Monday, February 27, 2006

Tuesday cat blogging

Ok, I know it's not Friday, the traditional 'cat blogging day' in blogging land, but I wanted to introduce everyone to my new friend. I'm not that fond of the name they gave her at the shelter, but here goes... Paikea Rene. I've renaming her Esme. I think. Still haven't settled on it yet.

Exactly one week after Zanzibar died, almost to the hour, I was waiting to go into the "End of Life Support Group" that I had been attending at my vet since Zanzi got her final and definitive diagnoses in November. As I was waiting, I was looking at the shelter cats, all waiting to be adopted. There were the older cats such as Honey and Sophie, whose owner had passed away from breast cancer, Marlowe the street cat who looked like he came straight out of a gangsta novel, and Stallone, a big and fat tuxedo cat. Among the four older cats, was a little kitten, who looked so sad, lonely, and generally, depressed. She was very very cute, too.

So, I go into the meeting, and I mentioned how sad, lonely, depressed and very very cute this kitty was, and the next thing I know, she's sitting in my lap. I'm being told how she doesn't like other kitties, and why she was by herself out in the front shelter cages and not the back cages, where all the kittens were. (She's a loner, like me!) After the meeting, somehow she came home with me. I don't quite know how it happened. All of a sudden she was in a cat carrier, and the same lady who drove me to the emergency vet to put Zanz to sleep was driving me home with new kitty. I really don' t know exactly how it happened, but lo and behold, there's a four-five month old kitten sitting on my stomach as I type this.

It's been a little more than a month that Zanz died and a little over three weeks that PR or Esme came home with me. I am only fostering her, making sure that she becomes acclimated to human beings, as she had been trapped and was a little skittish when it came to trusting. In fact, when I first brought her home, she wouldn't come near me. I had to grab her whenever she came near, if I was gonna get any kitty lovin'. It even made me sad a bit, cause I kept remembering how close Zanz and I were.

She still will run away from me if I startle her, and she's still a bit skittish. However, since I took her back to the vet yesterday to check up on her respiratory tract infection, she's been much calmer since her second vet visit and return back. So I think she knows she's staying (yes, it's pretty official that she's staying), so she's actually a lot more trusting.

One of the reasons I'm keeping her, is that I found a new apartment share in the Bronx, and will be moving in a few weeks, and my new place accepts animals.

Here's a picture of Paikea Renee Esme (still haven't decided on the name) but here she is:

This was taken when she first got to my apartment, and she's bigger now. And yes, I read Harry Potter. OK?

My vet runs Infinite Hope Shelter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dick Button... ugh... my ears...

It may just be my imagination, but has Dick Button gotten more vicious over the years when announcing figure skating? I swear, there were a few times over the last couple of days when I physically cringed at hearing his commentary.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Three Years for David Irving

Austria sent a message to deniers of the Holocaust today when they sentenced David Irving to three years in prison for denying that the Holocaust took place. The message is very simple: Don't deny that the Holocaust happened while you are in Austria.

The New York Times stated that the law he was charged under is from 1992, which applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media." The Times also mentioned that "Mr. Irving's trial came during a period of intense debate in Europe over freedom of expression, after European newspapers printed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that set off deadly protests worldwide."

Sounds like the Times is attempting to make Mr. Irving's denial of the Holocaust into a free speech issue. I hope they, nor anyone else, goes there. It's a pity that there has to be a law in Austria or anywhere else that explicitly enforces something like this. Wouldn't it be wonderful if people didn't let their prejudices get in the way of historical fact? I find it unfortunate and ignorant that anyone would dare to deny the Holocaust in the first place. Those pesky facts, always getting in the way, aren't they?

A Swifty is Factchecked

Sometimes (please, not .com) can seem to lean so far right that they literally tip the planet and leave it spinning. While they may or may not be partisan against the left, they have been checking the right a lot more lately. I'll take what I can get.

Back during the election of 2004, John Kerry was "swiftboated" by an organization that claimed that aspects of his military service was bogus. Kerry was an officer on a fast patrol craft or "swift boat" back in Vietnam, and most of his dissenters were fellow swift boat personnel or Navy superiors. The outfit, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," claimed a lot of things about Kerry (go do your own research as to the veracity of their claims) during the election and ran a series of commercials espousing their views on Kerry's service as well as wrote a book called Unfit for Command, a ditty of character assassination on Kerry. Oh, but one thing I should note...none of the main Swift Boat accusers served on Kerry's boat during the war, and the actual members of Kerry's boat during Vietnam campaigned for him during his bid to be president. Go figure that one out.

