Archive for the ‘Animal Life’ Category

Ok, Romney- What Was It? Moose or Elk?

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I am not a hunter but I have seen elk in Montana and I have seen moose in Maine. Yes, they both have antlers but moose are huge. Elk are considerably less so. I am deeply concerned that the potential next leader of the free world can’t recall precisely what it was he was out trying to kill on his most recent hunting trip.

If you missed the moment in the recent Republican presidential debate- it went like this according to the Associated Press:

In Monday night’s Republican debate in South Carolina, the GOP front-runner said he “went moose hunting” in Montana with friends, then quickly corrected himself and said it was, in fact, elk hunting.

But there’s more background on this because Mitt has a kind of tortured history in his public references to hunting and it bears further investigation.

John Kerry goose-hunting in Ohio in 2004

Back in the 2008 race, Romney described himself a “lifelong hunter.” Hunting is apparently a very important skill a future President must possess. I distinctly remember the photo, for example, of John Kerry back in 2004, walking through some field with some Congressman and one of them is holding a deceased goose, one of four they had shot and killed in the key swing state of Ohio. Very manly and 2nd amendment-like, indeed.

But back to Mitt. Pressed on his hunting prowess in April of 2007, to be exact- Romney uttered these famous words:

I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.

I can understand hunting those wascally wabbits- but rodents? Absent further elaboration, my mind imagines Romney with a shotgun ridding the servant’s quarters of a pesky mouse problem.

Also, if I were Mitt’s media advisor I would have had him steer away from this phrase in particular: “Small varmints, if you will.” Hunters rarely end sentences with “if you will.” And if that isn’t enough of a dead giveaway- only Elmer Fudd (pictured above) Yosemite Sam has ever referred to game as “varmints.”

I, personally, would never go hunting with Mitt Romney. We know, for example, that former Vice President Dick Cheney is an old hunter from way back- and even he occasionally, accidently, shoots people in the face.

I mean there’s no telling- after Romney has gotten his personal assistant to load and then aim his shotgun- where the shot might actually go. You know those things kick back when you fire ‘em. The bullet could go straight up in the air for all I know and then we’ll all be diving for cover, except Mitt will have his personal assistant draped over him protectively, while I would be lying there totally exposed yelling, “incoming!”

Anyway, back to the differences between moose and elk. Moose kind of stand there and therefore, as stationary targets, make for a less than exciting hunt. Elk, on the other hand, are way more elusive. In Montana, I’m told, you have to climb mountains and invariably end up on scary elevated ledges looming over thousand-foot drops- and then maybe you’d spot an elk. I think most people would remember if they went out to a parking lot and bagged a moose or were barely clinging to life with hands clutching a shaky precipice- and managed to snag an elk.

I’m not insinuating that Romney was lying about going hunting. This could clearly have been a case of mistaken identity. You know, the hot lights, a big audience, national TV. Like being on Jeopardy when you choose the “Things with Antlers” category and get all nervous when the Daily Double comes up and there’s a picture of an elk and damn it all- you say “What is a moose?”

Actually, that may well have been the exact question Romney asked his personal assistant following Monday’s debate.

Blistering Heat & The Best Dog Walk Ever

(Suki the Commando Dog being held by a mysterious pair of hands in a primitive effort at photo-shopping)

I took a week off to do nothing but read, take leisurely dog walks and catch up on my premium channel favorites. Nancy’s back to dealing pot on Weeds, witches are now in full battle with werewolves, shape-shifters and vampires on True Blood and what a great week to stay indoors and in the AC.

Except for the three times a day I walk Suki the Dog. At 10am this morning in Washington, D.C., it was 94 degrees and the “humiture” was already 110 degrees. I love these “wind-chill” and “heat-index” stats. Not only do they tell us what it “feels” like but it gives you better bragging rights. I mean 110 sounds a hell of a lot worse than 94. And braving -10 degree wind chills is so much more impressive than bundling up against a mere 15 degrees.

Suki the Dog, by the way, does not need the heat index. She well understands that unlike humans, dogs only sweat through their footpads leaving panting as the only real way they can cool off. Accordingly, we just had the most efficient walk in modern dog history (at least since dog-walk record-keeping began in 1887).

By the end of the first 100 yards, she was already panting. At one point she looked up at me as if to say, “Yo, dude, this is wrong. As your dedicated man servant, I intend to make this walk brief but effective.” I love that look.

She was a peeing and crapping machine. She compressed her marking routine, spritzing delicately but quickly every 30 feet or so. No lingering at some mysterious patch of grass where no doubt another canine had attempted to claim ownership of the dog park an hour earlier. And there was no dilly-dallying on the major mission either. This was the kind of no-nonsense, no-frills, military-precision-like walk a Navy SEAL dog would have taken. Actually, this was a walk not as much “taken,” as it was “conducted.”

