Archive for February, 2010

They think he’s an Afghan Hound

February 26, 2010

I own a Saluki.  I got him when he was  about 17 months old from his breeder, Nancy Badra, who was going to keep him forever if the perfect home hadn’t come along.  My first Saluki, from Bill Brown, had just died of cancer, and there was a big void.  I had just spent about $3000 on cancer treatments for Sadiq, so I could really only afford a dog from rescue, but we worked it out, and Dazzle, as I call him, has been a wonderful pet.

He was quite shy & very overwhelmed when I took him away from everything he knew, but he learned to trust me.  About a year after he came to live with me, Bebop, the Whippet, was offered to me (his owner had died, and he was in rescue).

People  think that Dazzle is a Greyhound or an Afghan Hound.  I rarely bother to correct them.  Let them think whatever they want.  I am not looking to make the Saluki breed more popular.  The only ones who  recognize that he is a Saluki are the people who attended  Southern Illinois University, in “Little Egypt”  at the southern tip of Illinois.

I remember seeing one of Jayne Harpling’s older, black & tan Salukis that had as much coat as an Afghan.  Sometimes it happens, especially when they are spayed.

As a groomer, I see many dogs that people tell me are one breed, and I can see that they are another, or….I had a client with a young Puli, & she wanted him in cords.  Both the breeder and I told her that he was going to go through an ‘ugly’ stage, but to be patient.  Unfortunately, she boarded the dog & asked the kennel staff to groom him. They though—I am not making this up—that he was a matted miniature Poodle. They shaved him & we had to start over.

I currently work at a kennel that boards 2 Lakeland Terriers on a regular basis.  This is a relatively rare breed. They claim these 2 dogs are—get ready—Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers.  If they are—they are the worst Wheatens with the worst coats I have ever seen (but they are mighty fine looking Lakelands!).

I was working with a friend, and  she told me to groom a particular dog, and I remarked that you don’t see many Australian Terriers. She  laughed & said, “Robyn, that’s a Norwich!”  I laughed and said, “It is not!  Look at the shape of his head!  & his ears! Hes not even a Norfolk!”

But my friend told me that this  dog’s owner  went to a pet shop and paid $3500 for this dog.  I said, “I know exactly what happened.  He wanted a Norwich, and they handed him this pup and gave him Norwich Terrier papers.”  We had a good laugh about that.

Usually I can tell the breed of the dog by the head.  In my neighborhood, there are some giant Italian Greyhounds and some teeny weeny Whippets, but  I can generally tell.

It’s very hard to tell the Silky Terriers from the Yorkshire Terriers…at least the poorly bred pet dogs.  Don’t get me started on the Shih Tzu that are actually Lhasa Apsos and vice versa. In the 1970s, there were a lot of them.  Very few of the  novices in the breed had any integrity.  Now, the  well bred ones are very distinct in head type, body, and coat texture (as well as temperament), but we still see ‘Shih Tzu’ from puppy mills that I will bet are not purebred Shih Tzu.  DNA test?  They are not  such distinctly different breeds that anyone  doing DNA testing could really tell.

I have seen many French Bulldogs that looked like Bostons—and I am sure they were mixes of the 2.

Except for their heads, I can’t tell the difference between an American Pit Bull & a Staffordshire Terrier, and it’s getting to the point that there are so many poorly bred Papillons that many look like Long-haired Chihuahuas, with ‘apple’ heads instead of flat topskulls.  I’ll bet the breeders of Manchester & Toy Manchester Terriers are happy everyone thinks they are Miniature Pinschers.

I will always find it hard to tell the difference between a Black Russian Terrier & a Giant Schnauzer.

I’ll bet the GreaterSwiss Mountain Dog owners are glad their breed looks like a mix, and I know people who got Tibetan Terries because they look like unclipped ‘cockapoos’.

Does it matter?  Well, if it’s YOUR BREED, it matters.  But be a bit thankful that the person who is attracted to the ‘look’ or your breed, & who doesn’t want to know anything about the temperament, will go looking for another breed.

Personal History: More on the FBI…

February 20, 2010

Several months back, I blogged about  getting my FBI file.  It was sort of ammusing…. and it wasn’t.  Me, the  figure model/dog groomer was being followed by the FBI…or so they thought. They were actually following my tenant, a clown who delivered singing telegrams.

