You’re going along OK, feeling like your life is not bad, but then it happens: you feel the need to be recognized, to be somebody.
Why? Because you realize that as Joe Schmoe, average citizen, you are never going to get to cuddle with even one baby panda, much less two. The Prime Minister of Canada is no more deserving than you, no more qualified to hold two baby pandas, yet there he is, in what might the not only the greatest moment of his life, but the greatest moment of anyone’s life, anywhere at any time.
It’s just not fair. And since the universe is not going to be fair, it may as well be unfair towards you.
You want your fame, but you know deep inside, it’s just for the pandas.
So few people read this virtual rag that statistics are probably useless. However, we did go over 100 views for ENTIRE WEEK! I realize that more millions more people than that will watch a cute cat video in the time it takes to read this paragraph. I can live with that.
And I’m glad that you’re interested in the thrilling story about Genius Mutt defying death after eating a chocolate cake.
But people! In all of this political talk flying around, NO ONE is talking about the proper use of the military. It would be nice to have this discussion before we get stuck in another stupid quagmire that costs the lives and health of those willing to sign on that line.
It is the unanimous view of the Meta-Bug editorial staff that the draft needs to be reinstated. We don’t like the draft. We don’t like the fact that having a large standing army tends to get overused. We wouldn’t like the increased military spending that would accompany a universal draft. We don’t like the possible militarization of society that could occur with a universal draft. We don’t like having permanent military bases in places where they are not wanted or not necessary. We think that young Americans should be supported in becoming the adults they want to be, and that it should be done through education, that the money would be better used paying for universities and trade schools rather than uniforms, food supplied by contractors, and weapons.
Above all, I don’t want my children in the military.
But we are in love with our military might. For a large number of Americans, being big and powerful is part and parcel of our patriotism. We stand astride the globe, ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice (damn the exit strategies!).
If that is going to be the case, everyone needs to take part. Senators’ sons. Kids of Congressmen. The President’s Progeny. Especially the President’s Progeny. And they shouldn’t be dragged off to the draft board kicking and screaming. They should be at the recruiter’s office, waiting at the door ten minutes before opening time. (On time in the military is 10 minutes early.)
Will they answer the call?
I really didn’t want another dog.
Y’know that old joke, the one where various people are having a discussion about when life begins (conception, etc), and the old couple has the punchline about life beginning when the kids move out and the dog dies. At this point in my life I’m still not looking forward to when the kids move out, nor do I want the current canine to croak, but when my previous dog died, I have to admit that I was in no hurry to get her replaced.
I had had my own dogs since my junior year in college. After around 35 years of owning various hounds, arctic breeds, retriever crosses, herding dogs, my 16 year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Maddie, was euthanized on a 4th of July. This was just slightly less than a month before my best friend died after a bout with a cancer caused by the radiation that had cured his previous cancer around 20 years earlier. When Mike died, we had been friends for nearly 4o years.
It’s not an astounding revelation that you don’t get to go back to sixth grade and make another decades-long best friendship. You’re just stuck with that permanent sense of loss that occurs when you realize nothing can ever be the same again. I will never have a best friend who was around since I was 10. I suppose that this isn’t astounding. We all know it will happen. Everyone gets to this point, some reach it quite early in life.
Mike had just turned 50, and I was just about to do the same. Plain and simple, I didn’t want another dog. As a veterinarian, I had usually counseled clients to get back into the saddle (more often than not a new pet helps ease the pain of the loss of the old one), and although I had always followed that advice myself, when my best friend died I decided that I was done. I wasn’t in the mood for any more loss. Life brings enough loss without going out and purposely adding to it.
But Jolee bugged me. And bugged me. And then bugged me some more. And went after this the way that only a child who wants a dog can. Then she started finding dogs on PetFinder.com. She worked on my guilt about the divorce. And then I broke. I should’ve known better. I’m a veterinarian, the guy who is on the other side of the exam table when the exasperated parent–usually a mother–comes in and says, “I told them they could have a dog if they would help take care of him!” To which I usually answer, “And you had what evidence to actually believe this claim?”
