Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Sins of Chip Kelly

In the “Be Careful What You Wish For” Department, we have Chip Kelly, the brand new coach for the Philadelphia Eagles going into Denver to play the Broncos. Kelly, who is widely considered to be an Offensive Wizard has been stymied by the poor play of his players, notably his quarterback Michael Vick, and Kelly has declared “we need more snaps”. The showdown in Denver might see him get his wish, but for all the wrong reasons.

Kelly’s “more snaps” philosophy means running more plays and in college ball that was a great thing. But this is not college and some of the men on the field are in their thirties, most notably his quarterback Michael Vick, and these older guys can’t keep up the pace of a snap every twenty seconds. Kelly could go with much younger players but he’d lose a lot of experience. Kelly is going to discover that Denver has quite possibly the fastest offense alive today and it has nothing at all to do with snaps. The Broncos move the ball quite well thank you very much. They have a quarterback what can sling it.

There is something else Kelly hasn’t considered; Michael Vick is still a pariah. Vick’s conviction for dog fighting left an indelible stain on the Eagles reputation for hiring him and on Kelly’s reputation for keeping him. Vick is still very toxic. The Dog People, and who knew there were so many, have not let go yet. I suspect they aren’t going to because of that Pit Bull thing. Vick murdered Pit Bulls. We have not forgotten this. The Dog People hate this man with a passion greater than football people love him. This will always be an issue for the Eagles, Kelly, and Vick. Until they fire Vick, someone cripples him, or he quits, expect the Dog People to represent.

The Eagles play their next three games on the road which is good news considering they’ve lost their last seven at home. It is one thing to hear the dog howl noises and barking coming from your opponent’s stands but it is quite another to hear it from people who are supposed to love you. The Dog People are always there, always loud, and they never stop. It’s a distraction to hear your home town cheer when your quarterback gets hit. It’s a distraction to the men on the field who don’t respect their quarterback because he’s Michael Vick.

Chip Kelly has his work cut out for him. Vick is a Coach Killer. Every Coach Michael Vick has played for in the NFL has been fired or fled. Vick’s numbers are often stellar but just as often, dismal. The games Vick has won with his heroics on the field are dwarfed by late game turnovers and his inability to get the job done when the game is one the line.

Oh, we’re still out there, in cyberspace, in the stands, in the streets and pretty much everywhere else. We Dog People are still cobbling together enough money to save strays, support dog adoption and help wherever we can, whenever we can, and we will never see the big bucks that Vick is still playing for, no, we will not.

But each and every weekend we snap at Chip Kelly and his deeply flawed freakshow of a human being. Kelly wants more snaps, and by that he means more offensive plays. But the Dog People are snapping at his heels and soon the other fans will be, too.

Be careful, Chip Kelly, what you wish for.

Take Care,


Friday, September 20, 2013

The Tortured Dog

Back in the 80's my friend Eli stopped a man from beating a dog. Eli took the bat away from the man and from all accounts nearly killed him. Eli then took the dog and that dog died ten years later, still afraid of most people, but still loved to the end.

Sam, my Elder Mutt, was found nearly dead of starvation, dehydration, neglect, abuse, and was hours away from being too far gone to save, but save him we did. That was twelve years ago back in July, and Sam is a Happy Hound, but there are still some times that he fears people.

You have to decide for yourself if you want to go on with this. What I am going to show you next isn't something that you are going to like. It's more horrible than some of the things that Nazis thought up. You have to decide right now how you're going to live from this day forward.

"The injuries cataloged in the post-mortem examination are grotesque and indicate consistent starvation and abuse over an extended period of time," Morrissey said. "It is highly unlikely that this level of sadistic cruelty could be shown to one animal and not be part of a pattern involving other animals or perhaps vulnerable people."
The dog, dubbed Puppy Doe, was found near a playground and hospital in Quincy, but Morrissey pointed out that the person responsible for the abuse does not necessarily live there.
Puppy Doe was estimated to be between 1-2 years old. She weighed about 18 pounds when she should have weighed about 40, according to a rescue league veterinarian.
The post-mortem examination showed evidence of multiple broken bones as well as burns to the nose and stab wounds to the eye.
She also appears to have undergone some kind of crude cutting to create a serpent-like split to her tongue, according to Martha Smith-Blackmore, who performed the necropsy.

Read more:

I am not suggesting you pick up a baseball bat and go hunting humans. Eli was himself a damaged person, a product of a long ago war that left him deeply scarred and terribly troubled. He is an old man now but there are times he has problems trusting people and such as this is why.

