Category: Government

Questions; questions; questions!

About the position of our pet dogs and cats in this current pandemic.

So many of us are spending time at home. Lots of time!

And so many are asking questions about CORVID-19 and out pets.

Therefore I think it’s worthwhile to republish this article that appeared on Mother Nature Network yesterday.

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6 questions pet owners are asking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo,  April 8, 2020.

Ziggy looks out the window of his Maplewood, New Jersey, home as his owner sews masks for health care workers. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Many pet owners are spending a lot more time at home these days, and they have lots of questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their animals and their daily activities. Here are some answers.

Can pets get or spread COVID-19?

Two women walk past a billboard showing cats and dogs urging social distancing on April 4 in Berlin. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

There have been reports that two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium were infected with COVID-19. However, infectious disease experts and human and animal health organizations agree there’s no evidence the pets spread the virus to people.

The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The World Organisation for Animal Health says there’s no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Experts believe the pets might have tested positive due to “environmental contamination” of their snouts. The germs could have been living on the animal’s nose or mouth, just like they can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.

A preprint of a research article posted online in late March raised concern because it suggested that cats and ferrets might be able to be infected with the virus and then transmit it to other animals. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) points out that the research has not been peer-reviewed, involved only a small number of animals and the way subjects are infected with a virus in a research setting does not mirror how infections happen naturally. Another preprint looked at whether cats in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, developed antibodies to the virus.

The AVMA concluded that “nothing in these research articles provides conclusive evidence that cats, ferrets, or other domestic animals” can be infected with the virus or can transmit the virus under normal circumstances. The organization recommends that pet owners without symptoms wash hands before and after handling food, waste or supplies for their pets. Owners who have COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets, just like they would with people “out of an abundance of caution.”

There have been no reports of pets or livestock testing positive in the U.S. so far. However, when a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus, it was the first known case of a non-domesticated animal showing symptoms of COVID-19. The tiger likely contracted the coronavirus in early April from an asymptomatic zookeeper, according to National Geographic. The situation raised natural questions about transmission, but so far, the answer from the health experts remains the same, as mentioned above.

Can I still go to the vet (and should I)?

It depends on what your pet needs. The American Veterinary Medical Association issued suggested strategies for veterinarians that include limiting in-patient appointment to emergencies and critical care. They suggested veterinarians abide by social distancing guidelines with humans (at least six feet) when discussing care.

Many practices are only allowing one client in the office at a time, while others are sending an employee — wearing a gown, mask and gloves — out to a car to pick up the pet. The doctor then calls the client to talk about a diagnosis and treatment options.

Veterinarian Will Draper consults with a client with help from his dog, Frankie. (Photo: The Village Vets)

That’s what veterinarian Will Draper of The Village Vets is doing at his three metro Atlanta practices. Staff veterinarians are seeing patients for time-sensitive issues like rabies vaccinations and critical surgeries, while putting off spays, neuters and annual visits.

“We’re still seeing as much as we can within reason while still maintaining the balance of keeping our team and our clients healthy,” Draper tells MNN.

He’s also ramped up telemedicine, virtually seeing as many pets as he can for ailments like ear infections and rashes.

They try to keep all human clients out of the clinic but have many a handful of exceptions, most notably when pets have had to be euthanized.

“We’ve put a long IV in and will stand there six feet away while we give the medication,” Draper says. “That way we can allow the owner to be there with their pet.”

Is my dog stressed out?

Dogs have subtle ways of telling us they are stressed out. In a situation like this pandemic, their stress might be revealed by unusual and unexplained episodes of diarrhea. (Photo: naeg/Shutterstock)

Your dog or cat didn’t sign up to be a therapy pet, but they are likely helping shore up your mental health these days. You might think all that extra cuddling and petting is a great thing for them, but our pets definitely pick up on our emotions. When we’re stressed, they can get stressed too.

Their routines have changed and they might act out behaviorally or with physical symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.

“Getting into things they shouldn’t is a top phone call we’ve been receiving,” Dr. Heidi Sutcliffe of Norwell Veterinary Hospital told WBZ-TV. “Surfing counters, getting into the trash, destructive behavior, pent up energy and not being able to settle down are all signs they may be stressed.”

To help keep your pet’s world relatively normal, it’s important to maintain your routines, certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer tells MNN. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

How can I prevent my dog from getting separation anxiety?

Let your dog practice coping skills by having him ‘place’ on a bed or mat. (Photo: Mary Jo DiLonardo)

You’re spending a lot more quality time with your pet than normal and you both probably enjoy it immensely. But when the world rights itself and things go back to normal, it’s going to be tough — especially if you have a dog that has become used to you being there all day. If you go back to your old pre-coronavirus routine, there’s a chance your pet will develop separation anxiety.

There are things you can do now to prevent that from happening, says trainer Aga.

She suggests teaching your dog a “place” command on a mat, rug or bed. Your dog can do whatever he wants on that bed (sit, roll, lie down) as long as he stays on it. Start with a minute, then let him hop off. Then add a minute or so each time. Leave the room, come back in, pick up something, all while your dog is on his special spot.

Another option is to put up a see-through baby gate, keeping your dog in a nearby room as you walk past often. Give them interactive toys or peanut butter-filled Kongs to keep them busy. Start with just a few minutes at a time. If you don’t have the room and live in a studio apartment, try stepping out the front door for a minute or two.

“You’re teaching your dog how to have coping skills,” Aga says. “Eventually they’ll just relax and lay down, knowing they’re OK.”

It’s also important to keep routines. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

If you go for walks, sometimes go without your dog so he can practice being alone. And when you get home, don’t make a big deal about being reunited.

“Downplay arrivals,” Aga says. “It’s a good five minutes before I acknowledge my dogs when I get home. In that high excitement, they need to be taught coping skills and how to deal with isolation.”

And it’s also OK to have other alone time too.

“Your dog has to learn that it’s acceptable to close the bathroom door,” Aga says. “It’s really about teaching them to be able to be OK by themselves while you’re home with them.”

Is there a dog food shortage?

