Author: Paul Handover

Who pulls the strings?

Or, more specifically, do we believe we have free will?

One of the endless benefits of this wired-up, digital world is how easy it is to have one’s mind opened and stretched a little.

Take this, for instance, as an intriguing start to a new day.

Do we have free will?

This isn’t a question I can answer, but what I am interested in is “what happens if we do (or do not) believe in free will?” In other words, does believing in free will matter in your daily life?

Just let one’s mind float around that idea, not only as it applies to us humans but also to the animals that share our human intuition, such as dogs and horses.

So what’s got me bubbling along today? Nothing less than an article that appeared on The Conversation blog-site back last September.

I found it fascinating and hope you do as well. It is republished within the terms of The Conversation site.

ooOOoo

Believing in free will makes you feel more like your true self

September 1, 2016

By Elizabeth Seto, Ph.D. Candidate in Social and Personality Psychology, Texas A&M University .

image-20160830-28235-1xkam7s
Believing in free will makes us feel more like ourselves. Man walking via http://www.shutterstock.com

Do we have free will? This is a question that scholars have debated for centuries and will probably continue to debate for centuries to come.

This isn’t a question I can answer, but what I am interested in is “what happens if we do (or do not) believe in free will?” In other words, does believing in free will matter in your daily life?

My colleagues and I at the Existential Psychology Lab at Texas A&M University study the psychological outcomes of belief in free will. While contemplating my next research project, I realized at some point in our lives, we all want to understand who we are – it’s human nature. So, we decided to explore how believing in free will influences our sense of self and identity.

 One way or another? Feet image via www.shutterstock.com.
One way or another? Feet image via http://www.shutterstock.com.

What is free will?

Free will is generally understood as the ability to freely choose our own actions and determine our own outcomes. For example, when you wake up in the morning, do you hit snooze? Do you put on your workout gear and go for a run? Do you grab a hot cup of coffee? While those are simple examples, if you believe in free will, you believe there are a limitless number of actions you can engage in when you wake up in the morning, and they are all within your control.

Believing in free will helps people exert control over their actions. This is particularly important in helping people make better decisions and behave more virtuously.

For instance, research has found that promoting the idea that a person doesn’t have free will makes people become more dishonest, behave aggressively and even conform to others’ thoughts and opinions. And how can we hold people morally responsible for their actions if we don’t believe they have the free will to act any differently? Belief in free will allows us to punish people for their immoral behaviors.

So, not only is there a value to believing in free will, but those beliefs have profound effects on our thoughts and behaviors. It stands to reason that believing in free will influences how we perceive ourselves.

You might be thinking, “Of course believing in free will influences how I feel about myself.” Even though this seems obvious, surprisingly little research has examined this question. So, I conducted two studies to suss out more about how believing in free will makes us feel.

What believing in free will makes us feel about ourselves

In the first study, I recruited 304 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk and randomly assigned them to write about either personal experiences reflecting a high belief in free will, like changing career paths or resisting drugs or alcohol, or experiences reflecting a low belief in free will, such as growing up in poverty or working under an authoritative boss. Then, they were all asked to evaluate their sense of self.

Participants who wrote about experiences reflecting low belief in free will reported feeling less “in touch” with their true selves. In other words, they felt like they did not know themselves as well as the participants who wrote about experiences reflecting high belief in free will.

Then, I conducted a follow-up study testing one’s sense of authenticity, the feeling that one is behaving according to their own beliefs, desires and values.

I recruited another group of participants from Amazon Mechnical Turk, and like the first experiment, randomly assigned them to write about personal experiences demonstrating high belief in free will or low belief in free will. Then, they all completed a decision-making task where they had to make a series of choices about whether to donate money to charity or to keep the money for themselves.

Afterwards, participants were asked how authentic they felt while making their decisions. Participants in the low free will group reported feeling less authentic than participants in the high free will group.

 Up and at it. Female runner image via www.shutterstock.com.
Up and at it. Female runner image via http://www.shutterstock.com.

So, what does this all mean?

