Golden Boy

Such is the new moniker for Clancy the Cat, who recently underwent (expensive) emergency bowel surgery mid-November.  Clancy’s tummy, and my wallet, will never be the same.   I’m not sharing the amount of money I spent on his recovery, except to say that there will be no Caribbean vacations in my immediate future.

I discovered that caring for an sick cat is much different than caring for a sick dog. When dogs are sick, they plop themselves down in a corner and mope; cats hide.  Dogs can usually be coaxed into taking medication, either by hiding it in their food or stuffing it in a treat; cats are not so easily fooled.  Dogs will sit and tolerate post-operative ministrations because they want to please you; cats could give a crap and escape to yet another hidey-hole, just to annoy you.

The process of caring for a sick cat goes something like this:

Step One.  Owner retrieves the cat from under the bed, where he has been hiding since his return from the cat hospital. A large towel is at the ready.

Step Two:   The cat is wrapped in the towel, creating what is called the “Cat Burrito.”  The “Cat Burrito” is a time-honoured method of safely immobilizing cats.  (Note: cats do not like being Cat Burritos.)

Step Three:  While holding the Cat Burrito, a friend is solicited to administer the medications. The first medication is a pill, ejected into the cat’s mouth via a “pill gun.” The pill gun is a long cylinder-type gizmo that places the pill at the back of the cat’s throat, ensuring the safety of your friend’s fingers.  The next two medications are liquid suspension formulas, ejected via a syringe into the cat’s mouth.

Step Four:  Release the cat from burrito. With the next medication dose, repeat steps one through four. (Note: with each successive administration, the cat will find new and better hidey-holes.  An alcoholic beverage for the owner, after steps one through four, is highly recommended.)

I’m happy to say that Clancy is now recovered, playful as a kitten and no worse for the wear. I’ve sprouted several more white hairs and Buddy is still wondering what all the fuss was about.

After all this, Golden Boy better live a long, long time.


A recovered Clancy, with Santa and Rudolf.

P.S. For your feline-watching amusment, I give you Monkey, the harness-hating kitty.

Fuck Face Von Clownstick

Congratulations, America.   You elected a xenophobic, narcissistic con artist. No-one predicted his win, but win he did.

Throughout this election, journalists and pundits have been editorializing about him, trying to make sense of how someone so supremely unqualified to be president could have such mass appeal. Their theories about the economy and voter anger, however, sorely missed the mark.  Those issues–and even his peculiar spin on them– didn’t distinguish him from the other GOP candidates or the Democratic nominee.

No, the issue that set him apart from everyone else was, quite simply, an ugly truth: In this post-9/11 world, his campaign nudged a tiger: a deeply festering xenophobia, an intractable racism, that was waiting for the opportunity to pounce.  And I’m angry at you for letting this happen.  Or maybe, as a Canadian, I’m afraid that this will happen to us someday.

So now it’s over.  You have four years of him, and you and I and everyone else must endure the fallout of his legacy.

Until then, good luck with President FuckFace Von Clownstick.   We’ll be watching.

Dear Mr. Trump

A gentleman by the name of Bill Howell penned this thoughful and insightful piece about Donald Trump. I wish I had written it myself.

Dear Mr. Trump,

It’s taken me a while to realize this and to admit it, but I’m grateful to you.

For the past few months I’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting your campaign and the poison it has so effortlessly generated. I’ve watched our country imploding, our public discourse become polluted, our political climate grows ever more corrosive, and wrongly assumed you were to blame.

It’s only lately I’ve come to understand that you haven’t manufactured our current national ugliness—you’ve simply revealed it.

By saying the irresponsible, mean-spirited, ignorant things you say so freely and so frequently, you’ve given other like-minded people license to do the same. You’ve opened up the floodgates for our corporate sewage to flow fully. People no longer conceal their vile mess, they now revel in it, they broadcast it and retweet it.

You’ve made bigotry and racism socially acceptable again and that has been a kind of twisted gift because it’s allowed me to really see people; not as they pretend to be on the surface—but in the very depths of their wounded, weaponized hearts.

Over and over as your campaign has persisted, your supporters would tell me that they like you because you “speak your mind”. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that you speak their minds. You’ve given credence to their prejudices and made those prejudices go mainstream.

Thanks to the terrible ground you’ve broken, politicians, pastors, friends, and strangers, both in person and on social media now regularly out themselves as hateful, intolerant, and malicious.

You’ve emboldened people to be open about things they used to conceal for the sake of decorum, and though it turns my stomach, I know that this is the only way we can move forward; to have that cancerous stuff exposed fully so that it can be dealt with. Our progress as a nation is predicated on authentic dialogue, no matter how brutal and disheartening that dialogue is.

In other words, you’ve let us know what we’re really dealing with here and while it’s been rightly disturbing, it’s also been revelatory. That’s the thing about that kind of harsh light: you’re forced to see everything. Beauty and monstrosity equally illuminated.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think you’re the least qualified, least knowledgeable Presidential candidate we may ever have had participate this far into the process, and if you somehow were elected I’d fear gravely for the world my children would inherit—should it survive your Presidency at all. I believe you’re reckless, bitter, and completely reprehensible; the very worst kind of bully.

