Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I Learned About Being a Wedding Photographer

(without really being one)

I had the opportunity to take pictures at my friends, Christina and Emily's, wedding yesterday (in a dress). They were generous enough to invite me, knowing that I hate events, and that I hate dressing, and that I take pictures as a hobby. They had a professional wedding photographer but they thought it would be have fun to have me come along and do some less formal shots, and have me along for some of the time when the pro wouldn't be there.

I learned a lot, from shooting AND from watching the pro.

1. Smile. The pro (I don't know her name, so I am not picking on anyone particular, which I know is bad form) did not smile at all. Maybe when she was out doing the formal shots, which I didn't see, never smiled. At first I thought she was just grumpy with me, because I had a camera, but I put it away whenever they were around, and these days, everyone has a camera, even some of the 80 year old relatives were out there with pretty fancy cameras. It turns out it wasn't me- the second shooter smiled, the pro just didn't really smile a whole lot. I'm sure she was concentrating, but it stressed me out. I find when I'm doing my normal shooting- on the street, with my friends, whatever, and even in daily life- a smile goes a long way. People smile back. They relax. The worry lines kinda... go away rather than mirroring.

2. To be successful, you either have to be very assertive or very sneaky. I failed at both, the pro was very sneaky, and I'm sure, very assertive. If you want to take good candids, or even just good action shots, you've gotta get in good locations, and get in people's faces, and they've got to either hold the pose (assertive) they're in or not be bothered by the camera in their face (sneaky). The pro was really good at this. She darted everywhere and people must have just held onto what they were doing because of her serious face (assertive) or because she was so quick (sneaky). I guess this section could also be called Have a Good Zoom Lens, which she did- a 70-200mmL, which I have no interest in owning- it's long and big and heavy, and what would I do with it? But you don't really have to be sneaky OR assertive OR wear the serious face with that lens, because people don't know you're taking pictures of them. You just have to have a really strong back or really good pain killers.

3. There's no crying in baseball. I suppose if you're a wedding photographer and you don't know the people you're shooting, and you're very serious, and you don't really care about them, and it's just a job- you wouldn't cry. But if you are kind of sentimental, and/or you do know the people, and/or it's a beautiful wedding with absolutely perfect brides with absolutely perfect vows, well, you might cry. Crying smears lenses. It causes blurry pictures, and you miss shots. There's no crying in baseball, and apparently in weddings, either.

4. Know how to use a flash and a diffuser and all kinds of other fancy lighting things. Available light, low light, all that stuff is great. But in mixed light settings, like reception areas, you have to carry around flashes and diffusers and know what to do with them. Because high ISO and wide-open awesome primes just aren't as good as fancy pros with fancy diffusing flashes. Seriously.

5. I'm pretty sure you need to be able to use photoshop or lightroom or some other post-processing thing really really well for the times when the flash and diffuser and stuff doesn't fix the white balance or the shadows, or, just, the wedding party or the guests who don't look perfect and will be mad if they don't look perfect. I'm pretty not good at photoshop. I don't get it and it's complicated, and if it's not SOOC (straight out of the camera) passable, I throw it away.

6. themacinator is not a wedding photographer. I'm not assertive or sneaky, I like to smile, I cry, and I'm not interested in learning how to use a flash or a diffuser. I'm a almost a camera purist- I don't like doctored photoshop pictures. You are who you are, except for white balance. I'm totally flattered that I got to participate in a beautiful wedding in a small way, and disgusted that I wore a dress, and I took almost 1000 pictures, which is always fun and good practice. But, yeah, I'm not a wedding photographer. I took pictures, at a wedding.

pregame show

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dressing, Gender, and Sexuality

Probably not what you're thinking, but basically, I don't know how to get dressed. It's not that I can't put one leg and then another through a pair of pants without falling over- I know *how* to get dressed, physically, it's that I can't put together an outfit, and that I don't really care about putting together an outfit. (Don't worry, this isn't really going to be one of those self-revelatory posts that I have intentionally NOT structured this blog around.) I've been thinking about the roots of this, a lot, partially after my extreme reaction to having my eyebrows done. Also, there's this wedding. Today. And I'm wearing a dress. A party dress. And whenever I have to go to an event, something I studiously avoid, I have a freakout, because I have to dress, which is something I loathe doing, because I'm so piss poor at it.

