The Humane Society of the United States

Something big for animals is coming on March 31st. Visit humane society.org/March31. The magazine All Animals produced by the HSUS this month is replete with reports on what is happening on the animal advocacy front and you know what? I am particularly touched by the scheduled retirement of elephants from Ringling Circus. Imagine if your cat or dog were prodded by hooks to obey and perform. Animals as sentient, as intelligent as elephants are also being hunted to extinction for the benefit of the ivory market in Asia. Rhinos and tigers are also getting poached at an unsustainable rate. The Chinese for centuries have believed in the notion that rhino horns and tiger bones, as well as bear bile, have medicinal properties. I grew up in China. I know that personally. My Chinese mother knew.

I also receive the Humane Scorecard, a report for the 114th Congress on any progress attained on righting wrongs done to animals and, tellingly, which Democratic and Republican voted or not. Guess which. I wouldn’t say the silence on the GOP side is deafening, but it comes close.

Bijou, a kitten to reckon with

Seems so trivial, in light of what is going on in the battle for delegate votes in the crucial presidential campaign, but Bijou is very real, and he is here. His visits to me at my workplace are veritable flurries of love and sending out of emails before they are ready to go, stolen pens, chewed notes. I kiss his little face and thank San Gennaro for his existence. He paces the window sill looking very much like a miniature panther, and I have found his breed on the Internet. He is a Bombay, all black, sleek and slim. I wonder if his siblings survived and what they look like.

He was microchipped a couple of weeks ago, something I should have done with Mojo, but Mojo is gone now, lost in these predatory hills, and I am closing the barn door in an attempt to prevent the next horse from running off. Also — have I mentioned this? — lockdown takes place before dark at 5 p.m. If he is outside at that hour, I call for him, and he always comes, so far, while my heart beats a little faster in case he doesn’t. All the little ones answered to their names when summoned. Another call “Where is this cat?!!” usually gets results, as well. My tortoiseshell Pinky, my heart, would skid around a shrub or door to me whenever she heard that. My 13-year-old Loaner, Pinky’s sibling, also reports for duty when I need her to come.

Along with the microchipping of Bijou comes a package service with Home Again, which sends out photos and details of missing pets within a 25-mile radius of one’s home. Something perhaps helpful. How I wish. Tell that to the coyotes, foxes, and bobcats around here.

That cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas

That this 11-story+ structure looming over the dock, pocked with windows (laughably known as “portholes” aboard ship) and ringed with metal and barely nautical fixtures, can even float unwraps my mind from reality. Anthem of the Seas offers amenities that make sure no one is left out.

Passengers can avail themselves of bumper cars, a roller rink, a circus school, a basketball court, a 220-foot outdoor poolside movie screen, a 20-foot rock climbing wall, and, of course, a casino. I think I left something out….oh yes, there’s a skydiving simulator on deck.

Seems the ship had everything except a captain who knew how to judge weather conditions. Maybe he was too occupied running the indoor recreation business to pay attention to the giant squall ahead that rocked his boat and nearly overturned it (a passenger reaching land was shown on TV kneeling and kissing the ground). Nothing about the ship otherwise seemed to encourage passengers to notice the water they were traversing. A whale or shark fin breaking the surface might not have been noticeable from the deck’s height and during all the activities going on. The stars or moon above certainly would not have been visible during movie time on deck.

The place has 2146 rooms. Imagine traveling from your neighborhood to join up with another one. Royal Caribbean International runs 26 of these moving cities.

My personal acquaintance with ships involved the cargo steamer┬áSebastiano Caboto from Hong Kong to Naples. I roomed with three others in a top bunk that was relegated to me because I was 18 and of course more agile than my mother. Two strangers occupied the other bunks. I forget where my sister slept, I think it was in another cabin, I can’t remember why.

I remember being very much in touch with the elements, the windy deck where we laughed and hung onto our hair, the long mess table shared with a dozen others, the rattling of chains and cranes swinging over our heads when in port, the populace on the waterfront who had no duty to look picturesque, and the two deserters from the French Foreign Legion who attempted to rape me.
I had a good time telling about that incident in Journey from Shanghai.

Now THAT’s sailing on the seas!

A dog show in Rio de Janeiro

I saw this doggie Doberman face in a pet supply store when I went shopping for Bijou and Loaner and yearned for Jeff, long lost with our past years in Rio de Janeiro. He was such a sweet boy who should never have been made to pay for Renato’s and my aspirations for a ribbon at a dog show.

I wrote about this event in “The Carioca Dobie Derby.” By the time I came around to writing this piece it was a long time afterward when we had returned home to California. It is much too late to apologize to him for the ordeal he was subjected to at the Rio Jockey Club, although I recall we fussed over him afterward and he appeared to recover fully and took up his duties guarding our front gate against intruders.

He showed his stuff when he did that, but not always in the right way when a colleague of Renato’s came to visit. Gallico gesticulated vigorously whenever he spoke and Jeff didn’t like that. He growled, once, twice, and then launched himself — at the man’s back pocket where his wallet reposed. And what did Renato do? He laughed so hard that he doubled over, while Gallico cried out “Disgraziato! Mascalzone!” as Jeff hung on.

What did I do? I am ashamed to admit that I, too, had a fit of hysterics.

Ted Cruz as Senator and The Donald

From what I have researched about his record in Congress, it appears he gives rousing speeches about this or that issue — then fails to show up to vote for it.
Dating back to his election in 2012, he has attended fewer than half of his meetings for the Armed Services Career Committee and Judiciary Committee. He has been absent for votes on aid for Israel, student loans and human trafficking.

From January 2013 to February 2016, Cruz has missed 138 of 1,011 roll call votes, or 13.6%. Of course, he is on the campaign trail, as are Senators Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio, but their voting records do not compare to his absenteeism from the House.

There is conjecture that he is attempting to please the Tea Party by displaying his anti-government stance, therefore proving he is not part of the establishment. This logic fails to make sense to me. How will he plan to govern as president within government? Also, he serves on numerous subcommittees, and I believe it is safe to doubt that he spends much time contributing his time to them.

And here’s a quote from Donald Trump in a 2012 interview with Fox News about solar power: “Solar, as you know hasn’t caught on because, I mean, a solar panel takes 32 years — it’s a 32-year payback. Who wants a 32-year payback? The fact is, the technology is not there yet.”

Time has proven him wrong, yet his position on solar power as being economically unfeasible vs. the imperative to stave off climate change, shows his business attitude at all costs. This man would run our abused, faltering environment into earlier ravagement than at its current rate.

As president, he would hardly need the billion-dollar briberies of the infamous Koch brothers to protect their fossil-fuel industries. He could destroy us all by himself.

(Photo of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump showing off their leopard kill)