Category: Art

Into the Future.

These are deeply interesting times.

Among the many impressive qualities of the dog is one that we humans must envy so much at times.

I’m not speaking of a dog’s ability to seek out food or, at the other end of things, the dog’s way of keeping it’s backside clean!😉 No, I’m referring to the way a dog lives in the present. Presumably unworried as to what the future might mean.

We humans, however, as hard as we try to be rooted in the ‘here and now’ also depend on assessing the future and determining the best way to respond to that uncertainty. I’m sure that assessing and managing risk is one of the ways that have made us such a successful species.

In terms of voicing these uncertain times I really was drawn to a comment from ‘John D’ over on Richard Murphy’s Tax Research UK blogsite. I’m going to republish that comment in full before moving on to the central theme of today’s post: Into the Future.

John D says:
June 10 2016 at 4:58 pm
Paul, I share your apprehension. I believe ‘the world’ has entered a cycle of almost unprecedented uncertainty. So many issues. So few solutions being articulated in the mainstream. However, shift happens and Richard is right to say that there is always opportunity for change. Gramsci, an underrated theorist, summed it up in his ‘Prison Notebooks'(1929-35) writing: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

The stranglehold Neo-liberalism has exercised on orthodox economics for the past 40 years is difficult to understand but, given that its major protoganists have held all the aces, it’s not really surprising. Under Reagan there was a major ‘re-education’ programme in the Universities where any heterodox economic teaching was eliminated from the ‘Economics 101’ curriculum. Acording to Richard Wolff an entire generation of students graduated from the major universities without ever having studied Marx in any context.

(For anyone interested here’s a succinct history of Neo-liberalism – http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it).

The good news is nothing lasts forever. The seeds of change have already been sown and will eventually blossom, possibly in unexpected locations. Sadly, as Ivan says, there has been irretrievable damage to lives and livelihoods in the US, UK and many EU countries. Michael Hudson recently spelled out its negative effects – http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/07/the-wages-of-neoliberalism-poverty-exile-and-early-death.

Like many, I don’t think radical change will come about until enough people are hurting enough. Maybe a real property crash will be a wake-up call. However, in or out of the EU isn’t going to trigger a change in the economic agenda any time soon. Personally I believe that a vote for Brexit (ominously a possibilty) will set-back any fundamental reforms, especially in the UK. But I don’t want to open up that can of worms again here!

The perennial question is ‘what to do?’. And the answer is always the same: ‘do something, anything, to nurture the seeds into saplings’. Every little helps! It’s going to be a rough ride, not without some collateral damage in terms of still more unnecessary deaths. Usually I’m not as optimistic as Richard but because it’s Friday afternoon and the sun is shining I feel the beginning of the end is within our grasp. I so hope so. Back to Gramsci – the immediate worry is what will fill the intervening vacuum. Happy weekend!

The seeds of change have already been sown and will eventually blossom, possibly in unexpected locations.

The perfect introduction to an email that Dan Gomez sent me on Thursday.

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Below  is a summary by Udo Gollub of the findings at a recent futurist conference in Germany. This’s  – they predict – is how the world will operate in 10 to 20 years time.

For those of us who are about to amble into the sunset on our Zimmer frames, this is simply interesting. We inhabited a world where people used cosy concepts like pension, nest egg, job security, promotion in the work place and other reassuring socio economic terms.

For those who are in mid career or are only entering the world of (non) work now, this makes for scary/exciting reading – depending on how ready you are to change in mid air  — if it is at all possible.

And for the generation still in their nappies … well, it is a matter of how parents prepare them for an unimaginable world when they enter the world of ‘work’ in 20 years time.

GERT CLAASSEN
Hermanus
Into the future
By Udo Gollub at Messe Berlin, Germany

I just went to the Singularity University summit. Here are the key points I gathered.

Rise and Fall. In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they were bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?

Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became superior and mainstream in only a few short years. This will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, self-driving and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.
Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Welcome to the Exponential Age. Software and operating platforms will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.

