Friday, December 31, 2010

Corporate Welfare 101

According to the TV news, lots of rich people think the government spends too much money, especially on something called entitlement programs. I asked M what those were, exactly, and he said that many of them are welfare payments of one sort or another. These are ways to help people who are struggling to make ends meet, and they include stuff like Medicaid, Food Stamps, Public Housing Assistance, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Unemployment Compensation. I told him helping those less fortunate sounds like a pretty good idea to me, and he agreed.

He also pointed out that two of the best-liked entitlement programs aren't just for poor or out-of-work people, but for middle-income and very rich ones, too, just as long as they are old. These programs are known as Social Security and Medicare.

"It's odd, though," he said, "that folks who are well-off love to complain about runaway entitlement spending, but they never gather on the courthouse steps to burn their Medicare and Social Security cards in protest." That's probably true, because I'm sure if they did, it would be on the news over and over again.

Then M said something about a huge kind of public assistance program that most people aren't even aware of, unless they happen to be big business executives. It's corporate welfare, and it consists of things like giving money called subsidies to companies in certain industries that our lawmakers want to promote. I asked what kind of industries, and he said all kinds--manufacturing, mining, agribusiness, even sports team owners who want to build new stadiums. (He also told me that the executives whose companies get corporate welfare hate to hear it called by that name, which they never use themselves because the truth sometimes hurts.)

"Where does all that subsidy money come from?" I asked, and he replied that sometimes the government borrows it from investors, but in the long run it's paid for by taxing everybody, most of whom aren't corporate bigwigs. Some of the folks who pay, he added in the case of sports team subsidies, might not even like the sport, and most of them will never go to those government-backed stadiums to watch a game.

I thought about this and tried to pull it all together. "So with corporate welfare, the government takes money from the not-so-rich and gives it to the very rich--just the opposite of regular welfare. That's interesting."

"And direct subsidies are just the beginning," M said. "A lot of corporate welfare takes place by passing laws that help big companies pay little or no income tax. Sometimes this is done with tax credits. But often these laws encourage them to 'go offshore' and operate in foreign countries where the tax rates are lower and where they also benefit by getting to pay lower wages. So profits go way up and the stockholders of these 'multinational' firms do very well. Of course, the taxes that they avoid here in the U.S. have to be made up by taxing ordinary people harder--unless they're 'lucky' enough to get laid off when their jobs get shipped overseas. Then they have no income to pay taxes on, which isn't exactly a victory."

"But if they're out of work," I replied, "they get to cash in on that unemployment thingy, right? They get paid for not working?"

"That's not as great a deal as it sounds," he informed me. "Unemployment insurance doesn't even come close to covering someone's lost wages."

"So how do the rich people on corporate welfare get these laws passed?" I asked, and he said it's because they make huge campaign contributions to the lawmakers, plus they hire lobbyists to go twist the lawmakers' arms--which I think means plying them with drinks and golf junkets--and that most regular taxpayers and voters are pretty clueless about what ends up being in the laws.

Man, I'm getting a real education hanging out with ol' M.

I got a good chance recently to see my new insights about corporate welfare displayed in one of my favorite comics--Dilbert. M says Dilbert is a good source of information about big business. He likes it because it shows their shenanigans in a funny way, so you aren't prone to get too depressed about them. I like it mostly because it's the only strip I've found that has a dog as a consultant.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So I sez to the prez . . .

No, not really.  But this humble blog, after hits from such diverse places as Tasmania, Ho Chi Minh City, and Tel Aviv, has finally scored the BIG ENCHILADA: The Executive Office of the President of the United States--THE WHITE HOUSE! Behold Sitemeter hit #4,818, logged at 4:14 and change this afternoon:

You might have to click on the picture and then enlarge it with the "+" prompt to be able to read it. But there's no doubt that someone was either goofing off on government time or looking for pictures of Sen. Mitch McConnell to paste into the administration's official slam book. I suspect the latter, since this is the blog link to which Good Old Google directed the visitor:

True, the searcher didn't spend much time at the site. (Really, how long can one stand to gaze at a picture of the senator, with or without a turtle to class it up?) But ladies and gentlemen, it is such a privilege to have been considered! Excuse me . . . I'm choking up just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blanket Statement from a Chilly Dog

M says you should beware of making blanket statements. But with the temperature falling into the 20s, I'm gonna do it anyway:

I wish I'd had a blanket like this last winter, when my "couch" was a pile of leaves next to a rotten log.

