Archive for the ‘society’ Category

What’s it Worth?

April 27, 2019

I’ve been amusing myself writing erotica. If you had told me even six months ago I would be doing this, I would have laughed at you and said, “Hardly likely.” Sometimes I embarrass myself and I have to stop before I begin typing. It’s not that my imagination is that vivid. It’s that my memory is.

I think a lot of us who write in the genre have something to say aside from the fact that we know what good sex is. I know I put up with some crappy behavior from the men who provided me with good sex. But nobody wants to read about the reality of that.

Then just about everybody got a cell phone, and…

In the December 2018 issue of The Atlantic ( https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/the-sex-recession/573949), writer Kate Julian explored why younger people are having fewer sexual encounters and relationships than in the past. At least that’s how it is in the developed world. In the less developed world, men are still exploiting women, and women are still acquiescing. In the post-industrial countries, not just due to AIDS, but also due to how much time people are now glued to their phones and devices, people are having less physical contact.

In the late 1980’s, I read an essay written by an architect about how interaction between people was becoming more fleeting and trivialized. His solution was making housing in communities more structured in a way that your neighbors could see you if you were at home, and visit you if you were in your public rooms—like a living room. They’d see you through your windows. No privacy unless you went to some length to achieve it—like going into private rooms. His solution was architectural, not really social. In fact, the essay was written in the decades before social media was even a thought.

Fleeting social encounters? In China now, there are internet stars that do nothing other than live stream their lives doing mundane things…and they have fans. I was sort of bemused that people would watch shows like the Osbornes or Keeping up with the Kardashians. Didn’t anyone learn anything when TV cameras followed the Loud family ( Https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_Family ) around in the 1970s? Is your life that boring that you think watching other people do nothing that it’s better than…actually living your own life? I am also amazed that people think it’s cool to have Alexas or Siri in their homes spying on them. Well… according to the Atlantic, they aren’t having sex. I’m not sure I understand.

What got me thinking was an incident I recalled a good friend telling me about over four decades ago. Her roommate had started seeing this guy she had met (where ever…it was in a public place. She was not introduced by mutual friends). The roommate complained to my friend that she was seeing so much of this guy that she wasn’t able to get her laundry done.

My friend asked her roommate, “Doesn’t he have a laundry room in his building?” and the roommate responded, “I’m sure he must, but I don’t know him well enough to ask if I can use his washing machine.”

My friend responded to the roommate, “If he knows you well enough to have sex, then you should know him well enough to use his washing machine.”

When she relayed this story to me, I laughed and said, “Tell her to ask if she can drive his car. If he doesn’t know her well enough to let her drive his car, she doesn’t know him well enough to have sex with him.” Frankly, if she doesn’t know how to ask to use his washing maching, how is she going to be brave enough to ask for the sex she wants? It’s not like none of us hooked up with guys we barely knew into the early 1980s. Didn’t we girls all hope a romance would emerge? What per centage resulted in any kind of relationship? We all saw the movie “About Last Night.” Anyone hook up with Rob Lowe and have mind blowing sex? All that sex that wasn’t mind blowing…was it worth it?.

It’s just a fact that women still have a different expectation of sexual encounters and the vulnerability we risk. It’s way different from what most men expect or want.

This is what’s really good about the erotic romance genre: girls have great sex, and it is described, so you don’t have to guess if you’ve never had it. We tell you what the guys want, and what we want. But I digress….

I’ve written about this in my book, “Polyandress” (not published yet—but hopefully by the end of 2019). My main male character tells the polyandress (a woman with multiple sexual, economic, and/or emotional partners ) that he wanted a relationship with the woman he has sex with. Someone he could interact with regularly. He wanted that because of what he had had with the polyandress. He actually wanted what most women want. He didn’t want what his male friends wanted, to have what we’d call casual sex. He wanted a woman to take time with him, and he wanted to take time with a woman.

So, in addressing teenagers who aren’t happy with their sexual relationships because they aren’t getting the type, duration. or frequency of the sex they want, and they are not interested in the other aspects of the interactions they are having with their sex partners, I’d have to ask: if the sex isn’t worth it, why are you still thinking this is a relationship? If you can’t talk about it, or come to an understanding that you are both happy with, why bother?

As an aside, this wonderful song that Bobby Caldwell sings: What you won’t Do For Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8GhXtfthgk


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The Coton de Tulear

April 18, 2019

3 Coton de Tulear in Specials coat.

About three years ago, I responded to a Craigslist post for a groomer to come to a home and groom five small dogs. I’m thinking Yorkies or Maltese. So, since the distance was not far from where I lieve, I responded.

The guy who placed the ad said they were Cotons. My gut reaction was, “Oh.”

For those who don’t know, Cotons are from the island of Madagascar. Off Africa—that’s right. Now, how would small, fluffy white dogs get there? Dig this: the ‘explorers’ and their crews from Spain and Portugal, where the generic (at the time—this is the ‘breed’ that all those who don’t know anything about dogs say ‘they all were at one time…and so it was…) small white dogs that later turned out to be Maltese, Bichon Frise, and white Toy Poodles, came from. The Teneriffes, and those that came from the Canary Islands. The Coton de Tulear are the ”National Dog of Madagascar ( http://caninechronicle.com/current-articles/royal-dog-of-madagascar-the-history-of-the-coton-de-tulear ).

