Ten things Dog People just don’t get about Cat People

kitten2

Time to talk about cats and dogs, literally.

There is a ton of merchandise aimed towards “dog people.”  Much of the advertising is geared towards dog lovers and, with a few exceptions, most dog lovers are not cat lovers.  This is not to say they would wish harm upon someone’s beloved feline, but they simply don’t get the hype around our furry friends.

Well, that concept cuts both ways.  Being a cat parent for the better part of almost 20 years now, I feel comfortable with this list of ten things dog people just don’t get about cat people (apologies in advance to those who love both dogs AND cats…y’all can sit this one out):

  1. We are free thinkers. Cat people tend to express themselves more willingly and with less regard for what others think.  Like our feline friends, we use both verbal and nonverbal cues to get our point across, and we are not afraid to tell you what we think, unless we believe it won’t serve our purposes.
  2. Our politics aren’t (no pun intended) dogmatic. Most all the cat people I know tend to be very open minded, politically speaking.  Morally is another matter, but as far as politics go, cat people tend to examine the issues on the merits, rather than through an ideological lens.
  3. We are proud to spend a ridiculous amount of money on our babies, but we don’t brag about it. Cat people will talk about their friends, but they tend to avoid talking about the items we buy.  It’s easy to talk about how you buy Spot or Fido that designer leash or collar or the super-premium food made from fresh meat, but a ultra-premium scratching post or automated litter pan just doesn’t have the same appeal to it.
  4. We love how our kitties take care of themselves. Yes, walking a dog is fun and enjoyable, but direct contact with a “number two” just doesn’t appeal to us.  We’d much rather Sweetie or Mittens do her business out of sight, and we deal with either through a use of a scooper, or pouring said refuse straight into a plastic bag in its entirety.  The less muss, the less fuss, and that’s how we like it.
  5. Health issues are harder on us. Unlike a dog, a cat tends to mask its medical issues through subtle changes in behavior.  A dog cries…a cat…purrs?  That’s right, that little hum in their throat isn’t just an indicator of pleasure, cats use it to self-medicate or indicate trouble in Denmark.  The problem is, with a thorough medical evaluation, most cat ailments go undiagnosed.  Puppy, on the other hand, will often show obvious signs of distress, giving time to get him to the vet.
  6. You can adopt a dog, but a cat has to adopt you. This is where so many dog owners who decide to venture down the feline road go wrong.  If you go to a shelter and just pick a cat, you are making a mistake.  Kitty needs to come to you.  When that happens, and the bond is established, the cat has said “I like you…you are mine…I would like to go home now!”  A dog will say “oh boy!  You picked me!  You picked me!”
  7. We are patient because our friends show affection on their schedule. Sometimes dog owners are offended when their fuzzy buddies don’t shower them in puppy kisses.  Cat people tend to cherish each and every lick, nuzzle and snuggle because it often comes in bits and pieces.  Rejection, for a cat person, is part of the basic job description.
  8. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. Cat people, by our nature, are usually more emotional and sensitive than dog people are, and that is by design.  Our furry friends pick up on our emotions readily and, when they sense something is amiss, we get our nuzzles and snuggles.  As any cat owner who has suffered a breakup; within minutes of getting home, Snuggles is up next to you, trying to cheer you up.
  9. We get tired of hearing all the ignorant statements about cats. First, a female mother cat is not a “bitch,” she’s a “queen.”  The male father cat is called the “Tom.”  A grouping of cats together is called a “Clowder,” not a pack.  Cats are not bred in kennels, they are raised in “catteries.”  Cats are not pack animals – they are social, yet independent.  It does get old after a while.
  10. We understand the unique diseases cats suffer, and they can be devastating. To so many  of us, the sight of a kitten dying from Feline Infection Peritonitis (FIP) is soul crushing.  Just as much so for FIV (feline AIDS), Feline Leukemia and many other diseases.  Dogs have their share of terminal diseases, but there have been many more advancements in veterinary research as far as dogs are concerned.  Cats, sadly, still get the short end of the medical stick in many ways.

