Friday, June 27, 2008


So we've had firsts, now it's time for lasts. This will be the last Olympics with baseball. Apparantly, baseball and softball got voted off of the island and baseball fans who want to see something different will have to go with the World Baseball Classic.

Honestly, I'm not a huge Olympics girl, but it seemed like a big change, with potential fallout for up and coming pros.

Edith Wharton: House of Mirth

So clearly, I'm reading out of turn again. This book has been sitting on my shelf forever, and ever, and I have this weird Barnes & Noble edition that I can't even find the ISBN for online, like it doesn't even exist, and it's heavy, and I keep moving it from house to house and never reading it, and I saw "The Age of Innocence" movie a couple months ago, so I finally figured, why the hell not. As I was reading "House of Mirth," I didn't realize that it wasn't the book that the movie I had seen was based on, till, oh, half way through. Either I am even dumber/denser than I thought, or Edith Wharton has written two very similar books. I'm going to go for both options.

This is a classic, and it should be read. Is it a Great Book (at least in the eyes of themacinator)? Probably not. It tells the story of a lady, Lily Bart, who is both the star of an obscenely wealthy and distinguished turn of the century social life in New York, and the disgrace of the same social circle. She is left virtually penniless (or what stands for penniless in her crowd) and has to rely on her beauty and charms- which she is graced with in abundance- to keep up with her set. This leads to scandal after scandal and her eventual falling out with multiple sets, including her family, her main set of friends, and eventually her new groups of friends. What makes the book slightly more complex- and therefore readable- is that Lily Bart (or the omniscient narrator) has enough sense to know that maybe there is more to life than the quest for the Richest Husband and the Best Dresses. However, these moments of clarity are brief and the plot goes back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth over and over and over and over again) between Lily jumping for joy at the thought that she's attaining what she wants, realizing she's never going to get over her debts, and thinking she doesn't want these things at all.

If I were a more romantic type, or inclined to care about white dresses and slender young things, "House of Mirth" probably would have pleased me more. However, I found this pre-feminist book a little disgusting and overboard. Lily's self-stated rare moments of introspection made her a little unlikeable, and really, her whole milieu was unlikeable as well. I'm glad I read Wharton, as a well read reader probably should have a book or two on her shelf, but I'm not ready to read the other two novels contained in my bizarre edition yet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rescue Shut Down in Wisconsin

I was tipped off to this article by the Bark Blog. Basically, neighbors complained about a woman who rescued dogs in their neighborhood, and so the city shut this "rescuer" down, and now the aldermen are considering pet limits. The full story is here:

In the doghouse

City shuts rescue business, may curb ownership

Posted: June 22, 2008

Brookfield - Every dog deserves a chance to be saved from euthanasia, no matter how apparently sick or unable to be adopted, Jean Rhoten said.

She has helped rescue more than 300 dogs from as far away as Alabama, using her northeast-side Brookfield home to coordinate vet visits and find foster and adoptive homes — “forever” homes, she called them.

But her neighbors have had enough with the number and nature of the dogs running through Rhoten’s home. After their complaints, the city shut down her dog rescue operation, JR Pups ’N Stuff as an illegal business in a residential area.

Aldermen now are considering whether to limit the number of dogs or cats that residents may have.

Volunteers with JR’s Pups, who continue to rescue dogs but do not bring them to Rhoten’s house, said they hoped to persuade aldermen to create exceptions for dog rescues.

Pet limits are common. Brookfield is one of only six communities in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties — and the only city — that does not limit the number of dogs...

Most communities have a two- or three-dog limit. Some issue animal kennel, hobby or fancier permits that allow more dogs, charge higher fees and sometimes require yearly inspections.

Menomonee Falls officials recently backed away from a plan to set limits after protests from dog lovers.

Brookfield officials are concerned that their city will become a target for puppy mills, and they want to keep large kennel-like operations in commercial areas, City Clerk Kris Schmidt and inspector Tom Beinert said.

Neighbors object

Others, including an Elmbrook Humane Society official, warned that limits would not deter puppy mills, could hurt dog-fostering efforts and would be selectively enforced in cases in which neighbors are feuding.