Very cute, very smart, very sweet and outgoing. The problem is…their coats. Clearly, from the historical photos, one can see that the ‘foundation’ dogs (that is, the dogs everyone used 40 or so years ago to establish the breed in Europe and the Americas) had a coat texture that was a mix of silky and cottony . The coat draped. But the foundation breeders, for some reason (I think they really didn’t have any idea how this would play out) decided the ideal coat was a COTTONY COAT. A coat that is dry and stands off from the body.Certainly, the Cotons you see at the dog shows are magnificent as presented. They have big bushy coats. But it is not a coat you can scissor like a Bichon or a Poodle. It mats. The breed standard says that no clipping is allowed….not even ‘sanitary’ trims. You wash it, you brush it…& that’s what you get.

I know the handlers showing dogs for clients have their assistants bathe and brush the dogs out every other day. Othewise, just the static and dirt from living would cause them to mat. I know what causes matting. I’ve been grooming long haired dogs for over 50 years myself.

To their credit, these clients of mine with the Cotons do not have any carpets, and all their furniture is leather. That cuts static. But, the dogs still live. When I started working for them, they had just two dogs in specials coat, and one had an improper (meaning silky) coat. But they had a litter and kept one, and bought another bitch (she became the top winning Coton, (in terms of dogs she bested in the ring in 2018), had another litter and kept two, and are now up to seven dogs, with three in specials coat.

I am an experienced dog groomer, but I can see, now that these younger—just about one year of age—are going through the coat change, that it is overwhelming. In fact, both young dogs are AKC champions and ‘finished’ (as we say in the fancy—once the dog gets a title, it has finished) their titles in record time due to excellent structure underneath the coats, and good grooming/training/handling. There were several buyers who wanted the young male. Unfortunately, my client—the breeder—-thinks that none of these buyers who are willing to pay several thousand dollars for this dog, can handle the coat.

It’s an issue. Like I said—I’ve groomed long haired dogs for about 50 years, and these Cotons are challenge for me. My solution would be for anyone who wants the dog to come stay for a couple of days and help us groom. They then can decide if they really want to get into this. If not, no harm, no foul. After all, how are you going to get new fanciers into your breed?

This is the problem. The Coton de Tulear is one of those ‘low registration’ (AKC statistics) breeds actually in danger of dying out. Considering the low number of fanciers, and the genetic tests that those with the most integrity do, and the number of breeds anyone who might want to show a dog would consider for ‘getting into’, how are the current fanciers going to attract new fanciers to the breed?

The pragmatic thing to do—if they want to save the breed from extinction, is to either change the breed standard to allow a different kind of coat texture or allow the dogs to be shown styled like a Bichon.

Another thing that might help would be to offer grooming symposiums whenever the parent club has a specialty show. However, ther is so much arguing within the club that it is amazing they are able as a collective fancy, to maintain a gene pool. & that’s the fancy in a nutshell.

Two book Revues: Erotic Romance

April 11, 2019

This blog is a review of two books I’ve read recently: “Pretty Boy Problems,” by Michele Grant, and “Huntsman and Eve: Joining Forces Security Series Book 1” by Annette Stephenson.

These books are both of the ‘Erotic Romance’ genre. It goes without saying that both stories are contrived fantasies—but what fiction isn’t contrived? In reading drafts of my own book, the issue my early readers had was that this is fantasy. No man could be this good. That is romance: the guy meets all the heroine’s needs and desires. He’s always perfect. Rarely, if ever, does the main female character give a described blow job. She is always the receiver.

Our guys are always handsome with great smiles. We never fall in love with alcoholics, drug addicts, deadbeats, two timers, trouble makers, guys who are in debt, guys who turn out to be gay, or, of course, guys who aren’t experienced lovers.

In addition, the guys are always masculine and self-assured, have money, clean up after themselves, and will do whatever they can to please the heroine. If this is not for you, move on. However, if you’ve never had mind blowing sex, and aren’t aroused by visual pornography, but want a description of what it is…and want a good story to go with it, consider the genre.

Michele’s book is of the ‘urban erotic romance’ genre. Her main characters work in the fashion industry and are former models. Her main male character, Beau, is known as a player, and her main female character, Belle is very cautious. But Beau turns out to be a talented guy in many ways. Lots of white Americans don’t know there is a black middle class, and this is a realistic story. Beau is Cajun, and Michele includes a glossary at the back of the book.

Annette’s book is about a young widow, Eve, traveling around the country. She starts a blog, writing under the nom de plume ‘Dawn Early’, and a print magazine with a girlfriend. It turns out her blog is read widely by currently serving military personnel and is very popular. Eve sort of stumbles into Dean’s arms, and there is an interesting side plot. Women who are particularly patriotic will like this series.

