Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Choosing to do the humane thing

Death sucks. Declining health sucks. Difficult choices suck. All of this comes from a guy who is admittedly emotionally detached. That's another story for another day. Saturday morning, though, we had to make a difficult choice regarding the younger of our two pet cats.

Clocking in at a mere nine years old, Buffy was a distant but fluffy member of our household. She stayed out of the way since her earliest days. We wouldn't have even had her if it weren't for the fact that we took in a stray cat who turned out to be an expecting cat mother. We gave away the three other kittens to loving homes and opted to keep the remaining kitten around so its mom wouldn't be lonely.

The two were great friends for the most part. They could be seen bathing each other or sleeping in a pile together somewhere in an unoccupied corner of the house. Buffy was never much for human interaction though, outside of the occasional vigorous petting session on her head. Anywhere else and she's nip at whomever was performing the unwelcome petting.

We knew that her health was on the decline as she had been battling something for the majority of the summer months. We opted to give her a bath on Friday evening and noticed that most of the lush fur from her belly was gone and that she was bleeding. It was obvious that Buffy wasn't well and that she was in somewhat visible pain.

Saturday morning was decision time. Do we let her continue to live with declining health or do we call the vet? After crying for a while - thankfully our five year-old daughter was outside with friends - we grabbed the pet carrier and I took her to the vet.

I returned home with an empty pet carrier and a bit of a lump in my stomach. Like any human/pet relationship, we definitely had our differences but I never thought that, nine years ago, I'd miss this large, fluffy, ball of orange fur. Owning a pet is easy, choosing to do the right thing when they are in pain and suffering is a tough decision. I had never had to make the decision to part with a pet before and I know that this is only the beginning in a life filled with difficult, gut-wrenching decisions. She is in a better place now with no more pain and suffering. That sounds cliched but it's the truth. She will be missed.

The Vikings are clueless

The NFL has a problem. They seem to be completely unable to have consistency in how they punish players who commit crimes while employed by the league. After the entire Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal just over a week ago, the NFL had to think that the worst was behind them but then came the story, bubbling under the surface for months, that Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings running  back) had beaten his four year-old son in the Houston area.

We know that the Minnesota Vikings knew about this months before it became public on Friday. We know that the Vikings have disciplined offenders in the past and have done so rather swiftly by cutting them from the team without batting an eye. But this is Adrian Peterson. He is arguably the face of the Minnesota Vikings and is one of the biggest stars in the entire NFL.

There in lies their conundrum. How does the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings discipline one of their greatest stars and best players? Obviously, the Minnesota Vikings waffle on their stance and take a wait-and-see approach rather than doing the right thing in making a quick decision as they have done in the past and sever ties before the shit hits the fan.

But the Minnesota Vikings did let the shit hit the fan with the child abuse allegations surrounding Adrian Peterson. They deactivated Peterson for the team's week two game versus the New England Patriots but reactivated him for the week three game against the New Orleans Saints. But in the wee hours of this morning, the Minnesota Vikings placed Adrian Peterson on some bullshit exempt list where he exists without being activated or deactivated.

Adrian Peterson is truly a player in limbo when, if the Minnesota Vikings followed the precedent they had set with prior cases of abuse or law breaking, he would have had his contract terminated and been shown the door. Instead, the Minnesota Vikings come off looking like they are not just willing to but totally fine with looking the other way when a millionaire who plays a child's game beats one of his many children for something extremely trivial because "that's how he was raised".

The NFL comes into the third week of the 2014 season with a black eye. They are a league with a very clear discipline problem and a very pervasive history of sweeping misbehavior under the rug and looking the other way when their stars commit crimes. They are willing to defend their superstars when the commit crimes which would land average citizens in jail for at least a brief stint. The NFL, like the NBA, is full of spoiled man-children whose inappropriate behavior is overlooked in favor of sponsorship deals and television ratings.

The fans, the sponsors and the owners are all to blame just as much as the players.

