Yes America, there is a Santa Claus

In these dark times, with the constant assault upon our human dignity by the current fascist regime, as every day brings more bad news of them foisting their evil agenda upon us, when hope seems lost, I think now would be a good time for me to repost that most famous of all editorials, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” because we need to be reminded that this too shall pass and there is good in the world.

To me, this editorial speaks most eloquently about the magic of Santa and why we should believe, now, more than ever.

The following editorial was printed in the September 21, 1897 issue of the New York Sun. Though the editorial was unsigned, it is now accepted that it was written by Francis Pharcellus Church and is probably history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial.

DEAR EDITOR:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.” Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, VIRGINIA, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, VIRGINIA, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

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Mightier than the sword

Have you ever heard of tactical pens?

I mean, were you even aware that tactical pens were a thing?

I only just became aware of it. As I’m becoming more interested in the burgeoning concept of Every Day Carry, which for most of us simply means we carry a wallet, a comb, a handkerchief, a pen, a notebook, and keys (and maybe two or three knives) while for others it means carrying personal defensive items, such as knives, heavy keychains for striking, tactical flashlights to blind or confuse an attacker, expandable batons, and the like.

Because of my interest in knives (mostly for utility use and the occassional curiosity piece), my Internet research has plunged me deep into the abyss that is survivalist paranoia, and that’s where I came upon the phrase “tactical pens,” and of course I was like, “What the fuck is that?”

After all, as a writer, I’m all about pens. The more, the merrier, in fact. One can never have too many pens. All my jacket pockets are full of pens — fountain pens, ball point pens, rollerball pens, pens with smartphone styluses, and even mechanical pencils — and of course notebooks upon which to apply said pens.

I have pens that twist to write, click to write, pull off the cap to write, move a ratchet on the side to write.

I have pens that were gifts, fancy pens, cheap pens, pens imprinted with business logos (given away as free advertising or which I just pocketed because that’s how I am).

But tactical pens? I didn’t even know what that meant.

So I Googled it and I learned that a tactical pen is basically a self-defense weapon. It can trace it’s roots back to the 1960s, when Sōke Takayuki Kubota, a Japanese-American who founded the Gosoku-ryu style of karate, invented the Kubotan, a keychain weapon about the size of a marker pen used to strike vulnerable areas of an attacker (for example, bony, fleshy and sensitive parts such as knuckles, forearms, the bridge of the nose, shins, temple, ribs, groin, neck, eyes, and so on).

The Kubotan is easy to conceal and when properly used, effective in warding off an attack.

The tactical pen, therefore, was influenced by the Kubotan. It is useful as a writing implement, but can be used as a weapon when a dangerous situation arises.

They are made of various materials, from hard durable plastic to metal, such as aluminium. Often the non-writing end comes to a hard point which can also double as a glass breaker if you are trapped in your car.

Let me state that in today’s society, you don’t have to be a paranoid survivalist to understand the need for situational awareness — to always be aware of your surroundings. But that doesn’t mean you have to live every moment in fear (like those gun-toting types), only that you are prepared for any eventuality. Crackpots are everywhere and even a quiet walk in the park can turn into a life-or-death struggle.

Your first response to any attack should be flight. Put as much distance between yourself and the attacker as possible.

Also make a lot of noise to attract anyone’s attention and possibly scare off the attacker.

Fighting shoukd be a last resort, but in the event you do need to fight, having a tactical pen handy could be the difference maker.

Sure, would a gun, knife, mace, or a collapsible baton, or even a sword be a better choice? Of course, except there are many places and situations which preclude carrying any of those items. (Not to mention many people don’t even like those things.)

Therefore, a pen might be all you have on you and, if that’s the case, wouldn’t you want to have a pen that won’t shatter or break when you need it the most?

Think about it. As writers, we always have a pen with us. Always. We jot down ideas, make notes, plot, and so on. Doesn’t it make sense to have a pen that can also kick ass?

Here’s a video demonstrating using a tactical pen:

And here is a woman’s self-defense video using a Kubotan, but a tactical pen will work just as well (I like this one because she beats the crap out of the instructor):

If you’d like more information on purchasing your own tactical pen, follow this link to a Guide to Tactical Pens courtesy of Blade HQ, to help you get started.

I saw that Schrade made a tactical fountain pen and I was all over that until I discovered it is unavailable, out of stock, and possibly never to be seen again. *sad face*

One thing I read is that the ballpoint pen ink cartridge used in the Smith and Wesson ballpoint pens (as well as Schrade) is less than desirable for writing, which sucks because a pen that can’t write is just a stick. AmIrite?