I know who I want to read my book, but are they the same people who read the genre? I started doing some research, and according to Sources: Nielsen, Bookstats, PEW Research Center, RWA, Entertainment Weekly: Author Earnings’ (July 2014 Author Earnings Report, Harlequin )
Top 10 Fiction Genres.1 $1.09 billion, Thrillers 2.$1.08 billion, Romance 3.$811 million, General4.$548 million, Literary5.$442 million, Mystery & Detective6.$377 million, Fantasy7.$185 million, Comics & Graphic Novels8.$156 million, Historical 9.$143 million, Contemporary Women10.$113 million, Action & Adventure Reading.

Behavior : 29 percent of romance readers usually carry a romance novel with them. Romance readers typically begin and finish a romance novel within 7 days. On average, romance readers read more than one book: A Week —25.5 percent. Every Week —20.9 percent. Every 2-3 Weeks —17.8 percent —16.1 percentRomance Vs. All Adult-Fiction Purchases: PaperbackRomance: 51 percent Adult Fiction: 46 percentE-Book*Romance: 38 percent Adult Fiction: 30 percent: HardbackRomance: 10 percent Adult Fiction: 21 percent AudioRomance: 1 percent Adult Fiction: 3 percent
At A Glance: Age30-54; EducationCollege-educated; Average Income: $55K. Relationship Status :59 percent are coupled, 84 percent are women, 16 percent are men .

Since E.L. James published 50 shades of Grey, are more men reading romance?

The favorite sub genre is historical romance, but other genres are catching up. Who reads this stuff? According to Kristian Wilson:

Despite being pooh-poohed as lowbrow literature for middle-aged women, romance novels comprised nearly one-third — 29 percent — of the 2015 fiction market. In 2013, romance novel sales exceeded $1 billion, according to Romance Writers of America. There are even entire bookstores devoted to romance novels!

So why does romance — and the people who read it — have such a bad reputation? I’ll give you a hint: the answer starts with sex and ends with ism . Seriously, there’s a giant, gendered pock mark on books women write and read.

And believe me, romance is women’s fiction. Male authors who write romance novels are encouraged to publish under female psuedonyms to help their sales numbers — making romance the only corner of the industry that doesn’t have women writing under male names.

The whole erotic romance genre is relatively new. Not even 30 years old. Most books are self-published, at least at first, and the writers have a formula. Many start out writing fan fiction and evolve from there. They are able to succeed because they have a fan base, and they work to develo[p the base by encouraging interaction with fans via their blogs and on social media—-usually Facebook.

I want to encourage readers to check out these writers. Ask at local bookstores and , of course, they are on Amazon.

My own book is in production, and if you are interested in dogs, dog grooming and training, performance events, recent African history and development issues, that fantasy rock star (yes, that’s also a genre, as is the billionaire…), what it’s like to be ‘other’ in a dominant culture, good sex, and issues of integrity, I hope you will seek out my book (‘soon to be published’: ‘Polyandress) .


All in My Head

April 3, 2019

When I was a younger woman, full of the bullshit notions that if you played the game with enough guys,you would eventually click with one. Then, you’d live happily ever after.

All the stresses of adult life would be made better—ameliorated—if you will, by finding a reliable, stable guy who had no trouble making a living. A guy who shared my values, of course. He would be physically attractive and want a satisfying sexual relationship.

Well four out of five ain’t bad. At first, not getting five our of five really bothered me. It almost drove me crazy, but I got a grip because my other relationship, sexual in nature, was not satisfying, and I was too tired to not be myself.

I’m a cynical, tough, broad, and I had to be responsible for myself. By that I mean, prepare for retirement: invest, take care of my assets, and not obsess over anything unrealistic.

I’d known way too many women who trusted men and got left with debts and kids. Or worse, left with nothing at all! I could not afford to live in San Diego. I could not afford to breed dogs. Had I not taken a gamble on a business, I might have had a chance, but I did gamble, the economy changed drastically, and at least I didn’t lose my biggest asset: the house!

I was approaching retirement. I had taken a dog grooming job where I was making decent money, but the non-grooming staff I worked with created too much stress because they didn’t recognize a dangerous situation. I put up with this for about two years, and then was able to get a job at a better run kennel. I took a pay cut, but the tips made up for it. Way less stress and a lot more free time.

I’d been blogging my thoughts for several years, but what most recently compelled me…was the situation with my father and my brother. My sisters have asked me to NOT write about that, and I won’t for now, even though that is where the real story is. I instead chose a fantasy notion that had been swimming around in my head for several years.

In the early 1980’s, right after my divorce, I had a very intense, exciting sexual relationship with a guy who was a really great lover. I could say a lot about Tony, but what I want to say is that he was tall. He had terribly long legs and was very graceful and limber. Let’s leave it at that.

The relationship lasted about a year and he took a job across the country. I was devastated, even though I knew we were not moving towards emotional closeness. What I really missed was the sex. I did go on, in time, to have a couple of other good sexual relationships, but for all the real life reasons you can think of, no emotional intimacy developed. I guess I could have compromised, but for what? No guy had anything close to economic security, and for me that was always a deal breaker. Hell, I had a hard enough time as a woman getting credit to buy a home. It made no sense to ignore financial irresponsibility. In 1985, I decided to go to Africa, and I went to Tanzania on safari. I had a sexual encounter with a Chagga guy, and that was really good.