So, there you have it!  It’s easy to be a dog person in so many ways.  Being a cat person requires a certain personality type, and that type must be willing to put up with what cats expect because, let’s face it, it really is a cat’s world.

Please forgive the silliness, but naMEOWste!

Why we Gen X/Yer’s need to get over the Baby Boomers’ errors, and quickly

Time_Magazine_Cover_Generation_X

A recent study listed the seven things the middle class can no longer afford, including dental work, medical care, new cars, and retirement savings.  Most of this stuff has become unaffordable to Gen X/Yers and, consequently, has us blaming the Baby Boomer generation, accusing them of mass selfishness and vapidity.  That, however, is not entirely fair.  We, as a generation, need to look in the mirror.  Here are some things we are blaming the Boomers for, and why we need to get over ourselves rather quickly.

ISSUE:  Vanishing retirement opportunities

Why we are blaming boomers:  This is an easy blame assignment; they frittered away our economy with selfish entitlement attitudes and the notion that Wall Street was one massive casino where the “house money” was theirs to do with as they pleased.  Now, the belief is that they should be to work as long as they want, reinvent themselves, and that they can “find themselves” again in their own retirement.  There is a pervasive attitude among many of them that Gen X/Yers are there to serve them, and that we can essentially take a flying leap about our own concerns.

Why we need to get over ourselves:  Nobody ever really gave our generation anything, so we need to focus on what we are best at – caring about something greater than ourselves.  Our is the generation which isn’t afraid to jump into the water without looking.  While we are used to being considered chumps by Wall Street, Washington and Hollywood, we are way stronger than Boomers for one reason – we aren’t afraid of swinging on the thousand foot tall trapeze of life without a net.  We are quite adept at keeping the gears moving and, when everyone else screws the pooch, coming in to save the day (again, and again, and again!)

ISSUE:  Social Darwinism on the rise

Why we are blaming boomers:  Boomers, and their millennial progeny, have many cliques which subscribe to the notion that, because they are cagier, more wiley, and more willing to be downright narcissistic, they are entitled to the spoils of victory, however ill-gotten those are.  Those in the extreme strata of wealth and power have begun to instill this attitude in their own offspring, and the political classes, especially, have been cited as doing this.  This was created a new generation of “trust fund babies” who consider a hard day’s work as “finding themselves.”

Why we need to get over ourselves:  Gen X/Yers are no stranger to the “we’re better than you,” mentality – even we have our share of darwinists who need to have their egos busted.   As we have been humbled, we’ve improved, and that humility will continue to serve our generation well, and it’s what will redefine us as the generation which not only saves the day, but saves the world from, well, itself.

ISSUE:  Millenials lauded as the next “Greatest Generation”

Why we are blaming boomers:  Most of Madison Ave., Wall Street, DC, and Hollywood is run by Baby Boomers now, so the association between their generation and the declaration that Millenials are better than Gen X/Yers is easy to see.  We are shoved aside because we were once viewed as slackers who now talk back, disagree, question everything, and aren’t good little boys and girls when it comes to getting lockstep behind political leaders about ideological issues.  In other words, we are the “gutless wonders” who Boomers in political power now talk about.  Don’t forget, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Hillary Clinton, Chris Matthews, et al, are all Boomers!

Why we need to get over ourselves:  Everything which drives Boomers crazy about us is our core strength, and it all flows from one quality – we think for ourselves.  Critical analysis, questioning everything, and being able to actually put together a cohesive argument is what is going to make our generation one of elder statesmen WAY before our time.  Listen, fellow X/Yers:  get ready, and used to, being looked to for advice, support, wisdom and real leadership – unless these generations get their act together, that’s our destiny.

