A Formidable Opponent

For the last 2 months, I have been battling an ever-increasing flea population in my apartment, due to Wednesday the Cat’s tendency to try to run out of the apartment every time I open the door, even though she’s an indoor cat. Over this period of time, I have come to the conclusion that fleas are terrible house guests. These tiny critters have been harassing and snacking on me and my furry friend, fornicating on my bathroom floor, laying their eggs on my furniture (including my bed), and hatching into gross-looking larvae who will grow up to repeat the process. Something had to be done.

The first flea I saw was in my bathroom, leaping around on the rug, probably confused about why it was furry but contained no blood. Never fear – my cat was sitting close by to provide a nutritious flea breakfast. After I saw this first intruder, I applied a tube of flea repellent to Wednesday’s back. I saw no evidence of flea activity for a couple of weeks, but then I started seeing little black and white specks on some of the furniture. I was uncertain as to what it was, but I had my suspicions, so I Googled “flea eggs.” Sure enough, they were described as black and white specks that resembled salt and pepper – the eggs were white and the black stuff was dried blood for the larvae to feed on when they hatched (lovely). “Time for more drastic measures,” I thought to myself. I went to Walmart and bought a can of carpet powder. You sprinkle it on the floor, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then vacuum it up. I managed to make that one can stretch for my whole apartment, except for half of the living room. I waited a few days, and continued to see fleas and their eggs. Now I was frustrated. I went back to Wally World, bought 2 cans of the carpet powder, a can of spray for the furniture, and powder to go on Wednesday. I used both cans of carpet powder, sprayed the furniture, and powdered the cat. The fleas continued to thrive, and now I was mad.

The thing about fleas is that they are remarkably well-adapted to irritate you. They are tiny and hard to see, so they can crawl up into the cracks in your floor, underneath your furniture, and just about anywhere else so that you cannot get to them to snuff them out. Females can lay between 8,000 and 20,000 eggs in her lifetime (I know these are wildly different numbers, but that’s what you get when searching the interwebs for information), which means that there will always be thousands more of them than there are of you. Also, if you kill 4 or 5, there will be 6384758034593 more to take their place. They can jump 6 feet into the air, which means they can end up on surfaces in your home that they otherwise would not visit. They are thin and flat, which makes them “furrodynamic” – if you watch them move around on your pet, it looks like they are “swimming” through their fur. It is truly disgusting and frightening to watch. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about fleas is that they are hard to squish. If you see an ant crawling on you, or a mosquito taking a drink from your coronary rivers, you can just smack them and it kills them. But no – not the flea. The flea, like the tick, has a hard exoskeleton, so slapping it will not kill it. You have to physically tear it in half or squish/cut it with your nails. The only way they could possibly me more frustrating is if they could swim. Fortunately, they cannot, so you can drown them if you pull them off your pet or yourself.

Armed with this information, I decided that I could not defeat these monsters alone, so I called in the cavalry. The exterminator came out today to spray my home. I gave Wednesday a Capstar pill this morning, which kills all the fleas on the animal within 4-6 hours. It lasts only for 24 hours, so I took her to the vet to board her for the night (so she doesn’t have to breathe the chemicals here) and I asked them to put her on Advantage. Hopefully, my home will be flea-free again in about a week. Good riddance.

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Don’t Let Me Down, Rand!

Dear Rand Paul,

Ok, so I’m not a Kentucky resident, but I live close enough to the KY border that I’ve begun following Kentucky politics as well as politics in my new home state of Tennessee. I’m pretty psyched about your win for the Republican primary today, because I like your dad (Ron Paul) and from what I’ve heard from and about YOU, I like you too. I listened to your victory speech, and your rhetoric seemed pretty much on point with what I wanted to hear. Now all I can do is pray that you stick to what you said and that you don’t get pulled in by the undertow of corruption and lack of principles in the political world. Stay faithful to your wife, don’t vote for a bunch of crap-filled bills, don’t vote for unnecessary spending, and do your best to further the causes of liberty and freedom. That’s all I ask from my political leaders. We as a nation are counting on you and other like-minded politicians to pull us back from the edge of financial ruin. I look forward to following your career. Please, please, PLEASE don’t let me down.

Sincerely,
A Tennatucky Sheep

PS: Your choice of “The Spirit of Radio” by Rush as your pre-victory speech song gives me faith that you are, in fact, as awesome as I think you are.

The Biggest Lie in Politics

I’m going to let you in on a secret: The biggest lie in politics is not “I didn’t inhale,” or “I am not a crook,” or even “No new taxes.” No, the biggest lie in politics is this: “I misspoke.” Whenever a politician is confronted by evidence of them contradicting themselves, they immediately back track, apologize, and mumble “I misspoke” or “I was misunderstood.” The newest politician to join the “Club of Misspeaking Political Figures” is Richard Blumenthal, Democratic Attorney General from Connecticut, who on several occasions alluded to his service in the Vietnam War (excuse me – the Vietnam Police Action). He discussed his treatment when he returned from overseas, and he talked in general about his “service in Vietnam.” The reality is that Mr. Blumenthal never went to Vietnam. He was a reservist who received 5 deferments and never set foot in the jungle, though he did join the Marine Corps voluntarily in 1970. After this was brought to light, the shame-faced Attorney General had to back-paddle and stammer out the requisite apology, complete with the obligatory, “I misspoke.” He said that instead of saying “I served IN Vietnam,” he meant to say “I served DURING Vietnam.” There’s a pretty big difference between those two prepositions. The impact of his “misstatement” on his political career will continue to reveal itself over the next few weeks.