But whether you win or lose, you’ve already allowed me the blessing of Truth; about me, about you, about other candidates, about our nation.  And in the process you’ve also shown me that I am not alone in resisting you and this ugly thing you’ve revealed about us. You’ve generated an equally loud, equally passionate response to it and this is where I find my hope these days.

I find it in those for whom equality isn’t just a cheap buzzword, it’s the most precious of hills to die on.

I find it in those people who refuse to be silent in the face of our impending shared regression.

I find it in those willing to be bolder in defending the inherent value of all people.

I find it in the growing army of those who will not tolerate hatred as a core American value.

I find it in those who reject violence as our default response to dissension.

I find it in the ever rising voice of people who will not let malice and bitterness represent them in the world.

Today I find my hope in those who, like me, will not be complicit in allowing bigotry and intolerance to become a source of national pride, because we’ve seen where that leads.

Yes, Mr Trump, you’ve unearthed our hidden sickness and you’ve allowed it to go viral.

You brought every awful thing about us out into the open.

You will NEVER Get My Vote.

Mr. Poopy

You know those moments when you think to yourself, “this is a bad idea”?

Because of his sensitive gastrointestinal tract, I have to buy Buddy the dog specially-formulated dog food from the vets. It costs a fortune but saves both of us a lot of grief in poop messes.  As fate would have it, I ran out of his special food on Labour day weekend and had to pick up some ordinary dog food at the grocery store.  Enter the bad idea.


The miracle cleaner.

Two mornings later, I awoke to doggy diarrhea all over the carpet.  I stopped feeding Buddy the crappy food (pun fully intended) and decided to cover the carpet with puppy pads until the poop assault was over.  The next morning I awoke to more poop–and none of it on the puppy pads.  (Apparently, carpets are better landing zones for diarrhea than disposable paper.) So I spent the next few mornings, sans coffee, cleaning the carpet with Folex (a great carpet cleaner, by the way.)

After a week Mr. Poopy was still leaving pudding poops on the carpet, so the vet was summoned and medication was prescribed. The new medication stopped the night messes, but Mr. Poopy was still not in good form. Off to the emergency vets we go, where Mr. Poopy was force-fed barium (which has a prophylactic effect on irritated bowels) and, if that wasn’t bad enough, subjected to the indignity of having his nether regions probed.  Another prescription was written, and about $400 and several carpet cleanings later, Mr. Poopy is finally on the road to recovery.


Mr. Poopy, convalescing.

He still hasn’t forgiven me for the anal probe.


Adios, Cable

Before cable companies monetized television, TV-viewing was free–signals floating happily along the airwaves and all you needed was a good antenna.  My father installed the mother of all antennae on the roof of our house.  The antenna could be manipulated by this little dial box if you needed to improve reception. Worked like a charm. Then came cable, and suddenly we found ourselves beholden to big conglomerates who nickel and dime us for every channel.

In actual fact, I don’t watch much TV, except HBO. In Canada, however, we can only get HBO through a $20 add-on to our cable subscription. (In the States, they can access HBO via the internet–called HBO GO–at a minimal cost and without the necessity of a cable package.) Having the $20 add-on means that my cable bill would be well over $100 a month, even with a basic cable package. And when you add the cost of movie rentals and a netflicks subscription, you’re paying a lot more for television than you want to be.


The Cable-Killer, aka Android Box

That’s when friends of mine told me about the Android TV box.  For a one-time cost of a few hundred dollars for the box and remote,  you can access television and movies via the internet.  With the android system, virtually every tv show or movie ever made is available to you, at no extra cost.  The downside is that the quality varies–some movies and shows are crystal clear, while others look like they were recorded using Grandpa’s old Super 8.  Since you’re given hundreds of options to watch your particular selection, you usually can find one of fairly good viewing quality.

So I cancelled my cable subscription and am now meeting all of my television-viewing needs via my little android box.  And the pièce de la résistance–I can get HBO without a cable subscription and without paying an extra subscription fee.

You may be wondering (I certainly was) whether this is legal, and why the cable companies allow it. This is where it gets interesting.

The Canadian Cable companies went to court as recently as July of this year, asking for an injunction against several vendors for selling boxes which they believe pirate their programming signal and have caused them financial distress (yeah, right).  However, the vendors claim that “the pre-loaded set-top boxes are a piece of hardware, operating in the same manner as a tablet or a computer, on which anyone can install applications which are freely available to the public though the Apple Store, Google Play or the Internet.”  (Interestingly, the cable companies are only going after small operators:  Amazon, which has been selling android boxes for awhile, have yet to be targeted for litigation).

The other key to whether one get sued or not is whether the vendors advertise the boxes as “free TV.” Those that do, get sued; those that don’t, fall under the radar.

While the cable companies and android box venders duke it out in court, people like me can continue to enjoy the freedom our little android box brings. And there’s no pleasure like the pleasure derived from giving the middle finger salute to cable.