Friday, October 28, 2011

Is your dog sick as a human?

I guess it’s not enough that people everywhere are urged to get a flu vaccination every year, now we have to worry about our dogs as well.

I just received an urgent e-mail written in large text in various shades of RED, urging me to vaccinate my dog against canine influenza due to an outbreak in my county.

I’m not worried. First, because unfortunately my dog passed away almost a year ago, and secondly because, according my research:

Canine influenza is a disease of dogs; no evidence exists that people can catch it. Like human flu patients, dogs with canine influenza develop respiratory symptoms such as coughing and sometimes runny noses. And like humans, most dogs that contract the flu will be only mildly sick and recover on their own.

I’m not downplaying the problem of having a sick pet, and I realize respiratory problems in creatures who rely heavily on their noses to detect danger, food, friends etc, can be serious, but I sort of get the idea that, as with people, someone who makes money on selling and administering the vaccine wants to make sure everyone is too scared not to get it.

I had a dog for 12 years and never ONCE even heard of canine influenza. Now, all of a sudden, it’s a thing and pet owners need to be acutely aware of it. Yes, I discovered dog adoptions in the County have been suspended due to an outbreak, and obviously no one wants to take on an already sick pet and be on the hook for medical care that should have been provided and paid for by a shelter, but can we all say it slowly together – OVER RE ACTING?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against vaccines at all, and I don’t want to see any pet become ill any more than I want to be ill myself, but just as with myself, I’m less than enthusiastic about running to the doctor to get shot full of chemicals as a reaction to a panicked e-mail.

Let’s stop all this hyper-awareness and fear-mongering now while we still can. That’s something I’d be willing to be vaccinated against.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oh well...

Since the world, so surpisingly, didn't end on Friday, I thought this bill board, borrowed from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, might be appropro.

Maybe next time...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Big dose of reality on the horizon

According to three-strikes-you're-out televangelist Harold Camping, today is the absolutely official without a doubt painstakingly calculated and researched day the world will, in fact, end.

This article [complete with scary photo of Mr. Camping] details some of his wild ass predictions, which have become decidedly less wild since his May 21, 2011 debacle during which he had a bunch of his loyal followers so convinced they'd made it to Rapture day that they gave up all their worldly goods to drive cross country and sit at his compound to await the beginning of world-pocalypse.

They were disappointed.

The rest of us went about our lives, apparently effortlessly living through the Rapture which occurred invisibly on that predicted day. Now, with a bunch of months to churn around and really gear up for a good kaboom, the world is now fully cooked and ready to pop like a dried out corn kernel in hot oil, so pull up a slab of butter and get ready for the show.

Unfortunately, you may have to watch really closely, because not only does Mr. Camping feel  "Probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God", it's highly likely all this world-ending business will be largely invisible as well.

On the really off chance he's finally right this time [excuse me while I LMAO], I'll see you all in heaven or hell or wherever all us fun people end up. I suspect wherever it is, we'll be having a hell of a better time than Mr. Camping.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Need a little exercise?

Try jumping through hoops! That's what I've been doing today while trying to set up a retirement account.

The concept of saving for retirement is one that is drilled into us incessantly by banks and financial advisors. We must put money away for the future because the government can't afford to take care of us anymore, after paying them to do so for our whole working lives, we're just being selfish to expect any of that hard earned money back one day. So get an IRA - but don't put away too much money [the government regulates how much you're allowed to save] - we don't want any one to be too rich when they're old. No, no.

I'd like to save money for retirement [soon to be a fantasy concept the way things are going] just as much as the next person, but I have some far out requirements that pose unique problems for banking institutions.

1. I'm not already rich. I know - how dare I want to save only pennies a day? It seems most places I've looked have minimum balance requirements for opening an IRA. The most reasonable - $250 - the most outrageous $25,000 [I laughed at the woman over the phone when she told me that.] Honey, if I had $25,000, I'd be paying off my bills with it.

2. I want to make contributions. Weird right? I mean, employer run IRAs make contributions for you, put what happens if you're self employed? Some instutitions want to open a new account every time you make a contributions, so you end up with hundreds of individual accounts with small balances - way to save on paying interest, right?

3. I don't want to trade stocks, bonds, pig belly futures or commodities. I'm not interested in day trading. All I want is to put my money somewhere safe until I need it.

4. I don't want to pay someone to hold my money. This is the biggie - I mean who am I to expect a financial instiution not to try to bleed me dry, right? If I'm already losing money in a stock based account, why wouldn't I also want t see my balance trickle away with maintenance fees as well? Losing money a little at a time is almost as much fun as hiding it under the mattress and hoping moths don't eat it.

Ah well, back to my work out. At this rate, I may not have any money for retirement, but at least I'll be really skinny from jumping through all these hoops and since skinny people never get sick, I can just keep working and forget about retirement completely.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I am, therefore I think...