So I've come to the conclusion that similar to my eyebrow issue, I can't dress because I never learned to dress. And I never learned to dress because I Just Don't Care. This probably started for the same reasons as the eyebrow thing: I was a Young Feminist, who believed that dressing for other people to judge you on appearances was so wrong. So in my "crucial" pre-teens (i.e. crucial for learning how to "look good") I didn't spend a whole lot of time "learning" these skills. I did read the relevant magazines- "17" and "YM" but I think I just was more into other things. I'm into what's comfortable, and I don't like to throw old comfortable clothes away. I don't like to look in the mirror. So I wear jeans, tee shirts, tennis shoes, and flip flops a lot. You'll know me when you see me by the messy hair. I love having a job where I wear a uniform and don't HAVE to think about what I wear every day.

Enough about me. The point is- society says that women need to dress for success. Don't believe me? Want to argue cultural norms in the US? Try being me. When you don't know how to dress for success, it's ultra-obvious that that women are expected to know certain things: how to comb your hair into nice smooth "dos;" how to pick an outfit for each occasion; how to shave in a pinch; how to "adjust" your breasts; how to purchase the right clothes to "flatter" your figure; etc. And there's a twist to this, which is just as insidious, and as frustrating for me: if a woman either don't know how to do these things, or don't care about these things, or opt out of these cultural norms, said woman is considered to be a lesbian. I haven't quite figured this out: does it come from some residual stereotype of a bulldagger lesbian who wants to be a man? Is it an idea of a butch lesbian who wears pants all the time and fits into some idealized roll of the man in the relationship? Is it just that if you don't want to be societies image of a woman, you can't possibly be normal, i.e. heterosexual?

I don't care about how my boobs fit in a bra (I know, too much information). I don't really want to wear a lacy dress ever again after today. I also don't want to be the center of attention. My goal in not-caring is not to stick out like a sore thumb. The goal is not a goal at all- it's just who I am. My mom wisely pointed out a few years ago, though, that I *do* want to be appropriately dressed at events for people that I care about, because the event is definitely not about me, and if I dress how I normally dress, people *will* look at me, and it's not my event. So, for this kind of thing, I suck it up and dress appropriately, which today, includes shaved legs, and a lacy dress.

And no, there will be no pictures!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pointing Fingers: A Roadblock to Change

(I've been trying to write and edit this blog post for about 2 weeks. It's a work in progress, as are all of my views about Winograd and No-Kill.)

An Open Letter to Nathan Winograd regarding his recent blog Good Homes Need Not Apply.

Preface: The animal welfare field seems to be one where shades of grey are difficult. This has always puzzled me- it seems that we're all "on the same side"- that of saving lives, improving lives, improving the relationship between animals and people, etc. If you read books or blogs, speak to trainers or rescuers, or animal welfare professionals, though, you'll see that huge, often fractious, rifts exist. Trainers will tell you that the only thing two trainers agree on is that a third trainer is wrong. Rescue groups will slam other rescue groups for their policies, and refuse to work with each other. Call an "animal welfare" person an "animal rights" person, and you might lose an eye. What's the point? The only thing I have come up with after almost a decade of my life devoted to this, and passionate about it, that the field (if you can talk about these things as "a" field) draws passionate, emotional people, and that we tend to lose sight of the big picture in favor of what We Believe is Right. As if there is a right. Our feelings become tangled in our goals, and it becomes extremely hard to separate "our" positions from larger goals, which leads to drama, politics and more drama.

In the midst of all of this controversy is the "no-kill" movement. Nathan Winograd and his No Kill Advocacy Center are right in the middle of the drama. Winograd really thinks that we can have a "No Kill Nation," like his eponymous book, and he wants to get there ASAP. I admire him for this. It's a noble goal, and if I could stop euthanizing animals almost every day at work, (killing, in Winograd-speak,) I certainly wouldn't complain. What I do find fault with is Winograd's almost incessant finger-pointing at animal shelters. I've discussed this before: my feeling that Winograd blames shelters for killing, and a recent Winograd blog leads me to the subject again (I'd rather bury my head in the lovely Winograd-free sand).

