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Worldwide Black Lab crime spree continues

Dunedin, FL – It’s full moon, folks, and dogs all around the world are in full-tilt shredder mode. Earlier today, a one-year old Labrador Retriever named Kay in Northumbria was caught mercilessly shredding one of her birthday presents.

Kay shredding boomerang toy 10-18-13This outrageous crime spree by guilty Labs has been getting worse. In just this past week, a three-year old Black Lab named Ruby was caught stealing a taxidermy possum during an educational presentation in a public park Down Under. The suspect in that case was incarcerated and later sent to rehab for retraining.

Closer to home, we have similar, tragic news to share: the famous Stinky Dog blanket, beloved comforter of wet and stinky dogs banned from the interior of the home until such time as they were acceptably dry, has met an untimely end late this evening.

The suspect, one-year old Rico, was caught with poly stuffing dangling from his mouth when BigBlackDogStudio’s resident artist happened to turn around and caught the canine destroyer in the act. The artist became suspicious when all of a sudden, she realised that the studio was eerily quiet and that the sounds of various plastic water bottles being chewed only moments before had suddenly ceased.

When confronted by the artist about the blanket-shredding incident, the suspect cocked his head sideways and pretended not to understand the question. The suspect was thereafter taken into custody and confined indoors while the evidence was gathered into a large garbage bag. Charges are pending.

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Reposted from our studio website: BigBlackDogStudio.com

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Grammar button

Bwaaahhhh haaaaaah haaaahhhhhh!!!! Love this button!!!!

grammar button

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Shrine of the Black Dog

While in the thrift store the other day looking for a wooden chair to paint and donate for a “chair”-ity auction upcoming, I was thumbing through picture frames to find any that I could use. I came across a frame with its three pictures of a Black Lab and his human. At home, I took off the back to see if there was any writing on the backs of the pictures as to when they were taken or what the dog’s name is but found nothing.

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What strikes me about the framed dog is not that it’s a Black Lab or that it appears to be a hunting dog as well as the dog in his younger days as well as old. What struck me is that someone must have passed away nearby here, the family came in and cleaned out his stuff, and then donated all the stuff they didn’t want to keep to the thrift store, which is something typically done and not strange in and of itself.

What bothers me is that the dog was obviously important to the hunter to have his favourite dog hung so nicely on his wall. The framing might have been a gift given that way to him. But the family didn’t bother taking out the pictures to keep in a photo album of the deceased with his beloved dog and donating just an empty frame; instead, they just packed up someone else’s fond memories, personal photos and all, and left them at the good-will. Why? Because it’s just Grandpa’s old dog that probably died ten or twenty years ago? Or at least as long ago as when they still developed film on Kodak paper?

Ancestry.com lets you track your family tree of humans so we can remember people we never met but who were part of our family. Why don’t they have a pet version so we can gaze back over our lives and remember all of the wonderful animals that we have loved and who have loved us unconditionally in return? Will someone please invent that for me? I would include all of the pets I have lived with in my life, and believe me, it’s quite a few.

In the meantime, the picture of The Beloved Dog will sit next to my Big Black Dog Studio sign as a shrine to beloved pets everywhere that enrich our lives for a time, but who pass on and often get forgotten as time rolls on. That seems to me to just be not right. Our pets help make us who we are just as much (and sometimes more) than the people in our lives. I personally think that we learn much more about ourselves reflected through our pets than we even know.

All of my pets have always been rescues, so I adopted poor, cast-off Beloved in spirit, and he can watch over Nemo like an adopted ancestor, one beloved Big Black Dog to another. I don’t need to know the specifics of Lovey’s life; all that’s important for me to know is that he once meant a lot to someone, so therefore, he now means a lot to me.

(reprinted from my other blog at http://bigblackdogstudio.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/shrine-of-the-black-dog/)

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Astronomy: Nemo constellation

Gearing up for the final exam this week, but fully expecting of myself to do well. Using the Stellarium software, I took a screen shot for my last homework assignment, then decided to get creative. One of the tasks this week was to research certain constellations as to their mythological backgrounds, and Draco was among them. Draco was not one whose story I was familiar with, but it’s a dragon. In fact it’s Hera’s dragon, her faithful pet dragon who guarded her super special golden apples by sleeping wrapped around the trunk so no one could steal the apples. He was her guard-dragon, her Nemo.

