seasons

Dec. 24th, 2014 09:43 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
The seasons are changing, and not just in the usual sense.

no snow 20141224Minnesota winters have been so reliable for producing a "white Christmas" with snow on the ground like a true winter wonderland. Not this year. I came to Minnesota in 1998.  During my years here, I remember one December or two that was so dry that I wondered if there would be snow for the holidays. This year, though, is a first. It's above freezing. All that snow that we got 2 months ago? Gone. I have never seen this effect until now.

Global warming will bring big changes to Minnesota. They've already had to change the dates of the local ice festivals, or cancel festivals altogether. With "warm" weather like this, however, ice festivals may become stories told by old people to young disbelievers who never knew a climate cool enough for buildings made of ice.

It just doesn't feel much like Christmas this year.

At work, several of us donated food and time to cook and serve dinner at a Ronald McDonald house in the local Children's Hospital.  We heard that our food was good.  People from other floors were coming down to eat after they heard that the meal that night was nice.  That group event was the closest sense of holiday that I've experienced this year, even though I'm not really comfortable doing kitchen stuff with strangers.  It took a long time for me to get comfortable enough cooking meals just for myself in a typical household environment.

The solstice came and went.  I noticed its passing and am looking forward to more daylight hours.  Christmas Eve tonight, though, doesn't feel like much.  Normally, I'd play a marathon of computer games, but I haven't been able to do much of that lately either.  I'm converting my computer from Windows to Linux, and I still don't have everything settled yet.  Not that I've really celebrated Christmas as a holiday in a long time. I think the last winter that I ever did any of the usual stuff was probably the Christmas of 1996, the last time that I dated anyone.

Hope and ChewbaccaEven Hope is low-key tonight.  She can be excused, though, since I was told by my landlords that she had nibbled on some poinsettia earlier today (not normally accessible) while I was out at the movie theater.  She may be feeling a bit nauseous.  She didn't even bother getting annoyed by my Christmas Chewbacca.

The latest Hobbit movie didn't thrill me as much as usual today.  This lack of enthusiasm may be a side effect of breaking my gluten-free diet during the last week.  I've had pizza, burritos, Whopper candy, egg rolls, and lots of other yummy, yummy foods that I've missed in 2014.  I just needed a holiday break, I guess.

I'm already paying for it with a significant resurgence of muscle twitches.  I guess maybe the brain fog is worse too.  Maybe that has something to do with my difficulty in making the switch to Linux in recent days too?  Ah, well.  It was worth it.  I mentioned pepperoni pizza and Whoppers, right?

I suppose it's time to get back on the gluten-free bandwagon, though.  It clearly helps.  A lot.

Oh, and I'm going in for sinus surgery again during the 2nd week in January.  It's the same sinus polyp problem that I had in 1998 during my first sinus surgery.  My ex-boyfriend helped with recovery last time.  This surgery should not be quite as invasive, and I'll be relying on landlords for transportation.  I expect it to go well again.

I'm certain that 2014 was a much better year than 2013.  Then again, though, that was a rather low bar to measure against.  Even with T'Reese dying this summer, 2014 was still a better year.  I hope things finally turn around in the coming months.  Maybe Hope and I will both perk up a bit.  Better days for everyone!
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
It's not surprising that websites fail beneath the onslaught of sudden heavy usage.  I've seen it happen in many different scenarios.

It amuses me a little that so much noise is made about the new healthcare law and the failure of its federal website to keep up with demand.  It seems that a lot of the people making that noise come from states who specifically declined to build their own website to help reduce the needs of the federal site.  They turned their back, and then they complain about the result.  Here in Minnesota, where we had our own online exchange, results were not horrible.

It amuses me a lot when I hear people claim that government cannot be good at such tasks, and private enterprise is necessarily better.  No, it really isn't so.  I've lost count of the computer games I've played where websites (in addition to game servers) simply could not keep up with traffic during their grand opening.  Even my favorite project, Star Citizen, has run into that very problem.  Not just once in 2012 during the original fundraising campaign, but again in 2013 with the rollout of their new website.  Capitalist motivation does not make better websites and web servers.  Only experience will improve performance.