Winograd's recent post "Good Homes Need Not Apply" has been making the blogoshpere/twittosphere(?) rounds, and getting lauded in many circles. I'm just not feeling it. As usual, I agree with the over-arching feeling: Cut adopters some slack, or they'll go elsewhere for their puppies, kittens, birds, rabbits, etc. Shelters are often a great resource for adopting, especially with well done adoption programs. There are so many pets at shelters- those same puppies, kittens, birds and rabbits that can be picked up at pet stores and flea markets and on corners and backyards, can also be adopted at shelter, usually with many of their vet needs taken care of, at a fraction of the price. They are literally the same animals: a recent Petfinder article reminded us that most pets surrendered to shelter are young (between 5m and 1y) and unneutered. These pets came from somewhere, the shelters don't create the pets. Well done adoption programs will have counseling- should the adopters choose a young pet or an older one? What should adopters do when adolescent problems arise? And they'll adopt out altered pets. These unaltered pets that are coming TO the shelter didn't originate there. Here we go blaming the trashman again.

Winograd's point is well taken here: if shelters and rescues have harsh policies, the animals don't get adopted. They sit, and the adopters go back to those aforementioned spots to get their new pets. Winograd cites some pretty heinous adoption denials: the family that wants to adopt a cat and had waited a year after their senior cat died to adopt another. They were denied, without question or counseling, because they wanted to let the cat outdoors. The reason given was "because HSUS told me so." Sure, Winograd is right: there should ALWAYS be discussion with adopters. And there are surely drawbacks to having indoor only cats, just as there are drawbacks to having indoor/outdoor cats. He also quotes a rescue group that held onto a foster cat for 6 years, and the cat "seemed perfect." In both of these cases, I'm just not convinced that we're getting the whole story. In the first case, either the shelter or Winograd is being reductive- "HSUS told me to do it" is never a good reason, or Winograd is only telling part of the story; and in the latter, the rescue group was too strict, or Winograd doesn't know the cat, or the circumstances.

My question here is, should shelters and rescues not be allowed to have policies? I have worked at shelters that do not adopt out to indoor/outdoor cats. I have done adoptions at shelters that don't care if you keep the cat in even for one day. To me, the second policy is foolish and dangerous. I *do* want the animals in my care to be in safe, healthy, happy situations. And I feel like if you really don't want to adopt out to someone who is going to let their cat outside, it's important to have a discussion, ask questions, and offer other places where people can adopt cats with less stringent policies. It is, however, my experience, that VERY few shelters or rescues operate in the manner that Winograd describes: this extreme of denial and keeping animals for so long. It just doesn't really work that way. But it makes for a good, powerful, anti-shelter story.

Winograd has a way with numbers, and we all know when to trust statistics. He writes that because "only 4 percent" of animals in shelters come to the shelters because they are seized due to cruelty or neglect, the public should be trusted when coming to adopt a pet. There are a couple of leaps in logic here. First of all, there's the 4% number. I'm not sure what to think about this number- I wish it was 0%. Again, if I never euthanized another dog and never seized another animal, not only would I be out of a job, but I would be happy. I'd find another line of work, and not with a heavy heart. I'd love to know where this number comes from, what jurisdiction it comes from, and since it is apparently is only dogs and cats, how it is skewed (I'd say our rooster seizure numbers are the highest, and therefore not included). Also, is it really relevant to adoptions? Again, every animal should be adoptable, in the no-kill mentality, so the source of the animal is relevant in what way?

But in this article, Winograd's point is not about the source, it's about the outcome: shelter workers should trust adopters. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and it's something I actually have to work on- I've been "worked" a lot lately by giving too many people the benefit of the doubt lately. So, if 4% of animals are coming into the shelter from cruelty/neglect cases, how many percent of people (i.e. potential adopters) did these animals come from? And how many people surrendered animals or had their animals come in as stray, who weren't charged with cruelty or neglect? To those who think there isn't an overlap, trust me, there is. I have had people surrender their dogs in terrible conditions (neglect cases) and ask me if they can adopt a dog in the same breath. And how can I do adoption screening without having an honest dialogue and policies in place to make sure that my adoptable animals don't end up in the same people's hands? Isn't that my mandate, as an animal welfare professional? I trust the public, but I'm faced with that "4%" number and the need to deal with that, as well. Those animals are real animals, that came from real people, not just a number. When I place animals, any animals, they are real animals, going to a real home, with real people. I have to screen these adoptions, using whatever method my facility feels is best. I absolutely agree with Winograd: "Most people are decent to animals, concerned about their welfare, and can be trusted with them."

