Show me a picture of a canine mother and her pups and I can’t help but go, “Ooh.” Show me a video of a golden retriever mom and her passel of pups playing in the snow and I melt. I hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.
Show me a picture of a canine mother and her pups and I can’t help but go, “Ooh.” Show me a video of a golden retriever mom and her passel of pups playing in the snow and I melt. I hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.
It began at four a.m., waking up, hitting the shower and making sure that my game plan was in order and ready for execution. I seldom ate breakfast because my stomach was always nervous. It was election day, another cold, bleak November morning – and time to place wake up calls to the lieutenants in the field – to make sure they were ready for the ensuing battle. It was Chicago – and we were outnumbered and under-armed – but we would once again venture into the fray, if not expecting victory, intent on doing our best as a matter of civic pride and honor. Despite the overwhelming odds we were going to give it our best shot – and make sure that each of our voters made it to the polls.
By six the polling place next door to my apartment building had opened for business. It was the responsibility of my volunteer poll watchers to make sure that within the precinct no monkey business was conducted. In some years, depending on the intensity of the election and the offices up for grabs, that proved more difficult. But I had learned some tactics over the eight years I had engaged in this campaign and had pre-planned to minimize or negate the enemy’s tactics. There’s one good thing about having your opponent stick with a tried and true plan. They seldom deviated from it – which provided as much insight as the opposition coach getting his hand on the other team’s playbook.
My Democrat counterpart was an efficient woman who had run the precinct as though it was her own (and it pretty much was) for decades. Although it could never be proven, her job with the Corporation Counsel’s office depended on her getting out her voters and bringing in the precinct with both a vast Democrat majority and a large percentage of voters having cast their ballots. The goal was 100% of those who had registered as Democrats. She usually came pretty close to bringing in that number.
But for those who had indicated no party affiliation on their registration she had one last tool that she had employed with success for many elections – a last minute reminder that the Chicago machine wanted them to have before they cast their ballot.
Officially, there was to be no “politicking” within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place. So the night before the election she would park her car directly in front of the entrance and put placards and bumper stickers within the car – and leave it there. The car was parked legally, even if the material in the windshield and side windows was not supposed to be displayed. That year I beat her to the punch. I waited until that space was available a few days earlier and parked my car there – and then took the bus to work until election day. She was not amused at my defusing her strategy – and on election day she let me know that in no uncertain terms. Despite my having acquired this most desirable spot, I did respect the laws and did not have any political placards within the car.
In those days, prior to early voting, election day was the day for casting a ballot. The number of absentee ballots represented a fraction of one percent of eligible votes that would be cast. So the primary job was to make sure that my voters got to the polls. In close co-ordination with the poll watcher who was keeping track of who had voted, this meant placing calls, ringing doorbells and, most importantly, transporting those who were elderly to the polls by car. Of course I had to rent a car for the day as mine was situated in front of the polling place’s door. I didn’t have a cushy job with the city or any other government agency – so I bore that expense myself.
On election day there was usually a large group of voters who would show up as soon as the polls opened so that they could do their duty and then go to work. After that initial flurry it quieted down with people coming in sporadically through the midmorning and early afternoon. This was an ideal time for me to garner my voters and drive them to the poll. As we approached the closing at seven p.m., the pace picked up once again. And after the last voter in line had cast her ballot, the poll was officially declared closed by the Judges of Election. It was now time to record the results from the back of the voting machines.
Someone once said, “It isn’t how you voted – it’s who counts the votes.” That someone must have been a Chicago resident. As the two Judges read off the tally for each office, my poll watchers and I verified the accuracy of the number they claimed was on the machine – and one of us watched as that number was written down on the official tally sheet. On more than one occasion we found that “237” was written down as “327”. Perhaps it was an honest mistake – or perhaps not. The Democrats talk about their famous ground game – and transposition of numbers was part of it – at least in the Windy City.
Fortunately, because of the lulls in voting during much of the day, I had the opportunity to run home and walk and feed the dogs. I think they sensed that something was up and they weren’t going to be on their normal schedule. My Irish Setter, Tristan gave me a look that said, “Why are you doing this to me?” But he was a forgiving sort and I always tried to have an extra special dinner for him and his Belgian Shepherd/Newfoundland mix companion, Josh. Josh was a lot more tolerant than his compadre. So the two of them got their dinner off schedule and after they had eaten I returned to the poll for the countdown.
