Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Off to Northern Yearly Meeting

This Friday, Poodledoc, Jr, his friend Alfonso, and myself will be heading off to Northern Yearly Meeting. Our Quaker Meeting here in Madison is “under the care” of Northern Yearly Meeting as are many other Meetings in the upper or northern Midwest.

It takes place at a Lion’s Camp near Rosholt,WI. There’s a beautiful lake. It lasts until Memorial Day and is a mix of socializing, fun, meetings, business, more socializing and if the weather is warm, lots of fun in the water.

I plan to camp and am looking forward to the break from the Madison routine. Poodledoc, Jr and Alfonso are staying in the “Younger Teens Cabin”, with chaperones. These folks are brave. They probably do hang gliding, bungee jumping, walk on hot coals, that sort of thing. I do not plan to be one of the chaperones. I will just try to be sure that the boys eat their vegetables. I am looking forward to seeing old F/friends, meeting some new ones and sitting by the still lake in the early morning. While the teens are still sleeping!

The Lord of the Pugs

The time has come for me to write about the Pug. It’s becoming one of the most popular dog breeds out there. I’ve never understood the attraction, exactly. It’s not my intention to “trash” or “make fun” of, the Pug. My mom, in her wise words: “They’re so ugly, they’re cute!” I know I’m risking a lot of angry mail from my six (6) readers but there is something endearing about them. And if you have something angry to say, send it to my mom! (address at the end of this post)

As a veterinarian, I see them as a four legged bundle of interesting medical problems. Other veterinarians refer to pugs as “practice builders” because they make so much money off the cute little pups. You know, help pay for their kids braces, summer camp or perhaps an expensive Ivy League school, if you happen to be a veterinarian working with a Pug BREEDER.

Because of the “smoosh face”, aka brachycephalic, they have strange nasal passages, strange breathing so lots of respiratory problems. They have problems with skin fold dermatitis in that cute little wrinkled face. And the eyes. As my boss, one of the pre-eminent veterinary ocular pathologists in the world says: “They use their eyes as bumpers”. What he means is because of the flattened face, the orbit where the eye resides is shallow. So, they eyes stick out. Because they stick out and act as bumpers, they get perforated by a variety of things. (sticks, teeth, strong winds, hail, etc). Pugs also have problems with tear production, so they get a condition called “dry eye”. Dry eye leads to inflammation of the cornea, called keratitis. Then, the pug can get squamous cell carcinoma of the eye. Pugs get this eye tumor at a higher rate than other breeds. Sometimes the tumor can be removed in a surgery called a keratectomy, where it is sort of “shaved off” the cornea. Usually they sample comes to our lab for pathological diagnosis. We are generally able to tell the surgeon if they “got it all”. Often, the tumor comes back, depending on how deep into the cornea the tumor has grown.

But still, even with all that, the pug is popular. There IS something about that face that IS appealing. Why? What accounts for this popularity when there are more handsome dogs such as Standard Poodles, Corgis, and Golden Retrievers. Do Pugs reach in” to the “ugly” part of ourselves, deep inside? Do they allow us to better accept our imperfections? Your guess is most likely better than mine!

Here in my town, there is an annual “Pug Hug”, where Pug owners are invited to congregate with their Pugs. I’ve always thought it would be fun to go, but I’d probably laugh the whole time. Might offend someone.

I also saw a survey recently which looked at how frequently different dog breeds were “dressed up” by their owners. The Pug was far and a away the most “dressed” dog. Followed by……………the Poodle.

And as a final note, I can at last reveal the TRUE identity of “The Lord of the Pugs”:

My boss, Dr Dick Dubielzig.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spiritual Schizophrenia

In reading this, I start to wonder if we, as Quakers, suffer from the spiritual schizophrenia that is described. Do we ask questions without easy anwers and then "sit with" the uncertainty of not knowing? Or do we get into a self-righteous mode of seeing the world. A piety that leads us away from questions into easy "answers"? When we say "I'll hold you in the Light", do we really mean it or are we just saying it because it's easy to say. A way to avoid engaging with the person or his/her issues. I struggle with these questions. And I struggle with the answers that come to me, if that makes sense. I don't HAVE easy answers. It's easy to carry a banner. It's easy to say "I oppose war". Those are easy answers. But what are the real questions? What are the real, personal and difficult choices we must make to oppose war?