Ultimately, when people feel they have little control over their actions and outcomes in life, they feel more distant from their true, authentic selves. They are less in touch with who they are and do not believe their actions reflect their core beliefs and values.

We believe this is because belief in free will is linked to feelings of agency, the sense that we are the authors of our actions and are actively engaged with the world. As you can imagine, this sense of agency is an important part of a person’s identity.

The importance of feeling like you are in charge of your life applies to significant actions like moving or getting a new job or pondering the big questions in life. But it also applies to the minor decisions we make throughout the day.

Here’s one simple, though relatable, decision I am faced with every morning. When I wake up in the morning and decide to put on my workout gear and go for a run instead of hitting snooze, I might feel like I am the primary decision-maker for this morning routine. Additionally, I am most likely acting on the part of me that values physical health.

But what if I wake up, and I feel like I can’t exercise because I have to go to work or some other external factor is making it difficult to go? I might feel as if someone or something else is controlling my behavior, and perhaps, less like my true self.

So, do you have free will? Do any of us? Remember, the question isn’t whether it exists or not, but whether you believe it does.

ooOOoo

Now thinking of dogs having their own free will might seem a little bizarre, but I do not intend it to be seen as such. Many of you will have dogs (and horses) that have ‘minds of their own’.

For our family here at home, if there’s one of our dogs that exhibits free will it is our Brandy.

Our Brandy is a Pyrenean Mastiff!
Our Brandy is a Pyrenean Mastiff!

Without warning or any other indication, he will suddenly decide it is time to go ‘walk-about’. Mainly during the day but sometimes at night, whatever the weather, he will disappear. He will always return but can be wandering around our thirteen acres for up to an hour.

Does he have free will?

Does he believe he has free will?

Do we believe he has free will?

What, dear reader, do you think?

Stupendous!

From the sublime to the amazing!

First, the sublime.

As in this stunning picture from the latest Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter.

A cap cloud at sunrise over Mount Rainier, spotted from Seattle, Washington, US, by Elaine Thompson (Member 41974).
A cap cloud at sunrise over Mount Rainier, spotted from Seattle, Washington, US, by Elaine Thompson (Member 41974).

“Though outwardly a gloomy shroud,
The inner half of every cloud
Is bright and shining:
I therefore turn my clouds about,
And always wear them inside out
To show the lining.”

[From ‘The Wisdom of Folly’ by Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler in Verses, Wise or Otherwise (1895)]

Then to the amazing!

It’s hard to comprehend the sheer size of objects in space, but take 2 minutes and give it a try!

This video is from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) comparing the sizes of Earth, our sun and stars.

Max, our dark Prince

Another crossing of the Rainbow Bridge

Yesterday, in came an email that brought a tear to my eye:

Dear Paul,

I came across your blog this morning and saw the post on ‘We shall not forget them’ to pay tribute to our fur babies.

My black Labrador, Max, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on November 28th. He’s on my mind all the time and I have constantly been trying to do little things that make me feel his presence.

I was hoping I could pay a tribute to him on your blog. Please find a small poem and a portrait of him that I had penned down earlier. This is the original picture I sketched of him.

The email came from Samyuktha Sridhar and it is a wonderful honour and privelege to offer Sam’s tribute to Max.

ooOOoo

Max, our dark Prince

by Samyuktha Sridhar

Max, our handsome black labrador who was eleven and a half years old crossed to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge on 28 November, 2016. We miss him like crazy and it hasn’t yet fully sunk in.

There is no way we can make the pain go away, but we need to move on and learn to live with the beautiful memories. Every person has a different way of dealing with loss and sadness. I like to put my thoughts on paper. It helps me get things out of my system.

So here’s what I did..

wp-image-979505248jpgIf memories could bring us closer, if tears could bridge the gap

I’d cross the oceans to see you, in warm wet hugs we’d wrap

I opened my eyes to reality, to warm wet tears instead

The pain in my heart was real, as the voices in my head

Echoed, “No teary goodbyes were exchanged, no words of farewell spoken,

Would it have made it easier, if we had that chance?” I’m torn!

