Sunday, December 27, 2009

Facebook Politics

Facebook shows you more than the trivia of your friends' lives. It also shows you their politics, and how they think about the world. This can be fascinating and unsettling.

For example, some people I like recently joined Petition To Remove Group "Soldiers Are Not Heroes", a group that's a petition to remove the Soldiers Are Not Heroes group.

Leaving aside which group I agree with, the 'Petition To Remove' group scares the fuck out of me: their goal is to silence people who disagree with them. If you want to engage the "Soldiers Are Not Heroes" group in vigorous debate, argue with them, call them names, start a group called 'Members Of The "Soldiers Are Not Heroes" Group Are Clueless Ingrates' - fine. That's freedom in action. Let both sides make their cases.

But remove them from Facebook because you don't like what they're saying? Shut them down to shut them up? What could be less free, less noble, less American, than that? That's not what our troops are fighting for. That's the kind of death-to-unbelievers intolerance they're fighting against.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That Dog Is Money!

Whenever we walk Jackson, we're careful to watch where he sniffs. Occasionally, he finds some sidewalk food, and we have to be quick to keep him from scarfing it down. He's swallowed more than one bit of street sandwich on my watch.

This morning, Jackson nosed at something, and I took a look...currency! A dollar bill, buried in the snow! Good dog!

That's a hell of a trick. And, if he does it another 2,000 times in the next week, we'll be about even on his expenses for the year. But I shouldn't complain - at least he's working.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guard Dog

Monday morning, about 2 AM, someone tried to break down our front door. Scary as all shit, but, fortunately, this wasn't a home invasion crew, just a small, confused crazy guy. The door held, the police came in about a minute and grabbed him, and I got a look at the sandals he was wearing two days after a blizzard.

And Jackson had my back, from a safe distance. He came about halfway down the inside stairs and watched from there, 20 feet from the front door. Amazingly, he's able to instinctively calculate, and stay out of, potential lines of fire.

Still, Jackson had a part to play: when the police arrived, I opened the front door to verify that no, I didn't know the crazy guy. That was all they needed from me; they turned to leave and I started to close the door. Then one officer noticed Jackson on the stairs. "Is that a greyhound?" he asked, a big smile on his face. "He's beautiful!" Anytime, anywhere, any circumstances, people love greyhounds.

So, no harm, but we were all pretty revved up for the rest of the night. In fact, Jackson was so upset that he didn't get back to sleep for almost three minutes.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bootie Call

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Blizzard in Richmond this weekend. Jackson was born in Texas, and did his racing in Florida, so we figure this is probably his first encounter with a winter wonderland.

Friday night, with a couple of inches of snow on the ground, Jackson wouldn't come down the porch steps for his late walk. He did wander around in the backyard a bit, and take a much-needed pee.

Saturday morning, sixteen hours since his last poop, a full blast of snow on the ground, I dragged him down the porch steps. As soon as he started to walk, he cheered up. Yes, the world was different, but it wasn't bad. A whole lot better than rain. He got used to the step-and-sink rhythm, and set off in his determined fast-paced walk. We call it his "man on a mission" mode. And he realized pretty quickly that, when the whole world is soft, you can poop anywhere.

So the Saturday walks were pretty easy. This morning, though, we were worried about Jackson's feet. There's salt out there, and chemical salt, and puddles of cold water under thin sheets of ice that break into sharp pieces. Fortunately, a couple of weeks back, we had ordered a pack of Pawz booties

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for him. If you click the photo above, you can see one on his back foot as I trundle down the steps.

The booties worked! Jackson didn't seem to mind them. He had a little less traction, but the protection/warmth/dryness more than compensated. Downside: the booties are expensive, a little more than a buck per for what are really just thick balloons. They're reusable, but still. So you may want to put a couple aside for your own use: they're handy when you mule drugs through JFK, to raise money for the next order of booties.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Colonel Barfoot Should Take His Flagpole Down

First, this isn't about the American flag. The Sussex Square Homeowners Association (SSHA) has no objection to American flags. It's about whether the colonel or anyone else in the community can fly any flag on a 21-foot front-yard flagpole. The SSHA says no.

Second, the colonel's military service and heroism are wonderful, but irrelevant. Would you say yes to a flagpole for the colonel, but no to a flagpole for draft dodgers like Bill Clinton or Dick Cheney? What if the stoner down the street wants a 50-foot flagpole for his Steal Your Face flag? Does he get it if he's a veteran, otherwise no?

Finally, this is about honoring a contract. When you buy a house that's managed by a homeowners association, you agree in writing to follow their rules. If you don't want to abide by their decisions, don't buy the house. But you shouldn't expect to have it both ways.

(If you need background, here's the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, and here's the misleadingly-titled Facebook page.)