Whatever your feelings about Kerry as president (and believe me, I had some doubts, but a cheesestick would be better than our current prez), I find it incomprehensible that his fellow crew members, folks that actually served with him, would support him while those who did not directly serve with him would be so successful in their campaign against him. Oh well.

One of the crazy things about this organization is how they complained during the election that multi-billionaire George Soros was funding the liberal left's anti-Bush fever during the election. Now, to stir up the liberal-hatin' right again, the Swift Boat crowd is claiming that Soros has funded attack ads against embattled Texan Representative (and all around stand up dude /snort), Tom Delay. Well, according to Fact Check, Soros hasn't funded any anti-Delay ads, though he did fund back in 2004, a couple of organizations who recently ran anti-Delay ads and aren't under obligation by law to reveal who funded their current commercials. Oh my God, ain't that a crime?

Well, if it is, somebody better go and arrest a Swift Boat funder by the name of Bob Perry, cause guess what? Mr Perry was one of three major donors of the Swift Boat commercials that ran against Kerry and it was Perry who actually funded the current commercial that claims that Soros was behind earlier anti-Delay ads. Hmmm... I smell a pattern here. And it sure does stink.

Fact Check had a bit of trouble tracking down Perry's money. But I'm sure you'll hear about this group in the future. Here's what Fact Check says about the money trail:

Tracking down the source of this ad was something of a chore. The sponsor is the Free Enterprise Committee, a new group formed about the time the anti-DeLay ad hit the air in Texas. It is a so-called "527" political committee based in Washington, DC. It first registered with the Internal Revenue Service on Jan. 31 of this year. Its current registration form lists it as "connected" to the Free Enterprise Fund, an anti-tax group headed by New York merchant banker Mallory Factor. Its policy council is co-chaired by supply-side guru Arthur Laffer, former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and MSNBC's pro-business crusader Lawrence Kudlow. The new committee has yet to file any disclosure of its income or expenses, and a spokesman for the Free Enterprise Fund declined to say who had paid for the DeLay ad.

However, as the Houston Chronicle was first to report over the weekend, we were able to confirm that the ad is being financed by a $200,000 donation from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry. As we reported in 2004, Perry was the main source of initial funding for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the time they launched their attack on the Vietnam War record of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Live Free, Part Three

Eight Weeks Five Days

I had promised a while back to update you on the laser therapy I did to quit smoking. Unfortunately, with lovey wonder kitty's surgery and subsequent passing, I wasn't really in the mood to write. But I tell ya there was something else that I wasn't in the mood for: smoking.

I remember that when I smoked, as a tragedy or crisis arose, the first thing I went for was a cigarette. Zanzibar's nursing, the planning, the driving to the veterinary cancer treatment center in Newburgh, the surgery, having to take her back to my vet in Brooklyn for emergency fluids, the worrying, the watching her go into respiratory distress in the middle of the night, and ultimately, making the decision to put her to sleep and being with her at the end, was probably the worse sequence of events I've had to deal with. In fact, compared to other crappy things that have happened in my life, this was right up there with being born.

Through it all, I did not smoke.

But I digress.

When last I spoke about Freedom Quit Smoking Laser Therapy, I was sitting in the waiting room comtemplating bolting for the door. Instead, I let my laser acupuncture therapist, Paula, lead me into the back, through a door off of the larger room where I had my initial intake.

In the back, there was a hallway and about six doors each leading to a small treatment room. The treatment room had a comfy reclining chair, a small flatscreech T.V., a DVD player and the laser equipment. I was given a pair of "infrared" glasses to put on, to protect my eyes from the laser light.

A number of sarcastic things were going through my head, but I decided to suspend the evil voices and just sit back and take the therapy seriously. In fact, I realized that I would only get out of this therapy as much as I put into it, so instead of ridiculing it or poopooing it or thinking that it was just not going to work, I decided to remember that I had paid good money for this and it was going to work.... because it had to work. I HAD to quit smoking and this method, which would help going cold turkey easier, was the method I chose, and I was behind it... at least 90%.

