Saturday, March 29, 2008

Privilege Meme from Peripatetic Polar Bear

From this link, ,here's a meme about privilege. You're supposed to bold those that are true for you

Father went to college. (GI Bill after WWII)
Father finished college.
Mother went to college. (GI Bill after WWII -- mom was an Army nurse)
Mother finished college.
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. (one uncle by marriage was an attorney in a small town in southern Indiana)
Were the same or higher social class than your high school teachers.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.(considering all 8 of us maxed out our library cards every week, we probably had more than 500 books in the house at least until kids started moving out. Heck, I'm the only bookreader in my house, and I am pretty sure I have at least a couple hundred books right now.)
Were read children’s books by a parent.
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 . (5th of 6 kids means money was going toward college expenses before I could grab it for lessons)
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (parental dead bodies before this would've happened. I think I only touched one of my mom's credit cards once or twice by 18)
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (parents paid for tuition/room/board at a college we agreed upon considering costs as well as academic programs. Undergraduate degree only, and they were quite annoyed when I paid $150/semester for tuition/fees in grad school at the same university. I pointed out that they usually want you to have taken the course before you TA'ed it; therefore, not an option in undergrad days)
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
Went to a private high school.
Went to summer camp. (Does Girl Scout camp for 1 week after 4th grade count?)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (Most vacations were to my grandparents' homes, but some were to destinations that meant motels. We also did a few trips where we rented a condo at the beach to cut meal expenses.)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. (Three older sisters and a girl down the street who was my age but much taller were sources of hand-me-downs. My mom sewed a lot for us, including my prom dress.)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. (HA! not a chance for even a hand-me-down)
There was original art in your house when you were a child. (Sort of, if you include a [bad] painting I did in middle school and a paint-by-number that my parents did together before they decided to have children)
You and your family lived in a single-family house.
Your parents owned their own house or apartment before you left home. (I think the mortgage was paid off (13 years early, IIRC) in my senior year in high school. They moved to a different state -- but I found them! -- while I was in college and probably picked up a mortgage again at that point.)
You had your own room as a child. (after enough siblings grew up and left home. At 11 I had a room to myself when college was in session. At 13 I had a room of my own year-round, but I was only allowed to paint one wall because the room had been painted 2 years earlier when my oldest sister went to college and my youngest sister moved into it.)
You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. (we had one phone, 2 jacks. One jack in the dining room, the other in my parents' bedroom. Privacy on the phone was unlikely and fragile when achieved)
Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. (We did some vocabulary work in my advanced English class and had filled out a bazillion multiple choice tests with number 2 pencils over the years, but no specific SAT prep class. Got 1400 anyway -- see books, above.)
Had your own TV in your room in high school. (we could have clock-radios or stand-alone radios)
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. (I was 16, about a week and a half from turning 17)
Went on a cruise with your family.
Went on more than one cruise with your family.
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. (mostly museums. Loved the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh, esp. the dinosaur bones and the stupid diorama of a lion attacking a camel driver.)
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. (didn't know dollar amounts, but certainly knew we were trying to conserve energy & money during the major energy crisis years ('77 and '78?) as my mom kept the house freakin' cold. I still do -- winter thermostat setting is usually between 60 and 65 degrees F)

What gets interesting is thinking about this and seeing what items mean privileged to me, and which seem ordinary. To me, the idea of having books around is unremarkable. I think it's really odd when I go to someone's house and see only a few, if any, books. Our schools did field trips to the museums and such in Pittsburgh, but we only lived in the suburbs so it wasn't too far. Looking at my childhood now, the most striking thing is color, or lack thereof. I never, ever had a black student in any of my classes all through public schools. I did have one black teacher for one year in high school when the regular teacher for that class took a sabbatical. My high school class had nearly 500 students, and not one of them was African-American. We had 3 or 4 Asian-American kids, but otherwise, European-American all the way.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sleek Update

Sleek, fat and happy.

Sleek looks great and seems to feel great, too. I was letting her eat a bit more to give her some reserves for later in the game. Sleek took to increased meals with great gusto and a disturbingly greedy glint in her eyes. She put on reserves. She put reserves on her reserves and looked for more. I looked at my dog and saw, instead of a dog suffering from cancer, a beautiful blonde bloated tick on long skinny legs. I told Sleek she did not need reserves adequate for surviving a nuclear winter.

Now Sleek is on a diet. Sleek does not like being on a diet. Sleek polishes her bowl. She polishes Fluff's bowl. Despite being mostly deaf, Sleek hears any movement I make toward the refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet and comes at a dead run. She practices looking like a show dog to see if I'll toss some food to her. If that doesn't work, Sleek tries staring and drooling. Eventually she gives up and wanders off, muttering sotto voce comments on which one of us would look better in a bathing suit anyway and who really should cut back on her food. Gotta love living with a teenager!