"It's hard to love the questions when you live in a society obsessed with answers. A believer takes a great risk in affirming the questions and doubts of others because to be a good Christian is to have all the answers and to never admit you have any questions. Consequently, we have a lot of people living out a spirituality they can hardly claim to be their own. On the surface they look good. They can sing all the right hymns and say all the right prayers. They quote all the right verses and support all the appropriate groups. They have even overcome great tragedy and despair and give claim to a testimony of great victory. But deep within their being, they are torn apart by this 'spiritual schizophrenia.' They have doubts....But the Christian culture 'code of silence' has forced them on a journey of 'Jesus is the answer' without ever having been allowed to ask the questions." Scott Waggoner, (1993).

Never thought I'd live with a standard poodle

I never thought I'd own a standard poodle. Or any kind of poodle, for that matter. Maybe it didn't seem like a "manly" dog or something. Maybe it was the strange hair cuts. I'm not sure.

One day, I visited a vet client who had just acquired a Standard Poodle puppy. It was black, athletic and smart. In the course of giving it a check up and routine vaccinations, the client told me he was planning to use it for hunting waterfowl. I started to sneer a bit and he said, "That's what they were bred for, originally". When I got home, I looked it up and sure enough, that's what happened!

I don't hunt, but according to the article, the "strange hair cut" came out of the early days of hunting waterfowl. The fur was left on the chest, head and some of the joints that might be affected in cold water. Well, that's what the article said.

Many poodles, including my own, are athletic and extremely agile. Many are used in agility work.

Standard Poodles are great travelers. Very adventurous. Here's Duke and I in norhern Wisconsin.

My own poodle, Duke, doesn't do agility work (although he is extremely agile and athletic), doesnt have a weird haircut, doesn't hunt ducks, but he IS a star in my eyes (and apparently his own!).

Friday, May 16, 2008

So, Poodledoc, what is a Quaker?

I get asked this question a lot, plus a hundred variants. More on that later. But I did happen across this quick explanation of Quakers. One thing missing though: we're NOT Amish! (click on image to make it larger)

Quaker Poster of the Day

I liked this poster......click on the image to make it larger, if you like....

Obama-Backing Edwards Elbows Aside Clinton

Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008 by The Nation
by John Nichols

It was a weary and wistful Hillary Clinton who sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and other network anchors for extended interviews in the middle of the day Wednesday. She knew that, no matter what she said, and how well she said it, it would not be enough.

Like the coronation march that her 2008 campaign was supposed to be, her latest gambit would be trumped by Barack Obama’s juggernaut.

Yes, she had just been handed a face-saving landslide win by West Virginia Democrats, beating Obama by more than 2-1 in an honest-to-goodness swing state. But Clinton did not seem to be fighting very hard on a day when her senior campaign adviser, Harold Ickes, was disptached to Capitol Hill to reassure congressional supporter that the former frontrunner would remain in the race through June 3.

Clinton used her precious spotlight time to defend Obama as a friend of Israel, describe his supporters as people who thought he would be the best president and promised to “work my heart out for whoever our nominee is.” Indeed, if she made news Wednesday, it was with a seeming show of openness to an as-yet-unoffered place on an Obama-led ticket. Clinton did not dismiss the vice-presidential talk - and she certainly did not resort to the old dig of suggesting she might have a place on her ticket for the senator from Illinois - she simply it was “premature” to talk about what she would be doing after her campaign was done.

Perhaps it was. But only by a few hours.

