Tag: Oregon

Part Two of that post about Pharaoh!

A wonderful dog!

I have re-read this post and have choked up. For Pharaoh was the supreme dog for me to have as a companion during this stage in my life. I suspect you will read that clearly in the post that follows.

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The concluding part-two of meeting Pharaoh 

Pharaoh, as of yesterday afternoon!
Pharaoh, as of yesterday afternoon!

In yesterday’s first part of my recollection of having Pharaoh in my life for over ten years, I focussed on the early days.  Today, I want to take a more philosophical view of the relationship, right up to the present day.

The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back a few years.  Back to my Devon days and the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together.  Pharaoh always contentedly asleep in the same room as the two of us. It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was Jon one day who looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are integrous creatures with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background story is here.)

So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and my attempt to write a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to human consciousness and what Pharaoh means to me.  No, more than that!  From that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, experiencing the power of unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into my self.  Came the self-awareness that allowed me to like who I was, be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love in return.  As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.

Moving on.

Trying to pick out a single example of the bond that he and I have is practically impossible.  I have to rely on photographs to remind me of the thousands of times that a simple look or touch between Pharaoh and me ‘speaks’ to me in ways that words fail. Here’s an extract from my celebration of Pharaoh’s tenth birthday  last June 3rd; written the following day. It comes pretty close to illustrating the friendship bond.

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For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

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Moving on again.  This time to another flying experience.  To the day when Pharaoh and I flew out of London bound for Los Angeles and a new life with Jeannie and all her dogs (16 at that time) down in San Carlos, Sonora County, Mexico.  The date: September 15th, 2008.  Just ten months after I had met Jean in Mexico and realised that this was the woman that I was destined to love! (Now you will understand why I described earlier the Jon Lavin, Dr. Hawkins, Pharaoh mix as the biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend!)

There followed wonderful happy days for me and Pharaoh.  Gorgeous to see how Pharaoh became so much more a dog, if that makes sense, from having his own mini-pack around him.  Those happy days taking us all forwards to Payson, AZ, where Jean and I were married, and then on to Merlin, Oregon arriving here in October, 2012.

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!
Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!

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Pharaoh 'married' to his dearest friends. December, 2013.
Pharaoh ‘married’ to his dearest friends. December, 2013.

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Perfect closeness. Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle. Taken yesterday.
Smelling the flowers! Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle. Taken yesterday.

I could go on!  Hopefully, you get a sense, a very strong sense, of the magical journey that both Pharaoh and I have experienced since I first clasped him in my arms back in September, 2003.

Both Pharaoh and I are in the Autumn of our lives, he is 11 in June; I am 70 in November, and we both creak a little. But so what! Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.

One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)
One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)

Thank you, my dear, dear friend!

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Yes, thank you, and thanks to all the dogs that love us and to whom we offer love in return.

Today, as in the 20th November, 2019, just happens to be our anniversary, nine years ago we were married. We met just before Christmas, 2007.

A reposting of a Meet the Dogs!

This came up in my research!

I am at the stage in my book where I am having to check certain dates. Luckily I was already writing Learning from Dogs and could use the blog to check dates.

In so doing I came across an earlier post about Pharaoh and thought that was so, so good that it just has to be republished. Part One today and Part Two tomorrow.

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‘Meeting’ this dog deserves two posts!

Almost two months ago, January 30th to be exact, the first of this ‘Meet the dogs‘ series was published.  It came out of an idea from Jean and that January 30th post introduced Paloma to you, dear reader.  Since then we have told you about Lilly, Dhalia, Ruby, Casey, Hazel, Sweeny, and Cleo.

So today’s post is the last of the Meet the dogs stories; it is about Pharaoh.  I’m going to indulge myself and tell you the story of this most wonderful of dogs over today and tomorrow.

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Pharaoh

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Photograph taken on the 12th August, 2003, the first day I saw Pharaoh.

This is Sandra Tucker, owner of Jutone Kennels in Devon, England, where Pharaoh was born on June 3rd, 2003.  Here’s something written elsewhere that conveys my feelings that first day that I met this puppy.

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In no time at all I was turning into the farm driveway, noticing the painted sign for Jutone & Felsental German Shepherds alongside the open, wooden gate.

I turned off the engine and was about to swing my legs out of the open driver’s door when I saw a woman coming towards me.

