Monthly Archives: December 2003


New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. With that in mind, here are mine:

1. No more fuzzy snuggles.

I believe the cats have become too dependent upon me. Every time I sit down, one of those furry little bastards gets up on my lap, expecting me to give it a thorough massage, a scritch behind the ears, and maybe some smoked oysters. Screw that. I've had it with catering to those little projectile barfing fur factories. It's tough love from now on.

2. I quit the bodily waste gig.

Why do people continue to evacuate horrifying substances day after day, year after year? The squatting and grunting must stop. Baths and showers are kinda nice, so I don't mind sweating so much. But the rest? It's smelly, messy, and quite frankly, it grosses me the fuck out. Also, I could use the toilet space for a tubside bookshelf.

3. Done blogging.

I've been tapping away at this "blog" thing for 3


When I set up Bill's blog for a christmas present, I had no doubt that he would outclass and out-write me in short order. I was not disappointed.

His very first post is an excellent essay on a matter we have discussed many times: panhandling.

At times, I wish it were as hip to brag about charitable giving as it is to show off a new diamond. If giving became a competition amongst the better-heeled to show how much holier-than-all they were, then there would be less need in the world. Alas, it's much more fashionable to talk about the tax break on the new SUV.

But all that is quite nearly beside the point.

Bill's ending point is a good one--if he's going to give to panhandlers knowing what they are, then he should be doing it out of his own discretionary money, and acknowledge that it's to make him feel good, and is not necessarily the best way to make a difference.

I often waver, but for the most part, I've stopped giving. As Bill says:

"These people are thieves twice over, and beneath contempt: first they steal from each mark and then, much worse, inasmuch as they erode goodwill and contribute to compassion fatigue, they steal from the very people who most desperately need help."

This is an opinion I share, and as such, I would prefer them gone. On to other lives, other choices. Professional panhandlers cause too much damage on the streets every day.

Lest you think me cold-hearted, I give. It's uncouth to talk about it, so I won't. But let's just say it's a chunk, and it goes to a few of the wonderful agencies mentioned in Bill's essay. Does this clear my conscience? Hell, no. It's wrenching to say no to people, even when I know they're scamming. I wouldn't want to be the kind of person for whom it was easy. But I'm willing to feel bad, and do more.

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The little box that allows you to subscribe to frytopia via Bloglet is gone. This site "broke" soon after I signed up. I tried to fix it, but it wasn't happening. I thought it was my fault, until I took a look at my own subscriptions. Half of them were broken. Over time, Bloglet became unable to send all but two of my twenty subscriptions--many of them sites by very technical folks.

Someday, maybe I'll find a subscription service that actually works for casual readers.

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At work, I plan well. I can run a meeting, keep a calendar, do an outline, and the rest. At the same time, to be clear, I am not one of those folks who plans to the exclusion of actually doing anything. In any case, we recently went through a planning workshop here, and while some of the methodology was questionable, there were some very good concepts to take away, as well as a good end-product. I mixed that with my own planning habits to come up with something truly useful to me.

After it was done, and I saw my sparkling clear direction, I realized I need to do this with some projects at home as well. I also realized that when next year comes around, and it's time to revisit everything...I'm going to forget how the hell I did it.

To assist my creaky memory, I made a quick planning guide (pdf) to which I can refer. Naturally, having done this, I decided to share.

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Do you have everything? Do your friends and family complain that you're hard to buy for? Feel awkward about wishlists? is for you. Instead of a wishlist, you create a "givelist"--a list of your favorite charities, so your friends and family can give the gift of, well, giving.

The idea is to make giving like shopping:

"Culturally, Americans have developed this incredible culture of shopping, it's become entertainment, it's become a major activity, a favorite pastime, but we're all drowning in stuff,'' she said. "People want to do good but it's a very complicated mix, and we started thinking, what if we could create this site as a shopping site, not as a charity site.''

I've started a list here.

Happy Holidays.

via onPhilanthropy.


Hey Portlanders!

Want to have a little fun for the holidays? Very little fun?

Every morning I walk by the ghastly marble abomination that is the sculpture Quest. It's the one in front of Standard Insurance, and is known to Portlanders as "Three Groins in a Fountain" or "Naked Mormons". It has been described as the worst piece of public sculpture anywhere, and it's ours.

So I had this delightful thought. Holiday pasties. Wouldn't sparkly, red and green pasties look just darling on the prim bosoms of those sadly naked figures? It's one of those ideas I would like to see happen, but don't really have the inclination (or the balls, or the pasties), to accomplish myself. But you can make my dream a reality. C'mon. Pasties on the nakies. I shall trumpet your triumph long and loud should it be done.


"I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance."

Michael Crichton on Environmentalism and Religion. A must read.


I have two cats, ages 11 and 7, who have been gleefully clawing my furniture for as long as they could reach it. Me, I'd given up and just taken to covering the furniture with colorful throws. It's not like the furniture is more important than the cats, after all.

They had a standard scratching post that they liked well enough. They were praised highly each time they used it. But it was only a supplement for their main course--furniture and carpets.

About eight months ago I bought them a Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher (a good picture) because I thought they'd enjoy it. I used the catnip to introduce them to it, and they more than liked it--they *loved* it (hee--even after the catnip was gone, I swear!). Now here it is, eight months later, and I suddenly realized that they haven't scratched anything but that scratcher for ages. They love the cardboard, and they especially love the angle--they like to turn around and scratch it from the top. It's lasted well, as we just now turned over the first cardboard block that came with it. I imagine we'll need a new block about once a year.

The only drawback to this beauty is that the cats do throw bits of shredded cardboard about, but it's not a horrible mess. We just vaccuum it up.

I imagine any cardboard-type scratcher placed at the right angle would work. I gotta say, I'm floored that they love it enough to leave the furniture alone, and I'm looking forward to getting a new couch soon!

Dear Royal Canin:

I have been a loyal customer for several years. Your products have kept two cats healthy and happy.

I have recently discovered some disturbing news about another pet food manufacturer, IAMS. Apparently they have been less than conscientious in the care of their test animals. I noticed that you also keep a laboratory, and I assume you have test animals.

The organization PETA, though I do not always agree with them and their methods, appears to have compiled a reliable list of responsible pet food companies. I noticed that Royal Canin is not on the list. To say the least, this gives me pause.

Here is the letter that PETA sent to pet food manufacturers:

Here is the survey they requested be completed:

I hope to check the list in the future, and find you have been added to the rolls. Until then, I regret that I can no longer purchase your product.


Cat Connor
Portland, Oregon, USA

The people in my life who have been lost have always been two steps away. A friend of a friend. Someone I didn't know well. A funeral full of strangers.

As each one falls, my stomach churns, selfishly. Next time, not so lucky. Next time, you'll lose someone you love.

So yes, I'm participating in Link and Think for purely selfish reasons. I could give you links to statistics in Africa (which, believe me, are mind boggling and fill me with rage), or I could point to the rising infection numbers here in the US. I'm sure many of the sites doing LandT this year will have those numbers.

But I'm just going to talk about me. Friends have lost friends. Family members have lost people they loved. Please make it stop.