That’s Odd

I see the strangest things when I’m cycling to work.

I pulled up at a set of lights this morning and noticed that the lady in the Volvo beside me had a large white cat across her lap. The cat seemed quite happy and probably does a fair bit of travelling with its owner but I do wonder about the wisdom in driving with an unsecured cat in the car, especially sitting on top of the driver.

If the car had to stop suddenly, Tibby would be rocketed into the dashboard. I’m a real cat lover; I’m just not convinced that cats should go everywhere that their humans go.

Later during my ride I noticed a young guy in a work ute drinking a can of Red Bull. I wondered why anyone would need an energy hit at that time of the day. If you need artificial stimulants to keep going that early in the day you’re going to be completely wrecked by lunchtime. I didn’t think too much of it at the time but I couldn’t help sitting down and shaking my head as I pondered the situation while sipping my double shot espresso at my desk at work.

What are some of the strange things you’ve seen on your daily commute? Whether you travel by car, bike, bus or train, I’m sure you’ve seen some intersting sights.

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CATS in Perth

CATSIt sometimes takes a while for me to get around to catching up with the rest of the world. CATS first opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982. Almost thirty years later I finally got around to seeing a production of the musical for the first time.

CATS is now showing at the Burswood Theatre in Perth.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, CATS is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot and has won many awards, including both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The London production ran for twenty one years and the Broadway production ran for eighteen years, both setting long-run records. CATS has been performed around the world and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

I didn’t really know what to expect when Pauline and I turned up at Burswood last Tuesday for the opening night performance. I picked up our tickets at the box office and we were ushered to our third row seats. We were seated several minutes early which gave us time to appreciate the amazing set. In case you’re one of the few other people in the world who haven’t seen CATS I don’t think I’d be giving much away to tell you that the show is set in a massive rubbish tip. The designers have done an incredible job in creating a visually stunning backdrop for the show.

Once the show got underway we were captivated. CATS is incredibly physical and the performers combined extremely energetic dancing with challenging vocals and perfect timing.

I thought that as the night went on I might recognise a few of the songs, but in the end, it was only the wonderful Memory that I recognised. Mind you, that wasn’t really a problem. While some songs were more enjoyable than others, most generated an instant connection.

I don’t have the voice to sing the songs the cast sang. I don’t have the moves to dance like the cast can dance. I certainly don’t have the body to be able to wear the skin tight outfits worn by the cast. Thankfully the performers had it all.

While I considered that some scenes were a little over sensuous, the show overall is magnificent. If you get the opportunity, get out and see CATS so you can create a memory or two of your own.

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Run Kitty Run

Yes, it’s a cat video … but it’s a very funny cat video.

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud.

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Keeping Pets in Perspective

pet.jpgI don’t think I could imagine life without pets.

I grew up surrounded by cats and we always had a dog at our place. We have a cat at the moment and my son, James, has a couple of mice.

Pets are wonderful. We hear about studies from time to time that tell us how much healthier we can be if we keep pets. They’re great for company and can increase our general sense of wellbeing. I even heard of a recent study that said kids who grow up with a dog in the house are more resistant to a number of illnesses. I really do get the whole pet thing.

On the other hand, I get concerned about the importance some people place on their pets.

Seeing the poverty that people are facing in Haiti and Dominican Republic makes coming home pretty tough. It’s hard to see the amount of money that some people spend on animals here when people not so far from us can’t afford to put food on the table for their families.

So how do we think rightly about our furry and feathered friends?

Pets are wonderful but in the end they are just pets. They are not equal to children and talking about them as such devalues human life.

Charles Colson has written an interesting article for Christianity Today titled Keeping Pets in Their Place. In the article he reminds us that it was William Wilberforce, the man who fought so hard to abolish slavery, who founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824. It is absolutely right that we treat all God’s creatures with respect (even the tasty ones) but Colson is concerned with the push to remove the distinction between animals and humans.

Christianity teaches that humans are unique in all of creation: we are conscious of our existence, aware of death, capable of works of great creativity, and the only part of creation that bears the image of God. Humans alone have eternal souls, which confers unique moral status.

Many animal-rights activists dismiss any distinctions between humans and animals as “speciesism,” which Princeton professor Peter Singer defines as “a prejudice” that favors “the interests of members of one’s own species … against those of members of other species.” If the material world is all there is, if humans are nothing more than the product of evolutionary forces, then they are essentially no different from pigs, dogs—or rats, as Ingrid Newkirk of PETA once famously said. Humans are merely the latest stage in evolutionary development.

Whether you look at it from a faith perspective or from a purely secular point of view, surely we need to maintain some kind of perspective. Animals are animals and while they are important to us and valuable in so many ways, they are not humans.

I was sent a survey this week from LinkMe which says that Australians put animals above people living with HIV/AIDS.

76% of Australians would offer their hand for voluntary work yet far more people would consider lending their time to help animals rather than people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the results of a survey conducted by leading career building and networking company

The survey of 1568 Australians revealed that whilst 13.8% of people believe people living with HIV/AIDS are in need of support, 40% of people are receptive to the plight of animals.

People recognise children as those most in need of additional services (46.6%) with sick and homeless people lagging at 23.5% and 26.1% respectively marginally ahead of people living with HIV/AIDS.

List of voluntary support for various groups:
Children (46.6%)
Animals (40%)
The elderly (36.9%)
Poor people (27%)
Disabled people (26.6%)
Homeless people (26.1%)
Sick people (23.5%)
People living with HIV/AIDS (13.8%)

Don’t you think that there’s something wrong with our priorities when we value the lives of animals above humans? At least children seem to rate higher than dogs.

So what do you think? Do we place too much emphasis on our pets? Is it morally right to lavish so much attention on our pets while the people of Haiti are literally eating dirt?

I think the song Angel by Everything But The Girl puts it well in talking about a young girl begging in the street.

And if she were a kitten
Someone would take her home
But we’ve no pity for our own kind
Our hearts are stone
Our eyes are blind

I know that pets are only one of the excesses of our society and that there are many other things we could and should sacrifice to allow us to better care for people both overseas and at home. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective on so many things when we aren’t faced with the reality of poverty every day.

Maybe we need to force ourselves to face the reality of life for people in developing countries and the poor in our own backyards, not to make ourselves feel guilty, but in order to equip ourselves to take some small but life saving steps towards serving those in need.

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Pet Names

dog.jpgOnce a month Dog Behaviour Consultant and Trainer, Kathy Kopellis McLeod, joins me during my morning radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM to talk about dog behaviour and answer questions from listeners.

We had a great time today. We took a slight detour from our regular chats and talked about the extra names we give our dogs. We weren’t talking about their real names, we were talking about the nicknames that our dogs seem to gather.

After a while, we widened the scope and started throwing in a few cat nicknames.

Dylan rang up to tell us that his dog, Nev, gets called everything from Bubby to Poop and lots more in between.

We had several other people call in and talk to us about the names their four-legged friends have acquired. The segment was a lot of fun with some very amusing ‘pet names’ for dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes.

I even told a few stories about how I’d named a couple of my pets. One was named after a fictional character created by comedian Grahame Bond, and another was named after one of the guys from the band GangGajang. Have a listen to the audio to hear the details.

What are some of the pet names that you’ve used for your pets? Are there any that you find too embarrassing to use when others are around? How did you come up with your pet’s real names and nicknames?

If you want to have a few laughs, just click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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