As I spoke about yesterday in my introduction, when my mother remarried my sister and I had a new man about the house, so to speak. He was Richard Mills.
I was 13 or thereabouts and already struggling with my school work (the result of my father’s sudden death). And ‘Dad’ as we called him was finding his feet in the strange world of going from having no children to instantly having two step children!
Anyway, Dad found a theme with me that I enjoyed: building a shortwave radio receiver. It was full of learning for me and over the years I became hooked on listening to radio stations both near and far transmitting in morse code. I also joined the Harrow Radio Society and went across to their weekly meetings by tube and bus. (Despite the Society no longer being at the Harrow address it is amazing that they are still going strong.)
It was also a time when there was a great deal of ‘radio surplus’ equipment going for next to nothing and I ‘upgraded’ to an R-1152 receiver.
In time I became sufficiently old to take driving lessons and pass my driving licence. I then got a secondhand car. It helped because then I could drive up to Bushey and spend Sunday mornings at the house of Ron Ray. Ron was a keen amateur. On Sunday mornings Ron had a small group of people who wanted to pass the morse code test and apply for a licence.
I was already a member of the RSGB, the Radio Society of Great Britain, and that surely encouraged me further to study for my amateur licence.
In time, I sat the exam and much to my amazement passed!
So that is the story of me and amateur radio.
Well, almost the full story.
In 1963 I volunteered for the Royal Naval Reserve, London Division. In time I was accepted and chose the join the radio branch, my G3PUK status coming in useful, because I reckoned that when we went to sea, on flat-bottomed minesweepers, it was better to be sick into a bucket between the knees than be sick on deck!
A delightful story of one man’s bravery for another – dog!
This was published on The Daily Dodo a week ago and really does need retelling.
It shows how much we love our dogs.
Man Jumps Into An NYC River To Save A Drowning Dog
Ever since she was adopted from North Shore Animal League in March 2017, Harper has been absolutely head over heels for her mom, Erin O’Donnell, but is definitely a little nervous in new situations and can take some time to warm up to new people.
“She is a sweetheart but very anxious outside and around strangers,” O’Donnell told The Dodo.
On Saturday, O’Donnell was performing with the Brooklyn Irish Dance Company in Manhattan and left Harper in Brooklyn with friends and a trusted dog walker. Harper and her dog walker were out taking a stroll when a cab recklessly ran a stop sign and hit both the dog walker and Harper.
Both were OK and only sustained minor injuries, but poor Harper was so scared and shaken up that she ran and ran and ran — until she reached the East River, and jumped right in.
Still in a panic, Harper swam with determination and ferocity, and while at first onlookers thought she was just a dog with an owner nearby going for a swim, they soon realized that wasn’t the case at all.
“I was at the Brooklyn Barge celebrating my B’day when we saw a dog ‘going for a swim,’” Gabe Castellanos wrote in a post on Instagram. “The day grew hot and we all figured a nice swim could do us all a service. We assumed the owner was on shore keeping a watchful eye until a patron ran up to the north side of the Barge with a panicked voice saying that the dog, Harper, had run away.”
It was around that time that everyone began to notice Harper losing speed. The river was incredibly cold, and with the amount of energy Harper was exerting in her panicked state, it was likely that she wouldn’t be able to keep herself afloat for very much longer. This fact settled in for Castellanos, and he immediately knew he had to do something about it.
Castellanos happens to be a graduate of SUNY Maritime College and has extensive water survival skills knowledge — and so he decided he was going in.
“Since there was no sign of her making an attempt to swim back to shore, I knew something had to be done,” Castellanos told The Dodo. “I looked on the barge for any type of floating device to use if I were to jump from the end, but then I noticed there was a life vest, so I grabbed it.”
At this point, a crowd of about 300 people had gathered, invested in Harper and her well-being, and as soon as everyone realized what Castellanos was about to do, they all broke out into cheers of encouragement. Lorenzo Fonda, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and artist, was hanging out at the Brooklyn Barge when he suddenly realized what was happening, and quickly began recording the entire ordeal.
Knowing the water was going to be cold and the conditions less than ideal, Castellanos strategized quickly with those around him as he prepared to jump into the water. He stripped down to his underwear, climbed over the rails, and then lowered himself as close to the water as he possibly could before letting go and diving in.
“There was a grand cheer when I entered the water,” Castellanos said. “After that, I was no longer focused on the crowds and my surroundings but focused on my breathing and swimming over to Harper. The crowds went mute during my swim. I’m sure they were still cheering, but I could not hear anything other than the water.”
Harper was still swimming at a steady pace, and Castellanos had to work hard to catch up with her. As soon as she realized someone was swimming towards her, she became even more panicked and tried as hard as she could to swim away from him.
Castellanos was persistent, though, and even though Harper struggled and lashed out a bit out of fear when he finally reached her, he stayed calm and determined and was finally able to secure her.
Cheers erupted from all over when Castellanos finally had Harper safely in his arms, and the pair quickly returned to shore. Both were exhausted and needed medical attention to make sure everything was OK, but luckily they were both completely fine, and are now recovering at their respective homes.
O’Donnell was in the middle of a performance when all of this occurred, and didn’t find out until later about Harper’s river adventure and the man who saved her life.
“Her paws are in rough shape, so she will need some trendy boots for a few weeks, but otherwise she’s in great spirits,” O’Donnell said. “It is definitely so refreshing to see the positive responses from people at the Brooklyn Barge and on social media expressing their sympathy for Harper and praising Gabe, who definitely saved the day.”
As an innocent onlooker that day, Castellanos didn’t have to do anything to help. He could have just sat by and watched and let someone else handle it, but instead he took a leap of faith and ended up saving Harper’s life, making him a true hero.
I take my hat off to Gabe Castellanos. It’s something that 99.9% of us wouldn’t do yet Gabe didn’t think twice. OK, he had specific training but still there was a degree of risk. But he took it!
A week ago I was casually reading a copy of our local newspaper, the Grants Pass Daily Courier, and inside was a piece by Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist, entitled It’s the end of everything – or not.
I found it particularly interesting especially a quotation in her piece by Robert Watson, a British chemist who served as the chair of the panel of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The IPBES had recently published the results of the three-year study by 145 authors from 50 countries.
So I wrote to Kathleen Parker asking if I might have permission to quote that excerpt and, in turn, received her permission to so do.
Here it is:
Robert Watson wrote in a statement that:
“the health of ecosystems on which we and all species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundation of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
But, Watson also said, it’s not too late to repair and sustain nature – if we act now in transformative ways.
It is time to change our habits both at an individual level and the level of countries working together.
Moreover we haven’t got decades. We have got to do it now!
Seafaring dog Boonrod is heading to a new life in Khon Kaen with his new owner — one of the oil rig workers who rescued him from the ocean in a story that captured international attention.
“We’re leaving,” owner Vitisak Payalaw posted in a message on the Boonrod Facebook page on Saturday evening.
Mr Vitisak, an planner of Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, met Boonrod — in Thai — on Saturday for the first time since the team found him to an oil platform in the Gulf of Thailand about 220km from the shore in Songkhla on April 12.
How Boonrod got there remains a mystery, but it is believed that he must have fallen off a trawler. After helping rescue the deepwater dog, Mr Vitisak offered to be his new owner.
The exhausted animal was brought ashore on April 15 and lodged at Dog Smile House, a shelter in Hat Yai district of the southern province, with financial support from the US oil firm and Watchdog Thailand, a non-profit group.
Boonrod appeared delighted to see Mr Vitisak and the other members of the oil rig team who rescued him.
Mr Vitisak said he was taking annual leave from his work at the oil platform to transport the dog to his home in Khon Kaen, almost 1,500km from Hat Yai. The house in the northeastern province has been prepared to accomodate a new resident, the Chevron employee added.
Mr Vitisak asked for privacy and requested that well-wishers not visit his new pet at his parents’ home in Khon Kaen. But fans are welcome to greet Boonrod when he walks the dog, he added.
He also encouraged other animal lovers to adopt pets if they can.
The story of Boonrod was carried by global news agencies, including CNN. He can be followed on his Facebook page.
At the start of the week, indeed last Tuesday, a pair of geese hatched a brood of goslings.
I tried very hard to take some photographs of them but they stayed their distance and all I got was the following. (These are cropped down from the original.)
They are at the limits of the camera lens.
Nothing to do with dogs but I’m sure you enjoyed them! This is the second time that we have had a pair of geese build a nest, lay eggs and bring the goslings into the world. The last time was April 23rd, 2015. Pictures here!
For someone born on May 8th, 1926 he, perhaps, should be slowing down. But none of it. He is passionate about how we are endangering our planet. And having a public profile he is the right position to do something about it, albeit a warning statement.
Sir David’s new programme lays out the science behind climate change, the impact it is having right now and the steps that can be taken to fight it.
“In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined,” Sir David states in the film.
“It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”
Speaking to a range of scientists, the programme highlights that temperatures are rising quickly, with the world now around 1C warmer than before the industrial revolution.
“There are dips and troughs and there are some years that are not as warm as other years,” says Dr Peter Stott from the Met Office.
“But what we have seen is the steady and unremitting temperature trend. Twenty of the warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 22 years.”
The programme shows dramatic scenes of people escaping from wildfires in the US, as a father and son narrowly escape with their lives when they drive into an inferno.
Scientists say that the dry conditions that make wildfires so deadly are increasing as the planet heats up.
Some of the other impacts highlighted by scientists are irreversible.
“In the last year we’ve had a global assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland and they tell us that things are worse than we’d expected,” says Prof Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds.
“The Greenland ice sheet is melting, it’s lost four trillion tonnes of ice and it’s losing five times as much ice today as it was 25 years ago.”
These losses are driving up sea levels around the world. The programme highlights the threat posed by rising waters to people living on the Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, forcing them from their homes.
“In the US, Louisiana is on the front line of this climate crisis. It’s losing land at one of the fastest rates on the planet – at the rate of of a football field every 45 minutes,” says Colette Pichon Battle, a director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy.
“The impact on families is going to be something I don’t think we could ever prepare for.”
Sir David’s concern over the impacts of climate change has become a major focus for the naturalist in recent years.
This has also been a theme of his One Planet series on Netflix.
His new BBC programme has a strong emphasis on hope.
Sir David argues that if dramatic action is taken over the next decade then the world can keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C this century. This would limit the scale of the damage.
“We are running out of time, but there is still hope,” says Sir David.
“I believe that if we better understand the threat we face the more likely it is we can avoid such a catastrophic future.”
Since meeting one another last year, Timofey Yuriev and his faithful dog Kira have been inseparable companions. Indeed, the happy duo do just about everything together.
And that includes saving lives.
Last Saturday, Yuriev, his wife and Kira headed out for a sunset stroll around an ice-covered lake near their home in New York. It’s a tranquil spot, but on this chilly early evening, the quiet, peaceful air was shattered by the sound of a tragedy unfolding.
“We heard a woman screaming something across the lake, so we went to see what was happening,” Yuriev told The Dodo. “Her two old Labradors were crossing the lake, when they got to a spot where the ice is much thinner. One fell in, then the second. They tried to climb out but they couldn’t.”
Yuriev watched as the dogs’ energy was quickly sapped by the freezing water — and he knew time was of the essence.
Having experience swimming in icy waters, Yuriev decided to take the plunge in order to save the two dogs himself — but he was not alone.
After Yuriev undressed and leapt into the freezing lake, he looked and saw Kira by his side entering the water as well to lend him her paw in the rescue effort.
“I knew she was going to follow me,” Yuriev said. “We were going to do it together.”
Here’s video taken by Yuriev’s wife showing him and Kira reaching the nearest dog first:
“She was great moral support; I was not alone,” Yuriev said. “There was my little helper.”