What I want you to do is try. I want you to volunteer at an animal shelter. I want you to join an adoption group. I want you to write letter to your congresspeople and tell them we have to do better, we have to have stronger laws, and we have to end Breed Specific Legislation.  But mostly we have to educate people as to how dogs and cats and other people for that matter, are supposed to be treated.

Whoever did this to one dog will do it to another dog. Whoever does this to dogs will do this to a child. This is a level of evil that cannot be contained or constrained. I will ask you to go get a bat if you find these people, or hell, just call me, I'll do it for you.

But mostly we dog people have to become a tighter community. We have to let our voices be heard as one. We have to let the rest of the world know that we care, we care deeply, we love our dogs and we will not, we cannot, allow this sort of inhumanity to stand without us, all of us, setting up a howl.

Howl with me. That’s what I am asking.

Join a rescue group. Write a letter. Feed a stray. These are things that we can do that will make a difference and it may, it will, prompt other people to join us. We are animal rescue. This is what we do.

Show compassion. Teach humanity. Spread love. This is what dogs do. Someone took that away from a puppy and replaced it with suffering and evil.

For this to happen again all you need to do is nothing.

To stop it, you have to do something. We all do. We all can.

My name is Mike Firesmith and I will no allow this to happen to another dog if I can help it. I will rescue. I will write. And I was save as many dogs as I can and I will help them find a good home and a loving family.

Put your name in that paragraph and see how well it fits. Wake up tomorrow and make it a reality. Do it for those still living with hope for love.

We have to do better because there are people out there doing much worse and we cannot all swing a bat.

Take Care,


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Smoking; For Tonia

When a friend of mine’s mother died of emphysema I knew it was time to stop smoking. I hadn’t been smoking very long but I was having a terrible time quitting. The worst part was I had a support group for smoking at work. I drank on the weekends and as anyone who has ever drank beer and smoked cigarettes will tell you, drinking and smoking go together like movies and popcorn. But there are a lot of people who drink and go to movies without popcorn or cigarettes and I knew it.

The thing that made me hate myself more than anything else is that I divorced a woman because she smoked. Well, okay, that was just one of the reasons but I hated the idea of letting someone in my life that was that bad for me. And here I was, smoking. I was One Of Them. I was A Smoker. I knew what I smelled like and I knew what my truck smelled like and I knew what people thought of me when I stepped outside to smoke a cigarette.

I remember back in the day smokers lit up anywhere and everywhere. Movies, grocery stores, hospitals, and bar, oh my god , bars were a place you couldn’t step into without stepping out with a nicotine buzz. Everyone smoked and no one complained about how much anyone smoked. My grandfather was one of the first people to die slow, die horribly, and die of smoking. The world changed.

So how did I get to where I was, as a nonsmoker, to smoking? I married a smoker. It’s that simple. The number of people willing to give up smoking for love is smaller than those who can get talked into it by love. So for 989 days, as a married man, I was a smoker. Then, dammit, for about that much time or even longer, way after she was gone, I could not quit.

I hated myself for smoking. I couldn’t stand the weakness. There was a deep and everlasting sense of self-loathing every time I bought a pack. I liked Camels. They were the first cigarettes that I had smoked and I stole them from my long dead grandfather. I was a statistic. And I just simple could not stop no matter how badly I wanted to quit.

People, and I was one of them, made up all sorts of promises. I’ll stop after this pack. How many times have you said that?  I’ll quit after this project. I’ll quit as soon as this part of my life ends. I’ll quit after the holidays. I’ll quit when it warms up. I’ll quit on my birthday. I’ll quit on New Year’s. I’ll quit when Keith Richards stops looking like someone who died in 1967. I’ll quit when I can put my left elbow into my right ear hole. Yeah, I’ve lied a few times to myself about quitting.

I lied about smoking. I lied about how much I smoked. I lied to myself about how much damage I was taking. I lied to people about how many times I had tried to quit. I lied to myself, mostly, because I told myself I could quit anytime I wanted to quit but I just didn’t want to for the last four years.

On January the fifth, 2005, on a Saturday afternoon, I was playing a video game with a friend and we took a smoke break. He didn’t smoke but he went along with my smoking and I hated us both for it. Then I realized that to quit all I had to do was stop smoking. That easy, that hard, all I had to do was lay it down. I stubbed out one of those cheap little cigars and the clock started ticking.

Day One: No fun.

The next day I busied myself in a hundred different ways to keep from going into town and buying a pack. Of course, I started an Excel program to count the days. After one day the program looked like the results of someone who was counting honest politicians or sober drunks or fish with pilot’s licenses. One; and that wasn’t true because it hadn’t been twenty-four hours yet. Wait! Yes! I started counting the minutes. I started counting the hours. Twenty-five hours seems much longer than one day and one hour.

