Animal Lovers on Social Media

I just want to start this rant with the admission that I’m crazy about cats and can’t resist petting a friendly dog! I’m more of a cat lady than a dog lady, but I love animals of all sorts! The childhood nickname my parents bestowed upon me was Elly May, the teen or twenty-something animal-lover on The Beverly Hillbillies. I have spent a lifetime falling in love with one animal after another.

I have noticed, however, a particular online phenomenon among lovers of dogs and cats. I first observed the phenomenon early in my Facebook days, back in 2010 or 2011.

I’m sure the phenomenon isn’t restricted to dog and cat fanciers. It probably also carries over to fanciers of snakes, rats, birds, turtles, etc., but it’s very prevalent among those with a preference to felines and/or canines.

The phenomenon can be described as follows…

Somebody posts a photo of their dog. The dog is a St. Bernard with orange, black and white markings.

One third of the comments will be complimentary – people who think the dog is cute.

Another third will find fault in something related to the photo or video. Some people might have a problem with the toy the dog is playing with. Others may find fault in a brand of dog food if the bag or can is in the photo. Some find fault with the leash, the expression on the dog’s face (“he must be sad – he’s probably being abused!”) or some other form of abuse or neglect that they imagine because they consider themselves animal advocates and assume every animal on Facebook is being mistreated.

The final third will all say the dog in the photo looks just like their Fido, Snookie or Rex. Many of these people, after gushing over the dog’s resemblance to their own beloved canine pal, will post a photo of their dog so the world can compare the resemblance. The look-alike might be a St. Bernard, but he’s far more likely to be a boxer, beagle or chihuahua. The “perfect resemblance” might be in the markings, the color(s) or the shape of the left front paw.

Likewise, somebody can post a photo of Christian the Lion and a hundred people with house cats will say, “That looks just like my Fluffy!” The resemblance might be an orange coat, the shape of the ears, the number of whiskers both cats possess or the fact that they both have a proud posture.

When you read, “He/she looks just like my…”, it’s unlikely that anyone else in the world will be able to detect an identical resemblance.

What’s even funnier is when someone shares the “comparison photo” of their furry friend and says of the posted photo, “That looks just like my Ginger … If Ginger were black, and about five times smaller, and a dog – but if she were a black dog and five times smaller, they’d be twins!

I have known people who will see a photo of Lassie and two weeks later, a photo of Benji, and they’ll respond to both with, “He looks just like my Fifi!” … who happens to be a pink Poodle.

It’s okay to admire all of the online animal photos that get posted, but if you find an “exact resemblance” between your poodle and Lassie (a collie) or your gray tabby and the Cowardly Lion, I’m a little worried about you.

Perhaps you really do think your Beagle looks just like a Great Dane, but I sure hope your Beagle never goes missing. People might wonder about you if you lose Snoopy and return with Marmaduke, never realizing your dog is still missing and you’ve stolen somebody else’s dog.

For the totally clueless, I do offer this piece of advice: If Snoopy used to eat a cup or two of food every day and now requires a cow’s carcass to maintain his weight, you might have the wrong dog.

The Unlikely Origins of Two Words

The word son consist of three letters and one syllable. The word daughter is nearly three times as long, consisting of two syllables.

Both words have Old English roots and were adopted from other languages, but it’s not the origins of the words that trouble me – it’s how terribly different the two words are.

(Note: The following story has no basis in fact.)

I’m sure son came first. It seems to be the practice of mankind to cater to the males first and then, as an afterthought, toss the remaining crumbs to the females.

Based on this historical view of the sexes, I think the two words may have become a part of the spoken language in the following manner.

The Origin of “Son”

Ooga and Booga are a woman and man with four boys. Ooga has just prepared a meal for her family.

Ooga – Booga, call Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum. I make food to eat.

Booga – We need word for little mans so we can call all four at same time.

Ooga – But we call them “boys”.

Booga – I tired of all other cavemans boys coming when I call for boys. We need word for our boys.

Ooga – We shall call them our sons – like the giant ball of fire in the sky that gives life.

Booga – I like! I like very much! One syllable! Easy to pronounce! Yes, we shall call them sons.

The Origin of “Daughter”

A thousand years later, Olga has prepared a meal for her family and asks her husband to call their girls in for dinner.

Olga – Bolga, go call the girls in for supper.

Bolga – Every time I call for the girls twenty other girls show up. I can’t afford to feed the entire village! We need a word, just for the girls who belong to us. We call our male children sons. We need a word for our female children.

Olga – I don’t have time for this right now! The food is getting cold. I’ll tell you what you should do – go look out at the meadow. The first thing you see is what we will call our girls.

Bolga stepped outside of their modest little hut and looked at the meadow where he saw a lion greedily eating his prey. The lion’s dinner was a species of animal that was growing rarer by the day and was in great danger of becoming extinct.

The animal was well loved as a companion animal for its sweet, gentle and trusting demeanor, but nature had not provided it with proper defenses to fight off predators and it was therefore just twenty years away from dying out.

Bolga returned to his hut.

Olga – What did you see?

Bolga – I saw a lion eating a wild prairie daughter. From this day forward, we shall call our female children daughters.

Olga – They’re not puppies! I don’t know if I like that word.

Bolga – It’s perfect! The prairie daughters are almost gone. They’re dying out. In another 20 years nobody will have ever even seen one.

Olga – My concern has more to do with our girls taking on the characteristics of the prairie daughters. What if they grow meek, mild and irresistible, falling prey to men?

Bolga – That would never happen! We’re humans, not animals! We’re a lot smarter than they are.

Olga – Oh my gosh, Bolga! Your hand is bleeding! What happened to you?

Bolga – Oh, it’s nothing. I just lost a couple of fingers this morning. I found an alligator and stuck my hand in his mouth to see what he would do.

Olga – Smarter than the animals, indeed!

The End

Actual origins:

Old English dohtor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dochter and German Tochter

Son as a word originated before 900 BCE; from Middle English sone, Old English sunu; cognate with Dutch zoon, German Sohn, Old Norse sunr, sonr, Gothic sunus, Lithuanian sūnùs

Donut’s School Days

I generally peek outside before exiting my house to ensure that the hillbilly neighbors aren’t outside so that I can sneak out in peace.

Extroverts who read this might not understand this habit of mine, but surely even extroverts can understand the need to dodge annoying people.

Recently I peeked out of three different windows to make sure I wouldn’t have to interact with the hillbillies when I went outside. Once I was finally satisfied they were either inside or elsewhere, I walked out and there was Donut! She was at the end of the driveway looking for someone or something, shielding the sun out of her eyes.

When she heard my door she turned around and greeted me. As usual, I feigned fidgety politeness. The politeness I feigned because one shouldn’t be unnecessarily rude. The fidgeting wasn’t exactly feigned, but it was slightly exaggerated in order to convey that I had other things to do.

We chatted a few minutes and she finally brought the conversation to an end by saying, “Well, I need to go in and do my homework”.

That’s all it took to pique my interest and spark the following conversation.

V – Homework?

D – Yeah, you didn’t know I was goin’ to school?

V – No, I had no idea! What are you studying?

D – I’m takin’ a computer class that teaches ya how to open Windows – that’s computer lingo – and I’m takin’ a business class.

V – Interesting! I didn’t realize you were interested in business.

D – I’m not. I hate that class! I wanted to take photography ’cause that’s where my heart is, but there wasn’t enough money left over from the grant after I paid off all my hot checks. I had to take a couple of cheap classes.

V – Oh, I see. So you’re going to school because you applied for a grant to pay off hot checks?

D – Yeah, but I had to take somethin’ ’cause if I kept the grant money without goin’ to school, they might put me in jail or somethin’. I was gettin’ ready to be arrested for the hot checks, so I had to do somethin’, and since the grant people give ya more money than ya need, I used most of it to pay off my checks.

V – Well, good luck!

D – If I go back next semester I’m gonna take photography. I like takin’ pictures! I take really good pictures. Every time we take family pictures I’m always the one holdin’ the camera ’cause everybody likes the way I take pictures.

So that’s the story. Donut is taking a couple of cheap classes at our local junior college to avoid going to jail over hot checks. I’m not sure if that makes her a scholar or a con, but she’s out of hot water for now.