Neighbors, however, said they were tired of Rhoten’s dogs’ barking, defecating and leaving her half-acre yard despite an electric fence. Brookfield does not allow physical fences, except where residences abut commercial areas.

Neighbors also said Rhoten’s yard in the 4600 block of N. 135th St. has been cluttered with kennels, trailers and a large white tent. About 40 neighbors signed a petition against the rescue business.

A year ago, a then-2-year-old girl who lives next door was scratched or bitten by a dog owned by Rhoten. The neighbors disagreed about the severity of the injury. A humane society animal control official told the city that a photo appeared to show a scratch, not a bite.

Rhoten said one of her terriers knocked down the toddler and started licking her near the lot line. The girl’s parents could not be reached for an interview, despite phone calls and a visit to their house.

Neighbor Val Price said it is common sense for aldermen to limit the number of dogs in homes.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s unsanitary to have nine dogs,” said Price, who said he has not owned dogs since the death of his Siberian husky.

Rhoten said she once had 17 dogs in her home, but that was rare. While arranging foster homes, she had three rescued dogs and a litter of nine puppies, in addition to the five dogs she owned, she said.

“For 48 hours, we had 17 dogs,” she said.

Rhoten said nine dogs have been in her home recently: six she owns and three belonging to a friend who has been living temporarily with her. That friend and her dogs planned to move last week.

Rhoten, who also has two rabbits, said she has stopped bringing any rescued dogs to her house since the city’s municipal judge on Feb. 27 ordered that she stop the home business she started in May 2007.

“I can’t bring a foster dog even for an overnight, if there’s an emergency,” she said. “The judge told me I couldn’t. It has limited the number of dogs we can rescue.”

‘We rely on fosters’

Karen Sparapani, community outreach director for the humane society in Brookfield, said the issue is an emotional, complex one for aldermen.

On one hand, Sparapani said, the humane society always has room for more animals, and there is no need for a shelter-like facility in a subdivision drawing the ire of neighbors. Well-intentioned animal lovers sometimes hoard animals or take in more than they can handle properly, she said.

But the humane society depends on residents who care temporarily for dogs that need to recover from ailments or change bad behavior until the society can offer them for adoption, she said.

“We rely on fosters quite a bit,” Sparapani said. “Anyone who does fostering is a hero to me.”

The Town of Brookfield’s two-dog limit has blocked some town residents from fostering dogs for the humane society because those residents already own two dogs, she said.

JR’s Pups volunteer Heidi Van Gorder of Milwaukee said many dog rescuers and foster volunteers ignore local dog limits in their passion to save animals from being killed.

Other dog laws appear to be ignored.

Brookfield issued 1,162 dog licenses this year — nowhere near the number of dogs that likely live in the city of more than 13,000 residences, the city clerk said....

I wish I was shocked by this news article. I wish I was shocked by stories of rescuers having 17 dogs, even for only 48 hours. I wish I was shocked by rescuers having electric fences and toddlers being knocked over and "licked" and maybe "scratched." I wish I felt like blaming the media for this story. The truth is, I've been involved in rescue and animal sheltering (and the internet world that goes along with them) for long enough to think that there are a lot of "backyard rescuers" just like there are "backyard breeders." The difference is clear- byr's (backyardrescuers) get involved for much more altruistic reasons than byb's (backyardbreeders) but some of the similarities are disappointing.

I have heard this justification before: that every dog "deserves a chance"- and it's true, it really really sucks to euthanise a dog because it didn't have a chance at a foster or rescue or even straight up shelter adoption. But if a rescue is at the point where neighbors are complaining, and the foster family has an animal control history, is that a chance? It seems that it is really easy to get overwhelmed- I know of rescuers who have had dogs in UHauls, dogs in outdoor kennels, dogs repossessed by animal control. Who is being served by this kind of rescue? The dogs? The adopters? The animal shelters that have to deal with not just irresponsible owners, not just byb's, but also rescuers?