By Monday I was closing in on fifty hours but it was a bitch. I missed my Pepsi and a smoke at seven in the morning. I missed smoking on the deck. I missed smoking with my buddies first thing on the project. I missed my ten in the morning break. I missed my after lunch smoke.

I missed my habit.

Three days was nearly seventy-five hours. One hundred hours came by Thursday. I made it to the weekend which meant I was about to make it one week. One week without smoking. It was like running half a marathon and realizing you still have a very long way to go.

But a week turned into ten days. Ten days made it close to two weeks. Two weeks was a special occasion because by two weeks there was some signs, positive signs, in recovery. I felt better. My sense of smell was returning. Food tasted better. People were beginning to believe I had done it and I was getting a lot of positive feedback from family and friends.

At three weeks I felt I had turned a corner. At a month I felt like I had reached not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning. At forty-two days, which my program was counting down from, I was supposed to go out and have a cigar but I chose not to do so. Suddenly, I had a battle cry that sounded a lot like, “NEVER AGAIN!” and I felt like I could do it.

That was eight and a half years ago.

I haven’t smoked anything at all during those years. Not to celebrate, not just once, not even a little, and certainly not to just see what it will do for me.

You either quit or you smoke. Cutting down is smoking. Trying other cigarettes is smoking. Patches and smoking is smoking.


It is that easy and it is that hard.

Take Care,


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Old Car Trivia, (stolen shamelessly from Bruce. )

Q: What was the first official White House car?
A: A 1909 White Steamer, ordered by President Taft.
Q: Who opened the first drive-in gas station?
A: Gulf opened up the first station in Pittsburgh in 1913.
Q: What city was
the first to use parking meters?
A: Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935.
Q: Where was the first drive-in restaurant?
A: Royce Hailey's Pig Stand opened in Dallas in 1921.
Q: True or False?
The 1953 Corvette came in white, red and black.
A: False.
The 1953 'Vetted' were available in one color, Polo White.
Q: What was Ford's answer to the Chevy Corvette, and other legal street racers of the 1960's?
A: Carroll Shelby's Mustang GT350.
Q: What was the first car fitted with an alternator, rather than a direct current dynamo?
A: The 1960 Plymouth Valiant
Q: What was the first car fitted with a replaceable cartridge oil filter?
A: The 1924 Chrysler.
Q: What was the first car to be offered with a "perpetual guarantee"?
A: The 1904 Acme, from Reading, PA. Perpetuity was disturbing in this case, as Acme closed down in 1911.
Q: What American luxury automaker began by making cages for birds and squirrels?
A: The George N. Pierce Co. of Buffalo, who made the Pierce Arrow, also made iceboxes.
Q: What car first referred to itself as a convertible?
A: The 1904 Thomas Flyer, which had a removable hard top.
Q: What car was the first to have it's radio antenna embedded in the windshield?
A: The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix.
Q: What car used the first successful series-production hydraulic valve lifters?
A: The 1930 Cadillac 452, the first production V16
Q: Where was the World's first three-color traffic lights installed?
A: Detroit, Michigan in 1919. Two years later they experimented with synchronized lights.
Q: What type of car had the distinction of being GM's 100 millionth20 car built in the U.S. ?
A: March 16, 1966 saw an Olds Tornado roll out of Lansing, Michigan with that honor.
Q: Where was the first drive-in movie theater opened, and when?
A: Camden, NJ in 1933
Q: What autos were the first to use a standardized production key-start system?
A: The 1949 Chryslers
Q: What did the Olds designation 4-4-2 stand for?
A: 4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed transmission, and dual exhaust.
Q: What car was the first to place the horn button in the center of the steering wheel?
A: The 1915 Scripps-Booth Model C. The car also was the first with electric door latches.
Q: What U.S. production car has the quickest 0-60 mph time?
A: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409. Did it in 4.0 seconds.
Q: What's the only car to appear simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek?
A: The Mustang
Q: What was the lowest priced mass produced American car?
A: The 1925 Ford Model T Runabout. Cost $260, $5 less than 1924.
Q: What is the fastest internal-combustion American production car?
A: The 1998 Dodge Viper GETS-R, tested by Motor Trend magazine at 192.6 mph.
Q: What automake r's first logo incorporated the Star of David?
A: The Dodge Brothers.
Q: Who wrote to Henry Ford, "I have drove fords exclusively when I could get away with one. It has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasn't been strictly legal it don't hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V-8"?
A: Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde) in 1934.
Q: What car was the first production V12, as well as the first production car with aluminum pistons?
A: The 1915 Packard Twin-Six. Used during WWI in Italy, these motors inspired Enzi Ferrari to adopt the V12 himself in 1948.
Q: What was the first car to use power operated seats?
A: They were first used on the 1947 Packard line.
Q: Which of the Chrysler "letter cars" sold the fewest amount?
A: Only 400, 1963, 300J's were sold (they skipped" "I" because it
looked like a number 1)
Q: What car company was originally known as Swallow
Sidecars (aka SS)?
A: Jaguar, which was an SS model first in 1935, and ultimately
the whole company by 1945.
Q: What car delivered the first production V12 engine?
A: The cylinder wars were kicked off in 1915 after Packard's chief
engineer, Col. Jesse Vincent, introduced its Twin-Sis.
Q: When were seat belts first fitted to a motor vehicle?
A: In 1902, in a Baker Electric streamliner racer which crashed at 100 mph. on Staten Island!
Q: In January 1930, Cadillac debuted it's V16 in a car named
for a theatrical version of a 1920's film seen by Harley Earl
while designing the body, What's that name?
A: The "Madam X", a custom coach designed by Earl
and built by Fleetwood. The sedan featured a
retractable landau top above the rear seat.
Q: Which car company started out German, yet became
French after WWI?
A: Bugati, founded in Molsheim in 1909, became French
when Alsace returned to French rule.
Q: In what model year did Cadillac introduce the first
electric sunroof?
A: 1969
Q: What U.S. production car had the largest 4 cylinder engine?
A: The 1907 Thomas sported a 571 cu. in. (9.2liter) engine.
Q: What car was reportedly designed on the back of a Northwest Airlines airsickness bag and released on April Fool's Day, 1970?
A: 1970 Gremlin, (AMC)
Q: What is the Spirit of Ecstasy?
A: The official name of the mascot of Rolls Royce, she is the lady on top of their radiators.
Q: What was the inspiration for MG's famed octagon-shaped badge?
A: The shape of founder Cecil Kimber's dining table. MG stands for Morris Garages.