ISSUE:  The National Debt

Why we are blaming boomers:  Who else is there to blame?  Medicare, Social Security, pension guarantees, robbing the treasuries of these programs to pay for pet projects…these are all under the purview of retiring boomers who believe since “they worked for it,” they are owed it.  The government, of course, is not going to bite the hand that feeds them with votes.

Why we need to get over ourselves:  WE AREN’T VOTING!  We don’t want to tackle the hard issues.  Does this mean we need to privatize everything?  Absolutely not!  What we need to do, as a generation, is root out the systemic corruption which started at the outset, was watered by the Boomers, and enabled by ourselves and Millenials.  We are known for flying by the seat of our pants, and somehow making it work.  We must employ this attitude in everything we do when it comes to devising solutions.  We are as guilty of this stupidity as anyone and until we become determined to simply step into our and do what we do best – flip the bird at Boomers and do it “our way” – this crap will continue.

Here’s what it all comes down to, fellow X/Yers – nobody is going to give is anything, period.  Millenials, and those who come after them, will be looking to us for leadership and vision after they make a billion wrong turns on their collective walkabout.  Baby Boomers are still on this walkabout, but that’s merely because they themselves were enabled by a culture which said “if it feels good, do it.”  Time Magazine contributor Sara Robinson, in a April 2014 piece, put it in an extremely elegant way.

“X’s job will be to translate those utopian Boomer visions into something that will actually work on the ground — and to make sure it all works right the first time, because there will be no second chances.”

While ours was the generation was the one which grew up with the ebb of the space program, the rise of AIDS, and the spectre of nuclear holocaust, it was also the one which can take the world we live in and, through noble and wise leadership, can truly become the generation which takes command, leads and guides and, most importantly, nurses the world back to health for future generations.  We may even (gasp!) be able to impart some of our own wisdom and calculated risk-taking attitudes on said posterity.

So, Gen X/Yers, consider this our clarion call – let’s get over ourselves, and do what we do best:  renew, restore, and rebuild.

Great (and not so serious) reasons to bring back Florida’s colored highway signs.

It's like skittles, only it tastes like metal instead of fruit flavors!
It’s like skittles, only it tastes like metal instead of fruit flavors!

It’s been over 20 years since Florida’s last “Kodachrome” U.S. highway shield sign was produced.  In that time, the Sunshine State has slowly moved to the standard, black-and-white design that other states mostly use (California, among other states, still retains some classic-looking shields).

That said, here are some great (and serious) reasons for Florida to return to the color-coded U.S. Highway Shields it was once known for:

  • U.S. Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 19 both use the same red/orange (depending on degree of fade) on white design, and they hug opposite ends of the state.
  • U.S. 92 uses a blue on white design and hugs the I-4 corridor, which contains notoriously “blue” areas, politically speaking.
  • U.S. Highway 27, which uses a green on white design, runs through some of the most pristine country in the state, and its sign would make a perfect environmental ad “Keep U.S. 27 Green!”
  • U.S. Highway 90, which uses the same design as U.S. 92, is a great example of ironic roadgeek humor in that runs through some of the “reddest” parts of Florida’s political landscape:  the panhandle, along I-10 to Jacksonville, a major port city and home to Mayport Naval Base.
  • All three of the “brown” signs, highways 129, 221, and 441, are all three digit variants of their two-digit parent highways.
Driving Florida U.S. Highways and finding signs like these are like hitting a bullet, with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse!
Driving Florida U.S. Highways and finding signs like these are like hitting a bullet, with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse!

