Category: People

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!

Of certainties

The immovable markers in one’s life.

My father's 21st birthday- June 15th, 1922
My father’s 21st birthday- June 15th, 1922

Today, sixty years ago, my father died.

Yes, December 20th., 1956. Just five days before Christmas Day.

I had turned 12 on November 8th that year and my dear sister, Elizabeth, was then 7-years-old.

Ten years ago this very day, in other words on the fiftieth anniversary of my father’s death, something happened to me when I was living in the small South Devon village of Harberton; just three miles from Totnes. That ‘something’ started a chain of events that led to me meeting Jeannie in Mexico and us becoming married in Arizona on November 20th, 2010.

Upper Barn, Harberton
Upper Barn, Harberton: My home until early 2007.

I accept that this is of little interest to you, dear reader, but I wanted to put the following ‘out there’.

December 20th will always be a poignant day, until I take my last breath.

But it will also be the most precious day in the year for, again, until I take my last breath December 20th. will always mark the start of my journey to meeting Jean.

Loving Jean and being loved so much in return is as much an immovable marker in my life as was my father’s death.

Life can offer so many twists and turns!

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.

pilot1oooo

pilot2oooo

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!

In recognition of our mothers.

A month ago this day my mother died.

Not long before my mother died we contracted with a local landscaper, Leif Monchallin, to do quite an extensive improvement to the area of land that is to the front of the house. One of the improvements is putting in a dry-stone wall at the top of the driveway just before it splits into a turning circle. The photograph below shows the early stages of that wall.

p1160682Anyway, Jeannie came up with the idea of putting in some sort of engraved stone right in the centre of the wall. Leif knew of a local stone mason, Oregon Valley Sign Company, and off Jean and I went to meet Bryan Schram, who with his wife, run the business.

Bryan Sch at work
Bryan Schram at work.

Between the three of us we came up with a form of words that seemed highly appropriate.

But first off Jean and I had to locate a suitable stone for the engraving and take it over to Bryan’s premises.

Once that was done then it was about a week before we went to collect the engraved stone with the lettering also painted (that was Bryan’s wife’s area of expertise).

Finally, Leif placed the engraved stone in the wall after taking meticulous care to ensure it was perfectly positioned.

Here’s the result.

p1160722My mother was a musician and music teacher for most of her life and Jeannie’s Mum, Florence, was a great lover of music and dancing. Hence the clefs either side of the wording.

A rather special reminder of our mothers; don’t you think!

Possibly more harmful things!

Four household products that could be making you sick.

In yesterday’s post I republished an email sent by fellow author Judi Holdeman warning about some brands of peanut butter in terms of potential harm to our gorgeous dogs. Or to be more precise about the dangers of xylitol that is an ingredient in those named brands.

Today, I am delighted to publish a guest post from Charlotte Meier. Charlotte explained to me that she “Operates Home Safety Hub, a site which provides resources on preventing injury and property loss. Her mission is the same as Home Safety Hub’s, which is to help people keep their homes safe. ” Yes, keeping our homes safe includes keeping our dogs safe.

Here is that guest post.

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Four household products that could be making you sick.

charlotte We tend to believe that household products such as cleaners or kitchen utensils are good for us. Keeping your house bacteria-free surely can’t have a negative effect on your well-being, right? Unfortunately, as the world becomes more eco-friendly, studies are now showing that your favorite household products could be damaging both you and the planet.

It is critical that you do the research necessary to identify healthy and eco-friendly products. However, that may be easier said than done. Here are a few common household products that could be harmful to your health or the environment.

Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware (such as pots, pans, and baking dishes) was initially celebrated and sought-after, seeming to make cooking simpler and cleanup easy. However, we now know that the nonstick surface is created using Teflon which releases toxic gasses. When you use this cookware at a high temperature, you are essentially poisoning yourself and placing yourself at risk for organ failure, cancer, and other health concerns.

A few healthy alternatives are cast iron, stainless steel, and ceramic coated cookware. Just be certain you do your research on the proper way to care for each type of cookware. For example, cast iron cannot be washed with soap and should be dried immediately after rinsing to avoid rust.

Air Fresheners

Keeping your home smelling fresh with wall plug-ins or sprays is very common. However, many of these products can have a detrimental impact on your health. Furthermore, aerosols are very bad for the environment.