There were initial concerns about dog food availability. (Photo: Ekaterina Markelova/Shutterstock)

Early on, when people were stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, there were reports of some people buying pet food by the pallet. Now, some pet owners report having a hard time finding food for their animals. Some people say they’ve had to switch brands because they can’t find their pet’s usual food in stock anywhere. Others report driving all over to find specific brands. Even online pet retail giant Chewy has a homepage note saying, “Due to high demand, current delivery times are running considerably longer than usual on food and supplies.”

But call around or look online. Most big pet supply retailers and independent pet stores offer curbside pickup and local delivery. Anecdotal accounts find that it often takes just a few days for most places to restock. Some brands take longer than others, so ask when you’re calling around.

If you decide to switch foods, don’t wait until you’re already out of your pet’s regular food. Do it gradually, substituting a small portion of the new food for the old food each day.

Can I still take my dog to day care or for grooming?

Non-emergency needs like a basic bath can be handled at home, but many doggie daycares remain open during the pandemic because front-line workers still need these services. (Photo: Jim Vallee/Shutterstock)

Technically, that depends on where you live. It seems that most cities, states and counties with stay-at-home or other ordinances requiring people to only go out for essential reasons don’t consider grooming to be essential. The exception would be if a dog was heavily matted and needed to be shaved for medical reasons, Draper suggests.

Doggy day care centers are typically considered essential, along with animal shelters and boarding kennels because they serve essential workers, among others, who need a place for their pets to go while they work.

“It’s really nice that we’re able to offer those services to people who work odd hours, people in the health care industry, people in manufacturing, firemen, police, things like that,” owner Amy Forrester of Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding in Cleveland told News 5 Cleveland. “I would say about 80% of the dogs that are being dropped off right now belong to health care workers and other essential workers that are still going to work every day, and then about 20% are like, ‘Hey man, get my dog out of the house.'”

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Now it is quite a long article but then again you probably have much more time to read this post! And, frankly, there is a lot of good information contained within it!

So, be safe and look after your pets!

How are these present times affecting pet owners?

A timely post on pets and COVID-19

I have chosen up to now to leave the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic to others to write about.

However, the following article published by Mother Nature Network on April 1st seemed relevant to the many hundreds who read this blog and have pets.

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6 questions pet owners are asking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo DiLonardo,   April 1, 2020

Ziggy looks out the window of his Maplewood, New Jersey, home as his owner sews masks for health care workers. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Many pet owners are spending a lot more time at home these days, and they have lots of questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their animals and their daily activities. Here are some answers.

Is my dog stressed out?

Your dog or cat didn’t sign up to be a therapy pet, but they are likely helping shore up your mental health these days. You might think all that extra cuddling and petting is a great thing for them, but our pets definitely pick up on our emotions. When we’re stressed, they can get stressed too.

Their routines have changed and they might act out behaviorally or with physical symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.

“Getting into things they shouldn’t is a top phone call we’ve been receiving,” Dr. Heidi Sutcliffe of Norwell Veterinary Hospital told WBZ-TV. “Surfing counters, getting into the trash, destructive behavior, pent up energy and not being able to settle down are all signs they may be stressed.”

To help keep your pet’s world relatively normal, it’s important to maintain your routines, certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer tells MNN. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

Can I still go to the vet (or should I)?

Veterinarian Will Draper consults with a client with help from his dog, Frankie. (Photo: The Village Vets)

It depends on what your pet needs. The American Veterinary Medical Association issued suggested strategies for veterinarians that include limiting in-patient appointment to emergencies and critical care. They suggested veterinarians abide by social distancing guidelines with humans (at least six feet) when discussing care.

Many practices are only allowing one client in the office at a time, while others are sending an employee — wearing a gown, mask and gloves — out to a car to pick up the pet. The doctor then calls the client to talk about a diagnosis and treatment options.

That’s what veterinarian Will Draper of The Village Vets is doing at his three metro Atlanta practices. Staff veterinarians are seeing patients for time-sensitive issues like rabies vaccinations and critical surgeries, while putting off spays, neuters and annual visits.

“We’re still seeing as much as we can within reason while still maintaining the balance of keeping our team and our clients healthy,” Draper tells MNN.

He’s also ramped up telemedicine, virtually seeing as many pets as he can for ailments like ear infections and rashes.

They try to keep all human clients out of the clinic but have many a handful of exceptions, most notably when pets have had to be euthanized.

“We’ve put a long IV in and will stand there six feet away while we give the medication,” Draper says. “That way we can allow the owner to be there with their pet.”

Can I still take my dog to day care or for grooming?

Technically, that depends on where you live. It seems that most cities, states and counties with stay-at-home or other ordinances requiring people to only go out for essential reasons don’t consider grooming to be essential. The exception would be if a dog was heavily matted and needed to be shaved for medical reasons, Draper suggests.

Doggy day care centers are typically considered essential, along with animal shelters and boarding kennels because they serve essential workers, among others, who need a place for their pets to go while they work.

“It’s really nice that we’re able to offer those services to people who work odd hours, people in the health care industry, people in manufacturing, firemen, police, things like that,” owner Amy Forrester of Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding in Cleveland told News 5 Cleveland. “I would say about 80% of the dogs that are being dropped off right now belong to health care workers and other essential workers that are still going to work every day, and then about 20% are like, ‘Hey man, get my dog out of the house.'”

How can I prevent my dog from getting separation anxiety?

Let your dog practice coping skills by having him ‘place’ on a bed or mat. (Photo: Mary Jo DiLonardo)

You’re spending a lot more quality time with your pet than normal and you both probably enjoy it immensely. But when the world rights itself and things go back to normal, it’s going to be tough — especially if you have a dog that has become used to you being there all day. If you go back to your old pre-coronavirus routine, there’s a chance your pet will develop separation anxiety.

There are things you can do now to prevent that from happening, says trainer Aga.

She suggests teaching your dog a “place” command on a mat, rug or bed. Your dog can do whatever he wants on that bed (sit, roll, lie down) as long as he stays on it. Start with a minute, then let him hop off. Then add a minute or so each time. Leave the room, come back in, pick up something, all while your dog is on his special spot.

