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Ray Woodward
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Ray Woodward

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You may not have heard about this, but while Gap Inc. has banned fur from all of its well-known brands, it continues to sell numerous fur items at INTERMIX, which has 30 stores and an online shopping site. INTERMIX sells fur from rabbits, coyotes, foxes, minks, and Asiatic raccoon dogs—animals who are often slammed to the ground and bludgeoned with metal rods, causing convulsions and broken bones but not always an immediate death. Undercover investigations reveal that many of these animals are skinned while still alive, and video footage even shows a skinned raccoon dog on a heap of carcasses with just enough strength to lift his bloodied head and stare at the camera.

Please take a few moments to urge Gap Inc. to join ANN INC., Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, and dozens of other companies that are 100 percent fur-free.
Please take a few moments to urge Gap Inc. to join dozens of companies that are 100 percent fur-free.
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Ray Woodward

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This is the start of my back piece, a work by Esme Loasby at Alternative Art tattoo and piercing studioin Northampton. This is an amazing piece of work and I'm really excited to have Esme creating it! I can't wait for our next session. I'm lucky in that I don't find tattooing that painful or uncomfortable so we were able to get the outline completed in one solid 3 hour sitting.
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It looks awesome, it's a really beautiful concept! I love the little animals, especially the little squirrel and rat! I look forward to seeing more of it as it's completed.  :):)
 
I have a confession to make - I have been a bad father to one of our five little ratties. I left a glass of bourbon and water on the desk while the girls were free-ranging and that this negligent act led to one of them having a small amount of bourbon and water. Yes, I know that instead of taking a couple of pictures (I had the cameraphone on already and was taking photos of the other girls at the time) I should have stopped her taking a tiny pawful so in all truthfulness she only had a very small amount (and in rat years she is a responsible adult rodent and therefore above the legal age for drinking).

However the crux of this tail (geddit?!?) is that she actually has incredibly good taste in bourbon and having eschewed any previous opportunity to have an alcoholic drink (I may have had the odd non-carbonated alcoholic drink to hand while they have been out) this time she made a beeline for the glass, savoured the aroma and helped herself to a lick and then a pawful of the amber nectar. Now the bourbon in question was bought for me and my family by a very good friend and is an •exceptionally• nice bottle of 17 year old Kentucky bourbon. Now I feel guilty enough that I'm the only one in the house who likes (and therefore really appreciates) a really good whiskey, bourbon or rye. So while the bottle has been offered to everyone so many times I've lost count, the truth is that it's only me who's been having a tipple. Therefore it's fair to say that when I saw her take a shine to this gorgeous drink my immediate feeling was one of having found a kindred spirit as this little ratty, who has proven herself to be a lover of the fine(st) things in life and I was grateful that I now had someone else in the house who also recognised an excellent bourbon when they taste it and that I took two pictures of the occasion before removing the glass from her reach because my second thought about a nano-second after the first was more appropriate to the situation and can be summarised as "Oh sh*t! Put that camera down you idiot and stop her!". This inner conflict goes some way to explaining why the quality of the pics are pretty terrible. Much to Mina's annoyance I removed the glass from the room she has not sampled any more of this or any other alcoholic beverage since.

As you would expect I have been wracked with guilt and feel that I should pay a penance for this negligent act. So I have thought long and hard about how best to rectify the situation and make sure it never happens again. Therefore it is my solemn duty to selflessly finish the bottle in a responsible manner over the next few days by imbibing a single measure of this 90 proof liquor with a glass of water at bedtime. I think everyone would agree this is the tastiest safest way of removing temptation and opportunity from little Mina. I feel terrible having to do this but truthfully it's the only way I can guarantee that the holiday period has no more incidents like this. Mina disagrees with me and has made it clear that she doesn't approve but I think you'll agree it's in everyone's best interests that we approach this matter sensibly and that my act of contrition is the best way to put this matter behind us.