In 1987 I went to Kenya to work on a development project. We were the first white people the community had ever seen do physical labor, and they called us ‘Unusual Visitors.’ On that trip, I went with a bunch of other free spirits to Mombasa and Malindi, and although no sex occured, I met at least a dozen young men who were so attractive , so charming, so sweet that I would have banged any one of them in a heartbeat. They were all Indian and Arabic Swahili guys. They were friendly without being obnoxious. How rare is that?

& then…not much. I became attracted to a guy back in the US who was ambivalent. I made him miserable because, partly due to hormones, I was mentally ill. I muddled through, but looking back, from 1988 to about 1996, I don’t remember much except for school, Peace Corps, and crying a lot. I obsessed a lot and worked a lot. I was lucky Kunihiro came into my life and brought some semblance of stability. He was a stranger in a strange land.

So this is what happened. Last November (2018), I went to southern Spain and came back and saw Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is the GP version of Freddie Mercury’s life. There is plenty online where you can learn the truth about him, but in so many words, he was a musical genius. He saw himself as a performer, and this particularly long legged guy was also—Swahili. He decided himself what he would be. I was surprised at how many Queen songs I liked that I didn’t know were Queen songs. I was also surprised at what a great musician he was, and his bandmates Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon were. You can find instrumental versions of many of their songs online because of how they recorded and produced their songs. Also, Kunihiro had told me this, but you find more evidence of this online: Queen was very popular in Japan. In fact, Freddie Mercury learned Japanese and was a collector of Japanese art. Kunihiro had a copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits, and that’s where I heard ‘Barcelona’, and all the songs Freddie Mercury wrote for Montserrat Caballe. What a body of work! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA2IRoPFIn0

In any case, partly in the movie without explanation, but more when you go online, you see the physical evolution of a man discovering himself, from what his bandmates called a ‘dandy’ to his own idea of what a gay man would be. But what I really learned was how much music which I had enjoyed was written by Freddie Mercury, particularly Barcelona ( which he produced with Mike Moran). Music so compelling that his bandmates included it on their greatest hits album. Well, this is not top 40 format stuff, so why would we hear it in America?

I didn’t intend what I was writing to be a love story. I intended it to be an essay in integrity. I wanted to address integrity —or lack thereof—in several different areas. It was a creative outlet. I didn’t have an outline, just an idea. But who wants to read about integiryt? You write what you know. I hasten to say that I wanted it to seem plausible, so I had to do some research, but these days, it’s easy enough to do this on the internet. After all, this is not a dissertation. I don’t have to compile statistics.

Now, it so happens 1 of my sisters edits fiction for self-publishers. That’s only important because she knows something about self-publishing. Most self-published books don’t even break even. So, I knew I’d have to find a way to market to my intended audience. That’s really what I have to work on.

I’ve discovered the genre is called ‘erotic romance’. What I am finding in my research is that most ‘erotic romances’ sort of gloss over the actual sex. They describe the characters involved, so you can form a vision in your head, but the sex? What did these people actually do?

The gist of my story is the characters know each other because of family connections. The male character, as a teenager, seduces the female, an older divorcee. They have an intense sexual relationship and don’t see each other for another 20 years. Their lives could not be more different. The male character is sure he’s in love, and he’s carried this fantasy around for 20 years. He goes from studying engineering to being a musician…a ‘rock star; ‘ (& that is, apparently, a very popular genre in erotic romance books). The female character has done a number of things so she doesn’t have to get a ‘real’ job, and is skeptical. Their lives have changed so much, but the sex remains good. Can they really work out having a relationship?

Who would be interested in this? I’m thinking women over a ‘certain age’, dog groomers and trainers (most of us are women, and the female character I’ve written is a dog person), people who show dogs or compete in performance, people interested in Africa, and how things are (this is where the lovers meet), people who are always others, or outsiders (Jews, Sikhs, Asians), and, I hope, people interested in issues of integrity, because I have woven a narrative addressing integrity in all the interest areas. That was my main goal: how do we address integrity as we, particularly in the United States, have elected a political administration which has made a mission of insulting anyone who has integrity?

I believe I’ve really fleshed out the characters and made the situations plausible (though it is a fantasy). What I have to do is get people to read and review it. E.L.James, who wrote ’50 Shades of Gray’, and self-published that because of her other writing (fan fiction) was able to get momentum. I’m hoping to at least break even, but I also hope readers will enjoy this and start discussing the issues.

I’ve been in touch with other writers of erotic romance, and they all use a formula. They use a formula because they write a lot and need a fan base to sell a lot. I’m interested in other topics, but depending on how this goes, I may write something else for the characters. What I do know is that I will need at least 20, if not more, reviews on Amazon to gain momentum. I’ll write more when I know more.


Spoiler Alert!

January 27, 2019

As a dog groomer who often suggests training to our clients, I hear it all the time: “We took Fluffy to training classes but it didn’t do any good. We have no control over her.”

the dog is wearing a harness of course, but that’s not the only reasdon they have no control.