Uber is just a software tool. They don’t own any cars, but they are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice, (so far for more or less basic stuff), within seconds. With 90% accuracy, compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you are studying law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer generalist lawyers in the future; only specialists will be needed. ‘Watson’ already helps nurses diagnose cancer, four times more accurately than doctors. Facebook now has pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will have become ‘more intelligent’ than humans.

Cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will be offered to the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car on your phone; it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and you can be productive whilst driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for our future needs. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. At present,1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 kms. With autonomous driving, that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Electric cars will become mainstream around and after 2020. Cities will be cleaner and much less noisy because all cars will run on electricity, which will become much cheaper.

Most traditional car companies may become bankrupt by tacking the evolutionary approach and just building better cars; while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will take the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi. They are terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble, because without accidents, the insurance will become 100 times cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate values based on proximities to work-places, schools, etc. will change, because if you can work effectively from anywhere or be productive while you commute, people will move out of cities to live in a more rural surroundings.

Solar energy production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but only now is having a big impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that almost all coal mining companies will be out of business by 2025.

Water for all: With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places; we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if everyone can have as much clean water as they want, for virtually no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year – a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and your breath. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any diseases. It will be cheap, so in a few years, everyone on this planet will have access to world class, low cost, medicine.
3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from 18,000$ to 400$ within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started printing 3D shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D-printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to need in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they have already 3D-printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D-printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to enter, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” And if the answer is yes, then work on how you can make that happen sooner. If it doesn’t work via your phone, forget the idea. And any idea that was designed for success in the 20th century is probably doomed to fail in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear that there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.

Agriculture: There will be a 100$ agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their fields instead of working in them all day. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first veal produced in a petri dish is now available. It will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces are used for rearing cattle. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several start-ups which will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labelled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

Apps: There is already an app called “moodies” which can tell the mood you are in. By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where we know whether the participants are telling the truth and when not!

Currencies: Many currencies will be abandoned. Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the future default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span was 79 years, now it is 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than a one-year increase per year. So we all might live for a long, long time, probably way beyond 100.

Education: The cheapest smartphones already sell at 10$ in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means everyone will have much the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan Academy for everything he needs to learn at schools in First World countries. Further afield, the software has been launched in Indonesia and will be released in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese this summer. The English app will be offered free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half-a-year.

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Interesting times, indeed!

You all have a very good weekend!

Playlists of our lives.

If you had to make a playlist of your life, what would be on it?

That intriguing sub-title comes from a video that Jean and I watched a couple of weeks ago.

But first I want to return to the matter of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) that was written about in a post dated the 24th February Personal Journeys. I wrote, in part,

Sue, and everyone else, we returned from seeing Dr. Lee, the neurologist, a little under two hours ago. Dr. Lee’s prognosis is that Jean is showing the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean is comfortable with me mentioning this.

Everyone’s love and affection has meant more than you can imagine. I will write more about this next week once we have given the situation a few ‘coatings of thought’.

Jean sends her love to you all!

In recent weeks Jean has been experiencing increasing feelings of apathy, lack of motivation, lack of energy, all of which she summed up as a feeling of isolation. Plus the tremor in her hand has been slowly worsening.

Last week we decided that rather than waiting until August for the next planned appointment with Dr. Eric Lee, the neurologist, we should appraise Dr. Lee of the decline in Jean’s overall mood. That has now been done and Dr. Lee’s response is that Jean should start a trial course of the drug Sinamet® that a quick web search (see link on trade name) explains is:

SINEMET® (carbidopa-levodopa) is a combination of carbidopa and levodopa for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and syndrome.

As before, Jean is happy for me to share this with you.

So back to the theme of playlists of our lives.

The Australian Broadcast Commission, ABC, have a YouTube channel ABCTVCatalyst that is full of great science programmes. As that website explains:

At Catalyst we know that science is a dynamic force for change. Each week Catalyst brings you stories from Australia and around the world. Our passion to meet scientists at the forefront of discovery is matched by our fascination with science breakthroughs however big or small. Science changes all our lives. For better or worse, we are committed to showing you what our future holds.

