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Writer's Block: Unplugged

For how much money would you be willing to spend a whole week away from the Internet, TV, and mobile phones? Would you suffer withdrawal pains?
I'd be a cheap sell on this. I've only JUST gotten cable tv again, after years without...I've not had internet for months until this past week...and I have gone over a few weeks once in a while (though rarely) from my Netflix addiction. My phone would be a little harder to give up, but...since I'm not much for phone talking (I've become a texting addict) I doubt it'd be an issue.

Gimmie say...$50 and I'd be unplugged for a week, easy. Offer me a thousand, and dude, I'd be cut off from the world for a solid month. Not a problem. ;) After all, I've got a few new books on their way, should arrive any day now, and I have two-soon-to-be-three cats and a dog, as well as a veritable plethora of pythons (and a wee boa). I have entertainment galore to keep me busy!

Frankly I find it (somewhat hypocritically) sad how dependent we are on technology for fun these days. I LIKE the TV and the Internets, but...I also like other things too. Right now I'm prepping my home for that new baby, the wee tortoishell at the shelter. I'm gathering stuff for deerhunting (due to work I'll be missing out on most of rifle season but my dad has promised to loan me his muzzleloader for black powder season) and contemplating going back on a diet so I can soundly whip my dad this coming ski season. I have artwork to create, pets to nurture, hobbies to indulge in. The Yule is just around the corner, if I intend to give any handmade gifts I need to start them NOW or I won't have time!

Now granted, crocheting a scarf or knitting a hat while watching Spike TV's 1,000 Ways To Die show is pretty awesome (OMG LOVE THAT SHOW!!!) buuuuuut it isn't necessary.

Of course I say (type?) all this on my computer, hooked into the internet, with my nice big TV two feet to my left and my cell phone seated upon my mouse pad (I keep accidentally trying to use it as the mouse, lol) so I guess perhaps I should be careful what stones I throw around and in which direction. Glass houses, yo. ;)

Writer's Block: Cause or symptom?

Do you believe that violence in media promotes violence in real life? Does media reflect cultural values or can it actively reshape them?


I disagree entirely with the notion that media violence promotes real-life violence. I am an example of a fake-violence addict: I play the goriest, nastiest video games imaginable. I draw gore and mutilation and violence and death. I listen to some music with lyrics that would sicken most sane people. I watch and re-watch vile and violent television shows and movies.

In short, I eat violence for breakfast. Fake-violence, that is.

In reality? I am a very non-violent person. Hell, I'm so clean I squeak. I've never done anything violent to another living being unless you count lawful sustenance-hunting. I help rescue kittens and puppies when the opportunity presents itself, for chrissakes. I groom dogs, which requires a saint's patience and a relatively high pain tolerance (dogs BITE, yo) and I cope with the most volatile customers with a calm and professional manner, no matter how angry I get.

I'm a pretty gentle person. I'm actually a pretty sensitive fellow, very not REMOTELY violent.

My angers and rages have a healthy outlet: I read about violence and death. I act it out in video games and tabletop RPGs. I vicariously experience it in movies and television. I feel the rhythm pound through my chest when I play violent, angry music.

It doesn't inspire me to act out in a real way...it soothes me so I don't climb a clocktower and start taking shots at passersby with a rifle.

In the forward of Jhonen Vasquez's "director's cut" edition of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Rob Schrab describes it as a little inner beast, the violent side we all posses. He goes on to explain that people who have an outlet for their little inner monster don't get taken over by the inner monster. After all, most of the most violent killers we've seen in living memory? People who lived around them, who knew them well? Almost always describe them as quiet, gentle-seeming folk. They starved their inner beast to the point where it broke free of it's cage and ran rampant.

People like me? My inner monster is well-fed. It's probably getting fat, lol. I let it glutton itself on pure gore and violence from safe, harmless outlets.

The only real difference is my stomach for violence is pretty ironclad. I don't flinch at violence. I don't flinch at gore. I don't flinch at death and decay and blood. Maybe I should. Maybe I've lost something. Maybe that squeamishness I see in some of the people around me, the squeamishness I don't feel...maybe that is a form of innocence I've lost.

Maybe, but what-ifs never did a body much good. Innocence is lost, given enough time, in all of us unless we shelter ourselves from life itself.

The fact is, media violence isn't a cause, but it's a darn good scapegoat. Instead of forcing people to look at human motivations and urges, psychological defects or social insecurities, it allows most folk a nice shiny target to point a finger at when a fellow human being acts like a psychotic monster.

It's like how people who have no brains blame Pit Bulls for dogfighting. They'd rather blame an innocent victim of violence than the soulless human beings who put the dogs into the ring to kill each other.

