Unlikely & Unruly Pets

In this post, Phlegmmy relates a hilarious story of a run-in she had with a woman and her ill-mannered pet monkey. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. Her story reminds me of some of the more odd pets I’ve seen and the ensuing hilarity of unusual pets.

For entirely too long, I slaved worked in Hell the auto parts business. For any of you that have not worked in auto parts, do yourself a favor and avoid it. As long as there is more dignified work available, like table dancing or animal semen collection, you’re better off avoiding the politics and drama of auto parts altogether.

In auto parts retail, I worked under a store manager that acquired a most unusual pet. We had just weathered a massive rain storm that caused flooding, tree damage, and a general washing out of the entire area. He was doing some post storm cleaning when he saw several tiny rodents in a pile of leaves. Upon first glance, he thought that they were dead baby rats that had been washed out by the storm. Upon closer inspection, he realized that they were squirrel kits. Several of them were indeed dead from drowning, but two of them were still alive.

Oddly, this small distinction washed away his initial disgust and elicited his compassion for the creatures. He put them in a cardboard box with a blanket and a heat lamp and started feeding them some kind of formula. I’ve seen people attempt similar stunts. Heck, I live with someone who is prone to this type of decision. I’ve come to expect the rescued animal(s) to be in poor enough health that no amount of nursing will save them. One of his squirrels didn’t make it, but the other one returned to health and grew up.

These animals required around the clock care, and my manager was committed to the task, even bringing them to the store with him. The surviving one was dubbed “Indiana Jones” by his kids, which was shortened to “Indie” when they discovered the rodent was female. If anyone tries to tell you that squirrels aren’t smart, they clearly have little experience with them. Indie and the manager developed quite the relationship. He had a bad temper and would frequently be set off by her rodential antics. He would yell at the animal at the store, and she would respond by chattering back at him. When he attempted to grab her in anger, she would leap onto his shirt and run around his torso as a squirrel does a tree trunk in the wild. This would only escalate his anger, which only made it funnier to watch. In case you don’t already know, a squirrel is fully capable of running across your chest, around your back, up your neck, down to your ankles, and around again before you have a chance to blink. He was no match for her speed or agility, and she knew it. Part of me wanted to witness the inevitable scene in which she caused him to die from a massive heart attack.

In more peaceable times, Indie would sit on the parts counter and they’d share a bag of Chex Mix or Combos. Customers would approach the counter and point out the animal, “Um… You know that… You know that there’s a squirrel eating your chips?”

“Yeah,” he would answer, “That’s Indie. She’s my squirrel.”

Ultimately, he stuck with his original plan which was to nurse the animal to health, see that it reached maturity, and release it back into the wild. He put food and water out for Indie at first, and she did come back to see him. Her visits got less and less frequent over the next few weeks as her little mind returned to the wild. Eventually, she was reintegrated and didn’t return again.

I’m not sure that the world is a better place for one more squirrel. There are plenty of people that would prefer the world with far fewer of them. I think that Indie was good for my manager though. Sometimes, we need something to love and take care of. I have plenty of negative things that I could say about him as a person, and the tantrums that his squirrel elicited were impressive, but the experience certainly brought out the best in him. Every time my dad complains about the squirrels on his property, I think of Indie and smile.

Blogroll Facepalm

It was not that long ago that I had pretty much given up on reading blogs. Then, I got off my lazy butt and set up my Google reader. Between that and FoxVox, I have my laptop read a bunch of blogs to me. When I set it up, I pretty well copied my blogroll and subscribed to everything there. Whenever I am interested to see what someone in particular has to say, I’ll look for them in my reader. So yesterday, I was looking in my reader for my friend’s, AEPilot Jim’s, blog. How unusual. It wasn’t in my reader. So I fell back on my previous method which was to pull up my blog and link over from my blogroll. How odd. I couldn’t find him there either. Because he wasn’t in my blogroll. At all. And that’s weird. So, that’s now fixed, and he’s there. If you don’t already read him, you probably should. Funny guy to say the least. And, if you think that you should be in my blogroll, please do speak up. I’m probably not excluding you so much as being ditzy.