Politicians pull this kind of thing all the time – they exaggerate, embellish, and downright lie about their military service to make themselves look more patriotic and more qualified. John Kerry did it, George W. Bush may have done it, and now Richard Blumenthal is doing it. This is not only misleading, it is downright disrespectful to those who DO face real danger and who DO serve overseas. As an army wife whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan, I cannot tolerate this kind of disrespect for our service-members from those who are supposed to be upholding our laws and maintaining order. It is a slap in the face to our soldiers and their families that belittles their service and sacrifice. Politicians, from either party, who are found to have “misspoke” about their military service to our country will NOT receive my vote. The simple fact is that Mr. Blumenthal did not “misspeak.” He LIED – and that is a far greater offense.

Pass me the pokers, please

So here are a list of things from the past week that make me want to stab hot pokers into my eardrums:

1. The Prez basically telling a group of college graduates that information from many sources can be distracting. Why the eff would you tell people that? You’re supposed to give some kind of speech about being lifelong learners, not encouraging them to focus solely on one or two sources of information. That defeats the purpose of going to college! What if researchers only used a couple of sources when writing a paper, an article, or a book? They would be leaving out tons of information and doing a disservice to those who rely on their research.

2. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is not a judge. How can you nominate someone to the HIGHEST COURT IN THE LAND with NO EXPERIENCE as a judge?! This is a dumb move, regardless of political party. Also, why is everyone so concerned with whether or not she’s a lesbian? Why is THAT our concern, instead of her lack of judgehood (judgeship? judge-ery? judge-iness?)? Obama and media, you’re both killing me here.

3. The tendency of women’s/fashion magazines to abbreviate words that do not need to be abbreviated. Examples of this include “vacay” (“vacation”, the least offensive of these), “delish” (instead of “delicious,”) and “gorge” (instead of “gorgeous” – makes my ears bleed). NO ONE talks like that. If someone came up to me and told me about this “gorge” beach they stayed at on their “vacay” and all the “delish” food they had there, I would punch them in the jugular.

*Sigh.* You may return to your lives now. I’m done ranting.

White Flight Fight

Today I was skimming through the articles on Yahoo!’s front page, when I came across this article about a new kind of “white flight.” The article talks about how young professional white kids are moving from the suburbs to the cities in pursuit of higher-paying jobs and short commutes. This got me thinking about the term “white flight.” Historians originally used this term to describe the mass movement of white families from cities into the suburbs from the 1940s-1960s. When you learn about this phenomenon in school, you are generally taught that white people are racist bastards who didn’t want to rub elbows with kindly immigrants and benevolent black folks, so they all packed up their stuff, hopped in their Ford, and sojourned to the suburbs. In part, this may have been true, but I think there was more to it than that. Cities (especially in the earlier part of the Twentieth Century) were not nice places. They smelled bad, the housing was often cheaply built and unsafe, and there was a lot of crime – come to think of it, this doesn’t sound much different from today. At any rate, many of the white people who lived in these cities realized that they had enough money to move to a better location – somewhere cleaner, healthier, and safer for their children. I do not think that they were all motivated by fear and hatred of minorities and immigrants, it’s just that many of these people came from families who had been here several generations and who had saved up enough money and improved their station enough to be able to get out of the cities. Recent immigrants could not get out of the pestilence-filled urban areas because they simply were not well-enough established yet. They had not yet saved up enough money, and they likely didn’t speak a lot of English, making it difficult to find higher-paying skilled labor jobs. The descendants of these immigrants likely fled the skeeziness of the inner city two or three generations later. African-Americans had difficulty leaving during this time because of the evils of segregation – they were given low-paying jobs and inferior housing, which meant that they did not have the resources to flee the cities either. Again, over time, more African-Americans have moved out of the cities and into suburbs.

This new type of “white flight” talked about in the article seems to have the same motives as the old type, minus any underlying or outright racism. There are more jobs in urban areas because that is where the major financial & business centers reside. In addition to the jobs, the social scene is often geared towards young, liberal white people. Have you ever read the blog “Stuff White People Like?” The majority of that stuff can be found in large urban areas, thereby making them appealing places for educated white folks. Many of these same activities do not appeal to people of other races, mainly because they are not crazy and do not like to freely waste money. I highly doubt racism has anything to do with this round of “white flight,” as young, liberal white people are the most likely to proclaim their love of diversity and people of other cultures.

In light of the new and enlightened form of “white flight” I would like to propose we change the name. “White flight” sounds racist. It sounds like white people fleeing in terror under the cover of night because of their xenophobic fears. It also gives white people more importance than we probably deserve. This term only specifies the whereabouts of white people, ignoring the geographic locations of people of other races. The article talks, conversely, about “bright flight” (which, I think, is deceptive, because it refers to people of all colors other than white, but have you ever seen a group of pale white kids in the sun? It’s BLINDING), which I don’t recall ever learning about. It just seems racist to use this term which puts so much attention on where white people live, as if we’re the only ones who matter (which, of course, we are not).