It's time for the NFL to lay down the law and have some consistent guidelines for punishment - especially when it comes to spousal and child abuse.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First day of Kindergarten - photo

If there is one photo which depicts what it is truly like for a child to experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows all in one day, it has to be this photo of a child before and after his first day of kindergarten. Parents everywhere are wrapping up their back to school preparations but nothing can prepare a parent for the look of utter defeat that may cross their doorstep after that fateful first day of kindergarten.

first day of kindergarten before and after

Photo via Reddit.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The lengthy back to school list

When I was an elementary school student in the 1980s, the typical back to school list was simple.

Now things are different. I have a kindergartener heading off to a real school for the first time in mere days and the list is insane. Multiple folders, gobs of pencils, specific brands of crayons, ten glue sticks. TEN GLUE STICKS! What in the holy hell are these kids gluing that they need TEN glue sticks?!? The list went on and consumed an entire two pages. Of course the school offered parents the option to purchase a back to school supply kit which clocked in at $47.50 for kindergarten girls (a kit for a kindergarten age boy was five bucks cheaper).

She even needed headphones. HEADPHONES! If I had brought headphones to school as a kindergartener I probably would have left them on the bus, strangled a fellow student with the cord or sat on them leaving them a smashed mess in the first day of school. But these kids have gadgets born into their DNA. I was a bumbling idiot with all things video games so much so that after my parents bought me an original Nintendo when I was in elementary school that it collected more dust than anything. My kindergarten student, though, navigates through the channels on our Roku boxes, finds all kinds of age-appropriate stuff to view on YouTube and has no problem thumbing through an iPod Touch to find just the right music to suit her mood.

The back to school list, though, has me puzzled. I don't honestly see a use for half of the items requested and the fact that the other half is to be shared by the class as a whole bothers me a bit. I'm all for sharing but these back to school supplies are ridiculously expensive and I don't see how even two kids will go through ten glue sticks in the course of nine months.
You needed just some basic school supplies to get you through the year. A bottle of glue, ten or so pencils, a box of crayons, a couple notebooks, a folder or three, an eraser, a box of Kleenexes and  a backpack of some sort to carry the occasional library book home from school.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An ode to autumn or go to hell, fall

A cool northeast breeze fluttered across the terra cotta red plastic tray today as I ate my lunch alongside Scott County 42 at the Savage Taco John's restaurant. I saw plenty of people whom I assumed would normally be wearing shorts to be wearing jeans instead. While the calendar says Tuesday, August 26 there was definitely a hint of mid-October in the air.

It dawned on me when I found that first yellow maple leaf lodged in my new aluminum rain gutters while installing getter screens late Sunday afternoon. Fall is drawing near. School supplies have taken over the areas in stores once dominated by patio sets and gas grills and gardens everywhere are running over with the late summer bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. It's even more obvious when I am reminded of the fact that my daughter begins kindergarten in a mere seven days. Fall will soon be completely upon us.

We will spend Saturday afternoons raking and bagging leaves from the trees that shaded us from summer's glaring sun. We will make one last mad dash to harvest every tender vegetable from our garden when the weather forecast predicts autumn's first nip of frost. We'll spend an afternoon picking apples or selecting the perfect pumpkins as we prepare for Halloween. You'll grab a light jacket as you run out the door in the morning. It happens slowly until you realize, one day, that the trees are bare and the lawn has stopped growing. The sun now sets shortly after 8 PM in the evening when six weeks ago there was daylight until well after 9 PM.

Autumn creeps into our consciousness like the ninja of seasons. Not like spring which seems to just happen one day when you look outside and realize that it's 50 degrees and all of the snow and ice is miraculously gone. Autumn is full of brilliant colors, cool breezes and shorter days until you look around one day and all that's left is brown. It catches you off guard. It could be 90 degrees one day and the next could be full of chilly rain showers with the occasional snow flurry. But we expect it because we know that by the end of November we will be donning thick jackets and likely shoveling some snow off of our paths.

Autumn is coming. Until then, though, it can go to hell because we were cursed with yet another lengthy winter, a downright cold and wet spring and a cooler-than-normal summer marked with floods, mosquitoes and more gnats than I care to remember. May our September be hot enough where school children have to wear shorts every day of the week and may October last until Christmas!