Stupid Taco!

My brain sometimes (meaning often) doesn’t put puzzle pieces together as soon as they are presented. Brainy likes to take puzzle pieces and place them in ridiculous patterns before taking the time to put them together properly.

Donut (my next-door neighbor – the maternal hillbilly) was just outside calling Taco, her dog. I’m used to this now, but it still sounds rather funny because it sounds as if she’s beckoning a Tex-Mex menu item.

When Donut steps outside to call Taco in, Brainy likes to imagine a little four-legged fully loaded taco bounding across the yard enthusiastically to greet its human.

Today Donut was upset because Taco wasn’t responding to her calls, but finally Taco came running and Donut greeted the happy little dog by screaming, “Stupid Taco!”

Brainy first pictured a fully loaded taco wearing a dunce’s hat and sent the message down to my larynx and lungs to respond with laughter.

Then Brainy pictured a sad little taco dunce and sent the southbound message to stop laughing.

Then Brainy arranged the puzzle pieces in their proper order, remembering that Taco is an actual dog – a soul, with feelings – and sent a message down below to activate the tear ducts.

Occasionally my hillbilly neighbors provide ridiculous humor, but more often than not, they are loud, obnoxious and verbally abusive toward each other and their pets.

~ ~ ~

Credit to Leah Flores for the “Sad Taco” image used as the featured image for this post.

Leah Flores is a Boise-based artist who brings together her love of photography and illustration to create adventuresome designs. Born in the Pacific Northwest on Leap Year Day 1988, Leah is a first-generation American with Costa Rican and Scottish roots. In her work you will find mountains, forests, and wildflowers woven with hand-lettered evocations to go explore the natural world.

View Leah Flores’ work.

 

Peanut Butter vs. Marmite

I have a thing for BBC panel shows – especially Q.I. (I miss Stephen Fry as the host.)

I honestly don’t remember on which panel show I heard this discussed, but apparently it’s very hard to find peanut butter in most European countries. It’s not that they don’t have peanuts – it’s that they don’t find grinding them into a paste to be very appetizing.

Personally, I love peanut butter, but I do understand that tastes vary from culture to culture. I wouldn’t question their distaste for peanut butter if it weren’t for one thing.

MARMITE!

If you’re not familiar with Marmite, their slogan is, “Love it or hate it” because few are neutral regarding the salty goo. It’s made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing. I’m sure there are many creative ways to use Marmite (or similar products) but one of the most common methods is to spread it on buttered toast.

Perhaps I might actually like Marmite if it were used sparingly as an ingredient in a dish for the purpose of adding a little flavor, but straight or on toast? No thanks! The only word that comes to my mind to describe the flavor is “bouillony”‘ or perhaps “bouillonish”.

To further understand the taste of Marmite, let’s break the word down.

mar – 1. Impair the appearance of; disfigure. 2. Impair the quality of; spoil.

mite – 1. A minute arachnid that has four pairs of legs when adult, related to the ticks. Many kinds live in the soil and a number are parasitic on plants or animals.

I think the manufacturer of the yeast extract goo was smart to choose the brand name Marmite over Spoiledparasite.

To be fair, there are many who love Marmite. Those who love the brown salt lick syrup are very passionate about their love for the product.

Those who hate Marmite describe it as “salty”, “having the flavor of straight soy sauce” or, my favorite description, “ass crack”.

If the flavor of ass crack were to be manufactured and marketed to the public, I have no doubt there would be a market for it.

Love it or hate it, there will always be those who have a hearty appetite for the taste of disgusting.

I’m an Idiotic Genius!

I don’t own a cell phone. I still have a landline.

I wouldn’t know how to work a modern cell phone if it were a matter of life or death. People have tried to hand me their cell phones before to make a call or look something up on Google, but I just stare at it as if it were alien technology. To me it’s definitely futuristic technology – at least 20 years ahead of my understanding of technology.

I have operated three cell phones in my life. The first one was so large it was housed in its own suitcase. The second one predated texting technology by a year or two. The third came with the ability to make a call, text or play Sudoku – the latter option being its most attractive feature. The latter two phones were temporary pay-as-you-go track phones which were purchased for out-of-state moves. It will be a huge learning adventure if I’m ever able to afford a modern cell phone. But this story isn’t about my lack of mobile communication. It’s about my landline.

