Category: Culture

Dreams of hope

My wish for 2017, and for evermore.

One of the many things that we adore about living here in Merlin, Southern Oregon is the closeness of nature. Not just the nature of the slopes and mountains but the nature of the trees, creeks, grasses and wild plants.

Plus the awareness over the 4+ years that we have been here of how easy it is to gain the trust of wild animals. I will go to my grave holding on to the sweet sensation of a wild deer trusting me and Jean to the point where we could stroke the deer’s neck when we were feeding her.

The trust between the deer and Jean then enabled the deer to feed from Jean's hand.
The trust between the deer and Jean then enabled the deer to feed from Jean’s hand.
Then, unbelievably, the wild deer continues feeding as Jean fondles the deer's ear.
Then, unbelievably, the wild deer continues feeding as Jean fondles the deer’s ear.

(Both photographs taken in October, 2014 in the area of grassland near to our stables.)

The measure of how we, as in humanity, really feel about the only home we have, as in Planet Earth, is how we regard our planet.

The pain that we feel when we read, as I did yesterday, about another animal species possibly heading towards extinction. In this case, an item on the BBC News website about Cheetahs.

Cheetahs heading towards extinction as population crashes

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

Protected parks and reserves for cheetahs are not sufficient as the animal ranges far beyond these areas.

 The sleek, speedy cheetah is rapidly heading towards extinction according to a new study into declining numbers.

The report estimates that there are just 7,100 of the world’s fastest mammals now left in the wild.

Cheetahs are in trouble because they range far beyond protected areas and are coming increasingly into conflict with humans.

The authors are calling for an urgent re-categorisation of the species from vulnerable to endangered.

(Read the full article here.)

It’s no good tut-tutting; something different has to be done. For otherwise nature will have the last word to say about the future of vast numbers of species especially homo sapiens!

All of which leads me to the main theme of today’s post: holding nature in higher esteem as in higher legal esteem.

Read the following that was published on The Conversation blogsite on October 10th, 2016 and is republished here within their terms. The author is , Lecturer on Anthropology, University of Colorado, Denver.

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What if nature, like corporations, had the rights and protections of a person?

October 10, 2016 8.16am EDT

image-20161005-20110-9ipkfz
The forest around Lake Waikaremoana in New Zealand has been given legal status of a person because of its cultural significance. Paul Nelhams/flickr, CC BY-SA

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has solidified the concept of corporate personhood. Following rulings in such cases as Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, U.S. law has established that companies are, like people, entitled to certain rights and protections.

But that’s not the only instance of extending legal rights to nonhuman entities. New Zealand took a radically different approach in 2014 with the Te Urewera Act which granted an 821-square-mile forest the legal status of a person. The forest is sacred to the Tūhoe people, an indigenous group of the Maori. For them Te Urewera is an ancient and ancestral homeland that breathes life into their culture. The forest is also a living ancestor. The Te Urewera Act concludes that “Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself,” and thus must be its own entity with “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person.” Te Urewera holds title to itself.

Although this legal approach is unique to New Zealand, the underlying reason for it is not. Over the last 15 years I have documented similar cultural expressions by Native Americans about their traditional, sacred places. As an anthropologist, this research has often pushed me to search for an answer to the profound question: What does it mean for nature to be a person?

The snow-capped mountain

A majestic mountain sits not far northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Like a low triangle, with long gentle slopes, Mount Taylor is clothed in rich forests that appear a velvety charcoal-blue from the distance. Its bald summit, more than 11,000 feet high, is often blanketed in snow – a reminder of the blessing of water, when seen from the blazing desert below.

The Zuni tribe lives about 40 miles west of Mount Taylor. In 2012, I worked with a team to interview 24 tribal members about the values they hold for Dewankwin K’yaba:chu Yalanne (“In the East Snow-capped Mountain”), as Mount Taylor is called in the Zuni language. We were told that their most ancient ancestors began an epic migration in the Grand Canyon.

 Mount Taylor in New Mexico, a sacred site to the Zuni who believe it is a living being. Chip Colwell, Author provided.
Mount Taylor in New Mexico, a sacred site to the Zuni who believe it is a living being. Chip Colwell, Author provided.

Over millennia they migrated across the Southwest, with important medicine societies and clans living around Mount Taylor. After settling in their current pueblo homes, Zunis returned to this sacred mountain to hunt animals like deer and bear, harvest wild plants like acorns and cattails, and gather minerals used in sacrosanct rituals that keep the universe in order. Across the generations Dewankwin Kyaba:chu Yalanne has come to shape Zuni history, life, and identity no less than the Vatican has for Catholics.

But unlike holy places in the Western world, Zunis believe Mount Taylor is a living being. Zuni elders told me that the mountain was created within the Earth’s womb. As a mountain formed by volcanic activity, it has always grown and aged. The mountain can give life as people do. The mountain’s snow melts in spring and nourishes plants and wildlife for miles. Water is the mountain’s blood; buried minerals are the mountain’s meat. Because it lives, deep below is its beating heart. Zunis consider Mount Taylor to be their kin.

There is a stereotype that Native American peoples have a singular connection to nature. And yet in my experience, they do see the world in a fundamentally different way from most people I know. Whether it is mountains, rivers, rocks, animals, plants, stars or weather, they see the natural world as living and breathing, deeply relational, even at times all-knowing and transcendent.

In my work with Arizona’s Hopi tribe, I have traveled with cultural leaders to study sacred places. They often stop to listen to the wind, or search the sky for an eagle, or smile when it begins to rain, which they believe is a blessing the ancestors bestow upon them.

During one project with the Hopi tribe, we came across a rattlesnake coiled near an ancient fallen pueblo. “Long ago, one of them ancestors lived here and turned into a rattlesnake,” the elder Raleigh H. Puhuyaoma Sr. shared with me, pointing to the nearby archaeological site. “It’s now protecting the place.” The elders left an offering of corn meal to the snake. An elder later told me that it soon rained on his cornfield, a result from this spiritual exchange.

Violent disputes

Understanding these cultural worldviews matters greatly in discussions over protecting places in nature. The American West has a long history of battles over the control of land. We’ve seen this recently from the Bundy family’s takeover of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon to the current fight over turning Bears Ears – 1.9 million acres of wilderness – into a national monument in Utah.

Yet often these battles are less about the struggle between private and public interests, and more about basic questions of nature’s purpose. Do wild places have intrinsic worth? Or is the land a mere tool for human uses?

 A Hopi elder making an offering to a snake to protect a sacred space. Chip Colwell, Author provided.
A Hopi elder making an offering to a snake to protect a sacred space. Chip Colwell, Author provided.

Much of my research has involved documenting sacred places because they are being threatened by development projects on public land. The Zuni’s sacred Mount Taylor, much of it managed by the U.S. National Forest Service, has been extensively mined for uranium, and is the cause of violent disputes over whether it should be developed or protected.

Even though the U.S. does not legally recognize natural places as people, some legal protections exist for sacred places. Under the National Historic Preservation Act, for example, the U.S. government must take into consideration the potential impacts of certain development projects on “traditional cultural properties.”

This and other federal heritage laws, however, provide tribes a small voice in the process, little power, and rarely lead to preservation. More to the point, these laws reduce what tribes see as living places to “properties,” obscuring their inherent spiritual value.

In New Zealand, the Te Urewera Act offers a higher level of protection, empowering a board to be the land’s guardian. The Te Urewera Act, though, does not remove its connection to humans. With a permit, people can hunt, fish, farm and more. The public still has access to the forest. One section of the law even allows Te Urewera to be mined.

Te Urewera teaches us that acknowledging cultural views of places as living does not mean ending the relationship between humans and nature, but reordering it – recognizing nature’s intrinsic worth and respecting indigenous philosophies.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, I believe we can do better to align our legal system with the cultural expressions of the people it serves. For instance, the U.S. Congress could amend the NHPA or the American Indian Religious Freedom Act to acknowledge the deep cultural connection between tribes and natural places, and afford better protections for sacred landscapes like New Mexico’s Mount Taylor.

Until then, it says much about us when companies are considered people before nature is.

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 emilysquotes-com-look-deep-nature-understand-wisdom-inspirational-life-albert-einsteinMy dreams of hope!

Yes, I’m a coward!

I just can’t publish the Dogs vs. Wives list!

It is, after all, the season of goodwill.

But there was more to my decision about not publishing the list; I didn’t want hundreds of you telling me to go and put this blog where the sun doesn’t shine!

Let me explain.

Bob Derham, a long-term friend for many years back in the ‘old country’, four days ago sent me an email that contained: Sixteen Logical Reasons Why Some Men Have Dogs And Not Wives:

Here’s an example:

derham
3. Dogs like it if you leave lots 
Of things on the floor.

You get the drift of the theme!

My email reply read: Will have to think very carefully as to how this one is presented. Probably blame you!! 😉

I thought carefully and decided not to publish!

I preferred to republish this recent article from Mother Nature Network.

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13 of the world’s most gentle dog breeds

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo on Dec. 21, 2016.

collie-retriever-wearing-flowers-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartSweet-natured personalities

Some dog breeds are spastic, while others are incredibly calm. Some breeds have reputations for playfulness, while more athletic types work on farms bossing around sheep or find their calling doing police work.

