Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker trinity91: "How did you realize you were a feminist/womanist? (I REALLY love hearing other people's stories about this!)"

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Photo of the Day

image of a waterfall falling over a cliffside at sunset
From the Telegraph's Pictures of the Day for 23 April 2014: Agust Bjarnason took this stunning shot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall at sunset in Iceland. [Agust Bjarnason/HotSpot Media]

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I Get Letters

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Recently, after I said for the third or tenth or one biebillionth time "There's no neutral in rape culture," Shaker masculine_lady asked if she could make stickers with that phrase on it, to which of course I agreed.

Yesterday, in the mail, I received some of the stickers, because masculine_lady is awesome:

images of a sheet of stickers; each sticker is a blue dialogue bubble with the words 'there's no neutral in rape culture' inside

I am going to have some fun with those stickers. Watch out dudes who think skeevy bumper stickers are hilarious! Your stickers are about to get STUCK!

And because masculine_lady is also hilarious as well as a superhero anti-rape advocate, I received the stickers inside a card, personalized with this heartfelt note:

image of card in which masculine_lady has handwritten: 'HI LISS!' in giant block letters, with 'Love, Cristy xoxoxo' just below

Further, the stickers were tucked inside this beautiful piece of modern art:

image of a photo of bananas fashioned into a dachshund

When masculine_lady and I met in person for the first time at the Forging Justice conference, we started an ongoing joke about a breakfast banana, and have been sending each other various images of bananas ever since, because of course we have.

Basically, this is a pretty good encapsulation of Shakesville for me: A serious commentary on social justice, wrapped inside a joke, delivered in a personal way between two friends whose friendship was forged out of shared passion and beloved community.

[All shared with masculine_lady's permission, including the use of her real first name.]

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Whooooooops Your "Feminism"

[Content Note: Misogyny; reproductive policing; fat bias; transphobia.]

We all like problematic shows, and we all draw our lines about what is overwhelmingly problematic in different places. So I'm not judging or criticizing anyone who watches The Daily Show. I don't watch it anymore, and haven't watched it regularly for years, because the balance between valuable and objectionable material tipped toward objectionable for me a long time ago.

Anyway. Today, I've seen Jon Stewart getting a lot of credit for a segment in which he called out the double-standard regarding grandparenting in presidential politics. So I watched the segment, and it was a perfect reminder of why I no longer watch The Daily Show.

Here is a transcription of the relevant part of the segment, running from 1:10 to 2:45, and following an introduction that noted Chelsea Clinton has announced she's pregnant with her first child:

Stewart: News media! Set the 2016 presidential speculatron to behbee!

Cut to a news clip of a white female anchor saying: "Everyone is wondering what impact it might have on Hillary Clinton's decision to run for president." Cut to a news clip of a white male anchor saying: "Does the fact that she's going to become a grandmother on top of the other considerations factor in?" Cut to a news clip with video of Chelsea Clinton, over which a female anchor offscreen says: "Could it put a bump in Hillary's 2016 plans? And is it sexist to ask?" Cut back to Stewart in TDS studio.

Stewart: No! No! No, sillybilly, of course it's not sexist. Even though it's a question that has never, ever, been posed to a male candidate ever. For god's sakes, Mitt Romney has like a litter of grandchildren. [an image of Romney with a bunch of his grandkids pops up onscreen, as the audience roars with laughter] Mitt Romney has, for god's sakes, if I'm not mistaken, Mitt Romney has like a grandchild petting zoo! [an image of the Romney family pops up onscreen, to more laughter] The guy added three grandchildren [another picture of Romney with his family] while he was campaigning!

He is the only candidate in history whose electoral college total is less than the number of chairs he has to put out at Thanksgiving. My point is, he, he got crushed in the election by someone with no grandchildren. Yet somehow the grandchild factor never came up in the race between Obama and Romney.

For god's sakes, when William Howard Taft was running in 1908, he was actually pregnant! [an image of Taft, famously the fattest president, comes onscreen, photoshopped so that Taft is holding his belly like a pregnant woman might hold her belly; uproarious laughter] He was pregnant! Nobody said anything! Nobody brought it up!
From there, Stewart goes on to observe some other differences about how women and men are treated in politics.

Okay, here's the thing: I am a firm believer in the simple principle that no type of bigotry, policing, or other kinds of harm are solved by more of the same.

So when Stewart seeks to criticize the policing and politicization of Hillary Clinton's reproduction, and her daughter's reproduction, by policing the reproduction of Romney and his kids, that isn't helping.