All of these pictures were taken Saturday, when Sleek turned 13 years and 11 months old. I don't know why she is squinting.

Gratuitous Fluff shot (I pay my models in liver, and Fluff wanted payment badly)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Canine Sense of Humor

Yesterday Sleek came up to me while I was sitting and bumped my hand for attention. I absently petted her then looked at my hand. There was a blood spot on it. I didn't remember cutting myself, and certainly she didn't nip at me. I touched her nose again, and found a new blood spot on my hand. Oooooookaaaaaaay, then. We've established Who is bleeding, now let's look at How much and Why. I'd only come home a few minutes earlier, and there was no blood involved in the greeting.

How much was a seemingly steady drip. Where was the inside of one nostril. I'm quietly flipping out. Were all the vets who said, oh, her cancer isn't going to metastasize wrong? Has she got some honking bleeding tumor in her nasal cavities that is going to kill her any moment? Nothing when I got home, a drip now, perhaps a gushing torrent in 5 minutes? I call the vet, get an appointment for 2 hours from now, cancel an afternoon appointment for a potential job and watch.

Gradually the drip ceases. But I'm paranoid because this is my girl with cancer so we still go off to the vet's. Sleek has just nicked the inside of her nose. It's scabbed over and fine. Whew.

I think Sleek was messing with me. I don't know how she nicked her nose just lying around the house and backyard when she never nicked it chasing rabbits through blackberry bushes. Today Sleek keeps on looking at me and smirking.

Trust me. Dog faces can completely form smirks. At least long skinny Belgian noses can smirk.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Teaching Moments -- How to Use Them?

My 2 senior citizens and I were walking along the river today. We were joined Slim and his young cattle dog, Blue. Slim and his wife found Blue in a shelter about 6 months ago. Blue is one of the smallest and cutest cattle dogs I've ever seen. Very lively, smart, charming. Slim wants a better recall on Blue because Blue is apt to go chasing after bikes, horses, other dogs, and people. Slim asked my opinion on electronic collars, and I told him I was leery of them because timing is so crucial in using them successfully. I don't think I have the timing necessary to use them properly, given that I accidentally clicker-trained poor Fluff to pick up a dumbbell and spit it out as fast as she could instead of picking it up and holding it*. I told Slim about one possible problem with the collar -- if the shock is timed incorrectly, the dog may associate the bikes or whatever as causing the shocks and feel like he really needs to get them under control or away from him. If that happens, he's going to be more assertive and/or aggressive going after them.

Slim was definitely in "yes, but" mode today. Honestly, I'm pretty sure he's made up his mind to try an e-collar. Equally honestly, I think his consistency and timing are going to suck enough that there is a good chance he'll ruin his dog. As we walked, I talked about positive reinforcement and the need to practice the recall when it's not needed. Blue was unable to get my dogs to play with him, so he'd mostly lost interest in them. I suggested Slim practice calling Blue away from Fluff when Fluff was chasing sticks and make it a party when Blue came to him. Slim throws some pretty boring parties. Blue would come, Slim would quietly say, "good dog," ask him to sit, and then give a cookie. My dogs, who normally glom on to anyone with cookies, didn't even notice Slim was handing out cookies, that's how understated he was.

Then we saw some people down the shoreline a ways. Blue noticed, and I tried to get Slim to call Blue before he took off running, when he still had a chance of the dog listening. No, Slim argues with me about how Blue knows these dogs, so it's okay. Ah, Slim, that is precisely the time to play this game! There are no disastrous consequences for failing! If Blue sees dogs he knows across a busy road, it's going to be nice to be able to call him back from going to see them, now isn't it? Better to practice on the beach with no one else around before stepping up the criteria several notches. Unfortunately I didn't think of this argument until after we had parted ways.

Since I am interested in teaching people as well as dogs, I wonder how I could best get through to someone like Slim. When I have a young dog again, after Sleek transitions, I'll be more able to show by example, but how to do it with words????

*If you are interested, I clicked late, after she had already begun to let go of the dumbbell, so she thought the trick was to let go of the dumbbell. As she got faster at spitting out, I had less and less time when I wouldn't be too late for the hold. Her ability to learn via clicker was faster than my ability to improve my click timing. It was ugly. Fluff never went on to get her CDX because of that and her dislike for out-of-sight stays.

Swimming Mantras for Today

I am 140 fit, flexible, strong and healthy pounds.*
I effortlessly earn $XXXX dollars every month doing things I enjoy.
I enjoy stretching to find my capabilities.

* please. it's a goal. stop laughing.