If I knew t’was the last time, that you’d look into my eyes

I’d have cradled your head upon my lap, stayed by you as you lay.

Were you in pain that fateful night, when the big brown clock struck three?

Sadly I’ll never know, would I? If you’d reached out to me.

With every breath you took you filled, my heart with so much love

You took a piece of my heart with you, the piece that belonged to you.

img_20161128_031547ooOOoo

Again and again we are reminded of what our dogs mean to us. So beautifully expressed by Sam.

Please, if you want to offer a tribute to your dearly departed dog do share it on these pages.

Yet another recall

This time concerning Against the Grain Pet Foods

Against the Grain Dog Food Recall of February 2017

February 14, 2017 — Against the Grain Pet Food is voluntarily recalling one lot of Against the Grain Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs because it may be contaminated with pentobarbital.

against-the-grain-pulled-beef-dog-food

What’s Recalled?

  • Against the Grain Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs
  • 12 ounce can
  • Lot Number: 2415E01ATB12
  • UPC Code (second half): 80001
  • Expiration Date: December 2019

About Pentobarbital

Oral exposure to pentobarbital can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand and coma.

To date, no complaints have been reported to Against the Grain for this single lot number nor any of Against the Grain’s pet foods.

Where Was It Distributed?

The recalled product was distributed (in 2015) to independent pet retail stores in the following states:

  • Maryland
  • Washington

The company has verified that the affected lot is no longer on any store shelves.

What to Do?

Consumers may return any can with the relevant lot number to their place of purchase and receive a full case of Against the Grain food for the inconvenience.

Customers with questions may contact the company at 800-288-6796 between 11 AM and 4 PM Central Time, Monday through Friday.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

ooOOoo

As ever, do share this important alert.

Having a head for heights!

Sorry, folks but still a few days away from being back to normal service.

We awoke yesterday morning with Casey sufficiently unwell that Jim Goodbrod recommended taking him to Southern Oregon Veterinary Services (SOVC) down in Medford. There SOVC said that it does look as though Casey has a failure in one of the spinal discs in his neck. First, we have been advised to up the pain medicine before embarking on an MRI and then, possibly, surgery.

In the middle of all this the tube from my catheter into my drainage bag became blocked, evidenced by pee running down my leg!!

SOVC offered me their very comfortable bathroom where I then unblocked the tube using a syringe and sterile water; luckily all brought with me.

Then it was up to Grants Pass to find a solution to my ‘leaking’ catheter only to find that Southern Oregon Medical Equipment, who we thought were in Grants Pass, had moved a year ago from Grants Pass to …… guess?? ……. yes: Medford!

Plus it was raining for most of the day!

Yes, it was one of those days!!

One of those days where one needs a head for the heights that life can throw at one.

No better demonstrated by the following video sent to me by my loving son: Alex!

So will just close by saying that until my catheter is taken out next Tuesday (fingers crossed) I may be ‘distracted’ from Learning from Dogs at times!

Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Yet another dog food recall alert!

February 13, 2017 — Blue Buffalo Company has issued a voluntary recall for specific lots of Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight due to possible aluminum metal contamination.

blue-buffalo-homestyle-healthy-weight-adult-chicken-wet-dog-foodWhat’s Recalled?

The recalled product includes:

  • Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight, Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables
  • 12.5 ounce can
  • UPC: 8-40243-10017-0
  • Codes: Best By 08/03/2019

The “Best By” date is on the bottom of the can.

No other Blue Buffalo products are involved. The company has not received any reports of illness or injury as a result of the problems giving rise to this recall.

What to Do?

Customers are invited to return the impacted product to your local retailer for a full refund. For additional information, call 866-800-2917.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

This is a bloody nuisance!

May be out of commission for a few days?

Last December 21st I underwent an outpatient operation for the removal of growth around my prostate. A fairly normal operation for a gent of my age (72).

l was told that it would take about 8 weeks for everything to heal.

Anyway, this morning I noticed a significant amount of blood in my urine and Jean and I went to our local Three Rivers hospital in Grants Pass. I was admitted to ER.

