Reflections on a very interesting meeting of our local Freethinkers group.
Last Saturday was the regular monthly meeting of our local Rogue Valley Freethinkers and Humanists. Many know that Jean and I are secular humanists and go as often as we can to these meetings in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Saturday’s meeting was all about Buddhism or more accurately as Jerry Reed, the group’s administrator, put it in a recent email:
For Saturday, Aug 5: Brenda will be our presenter/discussion leader. She will introduce us to Secular Buddhism, including comments on basic principles of Buddhism, and how traditional and secular Buddhism compare with each other, as well as on overlapping philosophical views of Buddhism and Humanism.
This video link provides a discussion between a humanist, Scott Lohman, and a secular Buddhist, Ted Meissner, which may help to familiarize you with Brenda’s topic prior to our meeting. It is about 29 minutes long, all interesting, but if you are cramped for time, especially the segment from about 10:30 to 16:30 which discusses basic Buddhist principles that might also relate to humanism, and another segment from about 19:30 to 27:00 on advice to a beginner who might want to try meditation, and how Star Trek borrowed from Buddhism, and also about the similarity of ethical focus of Buddhism and Humanism.
What I would hope is that if any of you are interested in this subject, then do watch the interview with Ted Meisser conducted by Scott Lohman .
On the 26th July I posted an item about the work of The Humane Society in saving dogs. I included a very moving photograph and promised to include the rest of the photographs in a Picture Parade. Well, here they are including the one I republished.
Despite recommendations by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists, they have released a highly politicized Draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, which we fear will lead these severally endangered wolves to extinction.
Of course I wrote in support of the Lobo! And was delighted to notice that Action Network had set a goal of 3,200 letters and, as of yesterday morning, only a further 275 letters were needed to make that goal.
Welcome to August, a month defined by loud cicadas, pool parties, humidity and children fretting about an impending return to school. When it comes to celestial happenings, however, there is no larger star this month that our own moon. From a partial lunar eclipse to the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in almost a century, the moon will be the cause of most eyeballs drifting towards the heavens over the next several weeks.
Below is a small sampling of some of the night and day celestial events to look forward to this month. Wishing you all clear skies!
The rise of the full Sturgeon Moon (Aug. 7)
August’s full moon, nicknamed the Sturgeon Moon, will rise for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on the evening of Aug. 7 at 8:05 p.m.
The Sturgeon Moon gets its name from the species of fish native to both Europe and the Americas that is easily caught this time of year. Other nicknames include the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon and Grain Moon. In countries experiencing winter, such as New Zealand, native Māori called this full moon “Here-turi-kōkā” or “the scorching effect of fire is seen on the knees of man.” This reference is to warm fires that glow during the Southern Hemisphere’s coldest month.
Partial lunar eclipse (Aug. 7 & 8)
As a kind of consolation prize for missing out on this month’s total solar eclipse over North America, those living on the continents of Africa, Asia and Australia will bear witness to a partial lunar eclipse. Spectators in Europe will catch the tail end of the eclipse as the moon rises around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7.
This phenomenon occurs between two to four times a year when the moon passes through a portion of the Earth’s shadow. Because the shadow cast is more than 5,700 miles wide, lunar eclipses last much longer than solar eclipses. In some instances, totality can occur for as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes. As a reference, maximum totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse will top out a mere 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The longest, at over 7 minutes, won’t take place until the year 2186.
This month’s partial lunar eclipse is the last of the year. Next year, total lunar eclipses will take place in January and July.
Perseid meteor shower (Aug. 12)
Regarded as one of the best celestial light shows of the year, the Perseid meteor shower occurs from July 17 to Aug. 24 and peaks on the evening of Aug. 12.
The shower, sometimes creating as many as 60 to 200 shooting stars per hour, is produced as Earth passes through debris left over from the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. This 16-mile-wide periodic comet, which completes an orbit around the sun every 133 years, has been described as “the single most dangerous object known to humanity.” This is because every instance of its return to the inner solar system brings it ever closer to the Earth-moon system. Though astronomers believe the comet bears no threat for at least the next 2,000 years, future impacts cannot be ruled out.
If the comet were to hit Earth, scientists believe Swift-Tuttle would be at least 27 times more powerful than the asteroid or comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. For now, you can take in the beauty of the debris from this harbinger of doom by looking north towards the constellation Perseus. Because the moon will be three-quarters full, you’ll need to search out a nice dark sky to escape any light pollution from urban environments.