Another option is to put up a see-through baby gate, keeping your dog in a nearby room as you walk past often. Give them interactive toys or peanut butter-filled Kongs to keep them busy. Start with just a few minutes at a time. If you don’t have the room and live in a studio apartment, try stepping out the front door for a minute or two.

“You’re teaching your dog how to have coping skills,” Aga says. “Eventually they’ll just relax and lay down, knowing they’re OK.”

It’s also important to keep routines. Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet.

If you go for walks, sometimes go without your dog so he can practice being alone. And when you get home, don’t make a big deal about being reunited.

“Downplay arrivals,” Aga says. “It’s a good five minutes before I acknowledge my dogs when I get home. In that high excitement, they need to be taught coping skills and how to deal with isolation.”

And it’s also OK to have other alone time too.

“Your dog has to learn that it’s acceptable to close the bathroom door,” Aga says. “It’s really about teaching them to be able to be OK by themselves while you’re home with them.”

Can pets get or spread COVID-19?

There have been reports that two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium were infected with COVID-19. However, infectious disease experts and human and animal health organizations agree there’s no evidence the pets spread the virus to people.

The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The World Organisation for Animal Health says there’s no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Experts believe the pets might have tested positive due to “environmental contamination” of their snouts. The germs could have been living on the animal’s nose or mouth, just like they can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.

Is there a dog food shortage?

Early on, when people were stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, there were reports of some people buying pet food by the pallet. Now, some pet owners report having a hard time finding food for their animals. Some people say they’ve had to switch brands because they can’t find their pet’s usual food in stock anywhere. Others report driving all over to find specific brands. Even online pet retail giant Chewy has a homepage note saying, “Due to high demand, current delivery times are running considerably longer than usual on food and supplies.”

But call around or look online. Most big pet supply retailers and independent pet stores offer curbside pickup and local delivery. Anecdotal accounts find that it often takes just a few days for most places to restock. Some brands take longer than others, so ask when you’re calling around.

If you decide to switch foods, don’t wait until you’re already out of your pet’s regular food. Do it gradually, substituting a small portion of the new food for the old food each day.

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Mother Nature Network are pretty good in terms of the accuracy of their work so, on balance, you can regard this information as legitimate .

These are very strange times for millions of us spread all over the place.

It will eventually be behind us and I, for one, can’t see it come too soon!

Pure, unconditional love!

Highlighting a very interesting post from Mother Nature Network

Last March 31st Mother Nature Network published an article that, to me and Jeannie, was the essence of what having a dog in one’s life means: unconditional bonding.

In common with thousands and thousands of other dog owners every day all of our dogs, in their own individual ways, show us that our patterns of behaviour are well known and they totally accept them

For example, Jeannie every day uses an exercise bike that’s in the bedroom. We were discussing this yesterday and she mentioned that three or four of our dogs come into the room whenever Jeannie is ‘pedaling’ away and just lie down and watch her.

Oliver comes up to me in the living room frequently and climbs onto the settee next to me, gives my right ear a quick lick and then lays down usually with his head on my knee so I can cuddle him and stroke his tummy. There are numerous other examples every day across all six of our dogs.

I could go on!

However, I should get to the point of this post and that is to republish the following article.

It is most interesting.

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6 ways to improve your bond with your dog

It begins with how connected the two of you are.

Jaymi Heimbuch Jaymi Heimbuch,   March 31, 2020

There are easy ways to build a stronger bond with your dog, including small changes in your daily routine. (Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock)

As the saying goes, dogs are our best friends. But maybe it doesn’t feel quite so buddy-buddy between you and your dog these days. Perhaps you’re constantly frustrated because your dog ignores your commands or is always getting in your way when you’re doing chores around the house, or doesn’t cuddle like you wish he would.

What these and other issues often comes down to is how bonded you are as a team. This bond isn’t something that automatically happens as soon as you bring a dog home. It also isn’t static. It’s something that takes work to build and can grow over time. If you want to have a dog that is more attentive to you, here’s how to start.

Study up on dog body language

Your dog is communicating. Are you listening? (Photo: Sudowoodo/Shutterstock)

Have you ever had a great friendship where one of you does all the talking? Likely not. A real friendship requires talking and listening by both parties, a two-way communication that allows each to know what the other is thinking and feeling. As two highly social species, both dogs and humans have intricate ways of communicating with others. However, we humans tend to dominate the conversation with our dogs. We have an expectation for them to understand everything we’re asking of them, yet we don’t always put equal work into finding out what they’re asking of us. But we can.

Dogs tell us vast amounts of information through body language. From the more obvious cues like how high or low a tail is held, how quickly it is wagging and in what direction, or how they’re holding their ears, to the more subtle language held in the shape of their eyes, the angle at which they’re holding their body to something, or the tenseness of the corners of their mouths, are all words written on a billboard for us to read.

If you want to build a better bond with your dog, the first place to start is to study how dogs communicate with their bodies. You can then better understand what your dog is trying to tell you, and when you start listening, the two of you will get along much more easily.

Get to know your dog’s likes and dislikes — and respect them

Some dogs like hugs, but many don’t. (Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

Just like humans, individual dogs have their personal likes and dislikes. Some dogs enjoy cuddling while others prefer to have space. Some adore a game of fetch while others would rather play tug. Some love to learn new tricks and some would rather just go on a walk. Some dogs enjoy affection of all kinds, including hugs, but many dogs barely tolerate, or even flat out dislike being hugged. There are many things we humans assume dogs enjoy when really, they are just tolerating it.

Knowing your dog’s individual likes and dislikes, and then respecting them, is the key to connecting with your dog. If you pay close attention, you may find that your dog doesn’t like the hugs you give her. But she really loves being scratched behind her ears. By realizing this, you can swap out the hugs for ear scratches and your dog will recognize that you’re someone far more enjoyable to be around because she won’t have to suffer through the things she dislikes and will readily receive the things she does want.