I came across this book, the title being  Crisis, Pursued by Disaster, Followed Closely by Catastrophe, written by journalist Mike O’Connor.    His experience with the FBI turned out rather more tragic.   It was the story of his family, and how they were always moving suddenly.  I could tell it had something to do with his mother being an illegal alien, but that was not totally true.  He didn’t find out the mystery of his family until both his parents died and he doggedly pursued what they were running from,.

The book was published by Random House in 2007, and  has not received much press. For anyone interested in  recent American History, it is a must read.

Without giving too much away, it seems that  part of what got this family on the run was that the FBI was determined to find COMMUNISTS where there were none.  Due to a convergence of circumstances and group dynamics, this led to the family  being on the run.

The events O’Connor  writes about happened about 50 years ago, and that means an awful lot of Americans  don’t remember any of this.

I briefly taught at an alternative High school about 10 years ago. The  kids didn’t want me teaching them African History, they wanted me teaching them my history.  So, I  talked about what radicalized me.

As a teenager, I had heard about Martin Luther King, and civil rights.  My parents did not consider themselves racists, and they weren’t the worst, but all the black people they came into contact with wer servants. They were very influenced by the media. They distrusted King & they really believed he was inciting people to riot.  They had both grown up on the near west side of Chicago, and fled to Rogers Park (on the north side)when  Rogers Park opened up for development.  They saw what negroes did to their former housing. Never mind that  virtually all that housing was owned by absentee landlords and most of it was rental.  I can tell you stories now  about what renters of any race do to rental units (I own one, & I am horrified)—but no matter.

I graduated from grammar school in 1967.  In August of 1968, the Democratic Convention was held in Chicago, and a bunch of people  protesting the Viet Nam War, poverty, and racism– and the Yippies—came to disrupt the convention.   This was before the internet.    They wanted the Democratic Party  to come out with a platform to end the Viet Nam War, and address civil rights and poverty.

A few miscreants caused some trouble, which turned into a riot when the police tear gassed everyone. This was when Mayor  Richard J. Daley said, “The Police are not there to create disorder, but to maintain disorder.”  The Kerner Commission  (one of our few governors who did not go to jail for corruption) characterized what happened as , “A police riot.”

The trial of the Chicago 7  was scheduled very quickly, in 1969.    It’s true…there was a ‘media circus‘, mostly due to the antics of Abbie Hoffman, but the judge for the trial, Julius Hoffman,   had the wrong personality for this particular courtroom.

The musical group Chicago incorporated some of  the recordings of the protesters (“The Whole World is Watching!”) into their  first album, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash  begged people to come to Chicago “Or else join the other side..” because they had bound and gagged Bobby Seales and chained him to a chair.  Bobby Seales was a Black Panther, and they were providing free breakfasts for  very poor children in inner city schools.  They wer also working on developing health clinics in  the very low income communities.  They were doing self-help projects in their communities,

Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Jon Froins,  Lee Weiner, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis — & Bobby Seales, the Conspiracy 8 (7 after Seales was removed & given his own trial) were indicted  for crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot.  In fact,  they didn’t all know each other. There was no conspiracy. There was no internet, no  tapes of tapped phones.

Their lawyers were treated disrespectfully by Judge Hoffman.  I’d come home from school every day & listen to the news, and my teenage self was aghast.  My mother said, “Robyn, you are becoming a radical!”

I replied, “I am not a radical!  They were  drawing attention to  what they hoped the Democratic Party would do!”  But it did radicalize me.

The class I taugh over 30 years later  didn’t believe me.  I told them to ask their parents—and one of my fellow teachers told them to ask their grandparents.

J. Edgar Hoover  really wanted to prove these guys were COMMUNISTS. Alas, they were not.  Sure, they might have been communists or socialists, but Tom Hayden was elected to the legislature in California (& married  Jane Fonda).  Bobby Seales also held an elected office in California.

After Hoover, the head of the FBI until his death, died, it came out that he was a homosexual crossdresser.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that—but there is if —to deflect attention from yourself—you make thee lives of innocent people a living hell. This is what this book is partly about, and what made  O’Connor’s parents paranoia.

Have I become less radical?  No, I have not.  I am somewhat disappointed by Barak Obama, but have to acknowledge he is 1000 times better than John McCain during  this economic crisis that the  Republicans allowed to happen. Deficit? For some reason, as Bush  spent the surplus on the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, it didn’t bother anyone then.