Total solar eclipses occur when the new moon moves between the Earth and the sun and casts its shadow on the planet. This shadow is comprised of two concentric cones –– the larger penumbra, which from Earth only shows the sun partially blocked, and the much smaller umbra, which blocks the sun completely. It is within this latter cone that totality will occur, giving spectators on the ground what’s considered by many to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
The Great American Eclipse will actually first start out in the Pacific (at this point, it will actually, unbelievably rise while completely eclipsed!), making landfall on the Oregon community of Lincoln Beach at 10:16:01 a.m. (PDT). From there, the moon’s shadow will continue to race across the U.S. The point of greatest eclipse, where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes nearest to the center of Earth, will take place in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and last 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. In celebration of the event, the town has temporarily renamed itself “Eclipseville,” and expects anywhere from 55,000 to 150,000 tourists to visit in advance of Aug. 21.
The next total solar eclipse over the U.S. will take place on April 8, 2024.
New moon (Aug. 21)
Fresh after wowing the U.S. during the day with its solar theatrics, August’s new moon will give way to dark skies for the next several nights. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a blanket and head outside into the still-warm summer evenings to enjoy the heavens in all their glory. With some remnants of the Perseids still visible, it will also offer a chance to catch some of the faintest shooting stars.
Look for Earth’s shadow (All year)
Ever wonder what causes the beautiful bands of color in the eastern sky at sunset or the western sky at sunrise? The dark blue band stretching 180 degrees along the horizon is actually the Earth’s shadow emanating some 870,000 miles into space. The golden-red portion, nicknamed the “Belt of Venus,” is Earth’s upper-atmosphere illuminated by the setting or rising sun.
Now that you know about this phenomenon, choose a night or morning sometime to try and pick it out. You’ll need a western or eastern horizon that’s fairly unobstructed to get a clear view of our planet’s huge curved shadow.
Looking ahead to September
As fall beckons, the biggest event next month will be the dramatic death dive of the Cassini spacecraft into Saturn. Taking place on Sept. 15, Cassini will make discoveries about Saturn right up until its fiery conclusion, with unprecedented photos and data captured and transmitted during its final moments.
It is going to be quite a month!
Oh, and for those of you that want to know the timings of the eclipse over North America there is a useful reference site here, from which I republish the following table.
Eclipse Start & End: Local Time for US States
The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 15:46 UTC, which corresponds to 8:46 am Pacific Time. It will reach the coast of Oregon at Lincoln City, just west of Salem, at 9:04 am local time. The eclipse will reach its maximum point here at 10:17 am.
From here, the Moon’s central shadow will move inland. The following table shows when the Moon will begin to move in front of the Sun and the moment it completely covers the Sun, as seen from some locations along the central path of the eclipse. All times are local.
A couple of days ago in came an email from Kristin. She blogs about her shared life with very large dogs. Kristin’s email was an offer of a guest post for you dear readers. Of course, I said ‘yes’.
In reply to me asking for some background information, Kristin responded with the following:
I don’t really have a preference about what to say about me. Basically, as my kids get older and more independent I keep bringing in another dog!
Newfoundlands are my breed of choice, I love their sweet dispositions, the way they look, the bonds they form and the way they love to work. I’ve learned a lot about rescue as well as ethical breeding practices since I adopted Annie and my greatest wish is to see all puppy mills shut down. I started writing Annie’s story, which led to the blog, and at some point would love to work with someone to make it better and figure out how to make it a fundraising tool for rescue organizations.
I’m not a trained writer, I just write from the heart. I write about anything that happens to be going on with me and the dogs which covers a lot of subjects. I just try to keep the focus on the dogs and my relationship with them.
Forget about Kristin not being “a trained writer” and just immerse yourself in this beautiful guest post.
Oh happy day!
August 1, 2017
Annie and I had a big day today. A day that changes everything! It was time for her rabies shot so our big date was a trip to the vet. Annie and I have made many of these trips over the last year-and-a-half, but this time was very different.
When Annie was surrendered to rescue, the only document that came with her was her 2014 rabies certificate. By the time she came home with us a year later, the rabies tag was long gone and the certificate we received was in pretty rough shape but the story it told was clear to me.
It’s a copy of a fax and is crooked and faded. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pull it out of her file when asked to show proof of vaccination. Each time I pull it out, the anger bubbles up because it is a reminder in black and white of her life before us.