But this goes beyond the right kinds of affection. By recognizing that your dog loves playing a certain game, or a certain type of toy, you can use these preferences to your advantage in training. Maybe your dog is more food-motivated than toy-motivated, or prefers a game of chase above all other things.

The best reward is the one your dog wants the most and will work the hardest to receive. So figuring out what your dog likes and dislikes is also part of getting the most out of your training sessions.

Train your dog every day

Dogs like to learn, so make training sessions a part of each day. (Photo: Jne Valokuvaus/Shutterstock)

One of the best ways you can improve your connection with your canine companion is to work on training every day using positive reinforcement. Exercising your dog’s brain to learn something new and providing rewards for successes is a great way to increase trust and joyful experiences between you and your dog.

Training happens every day whether you’re aware of it or not — every walk, every interaction with other dogs or people, every interaction with you is essentially a form of training, of shaping your dog’s perception of the world and behaviors, good or bad. So make a conscious effort to get the most out of these moments. You can work on a new trick or even practice old behaviors to freshen up on them. When you go on walks together, make them interactive, asking your dog to sit at every corner, to change direction with you randomly, to change the side he walks on, to change his pace to match yours as you slow down and speed up.

However you choose to work on it, be sure that some form of active training with positive reinforcement happens each day. You’ll notice a distinct difference in how much attention your dog pays you, and how much more fluidly you interact.

Set up your dog for success.

Success comes down to trust. (Photo: Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock)

Having effective training sessions and a dog that trusts you lies in large part in setting your dog up to be successful when you ask him to do something. For example, asking your dog to do a difficult trick and withholding rewards until he gets it right only increases the amount of frustration you both feel and decreases the amount of fun your dog has in trying to do what you ask. Instead, break a trick down into small, accomplishable pieces that your dog can build on, and reward your dog for each successfully completed step.

Setting your dog up for success goes well beyond training and into every day life. Think about how your dog might view or react to a situation, and if it will be positive or negative. Take steps to reduce the possibility of negative consequences. For instance, don’t leave the food bin unattended with the lid off and expect your dog not to dive in face first the second you leave the room. Or on a social level, don’t push your dog to interact with another dog or person who he’s clearly uncomfortable with, which could lead to a fight or a bite and a loss of trust in you to protect them. (And along those lines, read up on the 15 things humans do wrong at dog parks, which is all about trust.)

Know your dog’s preferences and limits well enough to determine what situations he can and can’t handle. Then modify the situation the dog is in to be one that he’ll handle with flying colors. Making the effort to help your dog have successful interactions with you and others will increase your dog’s confidence as well as his trust in you as a strong and safe leader.

Be the source of all life’s necessities and goodies

The one time you know you have your dogs’ attention is when you have their favorite treat in hand. (Photo: Cryptographer/Shutterstock)

If you want your dog to hang on your every word, then you want to be the sole source of all life’s wonderful things, including food and toys. If you are free-feeding your dog, put away the food bowl. If toys are scattered around the floor or in a place a dog can get to easily, hide them in the closet. These things are rewards that are earned, and your dog is going to be much more attentive if you are a walking goodies dispenser.

When it comes to food, have your dog work for snacks and meals just as he works for treats. For meal times, prepare your dog’s food but have him wait a few minutes, or ask him to do a few tricks before giving the OK for him to dive in. This creates a connection in your dog’s mind that working with you earns access to that delicious food. For play time, pull out toys for special play sessions, reserving tug-o-war, fetch, hide-and-seek and other games for when the two of you play together, or as a reward during or after training sessions.

When you are the provider of all life’s good things, your dog will look to you — and listen to you — much more readily. This will help so much with getting and keeping your dog’s attention when you need it.

Spend one-on-one time every day

Your dog wants her own special time with you every day. (Photo: Holly Michele/Shutterstock)

Speaking of special play sessions, make sure you spend time focused on just your dog every day. This doesn’t include walks when you’re distracted on your phone, or in the yard when you’re gardening and your dog is wandering around smelling things. One-on-one time is 30 minutes or more of time spent playing brain games, grooming, going on an interactive walk, even talking with your dog.

This is a great time to practice reading your dog’s body language, to gauge his energy level to see if he needs extra exercise, and to build on all you’ve done to help grow and solidify the connection and trust you have with your dog. Plus, it’s simply quiet, stress-free time for you to enjoy with the company of your four-legged friend.

Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

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This is a really great article. As it says about Jaymi: “Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

The content is fabulous and everyone, including us, should read it carefully. That last sentence says it all: “Dogs are a social species just like humans, and time spent focused on each other will increase the connection you share, which benefits both of you.

Please, if you come across dogs being treated in a less than loving manner, report the human!

Here’s a question?

The future President of the USA.

This article has quite a serious element to it. Namely, about not trusting a person who doesn’t like a dog.

But before I go to the article let me just say to my grandson:

Happy Birthday, Morten!

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Could a dog pick the next president?

By

Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University, March 3, 2020

I’m not sure who first said it, but it’s clear a lot of people agree with the sentiment: “Never trust a person who doesn’t like dogs.” Many pet lovers share the belief that a person’s attitude to dogs reveals something essential about their character.

During the political campaign season, Americans are deciding who has the characteristics, skills and temperament to be president. As a dog psychologist and founder of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, I spend my time studying the relationship between dogs and their people. I’d certainly be happy if a candidate’s attitude toward dogs could offer a simple way to evaluate a leader’s personality, cutting to the essence of a person’s character and clinching my vote without needing a detailed assessment of their policy proposals.

Is it enough just to follow the leash to choose a leader? There must be good people with bad dogs, or no dog at all, and some notoriously bad people who were loved by their dogs, no? But I want to believe that canine companionship can still shed light on human character and help us pick a candidate.

Dogless in the White House

For the past three years, the pup-parazzi have been speculating on President Donald Trump’s dogless existence at the White House. It’s certainly most common for the president to have a dog – perhaps because, as someone reputedly said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

The Washington Post has claimed that every occupant of the White House since William McKinley has had a dog at some point. Just a couple of weeks ago, Trump declared at a rally that having a dog would be “phony.”