Blogorado 2011 Recovery

AEPilot Jim warns us about Post Blogorado Depression. I have to admit that I was a little bummed to have to leave such fine company. PBD really hit me though when we walked in the front door. We discovered that our cats had gotten mad at our absence and sought revenge by relieving themselves under our dining room table. Upon finding the mess, I announced to Jennifer, “Alright. Let’s go back.” ๐Ÿ˜› We did get the cat mess cleaned up promptly and it appears to have been localized right there.

Blogorado Roll Call & Thank You’s

In no particular order…

Thank you Jennifer for coming with me on all my stupid adventures. You’re my best friend and lover and I can’t imagine going without you.

Thank you Farm Fam! Farm Mom‘s cooking and hospitality were top-notch, Farm Girl was as sweet and yet snarky as ever, and Farm Dad was quite accommodating and conversational. Again, that’s a sweet range you’ve set up, Farm Dad. You are inspirational! OBTW, we took pickles home. *NOM, NOM, NOM!!!*

Old NFO, it was a pleasure as always. I’m always looking forward to the next time I can sit and chat with you. Thanks for giving tips to the kids and thanks for helping to prepare the range for the rest of us.

Thank you AEPilot Jim for helping to set up the range, and for sharing your big ole rifle. I’m going to have to put in some time with some scoped rifles so I get it better. Unfortunately, presenting it to me at my level of incompetence was largely pearls before swine. I’ll try to rectify that though. It is cool, I just can’t fully appreciate it yet.

Nerds: So awesome to get to chat with you again. Before we met, I didn’t realize how well we would get along with you. At this point, I think we’re well on the way to fast friendhood. Thank you Stingray for your generosity with the beer and the ammo. I owe you like a box of .44 Magnum or something. We’ll work it out. LabRat, it was great talking with you. You two are lucky to have each other, and I’m definitely looking forward to our next encounter.

Although it wasn’t our first time to meet, it was really awesome to actually get to talk with you, Tam. Thank you for being so generous with your ammunition, and with your tips to the kids. I believe you are right that they will wind up excellent with guns with a little patient guidance. The advice they got over the weekend from people that aren’t us was invaluable.

Spear, I’m looking forward to seeing what you can do with the M&P. Your knife is on my workbench in my studio and I’m looking forward to seeing pics of what you would like for it. Thanks for being such a good sport about everything, and do take care of that girl of yours.

Jason, that’s some beautiful engraving work you’re doing. Keep up the good work! Thanks for showing up and throwing lead with the rest of us.

Ambulance Driver, thank you so much for your patient direction with the kids and your generosity with the ammo, brother. Just out of curiosity, how many 9mm cartridges do fit into a mil-surp ammo can?

Christina, thanks for the hand rub. I’ll try to do better with my stretches, but I’ll likely take a good had rub at any opportunity. With the work I do, I can use them anytime I can get them.

Phlegmmy, it’s always several kinds of wonderful to see you. We’ll have to have you out to the house sometime before too long. Thanks for letting me try out your funky revolving carbine/shotgun thingy. I definitely prefer it to it’s handgun brethren.

LawDog, ran out of time and didn’t get to chat with you enough. Well, I could probably say that for everyone in the group. But still, I hope I get to talk to you more next time I see you.

SciFi and Mrs. SciFi, it was great to see you again and make fun of accents. Next time we’re going to have to show up earlier so we won’t miss out on the sea roaches. Thanks for traveling so far to see the rest of us reprobates.

Matt G, I know that Baby Girl was pretty antagonistic towards you over the weekend, and I know that you have the physical ability to squash her like a bug. Thanks for your patience. We’re working with her and I hope for her to be a little more personable next time you see her. It was still pretty awesome to get to see you. You should bring your wife to these things more often.

JPG, thanks for spotting me shooting the revolvers at the 350-yard car. That was incredibly fun. As always, it was wonderful to see you and your wonderful family.

