Lamar Candidates Forum

Last night my little town of Lamar, South Carolina, hosted a candidates forum to give voters an opportunity to learn more about the candidates for Town Council and the Mayor’s race.  Our Town employees did an excellent job organizing the event, which was held in the Fire Department’s fire truck bay.  I brought some sound equipment and setup a very basic sound system for the candidates.

There are two Council seats up for election, which Councilwoman Mary Mack and myself currently occupy.  We’re both running for re-election, so we are officially running unopposed.  Residents will have two votes to cast in the Town Council race, one for each position.

As such, Councilwoman Mack and I were invited to tell voters a bit about ourselves and our visions for the town.  The main event was the mayoral forum, which was structured in a series of questions (nine or ten) posed to each candidate.  The mayoral candidates received their questions in advance, and the audience was not allowed to ask questions (although I think several people did after the forum formally adjourned).

Both candidates acquitted themselves nicely, differing mainly in the margins.  Councilwoman Inez Lee focused on cleaning up the town, literally and metaphorically, frequently invoking Franklin Roosevelt’s “First Hundred Days”:  we have a number of dilapidated buildings on Main Street that are eyesores.  James Howell, a local landscaper, focused on improving the town’s infrastructure and zoning to make the town more attractive to businesses.

All candidates for all offices touted the need to fix Lamar’s water system, so we sell our own water again.  We are currently purchasing around four million gallons of water each month from the Darlington County Water and Sewage Authority, paying rates that are onerously high for residents.

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Bull Terrier Tuesday: It’s Official!

Well, it’s finally happened:  pending some signatures and initials from folks at The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission (at the time of this writing; they will likely be immortalized in digital ink by the time you read these words), I have officially adopted Murphy.

It’s been quite an adventure since I picked her up at the Sam’s Club in Goldsboro, North Carolina on 22 July 2021.  Since then, she’s been all over the I-20 Corridor in South Carolina, and all the way to Athens, Georgia.  She’s spent a great deal of time sleeping on couches—those on which she is allowed, and those from which she is forbidden—and she seems to win fans wherever she goes.

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In Memoriam: A Triple Obituary

In lieu of Supporting Friends Friday, I’ve decided to dedicate this Friday’s post to the memories of three great men that left us in the past week.  One was a beloved funnyman; the second an influential public intellectual; the third a former colleague’s husband.

That order is not indicative of a ranking by significance or importance, to be clear.  As I noted, I consider all three of these gentleman to be great men.  Each contributed something to the world in their own way.

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Bull Terrier Tuesday II: Back to the Vet

Sweet Murphy Girl and I are heading back to the vet’s office this afternoon to get her skin examined.  She had some really painful looking welts and pimples on her underside that required an antibiotic and some special medicated shampoo to clear up.  Fortunately, her painfully long nails were trimmed (under sedation) during her last vet visit, and that has dramatically improved her quality of life.

When I got Murphy, she also had a bit of a flea problem.  The shampoo, along with a strong dose of flea and tick medicine, took care of that no problem.  I also nuked the house with a bug bomb while we went away for a long weekend, so any lingering critters should have been gassed out of existence.  So far, I haven’t seen any new unwanted visitors.

As far as I can tell, the antibiotic has done the trick, and she is looking much better.  Hopefully the skilled eye of the veterinarian will confirm what I hope I am seeing.  I’m not sure what caused the welts on her underbelly, but I suspect the fleas played a role.

If Murphy receives a clean bill of health from the vet today, then I will able to adopt her from The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission.

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Murphy’s Vet Update

Yesterday I took Murphy to the vet, and Audre Myers of Nebraska Energy Observer asked me to provide an update.

Murphy is doing well.  Other than some very sensitive skin and a possible flea problem, she is in good shape overall.

She also has an inverted vulva (click at your own risk), which could be the result of excess weight.  That means I have to take extra care to clean out her lady parts, as the extra folds can harbor bacteria.  I also have to clean the vulva itself, which can bleed slightly if she rubs her butt too much.  Fortunately, the veterinarian expressed her anal glands, providing much-need relief in the hind quarters, so Murphy hasn’t been spinning on her butt quite so much.

She is on a two-week antibiotic to help with her skin inflammation, and I have special shampoo that’s supposed to help with her skin.  She does not like getting a bath, but once I put her doughy, sixty-pound body in the tub, she stands there very patiently while I wash her.  I just wish she would sit down in the warm suds—it would feel soooo good on her stomach, and would make cleaning a bit easier.

The vet saw one flea on her, but she has a good flea collar and took her first monthly dose of flea medicine last night.  I’ve also given Murphy her first monthly dose of heartworm medicine (she’s heartworm negative, but we want to keep it that way).  I’ve washed all of her bedding (and mine), and I think we have eradicated the flea menace.

All the medicine has given her some diarrhea, but it’s not uncontrollable (thank goodness).  She goes outside when we walk, and I clean her rump judiciously when we get back inside.

That sounds like a lot, but she really is doing well for an eight-year old who has endured a great deal of change in the past few weeks.

On the plus side, her nails are finally trimmed!  That seems to have helped with her limp considerably, and today was the first day in over a week that we have taken some good walks (and runs).  We still aren’t going very far, but she has enjoyed getting out more, sniffing every bush and fence post she can find.  We ran into some neighborhood kids, and she completely hammed it up for them, rolling around in the grass and begging for pets (and, knowing her, treats—she’s quite the chunk).