Other than in years when there were a large number of judicial paper ballots, I usually got home at nine, after recording all the numbers for each office on my own tally sheet to be turned in to Republican headquarters to make sure that they hadn’t been changed en route to the Chicago Board of Elections’ offices when the official canvass was conducted later in the week. In one respect, there are those who might consider this an exercise in futility as the final score was always lopsided: Democrats – a million; Visitors – forty-seven.
Looking at the final tally, a reasonable person might argue that, “Only an idiot or a masochist would expend the amount of time and effort just to prove that once again he or she would go down in flames.” But to my way of thinking, my job, irrespective of how bleak the results, was to get out every one of the comparatively few votes on which I could rely – and if I succeeded in doing that – I had accomplished my mission.
The other day at his news conference, President Obama, in commenting on the election results, made the point that, “Two thirds of the eligible electorate didn’t vote.” Somehow we were to take that as a tacit endorsement by those non-voters that they approved his policies and had they bothered to show up, things would have been different. That statement stems from pure vainglory and wishful thinking on the president’s part.
We have made it so easy to vote – in my view, too easy – that those who do not exercise this fundamental right and obligation, have no voice in the discussion. They themselves, not restrictive voter ID laws, bad weather or any other excuse, are responsible for their lack of civic duty. And if they want to stay home again two years from now, it would be fine with me.
A trip to the dog park is usually a peaceful, relaxing experience – perhaps more so for Gracie than for me. Most of the folks who show up regularly find that sports is the subject of choice and the mornings are replete with stories about how they “would have hit that eight teamer … if only (fill in the blank) hadn’t happened.” This, of course, reminds me of the old story that if only the bull had teats he would have been a cow.
Well, this morning, things were slightly different. And the basis for the minor brouhaha had not to do with sports but stemmed from a discussion about dogs.
As three of us regulars were talking, the question of the genetic background of a dog who appears only occasionally arose. The dog is a Labrador/French poodle mix which the owner had hoped to breed but ultimately could not find any takers so he had the dog neutered. One of us, she maintains homes in Las Vegas and southern California made the observation that, ‘In California it’s illegal to cross breed dogs.” She herself has a lovely Golden Retriever.
This prompted the other party to this conversation to make an observation about the stupidity (although he didn’t use that term) of all the laws in California and how Jerry Brown and the Democrat controlled chambers were ruining the state. The statement went unchallenged by the woman – until my friend left – and she then lambasted me for the statement made by my friend who had already left. My friend and I are both more closely attuned politically – and the woman who was incensed leans decidedly to the left.
In her rant, she said, “I’m tired of being attacked for my political views.” In fact, nothing had been said about her views – merely about the governor of California. She went on to say that, “Neither of you lives in California – so what right do you have to an opinion about how the state is being run?” That statement so artfully fits into the thinking of those on the left that I suspect that if there is a manual on “How To Be A Liberal,” that primmer extolls that viewpoint in its first chapter.
I find it rather telling that in a state committed to “diversity” there should be an interdiction against creating dogs that are more “diverse.” Hasn’t anyone wondered what the offspring of a Great Dane and a Chinese Hairless would look like? And more to the specific point, the Golden Retriever, a breed which I love, has only been recognized as a “purebred” by the AKC since 1925. The breed came about as the result of mixing Wavy-Coated Retrievers with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. Had the California law been in effect when the breed first saw the light of day it might never have come into being.
Returning to the point that, “If you don’t live there you’re not entitled to an opinion,” this is merely the outgrowth of a liberal philosophy which, by extension, should require that accused rapists can only be tried by a jury of other accused rapists; accused murderers should be tried only before others who were themselves accused of murder; and only women should be permitted to enact laws or adjudicate them which are relevant to other women. Which brings us to the interesting question of why is it that the left endorses the 7 – 2 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade which was handed down by an all male court? There is, however, an explanation. I will leave it to you to determine its plausibility.
It’s been forty-one years since that decision was rendered. Back in those days most Americans recognized people who belonged to one of two sexes. That was before we became more enlightened and aware that there were also people whom today we call transgendered which, if I understand it properly refers to people who may be anatomically identified as belonging to one gender but who psychological identify as a member of the opposite sex.