Many users it seems, however, found the ink cartridge for the Fisher Space Pen is a good replacement, which means you’d not only have a kick ass life-saving pen, but in a pinch you can write with it upside down in zero gravity while underwater!

How cool is that?

Just be careful taking one on a plane. Those anal bastards at TSA consider them weapons! How absurd.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little primer about tactical pens. I’m off to search eBay for a fountain pen.

kubaton strike areas

Don’t forget: These strike points work on Nazis as well

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Shadows of downtown

I walked through the downtown Boston Store yesterday, to get some gift ideas, and I was shocked to realize they had cut it in half.

The street level store area used to extend from Wisconsin Avenue all the way back to Michigan Avenue and the second floor extended for the same length.

But now they’ve walled up the store halfway. I believe I read the other part will be office space and condos or something.

It makes me sad because the downtown Boston Store is all that remains of downtown’s glory days as the city’s primary shopping area and the place to go.

The Boston Store, as well as the former Gimbel’s, were the Taj Mahal’s of department stores and coexisted along side J.C. Penny, T.A. Chapman’s, and others throughout the 20th century.

Sure, all those stores had other locations at Capital Court mall, Mayfair mall, and other malls, but the downtown stores were special. They were a delight to visit. Mall stores were small in comparison, maybe two floors and at best 260,000 square feet for the Capital Court Gimbel’s.

But downtown? The Gimbel’s and the Boston Store occupied an entire city block and were 7 or 8 stories of shopping adventure.

Shopping at these stores was an event. You didn’t just run in, grab something, and run out. No. You spent the day there. Gimbel’s had a Tasty Town grill type restaurant, as well as a delicatessen, a bakery, candy shoppe, flowers and so on. And that was just the street level.

Each floor was like visiting a completely different store. The second floor had rainwear, coats, custom wigs, lingerie, and robes. The third level had men’s clothing, men’s hats, kid’s clothing, sporting goods, and toys.

The fourth floor had housewares, appliances, oriental rugs, small electrics. The fifth floor had furniture, bedding, televisions, stereos. The sixth had lamps, mirrors, china, glassware, a gift shop, import bazaar. The 7th floor was offices, but the eighth floor had a Forum Restaurant for fine dining.

And the Boston Store was very similar. Seven floors of anything and everything you could possibly need. These were the Amazon.com of their day. Whatever you could possibly need, or imagine, could be found at these downtown department stores.

But the short-sighted removal of the trollies, the growing number of malls and white flight to the suburbs slowly killed the glamour and adventure of going downtown and visiting the department stores.

Now, the downtown Boston Store, once a glorious seven story monument to shopping adventure, has been reduced to just a shadow of it’s former magnificence, an oddity in a world where people shop online or drive to a strip mall

If you never visited one of these shopping megaliths, it’s probably hard to imagine the hustle and bustle as crowds of people moved excitedly within to the roar of conversation. The elevators were always full as they moved up and down, floor to floor, while the elevator operator chimed, “Fourth Floor. Lamps. Paintings. Mirrors. Occasional furniture.”

Sadly, the only way for someone today to get a small idea of what downtown department stores were like is by watching old Christmas movies, like “Miracle on 34th Street” or “Holiday Affair.” Unfortunately, they’re in black and white, so they give no sense of how colorful and well-lit these stores were.

The buildings still stand, but they’re mere shadows harkening back to a past when downtown was the place to see and be seen.

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Typical Random Friday Stuff

A Friday Haiku

I ran this morning

First morning run since July

Damned dog wanted out

(Damned is just one syllable, right?)

Don’t let failure define you

Face it, we all have setbacks. Just when we think we have this fitness thing figured out — we understand to lose weight we must expend more calories than we take in, we’ve made our exercise routine a daily habit, we’re reaching our goals — something happens and we find ourselves finding reasons why we can’t exercise today and a day becomes a week and that ice cream looks damned tasty and suddenly we’re 7 pounds heavier. (Wasn’t that sentence cringe-worthy?)

Well, my friends, there is no point in beating yourself up over it. Acknowledge it happened and get back on that horse that threw you and pick up where you left off.

(Speaking of horses, I’ve only actually ever been on a real horse once or twice in my life, not including pony rides as a kid. Do they even still have pony rides and are today’s kids as excited as our generation was to ride one or are they too busy SnapChatting?)