If you want your home to smell wonderful, there are a number of ways you can do so in an eco-friendly and beneficial way. Scented soy candles can be highly effective as can boiling aromatic spices. Recipes for seasonal home scent blends can be found for essential oil diffusers as well.

Garden Insecticides

If you are using insecticides in your garden or on your landscaping, lawn, or potted plants, you are endangering your health and the well-being of the planet. Insecticides are extraordinarily harmful, affecting the nervous system and respiratory system in humans while carrying toxins to water supplies and culling bee populations.

If you have a pest problem, you need to either seek out a home remedy such as vinegar or purchase a genuinely eco-friendly insect control.

Anti-Bacterial Cleaners

Exposure to bacteria is how our immune systems learn and grow. In order do that, you must embrace bacteria in your home. Anti-bacterial products keep your home sterile, leaving your immune system to drop its guard and increase the likelihood of getting sick. When you clean your home, you certainly want to keep it clean, but you do not want it entirely sterile. Anti-bacterial products may do more harm than good.

If you want an eco-friendly cleaner, try utilizing the app ThinkDirty, which rates the safety of household products in terms of their impact on people and the planet. Seventh Generation is one of the best lines of household goods for those seeking eco-friendly options.

Knowing how to best keep yourself and the planet well can be very difficult. False or misleading advertising can trick you into using unhealthy products and knowing what is truthful is no easy feat. However, with a little time, effort, and research, you can make the right decisions with your household products.

Image via Pixabay by Taken

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There you are good people; another Friday come and gone.
But I do hope that you found value in what Charlotte wrote about. Indeed, I have no doubt that many of you did.
Let me close by sharing the email that Charlotte sent me a couple of weeks ago.

Hi!
Our homes are our safe havens. In fact, the term “homesick” refers to a longing for the comfort and love that we associate with home when we’re away from it.
But many Americans, today, are homesick in a different way. They (and often their pets as well) are suffering from respiratory illnesses, skin irritations, allergies, and in some cases, even cancer, due to factors found in their homes.

As part of my research for my new site, HomeSafetyHub.org, I’ve been studying ways our homes make us sick and what we can do about them. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with your readers in the form of a guest article.

The article will offer tips and advice on what factors to test for, suggestions for easy, environmentally-friendly DIY repairs to eliminate problems, what products or building materials to avoid, and more.

If you’re interested in receiving a guest article, please let me know. No payment necessary, of course, I’d just love the opportunity to share my original content on a great site.
Hope to hear from you soon!
All the best,
Charlotte

What to say to the kids.

Reflections on what we leave behind.

I included in yesterday’s post the interview with Bill Kotke and his concern that humanity’s greed, and that’s the correct term in my view, focusing on each generation having more, howsoever one defines ‘more’, was utterly at odds with a sustainable future on the only home we have: Planet Earth.  A finite planet in a finite solar system.

On Monday I was chatting with Roger D. back in the old country. It was Roger who introduced me to gliding back in the late 70s. Later we were in business together in Colchester, Essex and we still keep in touch.

Anyway, Roger was bemoaning the current state of affairs in the UK regarding Brexit and went on to say that every economic strategy offered by this or that UK Government was about growth. Whether we are talking economic growth, improvement in living standards or population growth why are there no leading figures in any leading government standing up and saying this can’t go on! Because it can’t!

world_population_1050_to_2050We are presently a global population of 7.5 billion. This year alone, as of today, there have been 56,000,000 deaths. But also, as of today, there have been 133,000,000 births. (I rounded the figures but what difference does it make!) That’s a growth of 77 million persons in this one year. It cannot go on!

Bill Kotke also spoke of soil loss. Just last Sunday there was a Care2 item about soil loss. From which I extract:

Could soil ever actually run out?

Yes. If we continue to harm and degrade topsoil at the current rate, it’s estimated that the world could lose all its topsoil within 60 years.

Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil on the surface of the earth. It’s the most fertile type of soil that typically contains lots of nutrient-rich organic matter from broken down plants and other organisms. Topsoil is also alive with beneficial microbes, fungi and critters like earth worms, which feed on the organic matter.

The deeper layers of soil beneath the topsoil are not nearly as rich. They are primarily made up of decomposing rock that provides the raw material for future topsoil as well as a substrate for deeply rooted plants to anchor in.

