Monthly Archives: March 2012


With the current climate of contraception rollbacks, the most terrifying statement your college-attending daughter or son can make is: “Mom, dad….I’m……………majoring in political science.”

Instantly gone are the dreams of your off-spring as the next Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Salk or Dr. Pepper. No, with a Poli Sigh degree the chances are your son or daughter won’t be heading the next Google or Hewlett Packard, performing neurosurgery, or genetically engineering an apple, such as Ann Coulter’s adam’s apple.

I majored in Political Science, the most popular major of the Boomer Generation with its prestigious-sounding name. But no one ever called me a political scientist. That was the first disappointment with the major, shared by friends who majored in other social sciences like sociology, anthropology, and psychology. They, too, were never called political scientists.

The only positive I can say about Political Science was its stability: I could always count on being unemployed.

Recently, I’ve decided after my brief career as a colonic therapist (see: Tygerpen, Aug. 5, 2009, “Cleaning Up in a New Career”) to not only shamelessly market my blog, but once again to change careers. I am now formally an ornithologist (from the Greek “orno” and “theology”, the worship of Orno, the largest island in the southern half of the Stockholm archipelago, situated just north of the island of Uto.)

This career change didn’t happen overnight. Far from it. No, I decided to become an ornithologist two weeks ago and after applying for and completing the degree in Ornithology, I received my diploma a week later.

That’s the beauty of modern technology. If you’ve been fruitlessly hunting in this anemic job market, you can change your career, even to an in-demand field, by going back to school and taking all classes online. That’s right. You can Google “online colleges and majors” and an unlimited number of helpful websites will appear. One of my favorites,, gives a meticulous analysis of the advantages of college courses online:

  • “Online degree courses are very much cost effective. Benefits of online education is so vast that can not be listed.”
  • “The online learning programs are real fast by nature.”
  • “Online study materials are accessible anytime. So, get your degree without bothering much.”

The site also explains that certain criteria are used to rank the online degrees:

  • “Some of these judging pillars are graduation rate, financial aids, retention rate, student-faculty ratio and some others.”

In reviewing the site’s listing of degrees for online majors, I was nearly overwhelmed by the choices. Among others:  Astrophysics, Neurology, Medicine, Molecular Biology, Thermodynamics, Aerodynamics and Nuclear Physics.

Nuclear Physics, my alternative to an Ornithology Degree, promised that after completion of the Online Nuclear Physics Degree program, I could obtain the degree and “documents with the University stamp right at one’s doorstep.”  Between the two degree programs, I choose Ornithology because I didn’t like the idea of my degree and documents being left at my doorstep.

Although doesn’t specifically list which online college offers the Ornithology (or even the Nuclear Physics) degree, at least I could, in the website’s words, “study at your own pace and complete the degree…only when you feel confident about yourself.”

After a week I was confident.

I can hear you jealous detractors out there claiming this is a diploma mill that sells unaccredited college degrees without requiring students to do college-level work. I won’t address this absurd accusation. Without and similar sites, I wouldn’t be one of the only (if not THE only) degreed ornithologists in the United States. Not even Cornell University (at least $60,000 per year) with its famous Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers an Ornithology degree—-just biology or zoology scientists watching a bunch of birds flying around, cataloging them, and determining which eggs of a species make the best omelets.

Another plus: online programs don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or gender. Virtually anyone is eligible to apply. In 2004 Colby Nolan was awarded an MBA degree (with a 3.5 GPA) by Trinity Southern University of Dallas, Texas after paying only $100 toward the degree—-an enormous savings. In 2010 Chester Ludlow of Vermont was awarded an online MBA degree from Rochville University after Chester submitted his resume and $489 to the University, and received an express packet from a post office box in Dubai.

The University didn’t care that Colby was a housecat and Chester a pug dog. Because THIS IS AMERICA, where an online universal education enables cats and dogs to obtain their degrees or certifications in hypnotherapy, nutrition, estate valuation, criminal justice, childhood development and even medicine.

And at last I have a job!  In my role as ornithologist, I’ll be meeting with city government officials to persuade them to place speakers of recorded bird chirpings throughout their communities. This project is based on the experience of the Lancaster, California’s mayor who brought bird recordings from England and played them for ten months in over 70 speakers, five hours a day. The mayor claims bird song and music calmed his citizens by fine-tuning brain chemicals and resulted in a 6% crime reduction. (In related news, the mayor of Lancaster, California was found beaten last month, his head erupting from a used Bose speaker.)

I know this is a difficult assignment, meeting with the civic officials. But I’ll be scholastically prepared: I’m applying tomorrow for other online degree programs to run concurrently: Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Medicine. Also possibly Music Theory.