That is how Jean and I came across the following incredibly interesting talk about the role of music in our past lives assisting those with fading cognitive skills, as in my case, and including those with PD. It is just twenty-nine minutes long and something we should all watch, irrespective of our present age.

Published on Mar 8, 2016
If you had to make a playlist of your life, what would be on it? And if, toward the end of your life, your mind and memories were fading away, would this soundtrack help bring them back?

My final observation is that as a direct result of watching this programme I blew the dust off my iPod that I hadn’t used in many months. It was remarkable that despite me struggling at times to recall something I did just a few hours ago, I can hum along with tunes that are on my iPod that go back ten or twenty years.

The playlists of our lives!

We all need rescuing from time to time!

This rescued lovebird has found a friend for life in Jackson the dog — and unlimited free rides!

Yesterday was a rather stressful day what with worrying about Hazel and arranging for her ultra-sonic scan, and one or two other goings on.

So this short little video seemed the perfect offering for all of you good people.

First seen over on the Care2 site.

You can’t beat a good book!

Advance notice of a book event this coming Saturday.

Oregon Books & Games, our local independent bookstore in Grants Pass, are having a book event this Saturday. In their own words:

tl_imgSaturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
A day to celebrate the independent bookstores that continue to improve communities around the nation, and our day to celebrate YOU, our wonderful customers. In the same strain as last year, we will be inviting dozens of local authors to sign books and meet with their fans, raffling off TONS of prizes, barbecuing, and having a lot of FUN!

 

I’m sure that the vast majority of you dear readers that read the title to today’s post would have nodded in agreement with the statement: You can’t beat a good book!

But how many of you were equally cogniscent of the importance of buying from an independent book store, such as Oregon Books & Games? I would be the first to put my hand up in admitting that I had no idea of the damage that online booksellers, such as Amazon, were causing these same independent stores.

Here are some eye-opening statements kindly supplied by Oregon Books but that originally came from the organisation IndieBound.

What is IndieBound?
A product of ongoing collaborations between the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association, IndieBound is all about independent bookstores and the power of “local first” shopping. Locally owned independent businesses pump money back into the their communities by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. That means more money for sound schools, green parks, strong police and fire departments, and smooth roads, all in your neighborhood.

Independent bookstores have always occupied a special place in communities. Through IndieBound—and the Indie Next List flyers and Indie Bestseller Lists—readers find trusted bookseller curated reading options, newly discovered writers, and a real choice for buying.

IndieBound allows indie booksellers to communicate this vital role they play in their local economies and communities. It allows authors to show their dedication to indies nationwide, easily done through linking to thousands of indie bookstores through IndieBound.org. And it allows consumers to feel that their actions are a part of a larger picture—to know that their choices make a difference and that others are working toward the same goals.

Here’s the effect of buying from your local independent book store.

Here’s What You Just Did

  1. You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $52 will stay in the community.
  2. You embraced what makes us unique. You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?
  3. You created local jobs. Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  4. You helped the environment. Buying from local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.
  5. You nurtured community. We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains and online retailers.
  6. You conserved your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!
  7. You created more choice. We pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.
  8. You took advantage of our expertise. You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?
  9. You invested in entrepreneurship. Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
  10. You made us a destination. The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

And turning to Amazon?

