University of Wisconsin: Stop Experimenting On Cats

First, an example of an accidental although tragic cat mishap…

Cat goes to vet for flea bath but gets euthanized

GARDNER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman says her cat went to the veterinarian for a flea bath and was mistakenly euthanized instead. Colleen Conlon of Gardner is grieving the loss of the cat, 8-year-old Lady, which she attributes to “negligence” by the vet.

Her son took Lady to an animal hospital last week and unknowingly authorized the cat to be put to sleep after he says he was handed the wrong forms. He says he learned of the mix-up when he returned with a second cat and the vet asked him if he wanted to keep the bodies.

Conlon doesn’t think the vet had any “malicious intent.” But she’s filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office. The veterinarian didn’t return a call from the Telegram & Gazette seeking comment.

My son, Zeke, without taking his eyes away from his latest graphic design on the laptop had this to say when I read the article out loud, complaining about the story’s lack of specifics. “That’s just a fast food news article, mom.” I asked what he meant by that. “Something put out really fast with no nutritional value.” True there were several unanswered questions in the article that left one scratching one’s head. It was meant to evoke a reaction and in that sense was highly effective. At one point over the weekend, it was the most popular post being read on USAToday’s web site.

As a cat lover the story made me both sad and mad. Judging by the comments I wasn’t the only one. Horrific as that was it pales in comparison to the email petition I had received a couple of days earlier. The petition contained a video with an accompanying warning that nearly made me not watch. I realize though that sometime in order to bring about change we must look horror in the face and fight against it with whatever tool available. The petition submitted by Reannon Branchesi reads:

University of Wisconsin: Stop Experimenting On Cats

Why is the University of Wisconsin – Madison torturing cats? This has to stop. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) needs to stop funding cruelty to animals.

I’m a native Wisconsinite, got my degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and I’m raising my family in Madison, so it makes me especially sick to know that violent animal tests are being conducted in a place that I love. You would never expect such an ugly and cruel thing to happen on an otherwise beautiful campus in a wonderful city.

According to documents obtained by PETA, a cat named Double Trouble had her eyes, ears, and brain operated on. Steel coils were implanted into her eyes and a stainless steel post was screwed into her skull so that her head could be immobilized during experiments. Then, she had holes drilled into her skull so that electrodes could be inserted in her brain. Experimenters then applied a toxic substance to her inner ears to deafen her and electrical implants were placed deep inside both of her ears.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video.

I know that UW-Madison can do better than this, and I don’t want my tax dollars used to support NIH-funded cruelty.

Please sign my petition asking University of Wisconsin to stop all experiments on cats and ask the NIH to stop funding this cruelty everywhere it takes place.

Another link you may find interesting:

Be a voice for the voiceless.


Amir Jennings Missing But Not Forgotten

Amir, you are not forgotten.

Precious Amir Jennings is still MISSING. Amir, last seen with his mother in South Carolina was a mere one and a half year old, when first reported missing. It’s been nearly a year that surveillance video captured him with the woman who should have protected him. Instead the toffee-skinned toddler with tender bowed lips and wide impressive eyes vanished without a trace.

Amir’s mother has since been convicted of unlawful conduct for refusing to tell authorities where Amir might be. She’s been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Clearly, the woman who brought this adorable little bit into the world is useless as a penny with a hole in it. And the news media, finger on the pulse of our consciousness, unlike with little missing white girls, has decided Amir isn’t of interest to us. Some speculate it’s because he’s African American. Some say it’s gender-based. Some insist if he was wealthy neither gender nor race would matter.

I and many others who have featured this child prominently on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and various other reaches of the social  universe have decided we won’t allow a pick and choose media to deny that capacity within us – the capacity to care and be a voice for the most vulnerable among us.

Amir isn’t a little blond hair blue-eyed white girl. So what? Amir’s parents aren’t middle-class white people. So what? Amir isn’t some well-known celebrity’s child. So what? The media’s indifference suggests Amir is a ‘throw-away’. Listed among all the other MISSING children considered nothing more than collateral damage in a world of corrupt, amoral creatures in human form that prey on the innocent. I say screw the media and continue voicing your care for this innocent child of God on whatever platform available.