While the number of people in America who are transgendered is difficult to ascertain accurately, the most recent data, which includes a survey that the State of California conducted, suggests that the total transgendered adult population is approximately 0.3% of the population, although other estimates suggest the number may be as high as 3.5%. In 1973 when Roe v Wade was adjudicated, the total adult population of the country was 180 million – only a small percentage of whom, thankfully, were lawyers – and an even small number of those held positions as Federal judges – the primary recruiting source from which Supreme Court justices are recruited.
If we accept the premise that only women can logically decide issues that pertain to other women, then it would seem we are left with two rather disparate possibilities with regard to the landmark case. Either the seven male Justices who voted in favor of legalizing abortion made a mistake; or the seven male Justices who voted in favor of legalizing abortion were actually transgendered. Who knew that it would be possible to stack the court with that many transgendered people?
I look forward to my visit to the dog park tomorrow morning. Who knows what else I’m going to learn?
While I have read the ACA in its entirety I wished that I were dyslexic while going through that task. It might have made more sense. Unless I missed it there is not yet a provision that those of us who have companion animals are required to provide health insurance for our pets. That might be coming.
So when Gracie developed a hematoma near her right ear, I realized that I was going to have to pay to have this treated out of pocket. My regular vet was on vacation and would not return for two weeks. While this was not a life-threatening condition, I could tell that it bothered her as she shook her head regularly throughout the day and I wanted to get her treated as soon as possible. And the hematoma was enlarging on a daily basis.
I took her to another animal hospital which is close to my home and which I had used from time to time for routine things such as updating vaccinations. This facility is only about five minutes from the house and, unlike my regular vet, is open seven days a week. But I always get the impression when I go there that I am going to a place that is a business more than a healing practice. It’s hard to describe the reason for that impression other than to say that perhaps having had the company of dogs all my life, perhaps I’ve picked up on some of their intuitive perceptions.
Gracie and I met with a young female vet who was extremely sweet and very nice. She got on the floor to examine Gracie and obviously loved animals. So far so good. As I lost a dog years ago while under anesthesia I asked if they could treat the hematoma using a local and simply drain it. She went to confer with the owner of the hospital and returned to tell me that they would indeed need to use a general anesthetic and remove any mass that might have formed at the base. She also returned with an estimate of the costs. Reluctantly, I resigned myself to going through the general anesthesia and treating the condition as they had suggested.
As I read through the estimate I noticed that she had included a charge for a teeth cleaning. I pointed out to her that there was no need for that as I had Gracie’s teeth cleaned five months earlier. She said, “Well, if you don’t do the cleaning ($65) the cost of the anesthetic ($32) will be “slightly higher. We give you a break on the anesthesia with a cleaning because we try to encourage people to follow a regular oral regimen for their pets.” The actual charge for the mass removal was $140. I thought to myself, that seems like a reasonable fee – $140 plus (I figured for the “slightly higher” anesthesia at $50-$60), not too bad.
So I left Gracie at the vet and asked them to call me when they had finished the procedure. The doctor called me promptly when the operation was finished to let me know that Gracie was doing fine, the operation was a success and I could pick her up after four o’clock that afternoon.
I arrived to pick up Gracie precisely at four and asked the reception for my bill so that I could settle it while the staff brought Gracie out from the back. When I looked at the bill I was a little startled. The mass removal was listed at $140 per the estimate, but the anesthesia had gone from $32 to $150. My invoice came to $53 more than it would have been had I not only had the mass removed but had her teeth cleaned unnecessarily. Naturally, I thought this was an error so I asked to speak with the vet who owns the hospital, but he had just left for the day.
So I gave the hospital a check for the balance – less $53 and said, “I’m going to pretend that you actually did Gracie’s teeth cleaning and pay you on the basis of the estimate. Since you didn’t actually do a cleaning, I think that’s more than fair. But please ask Doctor K. to call me tomorrow so that we can discuss it.” Gracie and I then left.
I didn’t hear from the owner the next day or the next so I called to speak with him. I was connected to the office manager. I explained my view and asked her to confirm that the bill I paid, as adjusted, was satisfactory to the hospital. She promised to call me back within a few days. When I didn’t hear from her I called her back. At that point she said that she had discussed it with the owner and they were going to give me a $50 credit for the anesthesia and that my balance was $3.
