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August 30, 2007

Match.com — for Dogs


Admit it, the last couple dates with people you've met online have been disasters.

At best.

No more disappointments if you move your focus to a dog rather than a person.

Yeah, yeah, I know — all men are dogs, yadda yadda.

But let's move on already, okay?

Sharon L. Peters, in an August 22, 2007 USA Today story, explored the nascent world of dog-human matchups resulting from a new program in place at about 100 animal shelters nationwide.

Here's the article.

    Program's goal: To fetch your perfect pet

    Finding just the right dog can be almost as tough as finding Ms. or Mr. Right.

    The chosen canine might, for a certain person, turn out to be too crazy or too lazy, too distant or too dependent, too rough or too ready. And everyone's less than happy.

    Now, about 100 animal shelters — from Portland, Maine, to Columbus, Ohio, to Boulder, Colo. — are using a matchup process from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to help pet seekers choose a canine that's likely to fit their lifestyle and dog-behavior preferences.

    "We hear every week from adopters who tell us how easily the dog has meshed into their life and how happy they are with the one they chose," says Susan Britt, director of operations for the Animal Refuge League (ARL) of Greater Portland.

    The Meet Your Match Canine-ality and Puppy-ality programs have been so successful in increasing adoptions and reducing the return rates of dogs and puppies at shelters using them that a similar Feline-ality program for cats has been developed and tested and will be launched in September.

    "Science is much better than emotion" in guiding a person to the perfect-for-you dog, says Emily Weiss, a certified applied animal behaviorist. She developed the two-pronged tool that assesses and classifies canines according to their personalities and likely post-adoption behavior and also quizzes would-be adopters.

    This process "helps people zero in on the dogs that best fit what they tell us they expect from a dog," Weiss says.

    The program was created to deal with the reality that as many as 20 of every 100 dogs adopted from some shelters are soon returned, many of them because of the dog's energy level or other personality traits.

    The way Meet Your Match works: Shelter personnel conduct an assessment with each dog to determine its friendliness, playfulness, energy level and motivation or drive. Each dog is scored and placed into one of three color-coded maintenance categories: easy (purple), average (orange) or high (green). And within each of those three categories there are three descriptors, such as "life of the party," "wallflower" and "couch potato," all with details about specific behaviors that can be anticipated.

    For example, a dog described as a "goofball" (within the orange category) is a "fun-lover" who needs "someone who loves to laugh and play around."

    Puppies undergo a different assessment process and are assigned such descriptions as "class clown" and "rookie."

    Humans, meanwhile, complete a five-minute, 18-question survey that provides insights into their expectations, previous dog-care experience, lifestyle and home environment. The questionnaire is scored, and the person is assigned a color that correlates with the type of dog or puppy that best fits.

    Then an easy stroll through the facility quickly identifies, through the colored cards on each kennel, which dogs are the best fit for that person or family.

    Marie and George Eich recently adopted a Rottweiler from ARL after filling out the survey, and he has turned out to be just what his assessment promised: "He's such a gentleman," Marie Eich says, just as "mellow" and "well-mannered" as they had expected.

    Sometimes people fall in love with a dog whose card color doesn't match theirs. They are not blocked from adopting that dog.

    "We simply explain that it's not the ideal match, but if it's the dog you really want, we want to send you home with the best information possible about how this dog is likely to behave," Weiss says.

    And people rarely return those less-than-perfect fits, Britt says, because "when a person gets the animal they were expecting, even if it isn't necessarily a perfect fit, they're OK with that."

    The program took root in 2001 when the Kansas Humane Society realized a need for a good match tool. Weiss already was working on some measurement aspects, and within months, her protocols and surveys were being used. KHS saw an almost immediate 50% drop in the number of returned dogs.

    The ASPCA got wind of the program, and in 2003 it acquired rights to make it available to shelters nationwide. Weiss then developed the puppy assessment program, which she says is being used by about 35 shelters.

    Many participating shelters report results similar to those at The Capital Area Humane Society in Hilliard, Ohio, where the return rate has dropped from 14% to 9% and adoptions have increased by 15%, the ASPCA says. In the two years since the Maine facility has been using the process, the return rate for dogs has dropped from 12% to 15% to a current, steady 4%, Britt says.

    Moreover, the whole adoption process is faster and more pleasant, Britt says. The previous process, as with most shelters, was time-consuming and labor-intensive, and even then people took home dogs not wholly right for them.

    Now, she says, would-be adopters spend five minutes filling out the survey, it's scored instantly, and they can meet dogs most likely to meet their needs and expectations.

    As for creating a similar tool for cats, Weiss had to start back at square one. "Cats are a whole different animal," she says, laughing.

    Beta testing in five facilities has shown the Feline-ality Meet Your Match program to be highly effective.

    "We now have so much more information about how individual cats will be in the home environment," says Britt, whose facility was a test site.

    Feline-ality is even helping them succeed in an arena shelters struggle with: getting new homes for older cats.


