Pet Peeved

An ex-dog owner gets an earful—and some sympathy.

Emily Bazelon’s personal saga explaining why she gave away Shadow the family dog generated perhaps the most vituperative, moralizing outburst from fraysters to date, with Kylee proclaiming herself “appalled by Slate narrative” and 8K9Kids giving Bazelon “an education on commitment.”

A few scattered voices helped to counterbalance the venom. Axlette agrees that giving up Shadow was the right choice under the circumstances. kmm3 offers these words of support:

After reading some of the awful messages you received condemning you for finding a new home for your dog, I felt compelled to write my two cents worth and let you know you are not a bad person or a bad mother.

Read more about her personal experience with pet adoption here.

To judge from the “14 pages of responses to your latest family trauma,” bright_virago thanks Bazelon for inspiring readers to recognize that, in the contract between humans and pets, sometimes

it’s time for us to part. We no longer have it in us to be their caretakers. Someone else might, and would give them more attention than we do, and we are praying that we can find that place for them. It’s not abandonment, it’s adoption. Will someone please tell me why pet adoption is such an awful thing?

For SallyRyan, too, Emily’s story has helped her reconcile a similar decision:

We have a small backyard and a very hyper dog. As much as we tried (and boy did we try) we could not keep her contained in our yard. She became a nuisance in our neighborhood and caused problems with other dogs. Our neighbors kept her during the day when she got out and both my husband and I were at work. We couldn’t afford a doggy daycare and to be honest it became frustrating that we couldn’t even let her out in the morning to go to bathroom without an escape. We gave her to a family on Saturday (with massive tears flowing) that had a HUGE backyard and ten foot fences (lets see her climb that!) and other dogs to play with. Her new people just called to say that she seems happy although sad that she is not with us at night. I think over time all of us will heal and my husband and I learned a lesson the size of the yard will determine what bread of dog!

doglovah calls Bazelon’s attackers a judgmental group:

I’ve worked closely with rescue groups, and all three of my dogs are rescues, and I believe that every one has been overwhelmed by something in their life, and Emily’s happened to be the dog. She did the most responsible thing that she could other than keep him, which was to give him to good home. And why is keeping him the best thing for the dog? He obviously feels like he has a place now, as Ed has given him training, and established his role in the pack. If she had not taken the dog 7 years ago, who knows where Shadow would have ended up? She saved him when he was two, and gave him a better home when he was nine. Most dogs don’t get chances like that.

For a closer look at the prolific outpouring of opinions, visit the Family Fray. AC4:35pm

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Utek1, writing from downtown Los Angeles, provides an excellent description of and reflection upon yesterday’s march:

All day long downtown Los Angeles has been a mass of honking cars and cheering people, families and children mostly, holding American flags, with a few Mexican flags (and what I’m guessing are Central and South American flags) for color. Many businesses are closed, and the rest seem to be half full. The mood of the marchers is more jubilant than angry. There is no question that, in this town and on this day, the demonstration has proven what it set out to do, which is to show that there are lots of Latinos in this country, and that they are a force to be reckoned with. As Pete Wilson discovered, politicians cross them at their peril.

I wish that this was the beginning of a return to the Democratic party’s roots in labor activism, and a renewed power of unions in general, but I don’t think so. Immigration reform is an issue that speaks primarily to immigrants and a few Pat Buchanan xenophobes. It doesn’t have the mass appeal as issues like the 40-hour work week once did.

Case in point: the gigantic demonstrations a few weeks ago in Los Angeles that sparked this whole movement came as a complete shock to the city’s Anglo-speaking population. There was no advance warning, as the demonstration was the product of an appeal by Spanish radio DJ’s. Half a million people turned out to protest and the rest of the city had no clue what was happening. It just wasn’t on the political radar of most Angelenos.

Today’s gathering was better advertised, but from what I can see, it still hasn’t attracted the same kind of cross-cultural support that the Civil Rights marches did, or that old time labor rallies once had. Blacks and whites alike are ambivalent on illegal immigration, which is a complicated issue without easy solutions. I just can’t see it used as a rallying cry for anyone not directly affected by immigration problems.

The ironic thing is, it is precisely because of the menial jobs that immigrants are forced to take that their unions have become powerful. No one can outsource fruit pickers or janitors or gardeners or chambermaids the way factories can be shipped off to China or software code can be written in India. They are site-specific, labor intensive jobs that are immune to the ravages of globalization. So the service employees unions have been thriving while other unions have withered into impotence.

