PETCO ASSOCIATE’S RESCUE CATS INSPIRE HER TO RECOMMEND HALO

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Halo Facebook Fan, Nikki Mo, wrote to us about her Halo experience with our natural cat food and treats. Here’s what she wrote:

“I’m a huge fan of your food! I work at Petco in West Covina and have two cats that I rescued about 2 years ago. I have only fed them Halo and I recommend it to my customers every day. I recently got them some liver treats and they LOVED them. So much that when we were at work my cats found the treat bag, ripped it open and eat All the treats! We came home to treat crumbs all throughout the house. Keep doing great things for pets and people!”

Thank you Nikki for choosing Halo and spreading the word about our holistic cat food. We hope your two cats live a long and healthy life!

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Hulk

 
This is Hulk, a 3 month old Neopolitan Mastiff, who lives in Menton. He’s pretty big at 3 months but will grow enormous and with all those folds of skin will need great care as he gets older.  A Neopolitan Mastiff (or Italian Mastiff) is an ancient breed originally used to guard property and family due to their protective instincts and fearsome appearance. Fang in the Harry Potter films was played by a Neopolitan Mastiff.

RIVIERA DOGS

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Black Friday Coupons Offer Tremendous Savings

True American Dog

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Listen … Rape is a polictically volatile topic (5:08 PM, Aug. 26, 2012) …item 2.. GAWKER — Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web – Reddit had already exploded in outrage. (OCT 12, 2012 5:00 PM) …

Some cool dog oral care images:

Listen … Rape is a polictically volatile topic (5:08 PM, Aug. 26, 2012) …item 2.. GAWKER — Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web – Reddit had already exploded in outrage. (OCT 12, 2012 5:00 PM) …
dog oral care

Image by marsmet451
I had just told him, on Gchat, that I had uncovered his identity as the notorious internet troll Violentacrez (pronounced Violent-Acres).

Judging from his internet footprint, Brutsch, 49, has a lot to sweat over. If you are capable of being offended, Brutsch has almost certainly done something that would offend you, then did his best to rub your face in it.

His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit.

At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called "Creepshots." Now Brutsch was the one feeling exposed and it didn’t suit him very well.
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……..***** All images are copyrighted by their respective authors ……..
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… message header for FSU News

Lately, several male politicians have been saying some really stupid things regarding issues on abortion, birth control and rape—things that they will never truly understand simply because they have different sexual reproductive organs.

Not to say this makes men any less important, but it’s a little bit harder to justify their opinions on matters they can’t relate to.
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…..item 1)…. FSU News … www.fsunews.com … Rape is a polictically volatile topic

5:08 PM, Aug. 26, 2012

Written by
SAMANTHA HUSTED
Staff Writer

FILED UNDER
FSU News
FSU News Views

www.fsunews.com/article/20120827/FSVIEW03/120826013/Rape-…|newswell|text|frontpage|p

Recently there’s been a really big women’s rights movement that has been continually growing and picking up tons of female and male supporters. It makes me feel good knowing that men and women alike can recognize there’s something wrong with the way our society treats women.

Though this movement is necessary and a step in the right direction for human rights in general, it has been spurred and has grown from a lot of negativity. Especially regarding women’s health and the right for a woman to choose what she does with her body.

Lately, several male politicians have been saying some really stupid things regarding issues on abortion, birth control and rape—things that they will never truly understand simply because they have different sexual reproductive organs. Not to say this makes men any less important, but it’s a little bit harder to justify their opinions on matters they can’t relate to.

Which is why I get frustrated when politicians, men who are in power and make important decisions, say ignorant things about issues they obviously don’t understand fully.

Take Congressman Todd Akin, what a swell guy. He states, “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors….[pregnancies from rape are] really rare.” He continued, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Okay, wait, what? So does that mean anyone who’s been raped and has become pregnant as a result wasn’t really raped?

It wasn’t legitimate because her body didn’t ward off the offender?

What a ridiculous assertion. I think we should take a moment and recognize that rape is rape. There’s no way to legitimize it or make one rape more rape-like than the next.

It’s a horrible thing that happens to women and men everyday. And guess what? It can sometimes result in pregnancy.

Women aren’t just baby-making vessels who can control when they’d like to get pregnant. There’s no way of telling your uterus that maybe you’re not ready for a baby yet. Todd Akins has since apologized, but only after all the negative responses his statement recieved.

This whole situation regarding women’s health and a right for her to choose is immensely frustrating for me, especially when comments like Todd Akin’s are made. Ignorance such as his is unacceptable and is holding women back. Making cases of rape seem illegitimate and less important is wrong. There’s no way to justify a rape and the fact that his statement was said shows me that he doesn’t care about women’s health. Just as long as they don’t get abortions he’ll be happy. It’s scary to think that Todd Akin has the power to make decisions that could potentially affect my body.

I feel like our society is constantly, to be super cliché, taking two steps backwards for every step forward. Our government can’t be fueled by ignorance and fear. If they don’t completely understand something they should try to and not spew word vomit like Akin was guilty of.

We need to build tolerance and understanding in our country. If things like rape make you uncomfortable, that’s okay, but that doesn’t mean you should shove your misguided “facts,” into a government forum.
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…..item 2)…. GAWKER … gawker.com

VIOLENTACREZ THE INTERNET REDDIT MICHAEL BRUTSCH CREEPSHOTS LONGREADS

Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web
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img code photo … THE MAN BEHIND THE TROLL … Michael Brutsch, 49

img.gawkerassets.com/img/181ycj8ex213ujpg/original.jpg

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Adrian Chen
OCT 12, 2012 5:00 PM

gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-big…

Last Wednesday afternoon I called Michael Brutsch. He was at the office of the Texas financial services company where he works as a programmer and he was having a bad day. I had just told him, on Gchat, that I had uncovered his identity as the notorious internet troll Violentacrez (pronounced Violent-Acres).

"It’s amazing how much you can sweat in a 60 degree office," he said with a nervous laugh.

Judging from his internet footprint, Brutsch, 49, has a lot to sweat over. If you are capable of being offended, Brutsch has almost certainly done something that would offend you, then did his best to rub your face in it. His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit. At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called "Creepshots." Now Brutsch was the one feeling exposed and it didn’t suit him very well.

But Michael Brutsch is more than a monster. Online, Violentacrez has been one of Reddit’s most reviled characters but also one of its most beloved users. The self-described "creepy uncle of Reddit" has played a little-known but crucial role in Reddit’s development into the online juggernaut it is today. In real life, Brutsch is a military father and cat-lover. He lives with his wife in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. There are many sides to Violentacrez, and now that I had Michael Brutsch on the phone I hoped to find out where the troll ended and the real person began.

***
I first became aware of Violentacrez last year, when controversy erupted over a section, called "Jailbait," that Violentacrez had created on Reddit dedicated to sexualized images of underaged girls. (Brutsch adapted the name from "Violent Acres," a popular anonymous blogger he was fond of in the mid-2000s.) Reddit, for the uninitiated, is essentially a social news site; with a free username, anyone can submit and vote on content and can do so anonymously. And anyone can start a forum on Reddit dedicated to their interests, known as a subreddit. Today, there are about 10,000 active subreddits out of nearly 100,000 total, spanning a dizzying array of topics from funny pictures, to Power Rangers, to pooping. If a post gets enough "upvotes," as they’re called, it can be propelled to the front page of Reddit and a massive audience.

The breadth of topics and dedication of users has made Reddit, which calls itself the "front page of the internet," the single dominant force in internet culture today, boasting over 3.4 billion pageviews this August. It reached a new level of legitimacy last month, when President Obama held a Q & A on Reddit. These days, Reddit is mentioned in the same breath as Twitter and Facebook by pundits expounding on the power of social media.