Q: In what year did the "double-R"  Rolls Royce badge change from red to black?
A: 1933

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sam, Sam, the Enduring Hound.

Time has been kind to Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound. From his horrible and torturous puppyhood, Sam has lived a very good life. No one has hit him. No one has deserted him. No one has starved him. It is sad to mark an animal’s life in contrast to deprivation and abuse but there it is. There is little more than Sam could have hoped for and very little he appreciates in a larger fashion than he does simply having enough to eat.

Yet as time has given time also takes away. Sam is going blind. Sam is becoming deaf. Sam’s motor skills are degenerating. In short, Sam is aging. His jet black hair is white around his muzzle. Sam’s gait is unsure now. The urgency for the hunt is muted and Sam no longer streaks across the yard like the black torpedo that gave armadillos nightmares. Sam is aging.

I’ve started training the two younger dogs not to exit the building like it’s on fire. If Sam gets in the way of the Mutt Tsunami he can get a leg broken or worse. Now, Sam goes out first and the other two have to wait until Sam is off the steps. We have to adapt to the Elder One. They do not like it much but it is in the nature of the Loki Mutt to obey. Lillith likes it less but the “stay” command is one she is beginning to understand. It has to be this way if Sam is to survive getting out of the house.

Sam has also begun to stop in front of me and that causes me to either run into him or have to push him out of the way. I’m learning to catch Sam as he’s approaching me and cutting hard to one side so I go to one side of him rather than into him. This confuses Sam and it makes it look like I’m avoiding him so I have also started to stop and pet him when he isn’t expecting it. Age is making Sam feel less secure as far as his place in the pack goes.

Sam’s mobility is becoming an issue because it takes him longer to stand up, longer to get moving, longer to get to the door, longer to get out of the way, and the younger dogs understand this as well as I do.  Lucas got pushed to the ground and scolded by me for pushing Sam one day and since that last time he hasn’t done it again. Lillith has always treated Sam with a lot of respect but she will still lick his muzzle more than he likes. Lillith loves her Elder Mutt. The first little girl dog to arrive here has been a total success.

I wondered if I was going to be able to get Sam past this Summer. It has been a very cool Summer with very few triple digit days. An aging hound has been given a break from the weather and I hope that next Summer will be gentle to him as well. Sam is over twelve years old now and he’s showing it in many ways. Sam no longer eats as fast or as much as he once did. Sam sleep more, runs less and doesn’t chase ball anymore. Sam was once a very active and playful dog but now he is content to watch. I saw this in Bert in his final years.

Right now, I would have to say that Sam will live at least until next Summer. Sam is a hardcore survivor of Hell. He’s been through much worse than most people realize is out there. Sam has hung on when there was no reason to think things would or could get better.

Sam is a lesson in endurance and resiliency.  I hope you never have to learn it the way Sam did.

Take Care,