Now, here's the kicker...nobody is going to truly stifle media violence. If it isn't made available in publicly accessible channels or whatever, people like me will always pay for it elsewhere. This is the basis for HBO's raging success with some of the nastiest and most entertaining shows ever. Hell, they turned a sociopathic serial killer into a HERO in the show Dexter! Ergo, I don't really care if some people quest against media violence. Let them tilt at windmills. No skin off my back, pun intended.

Let's take some person who has been sadly touched by violence...say, a wife who's husband beats her from time to time. A boy who got beat up one afternoon for wearing the wrong colors in public. A mother who has lost a child to murder. A person who has lost a part of themselves to rape. There's any number of horrible ways to be touched by violence. Now, we'll call this person Jane Doe. She needs something to blame...and the media is a convenient if inaccurate target. It provides, ironically, an outlet for her outrage against the thing or things that happened to her or a loved one. An outlet that, equally ironically, really harms nobody.

I still get my faux-violence...and they get something to hate that they can never truly kill off. Nobody really wins but nobody loses, either.

..........................well, censorship is a possibility elsewhere I guess. This answer is for the good ol' US of A.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go draw mutilated bodies in pools of blood while watching death and dismemberment on my nice big TV, and continue living a gentle, sympathetic and compassionate life.

I am a peaceful soul after all. :)
Inevitably, people who own snakes (and/or reptiles or amphibians in general) hear the following, phrased in many ways: "YOUR (insert pet here) DOESN'T LOVE YOU."

The simple answer is, WELL NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.

I had Bowline (my Apricot Pueblan Milk Snake, for those of you just joining the party) for less than 24 hours when someone at work popped that at me. I was walking up front, and I guess there was a conversation between some of the groomers who keep herptiles and reptiles, and some who do not, and I walked into the middle of it and a very upset anti-herp person practically shouted at me, "You know what, YOUR SNAKE DOESN'T LOVE YOU AND NEVER WILL."

My reaction was "uhh, okay, what's your point?" :P

Here's a head's up to all you people ignorant of cold-blooded pets: WE KNOW. We understand that our pets do not feel "love" or "affection" the way a warm-blooded furry thing does. We know and we don't fucking care. We did not get our snake/reptile/amphibian/whatever with the intent of having an animal love or show affection towards us.

Guess what! Pets that don't give a shit about their owner can still bring the owner joy. Fish, for example! I defy you to find a fish who actually LOVES A PERSON, yet many people keep fish! Why? They're attractive, interesting animals. Looking at fish has a soothing, calming effect on many people.

Likewise, snakes. Attractive, interesting, very cool little animals. Seeing Bowline do stuff in his tank makes me feel good, because he's acting more comfortable with his surroundings. He brings me joy. He does not bring me joy by loving me but by being a happy, healthy animal.

I am very aware of the fact that no, he does not LOVE ME.

I'm gonna take it a step farther...I don't think Bowline knows I'm a LIVING ENTITY ALL ON MY OWN. All he knows is that I am somewhat warm, and he's beginning to recognise that I am not a threat to him. At best, I can hope that he becomes very comfortable being picked up, handled, and will recognise my scent as a "non-threatening perch." That will be all that I am to him. Even if he COULD feel love as we understand it, he wouldn't love me because I don't exist as a fellow creature to him.

And I'm okay with that. :) No, really!

Freya kindof inspired this...she mentioned to her sister that I'd gotten a little snake and how happy I am with him and her sister "helpfully" informed her that snakes can't love. My pet will never love us. The implication here being that I am delusionally hopeful that Bowline will adore me.

This, as Freya pointed out, from the person who keeps FIVE FISH TANKS.

Here's the part I think gets missed too often...while our snakes may not love us herp fanciers, we herp fanciers LOVE OUR SNAKES. Defiler has mentioned a practically parental feeling of adoration for their little Chalybeia, a pewter Corn Snake. I was skimming posts in a herper's community on LJ and was delighted by all the posts where proud herp parents were showing off their "babies." Our snakes bring us joy, what more could we ask for?!

The next time you or someone you know says something to a herp fancier about how their snake or snakes (or reptile pets, or amphibians) will never love them, consider this: maybe they are emotionally mature people who don't need to BE loved in order to FEEL LOVE FOR ANOTHER CREATURE. I do not demand my pets love me. The fact that several of them do is a nice bonus but not neccessary. I used to think I needed that reassurance and affection but in reality, I needed a living thing to slather my own affections on. Wether or not they feel a similar affection in return is irrelevant.