As Clinton’s interviews were supposed to be dominating the evening news and talk programs on the cable networks, Barack Obama was again stepping on her moment.

Television screens filled with live images from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Bruce Springsteen was singing “The Rising.”

The crowd was cheering, “Yes we can!”

No one was thinking about West Virginia.

No one was thinking much about Hillary Clinton.

They were listening to John Edwards.

“The reason I am here in Grand Rapids tonight is that Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I,” shouted the man who almost beat Barack Obama in the campaign-opening caucuses of Iowa and who, long after he quit campaigning, still pulled 7 percent of the vote in West Virginia.

Echoing the themes of a campaign that did not win him the nomination but that secured him a credibility - especially with the blue-collar voters who may well define the fall race - that made his the most sought-after endorsement of a campaign that is now done in all but the formalities.

Delivering that endorsement, and a dose of the populist appeal Obama still needs, Edwards came not to finish the primary race but to open the fall campaign. “There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two, and that man is Barack Obama,” shouted Edwards.

Edwards stood next to Obama Wednesday night, basking in the applause of thousands of Michigan Democrats who were, for all practical purposes, cheering the end of the Clinton campaign. (And reminding the pundits that a Michigan delegation will be seated at the Democratic National Convention and will likely join in the “by-acclamation” nomination of Obama.)

Of course, John Edwards praised Hillary Clinton in Grand Rapids. “We are a stronger party because Hillary Clinton is a Democrat,” the 2004 Democratic nominee for vice president told a crowd that did not really want to hear it but offered a reasonable measure of tepid applause.

“What she has shown is strength and character… She cares deeply about the working families in this country,” said Edwards. “She is a woman who in my judgment is made of steel. And she is a leader in this country not because of her husband but because of what she has done…”

But the truth is that Edwards was in Michigan to bury Hillary Clinton, at least as a presidential candidate.

“When this nomination battle is over, and it will be over soon, brothers and sisters, we will have a united Democratic party,” Edwards declared.

The Edwards endorsement, delivered not in an upcoming primary state such as Kentucky or Oregon but in the contested former-primary state of Michigan, was not a primary endorsement. It was a positioning moment for a November race in which everyone - including the savvy senator from New York - knows that Barack Obama will be carrying the Democratic banner into competition with Republican John McCain.

“I will do whatever it takes” to elect the Democrat, said Clinton. Would Clinton like to be on that ticket? Probably.

Might she have some new competition? Absolutely.

No one missed the fact that Barack Obama and John Edwards looked right together. “They looked fantastic together,” gushed Jill Zuckman, the Chicago Tribune’s able political writer. “They looked like a ticket.”

Even Obama seemed to notice.

“I haven’t been seeing John as much,” said the Illinois senator. “I forgot how good he is.”

The soon-to-be nominee won’t forget again.

Neither will Hillary Clinton.

John Nichols’ new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson hails it as a “nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the ‘heroic medicine’ that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to ‘reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.’”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hillary, pack up and go home!

Hillary Clinton stating that "the government of Iran needs to know we can OBLITERATE them". This has been rattling around in my head since she said it a week or two ago. It was both what she said, the words, and THE WAY SHE SAID IT. In a tone that sounded so.....obvious. So....rational. So condescending. Her comments are ignorant and evil. She knows nothing of the pain that people suffer around the world. She knows nothing of the agony people would suffer if she chose to "obliterate" Iran. She speaks from a place of arrogance and privilege. She hires her spinmeisters from Fox News. Same old stories. Go home, Hillary. Before McCain bumbles his way into the presidency, the 100 years war in Iraq and "bomb-bomb-Iran" becomes a hit song.

It's shameful the way this got very little coverage in the media. Mostly, the media treats this "race" as a baseball game. It's about the score. Who's ahead. Issues? No time for that.

As Israel turns 60, do not forget this........

