June 21, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell on Breed Bans

Another excellent article arguing against breed bans - specifically pit bulls (as usual). This time written by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink:

A Georgia-based group called the American Temperament Test Society has put twenty-five thousand dogs through a ten-part standardized drill designed to assess a dog’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in the company of people. A handler takes a dog on a six-foot lead and judges its reaction to stimuli such as gunshots, an umbrella opening, and a weirdly dressed stranger approaching in a threatening way. Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund. “We have tested somewhere around a thousand pit-bull-type dogs,” Carl Herkstroeter, the president of the A.T.T.S., says. “I’ve tested half of them. And of the number I’ve tested I have disqualified one pit bull because of aggressive tendencies. They have done extremely well. They have a good temperament. They are very good with children.” It can even be argued that the same traits that make the pit bull so aggressive toward other dogs are what make it so nice to humans. “There are a lot of pit bulls these days who are licensed therapy dogs,” the writer Vicki Hearne points out. “Their stability and resoluteness make them excellent for work with people who might not like a more bouncy, flibbertigibbet sort of dog. When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody.
Then which are the pit bulls that get into trouble? “The ones that the legislation is geared toward have aggressive tendencies that are either bred in by the breeder, trained in by the trainer, or reinforced in by the owner,” Herkstroeter says. A mean pit bull is a dog that has been turned mean, by selective breeding, by being cross-bred with a bigger, human-aggressive breed like German shepherds or Rottweilers, or by being conditioned in such a way that it begins to express hostility to human beings. A pit bull is dangerous to people, then, not to the extent that it expresses its essential pit bullness but to the extent that it deviates from it. A pit-bull ban is a generalization about a generalization about a trait that is not, in fact, general. That’s a category problem.

Dan Savage is irritating me pulling out stories and manipulating feelings instead of facts.

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June 19, 2008


Per Tacomachickadee.

And to those who say, why not "boy"? Well, I think you're missing the point. It's not about excluding boys. It's about including girls.

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June 18, 2008

Blackjack II

As an outside sales person, I fought for years for a Blackberry. I never did get one. None of our 60+ sales force throughout the United States was ever given the one tool that could have made our lives so much easier. Then again, I was only given a laptop a few years ago.

When I actually went to my boss and asked for the specific reasons I was not allowed to have a Blackberry I was given these answers:

1. They cost $500! We can't have just anyone running around with such an expensive piece of equipment.

2. You'll have to be available and more responsive to your customers, and do you really want to have to do that?

3. When traveling, you can always stop at a coffee shop that has Wi-Fi, get a cup of coffee (not paid for by Bob's Hogs), and check your email on your laptop.

4. (After a meeting with my #1 customer where response time was the #1 reason they said they often went with us and actually suggested that I be given a Blackberry to increase our business with them) "First lets see the business increase, that I'll look into getting you a Blackberry." Huh?

I can't tell you the number of significant sales I've lost over the years because I was traveling and couldn't get to my email, or had to ridiculously ask my high profile customers to call me with a huge proposal instead of just being able to read the stupid thing online.

So, a week after almost our entire sales force was cut, I walked my ass into the local AT&T store to pick up a smart phone. No more crappy-ass Razr for me (man, I hated that thing). I immediately gravitated toward the Blackberry Pearl, but the double button typing immediately put me off. I checked out the Blackberry Curve, which I thought I wanted, until I saw the Blackjack II....


I debated for a few minutes until I saw the difference between the Blackberry and Blackjack browsers, and the ease in use. The Blackjack just feels more intuitive. I was able to take it home and set it up quickly. I was downloading applications, getting new ring tones, and customizing it immediately, something I've seen Blackberry users struggle with.

It holds up to 10 email accounts, I can use both Opera and IE to browse, Frinklin found Octrotalk for me so that I can use GChat in addition to texting...what more could I ask for?

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June 14, 2008

My Summer Reading


I'm totally in the new Tacoma City Arts magazine this month - the July issue with Deborah Ritchie on the cover. It's now monthly, and it's just out. Apparently copies are now available at the Stadium Thriftway, but I haven't seen them anyplace else yet.

Looking through the current issue, it looks like a really good one. The piece on Deborah Ritchie of Deborah Page, the highlight of Frost Park's Chalk Off, the preview of the Tall Ships festival...I'm really looking forward to reading through the entire thing.

And why am I in the mag you may ask? Just a quick question about what I'm reading recently, in which I mention Jenette Faluda's book Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir, which you can see a preview of here:

You can also check out her blog Half of Me here, where she goes by the handle "Pasta Queen".