Well, lo and behold, Hercules is on a prove-he’s-a-tough-guy jaunt ticking off a list of twelve things somebody dared him to do, and stealing Hera’s apples is on the list. How does he do it, you ask? He just shoots and kills the dragon over the fence, and then sends in some gullible schmuck to climb the tree and get the goods. There’s a tough guy for you. Like a deliberate drive-by shooting of somebody’s beloved pet that was minding its own business in its own yard and then a looter comes into the yard and steals the homeowner’s treasure. Jerk. What a scummy thing to do. Why Hera didn’t go after him and bash his head in for killing her pet dragon, I don’t know. Those Greek myths always ticked me off. Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about people who abuse animals, so the story of the dragon really upset me. As you can probably tell. To top it all off, the Hercules constellation is positioned right next to the dragon, with the story being that he’s supposedly crushing the dragon.

Anyway, poor Hera was so upset about her murdered dragon that she immortalized him by placing him in the heavens where he encircles the northern pole, protecting it as he did the apple tree. From whom, I’m not sure, but it was sweet of her to think of how to best honour her faithful pet. I had never picked the constellation out of the sky before, but now it’s my favourite one, just on principle. Who knew Hera was an animal lover?

I decided that if I could place a constellation in the sky, it would look like this one:

Nemo constellation

Nemo would be chasing Hercules throughout eternity trying to bite him in the rump for trying to hurt the dragon.

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Miss Ryan’s 5-Minute Guide to Stress-Free Writing

Way back in the Third Grade you learned how to give a basic book report. Over the years, you learned how to add in your own opinion and to support your opinions with outside sources. Nearly every paper you write or speech you will give in the future is based upon this basic format. Memorize the basic structure, and you will simply have to fill in the blanks of the outline. Continue reading

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My Treaty of Versailles essay

Can we talk? As anyone who knows me whether in person or by reading my stuff, a huge pet peeve of mine is when people can’t write a complete sentence, let alone a basic paper. Discussion forums this past semester were particularly brutal, and I find it difficult to believe (despite repeated evidence before my eyes) that folks actually graduated from their high schools with such poorly demonstrated literacy skills. That’s why I keep posting my papers as samples to help others.

An assignment earlier this semester in Western Civ II was to discuss the ramifications of the Treaty of Versailles entered into following World War I. Since I know many folks have been using my papers for inspiration, and I got a 98 on this one, I’ll share with ya’ll. Please use MLA guidelines if you quote me. I don’t post these essays to be plagiarized, but to offer up inspiration for your own papers if you need it since I always teach my own students that every paper you write begins with the basic format you learned in 3rd Grade with your first book report. I will soon be posting notes from my usual lecture about that topic, so stay tuned. The following essay is classic style: intro of topic (my premise for making the point I’m making), a handful of examples and details on each for support (three points), and ending with a two-part conclusion (my opinions in response to the assignment directions).

The assignment directions were: Write an essay discussing the following question: How did the Versailles peace treaty set the basis for future conflicts in both Europe and the colonial world? Constructively critique the Treaty of Versailles. If the Treaty had been written differently, do you think World War II could have been avoided? Explain.

The Treaty of Versailles was drafted by representatives of Great Britain, the United States, France, Italy and Japan without consultation with the “defeated” powers of Germany or Russia or even with input by the affected representatives of the national groups which were lumped together into new Slavic nations. By not including countries which were being affected by the Treaty in the negotiation process yet imposing terms upon them, none were ever willing to uphold the Treaty. Three main situations flowing from the end of World War I festered among those unhappy with the Treaty and became the impetus for World War II.