Two years ago I bought a new home phone because the three people I talk to on a semi-regular basis (my brother and two best friends), all complained that they couldn’t hear me when we talked on the phone. I just assumed after the first few complaints that the problem was with their cell phones because cells often fade in and out, echo one’s voice, etc. There seem to be many occasional sound problems associated with cell phones that one rarely has to endure with home phones these days. However, after several months of complaints that the other party couldn’t hear me, I started entertaining the thought that my phone might possibly be the problem. The phone I had been using was manufactured in 1981, so it was possible that it might need to be replaced.

So I bought a new phone. It cost $10 or $15. I was looking for a very basic, no-frills, corded phone because that’s what I’m used to. The most basic corded phone available came with caller I.D. – a luxury I had never had before.

I brought the phone home, plugged it in the phone jack and was amazed when I got my first call and only had to look at the handset to see who was calling. I had finally reached 1990s technology!

I used the phone for a year or more without issue, but last September my Caller I.D. stopped working. I was a bit upset but I dismissed the malfunction as proof that “things aren’t built to last like they used to be”.

Early last week I was talking with my brother. He had a lot to tell me due to recent unpleasant events in his life, so he was doing most of the talking and I was trying to concentrate in order to hear his story. (I get distracted easily.) I was fidgeting with the phone cradle as I listened to Scott and during my fidgeting I found a tiny little clip on top of the phone cradle. I had never noticed the clip before. I picked at it and a big piece of plastic flew up in the air. I thought I had broken it!

Upon inspection I discovered it was a battery cover!

I missed a minute or two of Scott’s story as my internal monologue kicked in, robbing Scott of my attention.

“Why are there batteries in my phone? It’s a friggin’ landline! It’s not even a portable! I’m tethered to this thing like a dog on a leash whenever a take a phone call. This doesn’t even make sense! I’ve never heard of a corded phone requiring batteries. The phone company provides the needed electricity to operate a landline which is why one’s phone will still work during a power outage. I wonder why…”

Then I had a stroke of genius!

“I wonder if the Caller I.D. requires batteries. I never had Caller I.D. before buying this phone. That’s the only thing that’s different between this phone and other tethered phones I’ve owned.”

As soon as my conversation with Scott came to an end, I went to the drawer that houses twist ties, random pieces of string and wire, screws, washers I’ll never use, rocks I’ve brought home after falling in love with them and batteries! I found three Double-A batteries, exchanged them with the ones that came with my phone, and called up Cindy and asked her to call me back.

She called me back and voilà! My Caller I.D. performed its job perfectly, after six months off the job!

I love being able to know who’s calling before I answer the phone. After 48 years of life I had only lived with this luxury for one year, but I had grown accustomed to it and missed it after it went on strike.

But I finally fixed it because I am an idiotic genius!

Missing an Illusion

I have spent the last six months missing someone. I’m a little better off now than I was a few months ago. I’m still not back to normal but at least I’m eating again. I had judged this one-time friend as authentic. She had convinced me that her love and friendship were unwavering … then she pushed me away and made it quite clear she was done.

I’ve spent the last month and a half fighting with myself. Pride has kept me from contacting her but I miss her. I know I’m better off not giving in because our friendship can never be what it was after she so clearly pushed me out of her life. Her actions totally contradicted all the words that had passed her lips during the last four years.

I suppose what I miss is the illusion that existed – the illusion that she loved me, that she missed me during my absences. I also miss the illusion that I found someone who understood me, the illusion that I had found someone who shared some of my interests, the illusion that I was a better judge of character than I have turned out to be, but most of all I miss the illusion of trust.

My dreams, if they can be trusted, all point to a deception. Whether these dreams are insightful or parroting my more negative thoughts will probably never be known.

One thing I won’t miss when (or if) I finally shake this thing is the utter humiliation I have experienced as a result of trusting someone so much that I tore down walls I rarely ever touch. Thankfully I didn’t tear them all down. I was left with a few standing walls. They didn’t provide much protection, but they apparently provided enough protection to have survived the experience.