And, finally, it amuses me the most when a website fails under the collective goodwill of bleeding liberal hearts trying in earnest to give away their cash to needy organizations.  No kidding, it happened today.  Minnesota has a recent tradition of using mid-November to "Give to the Max" by collecting donations for many non-profits on this particular day of the year.  The website crashed today under the unexpectedly heavy load.  Minnesotans are awesome.

I tried several times tonight, and I finally succeeded, in giving money to a few of the groups that I particularly value:I'm not desperately poor at the moment, so I threw $50 at each of them and enjoyed my own gratitude at having the money to throw around.

pride 2013

Jun. 29th, 2013 09:02 pm
mellowtigger: (Pride)
canoeThere were significant political victories to celebrate this year, so I went out to Twin Cities Pride today. It's the 3rd largest celebration in the USA, estimated at 400,000 visitors over the whole weekend. It's said to be the largest non-gated pride event, meaning that visitors come and go as they please, since there is no admissions gate (or the likely attendance ticket fee that goes with it). Frankly, it's too large for me. I skip Sunday altogether, so I always miss the hours-long parade. I always think they should just move it out to the state fairgrounds, but then everyone would miss out on nice opportunities like canoeing.

rabbitsI've attended many pride celebrations in Texas, and I was active in political student groups too. People who knew me back around 1989 might remember my fondness for pet rabbits. I even took one with me on a road trip from College Station to Dallas for a student group meeting one year. So it should be no surprise that my favorite part of Pride this year was the rabbits.

The large map is divided into different areas, one of which includes the various pet-focused groups of the Twin Cities. My employer was represented there too. I also visited the table for a houserabbit association this year, and I enjoyed looking at their pet bunnies. Also good were the two natives who were running around the busy lakeshore foraging for food.

doom, doom I tell youThe religious section is always a large area. It's usually located on the southwestern corner near the church that usually flies rainbow colors during the weekend celebration. A great many church groups are always there to publicize their welcoming philosophy. This year also had hecklers standing nearby. Not as much "fun" as the Westboro group, but entertaining nevertheless.

Brits Pub rainbow flagAs I left, I noticed while waiting at the bus stop that local businesses were also courting GLBT patrons. Here is a photo I took of Brit's Pub flying a rainbow flag among the others on display.

Still, though, after the day's adventure, I kept thinking more about Kevin and his llamas than about recent political victories. Sure, we've collectively focused on marriage equality, and we're winning that legal argument, but there are other immediate concerns demanding attention. Besides the frequent violence, the bullying, the kids kicked out onto the streets, there is also the matter of employment discrimination. That's where Kevin's situation shines as an example needing redress. He lives in Kentucky, where it's still perfectly legitimate to fire someone for being gay, and he was so fired.

I've faced discrimination on the job too, although my experiences were all back in Texas. I've had my work hours cut from 40 to 15 immediately after my supervisor found out I was gay. I've had a high management figure refuse to shake my hand upon our introduction. I've lost a job while a meddling coworker (who bullied international students too) complained about my involvement with the campus gay student group (and her having to authorize my requests for mainframe computer resources for the group). So I have some sympathy for Kevin's situation.

Vigilance is necessary.  Keep pressing for equality, keep demanding non-discrimination.  What's appropriate for you to do will vary with your own comfort level.  Me, I donated $20 to Kevin and his llamas when I got home from Pride today.  It's not a lasting solution, I know, but maybe it will help keep the animals in their familiar territory so their caretaker has the time he needs to arrange for new income.

There are plenty of other worthwhile causes to donate your attention, your time, or your money. Decide something, though, because both your actions and your inactions help to shape the future that we all must share.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
dogs domesticated in 8 secondsNo modern human population lacks dogs in its culture. Our long, intertwined history leads to the co-evolution theory that humans and canines evolved together through mutual dependence.

Sure, humans have domesticated lots of animals, but those are typically done as shepherds. The animals feed themselves, or we collect their natural food for them. We use them as tools and eventually as meat. In the case of dogs, however, their bodies evolved with ours to adapt to new sources of food as we developed agriculture. Basically, we had good garbage that was rich in starch, and they scavenged our scraps.