I said that I would like to speak to the owner directly and would do so a few days later when I brought Gracie in to have her stitches removed.
By that time I was feeling exasperated over this three dollar invoice and had decided just to pay it. In fact, I brought 300 pennies with me in a paper bag to settle the account. But when I went to reception and Gracie went to the back to have the stitches removed, I was informed by reception that I owed them $53. I explained that the office manager had indicated that the hospital was going to issue a $50 credit and that my balance was only three dollars. So they asked the owner to come out and speak with me.
Dr. K. came out and began our conversation with the statement, “I understand you have a problem.” Given the strident way in which he made that statement, I truly understood how John Boehner must feel in dealing with Harry Reid and President Obama. I replied, “No, actually I have a question. And here it is.”
“Why is it that anesthesia and a mass removal costs $290 but anesthesia, a mass removal and a dental cleaning costs $237? This reminds me a little of Obamacare where you pay more and get less.” (That did elicit a smile from the vet).
Well, we finally agreed that my balance was only three dollars. So I left my bag of pennies on the desk and Gracie and I went home. I’m most grateful that she is doing well and the scar has almost completely healed.
I am not the sort of person who simply alters invoices because I believe that the product or service provided was worth a lesser amount. At least, I wouldn’t do that without offering the provider the opportunity to discuss the matter. So the reason for this post is to solicit some input from my readers.
What are your thoughts on this situation. Should I have paid the invoice just as rendered? Should the vet have offered to accept the amount that I tendered as payment in full? Or should he have made a reduction in the amount he charged since one of the services wasn’t provided?
I look forward to hearing from you.
P. S. Isn’t this a pleasant change from all the politics that I’ve posted of late?
Let me be the first to admit (before you take the time to point it out) that I am not the smartest person on planet Earth. But I still think that in a fairly administered IQ test, I could hold my own against your above average hedgehog. Let me further admit that there are certain warning labels whose meaning or intent I simply do not comprehend.
Let me offer you an example.
I had decided that the walls of my office were looking a little dingy and so I decided to wash them down. This was a few days ago. Because I try to act in an environmentally friendly way, I was using a product manufactured by The Clorox Company called “Green Works” whose contents are supposed to be completely bio-degradable.
I hadn’t started with a full bottle of the stuff (it comes in one of those spray top containers) and mid-way through the project I ran out. As I was tired, I decided that I would finish the next day after going to the store and buying a new supply.
So the following morning I went to my supermarket and there was a nice supply of Green Works on the shelf. But it was all in those spray bottles and I didn’t see a refill size available. I asked customer service if they carried a refill quantity of this product. They looked it up in their computer and said that was the only size in which they carried the product.
So I thought, “Surely Clorox must offer this product in a larger quantity. After all, it is supposed to be an environmentally-friendly product – and offering a larger size would reduce the amount of plastic waste.”
I went home and called the 800 number on my original bottle and spoke with a friendly young lady at Clorox. I explained my quest for their product and wondered if she could tell me if there were a larger, refill size available.
She put me on hold for a few minutes and said, “I’ve checked. We do make a gallon-size in Green Works.”
I asked if she would be able to direct me to a store that carried it.
She responded, “Well, Lowe’s and Home Depot carry it from time to time (she also mentioned several other retailers which were unfamiliar to me), but I couldn’t tell you if they currently have it in stock. You’ll have to check with the stores.”
Well, I had accomplished something. I at least knew the product existed. So I thanked her and ended the call.
I went both to the Lowe’s and Home Depot web sites and typed Green Works in the query box. Neither store carried the specific Clorox product (in any size) but they both offered a similar product called “Simple Green” which had like attributes and was also environmentally-friendly. And it was available in a gallon-sized quantity for $9.99 as opposed to my original spray bottle which contained a quart and was priced at $4.69. This was a terrific savings if you know that there are four quarts to a gallon. (Well, actually it’s a terrific savings even if you don’t).
It did occur to me briefly that pouring Simple Green into a bottle which once contained Green Works might, in certain parts of the country, be construed as miscegenation. But other than sharing this with my readers I am not going to tell anyone and I have total confidence that you will keep this between us.
