Monthly Archives: September 2009

Should have at least bought my dinner

Monday night, I had noticed my chinchilla, Oreo, vigorously doing something to his private parts-area with this mouth. I’d seen him try to mount the dog’s bed a couple of times over the weekend and figured perhaps he was just horny and, er… flexible.

However, just to be sure, when I got to work yesterday, I did some research, since I don’t know much about chinchillas (and frankly, hadn’t ever heard of one until Oreo came to us by accident). I discovered that male chinchillas don’t really perform self-, er… fellatio. But his actions could be a more serious problem, such as a hair ring that could be caught around the base of his little penis.

This, of course, freaked me out, because I tend to be a bit high-strung when it comes to animals in my care. But I read up on what to do and how to check, and last night….

I gave the chinchilla a hand job.

While my parents watched.

And he didn’t even buy me dinner first.

Joking aside, you have to have one person catch him (Dad) and hold him securely against his chest. Mom had to hold his feet because he was trying hard to escape. (I don’t blame him.) As for me, I had to lube up my fingers (I really am not making this up) and push his little penis sheath down to expose the organ itself. Fortunately, the Web site I checked had pictures as to what hair rings looked like and Oreo did not have one. Yay! Then I had to ease the sheath back over his little penis to protect it.

Poor little thing. The indignity of it all!

It didn’t occur to me later that with the new computers at work, they can check and see what you’re doing and where you go online. I wonder what they’ll think if they ever see that I spent my lunch break looking at pictures of a chinchilla penis.

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Fun, family and food poisoning

Lord a-mercy!

It’s amazing how having visitors can disrupt your entire life. Not that I minded much. It’s great to see family that you would actually like to see more often.

I find it highly ironic that, growing up, and still today, I feel closer to my Australian relatives than the ones who live right here in my hometown. (I think it’s because my Aussie kin aren’t bat-shit insane like my dad’s family.)

Kelly is the oldest of my three Aussie cousins. Her boyfriend had to travel to North Carolina (of all places) for his work, so she tagged along to visit us for eight days. She and Andrew arrived late on a Thursday, and I had to work on Friday, so we didn’t get a chance to hang out until Saturday, when we all went down to Chattanooga so Kelly could meet my nephew and deliver some much belated birthday gifts.

Kelly and Ben have a "whale" of a good time.

Kelly and Ben have a "whale" of a good time.

'Sup, yo. Like my new threads?

'Sup, yo. Like my new threads?

I had the next week off work (YAY!) so on Monday, off we went to tour the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, TN. My uncle Pete, Kelly’s dad, is a big JD fan, so mom felt it her duty to take each of his girls to the distillery when they’ve visited. The distillery is an interesting place. Lynchburg is the only place in the world where Jack Daniel’s is made, but since it’s in a dry county, they’re not allowed to sell it there.

Whiskey, whiskey everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Whiskey, whiskey everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Jack actually wasn't a bad-lookin' fella.

Jack actually wasn't a bad-lookin' fella.

Tuesday, Andrew had to leave for North Carolina, so it was off to the airport to drop him off. Wednesday, Kelly, mom and I went back down to Chattanooga to hang with the bro and fam.

Thursday, we got up early to hit the Tennessee Aquarium. I hadn’t been in years, and they’d added an entire new building to the facility, including sharks, penguins and (my favorite) a butterfly garden.

Oh geez. Daddy's trying to be funny again.

Oh geez. Daddy's trying to be funny again.

Big fish, mommy! (Even though it's blurry, I really like this picture.)

Big fish, mommy! (Even though it's blurry, I really like this picture.)

Afterwards, we stopped at this little hole-in-the-wall burger place my brother likes to pick up lunch. Which promptly gave me food poisoning, so I spent the rest of Thursday and most of Friday sick. Always a good way to end a vacation.

Kelly left us on Saturday, and it was sad to see her go. But she made it home safe and sound Sunday.

It was a good week, if tiring. I told my coworkers when I came back that I needed a vacation from my vacation, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

So now I’m just trying to get caught up with everything and trying to get back into blogging. No Friday Five this week either because I haven’t been online much this week. Hopefully I can get back to it next week.

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Filed under family, vacation

Friday Five

TGIF! Time again for my “Friday Five.”

1. Hamlet, Facebook Edition. Ever wonder what William Shakespeare’s Facebook would look like?

2. People of Walmart. I was clicking random blogs on WordPress the other day and came across Jen on the Edge. She made me laugh. And she linked to People of Walmart, which helped me waste quite a few hours at work yesterday. Thanks, Jen!

3. Humorscopes. Forget your horoscope. Humorscope is way more fun (and sometimes, eerily accurate). My humorscope for Friday, Sept. 11? “You will mortally offend a friend today when a hilarious joke pops unbidden into your mind during your friend’s sad description of his problems.” Yeah. Been there, done that.

4. DragonCon “Thriller” Dance. Attendees at the 2009 DragonCon attempted to break the world record for the number of people dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” This video makes me miss going to cons so very much!