But Reddit’s laissez-faire attitude towards offensive speech has led to a vast underbelly that rivals anything on the notorious cesspool 4chan. And with Jailbait, Violentacrez decided to create a safe space for people sexually attracted to underage girls to share their photo stashes. I would call these people pedophiles; the Jailbait subreddit called them "ephebophiles." Jailbait was the online equivalent of systematized street harassment. Users posted snapshots of tween and teenage girls, often in bikinis and skirts. Many of these were lifted from their Facebook accounts and thrown in front of Jailbait’s 20,000 horny subscribers.

Violentacrez and his fellow moderators worked hard to make sure every girl on jailbait was underage, diligently deleting any photos whose subjects seemed older than 16 or 17. Violentacrez himself posted hundreds of photos. Jailbait became one of Reddit’s most popular subreddits, generating millions of pageviews a month. "Jailbait" was for a time the second biggest search term bringing traffic to Reddit, after "Reddit." Eventually, Jailbait landed on CNN, where Anderson Cooper called out Reddit for hosting it, and Violentacrez for creating it. The ensuing outcry led Reddit administrators to reluctantly ban Jailbait, and all sexually suggestive content featuring minors.
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img code photo … Michael Brutsch, 49

img.gawkerassets.com/img/181yqzkufieghjpg/original.jpg

Michael Brutsch at a Reddit meet-up.

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On the phone, Michael Brutsch insisted he is not a pedophile but was unapologetic about Jailbait. He compared the photos of underage girls he posted to Britney Spears’ sultry "Hit Me Baby One More Time" video. She was 16 at the time, he said—how was that different than what he was doing? Brutsch said he only reposted photos that he’d found elsewhere, mostly on 4chan, and that he promptly removed any outright child porn that was posted.

"I’ve always been upfront about the sorts of things that I find attractive," he said. Brutsch didn’t create the creepshots subreddit which was launched earlier this year. But when it started to get heat after a teacher in Georgia was fired at the end of September for allegedly posting covert pictures of his underage students, it only made sense that the section’s moderators would bring Violentacrez on to help deal with the newfound attention. He was a moderator until Creepshots was banned this week amid increasing controversy. (The circumstances surrounding Creepshots’ ban is unclear, as Reddit’s General Manager had told Buzzfeed they would not ban the subreddit because it wasn’t breaking Reddit’s rules.)

Having his screenname mangled by Anderson Cooper on CNN for Jailbait was Violentacrez’s biggest moment as a troll, but it wasn’t his first time in the spotlight. Since Brutsch stumbled on Reddit from a link on the internet culture blog Boing Boing in 2007, he has pushed the boundaries of Reddit’s free-speech culture. He has done this mostly through creating offensive subreddits to troll sensitive users. Some of the sections Violentacrez created or moderated were called:

Chokeabitch
Niggerjailbait
Rapebait
Hitler
Jewmerica
Misogyny
Incest
You can look those up on Reddit and visit them if you’d like to ruin your day, but the content is self-explanatory.

Unlike Jailbait, which apparently sprung from a sincere interest, many of Violentacrez’s most offensive subreddits were created just to enrage other Reddit users. At this they were very effective. What happened was, some do-gooder would stumble upon one of his offensive subreddits and expose it to the rest of Reddit in an outraged post. Then thousands more would vote the thing to the front page of Reddit. Cries to censor it would sound out, to be almost inevitably beaten back by cries of "free speech!" The idea of free speech is sacred to many Reddit users, a product of the free-wheeling online message board culture from which Reddit springs. If you criticize someone else for posting something you don’t like, you are a whiny fascist.

Violentacrez explained his trolling philosophy to the internet culture website the Daily Dot in August of 2011. He had sparked yet another controversy by posting a graphic image of a partially clothed woman being brutally beaten by a large man, in "beatingwomen," a subreddit dedicated to glorifying violence against women. A Redditor had called out the picture in a post, and it was voted to the front page.

"People take things way too seriously around here," Violentacrez said. " I was not surprised by the outrage of the person who made the post, because I see it all the time. What was surprising was the community support for it. Most posts that complain about these things never do very well, and are quickly buried or deleted. I think it’s interesting how many people defend my right to act the way I do, while decrying my posts themselves."

A troll exploits social dynamics like computer hackers exploit security loopholes, and Violentacrez calmly exploited the Reddit hive mind’s powerful outrage machine and free speech values at the same time.

It was this pattern, repeated to various degrees dozens of times, that made Violentacrez an unlikely hero to many of the white male geeks who make up Reddit’s hard core. They saw Violentacrez as a champion in the fight against the oppressive schoolmarms: "He upheld a certain amount of freedom for the worst of us to ensure freedom for all of us," wrote one user in a post mourning his departure. Fans followed him wherever he went on the site.

As his fame grew, Brutsch began selling T-shirts with an illustration of a zombified version of Reddit’s alien logo, designed by a professional illustrator, that he had adopted as Violentacrez’s logo. He created a subreddit called Violentacrez, dedicated to news and posts about himself. Last year, the Daily Dot named him the most important Redditor of the year. Violentacrez was the most influential user of one of the most influential websites on the internet.
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Violentacrez was a troll, but he was a well-connected troll.

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All the while, Violentacrez’s critics cried out the same refrain: "How does he get away with this?" One reason Violentacrez continued to occupy such a high-profile position on Reddit was of course his free speech rhetoric. But Violentacrez has historically had a close relationship with Reddit’s staff, a fact far less well-known than his controversial behavior. Violentacrez was a troll, but he was a well-connected troll. He told me he was close with a number of early Reddit employees—many of whom have now moved on—chatting with them on IRC or sometimes even on the phone. A few years ago, while Jailbait was still going strong, Reddit’s administrators gave him a special one-of-a-kind "pimp hat" badge to honor his contributions to the site, which he proudly displayed on his profile. Brutsch said he was even in the final running for a job as a customer support representative at Reddit last year.

During the Jailbait controversy, Erik Martin, the site’s General Manager, reached out to Violentacrez beforehand to warn him that they were going to have to shut down his prized possession, according to a chat conversation Violentacrez leaked at the time.

"Want to give you a heads up," Martin wrote. "We’re making a policy change regarding jailbait type content. Don’t really have a choice."

(Martin did not respond to requests for comment.)

Violentacrez’s privileged position came from the fact that for years he had helped administrators deal with the massive seedy side of Reddit, acting almost as an unpaid staff member. Reddit administrators essentially handed off the oversight of the site’s NSFW side to Violentacrez, according to former Reddit lead programer Chris Slowe (a.k.a. Keysersosa), who worked at Reddit from 2005 to the end of 2010. When Violentacrez first joined the site and started filling it with filth, administrators were wary and they often clashed. But eventually administrators and Violentacrez came to an uneasy truce, according to Slowe. For all his unpleasantness, they realized that Violentacrez was an excellent community moderator and could be counted on to keep the administrators abreast of any illegal content he came across.

"Once we came to terms he was actually pretty helpful. He would come to us with things that we hadn’t noticed," said Slowe. "At the time there was only four of us working so that was a great resource for us to have."

Administrators realized it was easier to outsource the policing of questionable content to Violentacrez than to dirty their hands themselves, or ostracize him and risk even worse things happening without their knowledge. The devil you know. So even as Jailbait flourished and became an ever-more-integral part of Reddit’s traffic and culture—in 2008 it won the most votes in a "subreddit of the year" poll—administrators looked the other way. "We just stayed out of there and let him do his thing and we knew at least he was getting rid of a lot of stuff that wasn’t particularly legal," Slowe said. "I know I didn’t want it to be my job."