So this morning after the dog park, Gracie and I headed over to Lowe’s to track down the Simple Green gallon jug. I didn’t anticipate any problems because the web site said this particular store had 18 of them in stock. I put on Gracie’s lead and she leaped from the station wagon in anticipation of going on a new adventure.
When it comes to grocery shopping, I am very efficient. I don’t overly enjoy the experience and I try to make it as brief as possible. I know the layout of all the different stores at which I purchase groceries and I organize my list in such a way as to take the shortest path to complete my shopping based on the store’s configuration. Not so with Lowe’s – at which I shop only infrequently.
I have learned from past experience that rather than wander around the store trying to find a particular item, it is more efficient to stop at customer service on the way in and ask where I might find something. This is especially true if I have Gracie with me because she likes to browse and explore. And while she is well-behaved, I sometimes give in to her impulses to shop ‘till she drops (or I do).
So customer service directed me to Aisle 12 where they said I would find my Simple Green refill. Gracie and I started in that direction but en route, several Lowe’s employees stopped to admire and pet her (which she appreciates) and ask the usual question, “What kind of dog is she?”
I used to respond to that question with the one word answer, “Big.” But I thought that was a tad impolite. So now, I simply say, “You know I’m not completely sure. I found her as a puppy in front of a Lane Bryant store. I think she had gone there to buy a new ensemble.”
For some reason people seem to think that answers the question.
Gracie and I arrived at Aisle 12. It was indeed the aisle where cleaning products of all sorts and descriptions were sitting on the shelves. I thought, “Oh, good. This will be easy.” But it wasn’t. We walked up and down the aisle but nowhere did I see a one gallon-sized Simple Green refill jug.
After three tours of Aisle 12 I threw in the towel. I wanted to be absolutely certain that the product wasn’t there before I went back to customer service and inquired whether they had it in the store or had run out of stock.
So there we were, back at customer service. I had brought a one quart spray bottle of Simple Green with me to show them the product I was seeking. Meanwhile, I could tell that Gracie was getting a little bored as she had already seen what there was to see on the main store aisle all the way to Aisle 12.
The helpful young lady came from behind the desk and walked us back to Aisle 12. Much to my relief, she also had trouble finding the product. But then she spied it. The container itself wasn’t visible but in the very back of a seemingly empty space on the bottom shelf there was one gallon jug left. She got down on her hands and knees to retrieve it for me, for which I thanked her. And the best news was that it was on sale for only $8.99. Such a deal.
She left us to return to her post and I was preparing to pay for the Simple Green and leave – but Gracie had other ideas. Rather than allowing me to return to the front of the store she must have realized that there was a lot of unexplored territory in this Lowe’s and she wanted to do a bit of browsing. And as I will often humor her, I allowed her to take me on a little jaunt.
I’m not quite sure why but we ended up in the aisle that sells stepladders. She seemed to feel that these were exceptionally interesting. I don’t know the reason that she was fascinated with them as I have two at home and she’s never seemed overly interested in socializing with either.
But as I was standing watching her gaze at these metal contraptions I couldn’t help see the warning label which had been attached on their sides. It said, “Danger. Do not stand on the top step of this ladder.” As I recall, the two ladders that I have at home also contained that warning, but I removed them.
So here’s where my confusion comes in and if any of my readers can help me out, I would truly appreciate it.
If it’s dangerous to stand on the top step of a step ladder, then why do they build a top step on the darn things in the first place? I think we can fix this problem simply by removing the top step – and then we don’t have to worry about putting those little stickers on the ladders.
But wait – I missed something. If we remove the top step, the second highest step would become the top step. So we’d have to remove that as well. And then the next and the next until there would be no steps at all – just a metal frame.
True, the step ladder would no longer have any usefulness – but at least we’d be safe.
I think it’s a plan. The only people who I think might object work for OSHA. But I hear they’re working on a new sticker for screwdrivers which says, “Danger. Ramming the pointed end of this screwdriver into your eye might result in blindness or death.”
If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you’ve heard constant references that I make to the dogs with whom I’ve shared my life. There was a dog in our home when I was born and I hope there will be one by my side when I pass from this earth.
Dogs have brought me so much joy with their simple ways and honest behavior. They have in many ways been my guide – as important as any spiritual advisor. It was not through their words but their acts that I learned. So if you’ve concluded from this summary that I have a passion for dogs, you are certainly correct.