5. Babies Named a Bad, Bad Thing. Whatever happened to names like Mary, Thomas, John or Elizabeth? Read in horror at what some people have named their children.

I missed blogging most of last week due to the flu and will probably not get to do a whole lot next week due to the Aussie invasion. One of my cousins from Australia has arrived and is spending the week with us. It’s nice to see her again!

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The plague! The plague!

So much for trying to blog every day! Of course, nothing says “Let’s screw with your plans and knock you on your ass for a week” quite like the flu. Or whatever it was that I developed last Wednesday. I should have known something was up when I woke up that morning with a scratchy throat, but I just chalked it up to leaving the window open while I slept. Nope. Some insidious virus was launching an insurgence against my pathetic immune system. I made it about six hours at work, but finally had to wave the white flag of surrender when my head felt like it was about to do an impression of a watermelon at a Gallagher show.

Got home, crawled into bed and only emerged two days later on Friday in a desperate attempt to rally the troops at my asthma center because my lungs were about to become the next target. Fortunately, because of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, they were open on Friday for those of us unlucky enough to be sick over the holiday weekend. Got hooked up to a breathing machine, got some free steroids (I love my asthma center) and went home confident that I’d wiped out those viral bastards before any more damage could be done.

Unfortunately, I forgot that after the pain and stuffiness comes the nausea and heartburn. So my long weekend was shot to hell. I did manage to clean the chinchilla cage and clean up my bathroom for our visitors who are arriving in a couple of days. But not much else. My three-day weekend turned into a five-day bed rest. Joy.

I’m on the mend now. And fortunately, only two and a half more days of work until I’m on vacation! Woot!

Today is 09.09.09. It is also Good Neighbor Day. Be a good neighbor and give a compliment to a friend, coworker or family member!

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Why I am against the death penalty.

I wanted this blog to be light-hearted, writing about things in my life in a positive (and perhaps a little humorous) way. But it just doesn’t seem to be happening. So I’m not going to worry about it and just write about what I want to write about.

Like the death penalty.

A heavy topic, to be sure, but I’ve never been sure what to think of the death penalty. Until now.

Recently, in Knoxville, several trials are under way for four individuals who kidnapped, raped and murdered a couple out on a date. I read the reports of the conditions of the bodies. I’ll spare the details, but what those two poor kids suffered was horrendous.

The first man on trial for the murders was found guilty, but the jury returned a life without parole sentence, rather than the death penalty, which the families of the victims wanted. I’ve never lost a loved one to murder, but I now know that I can never be for the death penalty either. I don’t think killing someone who took someone else’s life is the answer. It’s sure proven not to be a deterrent.

What brought me to this conclusion was a story I read on The New Yorker’s Web site this morning, “Trial By Fire.”

It tells the story of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man who was convicted and sentenced to die for setting fire to his house while his three young daughters slept inside. He refused to plead guilty to the crime, which would spare him the death penalty. He was executed by the state of Texas in 2004, maintaining his innocence right up until the end.

And, as it now turns out, he was telling the truth.

New evidence shows the fire was an accident. Willingham didn’t murder his daughters, but the state murdered him. And this is why I am against the death penalty. It has been said that it is better than ten guilty persons escape than one innocent be convicted. And I agree. I believe it is better that all those found guilty of murder be sentenced to life without parole than one innocent person be put to death for a crime he did not commit.

To me, a life without parole sentence is a death sentence. They’ll never have a normal life, but rather one behind sterile walls, fences and barbed wire. It costs much less to house one inmate for life than it does to put them to death. And our justice system is far from perfect. From the story:

The modern legal system, with its lengthy appeals process and clemency boards, was widely assumed to protect the kind of “error of justice” that Mill feared. In 2000, while George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he said, “I know there are some in the country who don’t care for the death penalty, but . . . we’ve adequately answered innocence or guilt.” His top policy adviser on issues of criminal justice emphasized that there is “super due process to make sure that no innocent defendants are executed.”

In recent years, though, questions have mounted over whether the system is fail-safe. Since 1976, more than a hundred and thirty people on death row have been exonerated. DNA testing, which was developed in the eighties, saved seventeen of them, but the technique can be used only in rare instances. Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has used DNA testing to exonerate prisoners, estimates that about eighty per cent of felonies do not involve biological evidence.

In 2000, after thirteen people on death row in Illinois were exonerated, George Ryan, who was then governor of the state, suspended the death penalty. Though he had been a longtime advocate of capital punishment, he declared that he could no longer support a system that has “come so close to the ultimate nightmare—the state’s taking of innocent life.” Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said that the “execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event.”

I cannot imagine what Willingham went through during this nightmare of an ordeal. First to lose his children, then to lose his own life because of inept investigating and the desire for a quick conviction. Please read the entire story. It’s 17 pages long, but I believe we owe it to Mr. Willingham to read his story, so that perhaps it might never happen again.

After all, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

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