Yes, I get that it's a comedy show, and it's supposed to be funnier to say that Mitt Romney has a "litter" and a "petting zoo" of grandchildren, as opposed to just pointing out he's got grandchildren and it was never an issue.

But this is the problem with The Daily Show and Stewart, who constantly want to have it both ways by saying they're not a real news show even as they tackle serious issues: Criticizing the auditing of one family's reproduction is ineffective when you turn around and criticize another family's.

By joking about the quantity of Romeny's grandchildren, he's auditing their reproductive choices. Further, there is a long history of talking about large families with lots of children using animal imagery, especially families of color. To reinforce and legitimize those narratives will not marginalize the Romneys, but it will marginalize the vulnerable families against whom they're routinely used.

And, not for nothing, but Romney didn't give birth to any of those kids. The women in his family did. In taking a swipe at Romney, Stewart is calling his wife and daughters-in-law brood mares. Which is replicating the exact sort of sexism that he's purporting to criticize.

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And then there's the bit about Taft. Jesus Jones. The entire joke, such as it is, rests on the absurdity of a man being pregnant, which disappears the lived experiences of trans men who have been pregnant. And, of course, that old chestnut about how fat men's bellies are pregnancies.

Stewart's fat hatred is nothing new: This is, after all, a man who appeared in a fucking fat suit on the show.

Pregnancy humor at the expense of trans bodies and fat bodies is garbage, in and of itself. But the policing of trans bodies and fat bodies is a crucial feminist issue. To include such rubbish in a segment ostensibly designed to challenge misogyny is not just cruel; it's counterproductive.

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Protip: When your segment on sexism obliges me to defend the Romneys, you are doing something wrong.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on a board game box looking at the television

In case there were any question (there is no question) whether Shakes Manor is a hub of nerdery, here is a picture of Sophie sitting on the box for Settlers of Catan, following the action on the television on which we were watching a video about The Impossible Game.

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As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by cherry blossoms.

Recommended Reading:

Jamie: Eldercare: The Forgotten Feminist Issue

Andy: [Content Note: Homophobia] Federal Judge to Hear Challenge to Oregon Gay Marriage Ban Today with No Parties to Defend It

Angry Asian Man: [CN: Racism] Avril Lavigne's Latest Single Is Called "Hello Kitty" and the Music Video Is as Bad as You Could Imagine

Justice for Shanesha: WOW! The Petition to Bill Montgomery has Grown to Over 47,500 in only 3 Days!

Rebecca: [CN: Misogyny] Creators of WonderCon's "I Hate Fangirls" Shirt Defend It, Double Down on "Fake Geek" Bullcrap

Atrios: [CN: Misogyny] Advanced Trolling

Leave your links and recommendations in comments...

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

David Bowie: "Kooks"

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Privilege; bootstraps.]

"Believing in meritocracy is a manifestation of privilege. 'Merit' doesn't exist a priori. It's evaluated by people in power, according to expectations and standards set by people in power. How you gonna evaluate 'merit' when one kid has tutors and ballet, and another is going to school hungry? And how 'equal' are their schools? How much 'merit' does it take to just get through every day as a Black person in a viciously anti-Black world? People with privilege get everything handed to them on a platter from childhood—and get told they 'earned' it through their 'merit.' And when you're only surrounded by other people of privilege, that privilege becomes invisible, so believing in 'merit' happens."Dr. Jane Chi, on Twitter this morning, addressing the garbage memes about "merit" so beloved by people who oppose affirmative action.

'Merit' doesn't exist a priori. Succinct, brilliant, perfect.

[Shared in this space with Dr. Jane Chi's permission.]

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Police brutality; images of police brutality at link] The New York Police Department had the swell idea of starting a #MyNYPD hashtag on Twitter yesterday, inviting people to share images of themselves with New York cops. Whoooooooooops! "An exercise in social media outreach turned #epicfail Tuesday when users flooded the Twittersphere with some of the NYPD's most infamous moments of brutality."

[CN: Domestic violence] This is a very interesting piece about the difference it is making for Native American survivors of domestic violence since the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act which included a provision giving "many federally recognized tribes the authority to prosecute non–tribal members for these crimes." In other words: Closing a loophole which, for a very long time, effectively meant that non-native men were allowed to harm native women with impunity. (Obviously, non-native women could harm with impunity, too, but the vast majority of perpetrators were men.)