But better late than never. Can someone get the lights?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Tis the season . . . tum ta tum tum . . .

I've been hearing a kind of music lately that can best be described as different. M says these songs are called "Christmas carols." He explained that carol is another word for song and that Christmas is a big birthday celebration for a 2,000-year-old guy named Baby Jesus. It's also the end of a three-month-long extreme shopping and bingeing spree known as Thankshallowistmas. I have to say that Christmas songs sound pretty neat--very festive and joyful--in contrast to country and western stuff that's all like "Your wife's been cheatin' on us again" and "You done stomped on my heart and you mashed that sucker flat."

I think I must be the last animal on the block to learn about Christmas carols, though, as you can see from this YouTube video:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One more time, sport: Would you like fries with that?

As a matter of fact, YES!

Regular readers might recall that although I love me some McDonald's hamburgers, that feeling has never extended to their French fries. The idea of swallowing those greasy potato sticks just grossed me out. Well, I finally got tired of listening to my friends' catty comments ("For gosh sakes, Buddy, you lick your butt...") and tried a fry at last night's calorie-fest. And then, to my surprise, I tried a few more! Holy cow--why didn't somebody tell me they aren't that bad? I've eaten a lot worse stuff out in the woods.

Maybe next week I'll slather a little ketchup on 'em!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, snap!

Last week it was turtles. Today it was alligators. M's beloved Florida State University Seminoles do love to spear them some reptiles. He says it's about time they beat the University of Florida, though. Their last win over their arch-rival was seven years ago. Final score today: 'Noles 31 - Gators 7.

I think it's strange that FSU had a harder time with the University of Maryland Terrapins. I mean, aren't alligators supposed to be a lot bigger and more vicious? Just another of life's mysteries, I guess. Oh, and speaking of the Terps, M says they beat North Carolina State today, which lets FSU play for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. But earlier in the season, the 'Noles lost to that same NC State!

Like I understand any of this. It all makes my head hurt. But I'm very happy that M is happy, because maybe he'll give me an extra Milk Bone or something.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eileen, therefore I am.

M says that I lean on people when I sit or stand beside them. He says if I'd been a girl dog they'd probably have named me Eileen. I have news for him: I've leaned on folks for a long time, even when I couldn't let them touch me. I wouldn't have survived without them. And now that I'm okay with the touchy-feely thing--well, it just feels right to cozy up to them, to let them know that I'm thankful for their love and their friendship.

If that noisy parade on the TV is any indication, today is Thanksgiving Day. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Dog's Purpose

Here's a public service announcement from M: "If you read only one more novel in your life--or one more dog book of any kind--make it A Dog's Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron."

M told me a lot about this story while he was reading it, so I'm not surprised that he wants me to use the blog to help spread the word. From what I hear, there's some stuff about the main character that I can relate to--and not just the bit where he ends up with the name Buddy, though I'll admit that did get my attention.

This is the book's description from Publishers Weekly:

"A tail-wagging three hanky boo-hooer, this delightful fiction debut by newspaper columnist Cameron (8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter) proposes that a dog's purpose might entail being reborn several times. Told in a touching, doggy first-person, this unabashedly sentimental tale introduces Toby, who's rescued by a woman without a license for her rescue operation, so, sadly, Toby ends up euthanized. He's reborn in a puppy mill and after almost dying while left in a hot car, he's saved again by a woman, and he becomes Bailey, a beloved golden retriever, who finds happiness and many adventures. His next intense incarnation is as Ellie, a female German shepherd, a heroic search and rescue dog. But the true purpose of this dog's life doesn't become totally clear until his reincarnation as Buddy, a black Lab. A book for all age groups who admire canine courage, Cameron also successfully captures the essence of a dog's amazing capacity to love and protect. And happily, unlike Marley, this dog stays around for the long haul."

I asked M what he liked most about the story, and he said the dog's voice, having the whole thing told from the dog's viewpoint and with his limited perspective. "Of course he's always learning--usually the hard way," he added. "Sort of like you."

"Dig it," I replied. "Anything else really grab you?"

"The ending," he said. "I absolutely did not see it coming."

He told me what it was, and I agree it's amazing. And that's all I'm going to say about it.

Out of 252 customer reviews at, 233 are 5-star, while eight more give it four. The three cranks who rated it at one star are probably animal control officers or puppy mill operators, but in fairness I didn't look. Maybe they're just unsentimental or unhappy or something.