I was sorted out and nothing serious immediately found although the cause of the bleeding was not identified. However a blood test did not find any infection or anything scary. I was recommended to go home.

The blood in urine is called Hematuria and the doctor inserted a Foley catheter to drain the blood & urine from my bladder.

The catheter and the drainage bag will remain attached to me until I have an appointment with the Urologist early next week. I have to keep pretty still until then plus sitting on a normal chair is painful at the moment. I’m laying back on the bed using my tablet to write this.

Sorry, dear people, but that’s how it is just now.

oooo

Update as at 10:30 PST Sunday, 12th

Around 10:30PM last night I awoke with quite a severe pain in my bladder. My body was telling me to hot-foot it back to the Emergency Ward at Three Rivers in Grants Pass. This was where we had gone earlier in the day.

Jean doesn’t drive at night but it was a straightforward journey and I was seen very quickly by the ER staff (Micha, Ann and Trevor: you were all brilliant!) I was told that my decision to drive into ER was spot on. (Trevor at a later point said that listening to our body is so important and that they saw far too many individuals who had let whatever the problem was run on far too long before seeking medical help.)

Micha quickly determined that a blood clot had blocked the catheter hence my inability to pass urine/blood and the rapid build up of pain. Gently syringing the catheter with a saline solution released a huge number of clots; to my obvious relief.

Apparently, the urologist on call was telephoned and he recommended the removal of the existing catheter to then be replaced with a larger catheter (ouch!)  that would handle blood clots more efficiently.

Then for approximately an hour I was irrigated so as to completely flush out the remaining clots.

It was 50:50 as to whether I was to be admitted to a ward but again the advice of the on-call urologist was that so long as my body continued to drain blood/urine into the catheter drainage bag then it was OK for me to return home.

I arrived home at 4:30am!

So here we are approximately six hours later and I am still bleeding but, touch wood, no sign of clots and the draining into the bag is still running.

P.S. I have offered these details just in case someone else finds them helpful!

UPDATE 14:15 Tuesday, 14th.

On the afternoon of the 11th I took an afternoon nap having had practically no sleep the previous night.

Around 2pm I awoke with a pain that told me I probably had another blood clot and again said to Jean that I was going to take myself back into the ER department.

Once admitted to ER they made the decision that my bleeding was such that I should be admitted to the General Ward in the hospital. I ended up on Floor E, room 361.

I was then hooked up to a saline drip and stayed that way until 4am this morning, Tuesday 14th! For it took that long for the blood clots to finally stop surfacing and my urine to start looking a normal yellow colour.

From 4am I was then just draining via the Foley catheter and, thank goodness, I continued draining reliably, with no further bleeding or clotting, right through to 11:30 when Dr. Newcomb, the duty doctor, announced that I was fit to return home!

I will write more as soon as I catch up with stuff.

Dogs bring out so much love in us!

One can never have too many examples of love in a life!

These are interesting times. If we took even a small percentage of what we read about or see in the news media to heart we would think that life is hardly worth living for. So stuff the bad news out of sight!

Now read this that was recently published on the Care2 website.

ooOOoo

Schoolchildren Raise Over $7,200 to Help Dog Hit by Car

3200486-largeBy: Laura Goldman, February 9, 2017
About Laura

 

Over 80 percent of the students who attend Los Amigos Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, but that didn’t stop them from doing everything they could to raise money to save an animal in need.

It began in early December, when a school employee found an injured black Lab mix hiding in bushes near the parking lot.

“There’s this really hurt dog,” Vice Principal Sharon Linville heard over a walkie-talkie, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “I’m sure this dog is going to die, he’s in so much pain.” She and other employees brought the dog blankets and water, and contacted the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The center’s staff veterinarian, Cynthia Servantez, visited the school a few days later to give the students a not-so-good update on the dog they’d named “Black Bart.” He’d been hit by a car and would probably survive, but he needed surgery that would cost about $3,000.

An X-ray had revealed that both of Bart’s hips were dislocated. As Dr. Servantez told the students, Bart’s “puzzle pieces had come undone.”

