Thursday, March 26, 2009

Puppy Love

Tomorrow we leave for the first trip we've taken since we got Tico, a little more than four months ago. It's just a weekend jaunt to Savannah--probably our favorite city in America. We've known about the trip since before Tico moved in with us and decided early on it was a good opportunity to have him neutered.

We chose our veterinarian because the office also boards dogs. We naturally assumed that our little dog would stay with the Vet any time we needed to travel. Now that our first trip is upon us, I'm not feeling so good about leaving our little boy behind.

Tico usually stays in bed with us for an hour or two each night before we crate him up. Last night, instead of putting Tico to bed in his crate, I let him sleep with us all night. My partner is very serious about his sleep and is definitely not a nighttime cuddler. Tico and I are both big fans of nighttime cuddling and sleep all wrapped up together. It's surprisingly satisfying to cuddle with a five pound furball.

Since we need to leave here very early tomorrow, we made arrangements to drop him off today. Nothing says big sissy like a grown man crying over his chihuahua pup. I cried all morning. I cried all the way to the vet's office, and all the way back home. I held it together pretty good at the vet's office, but not entirely. You would have thought I was having him put to sleep.

The ladies at the vet's office reassured me (and handed me tissues). They said as cute as he is, he's not likely to have to spend much time locked up in a crate because they will have him out playing every chance they get. I also found out that we could pick him up Sunday afternoon instead of Monday morning.

I'm sure we'll end up having to leave him at the vets again. But if it's at all possible, I want to take him with us. Leaving him behind is just too hard on...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, March 23, 2009

From Millions to Trillions

When I was introduced to the concept back in grade school, I had a hard time grasping the idea of a million somethings. The number is so large that I couldn't get my mind around it. That's back when we still called rich people millionaires.

Most of the examples my teacher used focused on the distance a million objects would cover--like back and forth to the moon three times. I have a hard time estimating when I've walked, biked or driven a mile. These distance examples didn't do much to improve my understanding of very large numbers.

Fortunately I found other examples. A million seconds is about 12 days. The refrigerator-sized container pictured here holds one million pennies. A million is a huge quantity, no doubt about it. But you can get a handle on how many somethings a million is.

I didn't pay that much attention when the government started talking billions instead of millions. A billion is a much larger number than a million, though exactly how much larger depends on where you live. Believe it or not, some countries define a billion differently. Anyway, in the U.S., a billion seconds is about 31 years.

I can sorta get the concept of one billion when you're talking about seconds. I will have been alive for two billion seconds in another 11 years or so. Talking about anything else, like say dollars, is just mind boggling.

Now our elected officials are talking about trillions. A trillion seconds is a bit less than 32,000 years. Again, I can relate when you're talking about seconds. But they're talking about dollars. And not just any dollars, but taxpayer dollars. Mind boggling. For every trillion dollars spent, think about a dollar per second for 32,000 years to pay it back--not including interest.

It's enough to make just about anyone....

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, March 20, 2009

One Thing at a Time

The more I see of President Obama, the more impressed I am with practically everything about him. I love his breezy self-confidence and easy-going manner. He's clearly one of the smartest elected officials around and likely one of the brightest men in the country.

He's not the messiah. He's made a few mistakes. Given the complexity of the job, the learning curve to master the role is enormous. I suspect even Jesus would have a hard time making it through the first two months without a few missteps along the way. I'm not going to hold any that he's made so far against him, given the learning curve and that President Obama appears to learn from his mistakes.

Some contend that President Obama should stay focused on the economy. When you think about it--and thinking about it is what really separates us from them--it should be no surprise that Obama's detractors have a problem with multitasking. When walking and chewing gum at the same time pose a challenge, you learn to focus on one thing at a time.

It's a complicated, sophisticated, and deeply interconnected planet. The leader of the most powerful nation on it can't afford the luxury of focusing on just one thing at a time. That's why he has a cabinet, advisers, and a staff. President Obama has selected highly qualified individuals rather than campaign contributors and cronies for high level positions. That's what good leaders do.

In truth, the "focus on the economy" rhetoric is aimed at slowing things down. Obama has been mostly getting his way with Congress. That has to be clenching sphincters throughout upper income brackets.

The winds of change are blowing through Washington. AIG will be the reason Congress finally tackles overblown executive compensation packages. The Madoff scandal is all the excuse anyone needs to tighten regulation of the financial services industry.

I'm frankly relieved to have Barack Obama at the helm. With all the challenges this country faces, it's nice to feel like someone is looking out for us little guys. For me, it's reason to believe for the first time in a long time that we're heading in the right direction.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Most Visited Postings

One of the first things I do every morning is check Google Analytics to find out how many folks visited this blog the day before. I used to spend a lot of time looking at all the subcategories. There's a ton of information, and I even know what some of it means. But these days I tend to focus on the number of visitors and the most popular postings.

