In Soviet Union, Crow Eats You

Earlier today, as Schatzi and I emerged from the house for our morning constitutional, a raven lifted off from a palo verde tree across the street. It’s a windy day here in Tucson, so the raven was able to turn into the wind and hover, holding position a few feet away and slightly above us.

I didn’t think Schatzi noticed it — early in her life she figured out she can’t catch birds, and since then has shown little interest in them — but I certainly did. It was a big bugger, two feet from beak to tail and three feet from wingtip to wingtip, the size of a hawk. As we walked, I’d occasionally look up, and there the raven would be. It was clearly following us.

We we got home the raven landed on our garage roof, and Schatzi made a quick lunge in its direction and barked at it.  She knew the raven was there all along.  A half-hour later — as I started writing this post, in fact — the raven landed on the ground just outside our office window, for all the world as if it knew Schatzi was sitting on my computer desk inside the window.  Schatzi in fact was sitting there, watching the raven intently.

I’d like to say I’m not a believer in signs, but of course that’s nonsense.  We all believe in signs.  I think we’re hardwired that way.  I just wish I knew what this sign means.  Probably it means the raven had delusions of grandeur and thought it might just be able to latch onto Schatzi and get airborne with her.  God knows we’ve all heard stories of hawks taking off with small dogs clutched in their talons.  But Schatzi is not that small — she weighed in at 12.6 pounds at the vet’s yesterday, and now that I know she’s paying attention to aerial threats, I think I can quit worrying.

Celtic people used to believe a raven flying over a house was an omen of impending death.  The Arabs consider the raven the Father of Omens.  Jews and Christians take a dim view of the species as well.  Ravens get bad press all around.

Me?  I’m gonna buck the trend and view this morning’s experience as a positive omen.  Black is beautiful!  Still, I think I’ll keep Schatzi inside the rest of the day.


Yesterday I bitched and moaned about a Facebook app called Visual Bookshelf, and described a plan to copy my catalog of books from VB to a database of my own.  Theoretically, VB users can extract database-ready file copies of their catalogs, but VB is a piece of crap that doesn’t work something is wrong with the export function.  Looks like I’ll have to manually cut & paste all the information I’ve put into my VB catalog into an Excel spreadsheet.  That seems like an awfully anal thing to do (my catalog contains almost 300 books), but I must be at least slightly obsessive-compulsive because I know I’m going to wind up doing it.

Of course I’m angry VB no longer works as advertised and am exploring other Facebook book applications.  An app called Goodreads looks promising.  But as I said yesterday, whether I stay with VB or switch to another app, I’ll also be maintaining a duplicate database at home so I don’t get caught flatfooted again.


Certain subject lines keep popping up on my Honda Goldwing motorcycle discussion board.  Any time I drop by there’ll be lively discussions on perennial topics: motorcyclists should always wave at other motorcyclists; Harley-Davidsons are crap; BMW riders are assholes; Obama wants our guns; Al Gore is fat.  The Goldwing demographic is overwhelmingly conservative, with strong representation from the mouth-breathing community.

Lately, I’m seeing post after post — and discussion after discussion — on the topic of grammar police.  As in:

To you self appointed spelling and/or grammar police I say get off of your high horse and at least try to understand what some people have to go through just to type in here the first time and especially after being criticized, try again and again and again. If you have a difference of opinion with someone, don’t use their communication skills against them. It only shows how small you are. I respect those that keep trying a lot more than those of you that want to brag about your education, upbringing and just want to take cheap shots at someone’s disability.

It seems to me that a lot of the people who call themselves “conservative” are driven less by political and economic theory than simple spite: resentment of their perceived betters and a desire to bring them down.  This explains, to me, the right’s anti-intellectual and anti-science stance.  This explains, to me, why the right goes against its own interests in embracing corporate and big-money efforts to eliminate unions and well-paying jobs with benefits.  This explains, to me, the above screed.  Bring ’em all down to our level.  That’ll show ’em.

Well, fuck that.  I judge you by your grammar.  I judge you by your education and accomplishments.  I judge you by your intelligence.  I judge you by your willingness to learn and to change your behavior in the light of reality.


Speaking of a certain kind of “conservative,” Stephen Colbert delivered a brilliant rant last week.  For those of you who didn’t catch it — and for those of you who’d like to savor it again — here it is:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mika Brzezinski Experiences Palin Fatigue
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> Video Archive

© 2011, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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