The only dog he has expressed any enthusiasm for while in office was the Belgian Malinois involved in the raid that resulted in the death of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As for al-Baghdadi, Trump said he “died like a dog.”

Dog friends

Among the Democratic front-runners, Joe Biden shares his life with a German shepherd, Major. This may be a good move for the uniformed vote: German shepherds are a favored breed of military and police forces. Biden has always preferred German shepherds, but, for his latest – acquired in November 2018 – he softened the image by adopting a puppy that had been exposed to toxic chemicals and was being cared for by the Delaware Humane Society.

Biden might want to be careful of the historical baggage that comes with this popular large breed. The most famous German shepherd in politics must surely have been Blondi, the dog Adolf Hitler himself said was the only being that loved him.

Elizabeth Warren’s dog, Bailey, gets a belly rub from a supporter. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren has a dog with a gentler association. Warren’s stereotypically family-friendly golden retriever, Bailey, is named for George Bailey from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Warren said she named her dog for “a guy who was decent, determined and saw the best in people.” Warren’s Bailey is front and center in all her campaign activities.

Bailey features so prominently in his owner’s social media feeds that Warren might want to be careful not to be upstaged by her pooch. George H.W. Bush’s dog, Millie, published a memoir that outsold President Ronald Reagan’s contemporaneous “An American Life.”

Pete Buttigieg has suspended his campaign, effectively dropping out of the race. He and his husband Chasten already had a shelter mutt, Truman, when they added another – Buddy – to their household in December 2018. Marie Claire magazine considers Buddy and Trumanthe cutest fur babies in all of politics.” Buddy is the ultimate underdog: rescued from a shelter, of no particular heritage. With only one eye, he peeks out from Instagram voicing droll commentary on the goings-on.

Dog-detached?

Other candidates either have no dog or are happy to keep their canine enthusiasms to themselves.

The Facebook group “Pet Lovers for Bernie Sanders” had to photo-edit dogs into an image of Sanders and his wife, who have no dog.

These pets do not actually belong to Bernie Sanders. Pet Lovers for Bernie Sanders Facebook group

Michael Bloomberg was in the “apparently dogless” camp until just the other week when he got into a spot of dog difficulty by shaking a pooch by its snout rather than engaging in one of the more customary forms of interspecies greeting. The dog looked unperturbed, but pet lovers on social media roasted Bloomberg for his maladroitness.

The billionaire’s campaign quickly stitched together a 30-second ad spot of dogs voiced to endorse their candidate – ending with a cute white Lab who “says,” “I’m Mike Bloomberg’s dog, and I approve this message.”

Canine character references

Of course, dogless people get elected all the time – they can always pick up a pooch later. The Obama family did not acquire their dog, Bo, until three months after the inauguration. Having originally indicated an interest in rescuing a shelter mutt, they ended up with a pedigree Portuguese water dog because of their daughter Malia’s allergies. Though often known as the “Big Dog,” Bill Clinton did not acquire a dog of his own, a chocolate Labrador retriever, until his second term.

On Trump’s doglessness, the memoirs of his ex-wife, Ivana, are often quoted: “Donald was not a dog fan. When I told him I was bringing Chappy with me to New York, he said, ‘No.’ ‘It’s me and Chappy or no one!’ I insisted, and that was that.” But two sentences farther on – and far less frequently cited – Ivana adds, “Donald never objected to Chappy’s sleeping on my side of the bed.”

In fact, from 2010 to 2015, the Westminster Kennel Club had a tradition of sending the winner of its annual show to be photographed with Trump at his eponymous New York tower. Images from that time show Trump happily hugging the pooches.

Donald Trump poses with the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2010. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Witness accounts from these meetings, quoted by Snopes.com in an assessment of the claim that Trump hates dogs, recall Trump thoroughly enjoying himself cuddling the prize-winning canines. Snopes concluded that claims Trump considers dogs “disgusting” were just plain false.

Meanwhile, Harry Truman, to whom the claim about dog friendship in Washington is often mistakenly attributed, not only declined to bring a dog into the White House; he actually gave away a cocker spaniel puppy named Feller that was given to him.

Asked at a press conference in April 1947 what had become of the pup, Truman responded: “To what?” On receiving clarification, he lied, “Oh, he’s around.” In fact, Truman had already given Feller away to his physician, Brig. Gen. Wallace Graham.

Much as we might like dogs to tell us whom to vote for, the truth is, dogs are such forgiving assessors of human character that their appraisals need to be taken with more than a pinch of salt. We may just have to do the hard yards and learn about the candidate’s policies. It isn’t easy. Maybe not having to participate in a democracy is what keeps our dogs so happy.

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This is both a lovely and intelligent article. Professor Clive Wynne raises some important points but concludes that we shouldn’t take it too seriously. I, for one, would not trust a person who doesn’t like dogs!

Wow! What a stupendous sight!

Mars!

I’m not going to do anything other than launch straight into this post. Taken from EarthSky.

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Curiosity rover on Mars snags highest-resolution panorama yet

What on earth are we going to do?

A very powerful essay from George Monbiot.

Today and tomorrow I am posting essays that have nothing to do with dogs! Today, I am sharing George’s gloom about the future, tomorrow I am sharing our human capacity for incredible ingenuity and technology.

Because I sense we are a species of two extremes; the very mad and the very clever!

I don’t have an answer but I can share these two essays.

Today, I give you George Monbiot’s essay Suing For Survival.

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Suing For Survival

Our legal action against the government aims to shut down fossil fuels

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 4th March 2020

Our survival is not an afterthought. The defence of the living planet cannot be tacked retrospectively onto business as usual. Yet this is how almost all governments operate. They slap the word “sustainable” on damaging projects they have already approved, then insist this means they’ve gone green. If we are to survive and prosper, everything must change. Every decision should begin with the question of what the planet can withstand.

This means that any discussion about new infrastructure should begin with ecological constraints. The figures are stark. A paper published in Nature last year showed that existing energy infrastructure, if it is allowed to run to the end of its natural life, will produce around 660 gigatonnes of CO2. Yet, to stand a reasonable chance of preventing more than 1.5°C of global heating, we can afford to release, in total, no more than 580 gigatonnes. In other words, far from building new fossil power plants, the survival of a habitable planet means retiring the damaging projects that have already been built. Electricity plants burning coal and gas and oil will not secure our prosperity. They will destroy it.