My October 1 rant about my dissatisfaction with the "new and improved" is by far my most popular posting (New & Improved Gay.Com Sucks!). A follow-up posting on October 26 (New Gay.Com Still Sucks) is a distant second, with my rant about Gay Republicans wrapping up the top three. With the exception of four more (two on gay topics), the rest of my postings have about the same number of viewings. Interesting.

Most of the folks (about 60%) who read this blog come directly from another blog. Less than twenty percent come directly to the blog. The rest show up because this blog turned up when they searched for something. In about a fourth of those, "crotchety old man" was the search term. Most of the rest are various permutations of chat sucks. Apparently my view on that particular topic is shared by quite a few people.

"Most Visited" doesn't really tell me much. It might if I had as many viewers as Joe My God or Helen & Margaret. I don't think I'm gay enough or political enough for that to happen. My tendency to drift from topic to topic doesn't help me to build a regular following, either.

One of these days I'll look back over all that I've posted so I can post the list of my ten favorites. Some of my early rants were pretty good hehe. Some of my best postings aren't rants as much as reminiscences. Until I get my top ten list together, I'd love to hear from you about any of my postings that you really like (or dislike). You can either comment on this post or comment on the post you like (or hate). And thanks!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Late Winter Flowers--Revisited

As I wrote my recent post about Late Winter Flowers, I couldn't help but think about how nice a picture would be. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when you're talking about flowers and other beautiful things.

So here's my first attempt at inserting a picture. Don't count on this to be a regular thing--I'm just not energetic enough to take and/or find the pictures I'd want to use! But I had to try to see how it worked. This is a large stand of hellebores in the center of my garden that blooms from December through March. I started out with three plants maybe 7 years ago and now have more than I could count.

Since the Late Winter Flower (LWF) entry, we had a bit of snow here in Athens. It started snowing around noon the Sunday after the LWF post, and by the time it finished we had something like seven inches of snow on the ground. Normally when we get snow, it's gone by noon. This snow stuck around for several days, especially in shady spots.

Much to my surprise, the snow and cold weather didn't seem to hurt any of the late winter bloomers in the yard. Some of the blossoms were hurt--by the cold, the weight of the snow or from a fallen branch--but most have been replaced since then with new blooms. Even the deciduous magnolias (stellata and loebner) are once again covered with blooms. What's not to like about flowers that can stand up to that kind of weather?

Maybe posting a picture wasn't so bad after all. I tried to add a second picture (of my loebner magnolia!) but it didn't work out. Frankly, I'm very proud of myself for figuring out how to delete the second picture since I didn't think to save before I tried inserting it. All this technological crap is just another reason I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Let Them Have Rush

You probably already know that I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan. However, I'm actually enjoying some of what I'm seeing on television and reading on blogs about him lately. I'm hoping that change we can believe in will chase Rush and his like back to the Dark Ages--where they belong.

For the life of me I can't understand how Rush has risen to such prominence. He's like a short fat Andrew Dice Clay. Is Rush an entertainer? That's what the Republican National Committee says. If that's their idea of entertainment, you start to see why the GOP has such problems.

Is Rush the spokesperson for conservative Republicans? If so, you get an even better idea of why the GOP is in trouble. More and more the GOP looks like the party of tired old straight white men. You know it's bad when they trot out the likes of Gingrich, Rove, and Cheney to criticize anything that might look like progress.

Did you know Rush flunked out of college? We're not talking about Harvard, Yale or even Cornell. Nope, it was Southeast Missouri State College. Woo hoo! His mother says he flunked every class--even ballroom dancing. He probably shouldn't check "some college" on surveys.

Guess that might explain why he's so anti-education. Rush didn't need education, therefore, nobody else should either. Education is what's wrong with this country in the first place. If God meant for people to be educated, they'd be born that way. Let's create a country more like some third-world backwash where dictators run rampant. We should all get addicted to pain killers, too. If it's good enough for Rush...

Rush's college record is a pretty good indicator that depth of knowledge is not his strong suit. I'm guessing he approaches issue analysis about the way he did in high school--for or against. It wasn't until college that I was forced to write position papers that presented a balanced discussion of opposing points of view. Guess old Rush missed out on that.

In graduate school the focus shifted to understanding the QUALITY of information--the study of validity and reliability. But Rush doesn't know the meaning of valid and reliable. Nope, it's all myopic and partisan--the lunatic ravings of a drug addict.

It's fitting that Limbaugh owes his popularity to the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Up to then, Fox News couldn't exist. The public expected television and radio stations to provide fair and balanced coverage. Rush wouldn't recognize fairness if it slapped him upside his broad ass. In the world of the dittoheads, the biggest bully wins. Most of us left that kind of behavior high school.

If ever there was an anti-Limbaugh, it's our duly elected President Obama. I've seen nothing to diminish my view that he is the most intelligent man to hold that office in my lifetime. Brains, rigorous debate, and a balanced look at all points of view are now the norm, not just a lofty and unattainable ideal. Yeah. Let them have Rush. I'll take my chances with Obama.
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