First and foremost, Germans read in their newspapers or heard on their national radio about how Germany had pushed back the French or had won some other advance due to German superiority in military and technology, and the next thing they heard and read was about Germany agreeing to sign a Treaty that not only was economically punishing with large indemnity payments, but also accepting blame for being the aggressor. The German people were in disbelief that their country had agreed to be declared a loser in the Great War. Germany had made great strides in industrial production and felt it was not only gaining on Great Britain’s status as a great power, but on the verge of surpassing it. The German people felt their technological advances caused jealousy in other countries and that the purpose of the Treaty was to try to hold Germany back from becoming the world leader it felt it should be. Since no Allied forces actually invaded, the German people themselves were mostly unaware of a major conflict actually going on or its real causes. Germans volunteered for military service on the platform of patriotism. Certainly, there were casualties, but the locals themselves saw no battles on their own land and could not accept that there were any other countries with greater might and never “felt” defeated (and never did until World War II when their country was bombed and they experienced war). Not accepting the guilt accusations of the Treaty, Germans blamed their representatives for engaging in surreptitious political dealings and/or ineptness in handling world affairs. The terms of the Treaty did not actually serve to severely “punish” Germany, whether by conquest or significant loss of lands nor by the installation of a foreign overseer government, so much as merely handicap it since the lands that were removed were Germany’s source of natural resources which fed its industries. This left the German people as a whole feeling bullied. In the years following the Treaty when Europe fell into an economic depression, Germany believed that its abilities in technology and industry were the greatest in the world and that it should be prospering, yet the financial reparation set forth in the Treaty was blamed for keeping Germany strapped and held down. Resentment became stronger, and the nationalist sentiments which banded small towns into a country only half a century earlier rose into a view of themselves as a unit superior to other countries and the races inhabiting them.

Second, the sudden change in Russian government in 1917 when the Bolsheviks came to power and pulled Russia out of the war led to a state of forced communism upon the Russian people and its attempted spread to other areas of the world. The Treaty called for the removal of a portion of Russian holdings, such as the loss of Finland, although by no means was the vastness of the country affected by trimming off certain ports. The new communist government did not accept the imposition of the terms set forth by “capitalist” countries and set itself toward catching up and surpassing the capitalists at their own game (i.e., through agricultural and industrial production) as well as by supporting new communist revolutions in other countries such as Hungary and Bulgaria. They felt that by spreading the ideals of communism and by increasing their national production, they would “win” back all that they lost and more. Like the Germans, the Russians felt insulted and bent on retaliation for being bullying by other countries.

Third, President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” being touted as what the Treaty was to be based upon were seen as a sham by two main groups of people: those pockets of Slavic nationals who wished to sue for independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and those anti-colonial nationalists from Africa and Asia. The Slavs discovered they had been arbitrarily lumped together into five generic Slavic states by the writers of the Treaty who had neither idea nor interest what the national make-ups of those countries actually were composed of. A main tenet of the Points, the right of each nationality to self-determination was supposed to be an absolute value to guide the deliberations, yet the writers did not invite the Slavic ethnic tribes to contribute to the rezoning of their national boundaries nor even give the African and Asian colonial representatives an opportunity to present their cases for independence. This arrogant faux pas haunted the remainder of the 20th Century and continues into the present.

The many “secret agreements” among various European nations that were entered into prior or during the Great War were not honored in the Treaty. President Wilson’s idealistic “Fourteen Points” would have been a good starting point from which to work had he been sitting down with other nations who had similar understandings of the rights of citizens and representative governments as that of the United States. Unfortunately, by trying to “make nice” instead of peace, no one wound up happy in Europe or its colonies. Even the imposition of a democratic form of government upon the whole of Europe would not have worked because of the wheeling and dealing nature of politics that existed and the underestimation of the power and corruption of elite groups. Perhaps the only thing that could have been done differently is for the complete conquest of Germany and Russia to have taken place and for the dividing up of those countries and their holdings by Britain and France instead of merely several mandates and protectorates being established. After its experience with America proved that Britain could still flourish in trade with a friendly ex-colony, Germany might have benefited if Britain had taken over its government and led it to prosperity peaceably.