But again, the low-skilled, low-wage nature of these jobs make them poor candidates for leading to a resurgence of labor unions as a whole. In the past, steelworkers and autoworkers could fight for wages and benefits that put them in the middle class. In contrast, many illegal immigrants are fighting for the right just to be given a poverty-level minimum wage. Again, this is not a fight that middle class Americans can join with the hopes of bettering their own lives.

Personally, I don’t have much stake in the immigration debate, and I don’t know what the right policy is. I understand why Americans would have problems with people coming here illegally, and I can also sympathize with those who have risked so much just for the chance to work. I can’t pretend to offer a solution, although it seems to me that the proposals which would give “Guest Workers” the right to work for slave wages while denying them any chance at citizenship is the worst of both worlds, indentured servitude for the new millenium.

I think in the long run, what demonstrations like today’s show the rest of the country is how large a block Latinos have become. I remember moving to LA, my biggest shock was how brown the population was. From tv and movies, you would think that LA is a white-bread world of Valley Girls and surfer dudes. In Malibu and Beverly Hills, perhaps, but in the real world of LA County, the highest rated radio and tv programs are all Spanish, and you can travel for miles without hearing English spoken. Since the time of Father Serra, California has been New Spain, not New England. And its not like the Anglos can complain, having stolen California from the Mexicans 150 years ago. So in some ways, todays marches are just a blast from the past, a honking, hooting celebration of Latino pride. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You can join the discussion of the May Day March in our History Lesson FrayGA … 12:10am

Friday, April 28, 2006

Fray Editor,

no stranger to clerical and administrative jobs, hasn’t seen anything like it. “Keep Your Roses,” Melonyce McAfee’s cry of rage against Secretary’s Day, has brought an avalanche of anecdotes crashing into the Fine Whine Fray. A representative of the IAAP, which sponsors Secretary’s Day, writes in to defend the day  against widespread attack.

Best post of the Fray goes to BKC, for her scathing portrayal  of office life for the professional (nonsecretarial) woman in the Neanderthal Age, circa 1980. But, taken as a whole, the Fray presents an encyclopedia of the petty indignities and quiet triumphs that mark American office life today:

I support about 20 people on my team and thankfully all will say thank you after I assist them with anything out of my normal duties. So, I guess that’s where I am the lucky one. I got a card today and chocolates from only one person and you know what, I don’t feel any different about the great people I work with. Just thankful to have a job! —attdgal

I am a Senior Medical Secretary for two internal medical doctors in a very large practice. I received a nice lunch from a local grocery store and a gift card for a “mini spa”. This includes a facial, massage and pedicure. I feel very appreciated. Of course it does help my two doctors are both women and appreciate all the work I do. I stay late on most evenings and put in 40+ plus hours a week. I think Secretary’s Day is great but it does cause unnecessary hard feelings.—marie957

I’m a legal administrative assistant. I have two bosses. Yesterday, I uploaded all the National holidays onto their outlooks calendars and set a reminder for today’s event. Did I get a lunch out? No. Did I get a Starbucks gift card? No. Did I get a simple “thank you” No. Instead, I got to work through lunch.

I hear my predecessor (that I’ve been told I’m “10 times better than”), was showered with gifts in her day. I don’t know if they just don’t feel I qualify, or if they closed the pop up reminders without reading it, but I’ve been sad all day. —omnijess

I am the Personnel Assistant at a temporary staffing agency. We are the people that send out the temp. administrative professionals where they are needed. There was a party thrown and gifts, massages, etc. given to the temps that came to the party but nothing was done for me. Some of these people work one day every other week, while I’m at our office for 9 hours Mon-Fri. Talk about feeling under appreciated!— jessicablizzard

I was a legal secretary for 30 years. In one job an attorney whom I had worked for a number of years insisted on taking me to lunch on Secretaries Day. The other attorney usually gave me a Border’s gift certificate for $75 and a small plant or flowers. Although the lunch wasn’t really comfortable for me, it was, however, an extension of his respect and yes, even affection for me. He enjoyed the occasion. This was a man who never left the office at the end of the day without thanking me for my support that day.—kaci

Although I work for a temp agency, I have been in this Admin position at a large universal company for almost 4 years. The company I temp for is very good to me, but there are times (like today) when I feel like Mrs. Cellophane.

