Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Greater Derry Humane Society

Over the last year, I've become involved with the Greater Derry Humane Society, a Derry, NH rescue group that fosters primarily dogs and cats in private homes while seeking permanent homes for them.
Initially, I was involved only in another activity of GDHS--therapy pet visits to a local nursing home. My dog Addy and I enjoy these visits immensely, and Addy is developing her own little following at the nursing home.
But the main thing is finding homes for homeless animals, and one part of that is getting pictures up on Petfinder so that people looking for pets to adopt can find them. So yesterday, I took pictures of three worthy and deserving cats. Reecie and Angel's profiles are up on Petfinder and their names link to their pages; Domino's should appear soon.
Domino is a big, laid-back, huggable guy.

Angel is a sweet, beautiful girl.

Reecie is another good-looking girl who seemed pretty calm despite her doubts about Addy standing beside me while I took the picture.

Contact the Greater Derry Humane Society if you're interested in meeting any of these lovely cats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

USS Constitution Fires Away...

...just as it ought to.

Last November, ironically a few days before Veterans' Day, some apparently new residents of the expensive condos around the Navy Yard in Charlestown complained to the USS Constitution's commanding officer, Timothy Cooper, about the noise of the twice-daily cannon salute accompanying the raising and lowering of the flag. One of the many stories at that time is available here:

It's hard to imagine what the complainers were thinking. Proximity to the USS Constitution was undoubtedly a selling point for this high-priced condo development. The twice-daily firing of the cannons has never been a secret, and is a 200-year-old tradition, not something dreamed up last summer to attract more tourists. If their real estate agents did not disclose this feature of the neighborhood before they purchased, perhaps they have a complaint against those agents--but it would also tell us that they did no research whatsoever about the historic neighborhood they were proposing to move to. Also, this is an urban neighborhood--not a leafy suburb one might move to with a reasonable expectation of peace and quiet.

It's like moving in next to a chicken farm and then complaining about the rooster crowing every morning. Or any small farm, and then complaining about the smell of the manure used to fertilize the fields. Except that in addition to being an unreasonable demand that the neighborhood change to accommodate the newcomers who moved there in part because of the very characteristics they now want changed, this is an attack on an essential piece of American history and a fine patriotic tradition.

Happily, Timothy Cooper has decided that the complainers need not be accommodated. Tradition and history prevail, and the twice-daily ceremony will continue unchanged. Story here:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bella the Future Service Dog

Today, Addy and I visited our nursing home friends as part of our regular pet therapy visits, and as a bonus extra, we met Bella, a future service dog. She's a sweet, five-month-old black Lab, and like any young dog with a demanding career ahead of her, she needs lots of practice meeting all kinds of people, dogs, cats, and anyone and anything else she might encounter in the course of her work.

The girls were a little doubtful of each other at first, but soon teamed up to sit side by side so that they could both get liver treats. No pictures of that because I couldn't take pictures and dispense treats simultaneously!

Service dogs such as Bella will be go everywhere with the person they're teamed with, including places that dogs are normally banned from. Federal law protects their human partners' right to have their canine aides with them, but the flip side is that the dogs must able to behave anywhere, in any circumstances. Puppy raisers like Bella's current foster family raise and socialize the future service dogs so that they're ready for the demanding training they will begin when they reach one year old.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

E-Books and Libraries

On Friday, Chronicle (on WCVB-TV) focused on ebooks, ereaders, and the future of libraries, in an episode entitled What's the Word. The initial presentation was quite apocalyptic--you can download anything you want to read from the internet, so who needs libraries, right? How can boring old dead tree books compete with the shiny new electronic kind? And if we don't need print books, what use do we have for libraries?

The reality, of course, is rather more complicated, and eventually, so was the Chronicle story. After oohing and aahing over the wonders of the Kindle and the Nook, with very little attention to the problems (for instance, Amazon deleting an edition of Animal Farm that they did not have the rights to, without notifying users, and in the process trashing a high school student's English research paper), eventually they visited several actual libraries, including the new Cambridge library.

And what did they find? Libraries are busy. Circulation is up, participation in library programs is up, and the main obstacle to libraries continuing to grow and expand in services is the inconvenient fact that their budgets are being cut. Partly, of course, because state and municipal budgets are under incredible pressure, but also because of the perception that libraries are "old-fashioned" and not really necessary in this modern age.

But libraries provide something that bookstores, including online bookstores, never can. It's not just a wider range of reading material than any individual can afford to buy. It's not even the fact that all that material is free. What they offer is librarians and their services--knowledgeable guides through both the fiction and non-fiction resources. Someone who's always glad to help you navigate both the print and the electronic resources--whether for recreational reading, or because you want more information on something the doctor said, or because you're looking for a job after twenty years with the same company, and have no idea where to start in making a resume, finding job openings, writing good cover letters.

Online resources offer information. Libraries, and librarians, offer the opportunity to turn that information into knowledge.