-----------------------------

While (I hope) I have made this a humorous (and somewhat cautionary) tale, the truth really is Mina had no more than a couple of licks and as the drink was diluted four parts water to one part spirits it was therefore roughly 9%ABV and estimating Mina's intake as <0.005ml of the drink the amount of alcohol she would be  ~0.00045g. So I'm pretty certain she wasn't harmed in any way. :-) However on a serious note it's my understanding that rats cannot have any form of carbonated drink and that it will cause serious internal injury and in all likelihood lead to a painful death should they drink some. So always be careful when letting you rodents roam. 
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Way to go Mina, you little lush! ;-
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Ray Woodward

In Loving Memory  - 
 
These are the last two photos we took of Sasha, truthfully the most gentle of our mischief of girls and one of the first quartet we homed. After she left us we held a small wake for her and toasted her life and the lives of all her  brethren past present and future that they should live full, long and happy lives. Today we buried her next to her sister JJ. The spots we chose are caught by the afternoon and evening sun and allow them to see the room in which their family and friends reside. Farewell Sasha my darling.
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+Cim Eliat what a wonderful story, thank you for sharing with us. I feel my babies are always with me, too.  :):)
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Ray Woodward

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Just horrible. Really horrible. Remember that rats are in many ways as intelligent as dogs, the abuse this investigation has uncovered just saddens me beyond words. I've taken the pictures out of the link below because no one should see such depravity unless they know that they're going to see very disturbing images.  This isn't a laboratory - this is where pets and live food for reptiles (a vile practice in itself) are bred.

I urge you to please sign their petition as action is stalled on stopping this terrible torturers inflicting the same treatment on animals who deserve so much more compassion and care. 
Eyewitness footage and photos expose suffering of rats, mice, reptiles, hedgehogs, and other animals at Colorado animal dealers' warehouse and pet store.
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Just a few recent photos I've taken of Anna, Jasmine and Sasha. Given that Sasha has a prominent lump I'll just say a few words on cancer, rat care and quality of life.

Sasha has a benign tumour. Although large doesn't cause her any serious mobility problems or significantly affect her quality of life. She takes everything in her stride and it's humbling to watch as she climbs and runs around during her daily free-ranging. We take her to see our vet at least once a month to be checked up and for a decision on whether or not to operate. So far she enjoys a good quality of life - she is not in pain, her mobility is not restricted, she is generally healthy with a good appetite and a bright and inquisitive nature. We love her to bits but because of chronic mycoplasma issues we feel that until those are resolved, the risk of operating is too high at this time. When this risk is reduced then she'll have the tumour removed.

In contrast we found a lump on Anna's chest just a few days ago and immediately took her to our vet with a view to getting it removed immediately due to it's position. We all agreed leaving it to grow any larger would have a significant impact on her health and quality of like. Her operation is on the tenth.

I hope my friends and members of this community understand our decisions and the reasons we have for operating on one of our family ASAP but not the other (euthanasia is not an option we would consider BTW). Believe me when I say it's a horrible position to find ourselves in and maybe you disagree with our decision for Sasha, however always put our girl's health and life first. Thank you for reading and I hope you like the pictures.
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+Ray Woodward , So glad to hear Anna's surgery went well! Are you able to let her be with your other rats while you're supervising? That must be tough seeing her low mood. Glad you will reunite them soon.

That's great that Sasha's mycoplasma sounds much better! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for all of you that she can have the tumor removed in the very near future. Sounds like you're doing a fantastic job of reviewing her options regularly with her vet. 

I agree, sharing the love of rats feels so good!

Looking forward to seeing more photos soon... Kisses to all of your ratties :)
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Ray Woodward

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That one preview frame of the video looks like it's a picture of a Star Trek crew member playing the drums, a thought that completely threw me, and I went off into a world of wondering what else the crew of the USS Enterprise might do in their down time. Play Squash, Darts, maybe a pub and a lounge bar to unwind... a cinema to watch old movies like The Breakfast Club and documentaries like old Star Trek seasons. Oh I am way overthinking things aren't I?
 