There are two ladies I share this position with. They have both been with the company many years. […] I, being the “McAnus” in the middle of these two butt cheeks, have kept my silence, honor, and politeness towards both of them and our boss/bosses (who have done nothing to fix this ridiculous situation). But today was Admin Day and the two ladies I work with received presents in pretty bags with festive paper sticking out. I, Mrs. Cellophane McAnus, nothing.—McAnus

I am a woman working in a male dominated field. I get kudos from my clients on a regular basis. I use this made up holiday as an opportunity to remember I have a team backing me up and I’d be nothing without their supportive attention to detail.—lilysmom

I was an office manager for almost 9 years and always felt like calling in sick on Secretary’s Day. My boss’s wife, who worked for the company part-time, would send me flowers signed from the two owners and then sometime during the day, one of my bosses would come up to my desk and say, “what’s with the flowers? Is it your birthday or something?”. I wish they had just given me what I really wanted - a genuine thank you and a raise!—Ricochet

One year my boss gave me a dozen beautiful red roses for secy’s day, when the others were given nothing at all or some generic flower mix. He was told by his boss, have jokingly, half seriously, not to do that again because it made the rest of them look bad.—Liz-8

I work in an optometry office. Years ago the dr’s wife sent us small bouquets for “secretaries day” even though we aren’t really secretaries. I appreciated it and thanked the Dr. he said “it wasn’t my idea, it was (wife’s name) so I said “nevermind, then.” He was really rude about it. So I don’t care about it either. Why can’t we be appreciative of each other all the time and not just once a year?—lucyloo

My bosses, I have three, give me the same thing every single year without fail. It is a giftcard to a local department store. All three make in the mid 6 figures, but the amount of the card usually toggles around $50-$60. The card is always written in my female supervisor’s handwriting and they present it together to me with stern faces as if I am about to be put on punishment. Every year I smile, say thank you, glance over the notecard and smile again as they give me the generic “—msburch

Several years ago I had worked for twin brothers for quite some time and was usually taken to lunch by one of them on Secretary/Administrative Assistant Day. Well, this particular year both were to take me to lunch. To preface this, I had been having trouble with my teenage son at the time and was told by one of my bosses that it was OK to take time off to take care of everything. Unknown to me, one of the girls in the office was complaining because she thought she was having to do my job too often. Also one of the other bosses had just told me that I was a doing great job. The three of us get to the restaurant and order. Then they proceed to tell me what I was doing wrong and that I needed to be at the office as much as possible. It went on and on. I could barely eat lunch and it sure spoiled what could have been a nice time. When I got back, the boss who told me I was doing fine saw me and asked me what was wrong. He was surprised too. They sure lost a lot of admiration from me that day.—Notappreciated

My company just sent all of the secretaries, filers, registration, etc bouquets of flowers. And if they forgot one person the flower person had extra in her delivery truck to make sure everyone got them.—mae

I’m a secretary and I work for two individuals that rip me apart day after day. I catch there bad days, and really don’t get much kindness on there good days either. Now, I’m forced to spend my lunch hour with them, I don’t really like them, and really don’t look forward to spending and hour or so mingling with them. I have nothing in common with them, and its awkward to say the least. I would much rather they ignore me on this day as they do the rest of the year! I think the perfect way to spend this day is to just be given the day off!—BoldlyGoingNowhere

While I was a student at New York University, I worked as an Administrative Asst for a popular woman’s magazine. It was a hectic office with lots of competitiveness, back-stabbing and the like. However, I enjoyed a great working relationship with my manager. We respected each other, got along very well and–thankfully–never had any major disagreements.

Every year on Secretary’s Day I would arrive and see on my desk a wonderful assortment of gifts–gift checks, fancy chocolates, coffee beans and something to wear. (I must include that maybe my being male made a difference.) My boss–a lady–would then take me out to a fabulous and expensive lunch just for the two of us. I rewarded her with excellent work and loyalty over the years & she spoiled me in return. The other assistants in the area would have an attitude but, then again, THEIR bosses didn’t value them as much. In the end, I think, you get rewarded based on your performance, not just because it’s a day marked on a calendar!!!—Enrique

At my company they deal with the sticky topic of “who to include” by lumping in the marketing team and including them with the AA staff in all the festivities - the marketing team includes a manager. I guess that should make me happy but my job requires a degree and an AA doesn’t at my company….—yadda

I’m Office Mgr for a woman who doesn’t have a clue - her “gifts” are so measly as to be offensive. This year? A small cardboard notebook & card. The Office Asst got one with a destroyed cover (where the $1 pricetag came off, probably). Guess I’ll scribble “thanks” on a piece of the notebook paper and leave it in her in-box. Maybe she’d have done more if she knew that I’ll be leaving as soon as I can…—vals