We shouldn't take credit for the process, though. It's not that we were controlling their mating behavior to select our own choice of breeds; it's the wolves who adapted to us. Independent of humans, canines are quite versatile with their social bonding. After all, we aren't the only primates who integrate canines as tools in their society. Watch these baboons do it too... by force.


Nevertheless, the idea of humans and dogs evolving in mutual symbiosis is an interesting idea. It leads to questions about the genetic lineage of "village dogs", a term that refers to integrated canines who still mate by their own choice. One idea is that our mutual benefit is so strong, that adaptation may have happened independently many times. UCLA Today quotes Mark Derr:

"Wherever there are wolves and humans, you end up with dogs.

I donated $100 to this crowdfunding project that is sampling village dog DNA from areas throughout Africa. They barely achieved their fundraising goal, but at least they made it. They're hoping to find genes favored by natural selection (rather than human-directed artificial selection) in canines. Those genes might help us better understand our own health. They sent me this photo as a souvenir of their travel in Africa. Notice how their appearance favors a tan-and-white coat and a longer, pointed snout than we typically see in cultivated breeds. (Click to see the photo in much larger version.)

Village Dog Project 2012

All that fascinating history, and I haven't even scratched the surface of "interesting" with the abandoned dogs of Moscow who are evolving into 4 distinct groups: guard dogs, scavengers, wild dogs, and beggars. The beggars who specialize in brains rather than brawn have developed enough intelligence to master riding the subway on their own.
mellowtigger: (AIDS)
It's been over 15 years since I last saw the AIDS Quilt. It's showing in Minneapolis this weekend, as part of today's World AIDS Day observance. It's housed in the same building where you find Wilde Roast Cafe along the Mississippi River. The quilt was brought here with the help of several organizations, including Minnesota AIDS Project.

sign.2
sign.1sign.front

They have more panels here than I expected. The quilt is too big (at 48,000 panels) for anyone to see the whole thing any more. It won't even fit on the national mall at Washington D.C. any more. So groups show a select few panels of the quilt instead.

With tightly limited space, this exhibition showed the panels hung up vertically. This format helps make more panels available for viewing, which is good. I think, though, that it's less effective at conveying the emotional weight of the quilt. Laid out on the ground like a death shroud, the viewer looks down to their feet at the strewn memories of lost lives. Hung up, though, the same panels seem more like "arts-and-crafts" on museum display. It also matters, I think, that the calendar dates on display are receding into the past instead of being fresh in the daily memory.

The selection on display here is very good. There are panels for drag queens and sports fans, hemophiliacs and newborn babies, and famous and unknown unlike.

panel.18panel.17panel.16
panel.15panel.14panel.13
panel.12panel.11panel.10
panel.09panel.08

panel.07panel.06panel.05panel.04panel.03panel.02panel.01

I ran a search at the AIDS Quilt online, but I didn't find Carl Collier's name listed there.  I doubt that his family would have made a panel for him.  I don't remember us talking about me making a panel for him, but I'm pretty sure he would have been uninterested.  I can imagine him saying, "I'd rather people spent their time finding a cure, instead."  Sprinkled with an expletive or two, of course.  :)
mellowtigger: (banking)
This Kickstarter project aims to help urban dwellers build a greenhouse and manage it remotely.  Think of it, a greenhouse that you visit only on weekends!  Of course, you still need some vacant land somewhere, but it could be a very small plot.  I don't have much money to throw around, but I still had to contribute to this nifty idea.


They need only a small amount of money, but they have only a few days left to fund the project.  And, for you Minnesotans, it's a project started by someone right here in Minneapolis.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1382972818/lets-build-a-low-cost-solar-semi-automated-greenho
mellowtigger: (hypercube)
Dan Whaley was involved in e-commerce as early as 1994 with his startup GetThere, which eventually led to Travelocity.com.  He is seeking funds for a new programming project to help determine the reliability of our sources for information. I've already donated some money to the effort, and I've registered my username at the project's website.


I have written previously about the need for computer assisted epistemology to help us organize our thoughts and opinions to reach the kernels of truth within them. I have also written previously about Kickstarter, the website that helps funnel money into creative projects. Just yesterday, I wrote about the need to verify our sources of information.