But there are plenty of dog breeds that are just generally sweet and loving and gentle. Kids can crawl all over them, take toys out of their mouth or even mess with them at mealtime, and these sweet pups don’t care.

Here’s a look at some of the most gentle dog breeds around.

golden-retriever-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartGolden retriever

So many good people.

Demonstrating the power of goodwill.

It is a function of the news media to highlight alarming events; many of them with some justification.

But it’s all too easy to be drawn into a world that seems almost to be uniformly dark and foreboding.

Thus the following item seen over on the Care2 site really does deserve the widest sharing because it reminds us that there are countless good people who work so hard for our wonderful animals.

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Christmas Rescuers Save 1,300 Dogs and Cats From Winter Without Electricity

3196714-largeBy: Laura S.  December 24, 2016

About Laura

DONETSK — In the days before Christmas, a Ukrainian animal shelter drifting toward a winter of complete darkness has experienced an unexpected tidal wave of support from international animal lovers determined to keep the power on.

15622021_1036490849792714_720628534510030461_nLast week, the shelter – located on the Russian border- sent out a distress call about the imminent threat of blackout for their 1,300 dogs and cats, many of whom were left behind by refugees during violent attacks over the last two years. After losing their local business sponsor during the military conflict, the shelter team have been enduring an intense struggle to feed the animals and to simply stay afloat.

15356522_1022758584499274_2915401203100161546_n11“I can’t even remember the last time something good happened to us,” shelter manager Vita Bryzgalova explained in an email to the Harmony Fund international rescue charity. “We are now facing a power shut-down since the debt for electricity accumulated over the past year. It is almost $7,000 since the beginning of 2016.”

If the electricity in the shelter would be cut, the veterinary appliances will not work and the shelter will be under sub-zero temperatures with no way to provide treatment or carry out operations,” Vita continued. “There will be no place to keep medications and vaccines and food for all animals living in the shelter as everything will freeze. The building is heated by a boiler but it doesn’t not work without the electric pump. There are three hospital wards with animals here and there are about 80 animals that are being treated and they especially need warmth and care. Also we have 35 employees who give daily care of the animals and they will be sick more often without heat in the rooms. Without electricity, we will also have no external communications by telephone or internet.”

Having provided donations of food and staff wages during this difficult time, the Harmony Fund turned to Facebook to see if people might be willing to help keep the electricity on. Within 48 hours, half the funds were raised ($3,500) and this sum was enough to keep the power on for the next few months while the charity attempts to raise funds for the rest of the debt to the electricity supplier.

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Now quickly drop over to the Harmony Fund’s website where you will read:

About Us – Overview

The Great Animal Rescue Chase

The Great Animal Rescue Chase celebrates the art of animal rescue with a worldwide race to rescue one million. It’s a free event, open to all, and is perhaps the only global animal rescue event aimed at helping any animal in distress, anywhere in the world. Our ambition is to create a culture of enthusiasm and pride in animal activism. We believe in teaching, by example, that there is a hero in each of us just waiting to be unleashed. Empowered animal lovers can not only save lives, but build the momentum for powerful animal welfare reform.

The Harmony Fund

The Harmony Fund offers a lifeline to so called “underdog” animal rescue squads across the planet. Our partners are the small but incredibly courageous and effective animal rescue teams who operate in parts of the world where funding is very hard to come by. Our supporters are helping us to dramatically impact the capacity of these rescue teams to touch thousands upon thousands of animals who might otherwise be unreachable.

Gratitude and respect are at the cornerstone of our relationship with our supporters. We do not expose our supporters to graphic photos of animal suffering or distribute dire forecasts about animal suffering. Instead we focus on a spirit of joy and determination as we pursue essential operations to provide food, veterinary medicine, shelter and protection from cruelty for animals worldwide.

Contact Us

To contact The Great Animal Rescue Chase or the Harmony Fund, view our Contact Us page.

Now go and read some of the awe-inspiring stories of rescues: The Great Animal Rescue.

Welcome Heroes

garc-intro-left-rescue-pitIn the space of time it takes a raindrop to roll down your cheek, a life changing decision is made. You either turn sorrowfully away from an animal in distress or summon the courage to run forward and help. For all you runners out there, welcome home.

Come on in and rest your feet a while. Then join us in a planet-wide race to save 1 million suffering animals who are about to learn the spectacular meaning of second chances.

 

I know that all of you dear readers of this place will, without hesitation, summon the courage to run forward and help.

So many good, loving people.

A Very Happy Christmas

To all of you and your families and loved ones.

I saw this post below on a blog site that was new to me. It was just called Lady Fi. It simply reached out to me in the most beautiful and peaceful manner and seemed like the perfect re-posting (with LadyFi’s permission) for today: December 25th.

Can’t add anything more to who LadyFi is other than what she writes on her About page.

So, you want to know who I am? Well, you’ll get a pretty good idea from reading my blog. But, in brief:

A Brit living in Sweden since 1996. Came here as a so-called love immigrant.

Have got two small kids and good supply of ear plugs.

Husband is like a third child and the dog is like the fourth.

Blessed with an ironic sense of humour.

Scriptwriter, textbook writer and translator (Swedish into English).

Here’s that post.

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Paws for thought

13 December is Lucia – one of my favourite times of year.

Lucia is all about children dressed in white and carrying candles

To symbolize hope and light in the darkness.

ablazeThe dawn that day didn’t disappoint either.

It blazed with light and colour,

So that dogs (and people) seemed small and humble

Under the huge lilac sky;

dogsinpurpleAnd paw prints were etched across a purple

Canopy of snow – leading the eye

To that glorious sky of hope.

pawprintsooOOoo

(I believe these pictures came from the Skywatch site.)

Trusting that for all of us your Christmas period and the whole year to follow offer endless visions of such stillness, peace and beauty.

A wonderful Saturday Smile

Rakesh Shukla gives lost dogs a wonderful voice.

Last Monday, the BBC News website featured an item about Rakesh Shukla.

Rakesh runs a charity called The Voice of Stray Dogs (VoSD).The WikiPedia entry is a bit light on details but the UK arm of The Huffington Post makes up for that. Here’s an extract from the news item:

VoSD was founded by Mr Rakesh Shukla, affectionately known as the “Dog Father”. It was set up single-handedly after he felt obliged to do something about the plight of stray dogs in India. Well known for keeping dogs in his home [ the VoSD Sanctuary] and in his office, Rakesh has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the care of stray dogs [ with greater than 90% contributed by himself]. One visitor said ““Rakesh’s growing family of rescued dogs is a sight to behold. It is amazing how so many dogs together get on so well“.

He operates a system that has rescued more than 3000 dogs in 2 years with 400+ permanent dogs under his care. VoSD offers the highest standard of service and is equipped with the latest technology so that stray dogs get the best possible care.

Back to the BBC item that I am taking the liberty of republishing in full.

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The man who looks after 735 dogs

19 December 2016, India

_92945569_bbc-vsd-59Rakesh Shukla is a software engineer who’s found his life’s calling in looking after dogs that no-one wants, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Bangalore.

The car pulled up outside a dusty farmhouse near the capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka and suddenly dogs were everywhere, yelping and barking, jumping with joy.

Within seconds, they were all over Rakesh Shukla, nuzzling him and licking him, and Mr Shukla was as delighted to see them. He spoke to them, patted some, scratched one behind the ears, and lofted another onto his shoulder.

Then he gave me a tour of his three and a half acre farm. At last count, Mr Shukla had 735 dogs.

_92950543_bbc-vsd-114_92945567_bbc-vsd-41There are Labradors on the farm, there are Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Beagles, Dachshunds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards and even a pug. There are hundreds of mongrels too.

Most of the dogs are strays, the others have been abandoned by their owners. The latest arrivals was a group of 22 pedigreed dogs whose owner, a city businessman, was shot dead recently by criminals.

“I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” said Mr Shukla, 45.

Affectionately known as the “Dog Father”, he calls the dogs his babies and him their “papa”.

_92945571_bbc-vsd-123_92950776_bbc-vsd-85Mr Shukla, who founded a software company along with his wife 10 years ago, spends three to four days every week on the farm, taking care of his canines.

“I had worked in Delhi, in the United States and then set up my own company in Bangalore,” he said. “Life was all about buying big cars and expensive watches and living a fancy life. I had travelled and seen the world many times over, but then I was not happy.”

Then Kavya came into his life: a beautiful 45-day-old Golden Retriever that he fell hopelessly in love with. It was in June 2009, and Mr Shukla remembers clearly the day he brought her home.

“When we got home, she went and hid in a corner. I got down to her level on the floor and I was calling out to her. She was looking at me, she was scared, but I could see she wanted to trust me,” he said.

“And that’s when the moment happened – it was a physical feeling, my hair was tingling, I could feel a warm glow. And I’ve never needed to ask myself that question – ‘why am I here?’ – again after that.”

_92950549_bbc-vsd-96_92961801_mediaitem92961800Mr Shukla’s second dog, Lucky, came to him three months later when he rescued her from the streets. “It had been raining for 12-13 days, she was wet and miserable, so I brought her home too,” he said.

Over the coming days and weeks, whenever he met a stray or abandoned dog, he brought it home. Initially he kept them there but when his wife protested, he moved some of them to the office, where the top floor was turned into a home for dogs.

In 2012, as the pack grew, Mr Shukla bought land in Doddballapur town and set up the farm – a haven for dogs that are old, ailing or simply unwanted.

_92950774_bbc-vsd-76_92950551_bbc-vsd-79The farm is designed for its canine residents, with lots of open spaces for them to run around and ponds to swim in, and there’s double fencing to keep them safe.

Every time we entered an enclosure, a cacophony of barks greeted us.

The farm employs about 10 people, including trained veterinary assistants, to look after the dogs, cook for them and feed them. The dogs are fed 200kg of chicken and another 200kg of rice daily and many of the sick ones need regular medicines and attention.

_92950778_bbc-vsd-49_92951835_bbc-vsd-20The daily cost of running the centre is 45,000 to 50,000 rupees ($663; £532 to $737; £592), according to Mr Shukla, who said he provided 93% of the funds.

In the past year though, he has run into problems with some animal activists, who have demanded that they be allowed onto the farm. He has also faced complaints that he is creating public unrest by keeping so many dogs. There have also been demands that he shut down the farm.

He has refused to concede.

“I’ve made a pact with my dogs,” he said. “We will part only when one of us kicks the bucket.”

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You know that there are many who are desperately worried about 2017 and beyond. The next few years, ten at most, will see the results of this great experiment that humanity is conducting.

Now, I’m happy to put my hand up as someone who does worry at what my generation is leaving for our grandchildren.

Then one comes across people like Rakesh and, somehow, the future doesn’t seem quite so grim.

What a wonderful man.

Published on Oct 8, 2014

Rakesh Shukla is the go-to guy for dog rescue in Bangalore. His privately-funded venture, ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’ champions the cause of India’s stray/ street dogs with research, publication, litigation, veterinary and healthcare services for stray dogs.

 See you all on the other side of Christmas!
But promise me one thing: Never turn your back on a dog in need.

Just slip away for a while.

There are some things we will always cherish.

Just a few days ago I wrote of the time when I was living in the small village of Harberton in South Devon, England. Harberton was a wonderful reminder that these modern times don’t reach to everyone all of the time. There were still plenty of folk who recalled the past times in very beautiful ways. (I wish I could remember the name of the old Devonian who used to come into the village pub on a regular basis and demonstrate that by listening to a local’s accent he could tell which Devon village they were from!)

It’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that many things change very slowly, and local and regional accents are examples of that.

You know the saying Down to Earth? Chill out for 18 minutes and revel in these two Welshmen that appeared in a recent essay over on Mother Nature News.

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These 2 Welsh farmers will melt your heart (and challenge your ears)

The internet’s newest stars have lived and farmed on the same plot of land in Wales for over 70 years.

 Welsh farmers Howell and Gerwyn George's secret to a rich life is plain to see: just enjoy a good laugh! (Photo: Riverlea/YouTube)
Welsh farmers Howell and Gerwyn George’s secret to a rich life is plain to see: just enjoy a good laugh! (Photo: Riverlea/YouTube)

If we told you that listening to two old Welsh farmers recount the good ol’ days might just become the highlight of your day, would you believe us?

For whatever reason, whether it’s their charm, genuine brotherly love, or endearing/confounding Welsh dialect, Howell and Gerwyn George have mesmerized nearly everyone who has given up a few moments to watch them reminisce.

“They don’t make boys like that any more, more is the pity!!!,” said one commenter on Facebook. “Quality, pleasure to watch.”

“I could listen to this pair all day long…,” said another.

In the 18-minute video, the George brothers discuss everything from livestock to family and changing agricultural practices. Everything is interjected with anecdotes that invariably lead to one or both of the men to erupt into laughter. Several times, I found myself laughing without even knowing what in the world they were saying.

But enough gab from us; we’ll gladly let Howell and Gerwyn take over the conversation. Someone throw these two a reality television contract.

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Simply gorgeous!

Celestial certainties

Our December Solstice

I deliberately planned for this post to be published at the precise moment, in Pacific Time that is, when the solstice occurs.

Welcome to the shortest day of 2016.

Winter Solstice at the Stonehenge Monument in Southern England.
Winter Solstice at the Stonehenge Monument in Southern England.

I am now republishing much of what appeared on the EarthSky blog a few days ago.

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. This special day is coming up on Wednesday, December 21 at 10:44 UTC (December 21 at 4:44 a.m. CST). No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate.

Want to know what time it is where you are living?

When is the solstice where I live? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2016, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 4:44 a.m. CST. That’s on December 21 at 10:44 Universal Time. It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.

World Time Zones
World Time Zones

Roll on Summer!

Footnote:

This morning I read an interesting set of facts about the Solstice over on the Mother Nature Network. It included this:

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.” Since when has the sun ever moved?! Of course, before Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (aka “super smartypants”) came up with the ‘ol heliocentric model, we all figured that everything revolved around the Earth, sun included. Our continued use of the word “solstice” is a beautiful reminder of just how far we’ve come and provides a nice opportunity to give a tip of the hat to great thinkers who challenged the status quo.

Two sides of the pilot’s life!

The life of the commercial pilot; that is.

I have a good understanding of the commercial pilot’s world, both inside and outside of my family. For many years as an active private pilot I held a British Instrument Rating (IR) that allowed me to fly in the commercial airways. Studying for the IR required a good appreciation of the safety culture that was at the root of commercial flying especially surrounding one’s departure and arrival airports.

So when I read a recent item from the Smithsonian Magazine proposing that airline pilots were more depressed than the average American my first reaction was one of disbelief. I forwarded the link to Bob D., an experienced British airline Captain and a good friend for years. Here is that article:

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Think Your Job Is Depressing? Try Being an Airline Pilot

New study suggests pilots are more depressed than the average American

4322816521_2e87d62705_o-jpeg__800x600_q85_cropBy Erin Blakemore
smithsonian.com  December 16, 2016

Being a pilot for a commercial airline has its perks—travel to exotic places, a cool uniform and those breathtaking views of the sky. But that job can come with a side of something much more sobering: depression. As Melissa Healy reports for The Los Angeles Times, the mental health of airline pilots is coming into sharp focus with the revelation that nearly 13 percent of them could be depressed.

A new study of the mental health of commercial airline pilots, recently published in the Journal of Environmental Health, suggests that depression is a major problem for pilots. The first to document mental health for this particular field, the study relied on a 2015 web survey of international pilots that contained a range of questions about their condition over the prior two weeks. Questions included whether they felt like failures, had trouble falling or staying asleep, or felt they were better off dead. (Those questions are part of a depression screening tool called the PHQ-9.) Other questions involved pilots’ flight habits, their use of sleep aids and alcohol, and whether they have been sexually or verbally harassed on the job.

Of the 1,848 pilots who responded to the depression screening portions of the questionnaire, 12.6 percent met the threshold for depression. In addition, 4.1 percent of those respondents reported having suicidal thoughts at some point during the two weeks before taking the survey. The researchers found that pilots who were depressed were also more likely to take sleep aids and report verbal or sexual harassment.

Airline pilot organizations and occupational safety experts assure Healy that airline travel is still safe. But the study continues a conversation about pilot psychology that has been in full swing since a German pilot committed suicide by crashing his plane in 2015—an incident that inspired the current study.

Since then, calls for better statistics on pilot suicide have grown louder. As Carl Bialik notes for FiveThirtyEight, those statistics do exist—and do suggest that the number of actual suicides among pilots are very small. However, limitations in data, the possibility of underreporting, and infrequent data collection all challenge a complete understanding of that facet of pilots’ mental health.

This latest mental health study has its own limitations, including the fact that it relies on self-reporting and a relatively small sample size compared to total pilot numbers worldwide (in the U.S. alone, there are over 70,000 commercial airline pilots). The cause of the reported depression also remains unclear.

But if the depression rate for commercial airline pilots really is nearly 13 percent, it’s almost double the national rate of about seven percent. Though future work is necessary to confirm these results, this study provides an initial glimpse into the health of the people who make the nation’s airlines tick and emphasizes the importance of figuring out ways to improve their mental health and quality of life.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/airline-pilots-are-really-depressed-180961475/#QojUDlEzhHEsxww4.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

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As the article points out the study contains a number of flaws that really reduce it from an erudite analysis to an eye-catching news item. (Better than reading about politics; that’s for sure!)

I know these are busy times for Captain Bob even without it being Christmas. But if Bob finds time to comment on this study then I will publish it later on.

However, Bob did find a moment to forward me copies of some of the many placards that are a necessary part of the flight deck.

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pilot3Fly safely all you good pilots out there!

Saturday stalls!

The Finalists of the 2016 Plumbers of the Year Competition.

The craftsmanship skills shown by these winners is simply ‘breath-taking’!

(Huge thanks to Cynthia Gomez for sending these to me.)

One very good reason for not putting the toilet paper on the roll.
One very good reason for not putting the toilet paper on the roll.

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The saying: "Prior planning prevents piss poor performance" comes to mind.
The saying: “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance” comes to mind.

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"Hey Joe, I thought the measurements were in centimeters!"
“Hey Joe, I thought the measurements were in centimeters!”

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Apparently, you don't want anyone seeing your face, but everything else is okay?
Apparently, you don’t want anyone seeing your face, but everything else is okay?