The Other Side of Israel’s Birth
by Alice Rothchild

Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 by The Baltimore Sun

This spring we are obsessed with anniversaries: the fifth year since the invasion of Iraq, the 40th since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and, of course, the 60th anniversary of Israeli independence. Each such marker shapes our understanding of history, framing how a story is to be told and how it is to be remembered. I am struck by one conspicuous anniversary that is not making many headlines.

On tour recently in the U.S., Eitan Bronstein, director of the Israeli organization Zochrot, explained that “zochrot” is the Hebrew word for “remembering,” intentionally used in its feminine form to imply that this organization is not about the standard history of schoolbooks but about a memory grounded in compassion. Zochrot focuses on educating Israelis about the other side of the 1948 War of Liberation, the dispossession and expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians living in what was to become Israel. Through careful documentation of the locations of more than 450 destroyed Palestinian villages, by interviewing and photographing Palestinians living in Israel and surrounding refugee camps, Zochrot creates a living human memory that encompasses the other side of history.

Mr. Bronstein has been touring with Mohammad Jaradat, a Palestinian activist, negotiator at the Madrid peace talks and co-founder of Badil, Arabic for “alternative,” a foundation that researches and advocates for Palestinian residency and refugee rights. He is part of a vigorous Palestinian movement for civil society that is largely unknown in the U.S.

Listening to these two men, I was struck by how memory shapes our understanding of history and how dangerous it is to blind ourselves to the realities of the past. For decades, Jews have shaped the memory of the Holocaust, honoring its victims and justifying the behavior of its survivors, creating a story in which we Jews are all at some level survivors, claiming Israel’s victories as our own. The narrative of indigenous Arab resistance to a Jewish state and acknowledgment of the human suffering that was a consequence of Israeli military victory and political policy thus become a personal as well as a political threat.

Mr. Bronstein contends that Israel’s failure to recognize its responsibility for Palestinian dispossession is a critical though invisible part of Israeli history, that embracing this history is the first step toward acknowledging Palestinians as fellow human beings, and that this process can lead beyond peace to permanent reconciliation between the two peoples. While the Palestinians clearly “lost the war” in 1948, the decision to prevent them from returning to their ancestral homes was a political decision that has led to a constant state of friction and war between Israel and its neighbors.

At a time when Jews and Palestinians express little hope for a peaceful future, Mr. Bronstein offers us a path where Israelis acknowledge the price of their victory and take responsibility for their share of the Palestinian catastrophe. At the same time, Mr. Jaradat is working for the kinds of civil rights that are enshrined in international and human rights law, reminding us that Palestinians deserve nothing less than we would expect for ourselves. Both men share the conviction that acknowledging the Palestinian refugees’ internationally recognized right to return and developing creative solutions — from resettlement to financial compensation — is the foundation of a lasting resolution of the conflict.

As Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary today, I wonder what would happen if this tragedy, Al Nakba, were to be publicly recognized alongside the Israeli victory. Perhaps taking the risk of acknowledging the pain of the “other” and seeing “the enemy” as a real person is how peace is ultimately made.

The dispossession of two-thirds of the Palestinian population in 1948, and the consequences borne by generations of families living in Israel, the occupied territories, refugee camps and the diaspora, can no longer be hidden. It is time to acknowledge that other anniversary and to move forward with eyes and hearts open to the suffering of all the children of Abraham.

Alice Rothchild, a physician, is the author of “Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience” and co-chairwoman of Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hope and Cynicism

Yesterday, a beautiful sunny day, my friend Julia and I went out to the International Crane Foundation, near Barraboo, WI. This organization works tirelessly and effectively to cross international borders and support the many different species of cranes around the world, many of which are endangered. It is powerful to me that caring for living things like cranes brings together people whose governments don't like each other.

The Whooping Crane, native to North America had almost vanished. There were about 48 left. The Crane Foundation undertook a breeding program to raise whooping cranes to an age where they could migrate to their nesting grounds in Florida. They are raised in a way that keeps them from imprinting on humans. The young birds make their first flight to Florida following an ultralight plane piloted by a person in a sort of bird suit, again to avoid them imprinting on humans. The birds then fly back north at the appropriate time of the year, on their own. That is a miracle to me, in and of itself.