Most of us know the reasons, but for those who don’t, they are:

  • Not practicing what they’ve learned in class enouhg;
  • wrong techniques that get to be a habit;
  • everyone in the household not being on the same page;
  • the spoiler.

When we offer group dog training, we should start with a disclaimer about why what they are experiencing in class won’t work, and how they can remedy the issues they will face.We need to address what to do and what not to do.

An analogy I started using is an experience I had recently getting physical therapy. The therapist has you go through various exercises. You have to do them at home, every day. Paying a therapist once or twice a week won’t help you heal.

Similarly, if you don’t re-enforce what you’re learning in class, coming to class is a waste of money.

We want people to have healthy relationships with their dogs. The reason we teach what we teach is because they are exercises people will find very useful at home, In fact, I’ve started also teaching ‘turn around’ as well as giving instructions to dog owner so they can teach their dogs to eliminate on command.

Personally, I don’t care if your dog is under control until I meet you on the street, or come to your home. But you spent money to get schooled, so you may as well get something out of it.

Also, there are several right ways of getting a dog under control, but a bunch of wrong ways. I am from a generation where we thought tricking a dog and causing pain got the message across. I’ve trained my last several dogs using positive re-enforcement, and high value treats to motivate them. That, and repetition, worked. Sometimes dogs aren’t motivated by treats or praise. In that case, you may have to seek an animal behaviorist, but the positive re-enforcement method has worked statistically so many times, I strongly encourage you to use it.

Also, once you get the behavior you want, either move on to another part of training or stop…and go back after at least half an hour. Don’t bore your dog. But don’t stop, either, until you get an increment. Always stop on a positive note, If you are losing patience, it’s not the dog’s fault. go back later.

Now we get to why training usually fails: the madhouse you live in. it would be funny were it not so tragic. Everyone has to want the dog to succeed. if you have one person who doesn’t, this is not going to work. So sorry, but you may need family counseling—or coaching, if you can’t figure this out on your own. Do you have a child with emotional issues? Someone jealous of the dog? Someone who doesn’t like the dog? Like a spouse? Someone who thinks they want the dog to love them best? That lets me segue into…who is the Spoiler?

Been there, done that….I’ve lived with a Spoiler for over a decade. He loves the dogs, but he refuses to do what he needs to do to get the dogs under control. At least they aren’t too large for him to handle…but what if they were? At least they don’t try to actually control him…but what if they did? Were this a serious problem for me, we probably wouldn’t be living together. That said, I’ve seen marriages break up over this: dogs that wouldn’t allow a spouse in the bed, dogs that wouldn’t allow the kids to tough them, yet the adult owners kept the dogs around. Those behaviors are inexcusable, and obviously a symptom of a bad dynamic that comes out when a dog enters the picture.

Most of us dog trainers are not life coaches because we aren’t licensed psychologists. That said, we are really good ar understanding nonverbal communication. If you aren’t getting results practicing daily with your dog, you might want to invite a dog trainer over to your household to get an idea of what is going on.

Skirt Free Zone

January 21, 2019

We are a Skirt-Free Zone

I always wonder  why groomers started putting ‘skirts’ on dogs.

When I started grooming…every dog was a Poodle in some sort of traditional Poodle trim.  Rarely did we groom cocker spaniels or even Miniature Schnauzers. Where did those dogs  go to be groomed?  Back to the breeders.   I was ‘lucky’ to  work for a groomer whose mother raised Bedlington Terriers.  At the time, The Collar and Leash was the only dog grooming shop in the metro Chicago area to groom Bedlingtons.  They didn’t get skirts, so why was my boss putting a cocker skirt on…Miniature Schnauzers?  Her response was that  owners liked it.  Never mind that we were not totally dematting these dogs.

When I got my own grooming shop, I started having conversations with  dog owners—especially about the skirts.    I was seeing  a lot of Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus groomed like cockers with the hula skirts.  What kind of sense does that make?I understand that you don’t want to see daylight under a  Sealyham or Scottish Terrier, but  we are talking about pet dogs here. Why would you leave more hair on a pet dog than you would on a show dog?

If you look at  photos  of Airedale Terriers and  Miniature Schnauzers, the only time you really  see a skirt is if the brisket (chest) does not come down to the elbows.  To correct the fault of ‘weediness’, the groomer is giving the illusion of a chest.  If  the  chest hair—or skirt—is left longer than the elbows, the dog is going to look longer in body.  Very few people  want their square dogs to look long in body.  Also, look where the skirt starts on the terriers.  It does not start on the body several inches above the elbow.  It starts at the elbow!

The skirt does NOT make the dog look ‘flashier’.  It is going to be mopping the floor.  Worse, all those dogs wearing harnesses (you know, the collapsed trachea… or what the idiots  at the pet stores are selling so owns can be kind to their dogs… )  are going to be matting up because of the friction of the hair moving against the harness.