The laser therapist was very friendly and explained what the laser's purpose was and how she was going to use it. So, with the funny glasses on, I sat there while Paula used the laser to hit specific points on my hands, face and head while I watched a video of crashing waves and seascapes narrated by a woman with a great voice. The woman told me basically that I was now free from smoking, and I wish I could remember what else she said, but truthfully, whatever it was made me feel darn good about the decision I had made to quit smoking once and for all.
I had at least one issue with something said on the video, but I forgot to write it down and now can't remember what it was. Shoot me.

Once the treatment was over, Paula let me sit for a few moments to relax. As I was leaving, I received some vitamin supplements, vanilla car freshener to get the smell of cigarettes out of my non-existent car, a very useful wristband with "Freedom" printed on it, some printed material, and a most helpful item, a booklet compiled from a series of lectures given by a man named Joel Spitzer and entitled "Never Take Another Puff." Also a VERY useful phrase that one must repeat over and over and over again for the rest of an ex-smoker's entire life.


No, seriously, never. Can I say it again? NEVER. One puff, and it's back to square one, a pack of cigs. Hey, I'm an addict, plain and simple. If I smoke one, I'll smoke a million of them.

Anyway, this posting has gotten a little long, but I want to finish by writing what I wrote down in my journal directly after the treatment over a quesadilla and a beer in a Mexican restaurant down the street from the Center in Royal Oak (though I wish I had written down the thing that I had a problem with from the video... hmm, go figure...):

"Though initially skeptical, I must say that 30 minutes on [from the laser session] and sitting in the smoking section (the non-smoking section I originally asked for was too exposed and in a too crowded area, and I wanted to sit a little more isolated, you know, where the smokers are :) ), and while I'm sitting here in the smoking section, I really have no desire to smoke. My right hand is pulsing (the hand I usually smoke with), though who knows what that is from, maybe the laser has caused the nerves in my hand to go all haywacky. But, so far, so good. I don't want to smoke. And the smell of smoke around me... hmmm... nope, still don't want to smoke. Maybe this is gonna work after all."

In my opinion, laser therapy is not necessarily the thing that "makes" you quit smoking. What it does do is release happy endorphins to help you get over the initial hump: the point between the last cigarette and the end of the withdrawal period, which is no more than seven days, and which is usually the hardest. Trust me, I've quit cold turkey before, and the first seven days are hell! After that, the physical withdrawal pressure is over, you haven't killed anyone because all those happy endorphins are helping you feel content and it's behavior modification after that.

Lastly, one of the things that Joel Spitzer writes in his "Never Take Another Puff," is that there will always be stressful and crisis moments. There will always be times when things get too rough. Smoking doesn't help the situation, as it may momentarily 'help,' but ultimately it robs the smoker of something more important than the cigarette, it robs the smoker of his life.

Anyway, good luck to all of us, and I wanted to say hello to any visitors from the Freedom Quit Smoking Laser Therapy site.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pop vs. Soda

On a lighter note from "Cheney's Got A Gun," go and vote in the great "Pop versus Soda" controversy.

You can vote if you're in Canada, too.

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy

I grew up saying 'pop' in Michigan. I now say 'soda' in New York. I'm still scarred from the ridicule I was subjected to when I first moved to New York in 1984. I still cry at the laughs I endured from the elitist soda snobs of the Northwest.

Pop does sound funny, though.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Kwan Ends Medal Hopes?

OK, maybe I'm just being mean, but I do not think that Michelle Kwan can win a medal in this year's Olympics. In fact, she just may withdraw. It's too bad, but some things just aren't meant to happen. I could be wrong (hell, what do I know?), but I don't think she can pull it off.

Kwan ponders withdrawal after rough practice

Oh, and that opening ceremony? Crazily fantastic.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Grammy Time

I love the Grammies. Always have, always will. Shoot me. In fact, I'm a sucker for almost all award shows. Hell, I even watch the Tonys.

It's about freaking time that the Grammy tribute to Sly and the Family Stone actually featured Sly. There were a lot of great singers singing his songs, but there's nothing like the real Sly and the Family Stone.

Hmm... is he well? He looks very old. This is very sad. All the greats, hell, all of us, get old. It's a matter of life, but it's just sad. I remember the Family's songs on my dad's jukebox, back in the day when jukeboxes still actually played 45s.

Hell, I'm old, too.

Gosh gee, I love Sly and the Family Stone.

By the way, thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoony Jihady

So... how messed up is the Cartoon Jihad currently going on between Denmark and the entire Muslim and Arab world? Mightily messed up. I'm hoping that there will be cooler heads prevailing somewhere, somehow, but I fear it's just escalating with no end in sight.