Some pit bull groups came together a few years ago and created a Pit Bull Rescue Code of Ethics. Self-selecting groups choose to follow it, and choose which parts to follow. Some feel the puppy selection process is too strict, some feel the part dealing with mixes is questionable. Regardless, these groups have come together to develop a COE that they can live with, and abide by. They hold themselves to these standards because they want to be *part of the solution* and make the newspapers in positive ways, unlike JR's Pups.

As rescuing becomes the cool, trendy thing to do, I worry that we will hear more and more of these byr stories, and there will be a rescue backlash, as there is currently a byb backlash. "Why would we support a rescue when we hear x, y, and z horror story?" Well, honestly, if the average pet owner heard all the things that I do about rescues, they probably wouldn't rescue. I hope that new and established rescuers start holding themselves to the high standards that keep them a cut above neighbor complaints and bite incidents.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sad News

Learned today that Cody's Books closed this week for good. I'm feeling a little prescient with my "end of reading" post and just generally sad and pessimistic- even the Bay Area is coming to this. My own little haven/den of denial.

The Heat. The Bugs. The A's. The Heat.

It's been really really hot here. Absurdly hot. My flickr contacts page is full of images like this:

by Gwen and

by laughing squid.

Yes, that reads 106 in Alameda and 102 in San Francisco, respectively. Yes, I believe it was really that hot, as I lived it. Today I purchased a fan for my room. We don't have air conditioning in Oakland, as triple digit weather is really not normal here. I have had the screen door open and the windows open for days and I think it's actually four digit weather in here. Okay, I don't really believe that, but you get the point. It's hotter than hell.

I went to the A's game last night, and it was a pretty good, if bizarre game. I mean, I've never been to a night game before where not only did I not need a sweatshirt, I didn't even BRING a sweatshirt. Tank top, shorts, flipflops, and out. The Marlins were in town, for I believe the first time in Major League history. The Marlins are having a great year, thanks to the long ball. They hit home runs a lot. And it was hot (did I mention it was hot?) so I was expecting a lot of homeruns. I was not expecting Huston Street, my main man, second only to Joe Blanton, to blow the game TWICE. Geren brought him in for a 4 out save, and Huston was just not the man for the job. He blew it in the 8th, and the A's took the lead. Then he let the Marlins tie up in the 9th. Devastating, really, especially since the A's bullpen was all used up with the exception of Andrew Brown and Chad Gaudin, who we never saw, for some reason. Fortunately, the A's came back to win last night.

In an interesting twist, a swarm of bugs descended on Oakland during about the 6th inning last night. I searched the internet this morning for pictures or other internet-proof, but was unable to find any. It was surreal- hordes of bugs were landing all over the crowd. We could swat them off- they weren't mosquitoes or flies and they weren't hard to catch. Sometimes you could hit two at once. They didn't bite. But they were gross. And they were there for a few innings. Some people left. We stuck it out. We are tough (and gross) that way. Hilarious to look around the stands and see thousands of people shooing away little bugs and swatting each other. Funny, and so, so weird.

ETA: I found this on Athletics Nation finally- a little snippet about the gnats:
attack of the gnats (no, not the Giants)

Okay, the warm night at the Coliseum was surprising but nice - until the gnats descended on us in the 6th or 7th or whenever that was. We were sitting in the LF bleachers and all of a sudden the gnats were all over the place… it was definitely entertaining to watch everyone do a little get-rid-of-bugs dance. Add that to the bleacher people yelling for Dibs in the first couple innings, and the hunt for the snitch in the 9th, and being only a few seats away from Suzuki’s homer - sitting in the bleachers is always an experience. (Could’ve done without the extra innings, though, Huston. A nice 4-out save would’ve been fine.)

by whiteshoes40 on Jun 21, 2008 10:52 AM PDT

It was hot today, too, so I braved another A's game. No, that's wrong. I braved the heat again today, for another A's game. I mean, who passes up an A's game?? Plus, it was beerfest- and beer+A's+summer=happy themacinator. Unfortunately, Geren brought in Huston Street again, and unfortunately Huston had not read his get-better-now Memo. He blew the save AGAIN and this time the A's could not come back. Fortunately the gnats read the go-away-now Memo, and we did not face bug-swatting for multiple innings. Additionally, at one point during the game, I was thrilled to feel goose-bumps! I think that means it's cooling down, at least outside. Upon return to my home, I was received by sweltering heat again- the new fan is not really cooling anything down. Hopefully we'll be back to "normal," soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