Violentacrez’s close relationship to administrators made him an elite member of Reddit’s army of moderators, known as "mods" on the site. Though much is made of the millions of users who submit content to Reddit, it’s Reddit’s over 20,000 volunteer mods who are the real secret behind its success. They act as janitors and editors, keeping their subreddits clean and well-stocked with content. Reddit’s main innovation has been to move these users up the food chain, from simple content-generators to management positions. This allows Reddit’s mind-boggling breadth of content and users to be overseen by just a few paid employees. The downside is that it requires Reddit’s official management to enter into uneasy symbiotic relationships with sketchy but effective moderators like Violentacrez.

And sometimes those relationships become more trouble than they’re worth. After the Jailbait controversy, Violentacrez claimed repeatedly on Reddit, he was cut off from administrators who had been burned by the controversy. In fact, when I spoke to him, Brutsch said Reddit admins had been keeping their distance for a while. He suggested that the site wasn’t what it used to be. In recent days, he has been posting less, stirring up less drama.

When it comes to mods, the political model of Reddit is not so much a vast digital democracy, as it’s often framed by fans and users, as online feudalism. Moderators like Violentacrez are given absolute control over their turf in exchange for keeping the kingdom of Reddit strong. Moderators become more or less powerful in direct relation to the number and popularity of the subreddits they moderate, so they try to take over other subreddits to boost their profile in the community. Inevitably, Reddit’s administrators develop relationships with the most influential moderators. Like feuding medieval lords vying for the king’s favor, moderators form alliances or wage epic flame wars over power struggles.

This is how Violentacrez, Reddit’s creepiest user, also became its most powerful. Sure, he was responsible for the absolute worst stuff on Reddit, and by extension, some of the worst stuff on the internet. But Violentacrez was also seen to be, as Chris Slowe put it to me, "a trustworthy and a positive member of the community." He moderated more than 400 subreddits and had many high-profile friends, amassed over many years. His stable at times included hundreds of popular mainstream subreddits, like Funny and WTF, that reach audiences of millions. Violentacrez further solidified his reach by becoming a mentor to other moderators. He created the first FAQ for Reddit’s rather unintuitive moderator interface. He also helmed a number of subreddits dedicated to providing guidance and camaraderie for other moderators, including the essential modhelp.

So it was no surprise that when news got out earlier this week that I was working on a story that would expose Violentacrez’s real identity, other moderators on Reddit rallied to defend him. The popular politics subreddit led the charge, by banning all Gawker links.

"As moderators, we feel that this type of behavior is completely intolerable," they wrote. "We volunteer our time on Reddit to make it a better place for the users, and should not be harassed and threatened for that. We should all be afraid of the threat of having our personal information investigated and spread around the internet if someone disagrees with you."

Some have taken this as an expression of Reddit’s users’ fondness of Violentacrez’s pornographic generosity. In fact the ban was probably more an expression of friendship by the Politics subreddit moderators. Violentacrez probably trained some of them. They were mad that their buddy was going to be outed for simply, in their mind, exercising his free speech—his unalienable right to anonymously post stalker shots of women.

***
When I called Brutsch that Wednesday afternoon and told him I knew who he was, I was a little taken aback by how calm he remained during our intense but civil hour-long conversation. I had figured that a man whose hobby was saying horrible shit just to screw with people online would rise to some new horrible level when conditions on the ground actually called for it. Instead he pleaded with me in an affectless monotone not to reveal his name.

"My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment," he said. "I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time."

I asked if he regretted anything he had posted, now that he’d be found out. No, he said. "I would stand by exactly what I’ve done." The problem was, he explained, that if his identity got out, his many enemies would start attaching lies to his name because they simply don’t like his views. They would say he was a child pornographer, when all he had done was spearhead the distribution of thousands of legal photos of underage girls. They would say the fact that he created a subreddit dedicated to Hitler meant he was anti-Semitic, when really it was just trolling. (Brutsch says he’s got Jewish blood himself: "If you see a picture of me, I’m about as Jewish looking as they get.") They would Google-bomb his name and the word "pedophile" along with his publicly-traded company’s name.
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I asked if he regretted anything he had posted, now that he’d be found out. No, he said. "I would stand by exactly what I’ve done."

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He needed to keep his anonymity to protect his ability to express things many people think but hardly anyone says. With Violentacrez, "I got the freedom to talk about my personal life, my personal feelings… I’m sure there’s more than one person in this building who’s a pervert," he said, referring his office building.

He asked a number of times if there was anything he could do to keep me from outing him. He offered to act as a mole for me, to be my "sockpuppet" on Reddit. "I’m like the spy who’s found out," he said. "I’ll do anything. If you want me to stop posting, delete whatever I posted, whatever. I am at your mercy because I really can’t think of anything worse that could possibly happen. It’s not like I do anything illegal."

I told him it wasn’t my place to tell him what to do, that I was just reporting on what he’d already done, but this did shake me a bit. It didn’t help that our phone call had been unplanned and I hadn’t properly steeled myself for a tough conversation. In the beginning it was just supposed to be a friendly gchat conversation with Violentacrez, not a confrontation with Brutsch himself.

I had initially told Violentacrez I was interested in profiling him in light of the new controversy surrounding creepshots. I arranged the Gchat interview without hinting that a former online friend had tipped me off to his real identity during the Jailbait scandal, after the friend had become disgusted with his obsession with underage girls. Since then, Violentacrez had recorded the geek podcast The Drill Down with other high-profile Reddit moderators, outing his voice. All I had to do was call up Michael Brutsch and match his voice to Violentacrez’s. My plan that Wednesday was to have the chat with Violentacrez before calling Brutsch. I didn’t want to risk calling Brutsch first, only to have him shut down completely once he realized he was outed.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at keeping secrets. My poker face is so bad it can be read even through a computer screen, apparently. In our Gchat, I pressed Violentacrez about his anonymity enough that he grew suspicious. We were chatting about why he feels comfortable attending IRL meet-ups of Redditors if his anonymity was so important to him when he caught on.

me: it seems like you’re not super careful about keeping your identity under wraps, if you meet people in real life. A lot of trolls I’ve talked to would never do that or give out as many details about themselves as they do.

violentacrez: have you been given my real name?

me: yeah

violentacrez: that’s not good

me: it seems like you’ve told a lot of people. Are you surprised it would get out?

violentacrez: yes, I thought I could trust those who know. Are you going to out me?

Panicking a bit, I quickly picked up the phone and dialed the number I had found on Brutsch’s online resume so I could hear Brutsch’s voice to see if it matched Violentacrez. It did.

"So, are you going to out me?" he said.

***
One thing that Brutsch wasn’t worried about when I talked to him on the phone was his immediate family finding out about his online habits.

"He won’t really care," said Brutsch of his teenage son, the one about to join the Marines. "He thinks I’m creepy as it is."

The Violentacrez clan seems to have walked out of a Todd Solondz movie, and a significant part of Violentacrez’s mythos on Reddit comes from the details he’s shared about his family. In 2010, Violentacrez hosted a legendary "Ask Me Anything" thread"—the same Q & A feature Barack Obama took part in last month. He was asked what was the creepiest thing he’d done "IRL" and delighted readers with a tale ripped out of Penthouse letters. "That’d be a tough call," Violentacrez wrote, "Perhaps oral sex with my 19-year-old stepdaughter." It was completely consensual, he claimed in the post, and went on to brag about how awesome it had been in graphic detail.

This happened over ten years ago, Violentacrez claimed. When his then-wife, the girl’s mother, found out, she "got mad, then got over it," Violentacrez wrote. He says they were married for ten more years.

His current wife is similarly accepting of Brutsch’s unsavory side, according to Brutsch. She is not only aware of his online habits, she’s also a prolific Redditor under the handle not_so_violentacrez. She is a founder of the Fibromyalgia subreddit. She has diabetes and plays the online game Kingdom of Camelot. Violentacrez said that at home, the two would lie in bed together with their laptops, both on Reddit, him posting his porn, she posting cute animal videos and pictures of dolphins.

