The Week in My World 9-23-11

The gnawing of homesickness abrades—not for my native home, but for someplace that feels like home. But whether inspiration to act is born of ecstasy or sorrow, the result is the same—you are moved to discover resourcefulness you didn’t know you had.

Finding Love in Arizona

The two dogs rescued from my neighbors have been adopted into wonderful homes. I continue to keep a close watch on the yard, which right now is blissfully empty. But there are thousands more animals hanging on to life in similar hells. All mammals have an instinctive will to live. I am researching how to approach schools to talk about how to care for animals. There are scripts to be learned and protocols to follow.

A Story to Share with My Victims

I promise never to use the word share unless it’s to share buried treasure, my bed with dogs and cats, or pizza with a friend. I promise to never share news, an absurd encounter, or personal confessions. Those, I’ll just flat out tell you. Leave the word share for something tangible, like your meal or your toys. You may not notice the almost imperceptible cringe of a polite person when you say you have a story to share, but it’s there.

The Trials of Tag Surfing

A good way to show disrespect to your readers is frequent use of the following phrases:

As I said  •  as I said before  •  like I said    as many of you know    as I mentioned before    I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while    I haven’t posted in a while and for this I deeply apologize    now I know a lot of people will be surprised about this revelation  •  everyone who reads my blog knows how I feel about  •  if you know me then you know that when I  •  it’s a well-known fact that I do not like…

All these phrases do is highlight your ego.

Was it a Girl Shad or a Boy Shad?

Before personal computers existed, I ran a typesetting shop for 12 years. My job was not to edit, but to set the type for a variety of businesses—but naturally I corrected errors. One of my clients was the Griswold Inn, a historic restaurant and inn in Essex, Connecticut. The inn changed its menus frequently and was a steady customer.

The owner at the time was a wealthy businessman from New York who used pompous phrases such as “I’ll see you in a fortnight” or “ring me up” or “it’s frightfully good.” Brochures outlining the inn’s history were available in the lobby, typeset and printed long before I came on board. The owner wanted to make some revisions and asked me to re-typeset the brochure. As I was typing it and fixing the usual errors made by careless typesetters (and careless business owners who sign off on proofs before printing), I came across a howler I will never forget. The copy explained how the inn was situated at the mouth of the Connecticut River where it meets Long Island Sound, and it read:

In the spring, when the androgynous shad swim upstream to spawn…

There, in a haughty Connecticut town full of extravagant homes, luxury cars, sumptuous sailboats, and trust-fund kids, not one person had ever reported the fact that shad are anadromous. I fixed the ridiculous blunder and never said a word.

The Awkward Alsatian

Before restaurants started creating their own menus with computers, they were a primary source of work for typesetters. Owners were often difficult to work with, and would insist I set the copy exactly as they had written it. One testy man from Alsace, France, was not a native speaker. His menu read: I welcome you to sample the flavors of my region. This struck me as both distasteful and hilarious, but there it stood.

38 responses to “The Week in My World 9-23-11

  1. It would be wonderful if you could go into schools and reach the young on animal issues, cruelty, neglect, etc. Even Michael Vick is doing that (because he is being forced to, but what the hell, it may do some good). I hope you will bring a photo display also, of some of the pix posted here. Great that as yet, your neighbors have not brought another victim home.

  2. Howlers are always fun to read.

    It would be good if you could spread your word of respect for animals to schoolchildren especially if they are not getting it from other sources; and even if they are then your lessons would reinforce this.

    • Howlers have been around since the first village scribes and are probably seen more today than ever. I even see mistakes in the blogs of people who rant about spelling—simple stuff that any spellchecker would pick up if they used them. I don’t have much faith in spellcheckers, but they do pick up basic typos.

  3. My gosh, Small world, when I was in high school print-shop was my favorite class (the only one I got an A in). 🙂 I remember setting the type by hand from the old wooden ‘California Job Case’ and running a platen press. God that was a long time ago.

    • I never did hand-setting of type but I LOVED typesetting. I started my business in the 1980s on a Compugraphic. I took out a loan like a mortgage, it was $20,000! It needed a dedicated circuit and I was living in a crappy apartment so I unplugged the stove which I never used anyway. It was computer typesetting but it didn’t even have a preview screen—every single font or point size change was done with an opening and closing command. You didn’t see the results until you processed the film—then the fussing would start. Then that had to pasted up on boards.