For more about the author, check out his website: There's also a special page devoted to the book with lots of neat things on it. And finally, Mr. Cameron has a blog that's almost as good as this one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just say 'Noles!

Okay, I found out what a 'Nole is. It's short for Florida State University Seminole, and there are actually two types. Here is the more common one:

and here is the other:

I think I know why the 'Noles sometimes snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (which to me still sounds like a lot of fun). It's because only the first kind of 'Nole gets to actually play in the game. I'm pretty sure that if they each had a big horse and a flaming spear, the outcome would never be in doubt.

They were at it again last night. As M explained it to me, the 'Noles were trying to protect a seven-point lead with less than five minutes left in regulation play. But their opponents, the University of Maryland Terrapins, or Terps for short, had the ball and were moving it down the field. They were trying to score a touchdown and kick an extra point that would tie the game and force it into overtime, where they might hopefully win it. (Or, he said, they could make a touchdown and a two-point conversion with a run or a pass and win without the overtime. But hardly anyone tries that because it's too risky.)

The Terps' situation, M pointed out, was like the one the 'Noles faced last week, except the score wasn't tied--though it had been tied earlier, and in fact the Terps had led three different times. So now the Terps would first have to tie it again and then win in overtime. And if they couldn't do both of these things, they would be the ones to snatch the defeat, yadda-yadda-yadda. I yawned, because it was pretty late and this was a lot of confusing detail to absorb.

I asked M what the name Terrapin means, and he said it's a kind of turtle. Hello-o! Had I heard him right? The 'Noles were having a tough time beating turtles? Wild dogs would eat them for brunch.

Anyway, with under a minute left in the game, an exciting thing happened--and it wasn't a Terps touchdown. One of the FSU players intercepted a Terps pass on the four-yard line and ran it back 96 yards for a 'Noles touchdown! The game ended with a final score of FSU 30 - Maryland 16.

One thing that still puzzles me is that while the 'Nole was running for that last touchdown, his teammates and the FSU coaches were trying to get his attention and make him put his knee down and stop the play. Then FSU would have won by just seven points, but the game would have ended sooner because the Terps couldn't have gotten the ball back. Excuse me, but that's just silly. I know I'm just a dog, but I promise you that if I'd caught that ball I'd still be running with it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What the heck is a 'Nole?

Late last night as I dozed on my couch and the TV droned in the background, I was vaguely aware of M and J sitting on the edges of their chairs. They were discussing something called 'Noles. M said the 'Noles were probably going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again, and I thought that sounded like a pretty fun thing to do. Then he said they were going to try a 55-yard field goal with three seconds left on the clock and if they made it they would win the game, but if they missed it, the game would go into overtime. I think that's when the 'Noles were planning to snatch the defeat thingy. I was hoping they'd go ahead and make the field goal so we could turn off the TV.

They did. M and J seemed pretty happy about it. But I still don't know what a 'Nole is. Must remember to ask.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nutcracker! Sweeeet!

Six months ago I couldn't even spell "nutcracker" and now I am one!

M and J went away for a few hours yesterday and left me and Arlo to rearrange stuff. (Hint: I did all the work.) Before they left, they tried to Buddy-proof the house--especially the kitchen--but they usually like to leave something within reach to give me a feeling of accomplishment. This time it was a basket of walnuts that was on top of the stove, kind of far back, so that I had to stand on my tippy-toes and really stretch to reach it. Before I managed to do that, it looked something like this. (Keep in mind that in this photo it doesn't have as many nuts as it did originally.)

I would have been happy to just move the whole thing carefully to my bed in the living room, as I usually do. But it had so many pieces that as soon as I dragged it off the stove, it sort of went all over the floor. So when M and J came home I'm afraid it looked a bit disorganized:

One good thing that came from the whole experience, though, is that I can now open walnuts with my teeth:

In keeping with the "sometimes-you-feel-like-a-nut" theme, today my friend Davina stopped by with her Great Danes, Benny and Bessie. I got to go outside and schmooze with them. While I was out there I showed them how to eat acorns, caps and all. M and J tried to make me stop, saying I'd probably get sick. But I didn't. (Stop or get sick.) And anyway, a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy birthday, Devil Dogs!

Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. To let me help celebrate, M loaned me his Marine "utility cover." Clothing of any type usually isn't my thing, but this was a reasonable exception. I think I cut quite a dashing figure:

M says this picture is very appropriate for today's blog post. That's because after the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood, the German soldiers called the Marines they were fighting Teufelhunden, which is pronounced "toy'-ful hoon'-den" and means "Devil Dogs." He also says that to this day Marines like that nickname a lot better than the usual alternatives of "leathernecks" and "jarheads."

