Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Name that Ferret!

I picked up a 5 year old ferret at a shelter in the Twin Cities. He spent most of yesterday evening hissing at the other ferrets. But, they haven't damaged each other, so I think they'll get used to each other over time. The ferret shelter lady in the area here generally says "no blood, no foul". *shrugs*

Anyway, the new guy needs a name! His new "brothers" are Chaos and Loki. Any suggestions? The new guy has common ferret markings, but instead of being dark brown, his guard hair is black.

Update: I like "Enkidu". Thanks, Teresa!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ferrets in a Bag and the Nap at the End of the Tunnel

Yep...pretty much just random ferret photos.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Popcorn and Butterscotch

In a moment of weakness, I bought butterscotch chips at the grocery store. They are unbelievably sweet and really never should have come into my kitchen. However, I have come to the conclusion that butterscotch and salted butter popcorn should be rather tasty. If I weren't about to go to bed right now, I would test this theory, but since I am off to bed, it would be wise to avoid consuming anything else at this point in time.

Update: Confirmed.

Silly Loki!

Yeah...I guess the bed isn't really necessary...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Loki's determined...

Loki: I can fit, honest! I just have to push a little harder!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Magic Poo?

I saw Chaos peeing directly in front of the litterbox, so of course, I had to clean that up. I also had to clean him up, because his feet slid out from under him while he was urinating and he got messy too. When I came back from cleaning him to clean up the urine, I saw a perfectly formed poo on the edge of the table closest to the litter pan - fortunately, there was no urine on the table. And thank goodness for sanitizing wipes!

This is a bit of a mystery, since to date, neither ferret has managed to get up onto the table. I'm also pretty sure that I would have noticed if Chaos had pooed when I picked him up to wash him off and briefly passed him over the table on the way out of the corner. So, that leaves two possibilities: Either Loki has figured out how to get onto the table or the poo magically appeared.

Generally, I am disinclined to believe in magic poo. On the other hand, there are some plastic grocery bags on the table, a bowl of grapes, various bits of mail and my laptop. None of these seem to have been disturbed, which makes it difficult to believe that Loki climbed up onto the table, pooed and then dropped back onto the floor again. Also, he would have either had to have done it during the minute that I was out of the room cleaning up Chaos or while I was not more than 10 feet away, without me noticing.

Very strange.

Deja Vu

I was listening to Public Radio this morning and heard the plug for the upcoming Talk of the Nation (at least I think that's what it was...I was rushing to get out the door).

Paraphrasing, the snippet was something like this:

Obama says that he'll win the election.

McCain says that he'll become president.

Who will win? How will he do it?

I was struck by the possibility of both of them achieving those goals. Many say that Gore won the election and that Bush II became president.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wal-Mart's new Marketside stores

Apparently, Walmart has decided to start a line of smaller neighborhood stores called "Marketside". If you care about whether you shop at Walmart or not, then this may be of interest to you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Evil Teachers' Union!

I was listening to part of the RNC on the radio and heard some guy shouting about the "liberal government" in Washington siding with the teachers' union and against the students. I'd like to take a moment to try to dispel some of the myths surrounding teachers and the union.

“School teachers only work part-time! Look, they have all summer off!”

On average, teachers work 186 days a year in the state of Oregon, of which 169 are spent teaching students. Some states require 180 school days.

A school teacher’s day looks something like this:

7:00-8:00 in school, available to students

8:00-12:00 teaching

12:00-12:30 lunch

12:30-3:00 teaching

3:00-4:00 in school, available to students

+2 hours of grading/lesson planning

That is an 11 hour day for a total of 1859 hours of work in the academic year, which divides out to 46.48 40 hour weeks of student contact per academic year. Additionally, there are the 17 days spent in teacher in-service and other duties, which add up to 136 hours if one assumes an 8 hour day; so another 3.4 40 hour work weeks. That sounds like full-time to me. Of course, that doesn’t include the time spent on required continuing education.