Here’s What Amazon Just Did

  1. In 2014, Amazon avoided paying $625 million in much-needed local and state tax revenue in 23 states and Washington, D.C., all while selling $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide.
  2. In 2014, Amazon’s retail sales displaced the equivalent of more than 30,000 storefronts and 107 million square feet of commercial space, estimated to be worth $420 million in property taxes for local and state governments.
  3. In 2014, by avoiding sales tax, and quashing the viability of local bricks-and-mortar retail, Amazon deprived thousands of communities of tax revenue necessary for schools, roads, and police and fire safety, as well as of vibrant downtowns and main streets.
  4. In 2014, Amazon operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing both full-time workers and part-time and seasonal workers, yet still, Amazon’s dominance produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.
  5. In 2014, Amazon’s sales and operations accounted for a loss of more than $1 billion in revenue to state and local governments.
  6. Amazon received the benefits of local grants, tax breaks, road improvements, and other government considerations to build its distribution centers, notwithstanding the net loss in jobs, property taxes, and downtown vitality.
  7. Amazon achieved dominance over the book industry equivalent to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market just before it was broken up in 1911.*
  8. Amazon has cheapened the value of both printed and electronic publishing, and dampened opportunities for new authors and diverse ideas, by discounting books to lower than wholesale price and bullying publishers and its marketplace sellers.
  9. In our state, Amazon accounts for a sale tax gap of $3.1 million and the displacement 1,200,000 square feet, which is the equivalent of 348 retail storefronts, and 3,029 jobs.
  10. In 2015, Amazon’s total sales and operations revenue increased by 20%, meaning the above 2014 figures are likely to be grossly understated.

So back to the event.
If you are within reach of Grants Pass this coming Saturday then do come along and meet many local authors, including yours truly, and help support the wonderful job that our independents are doing for authors.

Saturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
Oregon Books & Games
150 N.E. E St., Corner of 7th and E St.
Grants Pass, OR  97526

Support local authors!

LfDFrontCoverebook

Reaching out with love.

Giving back, in so many different ways, is fundamental to who we are, and to whom we must be!

I introduced yesterday’s Earth Day post with the sub-heading, “A fabulous example of how we reach out to others across the internet!” Today’s post is another fabulous example.

Not that long ago, Sue Dreamwalker, a great friend of this place, posted an article that she introduced, thus:

I just had to share this lovely post with you all from a beautiful friend. You have to explore her blog to see all the transformations she does when she gives a new lease of life to furniture. And her home.. What is even more remarkable, and I hope Lois will not mind me mentioning this is that Lois does all of this work from the confines of a wheelchair..

I hope you visit and see just how generous a nature she has ..
Love and Blessings

Sue

Curious, I went across to Lois’s blog Living in Denim and to the particular post that Sue had spoken about. Without hesitation I asked if I might republish that post here and share it with you all. Lois was delighted to offer me such permission.

Read it and you will see why I asked so quickly.

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Giving Back: A Yard Sale Redo for a Deserving Child

dresser5You must apply the paint in the same direction, with the grain of the “wood” for the best results. It took 2-3 coats of paint to get the desired effect. When the dresser was dry I added two coats of polycrylic to seal the finish, but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

I was told flowers were important to this child. As I sanded the dresser down I contemplated the best way to add flowers to the piece.  At first I thought maybe I’d sketch grass using green milk paint to the lower drawer then stems up the drawer fronts to use the knobs as the center of the flowers and sketch around them different colored flowers.  This didn’t feel right to me but still I played with the idea.

Then I realized I didn’t have enough colors of paint to do this.  I briefly considered heading to the store to purchase an assortment of different colored permanent markers, but again I dismissed this.  I worked until I lost daylight on Saturday and woke with an idea.

For months now my granddaughters and I have enjoyed coloring Patricia Zapata’s Flower Nook. Patricia is a well-known blogger at A Little Hut. I’ve already removed some of the completed pages to frame for the girl’s room upstairs, now I would remove more and use them on the dresser.

flower-nookI added three designs to the drawers and one to the top of the dresser.

Top of the dresser.
Top of the dresser.

These are the designs I used on the drawer fronts.

dresser-after2The most time consuming part of this was trimming the designs to remove the excess white paper.  I laid them out and when I was happy with the placement decoupaged them on and sealed the entire drawer fronts with polycrylic.