If I am estimating somewhat accurately, all the business “conducted” in a 20-minute walk was condensed to approximately 540 seconds.

The 3 o’clock walk should be real interesting. By that time the actual temperature is expected to be anywhere from 99 to 104 degrees and the heat-index will be 9 thousand degrees- hotter than the surface of Venus. I’m thinking we’ll cut off another 3 or 4 minutes in another commando power walk before high-tailing it back into the air conditioning and her well-deserved organic dog bone treat.

Me and Suki- we’re going to get through this.

Brackets, What Brackets?

It was Bill Maher who recently said that if you’re going to show him your March Madness brackets, may as well also trot out the pictures of your kids and your dog too and just show him everything all at once that he’s completely not interested in. 

In that spirit…here’s a picture of my dog:


This is Suki, the dog.  A total ham and scam artist.  She has stopped peeing in the house and has started collecting bird feathers. 

Here’s a picture of my kid:


Charlie is currently blossoming and flourishing at Middle Tennessee State University where on any given night, besides studying very hard, he’s also performing or recording or writing music or engineering, or producing a song or a project or working on getting laid
entering into an enriching and communicative relationship with total sharing and trust.

Here’s a picture of my brackets:

Note how it starts out with so many schools in green colors.  These were winning picks.  I ruled my office pool for the 1st two rounds.  Notice how many schools in the later parts of the tournament are in red.  This is when I got obliterated and all the top college basketball programs in America completely let me down.

I won the office pool last year.  This year, I have been reduced to a laughing stock. 

Oh…and I hate Butler.  Well, “hate” is a strong word.   You can only be Cinderella once every ten years.  Two years in a row and you’re overstaying your welcome and ruining everybody’s brackets.

I hope VCU throttles you. Butler. Please.

Cats Under Attack in NY Times

March 21, 2011 2 comments

I’ll never look at my cats in the same way again. As they sleep their 18 hours a day, all curled up and comfy on the bed looking so cute and innocent- it turns out I have been harboring killers. Murderers; furry, purring, ecological terrorists. It’s in the New York Times.

Granted, one has to consider the source and in this case it’s the American Bird Conservancy. They are reacting to a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that has come to the startling conclusion that cats kill birds. I don’t mean every now and then. I mean- all the time. The study involved the mortality of baby gray cat birds in the Washington, D.C. suburbs (ironic name, don’t you think?).

The findings conclude that cats were the number one killer of these cat birds by a large margin.

Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland….

Predation was so serious in some areas that the catbirds could not replace their numbers for the next generation, according to the researchers, who affixed tiny radio transmitters to the birds to follow them. It is the first scientific study to calculate what fraction of bird deaths during the vulnerable fledgling stage can be attributed to cats.

People used to think wind turbines were one of the main killers of birds. Not so. Some 440,000 birds meet their cruel fate each year at the hand of a rapidly turning wind propeller-thing. But the American Bird Conservancy estimates 500 million birds are killed each year by cats- about half of them domestic, and the other half feral.

There’s passionate outrage today in the bird-loving community. From Darin Schroeder, the group’s vice president for conservation advocacy:

I hope we can now stop minimizing and trivializing the impacts that outdoor cats have on the environment and start addressing the serious problem of cat predation.

Well, it’s certainly a serious problem for birds, anyway. And it has most definitely raised the ire of Peter Mara of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

They are like gypsy moths and kudzu — they cause major ecological disruption.

Turns out the household cat is not supposed to be in North America. They were introduced by the colonists back in the 16th and 17th centuries and according to the New York Times, “they are regarded as an invasive species and have few natural enemies to check their numbers.”

Outraged by all this, is Sylvester, the cat, recently re-signed to a long-term, multi-year contract by Warner Brothers. Sylvester, known to have had a long-running bird “problem,” claims to have reformed his ways having recently graduated from an unnamed bird addiction facility near Monterey, California. But he takes umbrage at the suggestion his species is single-handedly responsible for most bird deaths in the United States.

“Let’s face it, they have tiny little brains and they are not the swiftest, smartest life form to inhabit the planet,” says Sylvester from his home in the Hollywood Hills. “For some scientist who’s obsessed with these creatures to call us cats the same thing as ‘Gypsy moths’ and ‘Kudzu’, is beyond the pale- completely prepothterouth [preposterous].”

“What’s next, a study by the American Rodent Inthtitute?” asks, Sylvester, sarcastically. “The American Catnip Preservation Society?” He seems on a roll as the conversation nears its end.