I'm pleased that these discussions have collided at a useful intersection.  :)
mellowtigger: (all i have)
It's important to me that I actively work to mold human society into the good influence that it needs to be (and could become with nurturing). I enjoy a good debate, but opinions are not nearly as useful as action. I try to live my life by this ethic. It makes my life more difficult in some ways, but the point is that I succeed while doing it. If I can do it, then so can anyone else. :)

Even as poor as I am, I'm financially rich compared to most people in the world.  I have found two websites that help me use my financial influence to change the world in small ways. I want to bring attention to them in case other people can be tempted to figuratively dip their toes into these new waters.  Both of them operate on the new kind of financial model called "microtransactions", allowing you to contribute in small amounts.  Microtransactions can be very tiny, but these websites tend to use multiples of $25.  I'm poor, so I use the minimum amounts.

Gifts: Supporting Creativity By Donation
http://www.kickstarter.com/

Kickstarter lets you find projects that people are hoping to fund by donation. Most of them tend to be creative endeavors like artwork, music, and programming. (Finally! Someone who thinks like me that computer programming is an art rather than a science.) I first donated money to a project by the programmer who gave us "Creatures", a wonderful little artificial life game from many years ago.  His new project was created to collect US$27,000 to begin work on an artifical life program.  Not a fun simulation, but actual electronic life.  I don't expect him to succeed, but I like the idea so much that I contributed a small amount to his project.  I have since added donations to a few other creative works that I want to see completed.  You can see my profile page for more about how I've used the service.

Loans: The Gift That Returns So You Can Give Again
http://www.kiva.org/

Kiva lets you search for microloan applications across the planet.  Most of them tend to deal with farming, livestock, or small business.  Each project includes payment schedule, photo of the requester with a small biography, and information about the microloan company hosting the applicant's request.  You loan out your money and then wait for the repayment to place the money back into your Kiva account.  After it's repaid, you find another project and loan it out again.  You receive no interest from the loan (I think).  This model is about helping other people, not helping yourself.  Sometimes, the interest paid gets partially returned to the applicant in the form of a savings account donation... if they make all their payments on schedule.  Great incentive, I think.  Usually, the interest goes to the companies arranging these loans.  You can see my profile page for more about how I've used the service.  I encountered it only today, so I have no experience with repayments yet but their statistics suggest a 98% success rate.

T-Shirts: The Great Motivator
If Kiva sounds like the kind of site for you to explore, consider visiting this page first.  I get no money from your visit, but if you end up joining Kiva to loan out money on projects, then your visit adds to the 5 people I need to get a free Kiva t-shirt.  I'm all about t-shirts.  :)
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I need to find out why my mouth became infected last week. The People's Center has a new dental service, and I have an appointment for May 31st at 9am. I had to wait so many weeks because they are only at half staffing level. My penicillin prescription will run out long before then, and I worry about a recurrence of the infection unless I find the source and repair it.

The People's Center places the sliding scale message prominently on the bottom of their webpages. My new boss at work sent me two other clinics that he thought did sliding scales, but neither Metro Dental Care nor Park Dental webpages mention anything about it.  They offer creative ways of paying the full amount, but they don't take donations to cover costs for other people.  Apparently Fremont Health used to do it, but they are now Neighborhood HealthSource and don't mention dental services any more.

I know I lost most of my readership when I moved to Dreamwidth, but does anyone here know of Twin Cities dental clinics with sliding scales that I could visit sooner rather than later this month?  I intend to call the University clinic later today, but hopefully they won't be as booked (because of student population) as the People's Center.
mellowtigger: (gardening)
I have some things that I'd like to get rid of. Speak up if you know someone who wants them.

They're free for anyone who can put them to use. Just come by to pick them up sometime.  All items are in fair-to-good condition.

  1. black plastic cd storage tower (x 2)
  2. guitar, 6-string acoustic
  3. Sign Language tutorial books (x 6) and videos (vhs x 3)
  4. c++ programming books (x 3)
  5. electric self-cleaning cat box (gently used)
  6. gym bag, small
If I don't get any takers here among my readers (and the people they know), then I'll post these items to Freecycle.org for the general community.
mellowtigger: (T'Reese)
This is very last-minute notice, I know, but it's only come to my attention this week too.  I would've mentioned this first item yesterday if I'd done a Furry Friday post.