I've begun to think that maybe people who pop off that "your cold-blooded animal can't feel love" bit are secretly deeply insecure people who cannot handle the idea that love need not be mutual to be beneficial. I love my snake, so I provide him the best possible care I can...and in exchange, my snake who still does not and never will love me gets a good home with regular food and quality care.

We BOTH benefit from our decidedly one-sided relationship. ;)

I'd forgotten this aspect of owning a snake. :P I'm gonna make this entry "public" so I can link people to it and so, if other herp people want to link to it, they can. I used to get this all the time back when I had Precious (my natural-phase Ball Python) because he was so docile I could, in summer when it is warm enough, take him with me wherever I went. People would spot him, RANDOM STRANGERS MIGHT I ADD, and say "you know, that snake doesn't love you."

You know what? Our desire to name our pets should be an indication of our acceptance of our pet's lack of affection. Neither Precious nor Bowline have ever or WILL ever hear their names. Snakes? DEAF, YO. But even though I know that fact, I still named them. Why?

For MY OWN BENEFIT, not theirs. ;) I know that talking to my snake is a little like talking to a wall, except the wall is a lot less interesting and adorable.

To all you people who do not keep cold-blooded pets...don't tell us our snakes/reptiles/amphibians can't love us. We know. We get it already. Maybe instead of "informing" us of this fact, ask polite questions like "Why choose a snake for a pet?" or "What kind of snake is that?" We usually LOVE talking about our critters and will fill your ears with chatter about 'em. Almost all herp people I've ever met are insanely proud of their pets, and love to share that pride and joy with anyone they can.

Because we really love them. :)

SO DEAD OMG.

Today was tough. Ten hour day, and I didn't get a chance to take my lunch break or even run to the back to piss until an hour and a half before my shift ended. TMI WARNING: by the time I had a chance to pee, it was pumpkin orange and I was in some pretty heinous PAIN. I was so hungry it hurt and I was about ready to FUCKING KILL SOMEONE.

The problem: IDIOTS WHO DON'T MAKE APPOINTMENTS. They need to collectively DIE IN A GODDAMN FIRE.

Seriously. Thanks to ASSHOLE company policy I cannot turn away a walk-in dog unless it comes in so late it can't physically get finished in time before we close. And every time I managed to get ahead enough to contemplate PISSING and or EATING FOOD AGAIN, another two or three ASSHOLES would come in and "Oh, do you have time to wash my dog?" OF COURSE, BECAUSE I'M NOT ALLOWED TO SAY NO.

Some advice. If you have your dog groomed, and have a habit of not making an appointment...DIE IN A FIRE RIGHT NOW KTHNX. No wait. Try this. Get your dog, get in the car, drive to a salon. Walk inside with your dog, and ask the following: "Hey, I was just taking (nameofdog) for a car ride to kill some time and figured I should stop in to make an appointment. What is your earliest availability?" Then watch them book you for, like...the next day or next week or something, BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO DO IT RIGHT THEN BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DECENCY TO CALL AHEAD AND MAKE A FUCKING APPOINTMENT HAVE ALREADY ARRIVED AND THEY ARE BUSY. Only if they say something like "Oh, well we could do it now if you wanted" is it cool to be a walk-in.

ANYWAYS.

I was solidly booked, had literally as many walk-ins as appointments, and had about a billion nail trims to do. I'm in so much pain right now. I'm so tired. And even though I just fucking ate my lunch like...two hours ago now, I'm fucking STARVING.

Dinner in the oven. Gonna finish off the last of my red wine, too. Once I have some food and stop shaking I'll nab a shower then sleep.

I bought a box of cookies for the kiddo, for next time I see him. It is beckoning to me. Must resist the urge to steal cookies from a four-year-old. HURK.

SO TIRED.

More product info...including FOOOOODZ.

First, I updated this filtre ("grooming tips and tricks") and pulled some of the more blatantly off-topic posts. :P

Second...oatmeal shampoos are love. Summer and winter are bad for dry skin, we see it a lot in the salon...and doggie "dandruff" is just vile. Oatmeal shampoos and something like a natural wheat-grass conditioner or remoisteurizer is ideal.

I absolutely adore these wheatgrass products: http://www.tailwaggerspets.com/p1104/tails-wheatgrass-shampoo-conditioner/product_info.html

But I love their conditioning stuff the most.

Sadly a lot of the coolest shampoos are tough on a dog's skin. My favourite is the blueing shampoo, followed by purpleing (which we don't have in the salon, though I keep a bottle of it here at home for Cricket). However, they can be a little harsh on a dog. Oatmeal shampoos are generally easier on them, very soothing to the skin.