But everywhere special interests dominate. Construction projects are driven, above all, by the lobbying of the construction industry, consultancies and financiers. Gigantic and destructive schemes, such as the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, are invented by lobbyists for the purpose of generating contracts. Political support is drummed up, the project achieves its own momentum, then, belatedly, a feeble attempt is made to demonstrate that it can somehow become compatible with environmental promises. This is what destroys civilisations: a mismatch between the greed of economic elites and the needs of society.

But last week, something momentous happened. The decision to build a scheme with vast financial backing and terrible environmental impacts was struck down by the Court of Appeal. The judges decided that government policy, on which planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow was based, had failed to take account of the UK’s climate commitments, and was therefore unlawful. This is – or should be – the end of business as usual.

The Heathrow decision stands as a massive and crucial precedent. Now we must use it to insist that governments everywhere put our survival first, and the demands of corporate lobbyists last. To this end, with the Good Law Project and Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, I’m pursuing a similar claim. In this case, we are challenging the UK government’s policy for approving new energy projects.

On Tuesday, we delivered a “letter before action” to the Treasury solicitor. We’ve given the government 21 days to accept our case and change its policy to reflect the climate commitments agreed by Parliament. If it fails to do so, we shall issue proceedings in the High Court to have the policy declared unlawful. We’ll need money, so we’ve launched a crowdfunding appeal to finance the action.

It’s hard to see how the government could resist our case. The Heathrow judgement hung on the government’s national policy statement on airports. This, the judges found, had not been updated to take account of the Paris climate agreement. New fossil fuel plants, such as the gas burners at Drax in Yorkshire the government approved last October, are enabled by something very similar: the national policy statements on energy infrastructure. These have not been updated since they were published in 2011. As a result, they take no account of the Paris agreement, of the government’s new climate target (net zero by 2050, as opposed to an 80% cut) or of Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency. The main policy statement says that the European Emissions Trading System “forms the cornerstone of UK action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector”. As we have left the EU, this, obviously, no longer holds. The planning act obliges the government to review its national policy statements when circumstances change. It has failed to do so. It is disregarding its own laws.

These outdated policy statements create a presumption in favour of new fossil fuel plants. Once a national policy statement has been published, there is little objectors can do to prevent damaging projects from going ahead. In approving the Drax plant, the secretary of state for business and energy at the time (Andrea Leadsom) insisted that the policy statement came first, regardless of the climate impacts. Catastrophic decisions like this will continue to be made until the statements change. They are incompatible with either the government’s new climate commitments or a habitable planet.

While we are challenging the government’s energy policies, another group – the Transport Action Network – is about to challenge its road building schemes on the same basis. It points out that the national policy statement on road networks is also outdated and incompatible with the UK’s climate commitments. The policy statement, astonishingly, insists that “any increase in carbon emissions is not a reason to refuse development consent“, unless the increase is so great that the road would prevent the government from meeting its national targets. No single road project can be disqualified on these grounds. But the cumulative effect of new road building ensures that the UK will inevitably bust its carbon targets. While carbon emissions are officially disregarded, minuscule time savings are used to justify massive and damaging projects.

Transport emissions have been rising for the past five years, partly because of road building. The government tries to justify its schemes by claiming that cars will use less fossil fuel. But because they are becoming bigger and heavier, new cars sold in the UK now produce more carbon dioxide per kilometre than older models.

The perverse and outdated national policy statement locks into place such damaging projects as the A303 works around Stonehenge, the A27 Arundel scheme, the Lower Thames crossing, the Port of Liverpool access road, the Silvertown tunnel in London and the Wensum Link road in Norfolk. A government seeking to protect the lives of current and future generations would immediately strike down the policy that supports these projects, and replace it with one that emphasised walking, cycling and public transport.

A third action has been launched by Chris Packham and the law firm Leigh Day, challenging HS2 on similar grounds. Its carbon emissions were not properly taken into account, and its environmental impacts were assessed before the government signed the Paris agreement.

Already, the Heathrow decision is resonating around the world. Now we need to drive its implications home, by suing for survival. If we can oblige governments to resist the demands of corporate lobbyists and put life before profit, humanity might just stand a chance.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Now this essay is about the situation in the U.K. but only a fool would think that it’s not relevant to the rest of the planet.

I beseech you to read it!

“Life before profit.” Now there’s a thought!

A leap into the unknown!

A slight tongue-in-cheek title to today’s post.

Because it is a leap day!

So I’m going back a long time.

I was born towards the tail end of 1944; six months before the end of WWII in Europe.

As such I was in my early twenties when NASA came to the wider attention of millions of people with their effort to put a man on the moon. It was enthralling to look up at the night sky when a moon was present and think that in time there would be a man standing on the moon’s surface.

Now that I am 75 many things have changed. But one of them has not: Staring up at the night sky and getting lost in thought. Luckily we live in a rural location without artificial light anywhere nearby and the night skies are very clear.

All of which takes me back to my days of sailing. From 1986 until 1991 I lived on a deep-water ketch, a Tradewind 33, based in Larnaca, in Cyprus. Each Spring, I would solo across to the Turkish coast, or the Greek coast, and meet up with friends, or my son and daughter, and go coastal cruising. Then in the last year I sailed for England. I well recall seeing the night sky all around me with the stars practically down the watery horizon.

But more of that some other day. Now back to the moon.

All of which is to republish this post and I do hope you will be able to read it fully.

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NASA video reconstructs the harrowing lunar journey of Apollo 13

By Michael d’Estries, February 26, 2020

NASA’s reconstruction of the moon’s far side is based off images received by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. (Photo: NASA/Snapshot from video/YouTube)

On April 15, 1970, NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 set a Guinness World Record for the highest absolute altitude attained by a crewed spacecraft at a distance of 248,655 miles from Earth. Nearly 50 years later, that unplanned record still stands as part of a mission beset by technical glitches and saved by engineering heroism.