I watched "The Breakfast Club" a couple days ago, and I've had this stuck in my head ever since.
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Satire, Religion and why a massacre is no joke

Personally I think satire is overrated as entertainment. It rarely achieves anything other than point out the obvious hypocrisies around us. However the freedom to do that is not old and remains a very much fringe activity. Private Eye for example sells 220,000 copies a fortnight, Charlie Hebdo a print run of 60,000 per week.

And making fun of any religion (or political ideology) is a dangerous activity that has only recently become a tolerated mainstream activity. Generally the mocking is of the religion's members, not their prophets. The only one that regularly uses them for comedy that I know of is the online Jesus and Mo comic strip, which uses them to mock religion as a whole and not a section of the population.

It's also worth remembering that before I was born, magazines like Private Eye and Charlie Hebdo just didn't exist. So to try and mock Christianity in any way in the West before the late 1960's using a national publication would be almost impossible. Even worse the national English papers regularly used cartoon imagery to promote highly offensive and misrepresentative depictions of other peoples and religions. The black man and Irishman where regularly depicted as apemen in both The Times and Punch. I'm sure if I drew a cartoon of Christ as Mary Magdalen's pimp would upset a lot of people even now. And for what purpose?

Like any freedom there comes a responsibility. Does depicting Irish Republicans as ageing paedophiles trying to steal the young innocent Ireland from the bosom of a strong Britannia do anything but stir up hatred? Does Sir John Tennial's Punch cartoons of the drunk 'White Negro' Irishman serve any satirical purpose other than to dehumanise and promote hatred of a people of different race or culture for the establishment's obvious political purpose? Because of the history of political cartoons I cannot say I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in the way many have. There is only one that I've seen that is of any obvious satirical purpose and even in that the Prophet is saying "I’m the prophet, you asshole". The rest are childish and many are quite repugnant - and I say that as an atheist.

So I choose to stand neither with those who say "I am Charlie Hebdo" or with the murderous militant psychopaths who misrepresent Islam or with those who are the new enemy of the West and need to be crushed in the same way that Africa, the Americas and India were crushed. I choose to stand aside and observe 12 murders become a rallying call for more carnage and bloodshed and killing of those who are "different". And I'm lucky to live in a country where I can say these things openly without fear of being censored, arrested or murdered. And if I was religious I would end by saying Praise Allah or Thank God. But I'm not so I'll just say Thank You for reading what I have to say.
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I remember TV Cream saying that for all the deification of satire ('The Satire Boom', TW3, The Establishment Club et al) there was only really one single example of that they could think of, of satire 'working' i.e. the targets were made to look so ridiculous that their position became untenable. 

Any guesses?
 
Happy New Year to EVERYONE who is a member of this group, whether you write regularly (maybe a bit too regularly in my case) or just sometimes, whether you +1 or not because all that doesn't matter. You love your rattles and you are therefore awesome people and the group that +Rob Fay​ is the best group and has the best members, who I all wish a very, very Happy 2015 to!!!
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Happy New Year to all y'all and your Ratties, or whatever other fluff children you may have 😘💚🐀🐁🐈🐕
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I can just imagine our five girls squabbling over who's turn it was to ride this around the house! :D
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Hahahaha, +Ray Woodward​ you are hilarious, now I'm imagining them riding around the house on it! This is great, it really cheered me up, thanks for sharing!! :D
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Ray Woodward

In Loving Memory  - 
 
I'm sorry to announce that Sasha, our little darling and stasher extraordinaire passed over the  Rainbow Bridge this afternoon to join her pet store sisters Brie and JJ.

We awoke early this morning to find her quietly sat in her favourite spot, alert but somehow weak and weary. Her eyes were sunken and porphyrin was in corners, something we have never seen in her before. While she was jumping around yesterday desperate for her Baytril and Doxycycline in malt paste (they all adore malt paste even when doctored with foul tasting medications - I know first hand how  vile they are because I've tasted them). But today was a real struggle and so we gave her medicine to her in the small hut she has made her personal home. We then inspected her we found she had started to have very  heavy bleeding from her vagina and we feared the worse.