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Well at least the seat will be warm to the bum!
Well at least the seat will be warm to the bum!

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And the purpose for the door is?
And the purpose for the door is?

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For the long-armed among us.
For the long-armed among us.

Cynthia will be delighted to forward you contact details for any of the plumbers whose work is shown above!

Easy does it!

An interesting review of dog-friendly airports in the USA.

With Christmas almost upon us and the recognition that this is a very busy period in terms of visiting families and friends, I thought a recent essay over on Mother Nature Network would be helpful.

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10 of the most dog-friendly airports in the U.S.

Josh Lew December 6, 2016

 Traveling with your pet can be stressful and tricky, but some airports make the process easier than others. (Photo: Fly_dragonfly/Shutterstock)
Traveling with your pet can be stressful and tricky, but some airports make the process easier than others. (Photo: Fly_dragonfly/Shutterstock)

Flying with a dog, whether a pet or a service animal, isn’t the easiest undertaking. Travelers with larger dogs have to deal with the worrisome fact that their precious pet will have to fly in the cargo hold. Even if an airline allows smaller dogs to fly in the cabin, the trip could be less than straightforward. Will there be an issue at security? Where can the dog relieve itself once you get into the terminal? How will neighboring passengers respond?

But airports can be surprisingly accommodating to dogs, especially service animals. By law, every large airport in the United States has to have some sort of pet relief area in each terminal to accommodate people traveling with canine helpers.

Some hubs have even started programs geared towards travelers who need some four-legged support. These programs bring trained therapy canines into the terminal to sit with any passengers who want to take a break from the stresses of travel or who suffer from a fear of flying.

Here are 10 of the most dog-friendly airports in the U.S.

Denver International Airport

The Colorado airport has pet relief rooms on each of its concourses located on the airside after the TSA checkpoints. (Photo: Denver International Airport)
The Colorado airport has pet relief rooms on each of its concourses located on the airside after the TSA checkpoints. (Photo: Denver International Airport)

Denver International (DIA), the busiest hub airport in the Mountain West, features a state-of-the-art, in-terminal pet care facility. Paradise 4 Paws is a huge (25,000 square feet) venue that offers boarding for pets while their owners are traveling. The kennel area even has webcams so people can check in on their pooch online while they are on the road. Paradise also has 24-hour grooming services and indoor play areas. In addition to Denver, there are locations at Dallas Fort Worth International and at both of Chicago’s main airports.

The Colorado airport has pet relief rooms on each of its concourses. These are located on the airside after the TSA checkpoints. Owners who are in transit can walk their dogs without having to go back and forth through security, and those taking off from Denver can give their dog one final bathroom break before boarding. All these convenient in-terminal features make Denver one of the most dog-friendly airports in the country.

Minneapolis — Saint Paul

MSP’s Now Boarding offers pet boarding services to travelers flying out of the airport. (Photo: Now Boarding/YouTube)
MSP’s Now Boarding offers pet boarding services to travelers flying out of the airport. (Photo: Now Boarding/YouTube)

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International is another hub with multiple pet relief areas. The Minnesota airport has dedicated dog spaces outside both its terminals. The main terminal (Terminal 1) also has a pet “restroom” after security. The airport will provide an escort to take anyone with a service animal to an outdoor relief area if needed.

MSP’s Now Boarding offers pet boarding services to travelers flying out of the airport, and it’s open 24 hours a day. This facility is separate from the terminals, but pet owners get a perk when they leave their dog or cat here: Now Boarding offers 24-hour shuttle service to the terminal entrances. They will also pick you up when you get back so that you can be reunited with your pet as soon as possible after landing.

Detroit Metro

Detroit Metro is another major airport realizing the importance of catering to travelers with pets and service animals. The Michigan hub had service dogs in mind when it constructed a special airside pet relief area, which airport employees affectionately dubbed “Central Bark.” A section of this facility even has real grass.

DWC also has outdoor pet relief areas that are right next to the departures entrance (in the McNamara Terminal) and the arrivals area (in the North Terminal).

Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson

If you are a #dog and you like to travel the Atlanta airport has an amazing dog park!
If you are a dog and you like to travel the Atlanta airport has an amazing dog park!

Unlike most airport dog relief areas, this one actually deserves to be called a “park.” There are benches, complimentary biodegradable poop pickup bags and even a couple of charming dog sculptures. Since the park is fenced in, dogs can run without a leash and work off any excess energy before their flight. This summer, the airport announced it will be adding indoor pet areas on each of its concourses.