Amir belongs to us now. Like Proximo told Maximus in Gladiator, “Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.”  If you watched the movie, you know by that time Maximus had lost everything, including his wife and son. He was Proximo’s slave, a ‘throw-away’ gladiator, whose sole purpose was to entertain a blood-thirsty mob. Well, Maximus won over the crowd and in so doing became more powerful than an emperor.

We, you and I are the mob, the crowd. I knew Amir had slain my heart when, unable to clear my mind’s eye of that little face, I dug the newspaper out the trash. With those wide staring eyes prompting, I reread the article: Despite detectives’ pleas to national media, Amir’s disappearance has registered as scarcely a blip on the nation’s consciousness. I refused to believe noone cared about Amir so scoured the Internet. Aha, the crowd, perhaps not a horde, but many, without the backing of national media had made Amir their own. With this post and possibly others in the future, although I hope Amir will soon be found safe and sound, I gladly step into the fray.

At the risk of sounding overly obsessive about the movie Gladiator, I offer up one more quote. Lucilla attempting to pacify Commodus by disparaging Maximus’ hold on the people: “The mob is fickle, brother. He’ll be forgotten in a month.” It’s going on a year since Amir went missing and prominent newspapers herald his story. Just recently the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show mentioned Amir on the radio. Bloggers, Facebookers, Twitterers, Pinteresters, anonymous forum chatters, among others in the social universe, dare to defy the national media, featuring Amire’s image and discussing his case.

MISSING BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. We are the fickle mob and Amire, is our child. We must speak for him and others like him. If you haven’t already, please add Amir to your consciousness on whatever platform available and keep him in prayer.  I look forward to hearing how you are keeping Amir’s story alive. Strength and honor!

I Am Married to An Old Black Log

Anna Douglass

Bantering with a friend the other day about  Michelle Obama’s appearance at the DNC something crazy just popped out of my mouth. We were discussing how everyone and his/her mama were buzzing about how beautiful the first lady looked. There was even talk about the nail polish she wore. And that speech left nary a dry eye in the house. Especially when Mom-in-chief revealed she loves her hubby now more than ever. Michelle’s approval rating is soaring. These days she’s even considered Obama’s ‘secret’ weapon. Oh what a difference four years make.

Then: “Oh pleeze,” I jokingly chided. “Soon as Malia and Sasha graduate high school just like Frederick Douglass, Obama will be saying, ‘I am married to an old black log.’” For some reason the asinine quote supposedly from a letter Douglass wrote his daughter spilled out of me. Ol’ Frederick didn’t think an uneducated dark-skinned young man was good enough for his baby girl. The novel begins with the old black log line that Jewell Parker Rhodes said inspired her to write Douglass’ Women, one of my all-time favorite books.

I read the novel years ago and it put Douglass on the map for me. Prior to it he was simply the black abolitionist instrumental in freeing the slaves. Shoot I didn’t even know he was mixed race. All I ever saw were pictures of a suited up brother with a huge afro. But not only was Frederick Douglass the greatest African American orator of his time, he was also an author, businessman, and statesman, who also championed women’s rights or suffrage as it was called in those days.

So I guess President Obama and FD are intertwined in my head since they share a commonality in oratorical skills, writing ability, and alignment with women’s rights. There are the differences too: FD’s sperm donor was white, possibly the plantation owner. His mother was a black slave and was sent off to a different plantation so FD saw very little of her. His mother died when he was around seven or so. So basically FD was raised by his black grandmother.

Some things are best left unsaid.

Obama’s parentage was just the opposite. Not much similarity in wives either, except skin color. FD’s wife Anna was dark-skinned, short, stout and illiterate. In the novel and the little history I managed to dig up about Anna, she never learned to read or write. Anna contented herself with running the house and caring for the children, often alone, as FD was rarely around.