Her book is an interesting look at what it's like to go from over 300 lbs. to half that weight, and the mental and physical adjustments that come with that change. Faluda lost the weight on her own, without the help of diet programs, and continues to maintain her weight loss, holding herself accountable to her own conscience and her blog readers.

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This is Cracking My Ass Up


More funny stuff here.

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June 13, 2008

Munch Munch

Let the word eating begin.

I didn't get the job that I was already doing in my head. In fact, I wasn't just doing it in my head, I was making connections at BEA that I thought might be beneficial. I wasn't telling anyone I had the job or anything, but I was picking up business cards and saying I might be in contact with them in the near future.

It's hard to admit that my gut feeling was wrong when it's never been before. I've always been right about this sort of thing in the past, from the time I was a teenager. Maybe eleven years of working for the same company has thrown me off.

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Hypothesis This Weekend Only


I fear I'm about to duplicate Tacomamama's review of the Horatio Theatre's new show Hypothesis. This time it's not a play, or even a musical; it's a magic show, which is something a bit unexpected (or maybe not) from Erik Emery Hanberg's theater company.

I'm not a big one for magic shows, and I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive after watching the far too long "preview" on Exit 133. I made it about 2 minutes in. It's not that the idea of watching someone get into a body bag and get out across the street isn't interesting, it's just that watching someone in a body bag for 8 minutes on a relatively minute screen on a computer tends to try even the most patient of tempers.

However, internet previews are one thing, and real-life magicians are another.

Watching Geoff Kanick on stage was an entirely enjoyable experience. He has charisma and (most of the time) doesn't take himself too seriously, which makes for a good combination. Kanick worked the small preview audience of about 15 people well, asking at least half of them to join him on stage during different points of the show.

Combining a mixture of traditional tricks with interesting psychic feats kept the audience on their toes. I could quibble here and there with timing issues, but over all the show is fun and funny with a gasp here and there.

I highly recommend a trip down the rabbit hole with Mr. Kanick!

Definitely worth the low price of $10 a ticket, available at the door or at Brown Paper Tickets.

Hypothesis with magician Geoff Kanick
June 13 7:30 pm, June 14 7:30 pm, June 15 2:00 pm
Live at McAstocker Theater, Bellarmine Preparatory School
2300 S Washington
Tacoma, WA 98405

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June 12, 2008


I never really wrote about attending the Emerald City Comicon, although I really should have. I always seem to pick up really interesting art instead of just comics at these things. It's a tradition. A couple of years ago I picked up Chris Malidore's The Revolution Has Begun penguin art. This has disturbed visitors to my desk ever since. He's expanded since then and created the Survivalist Penguin, and a couple of others that he doesn't appear to have on his website yet. You can pick up his art locally at Spy Comics in Federal Way.

This year I fell in love with a couple of pieces by Katy Hargrove. She grabbed my attention by wearing a massive headdress (relatively effortlessly) while she worked her table). Her portfolio included a lot of fabulous creations, but what really caught my eye were her cockatiel pieces. I quickly snapped up buttons of both, sharing the story of my own recent cockatiel loss.

Never one to shy away from controversy, before leaving the table I had to take a peek under the "18 and over" page that covered a framed piece of art. I was delighted to find a hysterical looking boob streaking across a blue background. I debated buying it then and there, but nearing the end of my set budget for the day, I decided against the purchase.

Over a delicious dinner that evening at Redfin Sushi I told my group of friends that I wished I had the space in my home for a "weird art" gallery. A place where I could place all my odd purchases and never regret them. Not that these pieces wouldn't be beautiful or excellent examples of their genre, just that they may be quirky or bought just for me. A place I could put my framed, freaked out boob; had I brought it home.

I stayed home on the second day of the 'con, while Frinklin wanted to go back with friends. While there, he saw that the boob had not yet sold and made the executive decision to purchase it and make it mine.

While I don't yet have a house large enough to have a room devoted to my own art collection, I'm sure I'll find a space for it. In the meantime, it's making me laugh every time I see it.


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June 08, 2008

Death of a Washing Machine

It appears that laundry problems are going around.

A little over a week ago my less-than-a-year-old washing machine died what appeared to be a relatively undramatic death. The spin cycle ceased to work, prompting a call to an appliance repairman. I hoped for a belt replacement or the like, but after a relatively short inspection, it was declaired that the machine's computer had died and it would be at least $450 to repair with labor. Considering the fact that I had paid less than that for the entire machine just a short time ago, replacement, rather than repair sounded like the better option.

Frinklin and I hit up the Sears Outlet off of Sixth Ave to find a (hopefully) inexpensive replacement. There was very little to choose from in our price range, and after a pushy salesman pushed a little too hard, we walked out without anything.