We took some other poses while we were at it. Here's one I call I'm too sexy for my hat, too sexy . . .

Of course, it might be even sexier if we cock it down over one eye:

Oops--who turned out the lights?

Anyway, let me get back on message and tell proud Marines and their families everywhere, "Happy birthday and Semper Fi . . . and a great big Ooh-rah!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

When you lie down with humans . . .

. . . someone eventually takes your picture.

The first time something like this happened I was still living in the wild. J had been hand-feeding me bits of raw New York strip steak and then for some reason lay down in the grass, using her purse as a pillow. She seemed surprised when I flopped down beside her. (Here's a little secret: Give me enough steak and I'll let you use me for a pillow!) M was unable to capture that Kodak moment because he'd left his camera at home.

A few weeks ago I heard M and J wondering out loud whether they could recreate the scene in our living room. J pretended to fall asleep on the floor and I couldn't begin to disappoint her, even without the food bribery. So I stretched out in front of her and we made like two spoons in a drawer.

I knew she wasn't really sleeping. But before you could say "Goodnight, John Boy," I was! (Hey--I'm a dog. It's what I do.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My house is haunted!

It makes sharp cracking noises, which I find very upsetting. I'll be snoozing peacefully on the couch or my bed in the living room, or sometimes just on the living room floor, and all of a sudden--SNAP! I come to attention pretty fast. It happens a lot if I'm in M and J's room, too.

M says the house is not haunted. It's just that the wooden frame joints and siding creak when the sun heats them up. He says it's worse this time of year because the sun appears south of the equator and beats down more on the living room and the master bedroom.

But I think he's pumping a little sunshine of his own. This place is H-A-U-N-T-E-D. Those snaps and pops are the ghosts of Animal Control officers stepping on twigs as they try to sneak up on me.

"What about that noise that comes from the utility room every morning and evening?" I ask him. "The sun doesn't hit there."

"That's the water heater clicking on and off," he replies. "It's on a timer."

I'll let him believe that if it makes him feel better. But after about the second or third SNAP! from whatever alleged source, I head for my other bed, which is in J's office. It's darker and cooler in there anyway.

M says that this would be an appropriate time of year for the place to have ghosts, though, because tonight is Halloween. He says that lots of neighborhood kids--and even kids from other neighborhoods--will dress up as ghosts and goblins and witches and maybe other stuff like ballerinas or zombies or George W. Bush, and that starting around suppertime they'll go from house to house knocking on doors, yelling "Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!" Then if you don't give them a candy treat, they might play a mean trick on you.

"Like what?" I want to know.

"Like throw eggs at your car or TP your house or write on the screens with soap."

"Will they really do that?" I can imagine myself sitting at the living room window all evening, warding off the little buggers by barking and scaring the bejeezus out of them, letting them know that they can just take their shenanigans elsewhere.

"Probably not," he says. "We're not participating, anyway. You'd scare the bejeezus out of them as they came up the driveway. And besides, candy is expensive and the sugar will rot their teeth and give them diabetes."

So the treat turns out to be its own trick. How cool is that?

I ask how they'll know not to stop here, and he says we'll leave the porch light off. That's the signal we're not doing Trick or Treat. But I think I'll still sit at the window so I can bark at them if they get too close. Or maybe I'll just bark at them anyway.

When M was boarding Arlo at our cats' vet last week, he took these pictures of a couple of dogs (fake ones, not real ones) dressed in Halloween costumes. I'll admit they look pretty neat, but I don't think I'd like to get all gussied up like that. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I prefer to go nekkid!

Hi-yo Halloween, everybody!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy birthday, Auntie Julia!

Today is M's sister Julia's birthday. We all wish her the very best.

When they were kids, M sometimes talked his sister into trading him her dimes for his nickels, which she fell for because nickels are bigger. He would now like for me to pass along that he sincerely regrets being such a crook. He'd make restitution, except he can't begin to remember how many dimes he snookered her out of. More than a few.

I asked M if there was something he could do to prove he isn't a total D-bag. He thought about it and said there's a song he'd like to dedicate to her, but unfortunately he didn't write it. I told him so what, he should dedicate it anyway. Disc jockeys do that for radio listeners all the time with stuff they didn't create. So he hereby does, and if anyone has a problem, they can file it with me. To hear a nice rendition of the song (sung by John Lennon, the guy who did write it), click here. Auntie Julia, this one goes out to you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How many dog hotels can there be in this one-horse town?

