Tag: Grants Pass Oregon

The implications of inequality

What on earth has inequality to do with dogs!

A fair question one might think. Because this blog is primarily about what we humans should be learning from our dogs. Well, I do see a connection, a message of learning for us. Stay with me for a while.

But first, here’s how I open up Chapter 18 Sharing in my book – Learning from Dogs.

Here’s a silly story that made me laugh when I first came across it.

A man in a casino walks past three men and a dog playing poker.
“Wow!” he says, “That’s a very clever dog.“
“He’s not that clever,” replies one of the other players.
“Every time he gets a good hand he wags his tail.“

This clever dog couldn’t hide his happiness and had to share it by wagging his tail. OK, it was a little bit of fictional fun but we all recognise that inherent quality in our dogs, how they share so much of themselves in such an easy and natural fashion.

Now if one was being pedantic one would say that sharing is not the same as equality. Yet I see them as two separate seats in life’s common carriage.

Many lovers of dogs know that when they lived a life in the wild, slowly evolving from the grey wolf, they replicated, naturally, the pack characteristics of wolves. As in the pack size was around 25 to 30 animals. Yes, there was a hierarchy in the pack but that really only presented itself in the status of three animals: the female ‘alpha’ dog; the male ‘beta’ dog; the ‘omega’ dog that could be of either gender. Ninety percent of the pack were animals on equal standing. If only that was how we humans lived.

A few days ago there was an essay published on The Conversation blogsite under the title of Why poverty is not a personal choice, but a reflection of society.

It opened with this photograph.

A homeless camp in Los Angeles, where homelessness has risen 23 percent in the past year, in May 2017. AP Photo/Richard Vogel

Let me emphasize this: “A homeless camp in Los Angeles, where homelessness has risen 23 percent in the past year, in May 2017.”

Here are two small extracts from that article:

Research Investigator of Psychiatry, Public Health, and Poverty Solutions, University of Michigan

As someone who studies poverty solutions and social and health inequalities, I am convinced by the academic literature that the biggest reason for poverty is how a society is structured. Without structural changes, it may be very difficult if not impossible to eliminate disparities and poverty.

About 13.5 percent of Americans are living in poverty. Many of these people do not have insurance, and efforts to help them gain insurance, be it through Medicaid or private insurance, have been stymied. Medicaid provides insurance for the disabled, people in nursing homes and the poor.

Four states recently asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for permission to require Medicaid recipients in their states who are not disabled or elderly to work.

This request is reflective of the fact that many Americans believe that poverty is, by and large, the result of laziness, immorality and irresponsibility.

In yesterday’s post celebrating July 4th, where I shared that lovely picture sent to me by Neil Kelly from my Devon days, there was an exchange of comments between me and author Colin Chappell. Colin is the author of the book Who Said I Was Up For Adoption.

First, in response to Colin saying “That pic really says it all doesn’t it!”, I replied:

No question. Indeed, one might ‘read’ that picture at many levels. From the level of providing a smile for the day all the way through to a very profound observation on life itself.

Colin then replied to me:

I ‘ll go straight for the profound perspective! As I recently noted on another blog, I cannot recall anybody from history who became famous for their material possessions. In fact, I recently read an article written after an individual had surveyed a few thousand gravestones… and they drew the same conclusion. There was not a single epitaph which alluded to a material possession. Dogs know all that intuitively, so why does our superior (?) mind have trouble grasping such a simple perspective?

I then responded by saying that I thought it would make a fabulous introduction to today’s post. The heart of which I am now coming to.

Here in our local city, Grants Pass, there is a Freethinkers and Humanists group. They meet once a month. Jerry Reed from that group some time ago recommended to me reading the book The Spirit Level authored by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

Jerry and I were exchanging emails in the last couple of days and he reminded me of that book.

There it was sitting on my bookshelf with a bookmark in at page 62. For reasons that escape me, I had become distracted and forgotten to stay with the book. Despite me being very interested in the proposition.

I said as much in an email reply to Jerry. He then replied to my email with this:

Hey, that happens to me a lot too, very frequently. So, I frequently settle for a video that might capture the essence of the book in considerably less time, while also maintaining my attention much better.

So, if you want a video about what Wilkinson has to say, here’s the one I recommend:

Here is that video. It is a little under 17 minutes long. Please watch it.

Published on Oct 24, 2011

http://www.ted.com We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

I haven’t got anything profound to say by way of closing today’s post.

But what I will say is that if our societies, especially in certain countries not a million miles from home, more closely emulated the sharing and caring that we see in our dogs then that really would be wonderful.

Image seen on this website: http://enlightendogs.com/about/testimonials-2/

You can’t beat a good book!

Advance notice of a book event this coming Saturday.

