On Election Night

I am bouncing back and forth between returns and the Bulls game.  And some West Wing clips on YouTube.

I left work a bit early to go vote.  The place was packed and the volunteer I spoke with said that in his nine years working elections, this has been the highest turnout in my precinct.  300 people before the real commuter crowd arrived and a good 200 had voted early.  I asked how many, exactly were in the precinct.  He didn’t know offhand, but could tell me that the lowest turnout in those nine years – it was for a local election – was 28.

I drove by my early voting place several times over the past couple of weeks.  I didn’t stop because there were no parking places to be found.

So that is all good news.

New phenomenon: bringing the kids to the voting booth.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, I would have freakin’ loved if my parents had done that.  (But by the time I was old enough to semi-intelligently ask my parents about voting, my father was telling me that it was none of my business.  I expect he was having a political identity crisis.)  On the other hand, that lady with the little girl took forever.  And there was a line.  A line!

And because it is Election Night..this is not my favorite scene from this ep, but I love it:

The Great Rescue Debate

Emily Yoffe over at Slate.com posted a piece last week about animal rescue groups.  She told a story that I have heard before.. someone wants to “do the right thing” and adopt from a rescue, but is so turned off by the process that she turns to a breeder.

I have been on both sides of this issue.

Before we found Gibbs, I saw an online profile for a standard poodle.  My family had a standard when I was child and we would love another one.  The profile said that she would be at an adoption fair at a pet store that weekend, so we drove out to meet her.  The volunteers said that she was at a different event that day at a different store.  We went to the other store.  She was not there, either.  We asked how we might meet her.  We were told, rather dismissively, to fill out an application.  We would be contacted if we qualified.

I am good with the application.  You would be hard pressed to find a better pet adoption application than mine and I have a reference list longer than my arm.  I am not good with the attitude or the (probably inadvertent) false advertising.

Wright-Way, the rescue where I found Gibbs, also had an extensive online application.  It was required before I met him, but mostly because he had to be transported from downstate.  They weren’t going to put him through a six or seven hour car drive unless they were pretty sure they had a match.  And you know what?  It had a question that I hadn’t considered before.  They asked how many pets I had and how many are allowed in each household in my town?  I had to look up the rules on Glenview’s website.

Once we were onsite, we were asked to watch a video before we met him.  It had the standard sermons, but also included some thoughts on crate training that I found very useful.  The process made me feel like they were serious without making me feel like a criminal.  I would be happy to adopt from them again.

However.  I am also a rescue volunteer.  We rescue parrots, which are definitely different from dogs and cats, but for what it is worth: I have worked the intake of parrots and I know plenty of horror stories of the “will make you cry” variety.  I will skip them and tell you just one thing: about that “Ellen Degeneres clause”?  The one that says if the adopter must rehome the pet, it must be returned to the rescue?  We have seen animals that we adopted out later posted on Craigslist – for a profit.  Not cool.  Our directors, Rich and Karen Weiner, wrote a complete response to the article that I couldn’t find in Yoffe’s comments – there are tons already – but is posted on Facebook.

Adopting through a rescue is not an instant-gratification purchase.  Please do your homework.  Consider what type of pet will be happy in your home.  Allow some time for the process.   And if the first rescue you contact isn’t working with you (again, this happened to me and my totally impeccable pet adoption credentials), try another one.  Or ask a veterinarian.  Or try an open access shelter.

Thank you for listening.  Now here is a picture of Gibbs:

That Thing in Georgia

I am not all that familiar with the Troy Davis case.  I know that he was executed and there was a great deal of controversy, as many people doubted that he was guilty of the crime.  I had been reading headlines on this case for only a few days.  I couldn’t even bring myself to read all the details, and I felt sick when I read that the execution was imminent.

I have no idea whether Troy Davis killed a police officer.  No idea.  But the older I get, the less I approve of capital punishment.

When I was in high school, and all right-wing about it, my civics teacher told our class that between 1900 and 1990, 300 people were executed in the U.S. and later found to be not guilty of the crimes for which they died.

Three hundred.  That sunk in.  And I talked about it for while.  I remember some adult in my life – I don’t think it was one of my parents – heard the stat and said, “You have to believe that most of those 300 were early in the century before the development of modern forensics.”

Maybe.  I eventually let it drift to the back of my mind where I store things that I don’t really want to think about anyway.

Then something was found to be rotten in the State of Illinois.  Stop laughing.  A journalism professor at Northwestern University names David Protess led his students in investigating a whole slew of controversial convictions and the work ended up freeing several prisoners that were wrongly convicted – including some on death row.  He has now started a non-profit to continue the work.

The State of Illinois owned the fact that something was wrong.  The governor put a moratorium on executions.  Later, the assembly abolished the death penalty altogether.  It doesn’t really fix the problems on the front line of criminal justice, but with this action, Illinois definitively put a stop to the greatest injustice of all.

I gotta tellya.  There is not a whole lot for which to be thankful in my state government.  But last night, I was feeling it.  Not proud.  But..satisfied.  That my state got onto the right side of this issue.

Online Ordering at the Library

My favorite thing about my library’s website is the notification e-mails when something is due. The e-mail has a link that I can click to renew it right away. This has rescued me several times when I was in the middle of an audio book, and several more times when I was on the road.

I love the Internet.

The Chicago Tribune ran an article about online ordering at the Chicago Public Library. Apparently, it has grown so popular that the waiting lists have gone crazy:

“”It was an expected shock,” said Lednicer of the surge in hold requests with the advent of online ordering. She notes that 40,000 holds were placed online in the first month of the new system three years ago. These days, as many as 120,000 items are placed on hold each month, 95 percent of which are done via computer.”

The Trib calls CPL a victim of its own success.

Personally, I don’t use online ordering for library books. I like to wander the stacks. But I am glad to see other patrons embracing the technology. And borrowing books!

Drop Boxes and Recycling

The Chicago Tribune ran an article today talking about all of those drop boxes for used clothing.  Apparently, while some are for charity, many are also maintained by for-profit businesses.

It went on to talk about the items that are donated.  Apparently, “Americans throw 85 percent of their unwanted textiles in the trash each year” thinking that since they aren’t in a condition to re-sell, they aren’t worth anything.  Not true.  There are other markets, including recycling for industrial use.  According to a rep from the Salvation Army:

“We want to receive any and all articles because, if we can’t sell it in one of our stores, then we can sell it to what they call the ‘rag market,'” Anderson said. “They can repurpose those textiles for anything from wiping rags or materials for new textiles to even as an additive to asphalt. (That revenue) is a big deal for us.”


Back to the drop boxes.  I don’t have a problem with a company making a product and a profit by recycling my stuff – assuming they are honest about it.  But if you want to be sure that your donations are supporting your causes, please do your homework.  Call the numbers listed on the drop boxes; contact the organizations you are trying to help