“Hi, you must be Paul, I’m Sandra. Did you have any trouble finding us?”

I shook hands with her.

“Not at all. I did as you recommended when we spoke on the phone and went in to the local store and got final directions.”

Sandra smiled, her glasses almost slipping off the end of her nose.

“Dear Beth. She’s been running that local store since God was a boy.”

She continued with a chortle in her voice, “Some say that Beth was at the store before our local pub, The Palk Arms, opened for business. And the pub’s been in the village for well over four-hundred years.” Sandra’s laugh was infectious and I caught myself already taking a liking to her. The sense of a strong, confident person struck me immediately. Indeed, a working woman evidenced by her brown slacks, revealing plenty of dog hairs, topped off with a blue T-shirt under an unbuttoned cotton blouse.

“Anyway, enough of me, Paul, you’ve come to get yourself a German Shepherd puppy.”

She turned towards a collection of grey, galvanised-sheeted barns and continued chatting as I fell into step alongside her.

“After we discussed your circumstances over the phone; where you live down there in Harberton, why you specifically wanted a German Shepherd dog, I thought about the last set of puppies that were born, just a few weeks ago.”

Sandra paused and turned towards me.

“While, of course, you can select whatever puppy you feel drawn to, my advice is to go for a male. Listening to your experiences of befriending a male German Shepherd when you were a young boy, I have no doubt that a male dog would result in you and the dog building a very strong bond. Indeed, I have a young male puppy that I want to bring out to you. Is that OK?”

Sandra turned and walked out of sight around the corner of the first barn leaving me standing there, my response presumably being taken for granted.

Something in her words struck me in a manner that I hadn’t anticipated; not in the slightest. That was her use of the word bond. I was suddenly aware of the tiniest emotional wobble inside me from Sandra’s use of that word. Somewhere deep inside me was the hint that my decision to have a dog in my life was being driven by deeper and more ancient feelings.

My introspection came to an immediate halt as Sandra re-appeared. She came up to me, a beige-black puppy cradled under her left arm, her left hand holding the pup across its mid-riff behind his front legs, her right arm across her waist supporting the rear of the tiny animal.

I stood very still, just aware of feelings that I couldn’t voice, could hardly even sense, as I looked down at this tiny black, furry face, outsized beige ears flopping down either side of his small head.

It was unusually warm this August day and I had previously unbuttoned my cuffs and folded the shirt sleeves of my blue-white, checked cotton shirt back above both elbows leaving my forearms bare.

Sandra offered me the young, fragile creature. As tenderly as I could, I took the pup into my arms and cradled the gorgeous animal against my chest. The pup’s warm body seemed to glow through its soft fur and as my bare arms embraced the flanks of this quiet, little dog I realised the magic, the pure magic, of the moment. Something was registering in me in ways utterly beyond words but, nonetheless, as real as a rainbow might be across the green, Devon hills.

“How old is he, Sandra?”

“This little lad was born on June 3rd. So what are we today? August 12th. So he is ten weeks old as of today.”

June 3rd, 2003. I knew that this date had now entered my life in just the same way as had the birth-dates of my son and daughter; Alex and Maija.

The power of this first meeting was beyond anything I had expected, or even imagined. I thought that it was going to be a fairly pleasant but, nonetheless, unsurprising process of choosing a puppy. How wrong could I have been! What was captivating me was the pure and simple bodily contact between this young dog and me. No more than that. I was sensing in some unspoken manner that this was equally as captivating for this precious puppy-dog. For even at the tender age of ten weeks, the tiny dog appeared to understand that me holding him so longingly was bridging a divide of many, many years.

Sandra motioned with her arm, pointing out a bench-seat a few yards away alongside a green, well-manicured, lawn.

I very carefully sat down on the wooden-slatted bench and rested the beautiful animal in my lap. The puppy was adorable. Those large, over-sized ears flopping across the top of his golden black-brown furry head. His golden-brown fur morphing into black fur across his shoulders and then on down to the predominantly beige-cream colour of his soft, gangling, front legs. That creamy fur continuing along the little creature’s underbelly.

The puppy seemed almost to purr with contentment, its deep brown eyes gazing so very intently into mine. I was entranced. I was spellbound.