The truth is that no matter how much kids promise, they are going to fall short. Usually they are going to fall way short. And then they will probably leave for college before the dog dies, which means you’re stuck with the difficulties of caring for the old dog, with his arthritic joints, incontinent bladder, bad eyesight, and failing cognitive abilities. The kids are alright: they do have good intentions. They just have really poor followthrough combined with an inability to accurately assess their desires and capacities. There are a lot of stories about the strong bond between a child and a dog. But no one writes stories about when a child’s interest in the dog gets hijacked for interest in something else (sports, hormone-induced wackiness, cars, music, delinquent behavior. . .) The problem is that it takes forever to say no, but just a few moments of delusion or weakness to say yes. And in general, parents love to say yes.
But I’m digressing. This is about my son’s birthday, my dog Kaleb, who is a total maroon, and the chocolate cake. Every 16 year-old should have a chocolate cake for breakfast on this momentous occasion. Took it out of the refrigerator, put it on the counter, put the 17 candles on (one for good luck), and went upstairs to brush my teeth. Return downstairs, and Genius Mutt is licking the last bits of crumbs off of the floor.
To be continued. . .
Groundhog Day is one of our favorite holidays here at the Meta-Bug. We’ll be putting on our Groundhog Hats, putting up the big inflatable Groundhog in the yard, building tunnels through our neighbors’ lawns and local golf courses, and making completely unsupportable climate predictions (We’re on our way to a big freeze! Ocean temperatures will sink so low that we’ll be able to ice skate to Holland! Bermuda will have an outdoor hockey league! )
So eat up, drink up. Groundhog Day comes but once a year.
Was I safe?
The week before I arrived, Guy Philippe, a leader in the 2004 coup to overthrow the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was arrested on drug trafficking charges and extradited to the United States. Seen by some as an affront to the nation’s sovereignty, there were protests in Haiti, and several groups felt it necessary to evacuate their missionaries or aid workers, or else had them seek shelter among United Nations forces. The arrest was also seen as a last-chance effort to apprehend Philippe, as he was days away from being sworn in as a Senator, which would have rendered him immune to prosecution (senators in Haiti have passed a law which places them above the law.)
I was blissfully unaware of all of this before I left. My family was even more unaware. If they had read this account from the NY Times they would have been driving me crazy with phone calls and warning me not to go. My cousin Nettie would have said, “Are you CRAZY?” and my older sister would have been yelling at me on the phone. The article wasn’t published until the day after I left ( a week after the event), highlighting its relative lack of importance in the American mind, especially in the run-up to the Disastrous Inauguration. The arrest was reported a week earlier by the BBC and the Miami Herald.
Haiti is a small country, only slightly larger than Vermont. However, distances are much greater than they would be in the US due to the conditions of the roads. The problems that occurred were far from where I spent my time. My presence in Haiti was relatively cloistered, and if I hadn’t been told about these events I would not have learned of them otherwise in the course of my visit.
Haiti disbanded its military in 1995, partially in response to military coups, partially out of financial necessity. There is a national police force, and the United Nations peacekeeping forces have been in the country for over a decade for police and stability operations. The UN forces are viewed by some as occupiers, and they are responsible as well for the current cholera epidemic. UN soldiers reintroduced cholera to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and though on the decline, the disease continues to cause morbidity and mortality.
The term “basket case” arose during WWI as a rather cruel way to refer to a quadruple amputee. It now refers to something or someone that is such a mess that it is unable to help itself, most often a person who is suffering from a mental or emotional problem that renders him or her less than functional.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It got a lot of attention in 2010 when a devastating earthquake hit the country. Since then, it has kind of fallen off of the map. In a way, that’s understandable–there is no shortage of need everywhere, we’ve had a crazy political environment, and the whims of news cycles are ephemeral.
Another pile o’ professional papers. Away they go. About half of these papers were about “exotics.” Technically, it means an animal that isn’t native to the area, but in small animal practice it means something that isn’t a dog or a cat.
There was a point in my career when I thought that I might see rodents, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and birds. I have treated them, but so sporadically as to not feel really comfortable doing so. If there’s a veterinarian on staff who isn’t in that day and the condition isn’t an emergency, I’ll have that vet see the animal. I’ll try to refer the animal to another clinic if where I’m working doesn’t have someone who sees these guys regularly.
Most veterinarians hate to do that. They are sending business elsewhere, and they are not sure if it will come back with the other animals, or when a doctor who likes to see exotics is on staff. I have been told by employers that I will see these animals, my level of comfort be damned. It can be a problem.
