Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Big George

From time to time you may have seen me mention my cat, Big George, here on the blog. George, who's about 11 or 12 years old, is mostly Maine Coone, and a great cat. But today I have some bad news about George. He'd been having bad diarrhea for several nights (and not in his litter box), so we took him in to the vet yesterday.

In checking him out, the doctor felt a lump in George's abdomen and so he took a couple of x-rays that showed a "mass" pushing against his small intestine causing both problems (loose stool and loss of control).

Today we went back for an ultra-sound and needle aspiration. We're still waiting another day for the official lab results, but we're now pretty certain that it's some sort of lymphoma or lympho-carcinoma.

Untreated, this type of cancer in cats moves very quickly, and he could be gone within a month. With treatment, depending on how aggressive, he could have six months to a year. There's no surgery available for this, and the drugs and kitty-chemo cannot cure it, but they can make him comfortable to enjoy at least a few more good months.

Our next appointment is with the oncology specialist at a different vet office (just like for humans, moving from the GP to getting a referral for the specialist). That will be Monday afternoon, after we have the results from all of this morning's tests.

And now I realize that I should have taken the idea of pet health insurance far more seriously than I previously had.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Carnival of the Decline of American Democracy - Edition 3.06

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of [American] Democracy, Edition 3.06 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away. Special "Never Say Never" Edition.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Yeah, it was just a month ago when I said I was giving up doing the carnival - at least for a while - but you people keep sending me blog entries to include! So, here we go again....

CPD gets us going in a grand way with On Silencing Dissent: National Awareness and Dismissing the Idea of Impeachment posted at We Op-Ed.

Leon Gettler looks at the issue of transparency in corporate political backers in Directors and donations posted at Sox First.

Collin Williams takes another long look at the Patriot Act, and how it has worked to destroy democracy, in All in the name of patriotism posted at

And Madeleine Begun Kane wraps things up with a bit of humor in Presidential Election Blues posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Information on future carnivals (should there be one) will be found on the carnival home page or on this blog. That's it for today.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Free Business Cards for Bloggers

Do you blog? Do want everybody to know about it?

Then get on over to and get your free blogger business cards! (Also available, free FaceBook and business cards). The attached image is a sample of what your card could look like.

Of course, if you want a real business card, it'll cost you, but these little give-aways are a great promotional device for them, and maybe for you too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mudcrutch Rocks the House in Santa Cruz

I'm up early 'cause I just couldn't sleep, and the song running through my head at top volume is I Don't Scare Easy - the first single from the re-formed Mudcrutch, who we saw last night at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

Who's Mudcrutch, you ask? They were a band from Gainesville, Florida, in the early '70s, who came out to Los Angeles seeking fame and fortune, then promptly broke up just as they got a record deal. The remains of the band met up with some other old Florida friends and started recording under the name "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers." TP & company have had a few hits over the years, but the legend of Mudcrutch has lived on.

This past year, after a 35 year break, members of the original Mudcrutch reunited and finally recorded that first album (to be released shortly) and have set out on a two-week "World Tour" that goes all the way from Malibu to San Francisco, then down through Santa Barbara to inland of San Diego, and finally winds up with a week at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Okay, so maybe a short trip up and down the California coast doesn't sound like much of a world tour, but the t-shirt I bought says it's a world tour, so I'm sticking to that story.

So, who's in the band: Tom Petty (bass, vocals), Tom Leadon (guitar, vocals), Mike Campbell (guitar, mandolin), Benmont Tench (keyboards, vocals), and Randall Marsh (drums).

Tom Petty is certainly still the star of the show, but this is NOT a Heartbreakers tour, and TP shares songwriting and lead vocal duties with his bandmates quite handily. Most prominent among those singing-writing bandmates is Tom Leadon, who also challenges Heartbreaker extraordinaire, Mike Campbell, for dominance on lead guitar. Mike and Tom (L) traded licks throughout the evening to the crowds delight.

Mudcrutch took to the stage at 8:15, without any opening act to warm up the crowd (wasn't needed), and went right into Shady Grove, the new CD's opening track. The 90 minute (plus) seemed to take us through the entire disc, including Orphan Of The Storm, Six Days On The Road, This Is A Good Street (featuring Benmont Tench), The Wrong Thing To Do, Queen Of The Go-Go Girls, Topanga Cowgirl, Bootleg Flyer, Lover Of The Bayou, June Apple, the previously mentioned Scare Easy,and TP's latest masterpiece, Crystal River, which featured some of Mike Campbell's best guitar work.

A couple of those songs might be familiar to you as old country or bluegrass standards, but they all rocked the house. Mudcrutch filled out the set with some of the other favorites they used to perform on the Gainesville bar scene 35+ years ago, including a couple of excellent Dylan covers, Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine, and the show's finale, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 ("everybody must get stoned"). Encores included a classic version of Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues to rival the Who's famous cover.

And, yeah, you didn't hear me listing American Girl or Free Fallin' or any other Tom Petty and/or the Heartbreakers songs. And, believe me, they were not missed. Mudcrutch is a different animal than the Heartbreakers and to hear those songs would have been out-of-place and awkward, even if three out of five musicians are the same. I'm sure the show promoters would have preferred those songs be included, and that the show were listed as "Tom Petty and Mudcrutch" but the correct decision was to leave the last 35 years out.

I've been a fan of Tom Petty pretty much from the start of his recording career, and have seen him in concert many times before (including the best show ever: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and the Heartbreakers). But this was one of the best shows yet. Seeing him not as rock-star/headliner, but as the greatest bar band from Florida, just having fun and rocking out in a smaller venue (the Santa Cruz Civic is smaller than most High School gymnasiums), brought back the magic, power, and immediacy of what American Rock and Roll is all about.

Official Mudcrutch site:
Tour & CD info & short article about reunion
Tom Leadon bio on wikipedia

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Walking for Early Literacy

On Saturday May 10 I will be taking part in the Human Race, a fundraising event for Silicon Valley nonprofit organizations. I will be doing the 5K walk to raise funds for Grail Family Services (GFS), an organization in East San Jose that I have been working with as a consultant for a little over a year now. And, of course, I'm asking for your support - Click here if you can pledge any amount of money to help our efforts.

GFS "fosters learning and the empowerment of vulnerable families with young children through the delivery of programs that educate, develop leadership skills, and build a sense of community." All GFS programs target parents and their young children ages 0-9, and are designed with community input to address the issues most important to the neighborhood. This approach enriches the child, as well as the parent, and helps them each on the path to success in school, in work, and in life.

Your sponsorship of my Human Race participation could mean:
  • $25 – five new books for the GFS Children's Library.
  • $50 – developmentally appropriate toys for GFS' child care program.
  • $100 – case management services for one parent.
  • $250 – four weeks of subsidized child care services for one low-income toddler.
  • $1,000 – eight weeks of literacy services to boost the reading skills of one child.
If you can help out, click here - And thank you for your support!

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