Anyway, I fell off that horse, um, the metaphorical one, not a real one, and my running schedule had become erratic of late.

Once it was an every day morning ritual in June, but as the days grew shorter and the mornings became darker, I stopped the morning runs and told myself I’d run after work. That worked for a short time, but other areas of life started intruding and my runs became less frequent and the pounds I was so proud of losing found their way back.

Now I could just mope around and eat another pound and a half bag of Mrs. Fisher’s potato chips (did you hear they will have to reformulate the recipe because of the ban on partially hydrogenated oils? Nooooooo!) or I could get back on that horse (the metaphorical one, of course. After all, it’s been 40 years since I rode that real one and it’s probably long dead by now) and pick up where I left off.

Thus, I ran this morning. As the Friday haiku says, first morning run since July. Granted, I didn’t get up on my own. I had sone unwanted help from a little dog who needed to go outside, yet despite that I still did it. I could have just as easily let him out and returned to bed, but instead I carried my gear down, changed, and jumped on the treadmill.

It’s a start. And that’s all we can do — start and hope it becomes a habit again.

Accept each setback as just another challenge to be overcome. Failure is a bully and it feeds on your disappointment. Don’t let failure win; kick it’s ass and then laugh in its face.

Congratulations

I forgot to congratulate my niece, who ran her first half-marathon, the Minnesota Monster Dash Half Marathon on October 28th. I didn’t even know she was a runner!

Way to go, Erin!

Weigh-In Friday

My results here are all screwed up. I haven’t officially recorded my weight since it started rising. And I was so proud I had finally dropped below 200.

As I hinted at above, I had gained a bit, but this week I lost. I’m down 4 pounds from the peak weight a few weeks ago.

I’ll start posting real numbers once I drop below 200 again. Until then, let’s just pretend this never happened. OK?

Cold weather detailing

Now that the temperatures are dropping, I haven’t been detailing my cars every day or so like I was in the summer.

Each morning, or evening, I took some detail spray and a microfiber cloth to each car until it was clean and shiney, free of all the everyday dust and gunk that accumulates on them as they sit outside all day exposed to the elements.

My wife’s Jetta always came home with these long, thin brown nodules (around 1-1/2 centimeters in length and about 1 or 2 millimeters wide) that I’d have to loosen gently with my thumb nail before the detail spray could clean the area. She said they were from the trees around her parking lot and can’t be avoided. (Maybe in the dark of night some time I’ll go cut them all down.)

At least the cold weather has eliminated the problem of tree sap, but it brings another: How to keep the paint shining when it’s too cold to use detail spray? Or even handwash?

This is my first winter since I’ve become detailing knowledgable and I seriously don’t know.

I did put in some Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze to help protect the finish, but that doesn’t solve the desire to have the cars shine.

Do I bite the bullet and run the cars through a machine wash once a week? Or do I live with road salt and slush spray until it becomes warm enough to handwash again?

We ran the Jetta through a car wash last week. I didn’t realize until we were in line with no turning back that it used brushes. Oy. I still cringe thinking about it and the paint swirls it might have introduced.

How do you keep your cars shining in winter?

That’s all folks!

And that wraps up another Friday blog. For the sake of my own blood pressure, I avoided politics. Not that there isn’t anything to say, I mean, that ignorant orange turd provides plenty of fodder for commentary; as well as the House GOP passing a tax bill that lines the pockets of giant corporations and millionaires, including the orange turd himself, at the expense of the poor and middle class; not to mention that Alabama voters are going to show the entire world just how fucked up their priorities are by voting in a child molester just because they don’t want a liberal; and of course, after years of warning the public about how bad the XL Pipeline would be, fighting to prevent it from being built, the damned thing proved us right by causing a 210,000 gallon spill in South Dakota!

But all that shit would require dozens of column inches to properly castigate and instead I think I’d rather wish everyone a pleasant weekend.

We’re expecting some snow, but with luck, not enough to prevent me from putting up my outside Christmas decorations.

And so, I’ll leave you with a song to get the weekend started. Not a Christmas song, Hell no, it’s too freaking early for that. Just a fun, enjoy the weekend kind of song.

Stay warm. Eat right. Exercise. And don’t forget to punch a Nazi.

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Sociology 101: The Hefner revolition

Hugh Hefner, whether you admire him or revile him, think he was a sophisticated modern man and perpetual swinging bachelor or a crude, sexist, little boy who never grew up, did more than sell the first girlie magazine to make nudity mainstream, he undeniably changed the world.