I found myself moved to tears yesterday in the marsh ampitheater which "houses" a male and female Whooping Crane. You can see the birds up close and watch a short video on the breed and release program. I feel so very hopeful about this. I didn't realize how down and how cynical I'd been feeling of late about the world: politics, the war(s), the environment, etc. Yet this counterd the cynicism. It opened up the idea that if this migration work is possible, then so much is really possible. I noted that the marsh ampitheater where the birds live was paid for by AMOCO. Again, I felt the twinge of cynicism. "Ha," I thought, "a good PR stunt by AMOCO!") And maybe (almost certainly) it is. However, someone from the Crane Foundation went to them, persuaded AMOCO to part with some of it's ample billions. So, little by little, hope enters into the picture. Changes. Will enoughchanges happen before we destroy our planet and ourselves? I don't know, of course. I'm not a pollyanna, but am hopeful today.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tom Hanks Pledges Support To Barack Obama

Actor Inspired By Senator's 'Character And Vision'

I'm not too big on celbrity endorsments, but found this amusing, and I do agree with him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NEW YORK -- Tom Hanks is supporting presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama.

Hanks has taken to his MySpace.com page to pledge his support for Obama, who is competing to be the first black president. Obama, who faces rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has also been endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen and Scarlett Johansson.

"As an official celebrity, I know my endorsement has just made your mind up for you," the 51-year-old actor said in a short video titled, "Beware: Celebrity Endorsement."

"History with a capital 'H' is going to be made this November, no matter who the president-elect is," Hanks said. "I want Barack Obama to be president of this country, a country that once said people with his skin color were only three-fifths of a human being."

Hanks, who won Oscars for his roles in "Forrest Gump" and "Philadelphia," explains his decision: "It's because of his character and vision, and the high road he has taken during this campaign. He has the integrity and the inspiration to unify us, as did FDR and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy and even Ronald Reagan when they ran for the job."

The actor said that Obama and Clinton have each "pretended to eat cheese-steak sandwiches and go bowling," "committed gaffes" and distanced themselves from supporters who could damage their campaigns.
But Hanks thinks an Obama presidency could bring about a "seismic shift," and "live up to the great promise once shaped by our founding fathers."

Signing off, the star said, "I'm Tom Hanks, I wrote and approved this message, and I'm now going to turn off the camera."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Growing of Poodledoc, Jr

Wow! Poodledoc, Jr has grown about 6 inches in the last year. (or was it the last month?). Went out to our favorite Chinese restaurant last night, Wong's, with Poodledoc, Jr and another 13 year old boy, we'll call Murphy. Anyway, the food came and I told them we were running a bit late for our next "engagement" and they'd have to eat "efficiently". So Murphy said, "Poodledoc, do you want us to 'Hoover' the food?" Foolishly, in the interest of time, I said yes. I barely got one piece of the chicken dish, a shrimp and a tired looking piece of broccoli. Well, it's one way to lose weight, I guess. Above, I'm sharing an adorable father and son photo taken two weeks ago. Poodledoc, jr has grown an inch or so since this was last taken. Really!


Bare feet crunching in black sand.
Walking along the shores of darkness.
Maybe a lake.

Many miles pass.
Is it getting darker?
I thirst,
and bend down scooping up some water
Desire brings it to my lips.
No wetness.

Thirst goes on with no stopping.
Scanning the dark emptiness for what?
Is God out there?
but I so much desire God to be out there.
Not knowing pierces.
Hurts somewhere I can’t reach.

Suddenly, I’m naked
and feel ashamed.
But no one’s here
I lose my shame
And drop it on the beach.
I leave the pain I’ve been carrying
on the beach.
I cover my wounds with moist, black sand.
They cool in the darkness.
And walk on,
scanning dark emptiness