I was hopping mad the other night when the Danish and Norwegian embassies were burned in Syria, and the Danish embassy in Lebanon. In fact, I agreed with a rightwinger on the Franken blog, and I did a Reaganesque, "There they go again" move as well. Until, that is, I stepped back and actually learned more about this tragic episode and I spoke with a friend from the Czech Republic who firmly put the blame on the Danes.

Did you know that the paper that originally published the cartoony jihady mess actually rejected a series of cartoons three years ago that depicted Jesus Christ in a negative light because they felt that their readers would be offended and that they were not funny in the first place?

Hmm... I guess it's ok for JC but not Mohammed?

Though at the same time, don't buy the argument that Mohammed isn't portrayed in art... 'cause that doesn't wash, either. (Hattip to Buckeye, though the worldwide traffic to the site has jammed it up right now.)

And now for something completely different, Iran has sponsored a contest to 'test' the boundaries of free speech by focusing on Jews, because of course, all Jews are Danes... or at least two of them, as Jon Stewart said the other night. Why is Iran dragging Israel into this? Your answer is as good as mine because mine is non-existent. (OK, not really, but it's late and this post is not becoming incoherent.) I've seen a few cartoons (hattip, Duncan!) from an Islamic point of view that depicts Jews as babykillers and blood drinkers, but I don't see the Syrian embassy in Tel Aviv being burned to the ground... if, of course, there were a Syrian embassy in Tel Aviv, that is.

In a nutshell, people are pissed off not at the stupid cartoons (only one of which is actually remotely funny and thought-provoking is stretching it, too), like Danish racism (yes, it exists); provocation on the part of the original conservative newspaper publishing the cartoons; political wrangling by Syria and Iran (most Arab countries had peaceful boycotts and protests, the pressure currently on these two countries exploded into violence); hot-blooded rhetoric and yes, the U.S. stirring up the hornet's nest with the war. There's a few other things, too, but I can't think of them and it's late. Time to sleep.

I applaud the effective boycotts of Danish products by many Arab and Muslim countries in protest, though if they are waiting for the Danish government to apologize for something that technically they can't apologize for, Denmark is in big economic trouble. I deplore the rioting violence, as I hate riots and I'm not a fan of violence, either, unless it's a big chase car scene on celluloid. I am sorry that the newspaper elected to run the cartoons in September, and wish that they hadn't been brought back up into the limelight now, but hell, they never should have run in the first place. What's good for JC should be good for Mohammed, too, yes?

This insanity has all got to stop. Christians, Jews, and Muslims better learn how to sit down and get along with each other again, or I fear we're headed into a horrible phase... brought on by a Cartoony Jihady (among other things).

Since I'm a believer in thinking for oneself (no matter if I do it or not), here's a link to the cartoons. Come to your own conclusions, but unlike me when this first broke, please know the facts before, like me, jumping up and down.

Oy... does this need work.. too late, must sleep... will fix later...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Val and the Warholas

For the second year in a row, I ran the Idiotarod, which occurred this past Saturday from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I wasn't feeling up to do the entire race, so I donned my Andy wig and joined the revelry in Manhattan.

My team was Val and the Warholas, otherwise known as Valerie Solanas and the man she shot, Andy Warhol.

Solanas, as you may know, wrote the "S.C.U.M." Manifesto, which could stand for "Society for Cutting Up Men," but that's never been proven. What was proven was that Solanas shot Andy at the Factory in 1968, after he missplaced the 'only' copy of a screenplay that she had written entitled, "Up the Ass."

Said Val, "Andy had too much control over my life." Then she calmly took the elevator out of the Factory.

Andy should have died, since the bullet that entered him careened around his body and hit many major organs. He did not. Lucky Andy. Lucky world. Lucky Valerie, too. Andy refused to testify against her, though she did get three years in prison.

February 22 is the 19th anniversary of Warhol's death of a heart attack after a gallbladder operation in 1987. There may be sightings of Val and the Warholas around town.

We love you, Andy.
(And sure, we love you too, Val...)

Yours in pop-art,
Andy T/É


Well, it's been exactly one week since the kitty girl said goodbye. It's been a helluva week. Remind me to tell you about it one day. But not tonight.

I have a little foster kitty I'm taking care of for a few days.

I must be nuts.