The dog park and the natural order of things.

Moksha and I just had a traumatic visit to the Northgate Dog Park, where a seemingly lazy, gentle dog went berserk, yet again. While I mentioned the dog and owner’s name on Facebook (private to the default local list only), I’m not going to shame the guy publicly. This guy lords over the dog park. He seems to be there 24/7 and has been coming for years. He said bluntly that it’s “the natural order of things” if one dog drives all the others away. Furthermore, it’s the understood rule of the park that whoever arrives first stays if there is an altercation. He sits at the picnic bench and watches from 100 feet away while his dog suddenly tears into another one. He’s one of those dogs that lounges around 90% of the time, and everyone loves him, but when he gets into the mix… Everyone went over to the small dog side.

I called the sheriff and had them send someone down there, just to embarrass the guy a little if that’s even possible. No one has completely loudly enough over the years apparently, so he’s not going anywhere. I can’t imagine going back there as long as this pair are there. It’s quite sad. Moksha has a lot of fun there. I don’t see any visible signs of injury yet, but such things usually don’t become apparent until later.

Time Warner Cable fail

I almost succumbed to the need for cable last week. I signed up Wednesday night. I picked up a box Thursday morning. I realized Thursday evening that they hadn’t activated it. I got a call Friday morning from a sales rep asking if everything was ok. I said it wasn’t, that I expected the service to have been turned on and wasn’t sure I was satisfied with the deal I was getting. She said since she wasn’t the sales rep I dealt with that she couldn’t help. I asked her why she bothered calling. Then I returned the box and canceled my service. (I should’ve waited until today, in retrospect, since it’s hard to watch March Madness online without a TV subscription service after the 4-hour free pass expires).

Today, I received a call from a gentleman asking about my Time Warner Cable experience. He wanted to be my “personal representative” and said I could reach him anytime via his cell phone. Sounded fishy. Then he offered me a price that was even higher than what I was going to be paying. I called bullshit on him and told him he had just made it more likely that I’ll never get TV from Time Warner Cable.

If and when I decide I want real TV again, I’ll go back to DirecTV.

John Owens for Durham County Commissioner

I am wading into local politics for the first time in a few years, and I would appreciate it if you could take a minute to visit Team Owens, the page for Durham County Commissioner candidate John Owens.

I have known John since he moved to Durham. He is intelligent and well-educated on the issues facing Durham. He is young, but politically experienced. The average age of a Durham County Commissioner is roughly 60, and we need fresh leadership. John came to Durham because, of all the places coast-to-coast, he felt this was the right place to raise his family. He is not an establishment candidate. He may be the most progressive candidate, but he is also thoughtul and takes a nuanced approach to complicated issues.

I think he’ll make Durham proud as a great County Commissioner.

King for a day

Yesterday, the Coalition to Unchain Dogs unchained its 1000th dog. I’ve got a bunch of pictures and a video from the occasion, which had around 75 volunteers and visitors from Durham and beyond. I want to share those, but I’ve got one perfect picture of the celebrated canine, and it deserves its own post. This is King.

CTUD 1000th - King

Snow (belated)

It’s 60 degrees and rainy now, but one week ago, Durham was getting around seven inches of snow, and I drove out anyway to go to Charlotte.

Full album of pics

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham 544AM
Home, 5:44AM

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - Herman takes a look around (3)
Herman looks around, 8:30AM

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - Herman takes a look around (6)

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - Back Alley (2)
Back alley

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - Snowman at Green and Onslow
Heading out around 9AM…notice the snowman at the intersection of Green and Onslow

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - East Campus at Markham (3)
Duke East Campus, heading West on Markham

Post-Christmas Snow in Durham - Ninth St
Ninth Street

Post-Christmas Snow - Durham Freeway 902AM
Durham Freeway, headed North toward I-85 South

Post-Christmas Snow - Overturned Truck I-85 Hillsborough
Accident on I-85 South in Hillsborough; conditions began to improve shortly thereafter, for me, at least (not sure about the driver of the truck)

Tipping point at the Broad Street Whole Foods

Everyday, some manager at the Broad Street Whole Foods in Durham must ask, “How many more displays can we add, and how much can we expand the endcaps today?”

You cannot walk from Point A to Point B without bumping into something or someone.

I remember, years ago, you’d walk into Whole Foods and smell flowers and other pleasant aromas. It was a relaxing experience to shop at Whole Foods, even the small Broad Street location.

Now, it’s like a crowded subway station. You can’t stop anywhere. You’ll hear “excuse me” non-stop. The shopping experience, from beginning to end, is one of constant stress.

If you want some pasta salad from the salad bar, good luck…

I wish there was a convenient alternative. I can’t say I’m going to boycott the store. But I’d certainly buy more there if I weren’t constantly trying to get exactly what I came for and get the hell out of there. And then there have been plenty of times when I have walked in, seen the madness, and walked right out.

It’s clear I’m in the minority here, because business appears to be booming. I don’t know how people can stand it.

P.S. – And now they’ve got the Thanksgiving order table, too, just smack in the middle of everything.