The world before Playboy was a stuffy, boring place filled with herringbone-wearing robots who went to grey, dismal jobs in their grey, dismal station wagons, then came home to their drab, dismal homes, where their wives had spent their drab, dismal day doing their drab, dismal house work and preparing a drab, dismal meal. Essentially, the man worked while the wife was barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, catering to her man’s every whim. It was very much the conservative’s dream and the reason they revere that time period so much.

Hugh Hefner wanted none of that. He was 27 and married when he decided this was no way for people to live, stuck in an endless suburban nightmare of day in and day out sameness, going to a job, coming home to a newspaper and television, pinochle with neighbors on Wednesday and church on Sundays.

Television shows of the 1950s reflected these cultural mores. Couples slept in separate beds, wore drab, unrevealing pajamas to bed, the men were the breadwinners and the women were depicted as housewives in aprons and high heels.

Hefner believed men should enjoy life, be sophisticated, listen to jazz, play the field, enjoy the finer things in life, curse if they wanted to, talk politics, and enjoy sex outside of marriage, and before, and after.

Hefner, when he launched his magazine, Playboy, also launched the sexual revolution. Once a taboo subject never talked about, ever, even between husband and wife, sex came out of the closet, or rather, the bedroom and out into the open. Nudity became acceptable.

This so-called new-found freedom Hefner espoused didn’t only benefit men, however, women, seeing these party boys having a good time at their expense, realized there had to be more to life than being sex slaves to men before marriage and then house slaves afterward. They too, had a desire to experience life, and sex, and independence.

Hefner’s sexual revolution led directly, or indirectly, to the feminine revolution and feminism. Women sought careers outside of the home. Women went to college to get real degrees, not just the Mrs. degree like so many generations of women had before.

Playboy, was often criticised (justly or unjustly) for its exploitation of women, yet it can also be argued that it led to their very awakening of self-identity and freedom.

The Hefner way led to an increase in progressive thinking and a tearing down of the old, staid conservative ways. America went from Eisenhower to Kennedy. From family sedans to sportscars. From crewcuts to long hair. From business suits to nerhu jackets. From Pat Boone to the Beatles. From the Laurence Welk Show to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. From close-mindedness to enlightenment.

Hefner’s Playboy and his sexual revolution led people to question everything. Americans went from uptight to out of sight. Instead of blind acceptance of outdated traditions and outmoded values, people realized there was a better way to do things, a better way to live.

A cultural awakening occurred. People no longer accepted the wrongs in society. They protested an immoral war. There were peace marches, civil rights marches, sit-ins, bra burnings, and demonstrations to raise awareness of, and stand up for, minority rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and human rights.

From that one magazine featuring a nude pin-up of Marilyn Monroe with a staple in her belly button, from that one tiny snowflake, if you will, grew a tremendous avalanche of cultural and social change that crashed across America with enlightened progressive thoughts, dreams, hopes, and beliefs, an avalanche that to this day continues to strike down fascism, oppression, ignorance, bigotry, racism, misogyny, and hatred in all it’s forms.

And here I bet you thought Hef just started the porn industry. Am I right?

Endnote: I should add that all the social upheaval came about as an inadvertent consequence of Hef’s single-minded desire to get laid as often, and by as many different women as possible. Despite later claims he championed feminism, the man was a first class misogynist who didn’t respect women as human beings but only as a physical objects to keep his dick warm.

Additionally, Hef is directly responsible for generations of men who grew up looking at Playboy magazine and viewing the centerfolds as nothing more than sex objects and who continue to view women as existing only to gratify their basest sexual desires.

Hef did not respect women. A lust for women, not a love of them, drove him throughout his entire life.

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Friday week in review

A Friday Haiku

First day of Autumn

Someone needs to tell Summer

Ninety-five? Really?

Edited to Add: Milwaukee reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit today. Broke the 1937 record of 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here we go, Brewers, here we go!

Only 10 games left and the Milwaukee Brewers are still in the thick of the National League playoff race, despite losing two crucial games that would have tied them with Denver for the final Wild Card berth and brought them a game closer to the Cubs.

Win or lose, if they make the playoffs or don’t, this is already one of the Brewers’ most exciting seasons.

For one thing, no one expected this (except us true blue fans). Every so-called experts predicted the Brew Crew would be cellar dwellars, battling it out with Cincinnati for last place. After all, they had that fire sale, getting rid of all their star players, except for Ryan Braun, and filled their roster with farm club no-names. The Brewers were essentially fielding a Triple-A team, or so the experts claimed.