All in a Day Off's Work

themacinator is learning how to relax. Today I:

*Slept in. Awesome. Even in the heat and sweating through the sleep, sleeping in till almost noon is awesome.
*Took Mac to Golden Gate Park and literally picked him up and threw him into a lake. Hilarious, and so rewarding to see him cool off.
*Played catch with Mac in said lake once he figured out the lake was not toxic. Laughed with some passerby's about my dorky dog who then started clapping for him whenever he brought back his toy and showed it to them.
*Walked by the beach and practiced training with Mac, who was showing off, and very on his game.
*Snapped a few pictures. Always fun.
*Ate Gordo's for lunch. Delicious, as always. Drank an extra large Diet Coke.
*Planned another nap.

And, I still have hours to go- attending the A's game with runningwithdogs and drinking beer is in the future. Ode to days off.

Fix Pushers

I laughed, I cried, I posted it on my blog:

(seen at Mission Mission)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mac is Not a Dog.

Last night Mac failed his dog test. It was an impromptu test that neither of us knew was coming, but I don't think either of us were really surprised at the results.

We were walking along a path by the bay and there was a very large, very dead seagull. Mac saw it, approached it, sniffed it and recoiled about 2 feet in shock. He then crouched down in a "I'm not sure about this thing" dog pose- weight on the front feet, able to spring away if necessary (i.e.- not the crouch you see when Mac is hunting). He warily approached the bird again and when he got close literally sprang backwards about four or five feet and then beat a hasty retreat around me to get me between bird and water.

I have heard rumors, and seen evidence that dogs (not just normal dogs, but dogs in general) like to eat dead animals and roll in dead animals. Their owners have to be cautious about calling them away to avoid stinky dead dog smells.

Fortunately, I now know that Mac is not a dog, so I do not have to worry about this.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ped Peeve

themacinator has been forced to coin another phrase: "ped peeve," defined as pet peeves regarding pedestrians.

I live in an area full of jaywalkers. I am a frequent jaywalker. There are many people hoofing it here- for work, for pleasure, for just getting-where-they-need-to go. Sometimes it's convenient to cross in the crosswalk and sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is convenient to wait for a light and sometimes it is just better to cross against a light. Sometimes it is just best to zig and zag between cars. We walkers get a lot of leeway in the Bay Area.

But, really, it's pretty much a fundamental safety issue to LOOK BOTH WAYS before crossing. I mean, I still remember learning this as soon as I was old enough to walk, and way before I was old enough to jaywalk. It is not cool to step off the curb, whether crossing legally or sub-legally, without checking for oncoming traffic. I mean, pedestrians have the right-of-way, no matter what, and this makes sense: a pedestrian is going to lose the battle between car and human, even if said car is a Smart Car, but really, why take the risk? If a simple thing like looking, even without turning your head, but merely flicking your eyes from one side to the other could prevent said collision between Smart Car and self, wouldn't it be worth the energy?

Recent anecdotal evidence points to no, it would not be worth the energy. Eye flicks apparantly cost almost as much as gas. themacinator's driving experiences lately show that pedestrians believe that intersections were built for crossing, regardless of what cars are in them, and regardless of the status of crossing cars. So the car is three quarters through the intersection- that is a perfect time to cross! themacinator has also come to realize that the middle of the street is an appropriate place for diagonal crossings, especially if there is oncoming traffic approaching in both directions. This type of crossing should only be attempted with small children, preferably lingering behind, but never while holding hands. The most important part of this procedure is eye contact is never to be made with oncoming traffic. Additionally, when the red hand signal begins to flash in the pedestrian lights, that is an appropriate time to begin crossing, although conventionally it means "do not walk." If the red hand is solid, step into traffic with your eyes closed.