She’s dozing now on the couch while I write this and watch The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs.  She enjoyed some steak in her kibble tonight, and probably won’t more for another couple of hours (or she’ll pop up as soon as I’m about to click “Publish”).

There you go, Audre!  I always deliver for my readers.

—TPP

Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

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Bull Terrier Tuesday I: Big Vet Visit

Despite the sheer volume of dog-related posts a couple of weeks ago, I promise that the blog isn’t going to become a dog blog.  Bull Terrier Tuesday won’t be a regular feature, but maybe once a month or so I’ll give some updates on Murphy, the eight-year female bull terrier I’m fostering for The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission.

We’re nearly three weeks into the thirty-day foster-to-adopt process, and today Murphy has a big vet visit.  She had a good first visit the day after I got her, and her bloodwork has come back clean.  She’s also heartworm negative, which is a real blessing.  That first visit got her vaccinations updated, too, so Murphy is street legal now.

But today’s visit is a really big one.  Murphy is an old girl with a number of issues, all of which are easily resolved (I hope), but which will require her to go under sedation.

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TBT: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone on Milo’s rollicking Telegram chat, in which we were trying to figure out the name of a short story involving people living in underground cells, communicating only via the Internet.  I had a feeling I had written about it before, but could not remember the name of the story.

Turns out it was E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909, and I wrote about it in this catch-all post from the early days of The Age of The Virus (so early, in fact, I was not capitalizing the first “the” in that moniker, which I have texted so much, my last phone auto-predicted “The Age of The Virus”).  I compared the story to Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”–a story that apparently is assigned regularly in India, because pageviews for it always seem to coincide with large numbers of site visitors from the subcontinent.

But I digress.  The story sounded eerily like what our elites asked us to do during The Age of The Virus:  stay home, get fat, consume mindless entertainment, and don’t socialize.  Granted, some of us could go outside and plant gardens (I still got fat, though), but the messaging was not “become more self-sufficient so we can mitigate disaster” but “buy more stuff and don’t do anything fun.”  It was depressing to me how many people embraced this line of reasoning, turning government-mandated sloth into some kind of perverted virtue.

I appreciated the break that The Age of The Virus afforded us, but it came with the severe curtailment of liberty—and Americans ate it up!  Instead of people boldly throwing ravers and partying down, laughing at our elites, we instead retreated into our hovels, shuddering in the dark.  When I did through a big Halloween bash, it was a massive success—because, I suppose, people had finally had it.

I guess that’s the silver lining.  With that, here’s 3 April 2020’s “Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” (perhaps the longest title of any blog post ever):

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Big News: TPP is Going to the Dogs

According to PetSmart.com, this week is National Adoption Week.  I suppose that’s appropriate, because I’m getting a dog.

For some reason, I became obsessed with the idea of finding a canine pal a few weeks ago.  I can’t really explain why, though I do have some theories, but I think it’s the same obsession my father succumbed to last summer when he purchased a rat terrier puppy, Atticus (née Mike).  After dog-sitting my girlfriend’s German Shepherd, Lily, for a week, that desire only deepened.

I was looking at my county’s humane society, which has a number of very adorable pups up for adoption.  I really fell in love with an old Shepherd mix named Mattus, who has now been adopted and sent to a new life in Vermont (their politics aside, that sounds a bit like paradise).

But then I began searching a bit further afield, and stumbled upon a very old dog, Riley, who is fostered in a town nearby.  Riley is a bull terrier, the breed perhaps best known due to the Budweiser mascot Spuds MacKenzie or the Target spokesdog, Bullseye.  I was not considering the breed at all, as they are quite mischievous and can be a handful for newcomers to dog ownership, but the description of old Riley—a chilled dude nearing the end of his life, just looking for a place to crash in comfort and snacks in his final days—seemed like a good fit.

After notifying the Bull Terrier Rescue Mission of my interest in Riley, one of their placement coordinators, Anja, contacted me for an in-depth discussion about the breed, Riley, etc.  Among other things, I learned that some bull terriers suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsion that causes them to chase their tales for unhealthily long periods of time; in England, they’re known as “nanny dogs,” as they will watch children under their care with an eagle eye; and that the breed possesses an unusually high pain threshold, meaning it doesn’t feel pain nearly as soon as other dogs.

We also determined after our hour-long discussion that Riley would not be a good fit for me.  Indeed, I’d woken up the night before contemplating the life changes necessary to care for an extremely elderly dog with a heart murmur.  Anja stressed to me that the Rescue places animals and owners together with the best possible fit, and that no owner should have to totally upend his life just to take in a dog.  I agree completely, but it was good to hear it from someone whose life is, arguably, consumed with dogs much of the time.

So after a long, productive conversation, Anja had all of my information and my preferences, and told me to be patient—it could be a couple of months before the right dog showed up in my area, but with bull terriers coming in all the time, she would be in touch.

With that, I made a small donation to the Rescue, and continued looking at the local humane society, if for no other reason than to whet my appetite.  I did go ahead and purchase a copy of Jane Killion’s When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs, figuring that having the authoritative training text for bull terriers would come in handy with most dogs, but especially if I ended up with a bull terrier.  Then I went about the business of moving my girlfriend to Athens.

It was on the long drive back to Columbia Friday afternoon, after completing our first run down to Georgia, that I received a text from Anja:  there was an eight-year old female bull terrier named Murphy who’d just been taken to a shelter in North Carolina.  As soon as I saw her picture, I knew that my life was going to get much more interesting:

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