[CN: Misogyny; ageism] Erick Erickson continues to be the fucking worst, telling Rush Limbaugh: "All my Democratic friends are the idea of Hillary Clinton running in 2016. She's gonna be old. I don't know how far back they can pull her face; can I say that on the air?" Shaker Aphra, who sent this to me, says (which I am quoting with her permission): "I love how he asks if he can say that on the air. Hahahahahaha YEAH dipshit, you can say it, so please stop pretending there's some kind of feminist thought police who will arrest you. Now you might get CRITICIZED because you are awful, but that's not the same thing." This fucking guy.

[CN: Misogyny; worker exploitation] Fucking hell: "Four former cheerleaders for the National Football League's Buffalo Bills have filed a lawsuit against the team, alleging that it 'exploited the women by failing to pay them in accordance with New York State minimum wage laws.' ...The complaint asserts that 'between game performances, practices, rehearsals, and appearances, each individual Jill provides approximately 20 hours of unpaid labor per week,' which 'equals 840 hours of unpaid work per woman, per year.'" Meanwhile: How the fuck much do the players and coaches make?

[CN: Transphobia] Today, a judge will consider Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name to Chelsea. Manning is serving 35 years in prison for whistleblowing "espionage." It's fucking ridiculous, as far as I'm concerned, that a judge gets to rule on whether Manning has a right to legally change her name.

Lupita Nyong'o is People magazine's Most Beautiful Person of the Year. On the one hand, fuck "most beautiful people" shit. On the other, as long as this stuff exists, yay for expanding the boundaries of "acceptable beauty."

Relatedly: Meryl Streep says she once thought she was "too ugly" to be an actress, and advises young aspiring thespians to embrace whatever about their appearnace makes them unique.

[CN: Gender essentialism] Emma Stone calls out her boyfriend Andrew Garfield on gender essentialist claptrap at a promotional appearance. That cannot have been easy. Good for her.

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[Content Note: Classism; victim-blaming.]

Two different-sex couples sit in a park having a picnic. One couple, both of whom appear to be white, is dressed in "fancy" sweaters and slacks; the other couple, a man who appears to be white and an Asian woman, are dressed down in a hoodie and cardigan, respectively. They are all young, thin, and kyriarchetypically attractive.

Fancy Couple is drinking from glassware and a ceramic pitcher. Casual Couple is drinking from red plastic party cups and a plastic thermos.

"It's so good to see you guys," says Fancy Woman. "So, what's up?" Fancy Couple pulls lobsters from a picnic basket.

"Well," says Casual Woman, "we finally bought a place."

"Holy cow!" exclaims Fancy Woman.

"You seriously have enough saved to do that?" asks Fancy Man, holding a lobster in his hand.

"We've been putting a little aside each month," says Casual Man, and Casual Woman nods.

When we cut back to Fancy Couple, they're face-down in massage chairs getting massaged by handsome white blond masseurs, and they're eating the lobsters with their bare hands. "Geez!" says Fancy Woman. "By the end of the month, we have nothing left to save!"

"Yeah," says Fancy Man. "I have no idea where it goes!"

"Well," says Casual Woman, "you're spending a lot...? On—"

"Oh. Ah. Mm," groans Fancy Man, his mouth full of lobster, as he gets massaged, totally ignoring Casual Woman.

"Is it good?" asks Fancy Woman. He responds with more groans. Casual Couple exchange a WTF look.

Suddenly Fancy Couple are in a hot air balloon basket and start to lift off. "How is my account overdrawn?!" wonders Fancy Woman.

Over the image of a hot air balloon, a male voiceover says, "When it comes to financial stability, don't get left behind. Get tools and tips for saving at Feed the Pig dot org."
Text indicates that the ad comes care of the Ad Council and AICPA, which is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Shaker speedbudget sent me this advertisement with the following text, which I am sharing with her permission: "I saw this horrible ad about saving money last night, and I was ready to throw something at the dang TV. I am living paycheck to paycheck, and it's not because I'm out spending money on lobsters and massages. It's because I don't make enough money to last me from paycheck to paycheck. I have student loan debt and credit card debt from when I was in said school just trying to feed myself. This ad also completely elides the fact that wages have been stagnant for 30 years now while the cost of living has gone up."

This ad is shitty for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is because it evokes the trope of the irresponsible, extravagant spender living well beyond hir means, which became ubiquitous in public discussions of bankruptcies and home foreclosures at the height of the recession, as a means of redirecting accountability onto individuals and their frivolous spending habits while deflecting corporate responsibility for spiraling healthcare costs and predatory lending, just for a start.

And, yes, it is a big universe, and within it there are people who are financially irresponsible, but mostly these failures are the result of systemic problems, and tropes about failures of "personal responsibility" are the way in which we collectively continue to task individuals with finding solutions to those systemic problems.