Oregon Books & Games, our local independent bookstore in Grants Pass, are having a book event this Saturday. In their own words:

tl_imgSaturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
A day to celebrate the independent bookstores that continue to improve communities around the nation, and our day to celebrate YOU, our wonderful customers. In the same strain as last year, we will be inviting dozens of local authors to sign books and meet with their fans, raffling off TONS of prizes, barbecuing, and having a lot of FUN!


I’m sure that the vast majority of you dear readers that read the title to today’s post would have nodded in agreement with the statement: You can’t beat a good book!

But how many of you were equally cogniscent of the importance of buying from an independent book store, such as Oregon Books & Games? I would be the first to put my hand up in admitting that I had no idea of the damage that online booksellers, such as Amazon, were causing these same independent stores.

Here are some eye-opening statements kindly supplied by Oregon Books but that originally came from the organisation IndieBound.

What is IndieBound?
A product of ongoing collaborations between the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association, IndieBound is all about independent bookstores and the power of “local first” shopping. Locally owned independent businesses pump money back into the their communities by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. That means more money for sound schools, green parks, strong police and fire departments, and smooth roads, all in your neighborhood.

Independent bookstores have always occupied a special place in communities. Through IndieBound—and the Indie Next List flyers and Indie Bestseller Lists—readers find trusted bookseller curated reading options, newly discovered writers, and a real choice for buying.

IndieBound allows indie booksellers to communicate this vital role they play in their local economies and communities. It allows authors to show their dedication to indies nationwide, easily done through linking to thousands of indie bookstores through IndieBound.org. And it allows consumers to feel that their actions are a part of a larger picture—to know that their choices make a difference and that others are working toward the same goals.

Here’s the effect of buying from your local independent book store.

Here’s What You Just Did

  1. You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $52 will stay in the community.
  2. You embraced what makes us unique. You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?
  3. You created local jobs. Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  4. You helped the environment. Buying from local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.
  5. You nurtured community. We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains and online retailers.
  6. You conserved your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!
  7. You created more choice. We pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.
  8. You took advantage of our expertise. You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?
  9. You invested in entrepreneurship. Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
  10. You made us a destination. The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

And turning to Amazon?

Here’s What Amazon Just Did

  1. In 2014, Amazon avoided paying $625 million in much-needed local and state tax revenue in 23 states and Washington, D.C., all while selling $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide.
  2. In 2014, Amazon’s retail sales displaced the equivalent of more than 30,000 storefronts and 107 million square feet of commercial space, estimated to be worth $420 million in property taxes for local and state governments.
  3. In 2014, by avoiding sales tax, and quashing the viability of local bricks-and-mortar retail, Amazon deprived thousands of communities of tax revenue necessary for schools, roads, and police and fire safety, as well as of vibrant downtowns and main streets.
  4. In 2014, Amazon operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing both full-time workers and part-time and seasonal workers, yet still, Amazon’s dominance produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.
  5. In 2014, Amazon’s sales and operations accounted for a loss of more than $1 billion in revenue to state and local governments.
  6. Amazon received the benefits of local grants, tax breaks, road improvements, and other government considerations to build its distribution centers, notwithstanding the net loss in jobs, property taxes, and downtown vitality.
  7. Amazon achieved dominance over the book industry equivalent to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market just before it was broken up in 1911.*
  8. Amazon has cheapened the value of both printed and electronic publishing, and dampened opportunities for new authors and diverse ideas, by discounting books to lower than wholesale price and bullying publishers and its marketplace sellers.
  9. In our state, Amazon accounts for a sale tax gap of $3.1 million and the displacement 1,200,000 square feet, which is the equivalent of 348 retail storefronts, and 3,029 jobs.
  10. In 2015, Amazon’s total sales and operations revenue increased by 20%, meaning the above 2014 figures are likely to be grossly understated.

So back to the event.
If you are within reach of Grants Pass this coming Saturday then do come along and meet many local authors, including yours truly, and help support the wonderful job that our independents are doing for authors.

Saturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
Oregon Books & Games
150 N.E. E St., Corner of 7th and E St.
Grants Pass, OR  97526

Support local authors!


Picking a bone with Cleo!

A cautionary tale for all dog owners.

Among our group of nine dogs we have two German Shepherds.  Dear old fellow Pharaoh and his much younger female playmate Cleo.

First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.
First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.

Cleo was born in January, 2012 and came to us in early April that same year.  From the start, Cleo has been a warm, loving and friendly dog.

For a long time, Jean has treated our dogs by giving them sawn sections, about 3/4 in thick, of beef leg bones.  They love gnawing on the bone and the marrow at the centre is very good for dogs.

Thus it was on Saturday that all the dogs were enjoying their treat.

I was working outside the house and Jean and the dogs were inside.