Saturday (today) 11am-noonPuppy/Kitten Mill bill

Senator Don Betzold and Representative Tom Tillberry will be at the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society today to hold a public information session on a proposed bill (S.F. 7 / H.F. 253).  This bill is intended to change licensing and inspection of breeding facilities in Minnesota in hopes of reducing the occurrence of inhumane breeding environments and neglected animals.

Sunday (tomorrow) 8:30am - 11am: Steps Of Hope fundraiser

2010 marks the 10th year that the Autism Society Of Minnesota holds this fundraiser.  It will be at the Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka.  The schedule is as follows:

8:30 - 10:00Registration
10:00 - 11:00Walk
11:00 - ?post-Walk rally

I think I'll try both of these events if I don't burn out early this weekend.
mellowtigger: (Default)
GiveCamp.org ("Coding for Charity") is an organization that arranges weekend-long events at which programmers, database administrators, and other professionals donate their time to build websites for non-profit organizations.  The group started in 2007, but this is the first year that they've held an event in Minnesota.  They chose my organization, Animal Humane Society, as their beneficiary.
http://twincitiesgivecamp.org/news/jan2010-give-camp-schedule/

I left work early on Friday, 2:30pm, to drive down to Bloomington at the Microsoft building.  The event will continue until Sunday afternoon.  Normally, the Give Camp is open and available to programmers throughout the duration of the camp, but (this being Microsoft) security restrictions here keep us out of the building during the wee hours of the night.  Still, we're set up in a large (85-person) meeting room, and the adjoining meeting room is set up with XBox on projector screen for entertaining diversions.  Food, drinks, and snacks are provided throughout the event.  Either my boss or I try to be around throughout the event to answer any questions they may have.

I've seen about 10 programmers here at various times so far, with at least 4 people always hanging around and coding away at their laptops.  There are occasional giveaways to offer people more breaks and encouragement.  I've overheard them saying that it's been a very productive weekend for them, if for no other reason than they don't have emails coming in demanding their attention on other tasks.

Maybe on my next Furry Friday post, I'll link to the website that they're creating for us. :)

mortality

May. 14th, 2009 08:08 am
mellowtigger: (AIDS)
Each year, I would get an HIV test, and I would call the time spent waiting for results my "annual dose of mortality". Those two weeks were a good time to reflect on my actions, my choices, my consequences. It's been so many years since I've had sex, though, that I've stopped getting tested too. I've also skipped going to the annual AIDS Walk, but this year I will be joining them on Sunday. I'm going with the Bear team. (You may donate here if you'd like. They're trying to be the #1 donor team this year!)

This participation has me making an overdue revue of mortality. I keep thinking about the many people I've known who did not survive even to my own current age of 41:
  • The first guy I had a crush on. He died before he was 20. Stupid driving, solo car accident, no seatbelt, went through the windshield.
  • A roommate from college. He died before he was 25. Left school and killed himself a year later.
  • The first guy I met at college that I knew was gay. He died before he was 30, maybe even 25, I can't remember. AIDS.
  • Another guy from college. He died before he was 25. Murdered by Jesus-loving fag bashers with nail-studded boards.
Plenty of others, mostly AIDS and suicides.  Occasional cancers or heart attacks thrown in for variety.

I think it's "annoyance" that I feel when people die from their own actions in ways that are totally avoidable just by them making a different choice. Random cancers or violent events are unexpected ways to die and can't properly be avoided. When it's possible to see the consequences of one's actions, though, and people choose to just stop paying attention, then I think it's annoying.

Do I really have to slap you around to get you to drive sanely, use a condom, stop smoking, and eat properly? Come on, people, this isn't a test run. This life is the real thing. Give it the attention that it deserves. What if tomorrow is the day that aliens land and tell us about galactic society? What if tomorrow is the day that the Singularity starts, and we all get to live forever? What if tomorrow is the day that you see an ant crawling into a flower bloom and you think "Wow, that's amazing! How does the universe create stuff like this"?