“I gave up birds for good this January. One could land on my shoulder right now and I wouldn’t even look. But that’s because I’m Sylvester, the cat. I am strong, I am proud, hear me roar. I am a cat with tiger-blood in his veins. But many of my brothers and sisters are not as strong as me and I will not blame them. It’s what we do. We’re wired that way. We’re on this continent now and people are just going to have to deal with us.”

Obama Finds a Voice; Palin Guts a Caribou

December 9, 2010 2 comments

President Barack Obama this week, may have made himself newly electable for 2012. Meantime, Sarah Palin kills animals on her Discovery Channel show to stock up for the winter. Wait…you say..those two things don’t belong in the same article! You’re right. They don’t.

The Angry Middle

Spot-on article on President Obama’s newly-found, feisty voice from the dean of political reporting, David Broder, of the Washington Post. Broder contends that what the President did this week in finding a compromise with Republicans on tax-cuts and jobless benefit extensions was recapture the middle of American politics. And his standing improves with independents with every howl from the deeply unpopular, Pelosi-wing of the Democratic Party.

It’s also tough for Republicans to keep calling the President a socialist, when an actual socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, opposes him so thoroughly and visibly on the Senate floor on all this. Broder confirms what I’ve always suspected of this President. He is a left-of-center pragmatist with a capital “P.”

Sarah Palin’s Refrigerator

My status as an elitist, East Coast urbanite was thoroughly confirmed last night as I accidently came across episode-4 of Sarah Palin’s Alaska on the Discovery Channel. Sarah joined her dad, Chuck and a friend named Steve Becker in hunting down a cute caribou. As they aim their rifles at the defenseless creature, I found myself screaming at my flat-screen, “Run, little guy, run!”

Sarah, as it turns out, is NOT a great shot with a hunting rifle. She missed the creature three times as the weapon jolted up against her shoulder and seemed to cause her to miss high, above the animal’s head. Anyway, somebody (not her) finally wounds and kills the caribou and then they begin gutting it. Sarah explains why it is they cut off the four legs first and pack them up in some container, then adds it was a really good thing they killed this sucker because now everyone will have enough meat to eat for the winter.

What????? It is reported that between speaking fees and book sales alone, Sarah Palin has made $12 million since July of 2009. I respectfully maintain that as a matter of sheer survival, cutting up this caribou they killed last night into dozens of tasty packages tossed into the Palin family freezer…was not entirely necessary.

Busy Beavers

They’re the Donald Trumps of Beaver world; as in real estate development- they don’t yet have their own celebrity apprentice shows. Several beaver families have built one of the largest beaver dams ever, in northern Canada, large enough to be visible from space.

Here’s your average, small beaver dam:

Here’s the massively huge beaver dam, photo courtesy of Wood Buffalo National Park:

Here’s the website that started it all using Google Earth to locate the Beaver dam some three years ago, along with some graphics that show the lay-out of the place:

Interesting Beaver Dam-Building Facts

– This dam, located on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, Canada is 850 meters long or 2,788 feet- more than nine football fields in length. Large beaver dams usually reach about 1,200 feet, so this really is a colossus.

– Biologists think this beaver dam is so large that construction probably began as long as 20 years ago.

– Beavers are quite swift in the water but not so agile on land and they build these dams so that they are sort of surrounded by moats. This way they can maneuver really well near their homes to escape nasty predators (coyotes and bears)- plus –the water makes it easier for them to literally transport the trees they’re cutting down, floating them in the water instead of having to drag them around on land.

– This particular beaver dam, as you can see from the illustration above contains not one, but two lodges- the actual domiciles for the furry little guys.

– Unlike Donald Trump’s high-rises on the West Side of Manhattan, Beaver dams are actually good for the environment. They slow the flow of water which leads to less drought and flooding.

– When plant matter dies in water it creates peat which is a great way of storing carbon dioxide.

Fictional Interview with the Head Beaver

Despite the fact this massive beaver dam is in a remote and largely inaccessible area, Garciamedialife was able to contact them via satellite phone earlier today. We talked with the leader of one of the three families that have built this structure, Alfonso Ouelette.

Q: So do you have, like, amenities in your lodges?

A: You mean, besides satellite phones? Heh heh. Well, yes, we have flat screen TV’s. No cable, of course, so we use the DISH network.

Q: What do beavers watch? Sports? Movies?

A: We like Katie Couric a lot. And Animal Planet, of course.

Q: Why Katie Couric?

A: Well, she looks a little like us, certainly more than Diane Sawyer or Brian Williams.

Q: How did this thing get so large?