I like pedestrians. I am often a pedestrian. But I also like to live. I like to look before I walk in the street, in the hopes that I will not become roadkill. I do not like roadkill. Sometimes I pick up roadkill as part of my job. Fourlegged (i.e. animal) roadkill only, no human roadkill. Animal roadkill is a deterrent for me to cross the street without looking. It deters me from running over a human being who is crossing without looking. Please, look before you cross. Avoid becoming roadkill.

Monday, June 16, 2008

John Hersey: The Wall

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I had to look up the Polish Ghetto after reading John Hersey's "The Wall" to see if it was fiction or historical fiction. Hersey tells the (historical) story of the Nazi establishment of the ghetto in Warsaw and the eventual shrinking of the ghetto, deportation of Jews, and Jewish resistance from the perspective of the archives created by the (fictional) Noach Levinson. There is good news and bad news in this review: The good news is that I finished this book. The bad news (frequent readers of, if there are any, will have noticed the recent drop off in book reviews) is that it took me forever to finish this book. I don't know if it was the style- assorted archival episodes from various members of N.L.'s "family"- of the book, or Hersey's writing, but this book just seemed to help me fall asleep. On the other hand, it is a gripping story that I clearly hadn't heard before, and that will stay with me for awhile.

N.L. is the Jewish archivist who takes it upon himself to narrate the lives of his adopted "family" by writing down their stories, as they live them. He buries his archive, which is then recovered, years later, by one of the resistance heroes. We get events choppily, and occasionally out of sequence, and from many characters. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of what is happening, and more often, it is hard to keep track of who is who. As the Jews start to get deported, and the "family" declines in number, it is easier to remember the main characters. The plot is not very important until near then end of the book when the tension mounts. Mainly, the book is driven by the underlying sense of desperation and sheer lunacy of humanity: Who DOES this? Who herds people like sheep into train cars and kills them by the tens of thousands? How do the people left behind live with themselves? What do they do when they don't have a choice? What does it mean to be a Jew when being a Jew means being killed by the thousand?

Hersey's story is a bigger one than that of the ghetto, and raised questions for me, when I was awake enough to think about them. What do we do when our lives are turned upside down? When forced to chose between our own lives and those of our parents, what choice do we make? Do we stand and fight against an enemy that is surely going to defeat us or do we flea/capitulate? Do we cooperate with potential allies who we may agree with on details if the end goal is a common one (defeat this enemy)? When it seems like we can't stand it any longer, how much longer can we REALLY tolerate the intolerable?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Scientist Award of the Week

Mayor Orders Dogs Released Into Forest
Reported by: Betsey Martin, KARK 4-News

Friday, Jun 13, 2008 @03:00pm CST

You've heard it before.....Arkansas animal shelters struggling to take care of unwanted dogs and cats. One mayor has decided the best way to fix the problem in his town is to set the animals free.
KARK visited the Helena-West Helena animal shelter back in January. Conditions were dirty and animals were in poor health.
Thursday, KARK learned the town's mayor James Valley has taken the unconventional approach of releasing the animals into the wild.
In a press release, the mayor says "we fed and watered them and took them to the St. Francis National Forest."

We're told about ten dogs, including several pit bulls were set free and that some of the dogs were sick.

Here is Wednesday's news release from Mayor Valley:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This morning we began the process of dealing with our animal shelter problem. I have met, today, with Ms. Gloria Higginbotham. She is heading up a committee to create a county-wide animal shelter and perhaps with the participation of all governmental units, we can provide the kind of facility that will be deemed appropriate.
In the mean time, we are or have released all but a few our those animals heretofore housed at the sanitation shop. We fed and watered them and took them to the St. Francis National Forest and released them to freedom. We are disassembling the pens or fences and will not any longer house or keep any of these animals. This problem is dogging us and taking away from our ability to focus on the greater good for the community as a whole. One of our animal control officers has been to the hospital three times in as many months. Twice for bites and once for a severally sprain ankle growing out of incidents with these animals.
When Ms. Higginbotham's full plan is revealed, I plan to support it and assist her and the group in caring for our animals.
I just wanted to let you know.
James F. Valley