If the delicate ecosystem within topsoil is disrupted, it will essentially die. Plants can’t grow in topsoil that doesn’t have abundant organic matter and thriving populations of microbes.

Yes, there are street protests about this political action or that political action but why aren’t we seeing tens of thousands on the streets protesting about the loss of our topsoil!!

Moving on.

There was a recent essay from Patrice Ayme in which he wrote about the Australian Asthma Thunderstorm. Just read this long extract from that essay:

(November 29th, 2016 Italics are from the story as presented in the New York Times)

Mr. McGann was one of thousands of people in Melbourne having an attack of thunderstorm asthma. About 8,500 people went to hospitals. Eight have died, and one remains in intensive care more than a week after a thunderstorm surged across Melbourne, carrying pollen that strong winds and rain broke into tiny fragments.

Perennial ryegrass seeds were swept up in whorls of wind and carried from four million hectares of pasturelands (about 9.9 million acres) that lie to Melbourne’s north and west. If broken into fragments, they are so fine that they can be inhaled.” 

Actually what also lie north and west of Melbourne are giant fields of canola. Consider the following propaganda picture:

Mr. McGann did not end up in the hospital.  “Every breath I took made the next breath harder,” he said, adding that he had no family history of asthma. “I just didn’t realize it could have the effect it had.”

Grass pollen is the primary source of allergies in southern Australia, and tracking the data allowed scientists to forecast high levels of grass seeds in the atmosphere on Nov. 21. Still, Ms. Hennessy said, the government was taken by surprise.”

Surprise, indeed, this did not happen before, by two orders of magnitude. How come so much more severity?

My lawyer’s theory is different.  It evolved from my own observations and theories of why asthma and allergies, let alone weird cancers, have been augmenting spectacularly. There are around 150,000 artificial, man-made chemical products in use. By medical drug standards, they are untested (in earlier essays, I mentioned 80,000, which is the number brandished in the USA; however, French specialists talk about 150,000 untested chemicals.).

Canola (or rapeseed), Brassica napus, is an oilseed crop which is cultivated for its high quality edible oil used in many foods (eg. margarines and cooking oil) and seed meal (the fibrous material left after the oil pressing process), which has a high protein content. That makes it highly desirable as a stock feed.

In 2010-11, the Australian state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located,  produced 476 thousand tonnes of canola with a gross value of $293 million.

Control of weeds, particularly weeds from the Brassicaceae family (broadleaf), through herbicide application during the canola-growing season, significantly improves the quantity of the grain produced. Weeds compete for space, nutrients and sunlight. (African countries have dismissed that the quality of GMO seed is higher, in contradistinction with US propaganda; quite the opposite, they say)

Two genetically modified (GM) canola varieties have been developed in Australia, Roundup Ready® (by Monsanto Australia Ltd) and InVigor® (by Bayer CropSciences Pty Ltd). For maximum effect, each GM variety has been developed to be tolerant to and hence used with, a specific herbicide. The result is the mass poisoning of the planet, horizon to horizon.

The same poisoning trick is used for insecticides. To boot, the poison resistance spreads, demanding even higher doses of poison to be used in the grand outdoors..

In other words, massive quantities of poisons are put in the soil, and from there, are kicked up, in the air.

Exposed to this life destroying poisons, the body reacts by shutting down all pores. Asthma.

It cannot go on!

It is time for you and me and millions of others to be the change we want to see. Whether it’s the little things like recycling, or car sharing, or the bigger things like moving to an eco village we have to make a difference.

We have to learn from those communities that for thousands of years lived harmonious and sustainable lives on the planet. Doing so many thousands of years before farming man came on to the scene

In 1969 I spent a year in the outback of Australia as a correspondent for KotiPosti; a Finnish magazine. While I was out in the wilderness looking for Finns to write about it was impossible not to be drawn into the history of the aboriginal Australian.

ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS ARE descendents of the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago, a genetic study has found, confirming they may have the oldest continuous culture on the planet.
Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, who led the study, says Aboriginal Australians were the first modern humans to traverse unknown territory in Asia and Australia. “It was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery,” he says.
A century-old lock of hair, given by a West Australian indigenous man to an anthropologist, has led to the discovery that ancestors of Aboriginal Australians reached Asia at least 24,000 years before another wave of migration that populated Europe and Asia.