Unlike the highly educated ‘Mom-in-chief’, Anna would’ve never been invited to stand before a crowd and give a speech to bolster her husband’s political aspirations. You see FD was considered handsome, intelligent and important. Anna was born free but since she wasn’t literate and didn’t look a certain way wasn’t considered a ‘fitting wife’ for the great FD.

As the story goes, after trying a couple of times to escape from slavery, it was only with Anna’s money and a sailor’s suit she’d made him that FD was finally successful. He supposedly repaid Anna by marrying her. Maybe he didn’t love her but that didn’t stop him from visiting her body. Out of his women it was Anna only who produced his heirs. But when he was all over the world being all debonair and important, FD kept other women by his side. Women that looked nothing like Anna.

Unlike Mitt Romney’s Vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan, I don’t think Obama dated black girls before he met Michelle. “Barry one of those slick Chicago politicians,” I quipped to my friend. “He knew having a chocolate educated sister by his side would open some political doors. Not to mention Michelle’s from the Southside. Go Barry.”

Back to Michelle’s appearance. Several news folks stated she was a lot more polished than four years ago. Unlike other first ladies Michelle’s been called fat, not a great beauty, even Chewbacca. I used to pray she didn’t go out on the Internet and read all the mean-spirited stuff being said about her. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Michelle is like superwoman these days.

“Well, Bill Clinton said the president had the good sense to marry Michelle,” I joked. “And Jimmy Fallon mentioned a Hillary Clinton/Michelle Obama ticket come 2016. Guess that means Michelle isn’t going to be Obama’s or anybody’s old black log.”

FYI: I am definitely looking forward to 2016 and can hardly wait for Barack to saunter up on stage like a preened rooster and crow Michelle’s praise for the world to hear.

You complete me.

Vampire Killer, Naked, and Nasty Hot Meet Suddenly Skeptic

Suddenly skeptic ended up baking her own.

Nearly fell off the chair laughing the other night when First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on David Letterman’s Show. They got to talking about Kale Chips and Letterman said he was trying to lose some weight and a friend suggested he try Kale Chips to which he’d responded, “you’ve got to be kidding.”

“It looks like something you’d fish out of the bottom of your lawn mower,” Letterman joked. “But by God they were tasty. Hats off to Kale Chips!” That got my mouth watering because its been a while since I last had Kale Chips. Mine were homemade; baked fresh in the oven with just a bit of sea salt and EVOO. The baked aren’t as healthy as the dehydrated alternative but I think I’m doing good just to be eating kale chips baked or otherwise.

‘Vampire Killer’, ‘Naked, ‘Nasty Hot’, ‘Natural Nacho’, Leafy Kale Chips dehydrated, packaged under the name, Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale. The names alone were enough to make me want to try them. But I didn’t at the time because I was at Whole Foods and on a tight budget. Still those funky names teased my gray matter, making me wonder what Nasty Hot Kale Chips and the others tasted like. The kale banter between the First Lady and Letterman  just ripped the scab right off that two-month long craving. After deciding to go to Whole Foods as soon as conveniently possible, I made the mistake of googling Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale.

Brad, the owner, is 50 but with the flawless skin of someone much younger and a head of fluffy white hair, probably thanks to a raw food diet. Brad is a cutie if you don’t mind glasses, t-shirt and flip flops. His smile seems sincere and he has friendly eyes that draw you in. I liked his story and decided to order the sampler online instead of getting the chips from Whole Foods.

The web site featured lots of pictures, lots of stories, and lots of glowing testimonials. Unfortunately, it was those many testimonials cascading down the page that gave me pause. Only recently I’d read this blogger’s post about folks buying fake twitter followers. He’d likened the practice to paying for sex. Mind you I’ve been reading about authors paying for made up book reviews, presidential candidates amassing thousands of questionable twitter followers overnight, along with other social networking shenanigans that made me suddenly skeptical.