It's important to call this bootstraps bullshit out every time we see it.

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Anti-Choicers Are Exhausting Jerks

[Content Note: War on agency. NB: Not only women can get pregnant.]

Everything about the anti-choice movement is terrible, and there are things much more terrible than this, but one of the terribly exhausting things about anti-choicers is their intractable assertion that people who seek abortions haven't thought it through. Study after study has found this is categorically not true, but still we get legislation like fetal heartbeat bills (IF ONLY THESE WICKED WOMEN HEAR THE HEARTBEAT...!) and mandatory ultrasound bills (IF ONLY THESE WICKED WOMEN SEE THE BABY...!) and required waiting periods (IF ONLY THESE WICKED WOMEN ARE FORCED TO THINK ABOUT THEIR DECISION...!) and shit like this:

Louisiana lawmakers are currently advancing a measure that would require women to receive biased information about the mental health risks of abortion before being allowed to continue with the procedure. Opponents warn that the anti-choice measure is simply designed to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose — particularly since the information will be written by abortion opponents.

Under House Bill 1262, which passed the Louisiana House of Representatives on Monday, abortion providers would be required to distribute a pamphlet that includes information about the "alleged psychological effects of abortion," and lists names of mental health resources for women who are seeking assistance. Patients would be required to sign a form confirming that they received the pamphlet, and then wait at least 24 hours before returning for abortion care.
Again, multiple studies have found that people who terminate pregnancies overwhelmingly do not regret their decision, and that negative emotions following an abortion are typically the result of social stigma around abortion.
According to the APA, the "most methodologically strong studies...showed that interpersonal concerns, including feelings of stigma, perceived need for secrecy, exposure to antiabortion picketing, and low perceived or anticipated social support for the abortion decision, negatively affected women's postabortion psychological experiences."
That is, anti-choice bullshit is responsible for whatever negative "psychological effects of abortion" people experience. This legislation is a snake eating its own tail—warning about potential negative consequences that are caused precisely by warnings that seek to deter abortion-seekers and undermine their confidence in their choice.

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Open Thread

image of an array of various types of bagels

Hosted by bagels.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker everestmckinley: "Share a 3-sentence version of one of your favorite stories to tell."

Okay, technically not a question, but whatever! *wink!*

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Orrery Mission: Complete

As promised, here is a picture of my completed orrery tattoo, now that the color has been added:

image of a tattoo on my left shoulder inspired by Aughra's orrery from The Dark Crystal

The detail on the planet is extraordinary:

image of a close-up on one of the planets in the orrery

The little white flecks are reflections of the goop that's still on my shoulder, since I literally just had it done. The lines look smoother and the color looks solid when it's not viewed through a prism of goop.

I am completely in love with it. Lui is basically a genius. The end.

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Working Poor and Mendacious Narratives

[Content Note: Class warfare; food insecurity.]

Anyone who has been paying attention to the world around them and the people in it almost certainly already knows this, and anyone who is resistant to facts that might undermine their self-aggrandizing cruelty won't fucking care, but here it is anyway:

A report from Feeding America on food insecurity and food costs in the United States sheds new light on the real targets of the conservative media's crusade against food stamps.

...[The reality is] that almost 41% of recipients live in a household with earnings, and according to the USDA program fraud is below one cent on the dollar.

Feeding America's report on the county and congressional district level food insecurity and county food costs in the United States paints a startlingly different picture of the food insecure than the one the right-wing media typically pushes. Feeding America found that more than 47 million people in the United States are food-insecure, meaning that they have "limited or uncertain access to adequate food," and that 16 million of those people are children. On average, about 71% of the food-insecure throughout the country fall below 185% of the poverty line, making them eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
I know I'm the brokenest of all the broken records that have ever been broken, but the incessant yammering about "bootstraps" and "takers" and "moochers" and people who can't be "convinced" to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives" is FUCKING GARBAGE.

Indecent, dishonest, execrable, inexcusable garbage.

I have nothing but voluminous contempt for anyone who barfs up this resoundingly discredited garbage, who scapegoats working people who don't have enough to eat as lazy, system-gaming scoundrels, in a futile bid to mask their reprehensible agenda of "reducing dependence on government"—a gross euphemism for vile social Darwinism justified by bullshit beliefs about bootstraps and fairy tales about how people earn what they deserve, designed to ensure that the wealthiest fuckers in the wealthiest nation don't have to pay a penny more in taxes in order that the workers they exploit to become billionaires might have enough food to stay alive and drag their exhausted, malnourished asses to jobs that won't pay them a livable wage, because profits are more important than people.