For those rare clients who are married to the hair, what I generally do  is a #5 or #7 on the body, and   blend the ‘skirt’ with a #1 or #0 attachment.  I also start the skirt at the elbow.  Why?  If I start it higher on the body, it will make the dog look very wide.  If you think you are camouflaging a fat dog, you aren’t.

I also don’t leave false skirts. Why?  The short hairs will weave into the long hair as they grow.  Have you not noticed that even that false skirt is always matted?  It is because of the ‘friction’/static electricity of movement, and the  short hair weaving into the long hair.

So, what about those owners married to the hair, who insist you  leave it long?  I learned from  groomers who were keeping dogs in specials  (show) coats:  the dogs must come in every  two weeks for a bath and brush out.  No compromise on the grooming interval.

For those pandering to  eccentrics and  American Cocker Spaniel owners:  don’t complain.  You have a choice.

There Really Were Musicians

December 22, 2018

In the early  1960s, right up through the 1970s  in Chicago, WLS-AM and WCFL-AM both  ran top 40 formats.  Who decided what got onto the radio?  ‘Advance’ men, who brought single  records  around to what were known as ‘Disk Jockeys’.  Dick Clark and American Bandstand were on TV.  After the Beatles (who, lets face it, were so different from any other pop group) my youth were the days of bubble gum rock.  Does anyone remember  “Sugar Sugar’ by the Archies?  Here’s an earworm for you:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9nE2spOw_o.   Thanks , Don Kirshner.   Also an invention of marketing: the Monkees  Thank  Neil Diamond for, “I’m a Believer.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ePXck9H1pI.  Who sang it  better, tho? :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2MLlZKarM.  1966. The Monkees are actually not playing instruments in this video.

I thought the Who’s Tommy was revolutionary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyNGQ2wUSVM  So  was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDmRkwLJRig&list=PLErbDSFLGR5wkpqDDd3kYUhPFKNEhCAl5&index=1   Were either of those rock albums in the classic sense?
Most of my music listening was in the car in the 1970’s going to  & from work. Barry Manilow, a commercial songwriter,  had a number of hit songs in the 1970s, .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ziLFzfWusw .  Then disco was becoming huge. To me, that was mostly  a drum kit in a box. I’m not a dancer.  Except for the BeeGees, I hardly paid attention, and then only because my sister thought they were great.   But what can you tell about musicianship by songs on the radio?  We all know that producers get a lot of credit because they make music.  The sound quality on radio is always compromised.  It was 1977  when I heard Steely Dan & couldn’t get enough of  Deacon Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ziLFzfWusw And everyone was listening to AJA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG2seugAgnU  . Steely Dan—the group that was not a group: Fagin and Becker WERE interested in actual music. Did anyone actually care that they weren’t a ‘group’? They  bring a big band with them. Summerfest in Milwaukee in 2007  was incredible.  Hearing the crowd actually quietly singing along to Aja: mindblowing.  I saw them twice at Ravinia. Too bad so many ‘fans’  can’t sit in a venue seat for an hour ( ‘1st Merit Bank ‘pavilion’ —–what pavilion?  Had it rained, we would have all been  goners… in 2016.  –they allow drinks to be sold by walking vendors throughout the concert!  Like at a ball game!  So it disintegrated into vendors & drunks running all over).


That’s why I didn’t & still don’t go to rock concerts The money and the crowds.   More important,  when you go to a concert in a stadium, you hear sound system, not the actual music.    I went to  small clubs and heard John Mayall with Sugarcane Harris—live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xrPJxDs-X8

  I gradually drifted to jazz, and I loved going to small clubs and hearing big bands.  I heard  Woody Herman & the Thundering Herd a couple of times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUivj0WXaDU .  I heard Lionel Hampton live, and Gary Burton several times.  In a small room, you really hear the music.  So, even though I heard Queen songs on the radio and found them to be compelling (how can you not listen to Bohemian Rhapsody?), I liked the music, but wasn’t into the show.  They weren’t jazz, weren’t actually heavy metal.  Glam rock?  Not interested.  They sounded produced.  Yet, how often have so many of us heard songs by Queen, and  said, “Who is that?”  In the USA, at least since the  mid 1990s, you could not go to a basketball game & not hear “We Will Rock You,” or “We Are the Champions.”  And the past several month I have heard  three Queen songs in  three different advertisements.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfmrHTdXgK4 .  There are enough videos on line where you can  see actual performances, and learn about Freddie Mercury’s  life of excess. Queen were not just serious musicians, they were  serious performers and appreciated  that Freddie could not just sing, but put on a show that entranced people.  But the music…can you top this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v15oIktGJOo&t=16s ?    Or, how about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWTRuyWwCRs  . No synthesizers….all May, Taylor , and Deacon backing Freddie on piano. This is also Freddie Mercury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7icIbZYvEtk.  Yep…same guy who jumped around in a catsuit.  He wrote that.  He also wrote & performed this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA2IRoPFIn0  What  a musician, What a stage presence. 

Well have to give Brian May and Roger Taylor the benefit of the doubt with choosing  Adam Lambert as a lead singer.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHTalNt_TAw.  Especially since they are still choosing to tour and do stadium shows. At least this isn’t …the Archies.