And of course, the not so serious…

  • Palm Beach County voters could use color coded highways again!
  • Pasco County residents would have signs for target practice!
  • The Miami Marlins could tie the multicolored signs into marketing promotions for their baseball team, somehow…not quite sure how it would figure.
  • It would make Google Maps go crazy trying to match the highway colors on their website.
  • The Florida General Assembly could get businesses to put up “Sponsored by” signs to generate income (not like they aren’t already used to this sort of business model…Rick Scott?)
  • It would make a great new marketing slogan – “Now even more colorful!”
  • Skittles could do an ad in Florida, and use the signs – taste the rainbow…drive the rainbow?
  • Tourists don’t seem to understand the signs anyway, so why not make it a game and make them lighted – Simon Sez Turn Onto to the Lighting Blue Highway of Mouse Eared Doom.
  • The governor who promises to bring these shields back would win the roadgeek vote, which is critical to victory or, at the very least, reduced risk of roadgeek associated road rage!

If you like this article (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good roadgeek blog?), check out my website, www.getinjohnshead.com and my novel, “A 38 Day Education,” available on Amazon.com

When is 1 greater than 5?  When it's a Kodachrome Highway Sign, of course!
When is 1 greater than 5? When it’s a Kodachrome Highway Sign, of course!

A 5 Minute Rant that’s sure to offend someone

Please indulge me this rant…it should take about five minutes to write.

I am so very tired of people telling non-college grads who they should be, why they aren’t successful, or that they aren’t worth a crap.  Yes, we aren’t the brightest bulbs in the shop sometimes, but I can assure you I’ve been around far more of my fair share of college grads who are dimmer than the bulb you put in a 20 year old refrigerator.  We aren’t the worst employees or professionals to grace the universe, and many of us college dropouts are actually doing better work than our graduated counterparts because we work harder, faster and more efficiently.  Why?  Simply – we have something to prove.  See how much the Business School grad whose daddy or mommy got them their job has to prove – my guess is “not very much.”

Now, on the subject of jobs, here’s something else that’s been annoying the crap out of me.  There is nothing wrong with working in retail!  A lot of hiring professionals think that retail is a “dead end” profession, that nobody in retail is worth a chance on.  That is the biggest horse turd I’ve ever heard of.  At last check, a lot of retail jobs are what our civilization is built on.  Are you going to tell the retail manager who works 50-70 hours a week, most holidays, often overnights and dealing with grouchy customers, unreliable employees, and oftentimes ridiculous expectations from higher ups are any less suited for a white-collar job than say, a green college graduate who’s idea of a hard day at work is five classes, a 30-hour a week job somewhere, and binge drinking on Thursdays and Saturdays?  I somehow doubt that.

Last but not least, here’s something everyone who is in the more monied class should consider – your lifestyle is made possible by the very people you turn your nose up at.  Yes, that’s right – the servers, maids, cooks, trash collectors, and “dirty job” folks aren’t just part of a class of people a TV show is based on.  Your lifestyle comes because many people are willing to do the jobs you simply aren’t.  Take a selfie of a paystub from the Department of Sanitation, a local fast food dive, or your grocery store, and post it!  At that very moment, you can claim a sense of being able to relate.  Until that time, leave the social darwinism at your house door and, when you walk into the fresh air and the world that 99 percent of live in, at least try to fake some courtesy!  Yes, we know money can help buy happiness, but your smugness is officially beyond old…it’s a moldy, Jurassic-era fossil.  Hell, maybe you can solve the national energy crisis by filling your vehicles with self-righteous indignation towards others!  There’s a concept!

Okay…five minutes is up.  I’m sure I offended someone but, considering that kind of day I’m having, I really could give a flying —- less!

Some election recommendations for Florida and Georgia

There are just a few weeks left to the election, and I’m going to do something that, in 20 years of writing opinion pieces, I’ve never once done – make recommendations.  These suggestions are not based on anything other than the evidence I’ve seen presented by the candidates.  I’m looking at five races overall – two in Georgia, one in Florida and a constitutional amendment issue in each state.  Parochial in scope?  Perhaps, but these races have national implications.

Governor-Georgia

Campaign Analysis:  This race has been remarkably civil.  Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) has enjoyed some serious success with job creation in the Peach State, but he has also suffered some major failures.  Challenger Jason Carter (D) has been relying on his family name as much as voter anger towards some Deals’ own missteps.   While their debate was combative, it failed to yield much beyond establishing both candidates are semi-centrist, with ideological leanings to the respective right and left sides.