An example is best-selling British crime novelist RJ Ellory, being outed by Jeremy Duns a fellow writer. It seems Ellory couldn’t entrust his reviews to just anyone, so he wrote his own. Duns tweeted to the world how the author used two different names on Amazon, both singing Ellory’s writing genius, while trashing other authors. Have we become people willing to win at any cost? Then once found out apologize and move on having learned nothing, except maybe to be more careful next time?

Anyway, I digress. After reading each glowing testimonial, I viewed a video press kit with a clip from Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda on Today. Apparently Brad is pretty well known. Whether they’re all true or bought and paid for, I decided not to let an over-abundance of ‘glowing’ testimonials govern my consumer spending.  If ‘Vampire Killer’, ‘Naked, ‘Nasty Hot’, ‘Natural Nacho’, Leafy Kale Chips, aren’t to my liking I just won’t buy anymore. Any author or business paying for Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Book Reviews, and Lord knows what else should think about that. Like Duns I’m not claiming to be ethics police. Just saying it’s only a matter of time before you are busted one way or the other.

Black Beans Brownies Are Oh So Good

Ummmm Good…

A year ago if someone had said black beans make brownies so delicious they’ll make you want to smack your mama, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. But about three months ago a supermarket cashier asked if I liked brownies. She then proceeded to tell me next time I made them to use black beans instead of flour. The very thought of making something that disgusting would have made me gag. That was before my son introduced me to kale chips, meatless salads, and smoothies loaded with kale and spinach.

These days after downing such fare I say like the boy Oliver, “Please sir, can I have some more?” What a difference a year makes. Gone is the so-called picky eater and close-minded food snob who once thought in order for food to taste good it had to be saturated with sugar, butter, and salt. Now I realize being a good cook entails thinking creatively, thinking outside the box. Like instead of drilling for oil, investing in alternative fuel sources.

So after months of toying with the idea of making black beans brownies I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Shoot, I had all but the black beans, walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips so why not. I don’t have a food processor but do have a high-powered blender. Most of the black beans brownies recipes on the Internet said a blender would do the trick. Mind you I was so absolutely starved for something nasty and sinfully sweet a decadent dessert sighting of any sort made me weak at the knees.

Prep time which included opening the can of beans, rinsing them off, and putting inside the blender along with all but the chocolate chips and walnuts took less than 20 minutes. If I’d had a food processor, it probably wouldn’t even have taken that long. With a blender you have to keep stirring and pushing stuff down to make sure those beans are pulverized. You want it to pour like smooth black silk into that sprayed glass baking dish.

Overall, the easiest dessert I have ever made. When I sliced the brownie and took a bite, the walnuts and chocolate chips floating on top tasted like a delectable nutty frosting.  Now if that isn’t creative I don’t know what is. Which leads me to believe trying different foods can be surprisingly rewarding. First the kale chips, now black beans brownies. Who knows what my next food adventure will be.

Here is the fudgy black beans recipe I found on the internet:


Sweet and chewy gluten-free brownies made with black beans. I tweaked the recipe to suit my taste buds. If you add more cocoa and beans you might want to add more sugar, another egg, more vanilla, etc. You get the idea. The results were still ummmm good.


1 large can and 1 cup rinsed and drained black beans

4 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter (I mixed Canola oil with about three tablespoons of butter)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3 teaspoons vanilla extract (added an extra teaspoon of vanilla)

1 cup sugar (added a 1/4 cup of sugar)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup finely chopped walnuts


1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor bowl or blender, combine the black beans, eggs, melted butter and Canola oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir with a large spoon then blend until smooth (or as smooth as possible).

2.    Grease a glass 8 x 11 inch baking dish. Pour the batter into the greased dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts (if using) over the top and push them down into the batter with a spatula. Don’t over do it.  They will sink some while the brownies bake.

3.    Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until brownies are set in the middle. Watch the edges for excess browning if you’re not sure they’re done.

Cool and then chill before serving! Store in fridge.

Munching on these only sinfully tasting brownies while reading author E. L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was so Ummmm good.