Now, the trouble is that shampoos and conditioners aren't the whole story. A dog's coat isn't just window-dressing, it can be an indicator of the WHOLE BEING. People always look at me funny when they complain about their dog's dry skin, the shedding, and lack of lustre, and I turn around and ask what they feed their dog.

For the best coat possible, you need to not only wash with appropriate product, but feed the right foods. Dog food that contains a lot of fillers is worthless. No, really...read the labels. Excessive ammounts of corn (I won't buy food with corn in it, PERIOD, and I never reccomend it) or food that contains glutens or gluten meal? Is not ideal food for your pet and will negatively affect their overall wellness...including their coat quality.

I personally am a huge fan of Nutro's Natural Choice line and Nutro's Ultra line, and Blue Buffalo's foods are amazing. I personally feed Blue to Cricket, and the Nutro Natural Choice for cats to our feline family. :)

Now, to be fair, good food isn't cheap. That is the part that people often seem to hate, they want their dog to look awesome and feel good but they don't want to buy the foods the dog needs to make it happen. Kathy and I spent a while talking to a gentleman with a Sheltie who looked like a train wreck, telling him about how the dog's poor nutrition is adversely affecting it's health and thus it's coat looks like absolute shit...flakey, dull, and rather vile.

Five minutes later we see him go through the checkout line, with a big ol' 40 lb bag of goddamn GOODLIFE SHIT in his cart. I loathe that fucking crapass food...it sucks SO HARD! Foods like Goodlife and Ol' Roy make me want to vomit just THINKING about them. PARTICULARLY Ol' Roy. *shudders*

For the best coat possible, feed a good-quality, meat-oriented food (preferrably kibble unless your dog actually NEEDS to eat soft food) with no fillers, no gluten or gluten meal, and certainly no corn...I have found that I can get away with washing a dog with blueing shampoo and then rewashing with oatmeal shampoo to get the brightness from the blueing without aggravating the dog's skin...and then liberally apply wheatgrass conditioner. I like to leave the conditioner on the dog for at least five minutes, to let it "soak in," the results are amazing. Some Unicoat before applying the dryer...hand-drying to perfection and then a quick misting with a scented finishing spray, and I swear the dog will look better than can be imagined.

Seriously.
I brought the camera with me to work yesterday, and lo, I had a few of my request dogs in. Yay! I snapped pictures to share. :) Be sure to read captions as well as these descriptions, LOL!

First, Mr. Magoo. XD He's seriously NUTS, yo. He's completely insane but ultra-sweet and he LOVES his bath...screams and flails like a Northern-breed should, but it's more screaming fits of joy than horror. X3 He's an unusual mix...Malamute mixed with ENGLISH MASTIFF. He's huge, got a very Mastiffy-type coat, but otherwise looks more like a Mal. For those familiar with the cartoon Mr. Magoo, it's easy to see how he got his name!
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0002ftqe/g15

Next was Monroe, a Whippet mix. He's awesome, and so're his owners. He's got some serious issues (REAL issues, that is) and his owners have really done wonders to improve his quality of life...he's much more confident and able to relax better now...before he was just a ball of terror. :) His mother was a Whippet, and the other half could be some kind of terrier, Lab, or possibly Pit or Amstaffie. I'm leaning towards Pit due to both his incredibly tolerant nature and his head structure.
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0002ec1s/g15

I also had Maximus and Mattie in yesterday...two of my many Dane requests. :) I love working on Great Danes so I end up doing most of 'em that come in, LOL. Of ALL my Danes, Maximus is (appropriately named, too!) by far the biggest. :) He's HYOOGE. Over 220 pounds and he's STILL GROWING, HE'S STILL A PUPPY. I'm curious to see how big he can actually GET!!!
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0002brzx/g15

Since Max is such a big chicken and wouldn't hold his head up, I handed the camera off to a co-worker (the same one who is pictured below with the Pom of Evil) and held his head up for him. :P Notice that his shoulder height is well above my damn BELT BUCKLE. He's REALLY BIG!!!
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0002c9hc/g15

This one isn't a dog I worked on...it was a groomer's dog...but so cute I had to take a picture. I made a little "PRRRT" sound and she cocked her head to the side so adorably...I snapped the picture...and then this little eight-week-old Pommeranian whipped around and BIT THE GROOMER WHO WAS STANDING BEHIND HER. Talk about "cute but evil!" We hope she outgrows her little...evil evil temperament, lol.
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0002d3bh/g15
I ask only that people THINK before opening their big fat ugly mouths. SERIOUSLY.