Winograd has a picture of a poster that he saw "several years ago" in a shelter of breeds not recommended for children under 10. He doesn't say how many years ago, and I suspect that most shelters would use different literature now. He also doesn't mention the "fine print" at the bottom that states basically that there are exceptions to every rule. The poster comes from a rescue group, and the dogs are on the list are dogs that I imagine most breed specific rescue groups would also say probably shouldn't go home with small children from a all-breed shelter: chihuahuas, toy breeds, cockers, akitas, etc. Again, I agree with Winograd- some shelters have overly cautious restrictions about adopting with children. And an across-the-board breed rule would be ridiculous. On the other hand, this is where grey-area comes in. A more appropriately-worded poster to that same effect might be very educational: most toy breeds in the shelter are not appropriate for small children. A toy breed in a foster home would be a better choice, as it can be assessed in in-home situations with kids. Small dogs in the shelter are often overwhelmed, and hard to get a good assessment

I believe in public safety. If a shelter can't do appropriate assessments, and feels that an individual dog is not appropriate with small kids for whatever reason- then it shouldn't go home with kids. On the other hand, I have assessed dogs and felt, shoot, this dog really isn't appropriate with kids- it jumps excessively, it mouths, it is food possessive, etc- and then the perfect, most dog experienced family has come in and said "our last dog was a really big project. We have a trainer lined up. And we have a feeding schedule in place." I've seen the child interact with the dog, and the dog interact with the child, and it's been a good fit. But if that perfect family hadn't come along, the dog would have gone home with a no-kid or older-kid family. It's a safety issue. Winograd can talk about not-killing the dog, but I care about the no-bite home. When the dog comes back for biting the child over the food, the dog gets euthanized, and the family probably doesn't adopt next time, because "shelter dogs are too risky." There are no guarantees in behavior assessments or breed generalizations (boy do I know this!), but I'd rather set everyone up for success. Again, if a shelter has limitations in assessing dogs, I'd rather err on the side of caution. Breed specific rescues are great for small dogs and trickier to place dogs. (Hey, if Winograd can have rose-colored glasses, so can I.)

Lastly, I agree with Winograd here:
Shelter animals already face formidable obstacles to getting out alive: they can get sick in a shelter, customer service is often poor, a shelter’s location may be remote, adoption hours may be limited, policies may limit the number of days they are held, some may view the animals as “damaged” goods when the reason they ended up at the shelter often has nothing to do with the animal, and shelter directors often reject common-sense alternatives to killing
Let's up the ante, not by arguing with the shelter about their adoption policies, though there may be individual policies, but by encouraging adoption. It seems to me that slamming shelters *discourages* adoptions. Let's decrease these obstacles: encourage more funding to shelters and encourage lawmakers to do things like the Hayden Bill that (used to) increase holding periods for California animals. Once again, Winograd, let's stop pointing fingers, and start working together. I thought we were all on the animal team?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Susan Straight: A Million Nightingales

I'm not sure if Susan Straight intentionally channeled Toni Morrison, or if all books about slavery in the first person are destined to recall Morrison. Straight's main character, Moinette, has a moving voice, especially as she ages and becomes more self-aware, though she sometimes seems a little too self-aware and poised, and educated, given her personal history. This reading of Moinette makes me question my biases- who says slaves can't know themselves, and be aware of the crazy ritual of slavery? Was Moinette, the character, just an omniscient narrator? Or was she a portrait of a possible real person- an observant "mulatresse" slave, who really grew to understood what was happening? And why not? This is not a common character in fiction- the slave who "gets it" about the evil system- and I'm guessing I'm not alone in my biases, because we all read the same books. Moinette started to understand that her light skin was a pro and a con- she was desirable for her "passages." She knew that her understanding of life could be used for her benefit and that she often had to hide it- sometimes she needed to work in the cane. She branded herself, because she wanted to "belong to no one."