Ok, so you've got a sheltering problem. Who doesn't? Well, let's get rid of the animals, that'll solve it! Screw adoptions, screw pleas for help with local and national rescue groups, screw humane euthanasia as a last resort, how about just letting the dogs go. And I've got an even better idea- let them loose in a National Forest. (Which, oh, genius one, is illegal, as it states in another article about this subject And I'm just guessing that these domesticated dogs weren't fixed prior to release- any scientist who thinks that "letting them go" is the answer probably hasn't studied the birds and bees theory of reproduction lately. Which means the likelihood of reproduction is high. I can see it now: instead of taking steps to properly help citizens from dumping animals into the shelter to begin with, instead of taking steps to properly shut down the shelter if that's what needed to be done, this genius has instead created the breeding stock of Arkansas' next semi-feral dog colony.

themacinator hereby awards Mayor Valley the genius award of the week.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lost in Frustlation

New word, coined by themacinator: "frustlation": (noun) the state of frustration that comes from speaking with someone when already in a frustrated state who is giving instructions in their second language. Also, the frustration that comes with trying to give instructions in a second language.

I feel like a really crappy person getting so frustrated by this, but I'll be honest, lately frustlation has been really getting to me. And I should be one of those people who is really tolerant of it, since I often have to speak Spanish (my second language) to people in situations that probably cause them lots of frustlation. Yesterday, I was on the phone with two different people trying to fix my broken internet who spoke two different languages as their first language (clear by their accents) who were both equally frustrating in giving clear instructions. They spoke quickly and with little affect, and basically, raised my frustlation through the roof. I was not a happy camper. Today, I tried to schedule a tow for my car with AAA and had a similar problem. themacinator's patience is at a breaking point.

I am trying to have patience. When speaking my second language, I am trying to speak slowly and clearly, and apologize a lot, because I know that my Spanish is pretty much on the borderline of piss-poor when it comes to fluency. I make a lot of it up as I go along. I do better than bad, but worse than good. I don't shout because I think that will make people understand better, but, yeah, not so good, either.

This whole sentiment I'm feeling makes me feel xenophobic, nativist, and worse. I know I am none of those things, but I can't help it. Maybe I'll just put a flag sticker on my car and call it a day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


I have been volunteering or working at an animal shelter since late 1999 or early 2000, which makes almost 10 years. I have never had a serious dog bite, until this week. I have handled probably close to 10,000 dogs. I'd have to really sit and do some serious calculations, and if there is on thing themacinator does not like to do, it's math/serious calculations. Maybe closer to 50,000 dogs, because I have also probably temperament tested 10,000 dogs. These are unknown, strange dogs that I know virtually nothing about. I've done everything from walk them on a leash to vaccinate or microchip them to restrain them for various procedures to poke and prod them to decide if they're "adoptable."

And I had, until this week, never been bitten seriously. Of course the occasional dog has snapped at me or the person for whom I'm holding the leash. One chihuahua bit me the first year I was volunteering and I stopped walking little dogs, which got me involved in pit bulls (the only other option at that shelter), but he was a chihuahua- no harm done. I got bit by runningwithdogs' favorite dog at the time about 3 years ago, but he (yellow lab) nailed my leg, and didn't even break my jeans. My grandmother's miniature schnauzer has bitten me twice, but she is missing 2/3 of her teeth, so all bites by her are forgiven, since she is incapable of breaking skin with her gums. And Mac, bless his dumbass little heart, has bitten me two or three times when he misses his monkey. But this is a brand new development, and I'm just so happy to get him in "drive" mode, that I'll take it.

This bite, though, was different. The dog was an 8 week-old puppy, and he meant business. He put 4 punctures in my right forearm, and there was bruising, which is the sign of serious pressure. Pressure from tiny little jaw. And I take that kind of aggression personally. Bite me, you better watch your booty. My feelings, as well as my arm, were hurt. I guess I'm not a bite-rookie any more, though. More firsts coming soon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I think it's time...

to revisit the sentiment that makes the Oakland A's so special. This video pretty much says it all.