About a year ago, Violentacrez’s teenage son did his own Ask Me Anything thread. His son uses the handle Spawn_of_VA and he is dad’s biggest fan. Interspersed among talk of family game night, Spawn_of_VA regaled readers with more weird tidbits about his father, including the fact that he has a "suitcase full of dildos in his closet" and a "roller type thing with spikes on it, he uses that to roll on his balls."

When I first read Violentacrez’s and his son’s AMAs I, like many other readers, figured this was just some next-level trolling. Violentacrez’s wife and his son were probably just sockpuppets, right? But on the phone, I asked Brutsch if Spawn_of_VA was really his son. He is, Brutsch said. I asked if everything he and his son had said in their AMAs were real. As far as he could remember, he said, it was.

***
The extent to which trolls separate, or fail to separate, their online and IRL lives is as varied as people themselves. There’s an idea of the troll as an information age Jekyll & Hyde, with the anonymity provided by the internet playing the role of Hyde’s serum that transforms the mild-mannered geek into a monster. Observers often cite the psychological theory called deindividuation, which argues people literally lose themselves when granted anonymity.

But Violentacrez/Michael Brutsch upset this idea by blurring his online and offline lives. Brutsch adopted a new name for trolling, but he built his horrible character on many details from his real life. In real life, Brutsch is an unabashedly creepy old man with seven cats and two dogs and a disabled wife and a teenage son about to join the Marines. He was all of that online, too—only he was famous for it.

Both offline and online he could be either a creepy uncle, or a loyal friend and helpful guide. Violentacrez had a surprising number of friends on Reddit, for someone who once created an entire subreddit dedicated to pictures of dead teenage girls (Picsofdeadjailbait). He helped organize IRL meet-ups, where he showed up in a t-shirt with his zombie logo on it, and told everyone there to call him "VA." Attendees agreed to blur his face in any resulting pictures before posting them to Reddit. Brutsch is an internet minister, and he said he once married a pair of Redditors in real life, though they only knew him by his "clean" handle: mbrutsch.

One longtime Redditor I spoke to talked about Violentacrez with the warmth of an old college friend.

"He’s a really a good guy," she said. This user was in the Arlington area for business once, and she stopped by Brutsch’s house for lunch. "He has the manners of a Southern gentleman," she said. "A bunch of neighborhood kids were over playing at his house."

The only thing missing was joining the name Violentacrez to the name Michael Brutsch, and even that information he had given to many of his online friends. Reddit administrators have long known his real identity, Brutsch said, which he gave them in order to prove that he had nothing to hide. But Brutsch was still anonymous to the people he wanted to be, mainly his employers, and by unmasking him I am sure to get criticism for supposedly violating his privacy.

Even before I published this article, Reddit had already exploded in outrage. (Gawker sites are now banned from over 60 subreddits, and some pissed off user has signed me up for approximately two dozen mailing lists.) The irony of being upset that a noted custodian of "creepshots" is getting some unwanted attention himself is obvious. Jailbait defenders would often argue that if 14-year-olds didn’t want their bikini pictures to be posted to Reddit, they should not have taken them and uploaded them to their Facebook accounts in the first place. If Brutsch did not want his employers to know that he had become a minor internet celebrity through spending hours every day posting photos of 14-year-olds in bikinis to thousands of people on the internet, he should have stuck to posting cat videos.

But for Reddit, the stakes are higher than just one man having to answer for things he’s done online. To them, the "doxing" of Violentacrez—"doxing" is hacker slang for publishing someone’s personal information in order to intimidate or punish them—is an assault on the very structure of Reddit itself. The Daily Dot sums up their logic:

At Web communities like Reddit, which thrive because users are free to say and do anything they want, doxing is a severe crime, both to users and the site’s staff. It’s far worse than offensive speech like racism and homophobia or, yes, even posting surreptitiously snapped photos of innocent women for creeps to perv over. Why? Because doxing undermines the community’s structural integrity: Reddit simply would not exist as we know it if users weren’t operating under the freedom of a flexible identity. So redditors aren’t banning Gawker to protect violentacrez, they’re doing it to protect themselves.

Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit’s role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women.

I am OK with that.

***
Brutsch shut down the Violentacrez account abruptly this past Tuesday, six days after we spoke. When I Gchatted him that night, Brutsch told me, "I guess I just got tired of all the hassle." He said he was done with Reddit for good. "Reddit ceased being fun a while ago," he said.

Now he’s going to spend the hours he used to lose to Reddit on work. "Oh, and possibly looking for a job will obviously keep me busy ;) "

I asked what he’ll miss most about Reddit. "The people," he said. "Reddit is nothing without the community. I’ve already gotten a few cheery goodbyes from people: ‘Keep in touch. You are still a good friend.’"

But he didn’t stay away long. In the past couple days, he apparently popped up in a private subreddit called "modtalk," where moderators and administrators talk clear up some misconceptions about why he’d left. (Including one rumor that I had somehow "blackmailed" him into quitting.) In the ensuing discussion, a user named themanwithnoname wrote, "VA, I don’t know you personally, but I’ve appreciated some of your comments over the years. I hope your life rocks from here out."

To which Violentacrez replied, under the handle VA_11102012: "I miss posting porn."

Update, Monday 10/15: Reddit’s Biggest Troll Fired From His Real-World Job; Reddit Continues to Censor Gawker Articles
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San Diego, CA
dog oral care

Image by Oggie Dog
background; USS Midway (CV-41)

foreground; a salute to Bob Hope

Design notes: Located in a grove of coral trees atop a landscaped mound with broad curving steps, the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military features a grouping of sixteen larger than life-size bronze figures in a 48-foot diameter circular plaza. The figures represent a typical road show with Bob entertaining troops near the front. The focal point is a bronze of Bob Hope himself by renowned sculptor Eugene Daub. Fifteen additional sculptures form an eternal audience representing men and women of the five branches of the U.S. military services. Attractive landscaping and lighting showcase the National Salute for visitors day and night, by land and water.

About the Sculptures: The bronze figures are sculpted in military uniforms authentic to the various eras of Bob’s career from World War II through the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, and the first Persian Gulf War. The fifteen military bronze figures were designed and fabricated by the Daub Firman Hendrickson Group and the Steven Whyte Studio. A brief description of each follows:
World War II Paratrooper

The 101st division (the Screaming Eagles) was activated on 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana on 19 August 1942. During World War II, the Pathfinders of the 101st Airborne Division led the way on D-Day in the night drop prior to the invasion. On 2 August 1944, the division became part of the First Allied Airborne Army. As part of this formation it took part in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. During the Battle of the Bulge the 101st defended the vital road junction of Bastogne. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe replied to the demand for surrender: “To the German Commander: NUTS! —The American Commander.” (Some are convinced that what he actually wrote was less polite.) The division held its ground. This figure is of a sergeant in the 101st Airborne paratroopers, (not a pathfinder), who participated in the Normandy invasion.
Korean War Infantryman

We have chosen the 45th infantry division for this figure of a private for several reasons relating to the desire to honor Native American veterans. It was formed from citizen soldiers in the Southwestern U.S. It had at least two Native American Medal of Honor winners in the Korean War. Its insignia is the Native American thunderbird, and it is known as the Thunderbird division. The insignia is a strong clue for the viewing public the soldier may be Native American. Native Americans volunteered for service in Korea in higher proportion than any other identifiable ethnic group.
Gulf War Soldier in Desert Storm

Forty thousand women were deployed in Operation Desert Storm. Many, including those in the 82nd Airborne, were in combat and 16 were killed. This marks a change in American military history were many mothers with young children serve in the armed forces. The Desert Storm Gulf War soldier is an African American 2nd Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne. The cast on her right leg emphasizes her combat role, and also serves to honor all wounded veterans. She has a notebook on her lap in anticipation of receiving an autograph from Bob Hope.
Korean War Sailor