In most fiction about slavery, only the paternalistic white Northerners could have the "sense" to need to free the slaves, along with a few fiery blacks. There aren't many characters to look at that are "in the system" but also see it for what it is. This is a powerful part of Straight's book. Moinette and co. are romantic, romanticized figures, but they also force the reader to look further, and a slave who played along, while playing against. Moinette buys and sells slaves but explains the system to them. I'm sure this fictitious, complicated, knowledgable character wasn't alone.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Call Me a Conservative

Go for it. I dare you.

For the last few months, there has been an ongoing debate on flickr about censorship. Thomas Hawk, a flickr-celebrity and well-known photographer in Bay Area and online circles (and maybe further, but I only know these areas,) has been sharing his feelings about alleged censorship. One of his beefs is with an account that flickr deleted for allegedly posting pictures that didn't belong to the account holder. Another is that a poster who was upset with Obama had his stream deleted. TH was seriously upset about an alleged "DMCA" notice. Honestly, I don't know if these charges against flickr are true or not. I don't know if TH has some inside scoop, and I don't know if flickr's counter charges against TH, that he has been somehow rude in his challenging of flickr are true, either. I don't really care. Today, one of my contacts posted a picture on flickr announcing their fed-up-ness with flickr, and their decision to leave flickr due to the "nazi-like" tactics of flickr policies.

I have to say, this whole endeavor makes me roll my eyes. I feel like a conservative saying this, but if you don't like it, don't buy it. Free market, and all of that. Flickr has a terms of service that is a supplement to the Yahoo! terms of service. Flickr and Yahoo! are huge corporations. If you use them, you buy into them. This is not some kind of declaration of independence, constitution type situation. It's my understanding that "freedom of speech" is about the government protecting the rights of her citizens. Do some digging around, and you'll find all kinds of case law about things like private corporations "censoring" their employees, even government censoring their employees, etc. I use flickr. I signed their TOS. They can tell me to put up or shut up. I can go elsewhere. They're not nazis, they're a for-profit business, and no one is forcing my hand to my credit card.

Maybe I'm not a conservative, when I think more about it, maybe I'm not just a free-speech obsessed libertarian.

I'd rather be called a conservative than a fascist, which I've also been called. I grew up singing in the San Francisco Girls Chorus. (Apologies for the auto music.) I'm reminded of this because of the rigid structure and discipline that the SFGC demanded of us, and the scorn some parents felt over us, "the little girl soldiers." I joined the chorus when I was 9, in 3rd grade, but some girls joined as young as 7, in first grade. The chorus demanded a lot from us- that we pay attention for two hour stretches, and that we perform like professionals. This doesn't sound like much now, as an adult, but at the time (aged 9 through 17) it was a lot. We gave up the majority of our free time learning out to stand still, hands uniformly at our sides, legs evenly spaced apart, eyes on our conductor at all times, singing in unison. We did as we were told. Conversation and discussion was encouraged as part of the learning process; moving, fidgeting, looking away was not. We wore uniforms for performing, and put on make up as directed. We conformed. We also made fabulous music, pioneering music, even. We were invited places that girls' choruses had never been invited, and sang with operas and symphonies. We were respected. We were respected because of the discipline that was instilled in us- if were acted like professionals, we would be treated as such. People would pay attention to the music, rather than the girls picking their noses. It was true.

It was bizarre, all these little girls coming together to look like soldiers in the name of music. We compromised a lot- our individual personalities and feelings and identities- for a couple hours at a time, a few times a week. There was nothing "free" about it, except that we (and our parents) chose for us to be there. Our parents paid a tuition fee for us to be there. The people who scorned and mocked our little fascist group didn't need to send their daughters there. There was nothing to protest- you either liked it, or you opted not to join. The benefits of the SFGC vastly outnumbered the drawbacks: many of the little girls that joined turned into young women with pride, sense of self, friends, self-discipline, and of course, musical skill.