“We didn’t slow down, unlike the others, when we got to the moon because we needed its gravity to get back, so we hold the altitude record,” Lowell told the Financial Times in 2011. “I never even thought about it. Records are only made to be broken.”

Gliding by the moon’s far side at an altitude of only 158 miles, the crew of Apollo 13 were, at the time, one of only a handful of humans to ever gaze upon this strange and relatively-unknown terrain of our closest neighbor. Because the moon is tidally locked, a phenomenon in which an orbiting body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner, only one side ever faces the Earth.

Using imagery collected by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, NASA has recreated views observed by Apollo 13 during the crew’s harrowing 25-minute journey around the moon’s far side.

“This video showcases visualizations in 4K resolution of many of those lunar surface views, starting with earthset and sunrise, and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control,” the agency said in a release. “Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in ‘real-time.'”

This video uses data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to recreate some of the stunning views of the Moon that the Apollo 13 astronauts saw on their perilous journey around the farside in 1970. These visualizations, in 4K resolution, depict many different views of the lunar surface, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in “real-time.” Credits: Data Visualization by: Ernie Wright (USRA) Video Produced & Edited by: David Ladd (USRA) Music provided by Universal Production Music: “Visions of Grandeur” – Frederick Wiedmann

According to Lowell, despite the astronauts’ extremely close proximity, the moon was not the most awe-inspiring scene outside the spacecraft window.

“The impression I got up there wasn’t what the moon looked like so close up, but what the Earth looked like,” he said.

“The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you’ve ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy. You realize how insignificant we really all are. Everything you’ve ever known — all those arguments and wars — is right behind your thumb.”

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Did you watch the video? It’s amazing and is literally the dark side of the moon!

I will close by republishing a Wikipedia entry for Apollo 13.

Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module (SM) failed two days into the mission. The crew instead looped around the Moon, and returned safely to Earth on April 17. The mission was commanded by Jim Lovell with Jack Swigert as command module (CM) pilot and Fred Haise as lunar module (LM) pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for Ken Mattingly, who was grounded after exposure to rubella.

Accidental ignition of damaged wire insulation inside the oxygen tank as it was being routinely stirred caused an explosion that vented the tank’s contents. Without oxygen, needed both for breathing and for generating electric power, the SM’s propulsion and life support systems could not operate. The CM’s systems had to be shut down to conserve its remaining resources for reentry, forcing the crew to transfer to the LM as a lifeboat. With the lunar landing canceled, mission controllers worked to bring the crew home alive.

Although the LM was designed to support two men on the lunar surface for two days, Mission Control in Houston improvised new procedures so it could support three men for four days. The crew experienced great hardship caused by limited power, a chilly and wet cabin and a shortage of potable water. There was a critical need to adapt the CM’s cartridges for the carbon dioxide removal system to work in the LM; the crew and mission controllers were successful in improvising a solution. The astronauts’ peril briefly renewed interest in the Apollo program; tens of millions watched the splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean by television.

An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The board recommended changes, including minimizing the use of potentially combustible items inside the tank; this was done for Apollo 14. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.

A further word about natural supplements

Stick to the major brands and you should be alright!

Following my republication of the article in The Conversation two days ago, I have now come to a conclusion. That is that if one sticks to major brands or supplements made in the USA then one should be perfectly safe.

Margaret of Tasmania made a recommendation to use ConsumerLab.com and it appears a brilliant suggestion.

What to make of natural supplements

Yet another dog-free post!

I read this a few days ago and vowed to republish it in this place. Because I had assumed that supplements were safe to take. This copy of a recent article in The Conversation suggests otherwise.

Read it and then let me know your thoughts.

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Natural supplements can be dangerously contaminated, or not even have the specified ingredients

February 14, 2020 5.23pm EST. Updated February 17, 2020 5.43pm EST
By Professor Michael White, Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut

Some supplement products contain substances that are harmful. Getty Images / David Malan

More than two-thirds of Americans take dietary supplements. The vast majority of consumers – 84% – are confident the products are safe and effective.

They should not be so trusting.

I’m a professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut. As described in my new article in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, consumers take real risks if they use diet supplements not independently verified by reputable outside labs.

What are the risks?

Heavy metals, which are known to cause cancer, dementia and brittle bones, contaminate many diet supplements. One study of 121 products revealed 5% of them surpassed the safe daily consumption limit for arsenic. Two percent had excess lead, cadmium and aluminum; and 1% had too much mercury. In June 2019, the Food and Drug Administration seized 300,000 dietary supplement bottles because their pills contained excessive lead levels.

Bacterial and fungal contamination in dietary supplements is not uncommon. In one assessment, researchers found bacteria in all 138 products they investigated. Toxic fungi were also in many of the supplements, and counts for numerous products exceeded the acceptable limits set by the United States Pharmacopeia. Fungal contamination of diet supplements has been linked to serious liver, intestinal and appendix damage.

From 2017-18, dozens were hospitalized with salmonella poisoning after ingesting kratom, a highly addictive natural opioid. Thirty-seven of the kratom products studied were contaminated.

There are ways consumers can verify the quality and safety of supplements. Getty Images / Tanya Constantine

Some dietary supplements contain drugs, yet the manufacturers don’t disclose that information to consumers. Frequently, the concealed drugs are experimental and, in some cases, removed from the market because they’re dangerous. Hundreds of weight-loss, sexual-dysfunction and muscle-building products are adulterated with inferior or harmful substances.

Sometimes, the herb you think you’re buying contains little to no active ingredient. Occasionally, another herb is substituted.

The consequences for consumers are considerable. When manufacturers replaced the herb Stephania tetrandra with the herb Aristolochia fangchi in 2000, more than 100 patients developed severe kidney damage; 18 more got kidney or bladder cancer. Although the herb is now banned by the U.S., a 2014 investigation found Aristolochia fangchi in 20% of the Chinese herbal products sold on the internet.

In an assessment of CBD products, only 12.5% of vaporization liquids, 25% of tinctures and 45% of oils contained the promised amount of CBD. In most cases they held far less. A few CBD products had enough THC to put the user in legal jeopardy of marijuana possession.

