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The Bookshelf

Doug's bookshelf: read

AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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Time Since Reboot

  • 1122 days, 4 hours, 49 minutes, 17 seconds ago

Swine Flu

swine-flu

 

Monday.  How am I?  I have the swine flu, so this is going to be short. 

Ran/walked the 5K in 49:48 last Wednesday.  Burned 533 calories on the elliptical machine at the Y on Friday.  Feeling bad has hampered my exercising, but I feel like that is a better excuse than some I’ve given in the past.  All in all, my efforts to live healthier are going well.  Except for the swine flu thing.

Still reading Infinite Jest.  I ought to get some good page-turning in now that I am barred from going to work for a few days. 

Finally, as far as relaxation goes, we are heading down to Orange Beach, AL for a sun/surf/sand labor day weekend.  Should be nice… you know, if conditions permit. 

That is all.  I’m going back to bed now.

Two Histories

Two Histories

Original photograph hosted at Flickr.com.

Sometimes, by happy accident, I am able to post something that meets more than one of my six life-foci.  This falls under three!

Should I Rescue This Dog?

DSC_0110 I am having a crisis of conscience. 

This afternoon my wife and I traveled to Clay County, Alabama to visit where her family is from and where they used to hold their family reunions and so forth.  While trying to find an old cemetery along a dirt road outside of Lineville, we stopped to take pictures of a deer out in a field.  When I was about to drive off, this little dog appeared about 40 yards or so behind the car.  Of course, I got out of the car and tried to get it to come to me.  I whistled and slapped my leg, he ambled up to me – hesitant but friendly. 

When he got close, I saw how horribly thin he was.  He looked like some sort of a beagle/pit bull mix, and he was emaciated.  He was all head and ribcage.  He walked on wobbly legs that looked too big for his tiny body.  There was blood on his neck and ear, but he didn’t act like he was hurt.  I think maybe he had torn his ear in a fight or else he’d killed something.  Who knows.  I tried not to touch the blood, but I stuck out my hand and he nuzzled it and licked it.  As I stood there trying to think of what to do – whether I needed to help him, take him somewhere, if I had anything in the car to feed him – his little legs wavered a little and he just sat down beside my leg and looked up at me with those huge, sad, brown dog eyes.  I stroked his head (carefully… I hadn’t totally lost my senses; I didn’t want him to bite me out of fear or pain or you know – rabies or anything), and he let me pet him.  After a few minutes I told him goodbye and that I was sorry I couldn’t help him. 

Back at the car, I told my wife I felt like I needed to do something, but she made the good point that the dog might belong to somebody and that this was poor, rural Alabama after all.  I understand that.  I don’t want to take somebody’s dog.  I’ve met people who have a holier-than-thou, I-know-better-than-you attitude when it comes to pets.  Ordinarily, I would have just patted the dog on the head and driven away without giving it too much of a second thought.  But this little guy was so thin.  He was obviously not being taken care of, even if he did belong to some hick or other out there in the woods somewhere.  But, having other places to go and (selfishly and embarrassingly) not wanting to inconvenience my wife or take us away from the outing we had planned, and not knowing anywhere around there where we could have taken him anyway, we just left him. 

I tried my best to tell myself it was the only thing to do.  We couldn’t have put a bloody, possibly diseased, potentially vicious animal in our car and carted it back to Birmingham.  And in any case, it probably belonged to someone and we’d be stealing someone’s pet.  We drove back to the main road and stopped again to look for the cemetery (which we never found, by the way).  We walked around a bit, and having no luck returned to the car.  Now about 80 yards back, the little dog was sitting in the middle of the dirt road watching us.  He’d followed my car.  It tore my heart out to drive away. 

So look.  Did I do the right thing, or do I need to go back out there tomorrow and try to find him?  I know I have a soft spot for dogs, and I might just be letting my emotions run amok over my common sense.  But on the other hand, this is a living creature that might be in distress.  If I can save his life, or can make his life better or happier, shouldn’t I do that?  Am I not obligated to do that? 