I loathe Walmart. I detest most things about their practices- the way they chase small business out of town, the way they treat their employees, the whole awful sweatshop-ness of it all. I don't shop there. I am lucky to have the choice not to shop there. I often preach to the choir about my hatred of Walmart. I don't shop there and then tell everyone in the store that I can find (including the employees) how awful the store is- for me, for them, and for the world. I opt out. Maybe this is the free market at its best? I don't know, I'm not REALLY a conservative, so I don't know how that whole free-market-economy thing is supposed to work.

I'm going to keep using flickr. It's $20 a year to host unlimited pictures, which is pretty much a bargain. I've met awesome people to go out shooting with, and I've learned a lot about photography. In almost everything we interact with, there is something to find fault with. A mega-corporation, it's a given. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't "censorship," it would be something else. I'm pretty sure Yahoo! does some business with some shady characters that I would abhor if I looked harder. It's $20 of my money, and I'm sure I could put it somewhere better. But cost/benefitwise, I'm going to keep it where it is. Put up or shut up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"I Could Never Do Your Job"

Well, no, you probably couldn't.

But why are you telling me that, and what do you mean, exactly?

I do a lot of gross things for my job: I spend a good chunk of my day scooping and generally dealing with cat and dog shit. I often have poop on my shoes and pants. I pick up dead animals (aka roadkill). This in itself is fairly disgusting, but it often involves juices that I don't even know what they are, and bloated animals, and squished animals, very bad smells, and maggots. Various parts of my job stress animals out (more later) and this often causes the release of anal glands. For me, this is the grossest part. I absolutely cannot stand that smell, and have yet to figure out a way to get the smell off of my clothes or uniform. If a dog expresses his glands on me when I lift him into the truck to go to the vet first thing in the morning, I'm basically toast for the day. It's gross.

I do a lot of physical things for my job. I scrub kennels. I lift heavy animals, live and dead (see above). I restrain animals, large and small. I lift a lot of other things- bags of food, boxes, dog traps, etc.

I do a lot of things with angry people that require some kind of social work, which is not something I have a degree in. And although some days I'm a kind of people-person, some days I'm not a people person at all. I write tickets, which I hate doing, and most people hate being on the receiving end of. I deal with people swearing at me in multiple languages, some of which I understand, some of which I can only guess at. I deal with crazy people, people on drugs, people I believe to be armed. I do not have any type of weapons, not even pepper spray or mace, and I do not routinely wear a bullet proof vest. I can and do use the police as backup, and then people usually cooperate, but at that point, I am again in a situation that requires all kind of people skills that I may or may not have/want to have.

I do lots of things with animals that are unsavory, unpleasant, difficult, and/or downright depressing. Every day I vaccinate anywhere from 1 to 50 animals. I microchip animals that are as small as a two pound kitten or three pound rabbit, and animals that need muzzles just to be touched, and that needle is huge. I pull blood from cats, and those veins are tiny. Sometimes I use a control pole on a dog or have to catch a feral cat with a net. I hate doing these things, because they mean that the animal is fractious, angry, stressed out, or down right aggressive, and they don't want to be handled. I try to be as humane as possible, but handling an animal who doesn't want to be touched is really not so humane, no matter how you roll it. I euthanize animals almost every day. I see animals that range from healthy and happy to severely neglected and unable to stand, and miserable. I have been present when officers taze and shoot a dog.

These are general things. I have specific stories, some of which I've told here, some of which I've told friends, some of which I've never told anyone and will never told anyone. I can't tell all of them- every day is a story which is one of the reasons I love my job- it's different every day. I've been a shelter worker my whole post-college life (except for one boutique pet store year) and I love it. I relate these tasks NOT to flatter myself, not to tell anyone how difficult my job is, not to toot my own horn. I share parts of my work, because probably once a day, someone says to me something along the lines of "I could never do your job." Sometimes they say this when they walk into the shelter. If they're in the shelter, this is usually followed by "I would take them all home" or "how do you not take them all home" or "how many animals do you have." I have one- how do I answer that? If I'm out and about, sometimes people tell me they couldn't do my job when I'm picking up a dead animal in the street. Sometimes they see me pick up a stray in particularly bad shape, and when I tell them honestly that it's most likely going to be euthanized, they repeat "I could never do your job."