Long ago, I spent 1.5 years dating a guy with AIDS.  I never sero-converted.  I'm still HIV-negative.  You too can live successfully in a dangerous world.  Pay attention already!
mellowtigger: (Default)
I spent 8am-5pm indoors, except for about 15 minutes when I got to walk around outside once just to see what was happening. I didn't get to join the Walk itself, but thankfully other people took pictures and are beginning to post them. I'm putting the images behind a LiveJournal cut, so LiveJournal users can skip loading the photos.

Click to see the many pictures that other people took... )
There were a few minor incidents with injuries to people or pets, but overall it seems like a great time was enjoyed by more than 8,000 people and uncounted animals.  I hope that one of these years I get the opportunity to enjoy the event outdoors like everyone else.  :)
mellowtigger: (T'Reese)
Dakota and RainAnimals: I've been very busy this week and have had little attention to spend visiting the many cats in our facility.  I have spent a few minutes with some unusual guests though. 

First up are Dakota and Rain.  Very noticeable, these huge rabbits are bigger than my cat at home.  They are both Flemish Giant Rabbits.  They are neutered males, 2 and 3 years old, and pair bonded so they need to go home together.  I don't know their history, but one has a torn ear that looks like maybe a tag got ripped out.  The other has the faded remnants of a tattoo in his ear.  Probably an interesting story behind their lives, but I don't know any details yet.  When I met them, they were both extremely friendly, hopping forward to let me pet them together.

JuddReidTwo other unusual visitors at Golden Valley are Judd and Reid.  They are young chinchilla males sharing a cage at the front desk.  They are only 9 and 7 months old, respectively.  When I spent some time with them after work one day, they were both very active and hopping up and down the various levels of their ferret cage.  I was amazed at how much control they have over their whiskers.  When exploring my hand, they would throw their whiskers forward so that they touched my skin long before their nose got close enough to sniff me.

All four visitors (Dakota, Rain, Judd, and Reid) are currently available to meet and adopt at our Golden Valley facility.

The Last Solicitation, Really:  No time to write up much else this morning.  I have to go in early today to start preparations for the Walk tomorrow.  Life has been very hectic at work this week.  The Walk starts tomorrow morning.  This webpage explains the options and includes a link to a crude map for locations.
http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/walk/routeparking

If you're not joining the Walk but still want to help out, there is still time today in which you may make an online donation.  We are told that because of the poor economy, Minnesota non-profit organizations in 2008 overall experienced a 54% decline in revenues even as their costs continued to increase.    Groups with activities in arts/humanities and civil rights experienced the largest cutbacks, but all categories of charities were affected.   Any amount you can offer to help out is greatly appreciated.  :)  I realize that money is tight for everyone these days.
http://events.animalhumanesociety.org/goto/terry.walker


mellowtigger: (Default)
If you're planning to attend the Walk For Animals this year on Saturday morning, you should know that there are 3 locations nearby where you can get free shuttle service to the AHS site in Golden Valley.  There is very limited parking at the site itself, so don't expect to be able to park there.  Plan on using the shuttle.

This webpage explains the options and includes a link to a crude map for locations.
http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/walk/routeparking

If you're not joining the Walk but still want to help out, there are a few days remaining this week in which you may make an online donation.  We are told that because of the poor economy, Minnesota non-profit organizations in 2008 overall experienced a 54% decline in revenues even as their costs continued to increase.    Groups with activities in arts/humanities and civil rights experienced the largest cutbacks, but all categories of charities were affected.   Any amount you can offer to help out is greatly appreciated.  :)  I realize that money is tight for everyone these days.
http://events.animalhumanesociety.org/goto/terry.walker

mellowtigger: (T'Reese)
Red River floodingYou may have heard about flooding in the Fargo, North Dakota area. It has made national news recently. Plus, [livejournal.com profile] huladavid is there and has posted a photo (which you can see on the right). One problem is that the Red River flows northward instead of south. The southern portion unfreezes first, leading water to rush into the northern area that is still ice and snow. We've also had some rainfall recently too. Flood levels are expected to peak as high as 43 feet (13.1 meters), setting a new record. Regional businesses and college campus have closed down, with their leaders encouraging people to spend their free time volunteering to work on dikes and sandbag efforts.
http://www.inforum.com/ (local news for current headlines)
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/weather/03/26/floods.north.dakota/index.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090327/ap_on_re_us/midwest_flooding