I don’t know if my children will ever know what it was like to have to keep one’s information in hard copy. There were all those articles that one xeroxed just to have them handy. The walls of offices were filled with years of periodicals and journals, all because we were afraid that we’d have to refer to them.
Of course, I barely got around to reading a tenth of the stuff I ever copied, and in the day of the internet, they are just not worth keeping around. The information in these old things is still probably good, for the most part, but it’s also been 15 years since I’ve treated a horse.
I liked keeping the Ippologia issue for sentimental reasons. I got it in Cremona, Italy (home of Stradivarius) when I was taking a course in veterinary acupuncture. I had a great time. The connections I made there lasted a while, but then they dissolved.
We disappear from time to time.
Personal issues of the staff, like divorce, other jobs, and puppies that refuse to housebreak have been keeping the staff occupied.
For example, one of our most reliable writers sent us this note: “The divorce is final, but the
parasite shyster plaintiff’s attorney still wants blood, flesh, and, yes, more filthy lucre.”
Life has been rather tough on the Meta-Bug editorial staff since the last post.
The former spouse of the above-mentioned writer has grown even more hostile since the divorce and the last entry, written nearly a year ago. It’s a mystery to us all. The vast majority of the staff wants to get on with our normal business, but the man-hours required to devote to the very real problems of their personal lives (we realize our workers actually have lives) have left little time (not to mention funds, for we are self-funded) for our team of crack investigative reporters to go out there and get truly interesting and important stories. It seems that some of our staff is just unlucky (flooded basements). Some are overworked. And for the ones going through divorces, well, seems that some folks just can’t let go. They revel in the fight. To this contributor, it appears like refusing to admit that the plate of elephant manure and crushed-up cockroaches you’re eating isn’t actually worse than the nice bowl of gelato that’s sitting right next to you: “I really like this,” you say. “Now get that fucking fior di latte and stracciatella out of my face before I really lose it.”
However, we did get an editorial out of all of this:
Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.
Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.
Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.
Some day an enlightened public will have to wrest this from the hands of the divorce attorneys, while they kick and scream and predict the death of society. It probably won’t be the death of society, but it will be the end of the world as we know it, and that is more than fine.
Because we are so nosy, we picked up this piece of writing on a crumpled piece of paper from the courthouse floor:
Today I saw a grown man handcuffed in the courtroom because he was unable to pay his child support. He started to cry, but the judge didn’t really care. If what he says was true, then he was paying all the money he had for child support. So who will benefit from his incarceration? The children? I can’t imagine how. The former wife? Well, I’m sure that going to jail and losing his job will enhance his future earning capacity. She may have a need for vendetta, may feel that he has it coming, but she’s probably acting from her worst self, or her only self if she can’t separate herself from this side of her. I suppose some smug prigs will be satisfied at seeing this man who has no experience with the criminal justice system tossed into jail, satisfying her worser angels. Bully for her…
I saw another guy at the clerk’s desk, he was showing his pay stubs and how they were less then the weekly amount owed on child support. He was from the former Soviet Union, and seeing the machine just turning and churning, regardless of the circumstances, made him feel like he was in Moscow once again.,,
Do the powers that be really think that children can be isolated from the conflict that an adversarial system encourages? In court I heard a lawyer, tell the judge that charges $460/hour. This same judge didn’t flinch, even though he said something about “reasonable lawyer’s fees.” By what I see, this lawyer has absolutely no control over his client, or perhaps he is even encouraging her to continue litigation in order to pad his own wallet. What’s amazing, truly astounding, is that he probably thinks he’s actually worth it. He doesn’t seem any brighter than the average bear, and I so far a lot of his strategy seems to be throwing lots of motions and paperwork at the process. The other side complains that much of it is illegible, which means that they need to call him to fix it, and then the cost of the whole deal goes up, since he’s clearly the type of lawyer who doesn’t let a minute of his day go unbilled. The plaintiff’s lawyer seems to be taking the case personally, as he has developed a rather un-lawyerly tendency to lose his temper when talking about the defendant. He works for a fancy-schmancy (which is two grades higher than merely “fancy”) law firm. I have heard of it. They have very nice offices with good views, glass conference rooms, stocked with all sorts of things with their logo on it, including the napkins that their clients use to wipe the crumbs from their faces. Do these self-congratulatory surroundings improves their ability to win cases for their clients?