Did the Brewers even see the script for this season? It’s doubtul because they immediately surprised everyone by jumping into first place in their division from the very beginning and didn’t let up until the All-Star Break. Not only that, they led the league in home runs, RBI, and several other stats. For a time, they were the best team in baseball.

In other words, this lowly small-town team of Triple-A ballplayers dared to disrespect the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs as well as the perennial playoff contending St. Louis Cardinals by beating the pants off of them.

And here we are, on the final lap of the baseball season and the Brewers are still in the thick of it. Second place in the division and still within reach of a Wild Card.

True fans couldn’t be happier and even if they miss the post-season, we can’t complain. They did more than exceed expectations, they knocked them out of the park. They’re a very young team and as they’ve shown, very talented with a lot of heart. They have fun and are just plain fun to watch.

Brewers tear off Erik Thames’ shirt to celebrate his walk off home run against San Diego in June 16, 2017.

This season was all about team-building and gaining valuable experience, especially on how to deal with the intense pressure of a playoff race.

Whatever the outcome of the season is, this team is no longer is a bunch of no-names. In a short time, everyone now knows Domingo Santana, Zach Davies, Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Josh Hader, Corey Knebbel, Manny Pina (Lucroy who?), Orlando Arcia, nerd boy Eric Sogard, Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips with his 80-grade arm and they’ve put the rest of the league on notice. These guys are going to be contenders for many seasons yet to come.

It’s a great time to be a Brewers fan.

Weigh-In Friday

I’m up again by a couple pounds. Sometimes a little cheating is fine, but losing track of how much you cheated isn’t. It’s like trying to keep a mental tally of your finances instead of writing it down in a ledger, then veing surprised when you get an overdraft notice from the bank. “I could have sworn we had more money!” Our minds like to play tricks on us.

I take some solace in the fact that despite gaining weight, my fat percentage still went down and my muscle percentage went up.

The never ending edits

You’ve heard of the Never Ending Story? Well, I’m trapped in the never ending edits.

I would have hoped I was past the creation stage and well into the pokishing stage of my manuscript, but that isn’t the case.

As my editor side goes through my story to correct flaws in tense, fix passive sentences, and so on, my writer side is also going, “Hey! I have a great idea to add here! How about if…”

And it isn’t just one or two scenes the writer side is considering. It’s every crucial scene. New ideas for dialog, for subplots, and setting as well. Some minor, some major. Not edits, but actual rewrites.

Shut up, writer side, you aren’t helping.

Worse, now I’m worried I might have fallen down the research rabbit hole, that never ending time suck where you go to verify one thing only to have that topic lead to another topic and another and another. None related to what you started out researching, but all addictingly interesting enough to draw you in and hold you there. A prisoner to your own desire for more knowledge.

Help me.

The GOP wants to kill us

There is a lot of buzz going on about how scary the recent release of the remake of Stephen King’s It is. But there’s something even scarier on Capital Hill. It’s a two-headed monster called Graham-Cassidy and it wants to kill us all.

Millions will lose their health insurance. Many due to pre-existing conditions (which they say are covered but they really aren’t), necause the bill has no guarantees they can get coverage.

States that accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, would lose their funding, but more importantly and scarier, there will be complete changes to how Medicaid is funded to all states. This is the GOP saying “Fuck you” to the elderly and disabled.

This is the worst of the Trumpcare repeal and replace bills yet!

Call your Congressperson. Complain. Give them an earful that we’re tired of their conservative bullshit. Save the ACA.

Unless you want to die.

TheRump wants to kill us too

If there is one thing this week has shown, it’s how much of a divide exists between the deplorables and the rest of the world.

The great orange turd addressed the United Nations in his own inimitable style. In other words, he appalled all civilized people everywhere with his ignorant and bellicose rhetoric, threatening to destroy another nation.

But not everyone was shocked or appalled by TheRump’s insane patter. On the contrary, my Twitter feed exploded with praise for King Cheeto. “It’s about time we had a real President who stands up for Murica!” They want him to destroy a nation. Any nation. Do they look different from us? Speak some funny language other than English? Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! They think going to war should always be our first option in negotiations. Diplomacy is for wimps.

It should come as no surprise the trumpettes admired his angry posturing, his childish namecalling, his chest pounding and threat displays and saw them as something to be proud of. And that’s why Hillary appropriately named them deplorables.

