Wildlife educators caution that if you see a skunk "doing
tricks," you better hightail it outta there because you're about to be
slimed. Some species of skunks stand on their heads before spraying,
giving a cute little show that belies the onslaught of a series of
incidents that will, momentarily at least, change your priorities.
I didn't see a yoga-practicing skunk, my experience was a
lot more tame one day when my computer starting doing some weird tricks of
its own. It booted up, and then, as if being strangled and gasping for
air, turned bright blue, then black, and with a malodorous puff, shut
down, dead, kaput.
A few days later, I opened my front door to welcome the
geek that had been sent from the computer repair shop, a man who, despite
the big black-framed glasses and hearing aid, and the short-sleeve dress
shirt with the pocket protector, looked like my knight in shining armor.
Indeed, I almost looked past this skinny little kid who could have been
all of twelve, to see the brilliant white steed I was sure he had arrived
He diagnosed and sorted out my problem (a blown
motherboard) and was checking all the programs when he told me that my
computer (and this is the part you'll care about), could run a lot faster
if it was exorcised of all the little demon spy programs that had been
installed every time I logged on to the internet. "Just go to
www.downloads.com, he said, and put the words "Spybot search" in the
search line, and download the free "Spybot software." As he said the
words, he performed each function and soon my computer was undergoing a
vast and cleansing spyware eradication program. In the end, this little
Spybot had sought out and destroyed 118 instances of spyware on my
computer. Makes you feel all icky!
While we were waiting for this process, Mr. Wonderful took
in all the animal-rights posters, photos of demonstrations, Bob Barker's
Autograph, the shrine to Peter Singer and all the other stuff we all have
in our offices and asked me if I liked animals. (Insert your own joke
here). He then went on to share with me that his girlfriend is an adoption
counselor at the local shelter and that he met her when he brought in a
stray dog. Naturally, the geek, the girl and the dog all live together now
in perfect harmony but that's for another time.
"So tell me," the cynic in me said, "Why are these Spybot
programs available for free? I mean, after all, with all the good stuff
it's doing for my computer to make it run better, why are they giving it
away instead of selling it?"
"Well, you know how there are all these bad people in the
world who are staying up nights dreaming of ways to phish your computer
and get into your hard drive and spread viruses and all like that?" he
Oh yes, I affirmed, I knew all about that. Those people
are everywhere! Spreading internet hoaxes, stealing Ebay accounts,
spreading death and destruction wherever they go.
"Well, there are also good people out there. People who
want to shut them down, people who want to help. People who are really
good at computers and consider it a personal victory when they stop some
bad guy from hurting people's computers. They don't charge because they
really believe in what they are doing, they are doing something really
good for people."
What a concept!
A few weeks later, during my daily meditation, his words
came creeping across my consciousness and it occurred to me that these
good people are everywhere, aren't they? I mean, those of us who work in
and for animals, we always say how we "hate people" and we always hear of
all the bad things that are done to them. But we need to remember that
there are good people out there too. For every creep who drowns kittens,
there are two people who would jump right in after them. For every bastard
who fights dogs, there are three more who would snatch those dogs from
harm's way if they only could and banish their owners to jail cells. For
every Jeffrey Dahlmer, there is a Wayne Pacelle. For every Huntington
vivisectionist, there is a Jane Goodall, for every Purdue, there is a
Karen Davis. We are legion, we are strong and we will eventually win. We
need to remember that we have a lot to fight for but right is on our side.
It's so easy to get discouraged. Just yesterday ten greyhounds died in a
fire because a security guard, upon hearing the alarm, twice went to the
wrong kennel and found nothing amiss. Stories like that enrage us and
cause us great distress, but we must remember that although ten died,
fifty-nine were saved, and are being treated at a hospital by caring
people who are doing their level best to keep these dogs alive. Later,
they will be sent to a greyhound adoption program where more people will
help them find homes. Finally, they will be adopted by caring people who
will lovingly invite them to be members of the family and hopefully give
them lots of good things to eat.
There will always be "us" and "them" and we will always be
fighting the good fight but it's a noble thing we do.
Oh, and stay away from skunks standing on their heads,
they are not trying to impress you, trust me on that.
Go on to Oh I Wish I Was
An Oscar Mayer Wiener
Return to 5 June 2005 Issue
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