And that brings me to what I have learned from my companion dog Gracie.
Gracie doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She is one of the gentlest creatures who has ever walked this planet. She interjects herself between other dogs at the dog park if she feels the playfulness is getting a little too contentious – acting as hall monitor. I have often worried that, if there were a dog who was truly vicious while she was busy interceding and who attacked her, she would have no idea how to respond to this assault.
I’ve met a few dogs in my life who were, indeed, vicious. Their number is far less than the people whom I could categorize thusly. Those dogs, like many of those people, were unfortunate victims of their upbringing. And as we look at our world today, it seems to me that our general abandonment of principle and love (other than the self-centered kind), has loosed far more vicious people on the world than it once knew.
We are now about to embark on a discussion on “gun control”. The media, already bought and paid for, will show us scenes of horrible tragedies, mass shootings and stories about the helpless victims and the toll their deaths took on their families. We should all bow our heads in prayer and reflection over what caused these tragedies and mourn those who died in them. That is the very least we should do – and it is probably all that most of us will do.
Soon the rhetoric will begin on Capitol Hill and from the White House. It will sound good if you fail to listen closely to the underlying emptiness of the conversation.
It will talk about the number of violent deaths caused by weaponry – and will totally ignore the walking deaths caused by welfare.
It will address itself to the undeniable tragedies of Newtown, CT and Aurora, Co and will lay the blame squarely at the feet of guns, while ignoring the fact that there are mentally ill people in this country for whom we provide limited assistance or help.
It will necessarily re-write history and ignore the reasons that the Founding Fathers incorporated the Second Amendment of the Constitution to uphold the First – Freedom of Speech.
It will ignore the facts about areas which have allowed gun ownership and have among the lowest crime rates and that areas which have restrictive gun control laws have consistently had more murders committed due to the use of illegal guns.
In essence, it will be a lie – as much that emanates from Washington has proven to be.
So today I made a decision. I will admit that it was one at which I arrived after a lot of kicking and screaming. I made a decision to purchase a weapon – not because I have any intent to go out and shoot up the town or rob a bank but as a matter of defense – for Gracie’s sake and well-being.
I am not thinking of it as a “gun” but rather, an “insurance policy”. And while, as with all insurance policies, I hope never to have to call on the benefits for which I have paid premiums, I will be armed – and Gracie will be safe.
That is what responsible parenting is all about. Isn’t it?
Barring implementation of the Mayan Doomsday prophesy, December 21st will be Gracie’s sixth birthday. Just in case, I am hosting an “End of the World” party tonight for some friends from the dog park at a local Italian eatery. There should be plenty of leftovers which is good because Gracie and I both like pasta.
I chose the venue for a specific reason. I am trying to broaden Gracie’s horizons and cultural experience by feeding her more foreign foods these days. If Mom was right and, “You are what you eat,” it seems reasonable to me to believe that if you eat foreign it is only a short while until you can “speak” foreign. And that’s a good thing if you happen to go to Montreal, Canada.
Life for our neighbors to the north must indeed be halcyon these days. Hockey is in season (when isn’t it?) and their budget is probably more balanced than ours. No waves of unanticipated immigration seem to be invading their country and people there still work for a living. And if they have a serious illness, for the time being they just come to the U. S. for treatment.
So what else is there for legislators in Canada to do? Well, in that beautiful walled city of Montreal, the City Council has unearthed a serious issue which they have addressed. It is the subject of non-bilingual dogs who, with their companion people, frequent that city’s dog parks.
The sages on the Montreal City Council have passed an ordinance which requires that dogs understand commands in both French and English if they are to continue to use dog park facilities. No doubt this will create a new business opportunity for those who write the series of books which will now include a new title, “Bi-Lingual Dog Commands For Dummies.” I am going to see if I can pre-order a copy of this just in case Gracie and I decide to take a drive to Montreal this spring.
Now that the members of the Montreal City Council have cleared their plates of their pressing business, perhaps they can lend us a hand here in the U. S. A. If they would oblige, perhaps they would take the short trip to Washington and assist the parties involved in their negotiations over our “fiscal cliff” divide.
It seems that those involved are speaking two different languages.
Happy Birthday, Gracie!