More than 265,000 navy personnel served in Korea during the war. The U.S. Navy eliminated the North Korean navy, prevented and destroyed enemy troop landings, performed on-land reconnaissance, carried out allied troop landings, evacuated over 100,000 allied troops at Hungnam, bombarded shore positions, and launched thousands of aerial sorties. The Korean War sailor is a Seaman 1st Class, who will be holding one of the handles of the Gulf War soldier’s wheelchair. He is in his dress blues.
World War II Fighter Pilot

The World War II fighter pilot is a captain in the Army Air Force, with the 332nd Fighter Group (originally the 99th Fighter Squadron)—the Redtails—within the 15th Air Force. This group is famous for two reasons: 1) it is the only fighter escort group to lose no bombers to enemy fighters, and 2) it was composed entirely of African Americans. The 332nd shot down 111 German fighters, including at least two Me-262 jets, and earned 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. They were also known as the Tuskegee Airmen because they were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1949, pilots from the 332nd Fighter Group took first place in the Air Force National Fighter Gunnery Meet at Las Vegas Air Force Base, Nevada.
Vietnam War Artilleryman

This soldier is a private in an artillery unit from the Vietnam War. He is holding a home-made sign which reads “Go Bob!” He is wearing a T-shirt with no insignia, with his dog tags outside his shirt. US artillery in Vietnam was organized under I Field Force, II Field Force and XXIV Corps Artillery, consisting of 44 battalions in total. These battalions played a significant role in supporting American and allied infantry.
Vietnam War Air Force Mechanic

The mechanic is a Hispanic technical sergeant in the Air Force in the Vietnam War, seated on a wooden ammo box. A little remembered episode is that the first Air Force mechanics in Vietnam were sent in support of the French for seven months in 1954, in a deployment that grew to nearly 500 men. Their base at Do Son was under frequent attack, and the Viet Minh captured 5 men.
World War II Marine Corps Sergeant

The sculpture is of a patient from the 44th Field Hospital, one of the largest fully equipped hospitals in the Philippines during World War II. The Medical Statistics Division of the Office of the Surgeon General has estimated that close to 15,000 men in the U.S. Army, including Army Air Forces, suffered amputations during the period from 1 January 1942 to 31 March 1946. The maximum census reported by these amputation centers for any one month was 9,240 in June 1945. The figure is depicted in his issue blue robe, freshly pinned with the Purple Heart. “Bedside presentations” of this award, which would typically entail a general entering a hospital with a box of Purple Hearts, pinning them on the pillows of wounded service members, and then departing with no official records kept of the visit or the award. Service members themselves could complicate the issue by leaving hospitals unofficially, returning to their units. In such cases, even if a service member had received actual wounds in combat, the award of the Purple Heart might never be recorded in official records.
Korean War Marine

This sculpture of a Korean War Marine is of an African-American Marine shown in the standard issue cold-weather uniform required by the harsh Korean winter. Holding a sign marked “Thanks for the Memory” he communicates the support and appreciation of U.S. troops for Bob Hope and his efforts with the USO. African-American servicemen distinguished themselves in combat during the ground battles with the North Korean army and in the air war over Korea. The Korean War is considered by many as the turning point in the acceptance of African-Americans as proven members of the U.S. military. Following the Korean War, the Army abolished the 300 segregated all-black units that had previously existed and integrated the more than 300,000 African-Americans into the previously all-white units.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate

This figure is a portrait of a Machinist Mate, Third Class Petty Officer (PO3) from the USS Lark. The subject is depicted from the year 1944 as he would have appeared while stationed at Mios Woendi “Windy Island” in the South Pacific. The sculpture represents a sailor who served during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was fought in the seas around the Philippines following the initial landings and return of U.S. forces to these islands in October 1944. Consisting of four major air-sea battles fought over several days, including Taffy 3’s famous action in the Battle off Samar on 25 October, the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle in history. In a last and desperate gamble to halt the advance of allied forces in the Pacific, most of the remaining major units of the still-formidable Imperial Japanese Navy were sent forth into this battle. In the Sibuyan Sea, off Cape Engaño, in Surigao Strait and off the island of Samar, U.S. sailors and airmen met, repulsed and defeated the Japanese fleet in this the last great naval battle between opposing fleets in World War II. The figure is depicted standing on a box in dungarees that were modeled from original period clothing acquired from the family of a World War II veteran. Further refinement to the uniform was based on information provided through oral history given by Hal Tinker, retired US Navy. The figure is a Caucasian male of approximately 22 years of age. The age of the sailor is based on footage of members of the audience at the Mios Woendi performance by Bob Hope featured on The Best of Bob Hope: The Ultimate Collection, “Bob Goes to War”.
Coast Guard Squadron One

The uncharted nature of the waters surrounding Vietnam made the members of the U.S. Coast Guard an invaluable component in military efforts in the region. Crewmen assisted in patrols, rescues, and topography. Early on in the conflict, it was determined that the Coast Guard would provide seventeen 82-foot patrol boats. On 29 April 1965, the formation of Coast Guard Squadron One was announced. On 6 May, the Coast Guard ordered the deployment of the seventeen patrol boats and only twelve days later they were loaded on merchant vessels in New York, Norfolk, New Orleans, Galveston, San Pedro, San Francisco and Seattle. At Coast Guard Base Alameda, Coast Guard Squadron One was formed. Initially, 47 officers and 198 enlisted were assigned to the newly formed Squadron One. The 82-footer’s main job was choking off the enemy’s sea-borne supplies. The Squadron would become the backbone of the Coast Guard’s fleet. Hispanics played a valuable role in the Vietnam war and accounted for 25 percent of the casualties. Their contributions have been particularly linked to the Coast Guard where a Hispanic crewman was awarded a Purple Heart.
Gulf War Air Force Staff Sergeant

The sculpture features an Asian-American female of approximately 22 years of age, a Staff Sergeant from the Communications Squad stationed in Kuwait City in 1990. Age of the figure was established from oral history from a member of the U.S. Air Force who had served in Kuwait. Sixteen percent of veterans from Desert Storm are women, and by 1993 over 50,000 Asian-Americans were in uniform. The figure is shown standing wearing a standard issue Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) with standard-issue desert combat boots. Reference for the uniform was provided by a Desert Storm veteran who loaned the uniform she had worn while serving in the Gulf to the artist.
World War II Navy Pilot Lieutenant

This World War II pilot is a Lieutenant in the Navy, fighting in the conflict in the Pacific. Thirty years after the Navy had acquired its first airplane and only 19 years after it had acquired its first aircraft carrier, naval aviation faced the supreme test of war. At the beginning of the war the Navy and Marine Corps air arms could muster only seven large and one small aircraft carriers, 5 patrol wings and 2 Marine aircraft wings, 5,900 pilots and 21,678 enlisted men, 5,233 aircraft of all types including trainers, and a few advanced air bases. World War II marked the first time in history naval engagements were fought entirely in the air without opposing surface forces sighting each other. In the course of the war, Navy and Marine pilots destroyed over 15,000 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground, sank 174 Japanese warships, including 13 submarines, totaling 746,000 tons, sank 447 Japanese merchant ships totaling 1,600,000 tons and, in the Atlantic, destroyed 63 German U-boats. The pilot in this figure is seen with his Mae West in a light summer flight suit worn to protect against the heat and humidity. He is shown wearing non-standard boots based on oral histories from Navy pilots who explained that the pilots often wore different boots out of fear that the standard-issue foot wear would become water logged in the event of a sea landing.
Vietnam War Navy Medic