      Even then I must have explained a thousand times what I did for a living. People seemed to think business cards or brochures magically rolled off the presses. They didn’t understand that behind it all was a typesetter. When PCs came along I lost my clients rapidly and the saddest day was when they took my precious equipment to the dump. I still miss it, don’t you?

      • 🙂 I think it would have been easier to handset the type. It would take about 2-3 minutes to set a business card, another 5 to load and run a proof on the platen press–if all one color.

        You sound like me, a Jack (Jill) of all trades. 🙂

        • Bill, but how the hell did they do newspapers by hand? Jack of all trades is another term for survival. But marketing my skills is my biggest problem.

          • I don’t know how they did big newspapers, but in school I set many a school fliers and student newspapers…took a while, but it was possible and I enjoyed it.
            Come to think of it I remember they had mechanical, hot lead, type-setters, I think they were called Linotypes and they were big monsters.

            Can you do a website and offer services that you can do by internet?
            Marketing, design, editing, free lance writing…combination of all maybe…?
            IT skills?

            • They must have had a crew of people working on daily newspapers in the early days. Yes I would like to have my own website, all I want to do is write and edit. I’ve never made a website before but I should research it.

              • I saw printers working on books and magazines in the 1970s, both on traditional typesetting and Linotypes. The Linotype used a keyboard to allow the compositor to assemble a line of type from individual type elements, which then was cast in low-melt metal so that the setters could create a page a line at a time rather than a letter at a time. The individual type elements were returned to the machine after casting, whilst the finished pages would be melted down after printing. The printing works I visited did jobbing printing but also produced novels for a well-known UK publisher; as I remember, they had five Linotypes but I don’t know if they had more than five operators to call on. It was a very skilled job, back in the days before PCs.

                • I would have liked to learn that, but by the time I started typesetting they had invented computers. But still, it was DOS based, and you had to process the film with chemicals and hang them to dry. There were no such things as spellcheckers or hard drives and you had to know how to spec type. We used dictionaries and reference books. It was complicated and wonderful and totally enjoyable, like a giant puzzle. There were trade magazines that told stories of how oppressive countries like Russia would monitor or even confiscate typesetting equipment during the last century. Though there were plenty of bad typesetters, it was a noble craft. Someday there will be no one left who knows what it was—let’s hope Facebook goes the same route.

  4. You seem to have a wealth of anecdotes … um … to tell which are both enjoyable and tasteful! 🙂

  5. I think you meant to say “Before restaurants started creating” … but I get your point. I do enjoy reading your blog. Hang in there. Life may accidentally get better.

  6. Darlin – educating children about the appropriate care of animals always helps. Children are impressionable and often take something like caring for a pet seriously even when the parents may not. I would hope the schools would be open to something like that.

    Sounds like your week was full of thoughts that will hopefully bring you a brighter immediate future.

    Inspiration and genius – one and the same………….

    • Cowboy, every life has turning points…sometimes they are subtle and sometimes they smack you in the face the way the events of this summer have done. I’m glad to see the end of it but I’m sure I’m not the only one. But out of the ashes…

  7. But, were the Shad actually androgynous ???? Curious people want to know…

  8. Maybe the Awkward Alsatian had it right….he is Francais you know, non?

  9. Home is where you feel most comfortable, whether you make your home in Arizona or find a place where you feel at ease, stimulated, and stress free, I’m sure you will ultimately follow your heart.

  10. Why does it bother me?

    ‘I welcome you to sample the flavors of my region’

    I am laughing about this. That could be a restaurant and brothel tag line!

  11. Both dogs adopted? How are you doing this?
    It goes back to something I often think about. There are three categories of people: those who care and act, those who care and turn away, and those who don’t care. Most people fall into the middle category. I hate to say I often find myself there. But just imagine if everyone who cared took action. Our world would be unrecognizable.