Never before had I felt so close to an animal. In a life-time of nearly sixty years including having cats at home when I was a young boy growing up in North-West London, and much later the family owning a pet cat when Alex and Maija were youngsters, I had never, ever sensed the stirrings of such a loving bond as I was sensing now. As this young puppy was clearly sensing as well. This was to be my dog. Of that I was in no doubt.

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Early days at home in South Devon.

 

Let me leave you with a couple of other photographs taken from his early days.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old, taken in my Devon home in 2004.

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One year old: June 3rd 2004.
First birthday: June 3rd 2004.  Again, picture taken in Devon.

 

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that in the year 2014, I would be writing about Pharaoh from a home-office desk in Southern Oregon sharing a happy life with a wonderful London lady, Jean, and more gorgeous animals than one could throw a stick at.

More on that shared journey with Pharaoh tomorrow!

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Back to today.

Isn’t that a perfect memory of an outstanding dog. Indeed, more than that. An outstanding memory of a grand, magnificent, intelligent dog who was with me during the worst and best of my life!

Our trip to Utah and back, part one.

The story and photographs.

I’m going to post every other day or so trying to give an idea of what we experienced.

Monday, September 23rd.

This was a barn that we stopped at to photograph on the way through South-Eastern Oregon.

We had Brandy with us and he was loving the journey.

But after we reached Lakeview where we stopped for the night we found that he didn’t enjoy the motel.

Tuesday, September 24th.

So in the morning there was no question about what we had to do. Drive the 4 hours back to Merlin, reunite Brandy with his doggy friends that he missed too much, and then drive the 4 hours back to Lakeview!

(As it turned out this was a very good decision by us. There were too many places where dogs were not allowed!)

Wednesday, September 25th.

First thing in the morning we took a closer look at the water that is the origin of the name Lakeview.

Then followed a long drive, a very long drive, out of Oregon and into Nevada. They were in the main lonely roads.

But stunning scenery alongside the lonely road.

Including a spectacular sight of the mist in the bottom of a particular valley.

Then we came across a herd of cattle being moved along the road.

It was unique to our eyes.

So, that’s the start of our travels.

More in a couple of days time.

A new dawn

Literally.

Three photos taken early last Tuesday morning from our rear deck at home; the deck faces East and Mount Sexton is to the left in the last photo.

NB: While the images recorded by the camera have been cropped no other changes, such as amending the highlights or brightness, have been made.

Taken at 05:55 PDT on the 31st July, 2018

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Taken at 05:56 PDT on the 31st July, 2018

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Taken at 05:56 PDT on the 31st July, 2018. That is the summit of nearby Mount Sexton on the LHS.

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Thirty-Three

Closer to home!

In a reply to a post response left by fellow blogger Tails Around the Ranch I wrote:

Came up to Oregon for the rain, found a property that had been empty for years, Bank owned, put in a silly offer that was accepted, sold our Payson home and moved here, with 12 dogs and 6 cats, in October, 2012! Love the place. Will share some pictures of here next Sunday!

So today I am sharing a few pictures with you all. (All of them taken very recently.)

Mount Sexton just to the North-East of us. Take Feb. 24th.

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Another, more starker, Mt. Sexton taken two days later.

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Smoke from our neighbour’s wood fire mingles in the damp air of the trees in the corner of our property. Taken March 1st.

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Rain-laden clouds almost mask Mt. Sexton. Taken March 1st.

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The deer that we feed each morning have made their own trail. March 1st.

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The deer trail to the area by the stables where the food is put out each morning. March 1st.

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Young, dear Oliver playing in that deer trail. March 1st.

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The rain drops on these pine needles caught my eye. March 1st.

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Not just deer that coming feeding on our property. March 1st.

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Another scene that caught my eye. March 1st.

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Final picture showed how the storm deteriorated during that first day of March. Taken at 2pm.

So this is why Jeannie and me and all our dogs, not to mention the horses, love living here.

Ghosts

Here’s that article I wanted to share with you.

But then I got sucked back to memories of sailing!!

Oregon’s lighthouses as recently published over on Mother Nature Network!

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The tallest lighthouse in Oregon has a haunted history

Yet there is more to Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport than these ghostly stories.