At least three. I know, because I stayed in my third one this past weekend while M and J went to stay at a human one. Mine was at my doctor's office, and it was pretty basic, though at least I had a double room. One room had a good view of the woods outside. The other was very close to where the doctors and their helpers work, so they spent a lot of time stopping to chat with me and scratch my head and make me feel not too abandoned. All things considered, it was an okay experience, but I'll bet M and J had a better time at their hotel, which is called the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. Don't know why they didn't just take me with them. I would have gladly stayed in the room if they wanted to go swimming.

I don't think they did much swimming, though. The reason for their trip was so they could attend M's 50-year high school reunion. Holy cow, I can't even count to fifty except by fives. M says he enjoyed meeting up with some favorite classmates after all these years, but was distressed to learn how many of his old chums are no longer alive. Heck, I could have told him life isn't for the fainthearted.

He showed me the pictures he took and said he wishes he'd taken a lot more. I especially like this one of his friend Jim, who is taking a picture of M at the same time. That's pretty cool. It's sort of like having a shootout where nobody gets hurt.

I also liked these pictures of M's friend Sandy, who danced around and lip-synced a Patsy Cline song while she pulled a bunch of stuff out of her shirt, including a rubber chicken. I don't think I ever heard of a lady doing that before.

I can assure you none of the people at my doggie hotel did anything like it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

See you in the funny papers!

Stone the crows! This could be me and the Mike-ster on our walk most mornings:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy birthday, Grandpa Dave!

Today is my adoptive step-granddaddy's birthday, and J and M and I want to take a moment to wish him all the best. We were hoping the Buckeyes of Grandpa Dave's alma mater, Ohio State, would add a little present for him with a win last night over the Wisconsin Badgers, but such was not to be. M says that as a consolation gift, he'll be glad to share FSU's lucky, come-from-behind victory over Boston College.

In other college gridiron news, M was surprised to see the University of Florida Gators dump their third straight game, including two in the Swamp! But he says the whole team has been playing sick lately. I asked him with what, and he said it's something called a reptile dysfunction.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hello, Columbus!

"Today is Columbus Day," M announced on our morning walk.

"What's Columbus Day?" I asked. To which he replied:

"In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus didn't know what to do.
He turned a flip, caught a ship,
And sailed the ocean blue."

"Thanks, M, " I said. "You cleared that right up."

He gave me one of his oh-I-keep-forgetting-you're-a-dog looks. "Christopher Columbus," he explained, "was the guy who discovered America."

"What's 'fourteen hundred ninety-two' got to do with it?"

"Hello-o! That was the year he did it. The poem is what we call a mnemonic device, something we used to say when I was a kid in school, to help us remember 1492."

"You needed a rhyme as long as my tail to remember a little four-digit number? Sounds like overkill. Besides, what if you accidentally started it with 'In nineteen hundred forty-two' or 'In eighteen hundred ninety-two'? The thing isn't exactly bulletproof."

"Okay," he admitted. "Everyone could remember the year. We recited the poem because it sounded cool."

"So you lied to me," I said. "But that's beside the point. You never answered my question. Read my big ol' lips: What is Columbus Day?"

"It's the day he landed in the New World."

"He landed today? But you said--"

"Of course not! It was on this date in 1492. We just celebrate the anniversary each year."

That M is such an easy mark.

"Let me make sure I've got this right," I continued, "so I don't need to memorize a special poem or anything. Columbus actually landed on October 11, 1492?"

My man looked a bit disturbed. "Well, actually it was October the 12th, but we celebrate it now on the second Monday of October. That way we always get a three-day weekend--or at least about ten percent of the workforce does. The second Monday happens to be on the 11th this year."

The mention of official three-day weekends rang a faint bell. "Like that Memorial Day thingy you told me about last May? And George Birthington's Wash Day in February?"

"Exactly," he replied. But his face told me something was still bothering him.

"M, are there any other liberties our government has taken with the truth?" I asked. "About Columbus Day, I mean."

"Um--well, if you want to split hairs--Columbus landed on the 12th under the old Julian calendar that was in effect in 1492. If we use the modern Gregorian calendar, which took effect in 1752, the real date is the 21st."

"And what year did the U.S. government take effect?"

"That would be 1776."

"So it's always operated with the Gregorian calendar?"

"Pretty much. Except for stuff like this."