My boss has no clue who is what here in the office. He is not ashamed to ask for anything. He will ask anyone of the women in the office to make coffee or clean his office if he has important clients coming. I use to think I was above doing these trivial things because I was not hired to do this stuff. You have to look at your cup half full, not half empty. You think about people who’s job is to make coffee all day and what they make per hour verses your salary, now don’t you get paid pretty well to make that coffee? On Admin. Day my boss does not pick and choose. He is very fair about it. Guys you run the place. “Come on girls, I’m taking you all to dinner.” So, yea, he might be a bit of a male chauvinist pig, but he is a fair one.—halseymd

I worked for a large corporation where the Human Resources Dept. had ordered numerous cheap, identical Secretaries Day bouquets delivered to the department secretaries. I happened to be in the hospital giving birth to my first child that day. Instead of sending me flowers to acknowledge my new baby, my cheapskate boss had my Secretaries Day flowers diverted to the hospital. Standing out amid all the cute baby bouquets in my hospital room was a cheap bouquet that read Happy Secretaries Day. The jerk’s only comment when I called and told him my baby had been born was, “Who’s going to type the Annual Operating Plan?”—Loulu

I got Shari’s Berries for Administrative Professional’s Day, so yahoo!! I thought at first they were from my boyfriend, and I was wondering what the occasion was, when my boss said “They’re from me! It’s Administrative Professionals Day!” What a great surprise. =) He’s a great boss (I type as he reads over my shoulder … lol) No he really IS a great boss. =) The best I’ve had, hands down.—Emz

 I’m a PhD student who refused to live on the slave wages that the grad school offered me for funding. So I found a job with fairly nice people who are willing to work around my school schedule. Sometimes its a little demeaning to make copies for people that are my intellectual and educational equals. I also have a hard time taking the job as seriously as some of my colleagues do. But its an okay gig and this isn’t the only thing I’m ever going to do in my life. My attitude about Secretaries Day is simple: I appreciate the fact that my bosses took time to buy me a little something and say that they appreciate the work that I do. They didn’t have to do it.—funkgenie

What did I get from the boss? Nothing from her. One of her subordinates, who talks wistfully of the days in which she had secretaries, (note plural) gave me a perennial calendar in a cheap wood frame that comes unbolted from its base every time I change the page. The woman is notorious for giving away items after cleaning out her closets. The calendar should have stayed in the closet.—Splendid_IREny

I work for a large law firm, with lots of Secretaries, Admins and, like me, just general support staff. Instead of leaving it to individuals to celebrate (and cause jealousy) they have a list of prizes, food and sometimes games planned for the week. Mostly a LOT of food. Anyone, including management is invited to eat and participate in games. Everyone but lawyers and upper management are eligible for prizes. In the midst of stuffing ourselves, I doubt anyone notices if “Mary” got a bouquet and they did not. — debbieae

This brought back memories of the year everyone in the secretary pool got a potted plant, a $5 off dinner (for 2 or more) certificate, and the office ordered in a catered lunch. Attendance was mandatory. The following Friday we were “reminded” to adjust our time cards for our long lunch! My present supervisor quietly leaves a thank you note and small box of candy on each of our desks on Secretaries Day, and expects business as usual. I much prefer it.—mgcontrary

I am a receptionist and I have never expected anything for this day and then when I do get something it is a really nice surprise. This year every assistant and administrative worker received some very lovely tiger lilies. Mine are the only ones that are not open yet. Some other people have made comments that I might have gotten screwed out of my flower, but I know different. I try and look at it more optimistically. When everyone else’s flowers are dead and dying mine will be in full bloom.—crystalrosebelle

Come and commiserate in the Fine Whine Fray. GA … 3:20am PST

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In Memoriam. As a committed New Urbanist (living in Los Angeles, no less), FrayEditor05 was joined in sadness with other readers over the death of urban planner/activist Jane Jacobs, eulogized in this elegant obituary by Witold Rybczynski.

VIVA_NOLA writes: “I hope that in remembrance of Jane Jacobs we fight to maintain the integrity of New Orleans, a great American city that had the character she wrote about.”

In her own words, denverherbie describes Jane Jacob’s legacy:

I’m only a few chapters into Death and Life (I mean seriously, she loved sidewalks!) but her vision for cities remains beautiful to this day. Every city planning book since D&L must acknowledge her work, even if they disagree with her.