    • It’s not easy Kay and this was pure luck through rescue connections. My rescue partner Janice and I have many dogs that have been up for adoption for months and months, like those two chihuahuas I posted pics of over the summer. We still have them, they’re on Petfinder, I made posters—but no calls. Somebody adopted them and returned them within a few days because they pissed on the guy’s clothes. CURSES to people who don’t spay/neuter, and keep their dogs outside, unsocialized. We just had the chihuahuas neutered in June and they’re doing good on their housebreaking, but they don’t get along well with other animals and it’s hard to adopt dogs and cats into homes without animals, people usually have another pet at home. Janice also has about 7 pitbulls we can’t adopt—they are loving to people but fight with other dogs because that’s what the evil assholes did to them (before they dumped them in the desert) so they have to be separated. Both of us have scars from breaking up dog fights. Sorry to say this is all the result of a culture thing, which is so utterly depressing I can barely stand it.

      Janice just got another dog over the weekend, the people moved and dumped the dog. I’m going to foster it and will post pics. Word travels fast when people find out there’s someone who will take in a dog you’re about to dump—it relieves their guilt about bringing it to the pound or leaving it on the side of the road, then they can forget about it forever.

      • We have all these homeless animals and people continue to breed dogs and keep pets without spaying and neutering. It should be criminal. I understand the need for professional breeding to keep the breeds alive. I’m all for that. But with so many homeless animals, it’s crazy people are allowed to make more. There has to be a solution. People like you and Janice are shouldering the consequences of this, and it’s not fair. People leave a mess and walk away, and others must clean it up.

        Of my four cats and one dog, all are rescues. I would have been content with one cat, but with animals needing homes all around it’s hard to say no. I love them all, but what I’m trying to say is it shouldn’t be so easy to get an animal. It should be like adopting a child. There should be shortages, waiting lists. A system that weeds out the people who aren’t prepared to commit.

        My heart goes out to pitbulls. People bred them to be the way they are, then people don’t want to live with them.

        • I don’t understand the need to keep breeds alive, except maybe working dogs. The breeds were designed by humans and it’s not important. I think people should have to get a license, but that would mean more laws and a black market would develop, it would be as impossible to control as meth labs. I have customers who just had to have a certain breed of dog, couldn’t find one here, and drove all the way to California to get one. Ridiculous. The pounds here are overflowing. Back in CT every yuppie with kids HAD to have a lab. Lab pups are a lot of work. They’d end up spending their lives in crates. Another person I know here had to have a certain breed, paid big bucks for it, it grew way bigger than usual and a year later she hates it and thinks it’s crazy.

          There are a few people around town who take in homeless animals, and others who say they love animals but refuse to even foster an animal until a shelter can find it a home. More and more rentals not allowing pets, more foreclosures, job loss, refusal to spay and neuter, and a lack of compassion in general are a real problem. Vets charge way too much for spay/neuter but there is help available. I have neighbors I have begged to have it done and told them I could find discounts or even get it done for free but they won’t do it. Another problem is places like our local pound who will adopt a dog or cat to anybody who walks through the door.

          I have never seen so many strays and neglected animals as here in AZ. Wouldn’t waiting lists be wonderful.

          I see ‘pitbull puppies for sale’ signs and I know damn well why. There are more pitbulls in pounds here than any other kind of dog. Some shelters try to give them a chance, others euthanize them within a couple days. There are people here who rant and rave about the evils of euthanization but the alternatives are cruel. A couple years ago some businesses along the border hired a marksman to shoot strays. The people in Bisbee screamed bloody murder, oh the drama, the outrage, but not one of them offered to trap and take the dogs. What’s the difference between a bullet or a needle. There are many forms of hypocrisy. I’m all about quality of life.

          • Yes – working dogs. As long as they are put in a job. Too many people buy a working dog for a family pet (labs), and it is as cruel as keeping them in a cage their whole life. Some people think it’s cruel to make them work, but it’s so wired into them, they live for it. I have one lying on the floor by the fridge at home, and I’d give anything to be able to give her a job. We do our best, but it’s not enough. Working dogs need a LIFE of work, not just walks on a leash and road trips to campgrounds. But, the only option she has is our house or the shelter, and she was returned to the shelter several times before we took her. She had already used up her chances.

            If I was a stray dog, I’d prefer a bullet. It’s quick and you don’t see it coming. Skip the capture, the cage, the shelter, the barking, the confinement, the fear. Just send me straight to doggie heaven.