This figure is a Hospital Corpsman Third Class, U.S. Navy, from Quang Nam Province from 1968. With the escalation of the Vietnam conflict between 1963 and 1975, Hospital Corpsman were called to serve in Southeast Asia. They served in Marine Corps and Navy Air/Ground Forces, Naval Support Activity Hospitals, off the coast of North Vietnam, in Cambodia and in Thailand. They performed emergency treatment in all kinds of combat conditions. They were assigned to small medical teams that provided care and health advice to Vietnamese civilians. Some were assigned as medical advisors to Vietnamese military units, which required that they live in small, poorly defended villages. Hospital Corpsman truly felt the brunt of the Vietnam conflict. Six hundred twenty were killed or mortally wounded and another 3,353 were wounded in action. Awards for gallantry and intrepidity in action included 3 Congressional Medals of Honor, 29 Navy Crosses, 127 Silver Stars, 2 Legions of Merit, 290 Bronze Stars and 4,563 Purple Hearts. The subject’s uniform is completed with standard-issue drawstring pants, based on reference photographs in U.S. Military Operations 1945-1985 by Kenneth Anderson and combat boots, based on reference photographs from Left at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is posed sitting on top of an ammunition box suggesting the often-makeshift nature of Hope’s impromptu stages. He is wearing no shirt reflecting the more casual nature of the USO performances in Vietnam. The figure’s dog tags are thrown around his back to allow him to clap.
World War II Army Nurse

More than 59,000 American nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II. During the conflict, nurses worked closer to the front lines than they ever had before. Within the “chain of evacuation” established by the Army Medical Department during the war, nurses served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as flight nurses on medical transport planes. In all, more than 200 Army Nurses lost their lives during World War II. The skill and dedication of these nurses is credited for the extremely low post-injury mortality rate among American military forces in every theater of the war. Army nurses all served as officers and were slightly older than some of the soldiers they tended. This figure is seen in her regulation uniform. She is sketching a character of Bob Hope with a love heart.

Site notes: The National Salute site is at the northwest corner (far left in photo) of the G Street Mole. This is in proximity to other military related monuments in the neighborhood including the “Homecoming” sculpture, the “Aircraft Carrier Memorial” obelisk, the “Battle of Leyte Gulf” monument, and the USS San Diego (CL-53) Memorial. The retired aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway, now a popular naval aviation museum and venue for public events, is moored permanently adjacent to the mole and forms an appropriate naval backdrop for the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military.

Site notes: The National Salute site is at the northwest corner (far left in photo) of the G Street Mole. This is in proximity to other military related monuments in the neighborhood including the “Homecoming” sculpture, the “Aircraft Carrier Memorial” obelisk, the “Battle of Leyte Gulf” monument, and the USS San Diego (CL-53) Memorial. The retired aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway, now a popular naval aviation museum and venue for public events, is moored permanently adjacent to the mole and forms an appropriate naval backdrop for the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military.

About the sponsors: The inspiration and planning for the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military was provide by a veteran’s group called Task Unit 77.4.3/Taffy 3 (“Taffy III” for short.) The common bond of these World War II Navy men is that they served bravely on warships of Task Unit 77.4.3 that were sunk during the famous Battle off Samar during the Battle for Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944. (“Taffy III” was the call sign of this task unit.) In recent years, these men have devoted their efforts toward raising awareness and money for monuments to preserve the history and honor the veterans of this era. The nearby Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial is an earlier project funded and built on Port tidelands by Taffy III. The National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military is the latest and most ambitious Taffy 3 commemorative project. The project was built with donated funds.

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Single Goats Scream Like Humans in Horror, Disapprove of Valentine’s Day

Goats-screaming-like-humans

YOU might be all lovey-dovey smoochypoo today but some people — and, GOATS — not so much. Watch these goats who disapprove of this touchy-feely love day:

And, just because we know you want to see more animals that scream:

What ginormous beast screams as loud as a rocket launch?! Cray cray —

 

 


This post is brought to you by Betty Chu, an Executive Producer for AnimalPlanet.com and a Guest Contributor for The Daily Treat.


The Daily Treat: Animal Planet

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W o w. Best headine I've seen in a coon's…

W o w. Best headine I've seen in a coon's age. And the story. Sweet Mary Mother of Pearl. The backstory and all the work you guys do – a m a z i n g. Kudos just doesn't get it. You guys hop. Big time.
BAD RAP Blog

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Westlake Village Dentist, Dr. Shindler, Now Informs Patients about the Importance of Prevention for Oral Health


Westlake Village, CA (PRWEB) March 26, 2013

Dr. Philip Shindler, Westlake Village cosmetic dentist, now informs all individuals about the importance of prevention for their oral health. Many oral health problems, such as tooth decay or periodontal disease can be prevented.

The first and most obvious way to prevent oral health problems is with proper brushing and flossing. Everyone should brush twice per day and after consuming foods and beverages that contain sugar. Brushing removes harmful bacteria, the sugars that the bacteria use for fuel, and plaque from the surfaces of the teeth. In addition, flossing at least once per day can remove bacteria, food particles, and plaque from between the teeth. Use dental floss and a toothbrush that are approved by the American Dental Association and toothpaste that contains fluoride. If a patient needs help or has questions about their brushing and flossing technique, Dr. Shindler, Westlake Village porcelain veneers specialist, can help.

Another important way to prevent oral health problems is to visit the dentist for regular checkups. Patients may need to have a regular exam and cleaning as often as every six months, depending on their age and general oral health condition. During the examination, Dr. Shindler, Westlake Village dental implants expert, will examine the gums and teeth and take images to look for signs of cavities and other oral health problems. In addition, he will clean the patient’s teeth to remove areas of plaque and tartar before they can develop into tooth decay or periodontal disease.

About Dr. Philip Shindler, Dentist Westlake Village

Dr. Shindler began his career in 1981. He and his wife Beverly moved to Agoura Hills/Westlake Village area in 1987, when he completed his postgraduate work at UCLA. In addition to regular exams and cleanings, Dr. Shindler performs a variety of cosmetic dental services. He restores dental implants, fits patients with porcelain veneers, fits patients with Invisalign aligners, and performs teeth whitening, to name a few options. Dr. Shindler also offers CariFree, a program designed to reduce the number of cavities that patients get by up to 85 percent.

Contact

Dr. Philip Shindler

960 S Westlake Blvd. #201

Westlake Village, CA 91361

Phone: (805) 409-2970

Website: http://www.philipshindlerdds.com







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ZooToo

Someone alerted us on the forum to a pet-people social network, so I went and looked at it.

This lady had no idea what kind of tool she had stumbled upon, but I did, and I knew right how to use it. It’s like Facebook, of which I am a huge fan.

They allow free classified ads so I posted a nice one about the pet food. You can do product reviews so I reviewed Life’s Abundance and Instinctive Choice and the supplements. You can write little journal stories so I wrote a story about Mr. Tree Kitty. People request friendships with you so I accepted. There was SO MUCH I could do in this forum, legitimately, just to network and connect with other pet people without really saying anything about pet food!

This business is all about just connecting with people. So this was a great little tool. Makes me want to go out and find other forums like this one and join them.

http://www.ZooToo.com
A day in the life of a HealthyPetNet Rep

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Depth

I was talking with Lorelei the other day about the importance of background.  We differ in our styles and our opinions on some things (which is never a bad thing).

I tend to like photos that don’t have a lot of “clutter” – the focus is on the dog and there is nothing else to distract you from that. We decided that I prefer to document, rather than tell a story and that she is the opposite.  I can appreciate the beauty of an image with a gorgeous background, with small people/pets in the image, but for myself, I want images that show me what they look like at this particular time – I want to see their expressions, not their location.

The one thing I like about studio pics and in particular, Amanda Jones’ studio photos, is that you are left with nothing but the dog.  If I could create an indoor studio big enough to have dogs running at full speeds I’d be a happy girl.  Just think of the detail you could see without anything (aka grass, snow, shrubs, etc.) blocking your view or distracting you.