All of a sudden Jean was calling to me, clearly stressed out, to come into the house straightaway.

I went in and found that Cleo had jammed her lower jaw through her piece of bone and that it was stuck hard behind her lower canines. Jean and I led Cleo outside so she was clear of all the other dogs.

We quickly discovered that once Cleo’s jaw was trapped in the bone, it had started rubbing against her gums, quickly creating a painful area.  This made it very difficult to hold Cleo still, prise her jaw apart to try and gently remove the offending bone.  The more we tried, the more agitated became Cleo.

In the end, I went inside the house to telephone a close neighbour who is also a veterinary doctor at the clinic in town where we take our dogs.  Jim G. dropped everything and promised to be over in a few minutes.

As it happened, when I returned outside Jean had managed, somehow, to remove the trapped bone. I called Jim back immediately but he was already at our front gate and suggested he just take a quick look at Cleo

Here is the piece of bone after it was removed from Cleo’s jaw.

Smaller hole is about 1 & 5/8 in (4 cms) diameter.

Innocent mistake but, nevertheless, seemed like one that should be promulgated in this place just to make other dog owners aware of this tiny risk.

Cleo cautiously eying both me and the bone.
Cleo cautiously eying both me and the bone.

So you all take care out there!

And thank you Jim for being so responsive on what was your week-end afternoon at home.

Interesting few days!

Well at least it isn’t boring!

Last Friday, the 26th, the area where we live in Oregon, that is Merlin just to the North-West of Grants Pass, Oregon, experienced a significant thunder and lightning storm.  The challenge was that the storm had very little associated rain and, as a consequence, a number of fires were started in the tinder-dry forest.

We were not really aware of these fires over the week-end.

Then on Monday morning, our microwave internet linked failed.  I went next door to our neighbours (thanks Dordie and Bill) and borrowed their PC to post a Loss of Service notice around 2pm on that Monday.  That’s also when I heard that one of the fires, named the Brimstone Fire, had started less than a couple of miles away from where we live – h’m-mm!

The edge of the smoke cover.
The edge of the smoke cover.

Later on that evening, the first of a great number of helicopter fire dousing flights flew by overhead.

Returning to refill at Grants Pass Airport.
Returning to refill at Grants Pass Airport.

The wind was creating some interesting cloud waves in the smoke cover.

Wave cloud - in the smoke cover.
Wave cloud – in the smoke cover.

Then as each day passed the air became more and more smoke filled.  Reliable reports had said that the smoke cover had expanded to Northern California.

Here’s a picture taken yesterday morning of the ground that drops away from the house!

About a quarter-mile visibility, frequently worse!
About a quarter-mile visibility, frequently worse!

But at least our internet service has been restored enabling me for the first time to access the Fire Incident website, from which I read at 4:40 pm yesterday, the following.

Incident Overview

The 1,600-acre Brimstone Fire, located 5 miles west of Sunny Valley, made no significant movement late Tuesday or overnight. Crews coming in from night shift said planned fireline improvement on the north and southeast corners was completed, and burnouts in those same areas were successful. Nearly 800 people are assigned to the Brimstone Fire’s suppression effort. Specifically, 29 crews, 26 wildland fire engines, seven bulldozers and nine water tenders are divided between the day and night shifts. The weather has been calm and this has helped reduce fire activity.  However, the heavy smoke layer has made it impossible to use helicopters on the fire.No evacuations have been announced for residential areas around the fire area, but structural fire protection personnel have assessed homes should an evacuation become necessary. To find out more about evacuation planning, call the Josephine County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at (541) 474-5305.Firefighters ask that the public not use roads in the Upper Quartz Creek Rd and Hogs Creek Rd areas because these roads are narrow and are being heavily used by fire engines, trucks hauling water, and bulldozers.

Basic Information
Incident Type: Wildfire
Cause: Lightning
Date of Origin: Monday July 29th, 2013 approx. 02:00 AM
Location: 10 miles northwest of Merlin, OR
Incident Commander: Chris Cline
Current Situation
Total Personnel: 773
Size: 1,600 acres
Percent Contained: 10%
Fuels Involved: Mixed conifer and hardwood trees of widely varied ages, snags (dead, standing trees), brush and logging slash.
Fire Behavior: Torching and short-range spotting. The fire is difficult to see due to smoky conditions.
Significant Events: Three roads are closed because fire engines and other equipment are using the roads. The closed roads are Hog Creek, Quartz Creek and Angora Creek.
Planned Actions: Improve the fire line and strategically burn out unburned areas inside the fire line.
Growth Potential: High
Terrain Difficulty: High
Current Weather
Wind Conditions 10 mph NW
Temperature 85 degrees
Humidity 31%

Well at least I can settle down and work my way through 130+ emails!!