Book Reviews: Lower River by Paul Theroux & 3 Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin & Greg Mortenson

November 2, 2018

I love Paul Theroux as a writer, and he served  in Peace Corps in Malawi (where I also served about 40 years after him). Thus, I was interested in  this book, which is a bit of a horror story,  His main character, after a divorce and selling his business, chooses to go back to the village he served in  to  support the school he helped build.  Unfortunately, it is merely a shell, & other misfortunes befall the guy.  I know it is fiction, but I also know the story is plausible.  If you’ve never ben to Malawi, his description is accurate.

I recently picked up “Three Cups of Tea,” as it is ubiquitous in the book bins &  resale stores.  For those who don’t know the gist, Mortenson, who was actually raised in Tanzania, became a mountain climber, attempting K2,  and got lost.  A villager in a very remote area in Pakistan found him, and he promised to build  the village a school. That he did.    He networked among other climbers to help find  donors and sponsors,  and in the end, in the  1990s, Th Central Asia Institute (https://centralasiainstitute.org) was founded.  Now, their board is mostly Asians who oversee fundraising  and project development.  You can go on Wikipedia and learn Mortenson was charged with mismanaging funds and taking liberties with the truth.

That said, you  DO get the gist of what Mortenson did and what he was up against, and some of the history of what was going on at the time.  Both books are worth the read if you are the typical American ‘do-gooder’ type.  You learn  that nothing gets done without local ownership of the project.  You also learn that, as we Americans have allowed our government to  give foreign aid to both countries among others, and  what a waste it is.  Should we have to give up Social Security and Medicare to fund corrupt governments in the name of democracy? What a joke!  Should our military veterans have to wait over a week for care, or be homeless, so we can  give weapons and training to  militaries that rip off their citizens (and even brutalize them)?  Yet… that we do.

Both books are great reads.

Irritating issues in American Life: Problems & solutions

October 6, 2018

Is America a great country—or what?   In what country can you criticize government practices & not be thrown in jail for  being an enemy of the state?  My  current beef is about  a getting  a city sticker for my car.  See, in Illinois, you don’t just get a license plate for the car,  which is a state fee…you also have to buy a  new sticker every year.  It’s a tax. And in Chicago,  you need to pay another tax, and the city sticker is evidence you paid the tax.  In fact, they mail you a notice that you have to pay & tell you that you can either pay  for a stamp & mail it in go to a currency exchange & pay—but then you have  to bring in evidence that you have the car registered (to the state) in your name (something I  do NOT understand—who is going to pay a tax for a vehicle they don’t own?)…or you can pay online with a credit card & you don’t have to prove anything.

I opted to pay online with a credit card….but I noticed they listed a car model that wasn’t right.  I  haven’t owned the car listed in  six years.  Here, I’ve been paying for the  sticker…yes, I bet I went to the currency exchange a few tines, or I paid on line, and they had the wrong model number  (& VIN) for the car. So, I called the city clerk’s office—-where they have the computers listing all this data, and asked to have them change the incorrect information.

A snooty woman answered the phone & was clearly put out having to actually talk to a citizen.  I asked her to change the model  type in the computer.  She told me she would not do that—-that I should go to a currency exchange. Then, she read me off my license plate number. Well, that was to the old car, too. I now have a totally different plate number.  I just sighed and hung up and bought the sticker…online.  I posted this information on a social media site for our neighborhood, and most people agreed with me—just buy the sticker—& here’s why:

If the car is in an accident, the police will look for a current  license plate & sticker for that plate. They will look at the permanent VIN number for the  car. They will look to make sure I have a sticker—but they won’t bother to trace the sticker.  They only care that I have paid the tax.

Have I broken the law?  It’s just a clerical error that somebody in the city clerk’s office didn’t  take care of when I originally bought the car & had to pay to have information transferred. Their mistake, not mine.  Move on.

Our street lights were out on the street behind my house. In some places, this is an alley…because there are no residential addresses on  the street.  However, the treet does have a name and it is on official maps.  This was not an emergency, so I called 311, the non-emergency  phone number, to report it. So did several of my neighbors. After  about six weeks & at least 4 of my phone calls, I called the alderman’s office to ask why this was not being taken care of.  The answer:  since there are no actual street addresses, and although I gave the 311 operator the  block number for the  street, they could not process the request without an actual street number, so it sat there.  The  alderman’s office just called the department of electricity directly—something a citizen could not do—and in 48 hours, problem solved.  You have to wonder how much the 311 operators are paid and who trains them.

A police officr was recently convicted of 2nd degree murder for shooting a teenager 16 times.  A whole can of worms here…from  several  police cars  and at least a dozen  other police officers already on the scene, all lying in their official reports of why  the shooting was justified. The problem—for them?  Dash cam video of the whole thing—of the kid walking AWAY from the shooter—not towards him.  & why were all the police standing around? They were waiting for a …taser.  We pay our millions to families of people ‘accidentally’ shot by police…why can’t we afford to equip every police car with a taser?  And—just as important—-we know all these police lied about the incident. What do we do with them?