A Historical Irony

Warning: This post contains nerdy content and may be unsuitable for non-nerds.

In my quest for ever-increasing knowledge & nerdiness, I have undertaken the task of trying to read one book for each letter of the alphabet, twice. I am doing the A-Z Author’s Challenge (one book for each letter of the alphabet, by author’s last name) and the A-Z Title Challenge (the same, but with the titles of the book instead). I am doing this in no particular order, and I’ve completed some of the letters of the author side & some of the letters on the title side. For my “I” titled book, I chose “In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage” by John Earl Haynes & Harvey Klehr. This book discusses the tendency of “revisionist” (read: radically left-wing) historians to downplay the role of Communism in American life before and during the Cold War, even in the face of damning evidence. They insist on the innocence of Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, and other high-profile Americans who spied for the Soviet Union, fabricating wild scenarios that could not have happened, based on well-documented evidence and testimonies from other spies who defected or turned themselves in. They also insist that the Communist Part of the United States of America (CPUSA) was an independent agent that was not affiliated with or controlled by the Soviet Union, even though documents from the briefly-opened archives from Soviet Russia indicate that the USSR had considerable sway over the CPUSA and its members. They delude themselves (and, even worse, students, researchers, and others who rely on them to be accurate in their studies) with these fantasies because they sympathize with Communism. They WANT communism to work, even though it has not and cannot. They believe that the death of millions of people at Stalin’s hand were simply unfortunate collateral, necessary to bring about the Glorious Soviet Future, where workers of the world have united and are busy ruling the world via the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. They confuse what they WANT to be true with what is ACTUALLY true.

The book is a very interesting read (if you like history and are interested in the Cold War era – if these characteristics do not apply to you, you will find it mind-numbingly dull) – very informative, and makes many good points. I noticed, however, that Haynes and Klehr left out one rather ironic point. Under any dictatorship, Communist dictatorships included, the intellectuals are the first to be executed. Anyone who is educated enough to object to a rule of terror or political purges is immediately liquidated so they do not pose future problems. You can find this same story in every single Communist revolution that has happened during the Twentieth Century: Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao Tse-Tung’s China, Castro’s Cuba, & Pol Pot’s Cambodia – all of these dictators executed or exiled the intellectuals to prevent them from posing a threat to their newly established regime. My question, then, is this: Why would historians – intellectuals and teachers – SUPPORT the ideology of communism and the regimes that it has spawned, knowing that these regimes have, without exception, killed off the intellectual class? This seems like a literal death wish, and I cannot understand how a rational human being would defend and advocate for the same kind of government in their own nations. If anyone has the answer to this, please put it in the comments on this entry.

The Great Flood of 2010

Today I went out and did a little surveying of the damage caused by the flood here in Clarksville, and it is indeed impressive, in a terrifying way. Normally harmless little ponds have grown into home-destroying monsters. The usually narrow Cumberland River has overtaken not only the Riverwalk, but Riverside Drive and several business and parking lots on the other side of the road. Dozens of roads have been shut down, and dozens (if not hundreds) of homes and businesses have been, if not totally destroyed, then at least damaged – from leaking roofs to total flooding.

Two things struck me about this experience. The first is that as humans, we sometimes forget the awesome power that Mother Nature possesses, and how quickly she can unleash that power without warning. Last night, I drove down Riverside, and only the Riverwalk was underwater. In just 12 short hours (probably less), the whole road was covered and businesses were being evacuated and shut down. In Nashville, one of the city’s historic landmarks, the Opryland Hotel, is being occupied by 8-10 feet of standing water. We had little, if any, warning about what was going to happen. Since this rain was not part of a hurricane, we suspected nothing – but in just 2 short days, we accumulated 14 inches of rain. The sewage treatment plant has been shut down, which means that raw sewage will soon be pouring into the Cumberland. Since everyone gets their drinking water from the Cumberland, people are concerned about the safety of the drinking water. We have been assured that the water quality is fine, but I don’t know how much I trust that pronouncement. All the flooding has caused millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, roads, and government buildings, most of which has yet to even be assessed because the waters are still rising slightly. It may be a couple of weeks before insurance companies can come in and assess the damage.

The second thing that stood out to me about this flood is how easily people went on about their daily lives. We are using detours to get around flooded roads. We are going to the grocery store, to work, to look at the damage on Riverside, and to go and do other everyday things. For the people whose homes and businesses were not affected, it is so easy for us to underestimate the extent of the flood damage and to ignore or overlook the sorrow that this has surely caused many people who have lost all their worldly possessions, or worse, loved ones. It is important for us to not forget these people – to pray for them, to keep them in our thoughts, and to volunteer to help them if we are able.

The local paper, The Leaf-Chronicle, has posted a gallery of photos that show the damage on Riverside. Indeed a powerful reminder of how fragile we are in the face of natural disasters. This is a link to it: