Category: Business

Scams – both sides of the Atlantic

One has to be so careful these days.

I was prompted to write about this aspect of our modern lives by coming across a UK resource called BogusBuster. But these days we live in such a wired-up international world that BogusBuster has a much wider appeal that just the United Kingdom. This is what their home page says:

Not sure if an item you have found is fake? Think a site is dodgy? Submit a URL and we will use our fake-detecting software to establish if it is real or safe

Just off the top of my head I would say that at least 25% of the incoming calls we receive on our home telephone number are from scammers. I am also getting the odd call from a scammer on my mobile phone.

A lot of the calls are from women who purport to want to advise me about my investments. They appear to be out of the country. Tempted as I am to engage in the call in an attempt to find out more about them I resist and promptly put the telephone firmly down.

Anyway, a little more about BogusBuster from their About page.

BogusBuster is an independent resource that will guide you through everything scam related. Whether it’s tips to spot fake products on the internet or reporting a dangerous product being sold online, consider us your one-stop resource to being a smart shopper.

BogusBuster is co-funded by Innovate UK  which launched a business competition in May 2020 to seek solutions to problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the virus spread, and communities ‘locked down,’ the spike in online shopping was significant. With this came a rise in those being scammed, so there’s never been a more important time to stay safe online. BogusBuster was created to keep consumers informed, ensuring they get exactly what they paid for.

BogusBuster is powered by SnapDragon, an award-winning brand protection company that’s been helping businesses across the world to fight fakes for over five years. SnapDragon founder’s experienced, first-hand, the damage caused by fake products when her own product was counterfeited. Fighting back, she founded SnapDragon to help protect and safeguard businesses, and consumers, from counterfeit crime. As the ‘Head Dragon’, she has built an expert and passionate team dedicated to identifying and removing fakes from sale, all over the world.

With scammers becoming more sophisticated, consumer safety is at the top of our agenda at BogusBuster; our regular updates, news, tips and advice will help to keep you safe and secure.

Hopefully others will find BogusBuster valuable.

Then there is a Common Scams and Frauds on the official USA Government website, from which I republish:

Coronavirus Scams, Rumors, and Price Gouging

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, scammers may try to take advantage of you through misinformation and scare tactics. They might get in touch by phone, email, postal mail, text, or social media. Protect your money and your identity by not sharing personal information like your bank account number, Social Security number, or date of birth. Learn more about these scams and how to report them.

Open All +
This online world can be quite tricky at times!

Dog food alert!

Yet another one.

This came in yesterday afternoon, Pacific time, and it is shared with you all.

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Albright’s Raw Dog Food Recall

November 13, 2020 — Albright’s Raw Dog Food of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is voluntarily recalling 67 cases of Chicken Recipe for Dogs because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

What’s Being Recalled?

The product is labeled Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs and is packaged in 2-pound chubs/rolls (see image above).

Each chub/roll is printed with:

  • Lot number C000185
  • Best By 19 May 2021

Product was sold frozen, and was distributed from the company to distributors from 7/8/20 to 8/27/20.

One animal illness has been reported. No human illnesses have been reported to date.

Where Was It Sold?

Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs was distributed in CA, FL, IL, IN, NH, NJ, NV, NY, PA, and TN.

The affected product was also distributed through retail stores, mail order, and direct delivery.

What Caused the Recall?

The problem bacteria was revealed after testing conducted by the FDA.

The problem was confined to this batch and the company has ceased the distribution of the batch as FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

About Salmonella in Humans

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.

Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

About Salmonella in Pets

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

What to Do?

Due to the frozen condition of the product, it is possible that retailers and end users may still have the product in their freezers.

Consumers who have purchased Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 260-422-9440 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM ET.

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

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

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

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Once again, please share this as far and wide as you can.

This gent loves Pit Bull dogs!

I don’t think his route is near us.

But I wish it was.

I am speaking of a UPS driver who has a love for dogs and, like my Jeannie, loves Pit Bulls. The breed have got such a bad reputation for being aggressive and always fighting but the truth is that men have used a few of them as fighting dogs and trained them to be the way they are.

There’s more about the breed on WebMD and I just quote a small piece from the article.

Doberman pinschers, rottweilers, and German shepherds topped lists of dogs some considered dangerous in the not-too-distant past.

These days, pit bulls often make headlines and it’s rarely good news. If it isn’t about an attack on a child or a shooting by police, it’s a tale of neglect or abuse. The heat of such reports has forged a frightening image of the pit bull as having a hair-trigger temper and a lock-jawed bite.

But pit bull advocates and some experts say the dogs get a bad rap. They say the dogs are not inherently aggressive, but in many cases suffer at the hands of irresponsible owners drawn to the dog’s macho image who encourage aggression for fighting and protection.

Indeed, the ASPCA web site gives the breed an endorsement that could fit a golden retriever. It says, “A well-socialized and well-trained pit bull is one of the most delightful, intelligent, and gentle dogs imaginable.”

So back to that UPS driver. This is his story.

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UPS Driver Has The Sweetest Relationship With All The Pups On HIs Route

“I know most, but not all, of the pitties by name” 🥰

By Caitlin Jill Anders
Published on 10/16/2020

For as long as he can remember, Scott Hodges has loved pit bulls. He used to have a pittie of his own, Sheba, but after 15 years she passed away in 2004.

Luckily, Hodges has been a UPS driver for the past 32 years, and gets to see pit bulls every single day as he goes along his route. He sees lots of animals on the job, including a very friendly pig, but he’s always had a particular soft spot for the pit bulls. He’s gotten to know them all over the years — and they love him just as much as he loves them.

Scott Hodges

“I know most, but not all, of the pitties by name,” Hodges told The Dodo.

Every day, as Hodges does his UPS route, he stops to say hi to his pit bull friends (and all the other dogs, too). They know who he is by now and are always waiting for him, because they know Hodges can always be counted on to give them love and treats.

Scott Hodges

“All the pitties on my route are friendly and I give them biscuits every time I see them,” Hodges said.

In order to keep track of all the pitties he sees, he takes lots of pictures …

Scott Hodges

… and probably has at least one picture of every pit bull on his route by now.

Scott Hodges

The pitties are of course always happy to see him …

Scott Hodges

… and some like to ham it up a little more than others.

Scott Hodges

Sometimes he takes pictures of the other dogs along his route too …

Scott Hodges

… but the pit bulls will always and forever be his favorites.

Scott Hodges

Hodges is lucky to get to work a job where he can see pit bulls every single day, and he never gets tired of stopping to say hi to all of his friends.

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Scott has been a UPS driver for 32 years!

My guess is that he was pretty quick at welcoming pit bulls and one can presume that he has been kind and generous to these dogs for most of the 32 years.

I think this is a delightful story and one that I am so pleased was carried by The Dodo.

There’s no limit to the smartness of dogs!

Dog wants to go to daycare? Then off she goes!

Back when I started this blog, back in July, 2009, I had no idea that there were so many stories about dogs. I mean many stories each day! I called the blog Learning from Dogs simply because when I first met Jean in 2007 she had upwards of 16 dogs. When I went out to be with her in 2008, together with my Pharaoh from England, I very quickly saw there was a huge potential in writing about them.

For example, how about this gorgeous article.

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Clever Dog Walks Herself To Doggy Day Care

“She just couldn’t wait for mom and dad to get up, so she came here herself.”

By Lily Feinn
Published on 10/21/2020

Early Saturday morning, Marty Carriere was getting ready for a busy day at Happy Tails Pet Resort and Spa when he saw someone at the door. He wasn’t expecting anyone quite so early, so he waited — then a wet nose pushed through the gates.

“It was 6:30ish when I saw her nose poking through the gate there,” Carriere told The Dodo. “Normally, I wait for the owners to come in with the dogs and see what happens but she was just poking around out there.”

HAPPY TAILS PET RESORT AND SPA

When Carriere didn’t see any cars or people outside, he wandered over to the door to check things out and found Jem, a 5-year-old shepherd mix, waiting outside. Jem used to visit the day care three to four times a week before quarantine and was clearly eager to see her friends.

“I was pretty shocked when I opened the door and there was a dog there — and one of our regulars, too. So I was like, ‘Come on in, Jem. Let’s play,’” Carriere said. “I opened up the door and she ran right in — tail wagging and she was ready to go.”

HAPPY TAILS PET RESORT AND SPA

Carriere called Jem’s parents, who rushed over to pick her up. It seems the independent pup had broken out of her yard when guests from the night before didn’t close the gate properly.

Jem’s parents brought her home and gave her breakfast, then drove her right back to day care since that was clearly how she wanted to spend the rest of her day. “She was definitely pretty anxious to get here,” Carriere said.

HAPPY TAILS PET RESORT AND SPA

According to Carriere, Jem is a big goofball at day care and loves playing with all the other dogs.

“She comes in and does this little howling thing that not a lot of the other dogs do. She gets in and starts howling right away, she’s just so excited to be here,” he said. “I guess that morning she just couldn’t wait for Mom and Dad to get up, so she came here herself.”

HAPPY TAILS PET RESORT AND SPA

In the three years that Carriere has worked for Happy Tails, he’s never experienced or heard of something like this happening before. But then again, Jem is one of a kind.

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Jem is special. But so are many, many other dogs.

But that doesn’t stop us in the slightest enjoying this story.

Billy + Margot Dog Food Recall

Thank goodness for these recall notices.

Some may think that there are too many such dog food recalls but I would say thank goodness there is a system for reporting them.

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Real Pet Food Company Recalls Billy + Margot Dog Food

September 22, 2020 — Real Pet Food Company of Phoenix, Arizona, is voluntarily recalling Billy+Margot Wild Kangaroo and Superfoods Recipe because it may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

What’s Being Recalled?

The following product has been recalled:

  • Billy + Margot Wild Kangaroo and Superfoods Recipe
  • Package: 4-pound bag
  • Lot code: V 07 Feb 2022

This recall does not affect any other Billy + Margot products or those sold outside of the USA.

What Caused the Recall?

The recall is a result of a routine sampling program by state officials which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.

The company has ceased the production and distribution of the product.

The FDA and the company will continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

About Salmonella

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products… and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products.

While no illnesses have been reported, healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.

Owners exhibiting any signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare provider.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea, fever, vomiting and or abdominal pain.

Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

What to Do?

Retailers who have received product from the affected lot code have been asked to remove this product from shelves immediately and dispose of the product with care.

If you have purchased Billy + Margot Wild Kangaroo and Superfoods Recipe in a 4 lb bag, with lot code V 07 Feb 2022 from any retail store nationally, please stop feeding the product to your dogs, dispose of this product immediately, wash your hands accordingly, and sanitize affected surfaces.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products may call Real Pet Food between 8 am and 10 pm EST immediately for a refund or for additional information at : 1-800-467-5494.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 800-467-5494 during the above times.

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

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

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

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Please share this post if you are able to do so.

And please keep your dogs safe and sound!

 

The fate of the world!

Whichever way you look there are substantial challenges.

This post is largely a republication of a recent post from Patrice Ayme. Because when I read it I was profoundly affected. I thought that it needed to be shared with all you good people because if nothing is done then life as we know it is going to come to an end. Period! That includes our gorgeous dogs as well as us humans! So, please, please read it all the way through!

But before Patrice’s post is presented The Economist this last week came out with a special report entitled Business and climate change. I offer a small extract:


For most of the world, this year will be remembered mainly for covid-19. Starting in Asia, then spreading across Europe and America before taking hold in the emerging world, the pandemic has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands. And it has devastated economies even more severely that did the global financial crisis which erupted in 2008.

But the impact of covid-19 has also given a sense of just how hard it will be to deal with climate change. As economic activity has stalled, energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen sharply. This year the drop will be between 4% and 7%. But to have a decent chance of keeping Earth’s mean temperature less than 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, net emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must fall to more or less zero by mid-century. And such a drop needs to be achieved not by halting the world economy in its tracks, but by rewiring it.

The next section in the special report was A grim outlook and it was, indeed, a very grim read.

So onto Patrice’s article.

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Back To The Jurassic In A Hurry: 500 Part Per Million Of Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases (GHG) used to be 280 parts per million. Now they are around 500 ppm (including CH4, Nitrogen oxides, chlorofluorocarbons, etc.). This is more GHG than in at least thirty  million years, when the Earth was much warmer, and it is similar to CO2 densities during the Jurassic.

So we are presently transiting to a Jurassic climate. The transition to the Jurassic climate is happening at a rate many orders of magnitude faster than changes in the past. This implies that most forests of the Earth , desiccating and incapable to adapt fast enough, are going to burn… worldwide. This generalized combustion has a drastic potential consequence: generalized hypoxia.

So we should talk about climate catastrophe rather than climate change, and global heating rather than global warming: recent fires got helped by temperatures dozen of degrees higher than normal, in part from compression of the air due to record breaking winds. This is why parts of the Pacific Northwest which never burn are now burning. This will extend to Canada, Alaska, Siberia and already did in recent years. The catastrophic massive release of frozen methane hydrates could happen any time (it already does, but not as bad as it is going to get). It has up to one hundred times more warming power than CO2 (fires release it by billions of tons).

What is the way out? Well, hydrogen is the solution, in two ways, but has not been deployed as it could be. A decade ago, thermonuclear fusion, on the verge of becoming a solution, was starved for funding, and so was green hydrogen (the then energy secretary, Obama’s Steven Chu, prefered investing in batteries, it was more lucrative for his little greedy self).

Green hydrogen enables to store energy for renewables, avoiding blackouts which cut electricity to pumps to fight fires.

We, Spaceship Earth, went from 275 ppm of GreenHouse Gases (GHG) in 1750 CE to 500 ppm in 2020. That doesn’t mean we double the Greenhouse, because the main GHG gas is… water vapor (H2O). What we can guess the best at this point is the EXCESS radiative forcing since 1750 CE, and that’s already nearly 3 Watts per square meter… Equivalent to a million and a half nuclear reactors at full power…

Climate forcing is a fascinating subject, with vast areas without a high level of scientific understanding (LOSU). However we know enough to realize forceful mitigation has to be engaged in immediately.

Joan Katsareas from Philadelphia, PA wrote back: “Thank you @Patrice Ayme for sharing your knowledge of the causes and extent of the climate crisis. I will be seeking out more information on hydrogen as a solution.”

@Joan Katsareas Thank you for thanking me, that is much appreciated. Hydrogen is indeed the overall solution we need at this point. Actually Australia, in collaboration with Japan, is building a gigantic, 15 Gigawatts, project in north west Australia, AREH, the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, to convert renewables from sun and wind into hydrogen products which will then be shipped to Japan. The same needs to be done all over, it would collapse the price of “green hydrogen” (99% of the US hydrogen is from fossil fuels).

In the case of thermonuclear fusion, the  international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) being built in France was slowed down by ten years, from reduced funding, and uses obsolete magnets (superconducting, but not High Temperature Superconductors, which can now be engineered with more compact and powerful fields). A massive effort would bring a positive energy thermonuclear reactor within 10 years… But that effort has not been made… except in China, the usual suspect, where a project, the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR), aims at an energy gain of 12 and a total power equivalent to a fission nuclear reactor. Its detailed engineering has been launched for a while (it’s supposedly symbiotic with the European DEMO project, which will produced as much as a large power station and will be connected to the grid. That too has been delayed, to the 2050s, although it’s feasible now).  The USA needs to launch a similar project, right away.

We face ecological constraints incomparably more severe than those of the Roman state. Rome did not solve its paltry problems, and let them fester: they had to do mostly with a dearth of metals, and the Franks solved them readily. This hindered the Roman economy. The situation we are facing, the threat of a runaway greenhouse is a terminal existential threat.

Look at Venus, we can look at our sparkling neighbor when the forests have finished burning, and the smoke dissipates (we were told it could be months). Once Venus probably had a vast ocean, and probably, life. But it died from a brutal greenhouse generated by Large Igneous Provinces (LIP). The same happened on Earth, on a smaller scale, more than once, in particular with the Permian Triassic mass extinction, which destroyed 95% of known species..

Now the rumor has it that indeed some life may have survived in the atmosphere.  This is not a joke. Consider: Life on Venus? Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds. The detection of a gas in the planet’s atmosphere could turn scientists’ gaze to a planet long overlooked in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Life on Venus? Ah, science, all those possibilities… We never imagined we would ever think possible.

Patrice Ayme

***

P/S: I argued in the past, before anybody else, that the dinosaur-pterosaurs-plesiosaurs extinction, and extinction of anything bigger than 20 kilograms was due to volcanism (I was at UC Berkeley when the two Alvarez were, and they seemed too full of themselves with the iridium layer, and I like to contradict certainties…)

How would LIP volcanism set forests on fire? Well, by the same exact mechanism as now: through a massive CO2 driven greenhouse, what may have terminated the Venusians…

In this perspective climate cooling, for millions of years, visible in the graph above, would have disrupted those species which were not equipped to generate enough heat, and then the LIP accelerated into a vast holocaust…

The end with general burning and acidic oceans is hard to duplicate with a bolide, so the impactophiles have argued that the bolide magically impacted the most CO2 generating rock imaginable… Maybe. But an enormous LIP does all that CO2 production/destruction of the oceans, effortlessly… A friend of mine who is the biggest of the big in this academic domain, he decides who publishes, replied to me that the 66 million year old Dekkan LIP is too small… To which I replied that we don’t know what lays below the ocean…

Dogs’ homing instincts!

This article in The Smithsonian is well worth reading.

I think that strictly speaking I should not be republishing articles from The Smithsonian and if I am instructed to take the post down then all you will read is this introduction.

But hopefully they will look kindly towards me.

For there was an article recently that spoke about dogs and their ability to find their way across often strange land. Very interesting!

Here it is!

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Keeping you current

How Do Dogs Find Their Way Home? They Might Sense Earth’s Magnetic Field

Our canine companions aren’t the only animals that may be capable of magnetoreception
A terrier fitted with GPS remote tracking device and camera (Kateřina Benediktová / Czech University of Life Sciences

By Courtney Sexton

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
July 27, 2020, JULY 27, 2020

Last week, Cleo the four-year-old yellow Labrador retriever showed up on the doorstep of the home her family moved away from two years ago, reports Caitlin O’Kane for CBS News. As it turns out, Cleo traveled nearly 60 miles from her current home in Kansas to her old one in Missouri. Cleo is just one of many dogs who have made headlines for their homing instincts; in 1924, for example, a collie known as “Bobbie the Wonder Dog” traveled 2,800 miles in the dead of winter to be reunited with his people.

Now, scientists suggest these incredible feats of navigation are possible in part due to Earth’s geomagnetic field, according to a new study published in the journal eLife.

Researchers led by biologists Kateřina Benediktová and Hynek Burda of the Czech University of Life Sciences Department of Game Management and Wildlife Biology outfitted 27 hunting dogs representing 10 different breeds with GPS collars and action cameras, and tracked them in more than 600 excursions over the course of three years, Michael Thomsen reports for Daily Mail. The dogs were driven to a location, led on-leash into a forested area, and then released to run where they pleased. The team only focused on dogs that ventured at least 200 meters away from their owners.

But the researchers were more curious about the dogs’ return journeys than their destinations. When called back to their owners, the dogs used two different methods for finding their way back from an average of 1.1 kilometers (about .7 miles) away. About 60 percent of the dogs used their noses to follow their outbound route in reverse, a strategy known as “tracking,” while the other 30 percent opted to use a new route, found through a process called “scouting.”
According to the study authors, both tactics have merits and drawbacks, and that’s why dogs probably alternate between the two depending on the situation.

“While tracking may be safe, it is lengthy,” the authors write in the study. “Scouting enables taking shortcuts and might be faster but requires navigation capability and, because of possible errors, is risky.”
Data from the scouting dogs revealed that their navigation capability is related to a magnetic connection (Kateřina Benediktová / Czech University of Life Sciences)

Data from the scouting dogs revealed that their navigation capability is related to a magnetic connection. All of the dogs who did not follow their outbound path began their return with a short “compass run,” a quick scan of about 20 meters along the Earth’s north-south geomagnetic axis, reports the Miami Herald’s Mitchell Willetts. Because they don’t have any familiar visual landmarks to use, and dense vegetation at the study sites made “visual piloting unreliable,” the compass run helps the dogs recalibrate their own position to better estimate their “homing” direction.

Whether the dogs are aware that they are tapping into the Earth’s magnetic field is unclear. Many dogs also poop along a north-south axis, and they certainly are not the only animals to use it as a tool. Chinook salmon have magnetoreceptors in their skin that help guide their epic journeys; foxes use magnetism to hone in on underground prey; and, sea turtles use it to find their beachside birthplaces.

Catherine Lohmann, a biologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies magnetoreception and navigation in such turtles tells Erik Stokstad at Science that the finding of the compass run, however, is a first in dogs. This newfound ability means that they can likely remember the direction they had been pointing when they started, and then use the magnetic compass to find the most efficient way home.

To learn more about how magneto-location works for the dogs, the study authors will begin a new experiment placing magnets on the dogs’ collars to find out if this disrupts their navigational skills.

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Courtney Sexton, a writer and researcher based in Washington, DC, studies human-animal interactions. She is a 2020 AAAS Mass Media Fellow and the co-founder and director of The Inner Loop, a nonprofit organization for writers.

 

This is, as I mentioned earlier, a most interesting article. I can’t wait to read more in The Smithsonian. We actually subscribe to the paper version of the magazine. So fingers crossed that in time there will be a further report from Catherine Lohmann.

A chimney inspection, and more

A couple of videos from Rik Cristiansen.

I find this fascinating. Apart from the value to the construction and home repair industries there is a beauty in the following video; well there is to my eyes!

(I suspect the music is also from Rik. I checked; it is!)

And the next one is a look at Rik getting ready to film a cellist. Or in his own words:

This film gives a look behind the scenes of a recent drone shoot we did for a music video. Additional footage and editing by Jazz Thorn, Music performed by Mateusz Holc.

But it also includes an explanation of the business of getting a drone ready for flight.

And the dogs will have to wait for next Sunday’s Picture Parade! Sorry!

Droning on!

With thanks to Monika for the title of today’s post!

My father was born in 1901. He had two wives. Me and my sister, Elizabeth, are the result of the relationship between our father and his second wife; Betty. Our father died in 1956; December 20th.

My father first was married to Maud and they had two daughters, Rhona and Corinne. Rhona died in 2003 and Corinne died in 2014. Although Rhona and Corinne were half-sisters I prefer to think of them as sisters!

Both had children. But I want to concentrate on Rhona. She and Reider, Norwegian by birth, had four children: Rolv; Greta; Rikard; Marit.

As is the way in this modern world, Rikky who lives near Torquay in South Devon, recently called in to see my brother-in-law, John, and John remarked to me that Rikky’s new wife, Jazz, was gorgeous. I asked Greta for a telephone number and, hey presto, Rikky and I were in contact with each other.

This is a little bit from Rik’s bio.

So you may remember I was with Amanda at the time of Mother’s passing, seems a long time ago now. Well that ultimately came to nothing and I ended up living alone with a couple of huskies in a small flat in Torquay. I had invested a large chunk of Mother’s inheritance into a PA system and set up and ran a sound engineering business for years as well as running quite a successful tribute band to ‘The Doors’. The PA company eventually ended after going into a partnership with a friend who also invested a chunk of cash allowing major upgrades to the kit.

Unfortunately I soon found out he was more interested in holidays to Spain than actual PA work, the problem being I had now sold vital parts of my rig which was replaced by his. We went separate ways and he took his gear with him leaving me without a full system, BIG lesson learnt.

At that point I went back to employment as an engineer for a company servicing and repairing lifting hoists to the health care industry. Four years in and the company went into administration.

Later Rikky says:

Back to work again this time to DPD as a delivery driver for a couple of years following in Rolv’s (Ed: brother) tyre tracks. This was when I also met Jazz on a random night out with friends. We immediately realised that we had many mutual friends and had actually met before many years ago when I was playing in her Dad’s Jazz band! This was around 19 years ago when I was 30 and Jazz was only 16. I only have a vague memory of her then sitting in a corner of the rehearsal room furiously scribbling in a sketch book.

Not much has changed there except she now holds a degree in Art and Design. She is also a Holistic Therapist and has trained in many holistic therapies including Reilki, Reflexology and Massage and is a very talented and beautiful woman. I feel incredibly blessed. She has two daughters Sanije and Latoja (nine and eleven) who I consider as mine; their father left the country last year and went back to Albania which actually has been a blessing for the girls as he is a difficult man to say the least.
So the driving job became another engineering position this time with a company specialising in fire alarms, a couple of years in and the contract I was working on was TUPED over to LiveWest which is one of the largest social housing companies in the South West. Two years after that and the company merged with another housing company, the role changed slightly so I was offered voluntary redundancy which I took giving me the financial opportunity to retrain as a commercial drone pilot and so here we are today.

Thus Rik became a commercial drone pilot and as the home page of his website declares:

We can accommodate all your aerial requirements from photography to cinematography, inspections to 3d mapping.

The name of Rik’s website is Ahead4Heights which strikes me as apt. And from the About page of that website, one reads:

Here at Ahead4Heights we have a passion for flying drones and creating visually stunning aerial films and photography. We are PfCO certified by the Civil Aviation Authority and hold full public liability insurance giving you complete confidence in us to provide the service you require.
With our post production studio facility we are able to add voice overs and original music written to your brief if required as we have our own in house composer and audio recording engineer.
Our UAV fleet consists of a variety of drones from the market leading DJI Inspire 2, capable of filming in incredible  5.2k resolution and producing the RAW file format standard for the film industry to our Pixhawk based quadcopter (equipt with a 4k camera) which we use for autonomous flight taking photos used to generate 3d mapping of locations useful for the construction industry.
Finally we have a heavy lift Tarot 680 hexacopter which is used as a backup drone and also for specialised  payloads such as thermal cameras and high power lighting.
If you simply want aerial photos for property sales, photos and footage for weddings and events we will be happy to offer our services to you.
We can also carry out inspection work on roofs, tower masts and bridges etc where specialised safety equipment and scaffolding would otherwise be required. Utilizing both the high resolution and thermal imaging cameras we are able to identify problems with the insulation of properties, stress points in structures and damage to roofs and guttering.
Ahead4Heights also holds certificates in the building and setting up of drones so if you require a drone built to your special requirements we would be happy to discuss. We would also offer a full maintenance package with any build projects.

A couple more photographs.

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And, of course, one more of the dogs! That is Storm and Tia.

More tomorrow!