I have some friends who just found out that—horrors—immigrants who are not citizens are voting in our elections.  They want this …fixed.  Here’s the problem of why it will not be fixed:  All  boards of elections are local. They get federal money filtered through the state, but they are charged with running free and fair elections….and, statistically,  for the most part they are….and that’s the best we can do. Why? They hire regular folks, like you and me—only more  addle brained, to actually sit in the polling places and run the elections.  You do get training, but it is really up to YOU to  ask what you don’t know.  Having done this for over 30 years, I try my best—-but there are usually  six other people serving with  me, and thy are all friends, are bored, and not paying attention. They do not take the  time to make sure the people they hand ballots to understand what they need to do to make their vote count.  In Chicago, we use a specific type of marker to mark paper ballots. Someone got a contract,  and that is what we do. We don’t have enough computers for everyone to vote electronically.  So, if some election judge is talking to her friend & ‘forgets’ to make sure you have a  special magic pen, yuor vote won’t count.  We also don’t generally tell people that taking a ballot is voting, and you don’t have to vote for anyone you don’t know. Don’t vote for judges if you don’t know how they judge—-this is how we get bad  judges.  But the parties don’t like this. In any case, since you can now register to vote on the same day you vote, all you have to do is show up with proof of i.d. listing your address.  You fill out a form and you can vote. Simple….except the  Secretary of State sends a postcard to everyone holding a driver’s license to tell them to vote.  & some of those people aren’t citizens.  In fact, many of those green card holders can’t even speak enough English to ask for a ballot, but they damn sure want to vote.  There is no citizenship test. You can’t ask, all you can  ask is for proof they live in the precinct at the address on their forms.  Usually, they can find at least 1 person who speaks their mother tongue to help them  sort this out.  Yes, this bothers me, but keeping it in perspective, it bothers me that  40 to 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote don’t bother.  That’s the real problem.

Refugee Children

June 22, 2018

I am generally uncomfortable around a gang of children.  I can manage  one to one conversations, but  a bunch of  kids under age 5 leaved me flummoxed.   There are a number of reasons I never had children of my own.  My parents  didn’t seem to be overly thrilled with the four of us.  I could see how much work a child would be, and what if I bore a handicapped child?  It was all I could do to keep myself afloat.  I had thought at some point I might foster, but when I looked at the economics of it, and the time constraints on all other activities, I knew I couldn’t manage this.

I was able to become a Peace Corps Volunteer because I didn’t have children.  In the country I served in, Malawi,  about 10% of the people living in country were refugees, mostly from Mozambique. And since everyone was dirt poor, it made no difference.  People farmed what they had as best they could.  I could not  imagine the strain of uprooting, the fear.  After I was out of Peace Corps, the Rwandan genocide happened, and there was ethnic cleansing in Bosnia,  I’ve met a lot of refugees.  You have to admire their determination.

But, in 2018, in the United States, the President—Trump—and the Republicans have turned desperate people into evil-doers.  I’ve met so many white Americans who think these people should ‘get in line’ & not cross ‘illegally’.  Americans  have no idea how many wealthy people ‘jump the queue’ and , while it is legal, they have often cheated people  in the countries they came from & continue to do so.

First of all, if you own a small business, you constantly meet foreigners who came ‘legally’ & overstayed their visas…who then finagle. Virtually all these people speak English and have  friends/relatives who might sponsor them, and they are mostly white, so they have a leg up.

Now, imagine you can’t read, and you don’t have access to a radio or TV…or the television stations are run by  your government.  You get all your info as either rumor or propaganda.  Men come to your community and know you are vulnerable, and they harass and threaten you and your children. Maybe your  husband has gotten into debt with them, or killed one of them, or caused 1 to lose a job. Your government won’t help you.  Worse, your government has been getting aid  from the USA (my government) to strengthen ‘civil society’ but has never been asked for an accounting.  The rumor is to go north to the USA ans ask for asylum.  You don’t know that there are ‘official crossing  points’.  You just go.  You are walking with  very young children.  Are you walking a mile?  No.  10 miles?  No.  You are walking hundreds of miles with kids, risking your lives, because  you would for sure be hurt or killed had you stayed.  You’re dealing with  finding food, a place to sleep, maybe transportation.  Gambling with the odds?  These people don’t know from the odds.  Can you imagine being this desperate?

Then, for reasons you don’t understand, you are separated from your children & told to wait.  So many Americans really believe these refugees knew they were breaking the law and would lose their kids.  Not true.  So this serves as no deterrent.

And can you imagine the terror of the children—some so small they can’t speak any language?  I remember the terror and panic I experienced  several times as a child. I am in my 60s and I still remember the physical feelings.

So, in the name or ‘rule of ‘law’ we have traumatized thousands of people for no other reason than enriching a  major GOP donor who charges my government over $700 a night per person to incarcerate them.

My government is raiding  Social Security & Medicare—-monies taken out of our paychecks for  security in the future, to pay for the  lavish lifestyle and  wants of their  leader…the president…and trying to make us think this all benefits us American citizens.  We should really be ashamed that we allowed the president to lie about this.