JAYMI HEIMBUCH   February 16, 2018

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon has a long history, which of course means rumors of ghosts and hauntings. (Photo: P Meybruck/Shutterstock)

On a scenic basalt rock headland that juts almost a mile into the Pacific Ocean stands a beautiful white lighthouse. At 93 feet tall, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, located in Newport, Oregon, is the state’s tallest lighthouse. It’s been guiding ships for 145 years.

First lit on August 20, 1873, the lighthouse has gained quite the storied history. And that includes two ghost stories.

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is one of two in Newport, Oregon. (Photo: Dee Browning/Shutterstock)

One tale tells of a construction worker helping to build the tower who fell to his death. His body lodged between the double walls, never to be retrieved. He — and his ghost — have been sealed in ever since.

The second story is that in the 1920s, Keeper Smith went into town and left Keeper Higgins in charge. But Higgins fell sick and asked Keeper Story to take over. When Smith saw from Newport that the lighthouse beacon wasn’t lit, he rushed back to find Higgins dead and Story drunk. Story, overtaken with guilt, feared the ghost of Higgins and from then on would take his bulldog up the tower with him.

A view from the northern side of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. (Photo: Jeremy Klager/Shutterstock)

As with most ghost stories, the authenticity of these is highly doubted. The first story is unauthenticated, and the second story is impossible. As Lighthouse Friends clarifies:

A great tale, but unfortunately not supported by the facts that Story and Higgins didn’t serve at the same time at Yaquina Head and Higgins didn’t meet his demise in the tower. Rather, Higgins left the Lighthouse Service before 1920 and returned to live with his mother in Portland. Second Assistant Keeper did die of a heart attack in the watchroom atop the tower in March 1921, but he too served before the arrival of Frank Story.

aquina Head Lighthouse stands tall under big cloudy skies. (Photo: haveseen/Shutterstock)

Fortunately, much more than ghosts can be seen at Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse stands on what is now the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, one of the most spectacular

spots on the coast for viewing ocean wildlife such as sea birds and harbor seals at close range, as well as traipsing through tide pools at low tide. An interpretive center highlights information about these wild inhabitants and features exhibits on the historical details of the lighthouse.

Yaquina Head lighthouse by the Oregon Coast during a beautiful sunset. (Photo: RuthChoi/Shutterstock)

The original oil-powered light has given way to an automated first-order Fresnel lens and a 1,000-watt globe. It flashes with its own specific pattern: two seconds on, two off, two on, and 14 off. The pattern is repeated around the clock.

May the lighthouse stand tall for generations to come. (Photo: Tomas Nevesely/Shutterstock)

While a little illumination causes the ghost stories to fade, visitors can still see a lot with a visit to Yaquina Head. Whether it’s grey whales at close range during their migration, or the sun setting over the ocean and silhouetting the tall structure, visitors are always happy they stopped to take in both the scene and the history of this special place.

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I really hope that despite the advance of digital GPS navigation systems it will still be a very long time before these magnificent lighthouses are turned off!

The day of the eclipse!

The day has arrived! Listen carefully!

Listen??  Yes, and thanks to The Smithsonian, if you are blind or visually impaired!

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What Does an Eclipse Sound Like?

A new app will allow blind and visually impaired users to experience the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21.

By Nathan Hurst
smithsonian.com  August 14, 2017

How would you describe an eclipse to a blind person? The moon moves in front of the sun, yes. But what does that look like? Someone trained in illustrative description of images might say, “The moon appears as a featureless black disk that nearly blocks out the sun. The sun’s light is still visible as a thin band around the moon’s black disk. To the upper right, at the moon’s leading edge, a small area of sunlight still shines brilliantly.”

That’s just an example of how such an event could be described. Bryan Gould, director of accessible learning and assessment technologies at the National Center for Accessible Media, a non-profit working to make media experiences accessible to people with disabilities, is hoping to offer oral descriptions of the eclipse in an app. Paired with other features, like a tactile diagram and audio from the changing natural environment as the eclipse darkens the sky, the app is designed to make the event more accessible to blind or visually impaired people who want to experience it.

Gould is working with Henry Winter, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to develop the app, called Eclipse Soundscapes. As the August 21 solar eclipse darkens a path across the United States, Eclipse Soundscapes will release descriptions, timed—based on the user’s location—to match the progress of the eclipse.

Winter conceived Eclipse Soundscapes after a conversation with a friend who’s been blind since birth. She asked him to explain what an eclipse means.