Holly, it was pretty awesome to sit and chat with you when my hand hurt too bad to shoot (before I went back and shot more anyway). Even though you didn’t mention the braster this weekend, I haven’t forgotten about it. There will be some such animal. I can’t let one of my local competitors steal all the thunder on that one…

Salamander, it was great to finally meet you! Thanks for not quite wearing the most disturbing costume. ๐Ÿ˜› I hope to bump into you again soon.

Thanks for the great weekend everyone! Let’s do it again!

Blogorado – Kids Shooting

Many thanks to the Farm Fam as well as all the other guests at the Secret Location where we burned up so much ammo. The weekend was a singularly sublime experience. The food was wonderful, the shooting was a therapeutic pleasure, and the company was unmatched. I was so very glad that we were able to bring Wee Bot and Baby Girl with us.

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The kids had a blast in every sense of the word. Although Wee Bot spent most of Saturday finding ‘cool’ rocks to bang against each other, he made up for it with trigger time on Sunday.

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The kids shot.

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And shot.

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And shot.

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The funniest part though had to be when Baby Girl asked if she could shoot Jennifer‘s M&P9c. Jennifer told her that she could and that we would need to check and see how much 9mm we had brought. That’s when Ambulance Driver succumbed to the cuteness. I mean, how could he possibly resist this little girl who only wanted to put a few 9mm slugs down range? “Tell you what,” he said, pointing to a surplus ammo can that was full of loose 9mm ammunition, “You can shoot as much of this as you want to. Just help yourself.” Little did he realize that this was much like giving a blank check to the Devil himself and that she would want to shoot ALL OF IT!

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I don’t know how many loose rounds of 9mm will fit in a surplus ammo can, but I know how long Baby Girl can empty one of those suckers. And then, she turned around and did the same thing to Tam. Tam only asked that she not use up the nickle-plated cased rounds because those are her bowling pin ammo. Baby Girl dutifully used up all the other ammo that was in that can. At one point in the afternoon, the pistol stopped functioning because of carbon build up from all the shooting. Jennifer had to strip and clean it at the range so Baby Girl could keep shooting it. I know she burned up quite a bit of .38 Special and .357 Magnum as well. Heck, she shot .357 Magnum out of Jennifer’s snubby! She shot .44 Special from one of Salamander‘s 629PCs. The kids burned up over a thousand rounds of .22lr that we brought, and who knows how many others beyond that.

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The kids both got a lot of valuable advice from people with far more experience than either Jennifer or me, and it paid off in the end. Each of them was putting lead on target significantly more reliably than they had started on Saturday morning. Although on Saturday morning the other shooters seemed a little nervous to have children on the range, the kids quickly earned the trust and respect of the group with their superb safety discipline. I’m not aware that anyone had to correct either of them on safety issues for the entire weekend, and I received many compliments from my fellow shooters concerning their discipline. Tam went so far as to say that Baby Girl’s shooting was improving so rapidly that she could be a fierce competitor with the right guidance and practice. Old NFO commented with laughter about her preference for big bore and Magnum loads. By Sunday afternoon, Baby Girl was running the pistol range on her own and pinging steel targets more often than not, at a speed that was remarkable for a ten-year-old who only first touched a gun three months ago.

A couple of conclusions –
1 – Baby Girl’s adventurous nature has really pushed Wee Bot to broaden his horizons and play harder with the guns. This is a good thing.
2 – I’m going to need to buy Baby Girl a M&P9. I’ll have to keep my eyes open on the used racks for such an animal.
3 – I need to be reloading. I’ve been saving revolver brass, but it’s time to start saving 9mm and .45 brass as well. My Rock Chucker is not going to be able to handle the volume that I’m going to need to crank out. Maybe I’ll go in on a progressive with my brother…
4 – Ammo cans full of loose ammunition are freaking sweet! I want a few in every caliber I shoot.