“School teachers are just babysitters!”

For comparison, let me also mention that my parents paid $9/day to my babysitter back in the early 90s. I have no idea what the going rate is, but we’ll go with that. If a teacher has a class of thirty and is ‘just a babysitter’, then that teacher should demand $270/day, which works out to $45,630 for 169 days. However, since a teacher also is to teach students, there is a certain value added.

“School teachers are just greedy and want too much money!”

A school teacher has gone to university for a minimum of 4 and often as many as 6 or 7 years. Generally, people who have gone to university for that long should be able to demand competitive salaries. Since teaching children is so important, it would seem logical that the people trained to do so would be very important to a society. If we want to have the best and the brightest instructing our children, then we need to provide a certain incentive for them to do so. If a person can’t make more as a teacher than as a secretary, where is the incentive? Teachers go into teaching because they enjoy teaching and want to help young people, not because they expect to become rich. However, they also need to have enough to feed their families and have health care so that they can devote their attention to doing their job, rather than to scraping to make ends meet. Also, as indicated above, teachers are professionals and should be paid professional salaries.

"Most money in the budget goes to paying teachers!"

Um, yes, the teachers need to eat. It is the teachers that make the entire enterprise possible. At minimum, a school needs students and teachers - a look at any third world country can tell us that much. We could do without the buildings and other accessories, but the teachers are absolutely necessary! This is not to say that we should stop maintaining the infrastructure, however, it is important to understand the vital role of teachers.

"The UNION!"

I would hope that teachers would be seen as allies in assuring a positive future for our children and, through them, our society. Teachers are workers just like just about everyone else. Teachers' unions are made up of teachers. A union is composed of individuals banding together to make sure that they are treated fairly and compensated for their labor. This doesn't make them evil! Also, many initiatives put forth by teachers' unions are aimed at helping further student education, so it is not only a benefit to the teachers, but also to the students.


Of course, I'm just preaching to the choir. Just about everyone who reads my blog on a regular basis already understands the value of education and the importance of attracting and maintaining qualified teachers.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is the Daily Show slipping?

Is it just me, or has the Daily Show been slipping lately? It seems like there has been less intellectual comedy and more assholery lately, particularly with the conduct of the "reporters" at the DNC.

Don't get me wrong; a lot of the Daily Show is priceless. I like comedy. I'm just not much for watching people be jerks just to be jerks.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Another take on the cervical cancer vaccine

This is my translation of the Dutch snippet found below:

Doctors reject standard vaccination

The introduction of the standard vaccination against cervical cancer is unreasoned. That's what the doctors and researches write in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (Dutch Journal of Health).

Minister Klink from the health ministry wants to institute vaccination for girls twelve and older in one year. The scientists and doctors call it premature and unreasoned because the vaccine has never been tested on 12-year-olds. It could be that the vaccine has different effects than it does on 15- to 26-year-olds, on whom the formula has already been tested. Overall, the reseachers find that the research on efficacy of the formula has yet to deliver trustworthy results.

Nieuwsservice van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Edition: Nederlands Nieuws, 27 August 2008

Artsen wijzen standaardvaccinatie af

Het invoeren van een standaardvaccinatie tegen baarmoederhalskanker heeft geen zin. Dat schrijven artsen en onderzoekers in het Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde.

Minister Klink van Volksgezondheid wil over een jaar vaccinatie voor meisjes van 12 jaar en ouder invoeren. De wetenschappers en artsen noemen dat overhaast en niet zinvol omdat het vaccin nooit is getest op 12-jarigen. Het zou kunnen dat het vaccin bij hen anders werkt dan bij de 15- tot 26-jarigen op wie het middel wel is getest. Bovendien vinden de onderzoekers dat het onderzoek naar de effectiviteit van het middel nog geen betrouwbare resultaten heeft opgeleverd.

Nieuwsservice van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Editie: Nederlands Nieuws, 27 augustus 2008