After leading the first dog safely to the shore, Yuriev and Kira headed out for the second:
“She came to each dog and touched them with her nose, then helped guide them back.”
Once back on dry land, both of the rescued dogs were frazzled but in good health.
Yuriev and Kira had saved the day.
“The owner, of course, was in tears,” Yuriev said. “She was so thankful.”
Kira has always been a kindhearted and intelligent dog, able to assess situations and sense when she’s needed.
And on this day, it was clear for all to see.
“We told her that she’s a dog-saving dog. I’m sure she understood that something was happening. She could see the dogs were in distress. I’m positive about it,” Yuriev said, adding that he’s just happy they were able to help.
“It was pure luck that we were at that place at that time. It was like the universe smiled at us.”
When Seattle-based mountain guide Don Wargowsky was leading an expedition to Mera Peak and Baruntse in Nepal’s Himalayas last November, he picked up an extra member on his team. A stray dog noticed the climbers somewhere around 17,500 feet and decided to stick around with the group.
The climbers had just summited Mera Peak, and when they were coming down around Mera La pass, they saw the pup going up.
“What struck me was to get to that pass, there were a few hundred feet of fixed rope which means the terrain was so difficult that most climbers need rope to help themselves up,” Wargowsky tells MNN. “To see a dog up there just running by all these climbers in their $2,000 down suits and crampons was very unusual. When she came up to me, I gave her a bit of beef jerky and she didn’t leave for 3 1/2 weeks.”
The team dubbed their newest four-legged member “Mera” and she tagged along on the way back down the mountain. Wargowsky realized he had seen her in the town of Kare a few days earlier, but she had made no effort then to get close. He thinks that’s because street dogs aren’t treated very well in Nepal due to the fear of rabies.
“Dogs are shooed away pretty aggressively,” he says. “So, she was naturally pretty shy.”
A new climbing partner
But once Mera decided to join the expedition, she gradually lowered her guard. The first night, Wargowsky tried to encourage her to sleep in his tent, but she wouldn’t come inside. The next morning, he found her curled up outside the flaps covered in a layer of snow. After that, he was able to coax her inside. He gave her one of his sleeping pads and a coat to keep her warm.
Wargowsky was in a difficult position with his uninvited guest. The elements were unforgiving, and he was worried about the dog who had no protection for her paws or her body in conditions that likely reached minus 20 or minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit at times. But he had no luck getting her to leave … and where would she go?
“Obviously my responsibility was to the group, but I was super happy to have her with us. I didn’t encourage her to come along, but I wasn’t going to have her starve, so I would feed her,” he says. “I really tried to persuade her to stay at camp as we got into steeper and more dangerous terrain. Where we were was a more remote part of Nepal. If we didn’t feed her, she was going to starve.”
Mera stuck with the expedition the entire time, never venturing far from Wargowsky’s side. Or technically, his knee.
“She would walk with her nose almost in the back of my knee when we would walk,” he says. “But she wanted to be up front. If I would drop back to hang out with a slower client, she would go up and walk with whoever was up front. She didn’t get out of sight pretty much the entire time we were there.”
‘No clue what her motivation was’
There was only one time when Mera was gone for several days.
While Wargowsky was working on training with some members of the expedition, showing them how to climb the ice with rope, Mera followed the team’s sherpas instead. They were working to set up ropes to “camp one” at around 20,000 feet. She scrambled up the steep terrain but seemed afraid to go back down and wouldn’t return with them to base camp.
“She ended up spending two nights alone on a glacier at 20,000 feet. I really thought she was going to freeze to death,” Wargowsky says. The sherpas went up to continue working and she was there. But instead of going back down right away, she followed them to 22,000 feet as they continued working before going back to base camp.
The next day when the entire team went to make the climb, Wargowsky tried to keep her at base camp because he didn’t want her to make the steep climb again. He tied her up but she got out of her rope and quickly caught up with them. Wargowsky couldn’t leave his human clients to take her back, so Mera was allowed to stay with the group.