Child Sexualization

Last week, I posted an entry concerning child abuse and sexual predators. I said that I had more thoughts on the subject, and I would like to address those now. One of my commenters, Rabid Alien, says the following:

I think that there may be extenuating circumstances in some rare cases (โ€œThat pretty college co-ed over there with the valid-looking ID that says sheโ€™s 20 is actually HOW OLD????โ€), but on this topic, I prefer to assume maximum guilt until proven conclusively otherwise.

He brings up a very valid point that brings up many more questions. One of the big problems facing our society today is the oversexualizaion of children. From toys to clothing to television to the very educational system, our children have sexuality shoved down their throats from the time they learn how to speak. People will say things like, “Children today are trying to grow up so fast,” or “Children today are more mature than we were at their age,” but I call BS on that. It does not originate from them. They are simply reflecting everything that they unfortunately see around them. The big difference is that they are being pushed by media and industry to grow up too fast and they are under pressures that we never were at their age.

Ms. Blog Magazine, and Beauty Redefined among many others have illustrated over and over again how little girl’s toys specifically have changed over the years to show imagery of sexuality that they completely lacked when I was a child. For example:

On the left is the Strawberry Shortcake that my cousins played with when I was growing up. She’s largely shapeless with Raggedy Ann hair and poofy clothing. On the right is her current incarnation. She’s got long hair, fuller lips and big, sparkling, green eyes. Her clothing is form-fitting and she is not only more human-like, she’s also way more feminine. Am I the only one who finds this a little creepy? My cousins didn’t seem to have a problem with their old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake toys. I never once heard them complain about how blobby and unfeminine she was. In fact, I remember my cousin complaining about her Hawaii-themed troll doll being ‘gross’ because they had filled her top with ‘busoms’. Yes, she did actually use the word ‘busoms’. It is my opinion that these new toy sexy makeovers are not targeting children today, but their parents, the kids of the ’80s that played with the originals. Because, this and this are obviously not intended for kids and are NSFW, in fact. I believe the marketing strategy is to appeal to parents in their twenties and thirties though nostalgia and to give a hat-tip to the fact that they’re all grown up now. If you can get Mom to pay for your POS toy, you’ve succeeded. The kid doesn’t have control over the purse strings anyway. Remember how the commercials made you want all the toys in 1984? They’re still trying to manipulate you. A quick google search will reveal that pretty much every major ’80s girl toy you can think of has a modern, sexed-up counterpart. I remember people complaining about the possibility of Barbie causing body image issues twenty years ago. I think those same people have died from shock by this point.

My full time doctor aunt hand sews quite a bit of clothing for my little twelve-year-old cousin because of the abysmal availability of tasteful girls’ clothing. Booty shorts, midriff tops, and fitted pants with text across the butt may have their place, but it is not on our daughters and neices. I’ve been through the department stores and I know that it can be hard, but there is still a lot of cute clothing out there that isn’t suggestive. When you are shopping clothing for your kids, try to think about how bad people might react to the clothing. When I see that my son’s clothing gets outgrown, it goes away. He doesn’t wear it because he’s trying to be sexy but because he’s too much in a hurry to dig in his drawer for another clean pair of jeans. We get rid of his outgrown clothing because he looks goofy in his high waters. Perfectly modest fitting clothing turns into skimpy outgrown clothing. The little girls are under a lot of pressure to look certain ways to get attention. They don’t necessarily yet understand that not all attention is positive. All children should be taught to express themselves, but in ways that are self-respectful. I hate the way my son’s hair looks right now, but I remember that my parents wouldn’t let me wear my hair the way I wanted to because they hated what I wanted. Jennifer and I have told Wee Bot that he can wear it however he likes as long as he does it on purpose. She keeps saying to me that it just looks terrible, and I have to remind her that it looks like the other boys’ hair. He can wear it how he likes it = self expression. He will style it and not wear bed head = self respect. My lovely wife recently discussed looking like a victim versus not. Just as the bruise on her cheek and the cut on her chin made her look to some like a victim, if your pre-teen daughter is wearing a halter top with a pair of yoga pants that say ‘sweet pink’ on the rear, she’ll get noticed by people that you don’t want her to. There are predators out there and they bear full responsibility of their deeds, but don’t bait them for goodness sakes. You can find articles on dressing your kids chic and modestly here or here. A quick Google search will return hundreds of other examples.

