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November 25, 2012

More Cat Trauma

In addition to my previous post on this issue, I want to add that giving the owner a pain pill to give to their pet for three days in a row is also a trauma, both to the cat and to the owner.

Most owners do not have a "tried and true" method of giving their pet a pill. Some pets will eat anything their owner gives them, including medication. Some pets are so adept they can eat a pill pocket (makeshift or formal) without touching or consuming the pill. Many animals fall somewhere in between, and the owners have to try multiple methods with a limited supply of medication to find what works or discover everything that doesn't work.

We have learned that Sapphire is one of those pets who can manage to eat everything around the pill and not touch the pill. We got her to take about 1/3 of the pill the first two days, but once she tasted the medication (that first 1/3), she ate around it, spit it out, or otherwise refused to consume the other 2/3. We tried putting it in cheese, completely wrapped up... she ate the cheese and managed to spit out the untouched pill. We tried dissolving the pill in her water dish (being careful that the other cat didn't drink from it too), but she stopped drinking the water the moment we added the pill to it.

I know how and I am capable of opening my pet's mouth and putting a pill in such that they have to swallow it. However, that is additional trauma on top of the surgery, being away from home, being surrounded by people she didn't know, etc. I didn't want to make her upset with me, feel betrayed by me, on top of all of that. Especially when she was spending the majority of her time in the downstairs bedroom, which is her "safe zone."

As I said previously, there has to be some way to minimize the trauma to the pet and to the owner. I think it involves having the pet taken to the vet for spaying/neutering and then either staying there or returning to the shelter for the follow up (possibly with a new collar that shows by color that the pet has been taken and with the new owner's last name on it, or something similar, to denote the pet is no longer available). Only once the pet is fully ready to come home are the new owners called and asked to come get their pet. At that point, the pet only has to survive the trauma of riding in a car to their new "furever" home. Once there, they have nothing to do but integrate, be loved, and learn the rules of the new household.

November 21, 2012

Spayed and Neutered

NOTE: This post is about the process involved in getting an adopted pet spayed or neutered in our town. It is not about the effect of the surgery on an animal.

We dropped our new handful off at the vet today to get spayed. Getting her into her carrier was traumatic, getting her out of the carrier at the vet office was traumatic, and being left to have a major surgery all alone is traumatic.

Here's my issue: in this town, the SPCA does not have a mandatory spay/neuter rule. So, when you pick up a pet from their facilities, or a satellite facility (like we did), you do not know if the pet is spayed or neutered. Basically, the pet has the trauma of living in a shelter's small cages, rooms, or whatever for days, weeks, months, then gets the trauma of being taken to a brand new home with new people it needs to learn about and get along with (and possibly children), and then it has to have the trauma of shots, surgery, and recovery shortly thereafter.

In the end, I think this is too much trauma for the animal to bear repeatedly over a short period of time. If, however, the SPCA had a rule that any pet brought into its facility was spayed/neutered and given its first round of shots (and they recuperated the costs when the pet was adopted), then the major traumas would all be out of the way all at once. Yes, it means that the SPCA would be constantly running a deficit in this area, as not every pet will get adopted or will be adopted quickly, but you KNOW that EVERY cat that has been to the SPCA is a) relatively healthy (due to shots being given) and b) spayed or neutered.

Alternately, when you want to adopt a pet, the adoption location arranges the pet to be sent to a vet for its shots and spay/neuter via the SPCA. This is performed by one of the in-network vets, they keep the animal overnight to make sure everything is okay, and then the facility (whether SPCA or satellite) keeps the pet for a couple of days to ensure it is eating and drinking. When you come to pick the pet up and take it to its "furever" home, you are seen only as the white knight and your and its only job from that point forward for the next year (until booster shots are needed) is to bond and love one another.

As it is, our little Sapphire is now associating us with going to the vet, getting shots, and now major, traumatic surgery. She is scared of her carrier case and, when we try to put her in it, she freaks out and becomes violent. All of this coming just one month after entering our home and the trauma of learning the rules here, leaving its previous environment, and learning to get along with our existing pet.

I think I've proposed at least two better, less traumatic ways to deal with this.

November 12, 2012

Skyfall Review

Skyfall is a very good film, and likely one of the best in the Bond franchise overall. Yet I still found myself feeling the nearly 2.5 hour run-time. In discussing with my wife afterward, we couldn't think of any scenes or areas that should be cut out, yet we still wanted a shorter run-time.

The actors all do a great job and the action scenes are very well done. The opening sequence obviously uses CGI of the actor's faces on the stunt-people's bodies during the motorcycle scene and fight on the train. I expect a better editing job than that on a Bond film. I had the feeling that each sequence was a bit too long, however, and could have been cut down a bit and could have moved on to the plot faster. For example, they could have cut some time out of the motorcycle chase on the rooftops and some of the fight on the train... just a few snips and a minute or two here and there would have made it tighter and more concise (and the action more breathtaking and immediate).