What does this mean? Does it mean that I am hard hearted? How could someone pick up a dog in bad shape and not weep? Does it mean I'm a garbage man, picking up dead animals, and how could anyone do such a disgusting thing? Does it mean that I should adopt or foster more animals, to prove that I'm an animal lover? (This is another comment we get at the shelter: "You must not love animals." People say this when they don't want to pay their fees. Somehow, if we loved animals, we wouldn't charge fees.) Does it mean I'm a cold blooded killer because I kill the animals that I care for? I do this, but I don't feel cold-blooded, or like a killer, at least most days. Does it mean they couldn't do my job because the shelter stinks (it does- animals shit there) and I must be some kind of dirty person to work there and not hold my nose? Are they telling me that my job is dangerous, and they wouldn't put themselves, unarmed, in Oakland, in the situations that I put myself in? Are they saying they think Oakland sucks, or that I'm stupid for doing what I do when I'm in dangerous situations?

People don't explain when they say they couldn't do my job. They just tell me. Do they tell me to alleviate some kind of internal feeling they are having when they see me do my tasks or hear about them or imagine them? Do they imagine they are somehow thanking me for tasks they imagine are thankless? Are they scorning me- they couldn't do my job, because it's a stupid, awful, meaningless, or somehow otherwise disdain-able job? Are they admiring my fearlessness? What is it? And why do they have to share?

I admit it, I'm often insulted when they say this, because of all the reasons I've written. My job is not glamorous. I hate the "Animal Cops" comparisons. My life is not TV. I've done this my whole adulthood, as I said, and not because I wanted to be like some TV show- I don't own a TV and I don't think that show was a show when I first fell into shelter work as a shelter volunteer. My job is not done for admiration, or really, for anybody's opinion.

I'm venting- I don't NEED to be admired. I just don't want to be insulted.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Twitter Treats

a roundup of recent favorites from Twitter. This is a totally random post, but I need to share these articles so I can remember to blog in a more lengthy fashion about some of them later.

In animal news:
It came up in discussion the other day, but fish have vets, too. I read this article in the New York Times 5 years ago, but no one at dinner believed me. It's true. (If you believe everything you read. Apparently there are 20,000$ koi, too. Hey, read it and let me know what you think.) On a totally different animal note, this is a very strange breed specific legislation being proposed. I'm not into the article, and haven't found the text of the law without the article, but basically, the town in Mass. wants all pit bull puppies surrendered to animal control to be euthanized "in the event of a litter." The full ordinance isn't quoted, so I don't know what happens to the parents, but, uh- are they required to be altered? because if not, this is (besides being BSL which is altogether ineffective) one of the silliest examples of BSL I've ever heard of. I'm pretty sure that mom and dad of said litter will reproduce again, providing that animal owner complies and brings in litter. Talk about throwing out baby and leaving bathwater. Awesome.

In 4-years-post Katrina News:
Video has been released by the BBC that shows that Bush knew what was coming with Hurricane Katrina. OK, so we already know that Bush was a compulsive liar and lacked some fundamental curiousity, especially on things he didn't care about, like, anything that wasn't Iraq. But this video is so deeply disturbing. He just didn't care. So awful. As a followup, you may be suprised (or not) to learn that birthrates have declined dramatically in affected areas since Katrina. A thoughtful post about remembering the hurricane.

In race and social media news:
A short but fascinating look at "white flight" from various online social media venues (i.e. myspace to facebook and now to twitter?). Another article looks at the blatant faking of minorities in the media. Seriously? Whether in academic or corporate marketing materials, apparently it's cool/necessary/totally OK to coopt the images of people of color for the needs of the almighty (white?) dollar.

Some thoughts on poverty, wages, and the economy:
Why the "poverty line" is meaningless and what can be done. A look at who is benefiting from the economic recovery. (Part of me is still wondering about this "economic recovery", but give the article a chance, and suspend belief for a minute. I did.)

I'm going to leave it here- I have lots more to share, but this is random enough, and I have to get out of the house. Knock yourself out, there's good shit hidden in here.