In questioning the little girl I learned she liked gold over silver so I headed to my hardware stash and pulled out all the heavy substantial gold knobs. I toyed around with using two knobs on the left with one pull on the right, the way the drawers were to begin with. In the end I didn’t have enough gold pulls I liked and decided to use only knobs.  I used wood filler to fill in the holes from the original pulls then drilled new holes.  I kept the distance from the side of the drawer for the new knobs the same as the existing knobs on the other side and then centered them on the fronts.

dresser-after
Once I took this photo I saw that I hadn’t painted the very bottom and did go back and paint them, if you were wondering.

The top drawer I simply used a permanent marker, I have a couple in the house, and a four inch stencil to add her first initial.

By Sunday at 3pm I called to let the family know the dresser was ready to pick up.  They arrived with the little girl and a friend of hers. I wish I could show you their faces, but I can’t.  The girls didn’t miss a thing. They spotted the little girl on the middle drawer, they loved the heavy gold knobs and the white washed paint effect.

dresser-comparisonI know a little about this foster parent, I know she adopted a previous foster child and raised him as her own even though she has very little disposable income. She herself is on disability. She loves these children and has given this little child so much love that when the question arose again as to how much they owed me, I informed her the child’s expression was well worth the work and I wanted to make this a gift from me to them. Thankfully, the family accepted my gift as long as I promised to call if there is ever anything they can do for me.

Tonight I am tired and even sore. I did get a bit of work done outside after all but while I thought getting more accomplished on the house would perk me up, in reality it was the dresser that made the weekend a success for me.

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Reaching out in love, indeed!

Environmentalism.

A second and supporting post for today: Earth Day 2016.

Eight days ago I received an email from Jordan Jaeger that included a link to a video that was just perfect for this Earth Day.

I so much wanted it to be shared with you today but at the same time I didn’t want to create a shadow over the lovely guest post from Mike Shannon that I published at midnight. Yet, at the same time, it so beautifully complemented Mike’s infographic.

Thus my solution was to offer you both Mike’s guest post and Jordan’s video this same day. You will love the video!

Published on Apr 6, 2016

This video was created as a Senior Civics class project. Enjoy!
Special thanks to the talented artists that made the music used in the video. -“Something Good Can Work” by The Two Door Cinema Club, and “Back to the Earth” by Jason Mraz.
Professional Hand Modeling By: Nicole & Ruby Mahr

Earth Day 2016

A fabulous example of how we reach out to others across the internet!

A week-and-a-half ago in came an email to me:

Hi Paul,

Just came across a post of yours for Earth Day 2014.

Absolutely love the fact that you’ve written about a “Green” topic!
In fact, I wanted to reach out and let you know that in honor of this year’s Earth Day (April 22), I just finished designing an infographic about 14 easy ways dog owners can become more environmentally friendly people.
Would it be okay with you if I passed it along? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
Best,
Mike

Mike was Mike Shannon, about which more at the bottom of this guest post. Of course, I was delighted to receive his lovely guest post and infographic. Over to Mike.

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In its 46th anniversary to date, Earth Day is bound to continue to do what it has always succeeded in doing, help raise awareness among† individuals from all across the globe about environmentally-friendly topics so they work together to make this† world a better place to live in for the future generations to come.

In honor of this year’s Earth Day, which happens to be on Friday, April the 22nd, Ultimate Home Life have designed an info-graphic† that explains the most important 14 steps you can take as of today to go green with your dog.

This topic is certainly nothing to be taken lightly, and most certainly nothing of the impossible. Just look at the statistic provided at the beginning of the info-graphic – nearly 50% of families in the United States alone have a dog at home, which makes for more than 70 million dogs!

Let’s kick off our “going green” mission this year by making our dogs greener, one dog at a time.

If you have any tips for going green with your dog, make yourself heard in the comments!

Infographic Courtesy Of Ultimate Home Life

Bio: Michael is the creator, editor, webmaster – alright, let’s just say he runs the show over at UltimateHomeLife.Com! He regularly blogs about anything and everything dog related, with an emphasis on trying to cover all questions that dog owners tend to worry about. So, hop over and give him a bark!

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What a fabulous and highly pertinent post for these times.

Happy Earth Day to all of us and our wonderful dogs right across this magnificent planet.