Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Adventures of Maddie: The Disgruntled Apprentice

This is a cross-post from my personal Facebook page, so don't think I've written up anything special for you blog-followers. I don't have the time for that, so at least enjoy your scraps.


Today's adventure: The Disgruntled Apprentice!

I've been donating my time after my sculpture class to add glaze to abandoned ceramics pieces, so they can be sold in November to buy new glazes for the next semester. I ended up glazing all of the scrap box, so I asked the ceramics teacher if she had any more pieces. She said I could glaze her own personal demonstration pieces, and put them in the scrap box for me.

Cut to after class, when my "charity" glazing time begins. I grab this nice little serving dish, decide to glaze it up with earth tones. I finish in about an hour, go to put it the kiln room, and I notice THE BOX IS EMPTY AND THE PIECES ARE GLAZED ON THE SHELF. And they look like they were glazed by a 5 year old throwing a tantrum.
So I go outside the kiln room and ask one of my buddies if he saw anyone glazing. He says he saw the ceramics teacher's apprentice hanging about in the kiln room, and it all makes sense.

This girl, this apprentice, is a little full of herself from what I've seen. Back when I was taking Ceramics class she hovered over my shoulder and grabbed a plate I was making, and took a tool and said "YOU MUST USE FINESSE!" and she literally starts smoothing my piece while repeating the word "finesse" over and over, and I'm just sitting there like "wtf is happening" until she hands it back to me and is like "SEE?" and leaves. 

Anyway, she must have either recognized her "master's" pieces or overheard our conversation earlier in the day (she's always lingering about somewhere in the studio) and was jealous as all hell, so she grabbed the remaining pieces and glazed them as fast as she could so I couldn't get to them.

At first I was like "wtf" but then it was just funny because here's this chick who is supposed to be an artist's apprentice, and here she's intimidated that I'm glazing her master's scrap pieces... And in the meantime she makes them look like shit. 

I also think that this plate might have had something to with it.

See this plate? I glazed that. It's not the most amazing thing on the planet, but it was a scrap piece and I decided I'd freehand a pattern onto it while testing out some fun colors. Well, today when I walked into the Ceramics studio, I had the entire group of older ladies and even an older gentleman crowding around me asking me which glazes I had used. This silly plate was the hottest thing to come out of the kiln, and I think that might have sparked some animosity in the apprentice.

Too bad, so sad.

Gonna keep on glazing, AND sharing all of my glaze secrets, because I'm cool like that.

I'm an awful blogger (and social media user in general)

Holy crap, am I horrible at keeping a blog.

How do you all manage to keep up with social media? I mean, between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging, how the hell has half the population of the Internet not gone mad yet?
I can barely keep up with TWO of those platforms, and some people seem to have wires coming out of their asses, keeping in tip-top social media standing. 

Do you secretly have clones of yourselves splitting up the work? Have hired minions to do your work for you? Previously unknown twins that you've managed to keep under wraps for your social media updating needs?

Maybe I'm just getting fucking old.

Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Creepy Story Time! (Story from Dawn of the Dragons)

Dawn of the Dragons is a fun game/app that I played for a few months. What amazed me the most about the game was the lore. Every quest had story text, every item, goddamn everything. It was a reader's dream in game form.

One of the best stories that came from that game was that of good ol' Timothy the Butcher.
Thought I would share it with you all, because it's pretty damn good, and deserves to be seen outside of a game.

Timothy, the butcher's son, was a precocious child. He was always filled with questions, which he'd pose to all and sundry. On one occasion, after a service at the temple he and his parents attended, he approached the priest and asked whether it was a sin to devour human brains as zombies did. The priest wasn't shocked by this question, for he was used to the boy's eclectic curiosity. So he merely smiled and told Timothy that it was a sin to eat the flesh of creatures which possessed souls. The boy frowned. He asked the priest how anyone could know which creatures possessed souls, since souls were both invisible and intangible. The priest thought about this for a moment. He considered saying that the scriptures revealed which species bore souls and which were mere beasts. However, he knew that answer would only bring forth another barrage of questions. But as it happened, the priest's order was one which embraced philosophy alongside theology. Thus he explained to Timothy that some beings -- such as humans, elves, and gnomes -- were sentient. They possessed self-awareness, and were capable of recognizing themselves in mirrors. Whereas other creatures, such as cows or chickens, weren't sentient. The priest cautioned Timothy to never eat sentient creatures, lest he consume their souls and in turn do harm to his own. Timothy thanked the priest for instructing him. Then he returned home with his parents and enjoyed a meal of roast beef.