I honestly don’t watch a whole lot of television. My son similarly doesn’t watch much TV. This is not to say that none of us ever watches the screen. Conversely, we watch a lot of media streaming on the internet, and we watch quite a few DVDs. I’ve seen entirely too many parents send their kids off to watch whatever they want on their own. Believe it or not, there is stuff being broadcast that depicts situations that are too mature for your kid to process on their own. When Wee Bot and I take our lunch break, we watched the entire contents of Homestar Runner. Now that we have finished that, we are watching the Pinky and The Brain series streaming online. The three of us have been working our way through the Gunslinger Girl series. Not everything that we watch with him is strictly intended for his age. We try to stick to stories that are enjoyable that he can follow along with, and certainly nothing that gets way out of his age range. If the story heads into a theme that is a little more mature in nature, we take a moment to explain it to him, make it a learning experience, and ask him if he understands and how it makes him feel. We’re down to the last episode of Gunslinger Girl. Without spoiling it too much, it’s a bit of a tear-jerker. I wonder how that is going to go over with him. But, I’m sure we’ll be fine. If your kid starts quoting Montel Williams or Jersey Shore, you haven’t been doing your job. I guarantee you that your kid will grow up just fine with absolutely no broadcast television whatsoever. Failing that, I won’t judge you for responsibily monitering what your kids watch in moderation.

In an attempt to skirt the controversial issue of sex education, suffice it to say that our children should be educated about sexuality before they actually have sexuality. Some will say that abstinence-only is the only way for school to teach and others will scoff and say that abstinence has no place being taught in the classroom. I personally do not believe that it should be left to public education or any kind of school to teach sexuality. I think that it is a far more personal matter that should be discussed within the family and that children should largely direct the discussion. That is to say, when Johnny is ready to learn about birds and bees, if he’s given a safe and comfortable place, he’ll ask when he’s ready to know about it. When he asks why the zebras at the zoo were giving piggy-back rides, it’s your duty as a parent to answer with honesty and age appropriateness. Tall order, right? Um yeah. That’s why formalized sex education is necessary. You may be a good enough parent and Johnny will never ask because he feels too embarrassed. Johnny may ask and catch you off guard and you may choke. Would you trust an institution that returns an 86% literacy rate to teach your kids how their bodies work? Somewhere in this debate on education and sex, they started handing out condoms in schools. So the philosophy is that since kids will be having sex anyway, let’s give them condoms and teach them how to use them. Congratulations, you have just invited children to have sex. So, it’s okay for them to have sex with each other, but it may or may not be okay to mix ages, depending on some string of formulas and arbitrary lines in the sand, depending on what state you are in… Oh s#!+.

What I’ve just laid out is a total and complete recipe for disaster that is guaranteed to produce adults that are victims of childhood sexual abuse. We as parents are given entirely too many opportunities to fail to protect our children and it seems like the world is trying to trip us from all sides. There are parents who through neglect or ignorance, will have children who are the perfect victims. Those children interact with our children and it puts pressure on our children to dress certain ways, watch certain television shows, play with certain toys, and to learn things that they may not yet be ready to know. The bad guys now have perfect little victims walking around, most likely with inattentive parents, and they will at one time or another play out their sick fantasies. When they are successful they will do it again. And again. Some will make a career out of it. Even if you are an exemplary parent who does everything exactly right, these evil people out there have been given confidence and will be more bold. The adult victims of childhood sexual abuse tend toward more abnormal sexual behavior and desires, sometimes including pedophilia. And so the cycle accelerates. I’m not at all offering excuses for anyone who acts upon their desires with evil intent, which brings us full-circle back to the original topic of Peter’s post that started my whole rant on this subject.