Her thesis always seemed to hinge on one thing: involvement. Design a street/city/block so that people can be involved… so that people MUST be involved. Our American individualism has drifted to points so extreme, that people can’t stand being involved with others… thus sprawl.

And with sprawl comes the disconnect: Why should I bother with “them?” Why should I care? I think that’s the saddest part… people have been given permission to move to the suburbs and check out of community participation (voting on acceptable house colors in the HOA doesn’t count, rallying your neighbors to help keep your streets safe does).

She called to care about others… to live for things bigger than ourselves… but mostly for beauty, as it expresses itself on your street.

Inspired by Jacobs, BenK offers his own manifesto on “zoning, planning, and city death” here.

Any of your thoughts would be much appreciated over in obit. AC7:03pm PDT

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blogoholism. Sarah Hepola’s confessional piece on her recent decision to shut down a long-running blog prompted fraysters to share their own struggles of addiction. synesthesia offers words of solidarity in admitting it happened to me, too. 4cabbage describes the same painful withdrawal symptoms as being like “quitting smoking or drinking.”

TheNate discusses the successive stages of his own detox:

My nine months as a blogaholic ended in August. It was a gradual withdrawal that began with accepting a higher media than myself and ended with me carrying the message to others. I went from constantly rereading my own entries and checking a dozen other blogs daily to never visiting mine and only occasionally visiting a few big-name sites. These days I can occasionally check blogs socially without fear of getting addicted again.But blogging got me in the habit of writing despite all the associated BS. Free from worrying about regular updates, networking through links, flame wars, coming up with snarky commentary, compulsively checking Technorati and my site meter, I had nothing to worry about but my craft. The pressure to produce was gone; only the energy remained.

Writing became fun again. I began to think creatively again, considering ideas outside the confines of blog entries. After spending a few weeks on a literary binge (or “book bender” - when you do nothing but read and read until you forget what day it is) I charted out a new project.

I went back to spending my free time hunched over a laptop, typing away furiously even though it wasn’t even connected to the Internet. I continued to research new ideas just as I did while a blogger, except this time I had all the time I wanted to expand on them without “post or you’re toast” being my mantra. Before long I had a new project charted out and exchanged the idea of being a blogger for the dream of being an author.

Last night I typed the last word to the first draft of my novel. I couldn’t have written it while I blogged, but I wouldn’t have written it if I hadn’t blogged at all. Maybe someday I’ll go back to blogging, but as far as I’m concerned my old blog is a finished work.

Jeff-MC chimes in with this advice: “The worst thing a writer can do is find ways to be a writer. Every ounce of energy you put into becoming a writer, is an ounce you’re not using to write.”

According to rundeep, here’s the real problem with blogging:

1) It causes the untalented to believe themselves writers with something of interest to say, and;

2) He who blogs is often not reading books, so as to develop the ability which might cure 1) above.

Poindexter unleashes a brutal critique on Hepola’s auto-eulogy, calling it

emblematic of what is insufferable about so many blogs, even the sometimes insighful ones: Bloggers tend to spend way to much time focusing on themselves and on the act of blogging.
Whether it’s Josh Marshall telling us about his nifty new layout that will be upcoming next month, Andrew Sullivan sharing photos of his adorable dogs, or the guy who does Kos letting us know that he will be doing a book signing in Grand Rapids this Saturday, bloggers, IMO, spend way too much time on self referential blather at the expense of substance. Obviously it is a blogger’s prerogative to post whatever they fancy, but they do so at their own peril.
And if Hepola’s navel gazing Slate obit (one more thing to write before hunkering down on the book, eh?) is any indication of her online edifice, I’m sure the culture will withstand this loss.

barbaricus, on the other hand, points to the value of blogs when you need deep background on a specific subject.

Far from stifling creative impulses, -badkitty- is grateful that this new media form has forced her to start writing again:

When I was younger, I kept a journal…silly little pictures of birds and fairies, along with doggerel, quotes, and my thoughts of the day.

Once I got married, got a job, and started taking care of a family, I didn’t have any time for writing, and when I finally went to university, I only had time to write essays and theses. I got so I hated writing…or so I thought.

My blogs are silly and certainly won’t shape the thoughts of anyone reading them. And they won’t get me published. But they make me feel good - and they’ve got me writing again. If not for my blogs, I wouldn’t be writing at all.

It appears that Belmont University may have the nation’s first Bloggers Anonymous Support Group (or at least a referral service). Check out this hilarious site. AC8:11pm PDT