"Incredible," I said. "Is there anything our political leaders are unwilling or unable to mess up?"

"I'll let you know if I find something," he said.

When we got home I asked him where, exactly, Columbus landed in 1492. He got a big map of the Western Hemisphere and showed me a little hangy-downy thing at the bottom of what he told me was the United States. "This is the State of Florida," he said. "Where we live."

"He landed right here in Florida? How exciting!"

"No, his first landing was out here to the east a little bit, on one of these islands, which he named San Salvador." He pointed to some specks that looked like spilled cat food but that were labeled "The Bahamas."

"Sweet," I said, trying to bury the pinch of disappointment. "Why did he call it San Salvador? Was he Spanish?"

"No--Italian. But his trip was financed by Spain."

"What did Columbus find at San Salvador?"

"Just a bunch of plants and trees that he'd never seen before--and some dark-skinned people that he called Indians, because he thought he'd found a western route to India."

My head was starting to spin. "So he was an Italian sailing for Spain who thought he was in India. Where else did he go besides San Salvador?"

"On this first trip--he later made some others--he visited what are now Cuba and the Dominican Republic."

"Where he found . . . ?"

"More exotic plants . . . and more Indians."

This whole "discovering America" thing was starting to smell like a dead mackerel. "Wouldn't you say that the Indians probably discovered America first?"

"That's fair," he replied. "I should have said that Columbus was the first European to discover America--though there's even some controversy about that." I raised an eyebrow as he continued his wild little story: "There's pretty good evidence that an Icelandic Viking named Lief Ericson actually made it to the North American coast up here in Canada"--he pointed again to the map--"a number of years before Columbus began his voyages."

"Oh? How many years before?"

"About 500." He changed the subject by showing me on the map that the capital of Ohio was named for Columbus and that there's a big Army post near the city of Columbus, Georgia.

"Did Columbus ever get to Georgia or Ohio?" I asked.

"Not so far as I know."

We did some quick Googling and made an interesting discovery of our own: In three subsequent voyages to the New World, Columbus made it to several other Caribbean islands, much of Central America, and a spot or two along the northern coast of South America. But he never once set foot on the North American mainland, let alone what is now the United States of America.

"You know what I think?" I said. "I think this whole Columbus Day thing in the U.S.A. is an overplayed hand. We oughta call it 'Indians Day.'"

Just before this went to press, I found that others share my conclusion. Two states and several localities on the U.S. mainland don't recognize Columbus Day, but instead celebrate what is variously called "Native American Day" or "Indigenous People's Day." And in Hawaii, in place of Columbus Day they have "Discoverers' Day," which celebrates the discovery and settlement of the Islands by Polynesians.

Happy [fill in your choice] Day, everybody!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ooh-ooh, witchy woman...

I saw a TV interview with some lady in Delaware who said she used to "dabble in witchcraft" but now she wants to be a U.S. Senator. M says she might get elected because her occult background makes her pretty well qualified. He doesn't see why she wants the job, though, since it's a sideways career move at best. I don't know how I feel about it. But I do like her campaign signs:

PS - If she decides to go back to being a witch, I have an ornery old black cat named Willis that I'd be willing to sell her for cheap:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life's a beach!

Well that was a first! M and J took me to the beach for three days. A right scary place, the ocean. Or let's just say it takes some getting used to. If you've followed my blog for a while, you might recall that I'm not crazy about swimming. (This shoots a small hole in my vet's theory that I could be part Lab.) The house we stayed at was wonderful, though. In fact, the trip would have been perfect if they'd let me stay inside all weekend.

Oh, all right, I'll admit there were some things about the beach that were semi-cool. But getting my feet wet wasn't one of them.

Here's another first for your humble correspondent: After M put our trip photos on the computer, J helped me create a slide show with some of them using a neat little program called "Smilebox." I hope you enjoy it.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This free digital slideshow customized with Smilebox

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let's make some toast!

"To M and J"
A poem by Buddy

Let's raise a glass to M and J,
Who forty-six years ago today
Eloped. And I'm so glad they did,
'Cuz I wound up being their canine kid.
M and J, my awesome peeps,
I love you big time . . . and for keeps.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Celebrity Lookalikes

As you might be aware, I watch a fair amount of TV. And it occurs to me that some of the people I see, especially on the news channels, have lookalikes on other shows. For example, I think this Senator Mitch McConnell dude bears a striking resemblance to Tooter Turtle.

