Tag Archives: bills

My dream about selling out

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When a dark-colored sedan slows to a halt beside you as you walk down the sidewalk, and a tinted window powers down, it’s usually not a sign of good things ahead.

Especially not when all you can see inside is a gun barrel pointing out at you, and a face in the shadows that says only, “Get in.”

Such was the somewhat cliched opening of an actual dream I had the other night.

I got in, as instructed, and the grim and leathery-faced man in the passenger seat beside me told me were going for a ride, in a tone that suggested I neither disagree nor ask too many questions.

windowWhen we arrived at a cabin in some remote woods, he ushered me inside, sat me down and explained the situation.

He was a hit man, hired by some people whose identities he was not allowed to divulge, as that, too, would necessitate killing me.

His working orders were to convince me to sell my website to those people, and to kill me if I refused.

I could see no reason to debate any terms and I was about to agree when he told me I would get two days to think about it.

For the next two days, he sat in a straight-backed chair with a gun in his hand. He put it down only to make meals. He was mostly quiet, seemed to lack any emotions at all, and every once in a while he would hit me, slap me, kick me or verbally abuse me.

Yet, for a few minutes both days, he would let some humanity show through. We’d actually talk a little and make jokes and a tiny part of me came to actually like a tiny part of him, but that’s all beside the point, I think.

Still, I spent more time thinking about him than I did about selling the website. I’d never considered it, and as far it’s value, I figured that was up to the man with the gun to decide.

Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406As he had requested, I withheld any decision until he announced that the deadline had come.

“What is your decision?” he asked. “I will sell the website,” I responded, suspecting I was going to die either way.

At this point, you need to know two things.

First off, I’ve never really thought about selling ohmidog!, and don’t expect it would be worth much. My website, back when it ran advertising, once brought in a tiny bit of money, but now it operates at a loss. Now it is officially a hobby — because the money-making side of a website, as opposed to the creative side, all involves work that either bores me to tears or violates my outdated journalistic principles. For the purposes of writing this I checked a couple of those websites that profess to tell you what a website is worth, and they estimated $6-$7,000. (Interestingly both of those websites, when you typed their own domain name, in, were unwilling to estimate the value of themselves.)

Maybe it’s worth even more than that, I like to sometimes think. I’m not one to overestimate my worth, or my website’s. But I am a bit of a dreamer and this was, after all, a dream.

Just last week, the company that makes dog food with Rachel Ray’s name on it had just sold for $1.9 billion — and who’s to say her kibble is worth more than my daily writings?

You also need to know now about my fear of large bills, for I suspect it is from those anxieties that this dream sprung. I do not like possessing anything larger than a $20 bill.

The currency-holding part of my wallet is divided into two sections. In one I keep twenties, in the other I keep smaller denominations. I rarely go to a bank anymore, instead getting my cash via the cash back option at my grocery store. I usually get one hundred dollars, insisting on nothing larger than twenties.

On a few occasions, though, they have run out and had to give me fifties. I put those in with my twenties. And before I know it, they are gone. I will struggle to remember using one of them, and I’m unable to recall handing anyone a fifty. I can’t remember ever getting change back from a fifty. Handing over a $50 would be act of some significance for me. Surely I would remember that.

I suspect I unwittingly hand over fifties, thinking they are twenties, and that the cashiers, equally unwittingly, hand me back change for a twenty.

Where else could they be going?

So whenever I have a fifty in my wallet, I am anxious. I have to check on them frequently

Just as I am no high roller, I had no high hopes that my website would fetch big bucks, so I was greatly surprised when, in my dream, the hit man informed me that I was to be paid $2 billion. One catch, it had to be cash.

I signed the paperwork, in triplicate, and he handed me two $1 billion bills. I nervously stuffed them in my wallet, in the twenties section.

He told me I could leave.

Ninety percent of me expected that I would be shot in the back as I left, and that he would retrieve the $2 billion, along with my twenties and tens and such. A small part of me thought, just maybe, despite his cruel streak, he was a man of his word.

Turned out he was. I walked out, through the woods, back to the highway and started hitch-hiking.

It took three different rides to get me home, and during each I worried that the driver would somehow sniff out the large bills held in my wallet and rob me.

But I returned home safely, the bills intact, telling myself that tomorrow I would deposit them in the bank.

Tomorrow came and, even though I had nothing to do, nothing to write and post on the website anymore, I didn’t go to the bank. I kept putting it off. And the rest of the dream was just a series of anxious days each one just like the previous one.

It got to the point that I was checking my wallet every 30 minutes. Are they still there? Should I put them somewhere safer, or will I forget where I put them if I do?

As for investing the $2 billion, that didn’t even enter my thoughts. Nor did how I might spend it.

Eventually, the dream became so boring — just me continuing checking my wallet — that I woke up.

I’m not sure what it means, or what I learned, but the next day I took that check that has been lingering around the house to the bank — a state income tax refund of $25.

Judge’s aide used county credit card for $150,000 in purchases, including a tuxedo for her pug

gossA former assistant to a county judge in Arkansas has entered a guilty plea to charges she used a county credit card to charge more than $150,000, including pet insurance and a tuxedo for her pug.