Please forgive the hastily, clumsily written blog entry.  I normally spend at least a little time editing these things, but I wanted to go ahead and post this so that if anyone out there has any suggestions, you can let me know.  Thanks for reading.

Homeward

Homeward

Original photograph hosted at Flickr.com.

Farewell Teddy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy  1932-2009

thanks for getting me all misty-eyed, Jeff Danziger

It is a sad day, to be sure… and it would have been regardless of the political climate.  But with the bitter partisanship, the stalemates and standoffs, the pussyfooting and the pandering, appeasement and acquiescence, the embellishments and the fearmongering and the overarchingly corrosive debates going on across the country and in DC’s halls of power, Senator Kennedy’s death is much, much more poignant.  It has already been suggested (three days ago by Sen. McCain, for example) that the Senate would be a great deal more civil and productive were our Liberal Lion on the floor.  I’m willing, in my admitted pessimism, to go further. 

Meaningful health care reform is impossible without Ted Kennedy.

At worst, nothing will be done.  The entire initiative will stall out among intra-party squabbling and bipartisan deadlocks.  At best, we will get some watered-down version that will ensure the insurance/drug/healthcare corporation money and influence keep flowing.  No real change.  No real progress.  What the movement needs is twofold – and Senator Kennedy could have delivered them both. 

First, we need a statesman who will shake Washington’s marble columns with his roar – and, second, we need someone whose roar will be listened to and considered on both sides of the aisle.  We need someone to stand on the Senate floor and shake his (or her) fist and stand up for the little guy, and who is so well regarded as not to be dismissed as just another liberal crackpot.  I cannot think of another politician in Washington with those qualities.  Ted Kennedy was a towering liberal who was, at the same time, deeply respected by his conservative rivals.  Who will reach across to the other side and still stand strong on progressive principles? 

Obama (whose progressive leadership is in question, anyway) has left the Capitol and has taken Senators Biden and Clinton with him.  Does anyone else have the potential to fit that mold?  Who will step into Teddy’s shoes?  What icon have we now?  Who can we point to and proudly say ‘this is our standard-bearer… this man(or woman) represents us, shouts for us when we have no voice, fights for the public good… and DELIVERS!’? 

Anyway. 

Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo has a long roster of remembrances from national and world leaders.  It is worth a read.  If you have a little more time, watch the video of Vice President Biden’s remarks.  Very moving. 

Thanks, Senator.  And goodbye.  You are greatly missed.

My First Sidewalk Year

celluloid1600 Sometimes you have to go out and make things happen.  There are other times, however, when the right thing is placed in your lap unlooked-for.  This is one of those times.  In the midst of my pre-midlife restructuring, a friend of mine happened to pass this opportunity along.  Society?  Volunteerism?  Art?  Culture?  How about Birmingham’s own Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.  They needed someone to head up the merchandise committee (we’re selling t-shirts and so forth at several venues downtown), and it turns out I was caught on the right day to feel confident enough about volunteering to be that someone.  (I’m feeling prepositionally challenged.  Forgive my screwy syntax today.)

So here I am, social anxiety and all, coordinating a team of volunteers, making schedules and contacting folks.  It isn’t something I would have signed up for, to be honest.  I need nudging.  But now that I am outside of my comfort zone, I am finding myself reveling in the newness and the challenge of it.  I say this is my ‘first’ sidewalk with the notion that I’ll probably be pretty well sucked in for years to come.  Everybody I know who is associated with the festival really throws themselves into it year after year.  I’m happy to be a part of it this time around.

Now.  The promotion.  The festival runs from Friday, September 25th to Sunday, September 27th.  Go to the website.  They have a schedule and a list of films.  If you’re coming in from out of town, they’ve got all the info you need.  If you’re here in Birmingham… you know you’ve always wanted to get involved with this thing.  Come on out and join us – it’ll be fun!  They also have a form you can fill out if you want to be a volunteer and a list of people you can contact who know a lot more about things than I do.  If you want to help me out with selling Sidewalk merchandise in particular (and who wouldn’t?), email me here and I’ll work you into the schedule.  You know you want to.

Fair warning.  If things stay the way they are, I will be back here in a week.  Begging for volunteers.