I'll try to come up with other pairs of celebrity lookalikes to show you in future posts. In the meantime, if you know of any, please send them to me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let's pull off a scab!

This just in: a photo of my extended family--well, most of it, anyway--in Montego Bay, Jamaica, last month. From left to right, enjoying their snorkeling cruise, we have M and J's grandson Mike (my adoptive nephew), Jeannie, my sister Jenny, some old geezer with a trucker tan, my sister Bonnie, my adoptive niece Annabelle, and brother-in-law Fred. Nice job by the paparazzi, yo!

But where is Buddy, you ask? Where's the Bud Man, the one whose extended family this is? Ah . . . grab the edge of the scab there and give it a quick rip. And behold his mugshot:

This still doesn't seem fair, even if Arlo and Willis were in the slammer with me. For those new blog visitors who missed the full story, you can find it here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The play's the thing . . .

Speaking of blog dog (previous post) reminds me of Bob Dog. Does that name ring a bell for anyone? He was probably one of the world's great dog impersonators back in the day. (The reason I know about him is because of old TV reruns and PBS specials.) His human name was Bob Trow, and he was a regular on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I'll bet a hundred dollars my adoptive sisters, Bonnie and Jenny, remember him. For those who never had the pleasure, though, here's a picture of ol' Bob Dog in his prime:

Mister Rogers' TV neighborhood was also called "The Neighborhood of Make-Believe." I like making believe, as you've no doubt guessed from my Buddy Holly schtick. Pretending you're somebody or something else can be a lot of fun. And if you get bored with it you can switch to another character--or just go back to being your regular, charming self.

When it comes to pretending, humans have an advantage over dogs, because they get to use costumes and makeup. I suppose dogs can dress up, too, if they don't mind the confinement of clothing. You do sometimes see toy poodles wearing those little bitty sweaters or big macho dogs with bandannas tied around their necks. But if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that I much prefer the au naturel look. As a result, my make-believe lives are pretty much limited to the world inside my head.

As for humans playing the part of someone else, the ones I like best fall into either of two groups: Elvis imitators or dog impersonators. For some reason I can't fathom, the former seem to outnumber the latter by a wide margin. Since I started this post talking about Bob Trow, I'll stick with his category and save the Elvis wannabes for another day.

It's really hard to find many people who want to play dogs. I don't know if it comes down to a money thing or an ego thing or what. Among dog impersonators, some of my favorites--in addition to Mr. Trow--are the ones who've played Snoopy in the stage version of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Here's Jordan Stocksdale (the one on the left--duh!) doing a fine job of it in a Way Off Broadway Dinner Theater production (Frederick, Maryland):

But my all-time favorite dog impersonator, hands down, is my sister Jenny, who does a great portrayal of her big brother--me! Here she is dramatizing my former life in the woods:

I can almost hear her delivering her lines: "What's that, M and J? You want to adopt . . . little old ME? You want me to give up all this freedom and snakes and ticks and stuff for your living room? Well, I'll have to think about it. I'll let you know. Oh, and J, for breakfast tomorrow, will you be a doll and toss an extra scrambled egg into my kibble?"

 "Oh, all right. I suppose if I don't let you and M catch me, I'll never have a moment's peace. And at least going home with you will get Animal Control off my tail. I'm yours. Huggies!"

The irony is that Jenny did these impersonations years ago, when she was just a little girl and long before I was even born! And yet they're so spot on! I mean--how did she know? Does she have ESPN? (Cue the creepy music.)

Oh--before I forget--you'll recall from earlier posts that Jen is quite the comedienne. Once while she was rehearsing for this dog gig, she couldn't resist going for the cheap laugh:

Truth be told, I love me some cheap laughs!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eeeew! Now that's just wrong!

When I first read this, I thought it said blog dog and I thought, oh, how nice, another pup who likes to write. But then I took a closer look. This, friends, is exploitation of the worst sort:

I guess I finally need these:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pssst! Wanna see a big ol' cooter?

Check this baby out:

What? You were expecting something else? Sorry, Googlers, this isn't one of those websites. We're referring here to the Florida cooter, Pseudemys floridana.

It's not the same one that J rescued from traffic on North Woodland Boulevard this morning as she headed to the Y for her Thursday workout. That's because after she brought it back home to show M, they were in such a rush to take the critter to its new digs at the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, they forgot to grab the camera. But this internet stand-in is about the same size and coloration as their "rescue reptile."