The story is pretty good, overall, and Javier Bardem is great as the villain (being a quirky villain is becoming something he may get type-cast as). One scene I guess that could be cut entirely is the one introducing and providing exposition by Severine. Berenice Marlohe, while beautiful, is there really only to convey what a monster Silva is. Any time you are TELLING an audience something, you are missing an opportunity to SHOW them the same thing. Bardem is convincing enough to make the audience realize just how crazy he is without the need for Severine telling them. Just to be specific: there is nothing wrong with those scenes or the actors in them. They do a very good job. But the entire point of the scene is for Severine to tell Bond that her employer is crazy/evil and to include another fight scene. Cut it and get someone, preferably Bond or Q, to realize where Silva is hiding (since Silva wants to be caught, maybe have Q find the information in Silva's program or something), and then head to the island. This is much more action-oriented and involving than being told, even by a beautiful woman.
Matter of fact, the entire scene, plus fight scene and sex scene, could have been axed in favor of this: Bond enters bar, has witty repartee with Eve. Goes to cashier and cashes in chip. She is seen telling someone about it (maybe Severine), and Bond walks out of bar. As he exits, he is surrounded by five armed men, one of whom says, "Our boss wants to speak with you." He is taken to Silva's island. Much shorter, to the point, and it gets you to the action of SEEING how crazy Silva is that much sooner.
The movie has many homages to the older Bond films, mostly Connery's, but they are worked in in such a way as to be pretty funny but soas not to take you out of the story. My wife didn't care for the many references to age versus youth and the potential for obsolescence as you get older. I didn't mind it so much, but they did make three very obvious references... they could have been more subtle in the writing in these instances.

SPOILER ALERT (Highlight to read text)
My one complaint is that M could have been killed in a much more dramatic way when Silva storms the ministry building. After giving her impassioned speech about security and feeling safe, it would have been nice if Silva had actually shot her there and then, making Bond angry and heading after the bad guy. Having her survive and having Bond take her into hiding to use as bait for Silva didn't feel as "right" for the characters or the scene. Having her shot dead right there, and Bond being too late to save his adopted mother figure, would explain Bond's cold demeanor even better than how the movie ended.

All in all, this is a very good action film and a very good entry in the Bond series. I enjoy Craig as Bond and like the cast around him. I look forward to the next movie. On my usual grading scale, I'd give it a B+, the main negative being running time and over-done action sequences (which aren't very negative, so only drop it half a grade).

Casino Royale
Quantum of Solace

November 7, 2012

Not Out of the Woods Yet

America voted and America chose. They re-elected President Obama to a second term. He even has the popular vote, so a (small) majority of Americans prefer his policies and visions to the policies and vision of his election rival. However, this does not mean that we are 'out of the woods' by any means. The President has a vision, sure, but he so far during the campaign has not given specifics. Neither has his opposition. This election cycle was incredibly devoid of specifics, of plans, of details that the public can use to keep the President-elect on topic and judge his overall course and value as president.

When Mr. Obama was elected to his first term, he spoke much more specifically about what he would do and how he would do it. Few people realize this, but he got more of his bills passed through Congress than any previous President during his first two years. Were they all winners? No, of course not. But he was trying to overcome the mess left to him (and the American people) and he was trying to follow the plans and specifics he provided during his campaign and during his first speech as President.

The American public, disenfranchised with how long the recovery was taking and some of the antics of the Democrat-controlled Congress, rebelled in 2010 and gave the House to the Republicans. Shortly thereafter, John Boehner famously said that the House of Representatives would not pass any bill that the Republicans thought would help Mr. Obama get re-elected. And they were good to their word. They filibustered and stopped every bill designed to get the American public back to work, even if it hurt their own constituents and the American public in general. They refused to help every single time Mr. Obama asked for bipartisanship, and then blamed the style and content of the bills for not being bipartisan. They designed bills using terms and conditions that were abhorrent to the Democrats and without asking for Democratic buy-in or assistance simply so that the Democrats or the President would stop or veto them, and then complained that everything they did was stymied by the President (even if the Senate was what stopped the bill).

In the end, however, their plan failed and Mr. Obama has been re-elected. This failure is, ironically, mostly on them for what they said (anti-woman, anti-GLBT, racist campaigns and comments) and what they did not do (all the filibustering and bill denials). What I wonder now is, will they take the President up on his desire to work with them to make bills and laws that are bipartisan and compromise, or will they continue the tactic of hurting all of America? Will the Democrats work harder and smarter to try to get Republican assistance and buy-in on the vision that Mr. Obama will, hopefully, be sharing with us soon? We do not know if any of the President's bills would have been successful, but we know for certain that having nothing continues to hurt America. Will they step to the plate and help out?

American politics have become so fractured, so partisan, so divisive that I am not sure that any president can get much done unless his party has a majority in Congress. And this, simply put, is not American. America is all about compromise. I am certain that I could sit in a room with people on the far right and far left and moderate nearly any topic to a compromise. Will either be totally happy with the results? No. But will we have a work-able solution that gives a little to both sides while minimizing the negatives to both sides? Yes. If I can do that, why can't our elected officials?

As I said, we are not out of the woods yet. The public has spoken and the President was re-elected. But he still has a Republican House to contend with and the antipathy of the Republican party to overcome. But, here's the thing: We control both. If we educate ourselves on the policies and bills, if we contact and hold accountable our elected officials, they WILL do what we want, or we can throw them out of office and get people who will. WE HAVE THE POWER. Let's use it to make the Republicans and Democrats work together, compromise, and right this ship. Let's find a way out of these woods and back to a place where America is great and its people are powerful.

We CAN do it.