The patron saint of this new approach has to be former president Harry S. Truman who, in response to a reporter's question about whether he had any friends in the nation's capitol, replied, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."


That's canine for "w00t!"

August 30, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beetle Nail Clippers


From the website:

    Beetle Nail Clippers

    Designed in France — nail clippers with a friendly bite.

    Absolutely the cutest clippers you have ever seen!

    Let these little beauties dress up your nightstand.

    These brightly colored Clipper Crickets are made out of resin with colored gloss enamel.

    Nail clippings drop into the body of the clippers, and these beetles are equipped with a built-in file!





August 30, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jack Kerouac Around the World


Above, a montage of covers of "On the Road," as it appeared on the last page of the August 19, 2007 New York Times Book Review.

2007 marks the fifty year anniversary of the original publication of Kerouac's iconic work by Viking Press in 1957.

Dwight Garner's accompanying story follows.

    The Road Goes On Forever

    Jack Kerouac once said of the many foreign editions of his novels: “When I’m old, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to study languages reading these.” Kerouac didn’t get to grow old — he died in 1969 at 47. But foreign editions of his books, especially “On the Road,” continue to multiply. The covers of “On the Road” shown below are taken from a fascinating Web page — find it by Googling “Jack Kerouac Book Covers” — maintained by Dave Moore, a Kerouac scholar. (He edited “Neal Cassady: Collected Letters, 1944-1967,” the correspondence of Kerouac’s friend and muse, who died in 1968.) Moore began buying these editions in the 1960s, often swapping copies with other collectors. The covers range from the eerily evocative to the deeply silly: see the 2000 cover from China, in which Kerouac’s characters seem to be reimagined as the cast from “St. Elmo’s Fire.” The one above, by the way, is from the first edition of “On the Road,” issued by Viking in 1957.


Individual covers pictured up top are in a Times slide show here.

August 30, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

August 30, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack



Q. What is MorphThing?

A. MorphThing morphs faces. Give it two people and it'll combine them, to create a new person with the facial features of both.

Shades of Nancy Burson.

Might be worthwhile before deciding you really want to have his/her baby.

[via Brian Nelson]

August 30, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reflections on a hospital-themed restaurant


Just now, rereading the previous post, a wonderful epigram by Thomas Mann entered my pretty much vacant mindspace, to wit:

"Life is like a hospital in which every patient believes he will recover if only he is moved to a different bed."

I read that when I was a callow youth, back in college at UCLA, and though it struck me enough then to stick in my peabrain it only started to gain traction and the weight of truth over the ensuing years, to the point where it now seems indisputable.

Trust me....

August 30, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Hospital-themed restaurant — 'That's sick'


Pictured above, the Taipei establishment features "medicine" which, after you order from the menu, drips into your glass from a transparent ceiling-suspended vat.

And that's just cocktails.

Other touches include a sign marked "Emergency Room" leading to the toilets.

Here's the story.

    Taipei bar lets diners tipple from IV tubes

    A Taipei restaurant-bar is letting visitors order "medicine" from a menu and dripping it into their glasses from a transparent ceiling-suspended vat, becoming the latest oddball themed restaurant in Taiwan's capital.

    As many as 10 visitors can sit around each bed at the D.S. Music Restaurant, a hospital-themed eatery, and watch showgirls dance on weekend nights or chat up "nurses" whose rabbit-ears complement their starched white uniforms.

    The 130-seat restaurant, which features crutches hung from the walls and a wheelchair parked in the lobby, is the only one with a hospital theme in Taiwan.

    Other touches include a sign marked "emergency room" leading to the toilets.

    "Food is hard to compete on with other restaurants, so the part we emphasize is service," says assistant manager Ou Chia-hao, brother of the 29-year-old owner.

    "In Taipei, pressure on people is high, and they want a place near home where they can feel relaxed."

    Ou's brother opened D.S. last year with T$5 million ($150,760) to express his enthusiasm for the care he got at a hospital when he was treated for a liver disorder.

    Two more D.S. branches are in the works, with plans to open by the end of next year, Ou said.

    The spot is the latest in a string of strange-themed eateries in Taipei, as local entrepreneurs cater to people with a taste for the quirky and offbeat.

    The Jail puts some of its restaurant tables behind bars, while another serves full-course meals in toilet bowls.

August 30, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Upside-Down Drill


Joe Brown featured it in the "Fetish" section of the latest (September 2007) Wired magazine, as follows.

    Take It From the Top

    The engineer was just messing around when she designed a prototype drill with the handle mounted on top, but the CEO was dead serious when he greenlighted it. He was floored by the tool's balance, which makes sense: When an implement's center of gravity is above your hand, you support it with your wrist, but when it's below, you use your stronger biceps and triceps. That's why the P'7911 is so easy to maneuver. The partnership with Porsche Design is why it's so rad-looking. Clad in aluminum and carbon fiber, it's so damn hot that you may only use the tool once — to mount the display case in which you house it.
    Porsche Design P'7911.




August 30, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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