless she has her reasons! She misses me enough to overcome her desire to have her own space. That's pretty severe for Sofia.
But before we go to bed at night there is much thundering up and down the stairs, and a raucaous game of Bitey Face on the bed, so Ole does get the playtime he wants with her. When I go upstairs my bedcovers are always completely askew from their play.
And now, I'm off to the last day of the Rain Fair! Yippeeeee!