A: It’s less complicated than you think. We’re way up here in northern Canada and, frankly, there’s not a lot to do.

Q: Do you know your home can be seen from space?

A: Oh, yeah, we wave at the satellites all the time.

Q: With your tails?

At this point, we were cut off, hopefully not because he thought I asked a condescending question. Beavers are very sensitive about their tails.

The Whereabouts of Suki- the Dog

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Many people have asked, “Ok, Robert, so you moved. You’ve been writing about your stupid cats and suddenly no mention of the friggin’ dog. What happened to the dog?” I did not eat the dog. I did not abandon, forsake or forget to take the dog. And let me dispel the rumors right now that the dog was nervous about moving to Chinatown.

In fact, the dog has taken over my old room in my New York apartment for the remainder of the lease through April. I would say, actually, that the dog, literally, has the most expensive and exclusive accommodations of any dog in the entire borough of Manhattan.

Suki- the Dog remains with her mom because she has, for the time being, not relocated with me to the nation’s capital. Millie, the mom, has a nice job in New York and three lovely grown-up daughters she wants to be near to right now. She also has a very cute dog of which she jealously and aggressively takes ownership. I also do not live in a dog-friendly apartment here in the Chinatown/Gallery Place area of Washington; otherwise there may have been a very nasty custody fight that would have hit all the papers.

Vote for Suki-the Dog

But there is something you could do for Suki- the Dog. Because of certain self-esteem issues, Suki has been entered in a national pet photo contest. I urge one and all to vote for Suki so she can advance to the next round of the competition. Suki even has a slogan in this campaign as evidenced by the picture above:

A vote for Suki is a vote for terminal cuteness.

You can vote for Suki- the Dog- here.

In Conclusion

I trust this clarifies all matters pertaining to the friggin’ dog. I hope to be reunited with her and her mother on a more permanent basis somewhere down the road. I do miss the dog. My cats, however, do not. They are very happy right now, free of raucous puppy attacks and other canine antics that are irritating and annoying to them. I am hoping that by the time they are all reunited, Suki- the Dog will have matured somewhat and will treat her feline brothers and sisters with a little more sensitivity.

Either that or she will have forgotten all about them and will hunt them, mistaking them for large, furry squirrels which would be thoroughly tragic.

Categories: Animal Life Tags: ,

Moving Daze

January 27, 2010 1 comment

Well, it’s that time. Saying goodbye to New York as my permanent residence, packing up my stuff and making the move back to ol’ DC. Having moved quite a lot over the past decade, this is becoming old hat. But it never loses its charm.

The part I hate most is not the outgoing and incoming piles of boxes, the memories of old photos and collected crap that suddenly transports you to a distant past, the manual labor, not having your stuff for a couple of days, the logistics, the phone calls to utility companies, or getting temporarily unplugged. It’s the cats.

Anybody who knows cats understands how attached they become to their environment. Move a friggin’ table to a different corner of the room and they get all bent out of shape. Putting them in carriers and into a mini-van for five hours, then introducing them to a whole new place is like the end of their little worlds.

During my first move with this particular batch of felines some ten years ago, one of them, Bernstein, got so freaked out he spent 34 days under a comforter on a couch. Thirty-four days! I kid you not. I had to put water in his mouth with a syringe several times a day so his little kidneys would keep working. I had to move the kitty litter box next to the couch so he wouldn’t have to venture more than a foot from his nest of psychotic insecurity. I was getting ready to bring in a psychiatrist. On the 35th day, he jumped to the floor and started walking around like nothing had happened. Little weirdo.

So, I have a plan. Under no circumstances, can they see even a glimpse of the movers. Ever. Nor can they even get a whiff of the carriers until the very last moment. They’re going into the bathroom with a blanket, their food and the litter box. And when it’s time to go, since they won’t go to the carriers, the carriers will come to them. I have a similar plan for Washington, but in reverse. A year from now they’ll never remember any of it. Their brains are the size of small tangerines.

So here comes the disconnect part. Time-Warner Cable comes today and pulls the plug on the World Wide Web.

We’ll see you all next week from Washington, D.C………

Categories: Animal Life, Digital Life Tags: ,

Happy New Decade from Suki, the New Year’s Dog

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

In yet another unretouched photo, Suki, the New Year’s dog is pictured bravely floating amidst fireworks, seemingly unconcerned about getting singed by colorful sparks as she wishes one and all a Happy New Decade.

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Tidings of Joy from Suki, the Christmas Dog

December 24, 2009 1 comment

In this completely unretouched photograph, Suki the Christmas Dog is captured floating in space with life-like, pawprint-type snowflakes falling all around her as she wishes one and all the happiest of holidays and Peace on Earth.

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