The first time I took Cricket on a walk in the store (as it was a little cold out for a puppy weighing under two pounds to be outside at the time) someone pointed and said "Hey, there's RATS bigger than that dog!" I thought it was kindof funny, and true enough we later held Cricket up to a rat and lo, the rat was bigger.

Now, the "rat" comment was funny...THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT. Less so the second time.

I hear it EVERY BLOODY TIME I TAKE HER ANYWHERE, it seems. "Look, it's a tame RAT on a leash!" "I've seen RATS bigger than your dog!" "Is that a dog or a RAT?" "It's so small you can't even call it a dog, looks more like a RAT to me!"

I GET IT, my dog is tiny.

Folks, it isn't original or funny. I did not aquire my dog just for your amusement.

Likewise, whenever the Great Dane triplets arrive, people always pop off crap like "I bet you could slap a saddle on him and RIDE HIM he's as BIG AS A HORSE." "Is that a dog or a PONY on a leash?" "Are those dogs or the BUDWEISER CLYDESDALES?" Yeah, we get it, they're huge. e.e Or my personal favourite: "With dogs that size, who's walking WHO?" To which I always have to grit my teeth to avoid replying with "Considering that they're all obediently walking loose-leash in various at-heel positions WHO DO YOU FUCKING THINK is walking who?!"

My roommate's dog draws similar annoying and rude comments, being a Pekingese: "Oh, hey, you could use him to mop the floor!"

And of course anyone with Sighthounds who aren't obese or dogs with extreme "tuckup" (like most Pointing breeds for example) almost always get nasty comments like "Do you ever FEED that thing???" As Sighthoundlady pointed out, some folk look at Sighthounds (and other unusual or uniquely shaped breeds) and call them "freakish."

WHAT THE FUCK.

Like Thumper's daddy said, if you can't say something nice, STFU. Folks, making smartass, rude and oft insulting statements or idiot-questions about a dog isn't clever or funny. You aren't impressing the person who's dog you just joked about, you are probably irritating and offending them. It isn't witty or original, it is REHASHED AND OBNOXIOUS and not at all appreciated.

Instead of commenting rudely about how there are RATS bigger than my dog, maybe say something like "wow, that dog is really tiny! Is she an adult or will she get any bigger?" There's a good conversation opener, which might involve me offering to let the person pet or hold the tinydog being discussed. Instead of making jokes about saddling the Danes, people could comment on how striking the three of them are. After all, three massive Danes command a lot of attention, and they are all VERY stunningly marked animals. Instead of suggesting my roomie use her beloved pet as a floor-cleaning tool, maybe as about the coat care or something. Don't call dogs "freaky" or suggest they are some kind of freakshow oddity.

And please, don't ever ask if someone feeds their dog or not. Some breeds are skinny by nature and it can be really insulting and offensive to someone who keeps their dog fit and in perfect condition to have people tell them their FIT, HEALTHY, WELL-FED dog looks like it just walked out of a concentration camp. e.e

Think before speaking, thanks. ;)

Oh duh.

I made an entire "scrapbook gallery" for photos of dogs I've worked on in the salon. No, I won't post EVERY. SINGLE. DOG. or anything, just some of my favourites or some that I'm particularly proud of.

Gallery is here: http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/gallery/0000ftgr

Photoplosion!!!

Okay, time for a massive dose of PICTURES. :D Be sure to read all the little image descriptions!!!

First...the moment you've all been waiting for (or not, whatever)...CRICKET!!!
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000g640/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000h4t9/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000kybs/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000p8wy/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000q1kg/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000rcr7/g14
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000sz32/g14

Next, some fun ones of Cricket and Yvaine playing. :) I swear, they are such a pair...so funny to watch them play-fight! Sometime soon I'm gonna have to figure out how to upload videos, because they are HILARIOUS.
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/00005kb4/g8
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/00006dtr/g8
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/00007ked/g8
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/00008892/g8

Now for some serious "awww" moments. ;) Percy and Yvaine posing pretty, Percy and Shadow snuggled up together, and some pictures of Percy cuddling with Cricket and even GROOMING HER LIKE A KITTEN! :D
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/00009wyq/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000ay25/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000b6er/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000cp79/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000dy49/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000eh1y/g11
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000fq5z/g11

Lastly, Asher and Tulsa, the Shelties I groomed today. :) SO PRETTY, especially perfect-boy Asher.
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000xwdy/g15
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000yefz/g15
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000z3sc/g15
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000t3f0/g15
http://pics.livejournal.com/rantingmule/pic/0000wyhs/g15

For all photos of pets in our home...apologies, we're kindof a mess right now, haven't finished our spring cleaning and whatnot. :P