Recommendation:   While Carter has displayed a definitive left-leaning bent and has yet to really answer questions about his voting record, it is Deal who has failed to establish himself as beyond just a friend of big business.  Under Deal’s watch, Georgia has slid to dead last in unemployment, suffers one of the highest costs of ownership for motorists, and botched a response to several weather events, resulting in stranded motorists and crippled infrastructure.  Even though Georgia is ranked first in the nation for business-friendly climate, that alone is not what defines success of gubernatorial policy.  Unfortunately, third-party candidates have yet to display a viable option, so the recommendation, with reservations, is for Jason Carter.

Governor-Florida

Campaign Analysis:  Unlike Georgia, Florida’s race has been a nasty, personal attack laden battle between incumbent Rick Scott (R) and former governor and Republican Charlie Crist (D).  While Crist’s decision to flip-flop on party affiliation is being mocked as a display of treachery, it really isn’t that much different from Nathan Deal’s decision to flip-flop years ago when the political winds in Georgia shifted.  The Florida gubernatorial debate, however, put Scott’s character on display for all to see when he refused to debate when Crist’s fan made some noise.  Both candidates have shown little vision, and their debates have failed to yield real answers.

Recommendation:  Scott and Crist couldn’t provide a starker contrast in both personality and governing approach. Scott rode an anti-government, tea party fueled wave of rage into Tallahassee and, with the except of some minor victories on the jobs front, his tenure has been riddled with scandal and controversies.  Questions still linger over his knowledge of his former companies Medicaid fraud, and many former staffers and appointees were forced to jump ship over myriad issues.  Conversely, Crist’s inconsistency in very controversial issues, along with his party change, has given him the image as a opportunistic flip-flopper.  Strange as it seems, at least with a flip-flopping politicians, you know what you’re getting into, as opposed to a former executive who has proven to be the Republican answer to Barack Obama from a personality and approach perspective.  For this reason, the recommendation goes firmly to Charlie Crist.

Senate-Georgia

Campaign Analysis:  Another showdown which features stark contrasts and little of substance.  Former corporate executive David Perdue (R) and former nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn (D) have been trading barbs over who is better for Georgia.  Perdue’s efforts to link Nunn to President Barack Obama has borne some fruit with right-wingers, but those ads have also backfired with more independent voters and has, with the help of Nunn’s own attack campaign, turned this race into a near dead heat.   Turnout will decide this race.

Recommendation:  Michelle Nunn’s campaign could very well be summed by historical concept of carpetbagging.  Despite being a successful nonprofit executive with a highly respect organization, Nunn is, first and foremost, was politically-connected insider.  Perdue, conversely, has made no bones about his desire to run the government like a business.  While Nunn’s campaign has had to deal with some troubling allegations, Perdue himself has displaying one glaring personality flaw:  a near pathological aversion to accept responsibility for decisions which destroyed jobs and businesses.  Perdue’s campaign has shown little vision of what he would do, and an ad in which he blames government policies for business failures, rather than assume responsibility for some his decision, is trouble to say the least.  As with Crist, with Nunn voters know they are getting a politician.  Rick Scott showed Floridians what happens when a former CEO runs the show and, for that reason, Perdue as a Senator is an unacceptable option.  The recommendation goes squarely to Nunn.

Constitutional Amendment – Florida Medical Marijuana

Analysis:  Major money has flowed into this campaign, spearheaded by Florida attorney John Morgan.  Opponents argue that medical marijuana will lead Florida to become a new drug haven and hamper law enforcement efforts.  Galvanized by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the opposition has made some gains.  Still, Morgan’s name recognition has given this particular initiative a huge edge, and some law enforcement officials have actually gotten behind this measure.