As a butcher's son, who was already being trained to help his father, he ate a great deal of meat. Thus the priest's teachings were comforting. He was glad to know that he wasn't eating any souls, and risking corruption to his own. That knowledge served him well a few years later, when it was time to slay his first chicken. He looked at the creature, saw that it possessed no signs of sentience, and lopped its head off. Then he sat down and smiled as its decapitated body ran around. In time his father died, and Timothy became the town's butcher. By then he'd slain many hundreds of animals, and hacked countless slabs of meat. He knew his craft, and the townsfolk said that if anything the boy was even more skilled than his father had been. So he killed and cut, both for his customers and for himself -- he loved his meat, as any good butcher would. Each breakfast, lunch, and supper, he dined on chicken or beef, lamb or pork. But he always remembered what the priest had told him. When a merchant offered to sell him monkeys for slaughter, Timothy examined one of the creatures and learned that it understood mirrors. It even made use of its reflection to pick food from its teeth. Thus he refused to buy them, for he knew it was wrong to eat things with souls. 
Pigs. He had eaten them all his life. One of Timothy's earliest memories was of his father setting a huge plate of bacon in front of him, and of the rashers' almost intoxicating scent delighting his little nose. His father had smiled, and told him that bacon was a proper butcher's breakfast -- something to get him through a hard morning's work till lunch. Over his life he'd probably eaten enough pigs to form a porcine army. They'd helped nourish his big muscles, and the thick tendons that wielded his cleaver. But in the end pigs became Timothy's nemesis.  

One day, when he was visiting the farm that bred many of the animals he slaughtered, served to customers, and ate himself, he saw something in the pigsty. One of the hogs had managed to work the latch on the wooden gate. He'd used his snout to lift it and maneuver it, slipping it aside so he could escape to freedom. The farmer was there in time to grab the gate, hold it closed, and clout the animal over the head. But Timothy's mind reeled. If a pig could do that, what else could it do? So he tried the mirror test. And that was what proved it. When he set it before cats or dogs, they acted as though another animal had appeared in front of them. Yet with the pig... The pig seemed to recognize its reflection.

That night Timothy lay sleepless in his bed. Pigs... Pigs were sentient. That meant they had souls. And he'd eaten them. Porcine soul after porcine soul had been drawn into his body. They'd become part of him. The priest had warned him against such terrible deeds. He'd told him that his own spirit would suffer if he transgressed. And he had done so... As he tossed and turned, images of ghostly hogs and sows floated before his vision -- glaring at him with red eyes. He heard the sound of distant oinking, each oink a grim accusation. He was doomed. His soul had been corrupted.

Timothy rose from his bed. He pulled on his bloody garb, the clothes he wore when he slaughtered animals. There was a pig's head on his block, from a beast he had butchered before his terrible discovery. He took its face and donned it as a mask. Then he seized his heaviest cleaver. He had sinned. But so had all the other townspeople who dined on the flesh of swine. Timothy was the one who'd learned the truth. So it fell to him to visit justice upon them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stolas "Weathered" Clutter Edition - SOLD OUT!

Thank you everyone for making my first gallery feature a success! And a huge thank you to Clutter Magazine for the opportunity.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Skullbrainer Show @ Clutter Gallery

I'm exhausted from all the excitement so I'm not going to type much (again), you can read about my experience on my Instagram post.

Some crappy phone photos from the show. Wish I got more photos (I know for sure I didn't photograph everything) but there was a professional photographer going around and I didn't want to get in his way. Then blah blah blah I forgot.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All You Need To Know About Purina Beneful

A lot of people have been frantically asking around due to recent developments involving a class-action lawsuit being filed... is Beneful actually bad for your pets?

I've always believed that the best way to answer any question is to look at the evidence, and then form your own opinion. Sadly with Internet searches being over-saturated with news venues posting the same article over and over, it's hard to find real evidence.

Today I've compiled a whole bunch of information for you under one page.
After viewing this information, I'm confident that you, the consumer, will be able to form their own opinion on this controversy.

What is Beneful?

Let's start with the basics. What is Beneful?
Beneful is a popular brand of dog food made by Purina. Purina is owned by its parent company, Nestle. It consists of brightly-colored kibble in a bag that is decorated with pictures of vegetables, fruits, and a happy fluffy dog.

For this demonstration, we will use Beneful's Incredibites formula.

But just what is Beneful made of?

According to the Beneful website, Beneful's Incredibites ingredients are as follows:
Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, beef, rice flour, soy flour, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, salt, phosphoric acid, mono and dicalcium phosphate, animal digest, potassium chloride, tricalcium phosphate, sorbic acid (a preservative), non-fat yogurt, dried carrots, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Red 40, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, Blue 2, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Most people can't make heads or tails of what any of that means, so let's break these ingredients down in our next section...