Currently reading

Last night I was digging through my To-Be-Read pile of books and came across “Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies,” an anthology of short fiction that had appeared in that magazine over the years, edited by Marvin Kaye. I picked it up and started reading and couldn’t put it down. I’ve always enjoyed pulp fiction and Weird Tales had some of the best by some of the great writers of the day, like Ray Bradbury, H. G. Wells, Fritz Lieber, August Derleth, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Bloch, Tanith Lee, H. P. Lovecraft, and Richard Matheson to name a few.

I leave you with a song

For your listening pleasure, a song with which to start your weekend and also to ring in Autumn.

So fell Autumn rain, washed away all my pain, I feel brighter somehow, lighter somehow to breathe once again

So fell Autumn rain, washed my sorrows away, with the sunset behibd somehow I find the dreams are to stay

So fell autumn rain

From “So Fell Autumn Rain” by Lake of Tears

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Cat scratch fever

“Those who’ll play with cats must expect to be scratched.” — Miguel de Cervantes

Our white cat was limping and when she sat, she’d favor her right front paw by holding it up. We checked to see what was wrong and found that her index finger nail (for lack of a better term) had grown so long, it was cutting into the digital pad or toe on her paw, causing a bleeding laceration.

After running to the store for a clipper, we attempted to trim it. She wasn’t having any of it. She was fine until I had to retract her claw, which only caused more pain, then she’d become a little demon, biting and clawing us.

To be honest, I didn’t want to pay someone to do something I should be able to do, so I did a little online research. All the how-tos on claw clipping said the same thing: start when they are very young so they get used to it. Great. Our cat is 9. That window of opportunity closed long ago.

A sidebar here:

We’ve never trimmed the nails on any of the cats. And I only trim our Jack Russell’s nails, because he’s a metrosexual and likes being pampered, but our dalmatian won’t let me touch his oaws ever since I tried trimming his and cut the quick (that vein in their claw). He took off whining and howling like he was being murdered and left the house looking like a gory scene from a slaughter flick.

We have experience trimming our ferrets’ claws, but here’s the thing: you grab a ferret by the scruff of the neck and they go completely limp, offering no resistence whatsoever.

Cats aren’t like that. They resist. Factor in that our white cat was a rescue cat, who had been abused. When we brought her home, all she did was moan and yowl all the time while hiding under our bed.

That’s why she’s named Moana Lisa.

It took several weeks before she began to roam the house (I’m not even sure if she ate or relieved herself during that time). She was still one angry bitch and she’d hiss at anything that came near her. Our poor dalmatian always got swiped at by her and to this day avoids her.

She didn’t come near any of us and when she was in her tower, she’d hiss, and moan, and try to claw and bite us if we came near, much less attempted to pet her.

In order to get her used to us, I forced my affections upon her. I figure it was like exposure treatment used to treat phobias. I flooded her with stimuli, in this case, me. For months, my hands and arms were clawed and scratched. But it worked, sort of.

One day, months, maybe even a year later, she actually climbed into our lap and purred. That is, until we tried to pet her. Then she was all hissing and angry and like, “How dare you touch me!” She then jumped off and hissed at anything that moved as she slunk away.

We’ve had Moana for four years now and it’s taken all that time to earn her trust, still on her own terms. She climbs in our laps, cuddles and purrs, and let’s us pet her, if only for a few moments, then she’s like, “That’s enough,” and off she goes. At least she isn’t hissing and moaning and biting any longer.

Another thing about Moana is she’s always had one or two claws that don’t fully retract. Not sure which ones, but when she walks, they click on the floor, which makes it sound like she is wearing high heels. That’s part of why we call her a diva.

Now you have a better understanding of what we were up against in attempting to clip her. She still doesn’t like being picked up or held and we had to do that and more to clip that wayward nail.

Finally, I had an idea. Leather work gloves! Brilliant!

My wife held Moana by the scruff of the neck and used a work glove to hold her hind legs. I wore a work glove on the hand that grasped her injured paw.

As soon as I pressed on the pad to expose the nail she became a white hot ball of scratching claws and biting teeth.

Good thing the work gloves were thick enough. Still, with her struggling like a demon, clipping the nail wasn’t going to be a precision job. I didn’t have the luxury of looking for the quick. I just dove in and snipped, hoping for the best.

Success! And I didn’t cut the vein.

Before releasing her, I applied a small amount of A&D Ointment to the wound on her pad, which she promptly licked off.

She still limps a little, but the pad appears to be healing. And now we know what to do if it happens again.

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