Recommendation:  Medical Marijuana legalization efforts have yielded mixed results.  While there are interesting success stories, the logistics of this particular effort have been confusing, cumbersome and, in some cases, a major headache.  Evidence of crime increases and crime decreases are conflicting and, aside from a marked increase in “cannabis tourism,” the jury is still out.  Still, there has been little to suggest an marked increase in drug addiction, and there has been some evidence of serious benefits to those with ailments proven to be eased by marijuana use.  As it is strictly intended for medicinal purposes, the recommendation is to approve this ballot measure.

Constitutional Amendment – Georgia Income Tax Cap

Analysis:  Amendment A is a ballot initiative which would cap Georgia’s state personal income tax rate at six percent.  The Amendment was proposed by six General Assembly members, all Republicans.  The intent of this measure is to limit income taxes and promote a solid business climate for individuals.

Recommendation:  This particular amendment initiative has received precious little play in the media and, for the low information voter, appears to be, at least on the surface, a great idea.  The problem with using this sort of amendment to compete with Florida and other rapid-growth states is that it assumes a population influx.  Still, a state income tax cap is measure which can promote a psychological boost to citizens as well as decision makers and, as much as empirical evidence is key to business decisions, many executives also look at environmental and climate factors.  The key to this amendment’s effectiveness is that voters remember this amendment can be repealed once it has outlived its usefulness.  For that reason – get ready for a serious curve ball, the recommendation goes, with reservations, to approving this initiative.

The blahs and wishing for some smooth life pavement

As many of you who read this know, I try like hell not to blog about my personal life and issues I’m experiencing.  Today, I’m starting to realize one very startling fact – I am feeling a serious case of the “blahs.”

I’m happy writing, I really am.  There’s nothing in this world I truly love doing more than put pen to paper, figuratively speaking.  Having a novel published, several more works on the way, a nascent writing business online and a few blogs which are slowly gaining a steady following, I should be happy and content, right?

Well, there’s a simple wrinkle – like so many other writers, I have a day job, and I put a brave face on every day to do it.

This is not a swipe at my employer or the people I work with.  I am quite grateful for the work I have, the benefits which come with it, and the fact that I can wake up each morning and know that I can go to work and earn a living for my family.  The problem is that I have to come to grips with the reality that this is all it may ever be.  It’s not easy having to wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and realize that, being male and over 40 means that the job world has decided to look at you and say “Thanks, but you cost a little too much for our tastes.”

Add to that the fact that I am still in the process of finishing my Bachelors, realizing it is now worth about as much as High School Diploma in 1979, and I have become acutely aware of just how cruel and cutthroat this world really is.

Nope, it’s not easy, but it is a reality which I’ve come to accept because, honestly, the only person who can make my own luck is me.  Lately, I’ve been coming up lemons on the career slot machine when I would really like to get cherries.  The worst part is this sounds like a family-sized can of “Woe Is Me” when I’m really just trying to flush out the remaining blah that’s in my system.

There’s no question I would love a job in which I can truly use my talents.  Writing, communicating, presenting…all those are things which I am well suited for.  Job boards don’t cut it, and internal positions where I work tend to go to those with connections or, more often, the right set of educational and demographic tools.  Frustration, thy name is me.

While I remain confident in my life and the direction it’s heading, this is one of those minor dips where you tend to lose traction and, more often than not, faith.  It takes three times as much energy to get out of it as it does to keep driving once you are on smooth pavement.  For the better part of 40 years, my life has been the equivalent of driving a Pennsylvania interstate right after spring thaw – I’m still waiting for the orange cones and the road construction crews to leave and a fresh, smooth road with no grade, no potholes, and no steep cliffs on either side to grace my life.  Yes, there are many others in far worse shape but, as the saying goes, your problems are the biggest problems in the world at that moment.

Here’s to getting myself out of that dip soon and guiding myself back onto smooth pavement and, just maybe, looking at myself in the mirror tomorrow and smiling at who I am.