What’s hardest is the length of time this all takes: maybe three or even four weeks to get my diplomas after I apply for the degree programs. You know how slow the post office is.


One of the most significant and difficult decisions a couple must make—- next to which direction the toilet paper roll should go in the holder—– is whether or not to acquire another pet. Our black standard poodle Nigel left us six months ago for Doggie Dog Park Heaven where there’s unlimited grass (if Nigel’s into that sort of thing), no leashes, and unrestricted Milkbones. Cats serve as area rugs.

I know I’d like another pet. But it’s hard to choose between an intelligent, non-shedding, regal standard poodle and a sweet, affectionate, cuddly Burmese python. I can’t have a cat because I have three birds and typically cats refuse to eat seed. So I’m looking around at other dog breeds. In addition to purebred poodles, here are some of the breeds I’m considering that you can try to decode: Goldendoodle, Labradoodle, Lhasipoo, Maltipoo, Shihpoo, Morkie, Yorkipoo, Malshi and Coton de Tulear (in French, literally “Cotton swab for two ears”).

I’m also considering the Pekingese after that breed won the annual Westminster Dog Show. This dog has a long history, beginning as the favored dog of the Chinese Imperial Court. A few years later, Sun-Yat Sen, a Pekingese owned by Henry Sleeper Harper, of Harper Brothers Publishing, was one of three dogs to survive the sinking of the Titanic. According to a recent book by the granddaughter of Titanic’s second officer, the Titanic sunk because of a basic steering error now blamed on the ship’s cat, who escaped to a lifeboat while disguised as a woman.

There’s an online video of the winning Westminster Pekingese (“Malachy”) that purports to show the handler grooming his dog, What the viewer sees, however, is the handler grooming a square rock, smaller than a quarter-size Costco sheet cake, with stratified layers of gray, tan and white, and covered with static-electrified fur.

It must be said that as a little showdog, the Pekingese can reach great heights—-to quote the AKC— particularly if an air hose is inserted in its hind end. The stoic immovable Pekingese showdog doesn’t even need training in how to “play dead.” Instead of a trainer, the dog should occasionally be examined by a coroner.

But I’m not limiting myself to purebreds. Friends who’ve adopted rescue dogs enthuse about their canines. My friend Danny recently acquired an affable rescue dog named Milo,  a combination of mastiff, lab and boxer—A “Mastilabbox”?—that combines the best of all three breeds: A mammoth dog (the mastiff portion) with a sweet temperament and keen sense of smell (the lab) who’s a jumper until he’s overcome by his own excessive flatulence (the boxer.) As a [“Boxlabmasti?”] rescue dog, he is content to play by himself and isn’t finicky about food so long as he gets an occasional treat like the leather seats of a Jeep Cherokee.

The only problem with rescue dogs is the uncertainties of their pasts. True, some dogs are given away because of shocking abuse— beatings, excessive confinement, poisonings—but the law often forgives dogs guilty of these crimes, and there are clearly excusable offenses such as when a dog barks obscenities or writes hate mail to cats.

We once brought home a gorgeous black standard poodle we called Dreyfus, fittingly named because he was a French poodle and later because he belonged on Devil’s Island. In time we learned Dreyfus was a Jekyll and Hyde, outwardly friendly and playful, but secretly transforming himself into a dog who would—out of our view—-climb up ladders to threaten house painters, chomp at repairmen, or tree a cat, not alarming in itself except for the chainsaw.

Where I live, I notice an epidemic of people walking unidentifiable white fluff with legs, possibly white terriers, bichons, or poodle mixes, but all cloned from the same test tube. Maybe they’re popular because these dogs are easier to manage or because they give instant status if you claim the dog to be an obscure expensive breed and no one dares challenge you because the white fluffos all look nearly identical.

Perhaps you own a small shapeless fluffy white dog because you were too lazy to look up individual breeds, you got a deal, or because everyone else seemed to have a small shapeless fluffy white dog. Despite your failings, here are examples of comments to instantly pass off your small shapeless fluffy white dog as an upscale breed:

“Have you met my Chinese crested?”

“I love my coton de tulear, except for cleaning his ears.

“Say hello to my javanese.”

“Yes, this is my javier bardem.”

I still lean toward another standard poodle, except for their tendencies to demand your full attention all the time, to slyly ransack counters and closets for chocolate, and to jump up on you when you’re carrying heavy items. But if you love your big dog, it’s just a minor annoyance when you spill your groceries, drop your purse or get a hip fracture.