Kristi Lyn Goss, 44, who left the job after the allegations came to light, was scheduled to go to trial this week. Instead she entered a guilty plea and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22.

Goss was arrested in October of 2016. She had been employed as a judicial administrative assistant since 2004.

The Hot Springs Sentinel Record said an affidavit filed in the case accused her of paying her personal bills and buying personal items with the credit card since 2011.

Garland County Comptroller Susan Ashmore discovered the discrepancies in May 2016 after Goss failed to pay county bills on time.

The newspaper said a legislative auditor discovered 3,722 charges made on the card between December 2011 and May 2016 and confirmed $70,523.64 in personal purchases made by Goss.

The auditor also identified $92,074.48 in additional purchases suspected to be personal in nature, based on the names of the businesses where the purchases were made. The total amount of unauthorized purchases was $162,598.

Goss apparently used the card to pay for her electric bills, cellphone bills, car payments, tickets to Arkansas Razorback games, her personal real estate taxes, pet insurance and a tuxedo for her dog.

Where did donations to Charlie go?


David Gizzarelli took in more than $17,000 in donations from big-hearted dog lovers in what he described as an attempt to save his dog Charlie, who was deemed dangerous after attacking a National Park Service horse.

But his attorney says Gizzarelli is unable to help out with the $9,000-plus tab for veterinary care, feeding and shelter that Charlie, an American Staffordshire terrier, has received since last August, when he was taken into the custody of animal control in San Francisco.

Apparently the $17,000 that was donated was spent on attorney fees, paying for the horse’s vet bills and “other living expenses.” That’s what Gizzarelli’s new attorney says, adding that his client can’t afford to help pay the bill and is currently sleeping in his car.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins ordered Gizzarelli to pay  anyway — specifically, half of the costs for boarding and treating Charlie since the incident.

Gizzarelli is still raising money to “help save Charlie” — via a Facebook page and his Help Save Charlie website — even though he has relinquished ownership of the dog, who is now in foster care and will likely end up in an adoptive home or sanctuary.

Until his court appearance, he had not provided any accounting of where the donated money went, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Charlie has been in the custody of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco since August, when he was  deemed “vicious and dangerous” by the police department. The cost for housing  him and providing veterinary care for an earlier injury totaled $9,808 as of Monday’s hearing.

Gizzarelli, in an earlier settlement, agreed to give up custody of Charlie and attend a hearing to discuss payment for Charlie’s care.

But he kept selling “Help Save Charlie” merchandise and collecting donations even after that. And while Charlie could probably still use help — he hasn’t been deemed adoptable yet — it appears little if any of the donated money has gone for the dog.

Questions during Monday’s hearing revolved around the amount of legal fees Gizzarelli paid to two attorneys, and $3,000 his attorney said was spent on “food,  transportation and housing” — apparently for the human, not the dog.

Gizzarelli’s attorney, Orestes Cross, said his client has no money. “My client is on social welfare, living on $422 a month and sleeping out of  his car,”  told the judge during the hearing. “He fought the fight because he cares about his dog.”

Rebecca Katz, director of Animal Care and Control, says some donors to Charlie are likely upset. “I don’t believe those who contributed expected that money to go toward personal expenses,” she said. Since the settlement, Charlie has been in foster care. According to Katz, he needs several more months of training before he can be considered for adoption or placed in a sanctuary.

Gizzarelli faced federal assault charges after the attack on the police horse, but according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office those have been dropped.

(Photo: Help Save Charlie Facebook page)

Animal welfare fares well in Maryland

At the end of the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, animal welfare advocates are celebrating passage of five major animal protection bills, and the defeat of two that they say would have had an adverse impact on animal welfare.

And to top it all off, as of July, dogs can legally dine in the outside seating areas of restaurants that opt to permit them.

“In the past animal protection laws in Maryland have been weaker than other states.  But now we are making huge progress to improve the treatment of Maryland’s animals,” said Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals.

Kilborn attributes the gains to animal welfare advocates being better organized and more outspoken.

The General Assembly passed the following bills during the 2011 session:

  • Senate Bill 839, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City, which requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the county in which they operate, and requires counties to report basic information about these commercial breeders once a year to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  This bill will provide critical information to understand the impact of puppy mills in the state.  Companion legislation, HB 990, was sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery County.
  • Senate Bill 639, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, which will set up a task force to study the need for funding of spay and neuter programs in Maryland.  An estimated 48,000 homeless dogs and cats are euthanized in Maryland shelters annually.  Affordable, accessible spay/neuter programs can help prevent this tragedy. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have a public funding mechanism to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter surgeries for those who cannot afford it.  The task force will be comprised of representatives from animal control, humane societies, non-profit spay/neuter organizations, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, the Department of Agriculture and others.  Companion legislation, HB 339, was sponsored by Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George’s County.  
  • House Bill 227 sponsored by Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery County, which will allow courts to prohibit someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals as a term of probation. This legislation had strong backing from organizations addressing the issue of domestic violence.  Companion legislation, SB 115, was co-sponsored by Sen. James Robey, D-Howard County.
  • Senate Bill 747 sponsored by Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, which allows courts to include protections for pets in domestic violence protective orders.  Research has repeatedly shown a link between animal abuse and domestic violence.  Children and animals in the family are often threatened, or actually harmed, as a way to manipulate and coerce others in the family.  Victims of domestic violence often delay leaving abusive situations because they fear for the safety of their companion animals.  This legislation benefits both people and animals and had strong support for organizations which address the problem of domestic violence.  Companion legislation, HB 407, was sponsored by Del. Susan McComas, R-Harford County.
  • House Bill 897, sponsored by Del. Peter Murphy, D-Charles County, to require the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze.  Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in most major antifreeze brands, has an aroma and a sweet flavor which can tempt animals to drink the highly toxic substance.  Adding a bittering agent makes it less attractive to companion animals and wildlife.
  • House Bill 941, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim, D- Baltimore County, which permits restaurants to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas.

Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) works to create an ever-growing voting bloc of animal advocates who will elect representatives willing to champion and vote for animal protection legislation.

Beaten cat recovering at BARCS

Two boys beating a cat with a stick in Fell’s Point were interrupted and chased Friday by a concerned citizen, who later brought the cat to Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).

BARCS said the cat, who they’ve named Marilyn, has a broken back leg and is still being evaluated.

BARCS officials say they have filed a police report about the incident.

The witness to the abuse chased the two boys. Unable to catch them, he returned to the cat and transported her to the shelter, according to a BARCS press release.

“The cat’s leg was very limp, completely broken,” Darlene Harris of BARCS told WBAL-TV.

BARCS said the beating of Marilyn is the second animal abuse case to come to their attention so far this year.

In January, Mittens, who had recently given birth to a litter of kittens, was reportedly doused with lighter fluid while trapped in a milk crate and set on fire by teenagers. Both Mittens and her kittens were taken to BARCS, and the two juveniles were charged with animal cruelty.

Marilyn’s medical bills, like those of Mittens, are being paid for through BARCS’ Franky Fund, a fund that relies on donations from the public to pay the veterinary bills of injured animals that come to the shelter for care. 

Donations to the Franky Fund are accepted through the BARCS website at, or in person at the shelter, located at 301 Stockholm Street in South Baltimore (near M&T Bank Stadium).

Techno-whipped? I pity the fool

In our eighth month of bouncing about this expansive and expensive country, Ace and I seemed headed for our most frugal stretch yet – thanks mainly to lucking out and finding some free housing upon our return to Baltimore.

For the first time, in our continuing effort to see America while spending less than what we were while sedentary and housed – about $1,500 for rent, food and utilities – we were looking at a three digit number instead of four.

Now, thanks to my stupidity, and with an assist from Verizon, we’ve blown it, and somebody has some explaining to do.

Before we left on our journey, I canceled my home Internet service (through Verizon) and signed up for wireless mobile broadband (through a different part of Verizon), allowing us to get online no matter where we were for $59 a month – the package they suggested for a heavy user.

It worked pretty great. There were only two or three locations in our 22,000 miles of travels, where service was non-existent or spotty.

I was so pleased, I even eventually sent Verizon the payment they were seeking from me for home Internet service for the month following the date I moved out of my house. It was basically a choice between paying the money I didn’t really owe, being regularly harassed by the credit agency to which they turned the matter over, or spending far too much time on the phone, holding and then some, to try and straighten it out.

All was going smoothly with my wireless mobile broadband — or so I thought until last week, when Verizon informed me that for the past two months I’d gone over monthly limit, and that I owed them more than $400. Continue reading

Mother cat set on fire in Baltimore

In yet another case of animal abuse in Baltimore, a teenager doused a young female cat with lighter fluid and set her on fire.

The cat, and the kittens she recently gave birth to, were taken to Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) after police responded to a call in the 3300 block Saint Ambrose Street.

The cat, who has been nicknamed Mittens at the shelter, is suffering from burns on most of her body.

Witnesses told police that, earlier this month, a juvenile placed the cat in a milk crate on the back porch, doused the milk crate and the cat with lighter fluid and then struck a match and threw it in the crate.

In flames, the cat broke free from the milk crate and ran from the yard, running in circles until the fire was extinguished, BARCS said. She then returned home and hid under a table.

Police have not reported whether any arrests were made at the residence, which they said still smelled of singed skin when they arrived.

The cat and her kittens are residing in “Critter Care” at BARCS. Mittens has third and fourth degree burns. She is expected to survive, but will need long term treatment.  It will be months before she is healed and her fur may not grow back

“This is another horrible case of animal abuse in Baltimore City, ” said Jennifer Brause, BARCS’ Executive Director. “Mittens is a wonderful cat, who despite her injuries is still caring for her kittens and is very affectionate to the staff.”

Mittens’ medical bills will be covered by BARCS’ Franky Fund, a fund that relies on donations from the public to pay the veterinarian and medical bills of injured animals that come to the shelter for care.

Donations to the Franky Fund are accepted through the BARCS website, or at the shelter, located at 301 Stockholm Street in South Baltimore (near M&T Bank Stadium).