There was a news story on ABC about how  the nonprofits are spending the donations for Haitian Relief…& it seems that only about 1/2 of what was donated is reaching the Haitian people.   YOu would think that , in addition to the Radiacl Moslem Extremists, the FBI would investigate  some of the major nonprofits, like the Red Cross, which are able to  raise public funds based on their reputation—not the ‘bang for the buck’ they get.

We are so affected by media—and the perceptions  we hold are due to media and marketing.  It’s painful to dig deeper.  However, as Santayana said—paraphrasing here…if we don’t recall the past, we will be condemned to repeat it.

Elections,sausage…do you really want to know?

February 10, 2010

I was a judge of election last week in the Illinois primary.  There was less than 25% voter turnout.  Granted, it was a primary, and people don’t like to declare themselves.  I understand, but whether you vote or not, your tax dollars pay for these things, and you should know what goes on.

I have been a judge of election, on and off, for over 30 years. The board of elections like people like me who can take a day off, come in very early (5:15 a.m.), and stay for a long, tedious day.

When I first became a judge, I was trained by Project LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precincts)  They don’t exist any more.  Nobody would give them money.  You’d still have to go to  board of election training, but LEAP would fill in the  details that the board would gloss over, and I will fill you in on the glossed over details now.

Things have gotten better, but in Chicago,  as late as the 1980s, old ladies would come to the precinct & tell a judge they didn’t know who to vote for, and the judge would go into the polling booth with them & vote for the party regulars–-as he was instructed to do by ‘the party’:  the Democratic Party.  Most of those old judges have died.  We are much more free & fair now, and don’t offer any help.  In Chicago, if you didn’t save the IVI-IPO endorsement ad that is always in the  Chicago Reader, you sort of have to guess.  Don’t get me started on the special nursing home elections. Apparently, we have so many  in Chicago that the Board of Elections sets aside 2 days for this. It used to be that the Nursing Home administrator would vote everyones ballots.  That doesn’t happen any more—but there are quite a few people with dementia who still vote, and we have the helper affidavits to prove it.

You don’t have to vote in every race. For the people who want to vote for  none of the above, taking a ballot–especially in general elections—& not voting for candidates does send a message.

No electioneering (that is–touting  candidates) is allowed within 100 feet of the polling place door.  Still, most of us vote on our perceptions, which is how Scott Lee Cohen won the  slot for Lieutenant Governor.  Evey one has their panties in a bunch now, but  come on—the  Democratic Party didn’t know he was a pawnbroker who had unsavory relationships with women?  Please.  Everyone dropped the ball.  But then, Jim Ryan, who  prosecuted Rolando Cruz for murder—and asked for the death penalty & got it…when he was found innocent & a victim of railroading  by Ryan, the media totally ignored that.  He didn’t win, but he could have.

So that’s bad enough…but the BIG problems with our elections are the logistics.

I was a judge in the special election last year, when  Rahm Emmanuel’s seat was up for grabs (Mike Quigley  won with, again, less than 30% voter turnout).  The day was very slow.  One of the judges had voted early.  According to that plan, when we vote early, the application for ballot is supposed to be voided out  so you couldn’t vote twice.  It was not, & this judge was very shocked.  An isolated mistake?  Come on!

Then, counting the number of ballots cast against he number of ballots we actually had…early on, our count was off. Why?  I made the judge count the number of ballots in a packet. There are supposed to be 50.  So he opened 2 packets.  One packet had 47.  Another one had 52.  How can we possibly get them to add up if there are not 50 for sure in every packet?  Yet, how many of us have wracked our brains trying to get the  ballot count to agree with what we had left over so many times?

But my favorite  happened this time. You could vote by either paper ballot or by touch screen.  In theory, you put a card into the touch screen computer & can only vote once. But  our touch screen was registering more votes in some cases.  Had people taken the card out & put it back in before actually casting a vote?  Who knows?  Seemed that at the end of the day, ther was no over vote in any race, but when it came time to combine the vote totals from the touch screen with the paper ballots…the machine would not consolidate them. What was being transmitted downtown was just the touch screen.

Sure, we have paper backup, & printed out the tapes  for each &  put the packets together…but some races were too close to call. Did anyone do a sample recount?  Did they count he provisional ballots?

We’d be better off having the UN monitor our elections. Apparently , over 70% of eligible voters do not care.