The owner’s name and address belongs to the man that operated the kennel/puppy mill. It’s easy for me to say that even though I’ve never met him, I hate him. Her name is listed as Anne, but “Paris” is written next to it. Why does she have two names? I don’t know. Her age is listed as 7, although she had just had a birthday and was actually 8. Her weight is listed as 00. Record keeping was obviously not a priority with these dogs. There are other notes that are hard to read, but are the vaccinations that she received after she was rescued. At the top are the words Annie Paris, blaze and orange collar. The final glaring bit of information is the list of vaccinations done which only includes 2 things, the one she received that day and another rabies shot she received May 23, 2008!
These are all broad strokes that paint a picture of neglect. After 6 years, what compelled him to seek out a vet to administer a 3 year rabies vaccination? Who knows, but what really bothers me concerns the veterinarian. There is no way he could have examined her and thought that she or any of the other dogs from that kennel were receiving proper care. The conditions they were forced to live in were unsanitary and disgusting. Knowing Annie as I do, they would have had to drag her to him, with her trembling and cowering.
So now, here’s the good news. Annie came to us with a broken spirit on the mend thanks to her rescuers and now she is a completely different dog. She’s happy and loving, she has a spring in her step and a twinkle in her eye. She regularly approaches me and nudges my hand for a scratch behind the ear. She walks on leash beautifully and loves our neighborhood patrols. She comes running when she hears the scoop in the dog food or the word “treat”. She doesn’t hide in her crate anymore but instead sprawls out all over the house, moving around, finding a comfy spot on the cool tile or under my feet or on the rug in the next room. She’s quick to come when I’m having training time with Winn and she will do her two tricks, sit and down, with precision so she can also get treats. She joins me in the kitchen when I’m cooking, confident that she will get a nibble now and then. At the end of every day, we climb the stairs together, I give her her eye drops and then she collapses on her Big Barker bed and lets out a sigh of contentment.
So this time going to the vet was different. Yes, she trembled as we were waiting, it took a lot of gentle coaxing to get her into the room and she wasn’t overly enthused about the attention she was getting but we both eagerly left with a treasure in my hands. I now have a proper certificate with both of our names in print. It is signed by a Dr. who lovingly cares for her and is genuinely invested in her well-being. The final reminder of her previous life can go in the trash. We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!
I’m not going to take anything away from Kristin’s most beautiful story. All I will do is to repeat her last sentence: “We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!”
In a number of the rooms here at home we still have down on the floor the carpeting that was in the house when we moved in 5 years ago. As you might imagine that carpet, being slept on daily by cats and dogs, is also home to a range of uninvited ‘guests’. That song title comes to mind: “The hills are alive ….”.
A while ago we replaced the carpet in our main living-room with oak flooring and now we are replacing just about all the rest of the carpet in our house with laminate boarding that is a very good match with the oak flooring.
One of the rooms that is affected is my office and although the installers will only be working for the three days of the 16th to the 18th August, the rooms will need to be emptied out of all furniture a few days before the 16th.
Ergo, I expect to be ‘off air’ for about a week. Probably from Sunday, 13th August through to Sunday, 20th August.
During those days I won’t be able to respond to your replies to posts. But I will put up posts for each of those days well ahead of the 13th.
What I will post is something that Suzann emailed Jean the other day. It’s the wonderful story of a Belgian Shepherd dog befriending an owl. This is what was included in Suzann’s email:
For years, photographer Tanja Brandt has made it her mission to capture magnificent photos of animals and wildlife. Recently, the German artist found a new challenge when she photographed the unique bond between two unlikely friends: Ingo, a Belgian shepherd, and Poldi (Napoleon), a one-year-old owlet.
The owlet and canine have a special “protector-protected” relationship and that their affection towards each other couldn’t be any more evident. Ingo lovingly guards Poldi, who apparently “doesn’t know how to live free.”
The owlet, hatched two days after his six brothers and sisters, therefore, has always been very vulnerable due to his small size. Comparatively, Ingo was raised by a family of strong, and oftentimes ruthless, police dogs.
“They respect each other and they can read each other,” says the photographer.
There are many photographs of Ingo and Poldi and they will make up the posts for you all for that week of the 14th August.
July 13th. 11:00 The second case that I sat in on was Linda bringing in Jefferson.
Jefferson is an eight-year-old long-haired male Dachshund. Linda had decided to bring her dog into Lincoln Road because recently Jefferson had started coughing but only when he was pulling on his leash.