People are being evacuated out of their homes and moved to other locations like Red Cross shelters, hotels, or the houses of relatives. Some animals will become lost during this frenzy of activity, and some people will find that they are simply not allowed to bring their pet with them to their new temporary home. The Animal Humane Society, along with the Minnesota Animal Disaster Coalition and Animal Ark, were asked for emergency help. My organization is joining the rescue effort to provide temporary food and shelter to an estimated 200-300 animals displaced by the current emergency. A team of 6 of our employees have already made the trip to the area, and their own food and shelter needs are being met by the local Red Cross. The team will remain there for several days until they are relieved by the Humane Society of the United States.

Besides freezing temperature and record flood levels, I heard on Minnesota Public Radio this afternoon that there is also another 6 inches of snow being predicted for them tonight. Not fun, but this is just one example of the kind of service that the AHS provides to the community.

In that light, it seems a good time to remind people that AHS receives no government funding and relies on donations to continue its operation. Our big annual fundraiser is just a few weeks away. I'm told that our "Walk For Animals" is the largest animal walk fundraiser in the nation. If you're local, do consider joining the fun on Saturday, May 2nd by bringing yourself and your well-behaved pet to the festivities. We have activities planned for both human and animal visitors. You will see many kinds of animals during the event, not just dogs.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RbFRbrRLVM

Anyone (local or elsewhere) can contribute donations online. You may donate anonymously if you prefer that too. I have set up my own donation link, as part of the I.T. Support team. If you can offer any contribution (no amount is too small, as far as I'm concerned), it would be greatly appreciated by both me and the AHS.

If you read my journal here, then you already know that I don't get paid much, so you can rest assured that your money is going to the care and feeding of animals in need rather than into my pockets. ;)

Walk For Animals

I will return in the next edition to highlighting the needs of special animals that I meet on the job.
mellowtigger: (Default)
I've noticed several animals lately with reasons for surrender being "Cannot Afford" or "Lost Home to Foreclosure".  We're not overwhelmed with animals yet, but spring season is almost upon us.  It doesn't bode well for this year to see so many money-related surrenders here already.

TikiAnimals: I have two more "special needs" animals to highlight this issue. First up is Tiki, a 4-year-old neutered male. He's the typical black-and-grey striped alley cat. He's a large guy but fit. I think he's had a rough life, since he's missing the tips of his ears. My guess is that frostbite did it to him one winter, but I don't know his history. He's a transfer from another agency. When I spent some time with him, he eventually started pushing his head into my hand to solicit more petting. He is slow to warm up, but I bet he'll do great with someone who can give him gentle attention.

HerbieAnother guy with ear issues is Herbie. He was abandoned early in life, as he's only about 4 months old now. The vets examining him made the determination that he is deaf, so he is recommended for homes without small children (bundles of energy that can sneak up on him and surprise him). Despite being an adorable cutiepie, he's been out on the adoption floor for a few days already.

I stayed with him for a while, and he had a very disarming way of approaching me. He bowed down and reached out with one paw to touch my hand a few times before he brought his body within touching distance. Eventually, though, he would enthusiastically push his head up against my hand. He especially enjoyed getting pet under his jaw. Near as I could tell, he might have had a small bit of hearing. He didn't seem very good at determining direction, but I think he could sometimes tell who was talking without following other visual cues from the nearby humans. If you want to meet him yourself, he's housed in the cat area because he's too small to keep in the usual dog kennel area.

Both Tiki and Herbie are currently available for adoption at the Golden Valley shelter.

Story:  Our Buffalo shelter has a separate building for incoming animals.  One night, one of the dogs managed to escape out of his kennel and then again out of the back room that houses the kennels.  He had a long time to roam free in the front lobby of the building, managing to knock around lots of equipment during his "tour of the facility".  Buffalo discovered in the morning that they had no working computer equipment to use for processing incoming animals.