If Russia had been divided up and a new government installed and administered to eliminate the Bolsheviks’ communism, I’m not certain that communism would have disappeared. The country is far too vast to monitor and Russia is made up of far too many ethnic groups for them all to agree upon one best way to do anything. Unfortunately, the ideals espoused by communism and socialism had been developing in the minds of the intelligencia for many years. For an atheistic government, “all for one and one for all” communal efforts to benefit all are remarkably Christian, yet mankind is not by nature altruistic and self-sacrificing for his fellow man. Truly, by allowing it to run its course through the 20th Century and proving to themselves that it did not work was the only way to actually defeat communism. The nationalism and wish for self-government in central Europe and the Near East by the native ethnic groups there still has not run its course. When the Berlin Wall came down and the free and communist sides of Germany were united by the will of the people and their governments, it was by consensus and will therefore flourish. Forcing a government upon a people that does not wish it only invites resentment to simmer, to wit: the Slavs, Persia, Palestine and Syria, Hutus and Tutsis in Africa, etc., all of which were tampered with by Europeans forcing their religious and class ideas upon the natives instead of the native cultures being allowed to develop naturally.

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Oreos vs. Creme-O’s cookies: a comparison

I had to post to a discussion board this week about pricing and marketing in my online business course. The question was “What is an ‘effective’ price?” and instead of just giving the definition and having nothing else to discuss, I came up with an example of how pricing swayed me from the expensive Oreos over to Food Lion’s private label cookie, the Creme-O’s. I need to post the picture of my cookies and couldn’t find a photo like the one I took myself in order to link, so I’m posting it here along with the text of my post. Enjoy!

What Is an “effective” price?

An “effective” price is one at which the most possible customers are willing to purchase a product. The customers must perceive that the value of the product is favorable in relation to the dollar amount being charged for it. When a business prices its product in a range that is comfortable for the largest number of customers and the quality of the product is such that the customer is willing to not only purchase it the first time, but come back and repeat purchasing of that product again in the future, the volume of sales can be maintained and even grow.

For example, a grocery store may sell several brands of “big name” cookies in addition to its own in-house private brands. On the shelves, the display will be clusters of cookies arranged either by brand, such as Nabisco, or by type, such as chocolate chip. I have seen Food Lion handle displaying their private brands in two ways. First, in the cookie aisle, they will have all of their private brand cookies in a clustered section similarly displayed as though it were a cluster of Nabisco brand cookies. Second, I have seen in the breakfast cereal aisle, they will separate their private brands and display them side by side with the national brand, such as putting Rice Chex right next to their own Toasted Rice private brand and Post Raisin Brand will be right next to a box of Food Lion’s Bran Flakes with Raisins cereal.

Okay, so how does this tie in with “effective” price? When I go in to the grocery store looking to satisfy my sweet tooth with Oreos in mind, I browse the cookie aisle for all of its chocolate offerings. I note that a one pound package of Oreos is marked at close to four dollars and am offended at the high ticket price and keep examining other chocolate cookies for a more inexpensive, yet acceptable, alternative. I find in the Food Lion private brand section a plain blue and white package labeled Crème-O’s with a subtitle that reads “compare to Oreos” and I am now intrigued because the price marked for the private brand is only $2.79. Being a frugal shopper I am now faced with a dilemma: pay the extra dollar and get the Oreos and the quality I already know, or take a chance and purchase the store brand, save a dollar and hope they are a decent substitute.

 

Here’s how the story ends: I bought the store brand, got them home and tore into the package. I discovered that they were not made with a cheap chocolate so common in knock-offs, but that they were made with the same dark chocolate cookie wafer that I loved in the Oreo. The crème sugar center also tasted the same as that of an Oreo. Having taken a gamble on the private brand, I am now hooked AND pleased with myself for saving money and still getting the quality – in this case, a particular flavor – that I wanted. This helps Food Lion to increase its market share in the cookie aisle because I have now “converted” to their private label away from Oreo’s brand. Additionally, I will make repeat and multiple purchases, and have even used word of mouth in the check out line to share my findings with an elderly man who was holding a bag of Oreos and who was so impressed by my findings that he went back to the cookie aisle and exchanged the name brand for the Food Lion Crème-O package. I saw him again the next week, and he was just as pleased as I was and said he had told his daughter about making the switch as well. The “effectiveness” of the price of the Crème-O cookies combined with consumer word of mouth marketing has therefore led to an increase of sales for the private label and taken away a portion of the market share from another national brand. Was the dollar difference effective? I think it was.

Other than defining the term, anybody else have examples of how they’ve been swayed by the effectiveness of pricing for or against a product they’ve traditionally chosen?

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