The schoolchildren immediately took action to help put those pieces back together. The school launched a “Pennies for Paws” campaign to collect spare change for Bart’s surgery.

Every single student made a donation. “They looked through sofa cushions, they gave up their allowance, some of them gave us IOUs,” Linville told KABC. “We have a bunch of Chuck E. Cheese coins that we got.”

One week later, the school gave the animal care center a check in the amount of $471.37.

Servantez told the Daily Bulletin it was the first time ever that anyone had offered to pay for the medical care of an injured stray dog.

The Los Amigos students continued their Pennies for Paws campaign and the momentum continued to build. Yvonne and Art Alvarez, owners of Doggie Couture in Rancho Cucamonga, were so impressed by the students’ efforts that they matched the funds that had been raised.

“We wanted them to know if they do something nice, it can make other people do it and then it becomes something big,” Yvonne Alvarez told the Daily Bulletin.

Several weeks after he’d been discovered at the school, “Who Let the Dogs Out” played over the speakers as Bart returned for a special guest appearance at a Jan. 23 rally in his honor.

Linville announced that the Los Amigos students had surpassed their $3,000 goal – by over $4,200. The extra money would be donated to the animal shelter to help other pets in need.

Veterinarian Victoria Impett, who accompanied Bart, told the schoolchildren to give themselves a pat on the back. Most of them complied. “It might not have seemed like big deal to go home and dig in the couch for a few pennies, but each and every one of you made a huge difference in someone’s life,” she told them.

Bart had no ID tag or microchip, and no one has come forward to claim him. He still needs surgery on his right hip. Once he recovers, he’ll be ready for adoption. “He’s starting to kind of blossom into a fabulous dog,” Impett said.

As Linville told the students, “This has been an incredible journey, and it’s really cool to be kind.”

Photo credit: YouTube

ooOOoo

I easily found this short video on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Two New Dog Food Recalls

Both of these came in an hour ago.

(And please note my ‘excuse-me’ at the end of this post!)

The first:

PetSmart Grreat Choice Dog Food Recall of February 2017

February 8, 2017 — PetSmart has issued a voluntary recall of one production lot of Grreat Choice Adult Dog Food with Chicken and Rice Classic Ground due to possible metal contamination.1

What’s Recalled?

petsmart-grreat-choice-adult-chicken-and-riceThe recalled product includes:

  • Grreat Choice Adult Dog Food with Chicken and Rice Classic Ground
  • Size: 13.2 ounce cans
  • UPC: 7-3725726116-7
  • Best By Date: 8/5/19
  • Lot Code: 1759338

The Best By date is found on the bottom of the can.

What to Do?

The company writes:

Please stop feeding this product to your pet and bring any remaining cans affected by this recall to your nearest PetSmart for a full refund. We recommend the other varieties of Grreat Choice canned dog foods as alternate options until this product is once again available.

For more information, please contact PetSmart Customer Service at 1-888-839-9638.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

  1. Verified by PetSmart customer service rep via phone on 2/9/2017

oooo

The second:

Companion Dog Food Recall of February 2017

February 8, 2017 — Giant Food Stores has issued a voluntary recall for specific lots of Companion Canned Dog Food due to possible metal contamination.

What’s Recalled?

Recalled products include:

  • Companion Dog Food with Chicken and Rice
  • 13.2 ounce can
  • UPC: 68826707501
  • Codes: Best By 08/05/2019
  • Companion Dog Food with Chicken, Lamb and Rice
  • 13.2 ounce can
  • UPC: 68826700360
  • Codes: Best By 08/05/2019
  • Companion Dog Food with Turkey and Bacon
  • 13.2 ounce
  • UPC: 68826700356
  • Codes: Best By 08/05/2019

What to Do?

Customers are invited to return the impacted product for a full refund. For additional information, call 479-935-6145.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

ooOOoo

Please share these two recall notices as much as you can.

Finally, don’t know why but I seem weighted down by a bundle of things just today. Will you excuse me if I duck publishing a new post for tomorrow!