After Vote Part 3

I’ve got too much going on to revisit all of the saved articles I had planned to share and comment on. I think it’s safe to say, at this point, that there are three main theories as to why the Democrats got “shellacked”:

1. The economy / 9.5% unemployment (what Obama and good Democratic Party soldiers like Nancy Pelosi say)

2. Obama and the Democrats were too liberal, “carved out” too large a role for government

3. Obama and the Democrats didn’t fight for liberal/progressive policies; they compromised too often

As should be obvious by now, I fall into the camp that subscribes to the last reason. Surely, #1 played some role, whether you subscribe to #2 or #3. I will not completely dismiss #2. It is true that had Obama sat back and done literally NOTHING over the past two years, Democrats might have lost fewer elections. However, overall, doing SOME stimulus was better for the nation than doing nothing, as was doing SOME healthcare reform as opposed to none, although both of these were bad politically from both right and the left.

Anyway, I’m motivated to make a brief post now because I just had an interesting conversation with a local Democratic party worker (staffer or volunteer, I’m not sure). He had come to buy my old coffee table, and he had worked hard on canvassing locally and statewide on behalf of Democratic candidates. In particular, he worked hard on the GOTV effort for David Price, who hung on to beat the Republican challenger B.J. Lawson, who has now lost to Price in two consecutive elections. However, whereas Price won by 26 points in 2008, Lawson lost by a margin of just 14 points, or 37,000 votes.

My coffee-table-buyer stressed that, had there not had been a massive GOTV effort, Price could have easily been a victim of the Republican wave, since Lawson’s campaign had a huge financial and messaging advantage. Moreover, while it seemed like the Democratic Party just rolled over in the 2010 elections, there was a great deal of work that went into getting core voters to get out and vote, and that work made the difference between the Democratics losing 60 or so seats and potentially losing 90-100 seats.

The Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives now has a higher concentration of progressives than it did before, since conservative Blue Dogs lost at a much higher rate than did progressives. I think this the case because a lot of progressive party die-hards fought on despite the national mood. So, I am grateful to them, and this makes me feel a little bit better about the election results.

2010 was not a repudiation of liberalism.

By the way, did you that Zach Galifianakis’s uncle Nick represented N.C.’s 4th district between 1967 and 1973?

Pro-choice in the Triangle? Don’t even think about voting for Lawson

Yeah, I know people aren’t enthusiastic about voting this year. I’m not. Please do it anyway.

I know David Price isn’t the most charismatic guy in the world. He votes a progressive agenda and generally has done a good job of representing the Triangle, but…hmmm…maybe he’s been in D.C. too long… Who’s this young, chipper guy B.J. Lawson who runs every two years? He can’t be that bad. (After all, his wife looks like Tipper Gore.) A Republican running in this district has to be moderate, right?

Well, here’s Lawson on reproductive rights:

We can either be a pro-life culture or a pro-death culture. I choose life. Only in extreme cases should abortion be considered and only as a medical decision where the health and life of the mother are in jeopardy. In cases of rape or incest, I believe there is a difference between emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy versus termination of a known and viable pregnancy. In any case, I believe the federal government should define life as beginning at conception, and leave strategies for reducing abortions to state governments.

I know I’ve got friends who will vote for Lawson, in some part of large part, because of this position. But I’m betting the majority of the people I know and who will vote find this position to be at least bit disturbing.

In any event, I think we can all agree that 2/3 of B.J. Lawson’s platform is B.S.:
Less Government…really?
More Freedom…uh, huh.

If you would like to hear from the candidates, Bull City Rising is co-sponsoring a debate this Friday evening. It was this BCR post that pointed me to Lawson’s positions. If you lean left, as I do, or don’t tend to lean in any particular direction, I hope you’ll realize that it really is in our best interest to keep David Price in the House representing us.

On a related note, it sure is uncomfortable blogging about such a sensitive subject. I want to add a note to those people I know who are “pro-life” (I really do hate both the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice”). One can think abortion is horrible and believe that one would never have one or condone a partner having one or condone anyone they know having one and still believe the government should not determine when and under which circumstances women can have the procedure. Some people are firm in being at the absolute ends of the spectrum of this debate. I don’t care to state for the record exactly where I stand. But I do know that this candidate’s position, and I do respect that he has a very specific, on-the-record position, scares the hell out of me.

Comedian Richard Dawkins

Lecture etiquette FAIL?

I would be happy to bless your animals.

– Renowned biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins to his audience at Duke University today. He was responding to a comment following his lecture that the upcoming Q & A with the audience would end at 3:30 sharp since the Chapel Quad was hosting the annual Blessing of the Animals at 4:00.

That lousy cell phone photo is illustrating what I think was the very poor etiquette of two Duke students who clearly didn’t care much to be at this event. They must have been getting class credit or something. Like cell phones in a movie theater, laptop screens at this lecture, particularly screens that kept flashing between baseball scores, Facebook, and a variety of websites, are really friggin distracting if you’re sitting right behind them.