Lorelei got me to think about what my favourite photos were and I have to admit, the ones that stick out  in my mind were ones with lots of background stuff.  Like these and the cover image of the candids on my website (sorry can’t seem to link directly to picture but you can see it in its entirety if you click on the gallery – it is a few images in).  But what those “pretty” pictures are lacking (at least in my opinion) is activity and expression.  They are nice to look at, but are a little dull, as the dogs are just standing there.

So today I set out to combine the two – pretty pictures with some action.  It was harder than I was expecting, which may explain why I don’t seem to do it very often.  To get the right stride, with the right expression, in the right place, without stray grasses or shrubs blocking her face, all while not dropping the focus off Coulee onto the cluttered background, was hard.  Way harder than I expected.  I only got one that I was really happy with.

 But one is all you need right?  :)

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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Nice Pet Healthy Teeth photos

A few nice pet healthy teeth images I found:

Ms. Powaga – Fifth Grade, an Oasis in the Desert
pet healthy teeth

Image by Michael 1952
A Place of Refreshment is discovered.

The summer between fourth and fifth grade seemed to pass with blinding speed. It is a little known fact that buried deep within Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity is Corollary Rule Twenty Seven which states that as a human being ages the season of summer passes more quickly in a direct one to one correspondence to the square of his age. Taken to its logical conclusion, the corollary would mean that if a person lived long enough he or she would experience endless winters. That is why so many people retire to warmer climates and we choose death once we have lived over a hundred years or so, because we are always cold, which is proof positive of Corollary Rule 27 in action.

Once again I entered the halls of SJSA ready to tackle another year. This year I told myself would be different, this year I would work harder and get better grades. For once in my primary school years, I accomplished this heady goal. It was not because I had gotten any smarter; it was because I fell in love with the teacher, Ms. Powaga. Ms. Powaga was everything that Mrs. R. Reid was not. She was young and beautiful, and she had a ready genuine smile and made each kid feel special. The nuns and Mrs. Reid had the credentials for teaching just as Ms. Powaga did but she had something that none of the black and white suited nuns or any of the other lay teachers had, she had talent for the job. Did she have her pets? Yes, I think that teachers accumulated pets out of simple self preservation. Being a Blackboard Erasing or Paper Passing pet was one thing, but I think that any child that agreed to be a Name Taking Blackboard Writing Snitch pet was a disgrace to be scorned by all children everywhere for all times! But as to the respectable pets let’s remember that back then there were no teacher’s aides, at least not at SJSA, so a teacher just had to appoint someone to do the menial labor, similar to the system in a well run jail where a trustee does the menial labor that a guard does not want to do. It follows that you would recruit the best talent for the job, a dummy might eat the chalk or give a paper back to the wrong student or fail to follow the Snitches Code of Ethics by allowing people to talk while teacher was out of the room and yet failing to write the criminal’s name on the blackboard. So yes, Ms. Powaga had her pets, but with her it was different. First of all she did not employ any snitches; she put us on our honor. Was this naiveté in the extreme? Was she mad? No, it actually worked. While it would have been asking too much for kids to remain absolutely silent in her absence, we did remain orderly and spoke quietly. Secondly, just because you were not an official pet, you might receive a mark of her favor anyway, there were many such marks of favor that could be bestowed on a student such as; as being asked to take a note to the office, or to be a fire drill warden, whose job it was to close the door after all of the kids silently left as the fire drill horn was sounding, or even to escort a fellow classmate to the bathroom, we moved in pairs to the restroom to insure that the trip to the toilet would not become an all day expedition. Teachers knew who were friends with who and never assigned a friend as an escort as that would certainly cause the trip to be longer. In her way of treating kids there was a great difference when compared to the other teachers I had at SJSA and I think that it helped some of the downtrodden kids, the awkward ones, including me, feel a little bit better about where we fit in. In fifth grade there was much less teasing and bullying. There was some teasing and bullying because those are some of the tools kids carry around with them. Those that tease usually grow out of it. Those kids that were bullies normally grow up to be bankers or politicians. Some of the kids that did the teasing and bullying actually became friends with their former victims. My theory is that kids (at least back in the 60’s) took their cues on how to treat another kid from the signals received from the most influential adults around them which would include the teacher. In fourth grade, Mrs. R. Reid clearly marked the weak, the awkward and those considered by her to be dumb and these children were bullied and teased all of the time because Mrs. Reid and her subtle discrimination made these unfortunates legitimate targets. She let the herd know which ones of us were the weakest and therefore the bullies, who could be compared to coyotes, jackals, or sharks, would thus know which ones to cull from the herd. When the scent of blood is in the water, the sharks will attack and in the dark world of Mrs. R. Reid attack they did. I have to tell you that it hurt and hurt a lot to be segregated from the others because of this. For myself, I could not understand what was happening. I felt that I was a good kid and I didn’t know why I was treated so poorly by my peers. Inside I was a mass of wounds and it was in fourth grade that I started to build walls; “a fortress deep and mighty” as Simon and Garfunkel describe them.

In fifth grade under Ms. Powaga, all of us were treated better, more equally, because she revealed the truth showed that all of us were good people, that we had talents and feelings. She also made sure that she was fair. Everyone got a chance to participate in class, and if you got an answer wrong, you were not held up for scorn, but you were helped to find the right answer, you were not spoon fed the answer but led to it. I loved Ms. Powaga for that and I mean that in a deeply emotional sense. I found out that she took the Archer Avenue bus and walked to school from Archer and California. Some mornings I would leave early, thus surprising my mother, for very often she had to shove me out the door to get me moving to school, and I would wait for Ms. Powaga’s bus to arrive and would walk to school with her. I tried to do everything she told me, paid better attention in class, did more of the homework and I even tried to anticipate her needs. My grades that year were much better, except in math, I continued to experience a problem with it and the F on my report card shows that while a nice teacher, she was certainly fair. I never really understood math until first year in college when my buddy Jim (not to be confused with Big Jim) patiently helped me to understand it.

Every year there would be minor health screenings held at the school. I always found it a welcome break because we would be out of class for at least an hour while we all had our vision checked. We would line up and be taken down to the gym and there we would find several eye testing stations. The sophisticated test consisted of each student sitting in a chair and using their hand to tell the technician which way a letter E was facing. If it was facing the right way you would hold your hand up, if the E was facing right, you would point to the right with your hand, left to the left. It would start with a large E and move to progressively smaller letters. At the end you would be given either a blue or pink form. A blue form would indicate you upheld the integrity of SJSA and passed the eye test while the pink would indicate that you failed your friends, family country and your school by failing the test. That year I sat down to take my test and was very surprised that I could not really see which the direction the E was facing, it was a soft blur. I did not want look foolish and to fail the test so I did the only logical thing; I guessed. I guess that I guessed wrong because at the conclusion of the test I was presented with the dreaded pink paper, I had failed! What had happened was that my eyesight had gotten slowly but progressively worse a little bit each year as a result of having too much oxygen pumped into the incubator that I inhabited during my first couple of months of life outside the womb. Some children went blind because of this medical mistake. What should I do? My old tried and true strategy came to mind, why not use what worked during the reign of Emerita in my life and just throw the form away? I knew in my heart of hearts that I could not just throw this paper away and that I would have to present it to my parents. Besides, my sisters, again proving their superiority to their brother, would be bringing home their beautiful blue papers anointing them as proudly having sound eyesight and my parents were bound to ask where my form was. After all this was not some note penned by a black and white suited nun with nothing better to do; it was a form and more than that it was an official document issued by the Archdiocese of Chicago. I remember thinking that you could be sent to jail if you destroyed this kind of official notice. My heart was heavy as I saw myself with thick coke bottle lenses making me look like some sort of idiot. With glasses I certainly would be in the minority and this it would give the bullies more reason to tease me, “Old Four Eyes” for there were only three other pairs of glasses in the whole class. Fred Schultz wore them but I think he started school with them and you could not envision him without them. Albert Winkler had them but he was one of the bad ass kids and no one would make fun of his glasses and there was George Charniss who looked like a geek anyway so for him it did not matter. I decided that I was too young to acquire a prison record by discarding the form so I decided that I just had to bring the indictment home and I hoped that my parents would not be too mad at me. I brought it home and gave it to my mother and surprisingly she did not faint dead away or rend her garments in deep sorrow as she read the pink death warrant, she just said that she would make an appointment for me to see the eye doctor.