“I have no clue what her motivation was,” he says. “We were feeding her at base camp, so it wasn’t the food. It’s not like there was anything up there for her, but it was amazing to see.”
Tackling the ice and snow
Early on, Mera started to slide and Wargowsky was able to catch her and save her from what could’ve been a dangerous fall. When the team moved to camp two at around 21,000 feet, they were sidelined there for four days because of bad weather. Mera stayed with Wargowsky, who shared his tent and his food with the pup.
“I split all my meals with her 50/50 so we both lost weight,” he says. He guesses the scruffy brown-and-tan stray weighed probably 45 pounds to start with but lost maybe five or 10 pounds during the trip. Wargowsky says Mera looked like a combination of a Tibetan mastiff and a Nepali sheepdog.
Wargowsky was impressed with how well Mera navigated the snow and ice and handled the cold.
“She did very very well like 98 percent of the time. There were certain slopes very early in the morning or late at night when the snow was very crusty and icy when it was very slippery and you could see her kind of struggle with it,” he says. “Her paws got beat up and it was hard to see her paws bleeding a little. But everything healed up that evening and it was all superficial.”
He says it was also hard to believe she didn’t go snow-blind. The humans were all wearing expensive glacier goggles while she trotted along with no protection.
The highest a dog has ever climbed
There was only one part of the descent where she was assisted by a rope. Somehow, she had climbed the vertical 15-foot-tall section without incident but when it was time to go back down, she didn’t want to do it. The humans were rappelling, so to coax the dog down safely, they tied a rope harness to her so she could half-run, half tumble. You can see it in the photo above, but Wargowsky points out that the truly harrowing part of the mountain isn’t even visible in the shot.
In the end, when the team — along with their canine mascot — had come down from their completed 23,389-foot climb of Baruntse, Mera was hailed as a bit of a hero. Word had spread about her alleged feat and Wargowsky had to show off photos from his phone to prove she had been with them.
“She was the first dog to ever have climbed that mountain,” he says. “We can’t find anything that says a dog has ever been that high. I believe that is the highest that a dog has ever climbed ever at any point in the world.”
“I am not aware of a dog actually summiting an expedition peak in Nepal,” Billi Bierling of the Himalayan Database, an organization that documents climbing expeditions in Nepal, told Outside. “I just hope that she won’t get into trouble for having climbed Baruntse without a permit.” Bierling told Outside that there have been a few reported cases of dogs at Everest Base Camp (17,600 feet) and some who’ve trailed teams through the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp II (21,300 feet) on Mount Everest, but Mera’s adventure is perhaps the highest-recorded elevation by a dog anywhere in the world.
‘This dog wants to climb mountains’
After all that climbing and bonding, Wargowsky was tempted to bring his new friend home with him to the U.S.
“I really would’ve loved to adopt her. But I live in a 700-square-foot unit in Seattle and this dog wants to climb mountains. I gave it a lot of consideration. I didn’t care what it cost. Despite how much I loved this dog, I thought it would’ve been a very selfish thing to do to bring her to such a small space.”
But he didn’t want to leave what he calls “this hero of a dog” out on the streets. Fortunately, the expedition’s base camp manager was also smitten with the adventurous dog. Because dogs can’t fly, NirKaji Tamang paid someone $100 to walk three days to pick her up until they could get her on a bus and get her to his home in Kathmandu.
After what she had accomplished on Baruntse, Tamang changed the athletic dog’s name to Baru. He took her to the vet to make sure she was healthy. Her injuries quickly healed, and she gained weight.
Wargowsky, who told his remarkable Mera story online, was thrilled recently to receive photos of her. He will be back in Nepal several times this year for expeditions, and he plans on visiting his canine climbing partner.
“With what we had available, I don’t know what more I could’ve done to prevent her from climbing. She was definitely there of her own free will,” he says. “I truly loved that dog.”
This is such a wonderful account of a stray dog coming into contact with a group of such loving people. Plus, the photographs are wonderful especially the fourth one; just following the Tackling the Ice and Snow sub-heading. I could look at that photograph for ever!