Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Perils of Country Life

The people who live in a trailer behind the church that is unfortunately several hundred yards off our property are the reason we spent more than $400 to dig a trench and line it with a rhizome barrier to plant a graceful arc of bamboo, which provides a living screen that looks beautiful in all seasons.

So far it has worked great, and for 7 years now, bamboo has been behaving and not taking over the mountain. Now if we could just find a sound screen! Judging from the sound of things, said neighbors have a billion yappy little dogs, all living outside. These people are clearly deaf. Every single weekend country-western music blares at concert decibel levels, and they fire up obnoxious noisy machines. I am pretty sure they don't have a concrete lawn, but it sounds like they are jack-hammering something, if not racing engines at mind-splitting levels. And every -- single -- day when they drive home, the yappy dogs begin a rousing chorus of discordant barking that lasts for hours. I timed three hours - that was the record so far. THREE.

I'd go over and introduce myself and tell them how impressive all this to me, (silly me, thinking country living could be serene), but I am pretty sure I am not a favorite of theirs, either. As I said, they are clearly deaf and I don't know sign language.

And several years ago they had a goat ((I don't know, it's the country, for gawd's sake)). This goat kept getting lose and ambling over to eat our plants and flowers, which were clearly superior to theirs. I would find said goat on our terrace chomping away on the container plants, and would wrestle the beast home. This went on three separate times. It finally appeared one day and scared the hell out of my old cat Xenon, who disappeared for a few days. We finally found him in the woods up a tree. Xenon was an old gentlemen at that time, and had no business living in the woods in a tree. We got him down, and he was traumatized for days. That was too much. You don't mess with my cats.

The neighbors came over shortly after that looking for the damn goat and asked if I'd seen it. "Yes," I replied. "It was delicious."

Damn if the silly thing never got loose again (I heard they found it). A friend suggested I present them with receipts from the plants the goat ate. Fat damn chance that'd do any good.

One time when we were out of town, our kitten dashed out of the house on a pet-sitter. Because she was doing all the wrong things to try to find her, I asked a friend to come over to try her hand at finding Phoenix. She walked down the neighbor's drive at 3 in the afternoon, and she said you would've thought she was sneaking through the woods with a mask on and a gun drawn by the reception she got. The man sprang from the trailer and acted totally whack (this is a petite blonde who doesn't look like she would hurt a fly). Meth lab, anybody??

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

bromance? bah!

The other day I caught the tail-end of the excellent movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and it got me thinking about all the insipid 'bromance' movies Hollywood has been churning out the past few years, and how they may be geared to young adults, but how very juvenile they are - more like for teens, even though the actors are well into their 20s and even their 30s.

Think of some of the classic buddy-bonding movies from the past. Besides the wonderful BC&tSK and Diner (covered in a recent post), there's The Sting, 48 Hrs., All the President's Men, Animal House, Midnight Run, Tombstone, Breaking Away...and those are a few just off the top of my head.

Not one of those movies relied on stupid, silly, dick and potty jokes and disgusting language. Although some had raunchy scenes and ribald humor, they were not as sophomoric and plain stupid as they are today. And yet they were as funny and absorbing as when they first came out. Will the Judd Apatow - Adam Sandler - Jim Carrey movies also hold up in the future? Highly doubtful.

I am no prude, and I can tolerate a fair amount of potty humor, if it isn't gratuitous, (though I'd rather not). Am I the only one bored of sub-standard movies touted as 'entertainment?'

And I'm not just picking on the boys here - am I also the only one less than enamored with Bridesmaids? Or Young Adult? Holy cow -- an Oscar nomination for one of the supporting leads in Bridesmaids? Really?!

Sadly, it was news that the movie focused on a comedy primarily made up of women - that women can't be as funny as men. Come on, Hollywood, mature women comprise your second biggest audience -- why do they feel it necessary to write about diarrhea/over-sexed moms? ( It seems that in the movies, all 'parents' over the age of 40 are oversexed, idiot losers....and all the women -- and men -- can't string a sentence together without saying fuck/shit/asshole, etc). Do you know these people in real life, not just reel life? If so, god help you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

They Shoot (and Stab) Horses, Don't They - But They Shouldn't

One of my blog-buddies told me about a blog that was in favor of horse slaughter and the reopening of slaughterhouses in the US. I tried to leave this post but it was too long, so I am posting it here. It is a long one and I apologize for that, but it is a long and complicated -- and important -- issue.

I hope you don’t mind hearing a dissenting opinion on your blog from a stranger. I see that you have researched this issue. But as you yourself admit, there is a vast difference between animals raised for human consumption and companion animals. As you stated, horses have been loyal and constant companion animals to humans for hundreds of years, helping develop and settle this nation, riding into battle, and used for farming, work, therapy, show, racing, hobby, trail riding, competition, etc. They are featured on license plates. Cars are named after them. They’re a symbol of the American West – of strength, independence, and freedom. And they deserve better. They deserve our protection and our care. The key to solving this problem lies in responsible ownership and breeding. People must realize they have a responsibility to animals that can live up to 30 years. And if they become unwilling or unable to care for their horse, there are far better options than slaughter, which I will elaborate upon.

Seventy percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Horsemeat has never been popular in the country and it never will. Horses are considered livestock, but are in a gray area, because they are primarily considered companion animals.

But the arguments that I feel you will respond to most are the following: Horses have a total impact on the U.S. GDP of $112.1 BILLION (American Horse Council). If slaughterhouses close, the rendering industry will have a strong economic reason to start processing horses again, providing more jobs throughout the US than just the few horse slaughter centers that would be reopened. The positive national economic impact of retaining live horses is far greater than the negative impact of closing a few slaughterhouses.

Horses will not starve to death. The horses slaughtered only represent 1 percent of the current population. Horses will be reabsorped into the current population. Equine rescues, riding associations, therapy facilities, retirement homes, and sanctuaries will absorb them into the current population. Overflow can be handled. Horsemeat is not the preferred meat for big cats in zoos and wild animal parks – beef, pig, and sheep meat is.

Of more importance to your argument, horses are not raised as food for humans. Horses receive medicines that the FDA and EU ban – meds for worming, fly repellant, aspirins and for illness, etc., and there is no system in place for monitoring this – no way to remove horses from the food chain once they have been given routine medicines for a variety of reasons.

Finally, 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in sound health and good condition and can be absorbed into the population if people weren’t outbid by killer buyers at auction, who operate out of greed. Horse slaughter has declined in the past 20 years and the horse industry has absorbed the horses that would have gone to slaughter. (From 413,786 in 1990 to 66,400 in 2002 – just 1 to 2 percent of the population).

There is a long history of horrific abuse and neglect with slaughterhouses, including the three that were operating in the US. They were all in violation of environmental laws related to the disposal and death of the horses and other materials. Ending slaughterhouses won’t impact the federal government. If a horse needs to be killed, there are humane ways of euthanasia – which costs much less than the cost of a month’s care..

In slaughter houses, horses are typically not fed, watered, taken care of, are abused and whipped, and the typical way they are killed is to sever their spinal cord that leaves them paralyzed and unable to move or breathe, but still conscious as they are hoisted, bled out, and dismembered. Most are not killed by the contained shot method.

There are far better options for ‘unwanted’ horses that because of financial hardship, or horses that are too old or infirm, or injured to be wanted, or too dangerous, or just that people no longer want them, than slaughtering. As I said earlier – horses deserve better, and horse slaughter isn’t the viable option. I know this post is a long one, but the issue is complicated and involved. Thanks for letting me air this side.