Sunday, September 13, 2009

Random thoughts

There are few things in life better than the first Packers regular season game. And to have it be a big win over the Bears. Awesome. I feel bad for Jay Cutler. He played poorly, with four interceptions, and I'm sure he wanted his first game to be a success. I know Chicago talk radio pretty well. The Bears have had so many horrible QBs over the last 22 years I'm sure he'll get cut a little slack. He pressed too much and looked kind of Favre-ish out there (throwing across the field to a well-guarded receiver Favre).

I'm happy for Aaron Rodgers though. He took a lot of criticism for those seven close losses last year and little of it was justified. Hopefully having Dom Capers coach the defense combined with the return of Cullen Jenkins, and the addition of BJ Raji and Clay Matthews, means the Packers contend again. I think it could happen.

In non-football-related thoughts, the album I listened to most this week was, once again, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. Pitchfork had a few stories about the band earning the respect of people like Jay-Z and Michael McDonald, which is both weird and cool. It made me listen to the album again. I think those guys are just good singers with cool harmonies and memorable songs. Nothing too profound.

I've gotten into the show Mad Men in the last several weeks. I'm still watching season one, but I like the vibe. Very existential... "What is the meaning of life?" feel to it. I like the way people dressed in the 60s.

And, onto a heavy thought, it's fun as a political reporter to watch the health care reform debate. I think President Obama's big speech last week gave momentum back to the Democrats. Nobody likes to think about government growing by leaps and bounds, but sometimes the simple reality that the system is broken makes average Joes like me favor a new approach. The status quo is unacceptable. People knew Democrats would pursue health care reform when they voted them in less than a year ago. Now they're following through on their promises and everyone is surprised. The bottom line is 46.3 million people don't have health insurance and the HMO-run system is equally greedy and sinful. Time for a change.

OK, that is all for now, trying to get back on track with this blog site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My fiance and I found a stray dog outside of my apartment the other day. "Was that Jackson," she asked, questioning whether the shadowy figure we saw crossing the four-lane road in front of my house was my pet dog Jackson. Even though my front door is secured with an electronic deadbolt lock, I ran toward the dog to see if it was indeed Jackson. It was not Jackson, of course. That meant we were immediately faced with the awkward choice of whether to pretend like we didn't see him and continue on our way, or to stop and try to help.

For reasons that remain unclear, we chose the second option. I approached and instantly saw he had a dog collar, which told me his name was Woody and he lived in Antioch on Shihmen Drive. There was a phone number on the collar, too, but dozens of phone calls only yielded a busy signal. And it wasn't an old school busy signal indicating someone was on the other line, but one of those weird busy signals which said the person hadn't kept up with their pay-as-you-go cell phone plan with Cricket.

Certain observations about Woody led me to be hopeful there was an owner missing him somewhere. He was well behaved. Although he was thin, he didn't eat the food we tried to give him, or even drink much of the water we set out. He wore a second collar, with a device which seemed to link up to an electric fence system. After laboring over what to do, we decided to load Woody into the car and drive to his house.

Although I've seen stray dogs in much worse condition than Woody was in, he still like a potent combination of a dusty old mattress and animal feces. "He really stinks," my fiance said, which was followed a few minutes later by, "Your back seat is clear, why don't we take your car?"

Even though Woody's address was only about three miles away from where I live, we had only made two turns before we were on a creepy road that seemed to leading us to the middle of nowhere. Just a few days earlier we had watched the film Last House on the Left, which left us both a little unnerved. "This road feels really rapey," I said. She didn't laugh.

Woody, meanwhile, was ridiculously well-behaved for being a street dog on a car ride with people he didn't know. Eventually we pulled up to Shihmen Drive and, driving slowly down the street like a couple of prowlers, found the address that was adorned to Woody's collar. Even though all the lights were off and there were no cars out front, I hopped out and walked around in a manly fashion as if I would find a solution of some sort. When I inevitably didn't, I returned to the car, stumped about what to do next. Across the street, a handful of South American gentlemen were working by flashlight on a pickup truck. "Why don't you ask the neighbors if they know where the people who live here are?" she suggested.

This left me with two options: approach the men who likely didn't speak English for what would surely be an awkward conversation (it was 11 p.m. by the way) or chicken out and refuse, making me look like a coward. "I found a dog," I said awkwardly as I approached the one around the truck whose body language suggested he was the leader. "Do you know what happened to the people who lived in that house?"

He shook his head no, and then smiled and said, "No, no, sorry." I walked back to the car and then found another set of neighbors working on a pickup truck across the street. I approached and asked the pair if they knew what happened to the people who lived two doors down, as I had appeared to find their lost dog.

"People lived down there left two or three weeks ago's my recollection," he said, meaning that Woody's family had left him behind more than likely. "Looks like you got yourself a free dog."

Unfortunately I didn't want a free dog, which left me with the unfortunate dilemma of calling animal control and putting Woody on death row, or letting him loose and hoping he could find some kind of ending like Tramp in Lady and the Tramp. Back at my apartment, we roped my roommate into the group to help decide what to do. "Bring him in," he suggested, which seemed like a weird idea since we had two dogs already. Jackson, an angry pitbull mix, who stressed out in the presence of other dogs. And Rutherford, a clumsy muppet-looking labradoodle, who played with other animals like the over-sized fat kid at recess who doesn't know his own strength and secretly scares his classmates. We put Jackson in a locked room and let Woody into the house.

It was instantly clear that Woody was a better-behaved dog than Jackson and Rutherford. He didn't have Jackson's inexplicable hostility or Rutherford's clompiness. Someone remarked that we should keep Woody, whose odor was overwhelming and who was also flea-ridden, and get rid of one of our dogs.

I'll spare you from knowing how it ended exactly for Woody. He was a good dog. I like to think that not long after he left our presence, a progressive farm family rescued him and took him to Williamson County, where he became their special inside pet. He really was a sweet dog and I took some comfort in knowing we tried to help at least.

It was actually my roommate who summed the situation up best, "He's gonna die in three weeks anyway. No one is gonna adopt this saggy, filthy old dog. So we might as well hope he finds somebody."

I hope he did.