Reno Tahoe

Reno-Tahoe International Airport's outdoor dog facility, called the Bark Park, opened 2004. (Photo: Reno-Tahoe International Airport/Facebook)
Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s outdoor dog facility, called the Bark Park, opened 2004. (Photo: Reno-Tahoe International Airport/Facebook)

Reno Tahoe doesn’t see as many transit passengers as the major hub airports, but it still deserves recognition for its pet-friendly attitude. Its outdoor dog facility, called the Bark Park, opened in 2004. The idea has proven so popular and gotten so much positive press for the airport that a second Bark Park was added in 2012. These parks are easy to find — just follow the artificial paw prints on the sidewalks.

The parks are surrounded by fences and are fully accessible, so they are ideal for service dogs as well as pets. As anyone who has been in Nevada during the summer will tell you, the sun can get very hot during the day. For this reason, the Bark Parks are covered with canopies.

San Diego

San Diego Airport now has a dog bathroom
San Diego Airport now has a dog bathroom

San Diego International has several pet relief areas and a unique program that brings dogs into the airport to comfort nervous fliers. SAN has three designated spaces for pets and service dogs. This includes an indoor, post-security option for transit passengers and dogs who need one last pit stop before boarding.

San Diego’s Ready Pet Go program brings trained dogs into the terminal to comfort nervous fliers and provide stress relief to travelers who just had to deal with long security checkpoint wait times and some of the other drawbacks of the airport experience. The dogs and their handlers are volunteers who take two-hour shifts and simply roam the concourses interacting with passengers. The program is a partnership between the airport, the Traveler’s Aid Society of San Diego and Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Washington Dulles

Washington Dulles International Airport has five indoor and outdoor pet-friendly areas. (Photo: Cassius - Canine Companions for Independence Service Dog/Facebook)
Washington Dulles International Airport has five indoor and outdoor pet-friendly areas. (Photo: Cassius – Canine Companions for Independence Service Dog/Facebook)

The main airport in the nation’s capital features no less than five pet-friendly areas. Three of these are typical outdoor spaces with natural grass (near the departures/ticketing entrances and adjacent to baggage claim) and these outdoor parks have complimentary bags and waste bins.

Dulles also has two indoor facilities, one serving the A and B concourses and one for passengers using the C and D gates. These post-security areas are covered with artificial K-9 grass. Even though they are inside, their L-shaped layout means dogs have enough space to move around. When the dog relieves itself, the owner can push a button on the wall to automatically rinse the ground in that part of the dog park.

Phoenix Sky Harbor

Cassie, a 6-month-old Australian shepherd from San Diego, took advantage of one of the pet-relief areas at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport/Facebook)
Cassie, a 6-month-old Australian shepherd from San Diego, took advantage of one of the pet-relief areas at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport/Facebook)

Phoenix Sky Harbor offers more than a patch of grass for traveling pets and service dogs. The Arizona airport has five separate areas for dogs. Three pre-security parks sit outside of terminals 2, 3 and 4. The airport has even given these spaces canine-specific names: the Pet Patch (T2), Paw Pad (T3) and Bone Yard (T4).

Unfortunately, Sky Harbor has yet to open any post-security relief rooms. There are, however, additional areas near two of PHX’s Skytrain stations in the parking section of the airport.

Philadelphia International

Pet relief areas are located in every terminal inside this Pennsylvania airport. (Photo: Philadelphia International Airport/Facebook)
Pet relief areas are located in every terminal inside this Pennsylvania airport. (Photo: Philadelphia International Airport/Facebook)

Philadelphia International is arguably the easiest airport in the country to travel with pets or service animals. The reason: Pet relief areas are located in each and every terminal inside the Pennsylvania hub. That means, no matter which gate you happen to be flying out of, you’ll be able to find a place for your dog not far away.

The airport took a unique approach to creating these in-terminal areas. The airlines that use the airport paid to convert seven 80-square-foot spaces into mini dog parks. The airport went ahead with the project despite critics who said the same seven plots could be used for retail spaces that could potentially earn millions in additional income for the airport each year

New York JFK

World’s First Luxury Dog Resort Terminal To Be Opened At JFK Airport
World’s First Luxury Dog Resort Terminal To Be Opened At JFK Airport

New York JFK is one of the most crowded (many call it “chaotic”) airports in the U.S. However, pet-owning travelers may find it welcoming — that is, if they fly out of the right terminal. JFK’s terminal 4 has its own pet bathroom, which is located right next to the “human” restrooms. Previously, pet owners who were in-transit or who wanted to make one final pit stop had to go back through the airport’s notoriously slow security.

JFK is also in the process of building a large terminal exclusively for pets. The cost of the project is $48 million. The investment could be worth the price when you consider that about 70,000 animals, from horses to dogs and cats, travel through the airport every year.

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Remind me in my next life to come back as a dog!