Handling her showed she was in considerable pain and so after a dose of metacam (which helped greatly alleviate) the pain we found that 45 minutes later (about the time humans take to metabolise NSAIDs) she was still bleeding and very subdued so I supplemented her pain killers with a small dose (0.1 grammes) of Morphine in solution (Oramorph). We then got he the first appointment we could get at +Willow Veterinary Group (who are amazing) and where seeing our vet with an hour.
Richard is wonderful with our girls and after examination laid out three possible options: prolog her life with pain medication and give her a couple of days or maybe slightly more of extra life; anaesthetise, examine and see if surgical intervention could prolog the inevitable  return of the infection; or look at the final solution for a little two year old and help her across the rainbow bridge, without further pain and with the love of me and +Amanda McGowan to send her on her way. All this time she lay quietly in our arms slowly bleeding and not the active explorer we know and love. It was clear that our gentle embrace as we held her was a significant comfort and shelter but she was weary. Together Amanda and I felt the kindest option was to pass he onto the other side, to join JJ and Brie, to meet Kuku, Tink, Annalise, Amalia and Niels and with tears in my eyes I asked her to pass on our love and yours to them all.

I chose to be with her when she crossed over. I took her the little clear chamber, which she happily entered and  explored unperturbed and as the gas filled the chamber she just became sleepier and sleepier. Richard then administered the injection (I didn't see that part} and our little girl passed from our world: happy, at peace with a little smile on her face and with no pain.

I have no shame in saying I have had tears in my eyes and trouble talking to anyone today. Sasha was a one of a kind like so many rats are: so kind, so gentle, an explorer, a sharer, a hoarder. She would come and lick me when I was sad. She could be real pickle. Her taste in bedding material was for the best cotton and silk. She would attempt the most outrageous heists and maybe even hold the  ratty weight lifting contest when it comes to acquiring chocolate bars (with mint flavoured being the prize she sought out before any other). She was a friend to the all the other girls - if there were two rats cuddled together sleeping then Sasha would be one of them.She was fair and would share her stash, but she was also not above raiding nuts and cheerios from the stashes of others. She would play with the youngsters even when they were boisterous and so so many other things from being a committed tea drinker to coming whenever her name was called.

We will miss her terribly. She was a little ratty angel. Always calm. Hilarious in her own gentle way and with a strong character and presence in our life that we and our girls will always miss. We all loved her and always will.

So goodbye Sasha. You will always  be in our hearts and may you play for and eternity with your friends and family across the rainbow bridge.
With all out love,
Ray and Amanda,  Jasmine, Anna, Mina, Daisy and Maisy. XXXXX
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You're very Wellcome.
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Story
Tagline
A Bold Boy
Introduction
If you're asking yourself "Is that the Ray Woodward from England with a posh accent who I met and <insert drunken madness here> happened", then yes, I'm the one you're looking for.
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A life of Boldness
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Clever stuff. Currently working full time on a radical, exciting and complex project.
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SAP Project Mgr (Intl Exp.), SAP Team Leader (Intl Exp.), ABAP Coding and code review. Linux System Build and Mgt, C++ Coding and Code Review, iOS dev, Android dev, Job Mgt including scripting, system integration / upgrade etc.Managing Website development and deployment with secure integration to back end systems and deployment of IDS technology.Corporate consulting at Senior Manager levelWriter Fiction / Non-FictionJournal EditorCopy Editor - Papers, Technical and non-Technical Reports, Short and Long Form Features, Print and Online Articles etc.Highly competent Adobe CS6 User - primarily Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro and Bridge.Commissioned international artist and graphic designer.
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Erwin Hiddema has been our family dentist for probably ten years and he is the best dentist we have ever had. Professional, reliable, friendly and a superb dentist.
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