This isn't, and will never be, about whether people are working hard enough.

This is about the fact that Republicans think people aren't entitled to food. And they're too cowardly to say it plainly. So they tell lies about lazy people who game the system—a breathtaking bit of projection that would be laughable, if only it weren't so fucking tragic.

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An Observation

[Content Note: Fat shaming.]

I have touched on this previously, but it bears repeating: If you are a person who shames fat people under the auspices of concern for our health, you are not only a bully but a liar. Fat shaming does not improve fat people's physical health, and in fact is extremely likely to have a deleterious effect on our psychological health.

Just stop. Stop.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Privilege; racism.]

"The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities."—Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her impassioned dissent to the Supreme Court ruling today which "upheld a Michigan voter initiative that banned racial preferences in admissions to the state's public universities," i.e. upholding Michigan's ban on affirmative action.

Fuck this court.

Please note that we will not be debating the value of affirmative action in this space.

[Related Reading: Number of the Day.]

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[Content Note: Misogynistic tropes; rape culture.]

Shaker Cafeaulait0913 forwarded this Excedrin ad, which features a collection of thin, white, kyriarchitypically attractive women being relieved of their headaches:

A thin, young, white woman and a thin white man in an office approach a mountain of disorganized files. "Aw, this audit will take days," complains the man. The woman sighs. "What a headache," the man says. "Actually," the woman replies, "I don't have a headache anymore. Excedrin really does work fast."

Two very young white children, a boy and a girl, are playing in a well-appointed home. The boy knocks over some toys, which clatter noisily to the floor. "QUIET! MOM HAS A HEADACHE!" yells the girl. Mom, a thin, young, white woman, leans forward from her overstuffed chair. "Had a headache. But now, I don't!"

Over generic graphics of a male head in silhouette showing the medicine "working," a male voiceover says, "With two pain fighters plus a booster, Excedrin ends headaches fast. In fact, for some, relief starts in just 15 minutes."

A thin, young, white, different-sex couple lies in bed. The man is holding a book. The woman says, "Wow, my headache is gone." The man quickly closes the book and turns out the light. The room goes dark. The woman turns on her bedside light, to reveal the man hovering over her eagerly. "Not gonna happen," she says, to the man's chagrin.

Male voiceover: "Excredrin. Headache: Gone."
So, the thing about this ad is that it's clearly geared toward (white, straight, thin, privileged) women, and yet:

1. It uses a male silhouette in the graphics.

2. It uses a male voiceover.

3. It uses, as a punchline, the tired old trope about women using a headache to get out of sex they don't want to have with their husbands. Which, you know, is not actually a funny trope, as it's a reflection of a rape culture in which women must feign pain to delay sex, because their agency and right to simply say no isn't respected.

This certainly isn't the worst entry in this series, but it still gets a thumbs-down. Do better, Excedrin. Thanks.

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Discussion Thread: Grody Delicious

Sometimes, the dogs are completely pitiful about being outside in a little drizzle, but sometimes they love to run around in a storm. Last night, it was pissing down rain, and they were outside forever, then came back in totally drenched. And, of course, smelling like wet dog.

Wet dog is renowned for being a terrible smell, but I weirdly kind of like it.

I seem to like a lot of earthy smells that have reputations for being awful. Like cow manure, which I find to be a pleasant smell, too.

Anyway! I know I'm not alone on this. A lot of people like scents with bad reps. Gasoline seems to be a common smell that some people find awful and others find pleasant. And I know a few people who like the smell of skunk, which most people find to be terrible.

I don't hate the smell of skunk, although I don't really like it, either. It's just such an aggressive smell, and it just makes me laugh every time I think of such a big smell coming out of such a little creature!

So: Are there any smells that are reputed to be terrible that you enjoy?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound, looking very adorable
This is my favorite picture of Dudley.

Today is the fourth anniversary of our officially adopting Dudley. (He didn't actually come to stay until the 28th, because I had some terrible flu, so he stayed with his foster family for a few extra days.) But this was the day we met him; the day he first came to visit Shakes Manor and walked in looking all nervous and confused; the day he leaned his long self against our legs for the first time.

It was just supposed to be a meet-and-greet, and a chance to test him out with our cats. Iain and I were in firm agreement that we weren't going to make any decisions that night.

Two hours later, all the paperwork had been filled out and the check for the adoption fee had been written. He was our dog. There was no use even pretending otherwise.

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As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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