So I made an early trip to take replacement equipment to them.  Our Facilities people were also there to repair damaged doors and to work on ways to better secure the kennels too.  At some point, both site staff and the facilities staff were out of the building and back over at the main adoption building.  I was there alone working on customizing the Windows profile on the new machine.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement.

Another dog was wandering around the room, heading slowly towards the exam room.  Yikes!  He was a tiny, tiny dog.  Not small enough to squeeze through chain links, but you get the idea.  Really small.  I picked him up and held him in the palm of one hand while I called over to the main building to get someone to take the little guy back to his kennel.  Meanwhile, I continued typing with my free hand to finish up that Windows profile.  Staff and facilities showed up again, and started brainingstorming ways to keep such a small tyke in the area where he needs to stay.

I overheard the staff say that they were glad they'd already tested all those incoming puppies.  I'm just happy to report that I don't have ringworm.  The incoming puppy had spent several minutes licking my face while I held him at the computer desk.  I should be more careful, but he was just too cute to resist.  :)

How to help:  We're still many weeks away from our annual fundraiser, but I'll make an early notice here.  The I.T. staff have formed our own little team on the webpage for online fundraising.  Here are the links to my page and to our team page.  Contributions benefit only my organization.  I'll work in future issues on thinking of suggestions that can work for people to help their local group, wherever they happen to be.

mellowtigger: (Default)
One thing I forgot to mention in the weekend lineups for May here in Minnesota. There's the annual plant sale for the local Quaker school. I've gone for several years. It used to be small enough that they had it right there on the grounds of the school. In recent years, though, it's expanded so much that now it's at the state fairgrounds. I noticed that this year they expanded some more and had a fenced off area outside the building. The Friends plant sale expects to raise more than a million dollars.

And the email I got from last week's Walk fundraising...
7,700 people and 3,300 pets participated in the Golden Valley and St. Paul Walk for Animals. Together we raised more than $1 million for the animals - making it the largest animal walk in the country. Thank you!
So why isn't the autism society raking in this kind of dough? We're in the news more than either of these other groups. We're supposed to be an "epidemic", aren't we? But the office space isn't large enough for the groups who want to meet there. We have to worry about $3000 to have the autism retreat. Where's our million bucks?

So what could the local autism society do to raise money in an annual event? "Walks" are overdone at this point, so we need a different idea. Elsewhere in the U.S. they have a motorcycle ride. That's a bit too specifiic though. Like the golf event locally, or their horse race event.  What if we found a few city blocks to beautify and we planted them with something that bloomed at a particular time consistently, then we had a plant sale there or a walk around the block or... something quiet that would still interest individuals and families to get them to come out and/or donate?  Even a bubble-blowing day in the park or something!

Any other ideas? I could try to talk some of the locals into organizing it. Even if it started only as a fundraiser for the NoLAR conference.  If we ever raised more than $3000, then we could start funding the children's events and even the autism society itself.  They need more office space, more meeting space, more library space, and more than one psychologist on staff.

Any suggestions?
mellowtigger: (Default)
Minneapolis in May is very predictable. The snow is finally gone, the weather is consistently warm, and everyone's been cooped up inside for too many months with lots of pent up energy waiting to be unleashed. So we walk. We walk each weekend, rain or shine, with fundraisers for various charitable organizations.

It's this same lineup every year, though I'm probably forgetting some other prominent fundraisers. This year, I'll be participating in the "Walk for Animals" in Golden Valley. (There's another event at the St. Paul shelter for those on the other side of the Mississippi River.)

weekend 1: Animal Humane Society and multiple sclerosis research
weekend 2: Susan G Komen breast cancer research
weekend 3: Minnesota AIDS Project
weekend 4: American Heart Association

I'm very low key about this stuff. Mostly I do it just to have fun with my own contribution, not to coerce other people into handing over their wallets. *grin* Considering the state of the economy, I'm assuming that most people are on budgets as restricted as my own. But, if anyone has money to burn, consider burning it in honor of one of the above charities that try to make the world a little bit better. If you'd like to use it for the non-human critters, I've created my personal webpage with the fundraiser. You can donate online via credit card. You can make your donation anonymous too, which I like, since I'm certainly not doing this project as a contest.

MellowTigger's donation page (aka Terry Walker)

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