Linda added that Jefferson seemed to be chewing on a number of pine cones just now.
Jim examined Jefferson. First examining the dog’s lymph node and then listening to either side of the dog’s chest.
While everything sounded fine on Jefferson’s right side, Jim detected a very small heart murmur when listening to Jefferson’s left side.
Jim also noted that the lymph node was prominent but not enlarged. Dogs can get lymphoma.
Nothing arose to give cause for concern but in view of the chewing of pine cones, Jim thought that giving Jefferson an injection of ‘Lepto’ would be no bad thing.
It’s scary to think that a fun stroll through the woods or swim in a favorite watering hole can lead to a terrible illness, but it can –– for you as well as your dog. Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria spread through soil, water, and the urine of infected animals, and if not caught early it can be deadly. There is a vaccine available for the most common subtypes of the bacteria that infect dogs, but it’s not always a recommended part of the routine vaccination protocol. Ask your veterinarian if the leptospirosis vaccine is right for your dog.
Leptospirosis is a potentially serious disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira interrogans. It affects dogs but can also infect a wide variety of domestic and wild animals as well as humans.
The organism is usually spread through infected urine, but contaminated water or soil, reproductive secretions, and even consumption of infected tissues can also transmit the infection. Introduction of the organism through skin wounds can also occur. Common carriers of the organism include raccoons, opossums, rodents, skunks, and dogs.
To be continued:
(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)
Storm was walking with his owner around the Long Island Sound when he went tearing into the water on a serious mission. The English golden retriever had spotted a tiny baby deer in the water that was drowning, so he dove in after it.
“Storm just plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck, and started swimming to shore,” Storm’s owner Mark Freeley told CBS New York.
Freeley caught the amazing rescue on the video above.
When the two of them finally made it to shore, Storm laid down next to the baby deer.
“And then he started nudging it, and started pulling it to make sure she was gonna be OK, I guess,” Freeley said.
(Because Storm is a retriever, some people might wonder if he was just following his genetic instincts and retrieving.)
Freeley called a rescue group to come check on the fawn, but when they arrived, the little deer darted back into the water.
Frank Floridia of Strong Island Rescue waded into the water, while his partner Erica Kutzing ran about a mile down the beach to help.
Floridia got a rope around the fawn, eventually carrying her to shore — blowing out his knee in the process. But check out the smile on his face when he managed to finally corral the deer:
He handed off the fawn to Kutzing, who carried her the long way back to the rescue van.
“It felt like an eternity,” the group posted on Facebook. “The deer kicked and thrashed but they knew they couldn’t stop. She was already stressed enough. Time was fragile at this point.”
The fawn was taken to an animal rescue center where she’s being treated for a few superficial wounds. When she recovers, she’ll be released back into the wild.
You’re a good dog, Storm.
What a fabulous story with which to start the week!
In last week’s Picture Parade it was mentioned that at some point I would share some of the sights of home.
Well today, all the photographs were taken here at home (that being Merlin, Southern Oregon). The motivation behind these photographs was learning the operation of a new camera that I recently treated myself with. That is turning out to be quite a task; the user manual is 510 pages long!
But in no particular order, here are a few pictures.
Can’t close without publicly thanking the wonderful photographic forum Ugly Hedgehog. With over 75,000 users it really is a superb place for all those interested in photography. The forum was invaluable in helping me decide what camera to purchase and, just as importantly, where to purchase it from.
Every year in the U.S., tens of thousands of dogs are tortured and killed in gruesome medical experiments. They may be sliced, burned, mutilated, electrocuted or force-fed poisonous chemicals. Many of these experiments are carried out by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). But there is new hope for dogs brutalized in VA testing.
Congress has recently introduced the Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act (PUPPERS act) to ban cruel experiments on dogs by the VA. For the dogs’ sake, it is crucial that this legislation pass.
The bill follows haunting exposés by the White Coat Waste Project, which reveal VA labs committing atrocities such as inducing heart attacks in puppies, and giving dogs methamphetamine before killing them so their brains could be dissected.
Since the shocking abuse was exposed, progress has already been made. On July 26, the House passed an amendment to defund experiments like this for the next fiscal year. The amendment now awaits approval by the Senate. Defunding is an excellent step — but the next step is to ban the cruelty permanently.
Sign the petition to urge congress to pass the PUPPERS act to end VA torture of dogs for good, and then take action to ban ALL cruel experiments on animals.