Embarrassed by a New York Attorney General’s Office investigation suggesting widespread and fraudulent under-dosing of active ingredients in dietary supplements, CVS pharmacies analyzed 1,400 products that it previously sold in its stores. Seven percent, or about 100 products, failed, resulting in updates to the supplement facts panel or removal of the product from shelves.

It can be difficult for the FDA to adequately oversee supplements. Associated Press / Andrew Harnik

What should consumers do?

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows manufacturers to sell dietary supplements without providing proof of their quality to the FDA. Instead, it’s up to the FDA to prove a product is unsafe and take it off the market. That’s an incredibly tall order, and woefully inadequate. But it’s unlikely to change.

In the meantime, I recommend that consumers should not purchase supplements without verification from one of three highly regarded independent laboratories: the aforementioned United States Pharmacopeia, NSF International and ConsumerLabs.com. The United States Pharmacopeia is an organization that sets reference and quality standards for prescription medication and food in the U.S.; the NSF International is an independent group that assesses safety and risk for food, water and consumer products; and ConsumerLabs.com is a company started to verify product quality for consumers that are paying members. These laboratories conduct an initial analysis and then perform periodic unannounced assessments of the products; those with the appropriate amount of active ingredient, and without contamination or adulteration, can put the United States Pharmacopeia, NSF and ConsumerLabs.com seals on their bottles. CVS announced that all products sold at its stores going forward will need to provide the company proof of quality. Other major retailers should follow suit.

Some manufacturers conduct quality testing and post certificates of analysis on their websites. But the autonomy of the laboratory, and its standards, are often not known. Sometimes, labs may select an inappropriate testing method, intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes they perform the test incorrectly, or simply make up results.

Because the FDA can’t fully protect you from quality issues in dietary supplements – at least not right now – you must protect yourself. Even if a celebrity or “health guru” recommends a product, that doesn’t mean it’s high-quality. Before you put any supplement into your body, demand proof.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

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I was about to close it there and then I saw another report, in the same vein, come up on the Harvard Health Blog.  Now I can’t republish it in full but essentially it is a reprint of the above. But here’s a taster:

Harmful effects of supplements can send you to the emergency department

Susan Farrell, MD

Contributing Editor

For many people, a healthy lifestyle means more than eating a good diet and getting enough exercise — vitamins, supplements, and complementary nutritional products are also part of the plan. But though there is much publicity about their potential benefits, there is less awareness of their possible harmful effects.

In fact, using these products can land you in the emergency department.

A study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine found that adverse effects of supplements were responsible for an average of about 23,000 emergency department (ED) visits per year. That’s a lot for something that is supposed to be good for you.

Now we too take a fair handful of supplements.

I’ve stopped all of them while I do more research.

I shall be happy to share our findings.

That pale blue dot!

Carl Sagan’s legacy!

Last Friday saw the thirtieth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s iconic photograph, or rather NASA’s photograph, of Planet Earth. Carl persuaded NASA to turn Voyager 1, as it left the Solar System, and take the photo. It became famous almost instantly and became known as the pale blue dot.

Here’s a shortened Wikipedia account of Carl Sagan’s book:

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space is a 1994 book by Carl Sagan. It is the sequel to Cosmos and was inspired by the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph, for which Sagan provides a poignant description. In this book, Sagan mixes philosophy about the human place in the universe with a description of the current knowledge about the Solar System. He also details a human vision for the future.

Here’s the latest from NASA.

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’Pale Blue Dot’ Revisited

February 12th, 2020

This updated version of the iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft uses modern image-processing software and techniques to revisit the well-known Voyager view while attempting to respect the original data and intent of those who planned the images.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”

The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.

The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe — along with its sibling, Voyager 2 — would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity.


This simulated view, made using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System app, approximates Voyager 1’s perspective when it took its final series of images known as the “Family Portrait of the Solar System,” including the “Pale Blue Dot” image. Move the slider to the left to see the location of each image. (You have to go here to see the full image. Ed.)
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This celebrated Voyager 1 view was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the “Family Portrait of the Solar System.” This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun. The Pale Blue Dot view was created using the color images Voyager took of Earth.

The popular name of this view is traced to the title of the 1994 book by Voyager imaging scientist Carl Sagan, who originated the idea of using Voyager’s cameras to image the distant Earth and played a critical role in enabling the family portrait images to be taken.

Additional information about the Pale Blue Dot image is available at:

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/536/voyager-1s-pale-blue-dot/

The original Pale Blue Dot and Family Portrait images are available at:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA00452

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA00451

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/voyager

https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

Calla Cofield​
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
626-808-2469
calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

Written by Preston Dyches

2020-030

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Voyager 1 is now nearly 14 billion miles from Planet Earth and still going strong. It has a plutonium battery that will last for eighty years. A one-way radio signal from Earth takes about twenty hours to reach the probe.

And now for something different but still to do with space.

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NASA astronaut Christina Koch recently returned to Earth after 328 days in space, breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She completed six spacewalks while on the International Space Station, including the first all-female spacewalk with astronaut Jessica Meir.

When she finally made it home, her beloved pup, LBD (Little Brown Dog), couldn’t contain her excitement.

Koch shared a video on Twitter of the moment she walked through her front door and LBD pounced to shower her with kisses.

“Not sure who was more excited,” she captioned the video. “Glad she remembers me after a year!”

“We call her LBD, little brown dog, she’s from the Humane Society and she couldn’t be sweeter,” Koch told Insider on a phone call with reporters from the Johnson Space Centre.

“And yes, she was very excited, I was very excited, I’m not sure who was more excited! … You know it’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favourite animal.”

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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Now I can’t disappear without acknowledging the fantastic work of Carl Sagan.

And I can’t do better than republish the first bit of a wonderful piece on Carl put out by Wikipedia.

Carl Edward Sagan (/ˈsɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is best known as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.[

He died far too young in my opinion!

But not without leaving a tremendous legacy – The Pale Blue Dot.