Fortunately, they remembered to grab me and let me ride along with them. Unfortunately, there was a sign at the entrance that said "NO DOGS," and I felt pretty nervous as we made the long drive in. It was beautiful back in there, though--very jungle-y looking--and I wish I could have seen more of the place. But when we got to the parking lot, there was another anti-dog sign as well as one that said "THESE PREMISES ARE MONITORED BY SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS."

So I had to stay in the car while J carried Mr. Turtle to a nearby pond and turned him loose. He headed straight for the water, so as they say at the funeral home, he's in a better place now. While J made the release, M sat in the car with me, and we tried not to look too obvious to any cameras that might be pointed our way. (M said that if a wildlife officer tracked us down with an incriminating picture, he'd claim I was his mother-in-law.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Or make that, "Hair yesterday, (somewhat) gone today." Here's M in Jamaica last month doing his impression of the Wild Man of Borneo:

And here's another pic from that same snorkeling cruise, with M and some younger version of himself trying to out-shaggy each other:

Oh, the humanity! But now check out my main dude this afternoon, looking downright civilized after a visit to Moodz Salon (J's purveyor of fine hairdos):

Eat your heart out, Nick Nolte!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

C'mon, J, use your own words!

J clipped this out of yesterday's comics and left it on the table beside my couch. Is she trying to say I'm high maintenance?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Can you see the forest for the trees?

Are you a right-brain person or a left-brain person? I'm not talking about politics, but about which hemisphere of your old pumpkin, if either, dominates your thinking and perceptions. The truth might surprise you.

Yesterday M and J went to a lecture by Dr. Camille Tessitore King, a neurobiologist and psychology professor and one of M's former Stetson University colleagues. The talk was called "Left Brain / Right Brain? A Half-brained Idea?" and Dr. King's conclusion was that it's a useful construct--and has been for well over a hundred years--but that nowadays it tends to be overdone (especially since advertisers have finally glommed onto it).

Traditionally the left brain is viewed as the logical, linear-thinking half, good at handling small details like storing your vocabularies (both regular and foreign) and solving math problems. The right side is more free-flowing--responsible for creativity (using your words effectively, for example), as well as intuition, reading emotions in people's faces, and otherwise grasping the "big picture." People whose right brains dominate tend to see the whole forest, while left-brain folks focus more on the individual trees. Also it's well known that right-eye vision and right-side motor skills are processed by the left brain, while left-eye vision and left-side body movements are the work of the right brain.

But when it comes to thinking and analyzing, the truth is that in most people's brains, neither side is more than mildly dominant, and in many brains the results are about 50-50. This is because there is a lot of cooperation between the two hemispheres by way of a bridge called the corpus callosum. Of course there are exceptions here and there, especially if someone's right or left hemisphere doesn't work well because of a stroke. There are also a lot of "split-brain" people whose corpus callosi have been surgically cut to keep bad epileptic seizures in one side from firing across and affecting the other side. These two types of patients, according to Professor King, have been the subjects of most of the research that ended up showing how the brain's hemispheres work in the first place.

To illustrate how the two halves of the brain can perceive something differently, Dr. King showed this painting by a 16th-century Italian artist named Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Nothing remarkable here--just a big bowl of fresh-picked vegetables:

But what if we turn this picture upside-down (or in fact, right-side-up, the way Arcimboldo actually intended it)?

If you still see nothing but a bowl and a bunch of veggies, your left brain is in full command of your noodle. But chances are that you also see a bearded, rosy-cheeked man in a helmet. This means you've got some right brain working for you as well. (If all you can see is the man, and no veggies at all, your right brain is definitely large and in charge.)

By the way, in case you wonder how a dog like me could care about this, let me tell you that I did some Googling and found out that canine brains--and those of other mammals--are also arranged in two hemispheres connected by a corpus callosum, and that lots of research is done to study how animals think. I'm down with that as long as they don't get carried away "creating" test subjects!

Before I wrap up this post, I want to say that I think Arcimboldo's painting of the helmeted man is cooler than the other side of the pillow! I did another Google search to see what else of his might be out there and found, for your viewing pleasure (titles added by yours truly) . . .

Ye Olde Flower Childe:

Sushi Man (ignore the sea otter above his ear):

Fruit, Veggie, and Whole-Grain Warrior:

Who the heck knows what this last one is? When I look at it in its entirety, I see a Martian with an attitude. When I focus on just the eggplant, it's a very irritated Shamu.

There are lots of short tests online to help you determine your brain's "hemispheric preference." For one interesting example, follow this link.