  12. I’m with you Kay. Like search-and-rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, or bloodhounds. To own a retriever and not let it retrieve is cruel. To own a St. Bernard or Husky in a hot place with nothing to do is cruel. To cage ANY animal is cruel. I can’t stand to see a bird in a cage. Why on earth people keep breeding Labs I don’t know. I spent a couple years petsitting in CT and we had more Labs than anything else—they’d take us out for a drag after being crated all day. People would crate them because they are so destructive as pups and instead of training them they caged them, then they would destroy their crates. People got them because “they’re good with kids.” So are all dogs if you don’t hit or scream at them. I can see why there are so many Lab rescues and I’m glad you care for one who’s used up her chances.

    These stray dogs around here are unbearably sad—mostly sick and starving with skin infections, etc. They just breed and live lives of fear. I hear horrible stories of inhumane methods of execution of stray dogs and cats in Mexico involving water and electricity. Is it true? I don’t know but that’s what people say. I only want for them what I would want for myself.

    When I volunteered at the pound here I took unbelievable shit for wanting to put down sick or unadoptable animals—from residents, other volunteers, and even the front desk at the vet we used. We had a huge fight and he refused to do it—and he was just a clerk. Nobody has any alternative solutions except to let the animals languish in a cage. The pound here would keep feral cats caged because citizens and volunteers objected to euthanasia—instead we had pregnant mother cats so miserable they would let their babies die. The other reason was so the animal control officer (if I ever have a tumor I’m going to name it after him) could tell people the pound was full, then he wouldn’t have to go trap more cats. The entire operation was such bullshit I had to quit to save my own life. I met with three separate city authorities to report conditions and nobody would do a thing.

    Until there are no more dogs in pounds and no more strays, there should be no more breeding. I am dead set against it. Same goes for designer cats. Sorry for the rant.

    • Rant all you want. You are 100% right and it’s refreshing to hear it.
      I wish there were laws to outlaw the breeding or selling of cold weather dogs in warm climates. My dog is actually a Great Pyrenees. She suffers in our climate. So many people keep them on farms in my area, outside all summer long. It should be illegal. And it’s something I never thought about until we adopted our dog. People need to be aware. I won’t go into what my dog went through before we got her, but it was enough for us to say, we don’t live on a farm in the mountains, but this girl deserves something better than what she has been through. We wanted a mutt (pure bred dogs always have some type of neurosis), but we couldn’t leave without her. We do our best to keep her happy. And don’t get me started on birds in cages. And fish in those tiny little tanks. Why do humans do these things? Why do we think the Earth’s creatures are our toys?

      I want to laugh when I hear people say their German Shepherd or Lab or Beagle has “separation anxiety” and is destroying their house when they leave. Seriously? That’s the human ego for you. It’s all about us. Never mind the fact we have a dog we bred for hard work stuck indoors all day. What do you think they’re going to do? They’re frustrated. They have energy to burn. So they chew up the couch. But we invent these excuses. Separation anxiety. They just miss us so much it drives them to do these crazy things!

      The water and electricity for execution? I think that is true, and not just in Mexico. My friend was born on a Pacific island. He’s told me that’s how they slaughter animals there for food – right out in the backyard. In the streets.

      Your experience with the pound mirrors mine exactly. You can’t volunteer. No one with any compassion could survive even walking in that place. I made calls, wrote letters, no one cared. They finally ran out of money and closed. A local shelter was chosen to get tax money to take up the slack. I wanted to throw a party.

  13. I’ve been by here at least three times and keep getting distracted. I did want to tell you of one success story – at least relatively so.

    Our area is overrun with feral cats. Finally, an animal advocacy group got the vets to agree to do neuters and spays for donations. The marinas got together, began capturing the animals and taking them to the vets, who not only did the surgery, but also notched their ears so they were easily identifiable. Today, the number of cats running free has decreased significantly – and you can’t believe how many notched-ear cats there are!

    As for the donations – several of the bars and cafés in the area keep “tip jars” out, labeled for donations – likewise the vets. It’s been a real community effort and for the cats, at least, it’s helping. Of course it would be better if they could be adopted, but the pound is full of non-feral, snuggly kitties. At least the city animal control people pass by the notched-ear cats, knowing that they’ve been to the vet.

  14. OMG! I laughed so hard at those last two stories. *goes to re-read them* that made my day!

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