Our eye doctor was in the neighborhood, she was Lithuanian and her name was unpronounceable and since writing what I think her name was will only add red error marks to the page as I type this in MS Word and it since her name does not add anything to the story, I think I will skip typing it. My mother made an appointment and after school on the appointed day we walked past Lucky’s tavern, smelling the odor of stale beer and we walked past Midland Savings and Loan and made our way to the doctor’s second floor office. She welcomed us with a slight Lithuanian accent and told me to get into this chair. She told me to cover one eye and read the second line of the chart projected on the wall. Strain as much as I could, the letters remained a soft blur. She repeated the test on the other eye with the same result. She said those dreaded words, “He needs glasses.” (Duh, do you think so?) She pulled this device in front of my eyes and twisted some dials that kind of made me dizzy for a moment and then she asked me to read that second line; “e,m,c,y,l,g.” I replied amazed that I could see them so clearly. I thought the exam was over, but no, she started going through the ritual of tweaking the prescription. “Is one better or two?” I would answer; “Two.” Then she would say, “Two or three?” To me this seemed to go on for hours. Sometimes I could see no difference between 1 or 2 or 2 and 3 or 1 or 4 and I told her so. This did not placate her; she insisted that I pick one. Eventually she was satisfied and I thought that I was done. Instead she pulled the device I had been looking through away and put some drops in my eyes. In a couple of minutes she turned out the lights and peered into my eyes with some sort of flashlight. After a few minutes of this curious behavior she declared my eyes healthy and wrote a prescription for my glasses. She suggested we go to a shop on Archer Avenue for the glasses because he gave discounts to neighborhood families. We left and the next day, Saturday, we brought the prescription over to Wein and Associates. You could not believe it when you walked into this store. Stacked from floor to ceiling were boxes of glass frames, black frames, brown frames, wire frames, boxes and boxes and still more boxes of them. He was not your ordinary run of the mill optometrist; he was a distributor and usually supplied other optometrists all over the city. But he believed in giving back to his neighbors I guess and he gave discounts to customers from the neighborhood. You had to pay for the discounts because the office was a storefront warehouse and lacked the amenities of the fancier places around where one could go to get glasses. There were no magazines to read while you waited and there was only one chair which of course was being used by my mother. He came out and said that the glasses would take a week to make. To make me feel better about having to wear glasses mom and dad allowed me to get the new kind of lens that would change color in the sun. I picked a conservative black frame style; some things never change, I wanted to blend in, not stand out, and we were told to come back in a week. The next Saturday my mother gave me a check in an envelope and told me to go pick up my glasses. I walked over to the store/warehouse and entered. The owner came out and smiled. He told me to come back with him behind some dingy red velvet curtains and into a side room. I remember thinking that the curtains were kind of what a gypsy would have in her fortune telling shop, it was kind of spooky. He sat me in an examination chair, much like the one the eye doctor had and told me to wait. Even in this room boxes of eyeglass frames stretched from floor to ceiling. He came in with my new glasses. He put them on me; they were very warm because he wanted to be able to bend the temples so that they would fit me properly. He put them on me, removed them once and bent the temples a bit and then satisfied with the fit he asked me to read the second line from the chart posted on the wall. I was able to do that without any problem. He had me cover first one eye and then the other and I was able to read the line without a problem. He told me that we were done and I gave him the check and left the office and went out into the world and on to Archer Avenue. The glasses made a world of difference. I could read signs clear across the street and I mean the small print on them. Still scared about what others would think, I pulled the glasses off, put them in the case and went home. When I got home my mother asked me where my glasses were and I told her in the case in my pocket. She said that they were not doing me any good there and she told me to put them on and to keep them on. Thus I was inducted into the Four Eyes Club of America. Okay, I might have to let my family see me in glasses, but not my friends. I went into my bedroom and decided that I was not accepting callers and stayed in the house, telling Dennis and Big Jim when they came and called me that I wasn’t feeling good and wanted to stay in. Since mom and dad really did not go to church, I was able to put the glasses in the case as I attended children’s mass with my classmates, so far no one was any the wiser.

Soon enough Monday came. Did you ever notice that when something dreadful is going to happen on Monday that the weekend seems to fly by? I considered faking being sick but then decided not to and I went off to school, mom made sure that the glass case stayed home so I would have to wear the glasses. While brushing my teeth that morning I looked in the mirror at the boy with the extra eyes and decided that these glasses did not look too bad, but I still was not looking forward to seeing my classmates. I did not get to the bus stop to meet Ms. Powaga that morning; as a matter of fact reminiscent of the old Mrs. R. Reid days my mother had to push me out of the door at the very last minute so I would not be late for school. I walked as slowly as not being late would let me. I arrived at the very last minute, just before the bell and morning prayers and a kid looked at me, laughed and said “Hi four eyes!” I figured, “Now it will start.” But Ms. Powaga came to me and said loud enough so that others could hear about how distinguished my new glasses made me look and congratulated me. Is it any wonder why I loved that woman? I think what made her such a good teacher was that she could think like a fifth grader and she knew just what to say to defuse a situation. Soon a couple of kids told me I looked good in the glasses and I wasn’t teased about them ever again. Ms. Powaga sure could make a difference.

I loved being with this “older woman” who was the love of my young life and stayed after school to help clean the erasers. Ms. Powaga would send me to a janitor’s closet with them and there was a vacuum machine there with a hole on the top. You turned the machine on and rubbed the erasers across this track and all of the chalk dust would be sucked out of them. Then I would walk her to the bus stop. Our walks to the bus stop bring back wonderful memories. I would talk and she would listen. I would tell her my fifth grader dreams, hopes, and fears without reservation and she would listen to my dreams, hopes, and fears and wonder of wonders, she would not belittle me for my fears. I needed a person like her in my life this at this time. I needed to be validated, to be shown that I was a good person and that I was likable just because I was me. She knew just what to say and even more important she knew when not to say anything. I loved my parents but there were things that I was afraid that they would not understand if I told them. My father kept me somewhat at arm’s length and until I became an adult I never really felt comfortable asking him for advice because with the advice would come a side dish of disdain. Although my mother was wise and I felt more comfortable speaking with her, she sometimes did not take the time to listen before she came up with a solution to your problem. You could share dreams with your peers but you would not want to share your fears with them which could be dangerous, boys were to be afraid of nothing. Ms. Powaga gave me her time. For an adult to take time to listen to a child is to give to the child the greatest possible gift. Fifth grade was a great time for me and it was Ms. Powaga that started me on the long road to discover who I was. Because of the kindness and the teaching talent of Ms. Powaga, I started to think that just maybe I was worth more than what the bullies, teasers, and even Mrs. Reid thought I was worth. Inside I started to take stock and fifth grade became the spring time of my life. True, there would be a lot of storms to come and days when I actually believed that I was different and unworthy but the seed was sown even if it was winter wheat. It took a long time for me to understand just who I was and where I fit into the universe, but by giving me my dignity and by sharing her time with me and especially because she treated me as if I mattered; Ms. Powaga got me to the starting gate and set me on my journey down that long and twisty road to adulthood. I am sure she did that for all of the children she taught and that is my story of fifth grade and the only real professional teacher I knew at St. Joseph and St. Anne School. God bless you Ms. Powaga!

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