What I really wanted was to find the man that sold me my original washing machine three years ago. He refurbishes old washing machines and dryers and when we moved to Washington and needed something cheap and fast we found his number in the paper and bought an old (15 years plus) machine for very little.

While I was on vacation in San Diego over the last week Frinklin spent time doing laundry at a local laundromat. Things went fine until the last day when he took in our 8-year-old feather bed that exploded in a washing machine and left a huge pile of feathers behind - enough to fill an entire laundry basket. The owner of the laundromat was less than happy with him.

It was time for us to find a washing machine - pronto.

Luck was on our side. After a couple of phone calls to numbers in the News Tribune, we found Bill, the gentleman we had bought our original washing machine from years ago. After some assistance moving out our old machine from Mr. Freitas, we picked up a brand new machine in Lakewood, its only problem being a punctured cabinet from a forklift accident that has since been replaced. Bill gave us $50 for our old machine (Yay! No lawn ornament!) and a one year parts, labor, or exchange warranty. Kevin was once again on hand to move the machine upstairs, I connected the water hookups, and everything was a go.

Our new washing machine is fantastic. It's much better balanced than our last and hasn't balked at taking on our king sized comforter or a couple of massive dog beds. If anyone needs a good place to buy a washer or dryer, I highly recommend Bill in Lakewood.

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June 02, 2008

Free Time

I'm on vacation.

I spent the day driving my rented black convertable Mustang around San Diego, lying by the pool drinking alcoholic beverages, and getting a wicked sunburn (I'm lobster red currently but should be tan by Wednesday).

Oh, and getting laid off from Bob's Hogs and Weiner Pigs.

It's not as though I wasn't expecting it. Which doesn't make it suck any less; but as I had the conversation with my now ex-boss, Beet about my severence package (pretty good) and access to my company-issued laptop and cell phone (ending within hours), I felt...calm. I don't feel a terrible sense of loss over leaving the company I've worked at for 11 years. I don't have an awful dread about finding a new job in worsening economy.

What definitely helps is the fact that I've had three successful interviews with a great new company, the latest of which took place just a couple of hours after my "your position has been eliminated effective immediately" discussion with Beet. I've been asked to keep next Wednesday free to come in to meet with the the man who would be my boss in person, after speaking with him on the phone today. I have that feeling you get when you just know a job is right for you and the interviews feel like a formality, and can't you just get started already?

I'm really going to eat my words if I don't get this job.

The worst part about today was fielding phone calls from a lot of people didn't anticipate this situation. Beet spent a lot of time telling his team that we were in a good position and we weren't in danger of losing our jobs. He was genuinely shocked at hearing the news that we would be getting the axe. And because he convinced himself and a lot of other people that we were "safe," they have not been listening to the overriding message of the company that the news overall is not positive and everyone could lose their jobs. Some were in tears, having worked at Borders for years, and a good number came on board within the last year, meaning they will receive minimal severence packages.

I lost access to my computer within hours of hearing the news, meaning that a lot of my customers will not know what happened. This is unfortunate, as I have always worked very hard to make my customers happy. I feel responsible for the work I have done for them over the years, and to leave in the middle of processing their orders with no clear answer as to how things will be handled is difficult for me. To walk away with nothing more than an, "Oh well, it's someone else's problem now," is extremely hard.

I still have access to my cell phone for now, somehow. Everyone else lost access today. I like to think it's some sort of kindness that I'm being offered as I'm on vacation and they know I need it. Every time I open it and see the picture of Pharoah, who passed away last November, I wonder how long his picture will be there, and how much longer this one final connection to Bob's Hogs will last.

I visited the first store I ever worked at today. I needed to ship some books out from Book Expo America. Eleven years ago the General Manager used to be an Assistant Manager who noticed my application and called my 20 year-old self in for an interview. I nailed it, and before I coulld even drive home he had called and left a message for me to schedule a second interview. The second went well and I was offered the position of a Children's Bookseller. My first day on the job I worked the entire day without a lunch break because I was so excited to work with books. The way they felt, their smell, the shifting and moving them around on the shelves.

I met so many best friends over the years - Joe, Holly Wood, Mike, Clay, Darryl, Meagan, Larissa, James...and so many characters. My first real apartment came from a roomate agreement through a coworker there. And my next roomate, and the following as well. I turned 21 and had my first drink at TGI Fridays with coworkers after closing. I attended countless parties over the years for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and people coming and going. I dyed my hair blue and pierced my nose and my tongue and they accepted me. I grew my hair out and grew into a professional and they created a position for me in another state.

If I think about it too much I'll cry. I'm holding it in until I get home.

I'm on vacation.

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