It was back then that I truly understood the relationship that those early Australians had with the earth; with their planet. Forget religions and churches, the Aborigines had a spiritual relationship with the planet that sustained them.

I will never forget exploring quietly, just me and my wife of those days, the caves and darker recesses around the base of Ayers Rock, better called Uluru, the most amazing monolith right out there in the middle of the desert. The unmistakable signs of so many of those quiet recesses being spiritual places for those ancient people.
home-1Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s arid “Red Centre”. The nearest large town is Alice Springs, 450km away. Uluru is sacred to indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago. It’s within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also includes the 36 red-rock domes of the Kata Tjuta (colloquially “The Olgas”) formation.

It is just he same for the North American Indians. They have a spiritual relationship with the land.

Back to Bill Kotke’s talk. He spoke of how when each of us was the product of the fertilisation of the egg by the sperm in utero we grow first as a fish, then as a mammal and, finally, emerge as a human: “We are connected to the earth!

As you all know I am a secular humanist. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have deep, as in spiritual, feelings for the lands and the oceans and for the wildlife of this planet

So let me close by repeating what I said at that meeting where Bill was presenting. For Bill spoke of being connected, in a heartfelt manner, with the planet. For if one is so connected then it is natural for one to want to love and protect the planet.

This is what I said:

Bill,

In 1991 I departed Gibraltar Harbour solo on my yacht Songbird of Kent heading West out across the Atlantic.

After I had settled in to the routine of being at sea, better described as settling in to being connected to the ocean, I loved watching the dolphins come up to the boat, give it the once over, raise their heads and offer me a brief eye contact and then slip away.

Then I became aware that when I was laying down on my bunk in the cabin I could sense when the dolphins were close to my hull. Each time I had that sense I would come up to the deck, briefly pausing to clip on my safety harness lest I truly joined the dolphins, and one or two of those dolphins were always by my boat.

I called this post What To Say To The Kids. Not just my son and daughter, now both mature adults, but my grandson Morten son to my daughter and her husband.

Because I feel so strongly that waiting for our leaders and politicians to lead humanity in protecting our planet is pointless. They are driven by other values.

It cannot go on!

I want to be measured by my son and my daughter, and by my grandson in due time, as a person who made a difference; even just a small one.

For I truly believe that showing love for our planet will make a difference and that is what I want to say to my kids.

We have to return to community living;  a twenty-first century version of such living. Even in the giant populations of big cities we have to reach out and form local communities. Groups of people who are driven by the imperative to curtail population growth, eager to share in as many ways as possible and totally committed to taking no more from the planet than they put in.

Because It cannot go on!

This is what I want to say to my kids.

 

 

Staying in balance.

We, as in humanity, could be very close to the end!

Now my sub-title could be argued as being a tad provocative and, perhaps, it is. But I wanted to catch your attention and then hope that you stay with me for today’s post.

Jean and I belong to the Humanists & Freethinkers Group of Grants Pass. At last Saturday’s meeting the main item was a talk given by William Kötke: His website is here. Bill, as he was happy to be called, is the author of the books The Final Empire and Garden Planet (the links take you to the respective Amazon pages). Bill also has more details of his first book here.

The essence of Bill’s talk was that when we ‘evolved’ from a life of hunting and gathering to developing the land for agricultural purposes we lost our connection to the planet. For the simple reason that as foragers we depended on always being able to find edible wild plants and fruit, and therefore lived in balance with the land, but when we started to farm we became protective, materialistic and greedy. For having more land, even if one took it by force from another, equated to making more; making more food, using the surplus to buy favours, sell, etc.

Some of the facts that Bill presented in his talk were truly frightening such as soil loss; a topic I highlight in tomorrow’s post.

But for now just settle down and watch this interview of Bill filmed by Woodburn Community Access Television.

Published on Jan 10, 2016

Author and Futurist William H. Kotke shares with Woodburn his years of knowledge and understandings of the Human History and The Current Dilemma all of us face as a species.

Is there a way forward?

Yes, I think so and it’s all to do with communities; more on that in a later post.

Is this anything to do with dogs?

Here’s what the Welcome page of this blog says (in part):

As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer.  Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming,  thence the long journey to modern man.  But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite.  Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.

Dogs know better, much better!  Time again for man to learn from dogs!

I rest my case.