So, there are underage girls out there who dress sexier than is appropriate for their youth, and through unmonitored television, school, and society as a whole are taught that they are expected to be sexual. If they were victimized before, they may be showing an inappropriate knowledge of sexuality and even a desire for it, as was pointed out in the aforementioned blog post. If they are one of the girls affected by the ‘hormones in the chicken’ or whatever, then we have the situation that commenter Rabid Alien mentions. Someone like Rabid Alien is smart enough to check age somehow to stay above reproach. If the girl turns out to be twenty-nine, she’ll likely be quite flattered. If it was someone like me, the girl wouldn’t have the mental or emotional maturity to keep me interested. She may have a mature appearance, but it takes more time and experience to gain the mental and emotional maturity that many men require for anything beyond head-turning attraction. But here’s where it gets really ugly.

The scumbags that would deliberately take advantage of young girls deserve the worst of punishment, even to the point of cruel and unusual. As OldNFO said on my preceding entry, they don’t deserve to live. I used to think that I was singular in the amount of rage that they generated, but this seems to be a fairly universal attitude from what I’ve seen. That’s in part why the police departments set up sting operations. An officer pretends to be a kid online in hopes of catching the internet pedophile. The problem is that unlike a young girl who may not have the mental or emotional maturity to pull it off; a mature, experienced police officer likely does know which buttons to push. A police officer with the tools of their maturity, posing as a nearly legal girl on the internet to seduce a lonely young man is nothing short of entrapment. They will even cross state lines to make an arrest and will justify it by saying that although you are in State X, you committed the crime in State Y via the internet. As emotionally charged as the issue is, there will be no such thing as a fair trial by jury as it will be impossible to draw a jury who will not be emotionally reactive to the situation. If you were to have to fight in court against false charges, you would be better off with murder or drug trafficking.

Morals of the story? Raise your kids right. Be open and honest with them. Don’t let the world teach them how to respect themselves first or you will lose. Protect them from all the dangers of the world, influencary and predatory. Teach them how to protect themselves. Also, if you are a young man, don’t be stupid. Even if you are a good guy, you can be framed and grilled to appease public anger. I have yet more thoughts relating to this subject, but I managed to comfortably cross that two thousand word mark this time. So, the rest will have to wait for another time.

Kilted to Kick Cancer – The Results

Ambulance Driver has the results posted here. It cracks me up that he won his own contest, but I can’t think of anyone else who deserves it more. I’d like to thank everyone that donated on my behalf, and I’d like to blow a big old raspberry at you who didn’t. Kidding, of course. In the contest, I placed pretty much exactly where I expected to – neither at the top nor the bottom, but pretty close to the middle of the standings. But really, there were no ‘losers’ in this game. We all went out there, spread awareness of male-specific cancers, and raised a pretty nice chunk of change that is going to a great cause. I’d like to tip my hat to everyone involved – to AD for poking us all with the stick, to everyone that was Kilted to Kick Cancer, and to everyone who graciously gave toward this worthy goal.

Kilted to Kick Cancer – Last Chance

The liquor store around the corner is run by a Korean family. They are very nice people. The son has very little accent and many people don’t realize that he wasn’t born here. His parents (known to the public as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’, both have hard accents and have their struggles getting integrated into Western culture.

When I walked into the store in my kilt, Mom got curious and shouted, “What you doing? Why you wearing skirt?”

I was pressed for time and since I knew that it would be particularly difficult to explain the cancer awareness deal to her, I simply explained, “It’s not a skirt. It’s a kilt.”

“Oh,” she responded in bewilderment, “Is very nice.”

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Folks, we’re down to the nitty gritty on this deal as the contest closes today. I had no delusions that I would actually win the contest, but I’d really like to at least be a contender. It’s not too late, but it’s close. So please. Give a donation for me to the Prostate Cancer Foundation here or LiveStrong here. Thank you in advance! FWIW, one of my supporters just won a really sweet gun case! Clearly, donating on my behalf generates good luck for the giver.