Okay, so what's up with the ingredients?

We all know that dogs thrive on meat-based diets. Wolves, after all, don't go around eating salads.
What should be in our dog's kibble, however?
When we take into account a dog's dietary needs, and look at Beneful's ingredient list, the shadiness of Beneful really begins to take root.

Let's look at the ingredient list again, with some added help from dogfoodadvisor.com .

Keep in mind that ingredient lists are ordered from most abundant to least abundant ingredients, ex. Beneful's most abundant ingredient is ground yellow corn.
Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corngluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), beef, rice flour, soy flour, water, meat and bone meal, propylene glycol, sugar, salt, phosphoric acid, tricalcium phosphate, animal digest, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (a preservative), non-fat yogurt powder, dried carrots, dried peas, dicalcium phosphate, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, red 40, l-lysine monohydrochloride, manganese sulfate, niacin, yellow 5, yellow 6, vitamin A supplement, blue 2, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite
The bold red ingredients are what dogfoodadvisor.com calls "problem ingredients."

Let's start at the most basic problem here: artificial dyes.
Dogs do not care about the color of their food. The artificial dyes in Beneful are there to give the illusion of freshness, vegetable content, and healthiness to the human who buys the food.
There is no other reason for the dyes except to get you to choose that product.
It's clear that first and foremost, they have to resort to cheap tactics like dyes to get you to want to buy their product.

Now for a full step-by-step analysis of the ingredients...

The 5 Main Ingredients:

  • ground yellow corn - an inexpensive filler that provides energy, but minimal nutritional value
  • chicken by-product meal - a low-quality ingredient consisting of whatever is left of a chicken when all the prime cuts are removed (anything from organs, feet, beaks, underdeveloped eggs)
  • corn gluten meal - an inexpensive ingredient commonly used to boost the total protein content of dog food. Made of the gummy, starchy material left over from corn that has had its carbohydrates removed.
  • wheat flour - just like ground yellow corn, it is an inexpensive filler that is of minimal nutritional value
  • animal fat - byproduct of rendering, but the main issue is the source is unspecified. It can only be speculated what kind of animals this fat came from. (Roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased, or dying cattle, and even euthanized pets are often sent to rendering plants)
Keep in mind that these are the five main ingredients, which means this is mostly what Beneful consists of... and that they are all low-quality, filler, or mystery ingredients.

The other "problem ingredients" are...

  • soy flour - usually used as a replacement for meat to save money on production, although it has less nutritional value than meat
  • meat and bone meal - an ingredient made of mammal tissues and bone, usually used to boost total protein levels of dog food. This is another "mystery source" ingredient, which could possibly come from the same sources listed previously under animal fat.
  • garlic oil - ingredient used for flavor, though in some rare cases it has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs
  • propylene glycol - I have highlighted this one in red because of the current controversy surrounding this ingredient. Though the FDA has approved of its use as a moisture-retaining food additive, it has been proven to be safe in humans. However, there hasn't been extensive testing done on its effect on canines. It should also be noted that despite the fact that it is used often in antifreeze, it is not of the same chemical composition as ethylene glycol, a known poison associated with antifreeze. Despite this, it is used in large amounts in Beneful's food, and the long-term and high-dosage effects on canines is not fully known. For this reason, it is a problem ingredient.
  • sugar - an ingredient that first of all, is completely unnecessary, but also can unfavorably impact the blood-glucose levels of an animal soon after it is eaten. Because of the high carbohydrate content of Beneful as is, sugar shouldn't even be an ingredient at all.
  • animal digest - a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is sprayed onto kibble to improve flavor. Another "mystery source" ingredient.
  • artificial dyes - already discussed. Provides no added value except for manipulating the buyer's attitude and beliefs towards the product.
  • menadione sodium bisulfite complex - a controversial form of vitamin K that has been linked to serious issues such as liver toxicity, allergies, and the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells
There are also some unknowns in bags of Beneful...

What are Mycotoxins and Bacteria doing in my food?

This is perhaps the most jarring reality of Beneful... The presence of mycotoxins and bacteria in independently-tested bags of Beneful.

What are mycotoxins?
They are created by fungus and have various adverse effects on mammals. According to this handy diagram from mycotoxins.info , many things can happen to a dog exposed to mycotoxins, none of which are good.