...or, let's put the cart before the horse.

It seems a group of esteemed researchers have made the fantastic intuitive leap that taking birth control pills leads women to choose boring men as mates. [Read the simplified version here.]

That’s sort of like saying … hmm, I can’t even come up with a similarly dumb analogy for that one.

Apparently, a study of 2500 women bore out the conclusion that those who take birth control pills tend to look for more stable, less exciting men to date, marry and have children with. They also report a higher satisfaction with their relationships.

So, ladies, if the exciting bad boys you’ve been dating just aren’t cutting it in the husband department, for heaven’s sake, go on the pill! You’ll be better able to, and apparently more interested in, a regular, down to earth, not so pretty, less macho, well employed provider type. It all has to do with hormones.

Apparently it never occurred to these researchers that perhaps, just perhaps, women who tend to be attracted to stable, intelligent, hard working, dependable men may also have the innate desire to better control their own reproductive lives, and be smart enough to choose men who will provide them with longer lasting, durable relationships. Or, let’s turn that around, women who give a crap about how many children they have and when, are more likely to choose men who are good husband material.


Sure we’ve all drooled over the hot, macho guy who can bench press a semi, or wrangle a shark or put out fires with his bare hands, but is it really a little pastel pill that suddenly gives women who would otherwise be dating cowboys and daredevils the desire to settle down with a guy who has a steady paycheck and no dueling scars? Please. Give the female race a little credit, shall we?

I’d make a bet these researchers also think it was the chicken that came first.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The take or leave it century

You hear a lot of speculation about how the world can recover from this global recession, and I have a bunch of my own theories but I’m starting to think we may never pull out of this if we don’t bring back some good old fashioned accountability all across the board.

How can anyone make money or forge a lasting business if they just don’t care?

I ask this because I’m so tired of seeing the laissez-faire attitude from businesses, banks, doctors, etc. No one has the gumption to put their best foot forward anymore. Is it any wonder no one’s making money?

A case in point, I hired a supposed professional several weeks ago to fix a leaky gutter on my house. After the work was done, for a reasonable $30.00, I was told if there were any problems to call the company and someone would come back to fix it. Well, the next rain storm produced a waterfall from the gutter which had previously only been dripping. I called. It took several phone calls to finally get someone to return, repair the leak a second time and leave. The next time it rained the gutter went back to dripping, so I was right back where I started. Several more phone calls only served to irritate the company manager who ended up telling my husband never to call again.

Naturally I did what I do best. I left reviews of the company wherever I could. We contacted the Better Business Bureau and put in a complaint. The manager called to complain to us about this because he couldn’t understand why we were making such a big deal over a $30 job.


Clearly the man has no business sense. No one ever told him that the $30.00 customer should be treated the same way the $30,000 customer is treated because you never know when one can turn into the other. His feeling was, we were supposed to excuse poor service, rudeness over the phone and a reluctance to fix the problem because, after all, we’d only paid $30, the price quoted to us by his own technician. Now the company is annoyed because the Internet reviews are out there tarnishing their reputation. Boo hoo.

Do a good job and you won’t have to worry about your reputation.

As a writer, I have to put my work out there and take the chance someone will give a trashy review. A bad review will hurt my business, it will impact my book sales. I know this because I’ve changed my mind about buying books after reading poor reviews. I don’t whine about those bad reviews. I don’t moan and say, what did they expect for a $0.99 book or a $4.99 book? If they’d been willing to pay $29.99 for it, I might have done a better job. That’s BS of the highest magnitude. My book sales are driven by the good reviews, the ones I get because I care about what I produce. In the information age, if you do crappy work, the world will know about it in a heartbeat. Welcome to the 21st Century, put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

Yet this attitude seems to prevail. I see it among writers who do whine about their bad reviews and engage reviewers in arguments. I see it in businesses that relegate small, inexpensive jobs to lesser skilled workers and provide less customer service to the ‘little guy’. I see it in banks that charge fees for low balance accounts and not for higher balances, in doctors and medical practices that give better service to patients who pay their own way as opposed to those relying on insurance [or sometimes vice versa depending on where they think they’ll get the most money]. I see it in government where budget cuts lead to lack of service which punishes the communities rather than the higher government that imposes the budget cuts to begin with. There seems to be a resentment of the everyday working person, the person who doesn’t just want to save money but HAS to in order to survive. We’re not supposed to complain about higher taxes, increased fees, lower compensation for health insurance, cuts in our salaries, higher gas prices, higher food prices, less service everywhere. We’re just supposed to shut up and accept that no one can go the extra mile anymore because we can no longer pay for it.

I guess the old adage is true: Money talks and bull shit is the new gold standard.