Though it's not clear at which step of manufacturing the fungus and mold enter the bags of Beneful, independent testing has proven their presence. Unsanitary grain storage and inadequate facilities are usually to blame. Whether the fungus was present in the ingredients to begin with or introduced in the packing plant is a mystery, but even if introduced later in the manufacturing process, the dark, sealed environment of the bag and moist food can become a breeding ground for fungus and thus, mycotoxins.

According to a large study done on popular pet foods conducted by the Association For Truth In Pet Food, Beneful is not only a high risk for mycotoxins, but also dangerous bacteria.

These unwelcome additions to Beneful only create more issues for the dogs who eat it.

So what kind of effects can Beneful have on dogs?

In some dogs, none at all. Just like some people seem to survive perfectly on a diet of fast food and junk, some dogs don't seem to have any issues eating Beneful.

Some dogs, however, have found Beneful to be a death sentence.

The most common symptoms described by owners of dogs who had suffered after eating Beneful are:
  • an odd odor emanating from the body
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea 
  • dehydration
  • lethargy
  • weight changes
  • seizures
  • liver failure
  • kidney failure
  • internal bleeding
  • death
Many owners, after bringing their dog to the vet, have been told it "appeared as if their dog had been poisoned."

My dog had/has some of these symptoms. What do I do?

First of all, stop feeding Beneful, if you haven't already.
Feeding any more Beneful could have dire consequences, especially if the bag you have is contaminated with mycotoxins or bacteria, or if your dog is already in poor shape.

Second, find a new food on dogfoodadvisor.com . 
They are an unbiased source that rates foods based on the nutritional needs of a dog and the ingredients in the food. A four or five star rating is what you want to be aiming for. (For comparison, Beneful is a one star food... the lowest rating possible.)

Third, assess whether or not you want to fight back.
Many people who have contacted Purina have been able to get their vet bills paid for. This can be helpful for those who cannot afford to pay for the treatment, but if your pet has already passed, it will not bring them back.
For those who don't want to deal with the company that may have potentially killed their pet, and want better compensation than just a vet bill, joining in the class-action lawsuit may be the right choice for you.

You can join the lawsuit by visiting the website of Morgan & Morgan and calling the phone number in the upper right corner, or filling in the assessment form on the right side of the page.

Fourth, find support if needed.
Losing or almost losing a pet is a tough thing to deal with. Finding support in friends or family can help you recover.
If you feel the need to talk with fellow pet owners who have experienced something similar related to Beneful, there are two groups that you can join on Facebook:

Is Beneful Killing Or Sickening Dogs? Post Your Story!  - group for sharing discussion and stories of dogs affected by Beneful
Beneful Angels - The Faces Behind the Statistics - page for sharing pets that have died while eating Beneful

How come this food is still on shelves?

There isn't a clear answer to this question. 
One thing is for sure, Purina continues to deny the claims made by pet owners. Even in the face of independent testing, they continue to claim that their food is of the utmost quality, nutritional content, and safety.
Unfortunately we know all of this to be false. Most of their ingredients are cheap filler, mycotoxins are not heavily present in quality foods, and dogs continue to get sick.

At the end of the day, money speaks. Nestle is a giant company and a recall would mean a heavy loss. It is always easier to deny an issue than admit fault.

I want to take action. What can I do?

Feel free to share this article with anyone you know through email, social media, or word of mouth.

Join the lawsuit if you had a dog that was harmed or killed under mysterious circumstances by visiting the website of Morgan & Morgan and calling the phone number in the upper right corner, or filling in the assessment form on the right side of the page.

Tell your local pet food store about Beneful and suggest they remove it from their shelves.

Make your local vet aware of the mycotoxin test results.

Join one of the support groups on Facebook.

Educate yourself on dog foods and canines.

Best luck to you and your pups. 
Stay safe.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A rant about pets aging.

The family yorkie is 13.
She sometimes sharts herself.
Her breath is atrocious, like a barrel of fish left in the sun for a few days.
You can sneak up on her when you get home and she won't realize you're there until she turns around.
 Her eyes are cloudy and she hates being in the dark.

And you know what?
She is our best bud, our partner in crime, our little yappy bitch.

Pets aren't a novelty.
They're a best friend whose shoulder you cry on, and who will in turn lick those tears away.
They are there next to you on the loneliest days.
They share your excitement when things are awesome, and make them even more memorable.
They make you laugh, they make you mad (but never for long) and they enrich your life like nothing else can.

If you disagree with this, maybe a pet isn't right for you... because that is what pet ownership is supposed to be.
It's a relationship, a friendship that you see through to the very end.
It's trust to care for each other forever and always.

If not... get a plush animal, and call it day.