Such an event might provide an interesting representation of the eclipse, thought Winter, so he partnered with the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds program, which preserves and catalogs sounds from the parks. Helpers stationed at national parks along the route will record audio during the eclipse, to hear the change in the “bioacoustical chorus” of the animals.

This can’t happen in real time, of course, so the National Center for Accessible Media is providing illustrative descriptions, based on a previous eclipse. The sounds of crickets, frogs and birds becoming active on the day of the eclipse will be added to the app later.

Last, with the help of an audio engineer named Miles Gordon, Winter is trying something completely new. Gordon developed a “rumble map” of the eclipse: The app places images of different stages of an eclipse on your smartphone’s screen, and as you trace your finger across the eclipse’s image, the vibration increases or decreases based on the brightness of the image.

“It does give you the impression that you’re actually feeling the sun, as you move your finger around,” says Winter.

“I realized I didn’t have the vocabulary to answer that question for her,” says Winter. “Every way I thought about it was visual in nature, and I didn’t know how to explain it to somebody … light, dark, bright, dim, flash. All these different words have no meaning to somebody that’s never seen.”

But the project goes well beyond audio descriptions. It includes two further elements: audio of the changing soundscape caused by the eclipse, and a tactile exploration of the eclipse’s image (which means that people who are blind or visually impaired can “feel” the eclipse using vibrations on their smartphones).

Many creatures become active as the sun sets, and many of them use darkness as an indicator of time of day. During an eclipse, crickets will chirp and frogs will chorus, thinking night has fallen. These habits were noted as far back as 1932, in a Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences article titled “Observations on the Behavior of Animals During the Total Solar Eclipse of August 31, 1932.”

Scientists around the world will be using the eclipse as an opportunity to study solar astronomy in a way they usually can’t, measuring the ultraviolet light emitted from the sun’s corona, which Earth-based observers can’t normally see, as it is overpowered by the normal sunlight. It’s also rare for an eclipse to cover this much land — it traverses from Oregon to South Carolina — and Winter points out that it is a particularly good opportunity for education and outreach.

Though education is important, for Wanda Diaz Merced, a visiting scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is completely blind, there’s a lot more to the eclipse than that. Merced, who has consulted on the Eclipse Soundscapes project, studies human-computer interaction and astrophysics, and to do her research, she needs assistance translating data into a format she can interact with. She’s been building tools to help with that translation, and sees elements of Winter’s project that could contribute.

“It’s still not a prototype that I may use, for example, to study elements of the photosphere. It is not on that stage,” says Merced. “But hopefully one day we will be able to not only hear, but to touch.”

The eclipse will occur on August 21, starting around 10 a.m. in Oregon and finishing by 3 p.m .in South Carolina. The Eclipse Soundscapes app is available for iOS now, and the team is working on an Android app as well.

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I can’t imagine there’s anyone still pondering on whether or not to view the eclipse.

But that still doesn’t stop me offering you this recently presented TED Talk.

On August 21, 2017, the moon’s shadow will race from Oregon to South Carolina in what some consider to be the most awe-inspiring spectacle in all of nature: a total solar eclipse. Umbraphile David Baron chases these rare events across the globe, and in this ode to the bliss of seeing the solar corona, he explains why you owe it to yourself to witness one, too.

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxMileHigh, an independent event. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page.

About the speaker: David Baron David Baron writes about science in books, magazines, newspapers and for public radio. He formerly served as science correspondent for NPR and science editor for PRI’s The World.

Enjoy it, good people. And protect your eyes!!!

Or better still allow NASA Television to show the eclipse to you.

NASA Television will air a four-hour show – Eclipse Across America – which will include live video of the event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media. NASA’s show begins at 15:00 UTC (11 a.m. EDT; translate to your time zone), or later (we’ve seen this time waffle around a bit). Check the website for changes or further details.

A nose for doing good work!

A dog’s nose, of course!

We all know how good are the noses of our dogs. Yet, I suspect, many do not know how truly good is that nose. The Science ABC site has a detailed account of Why Do Dogs Have Such A Great Sense of Smell?
Here’s part of that article:

Dog Nose vs. Human Nose

When we try to smell something, we inhale air with our nose and we use the same passage in our nose to exhale that air. Therefore, all the smell that we get when we are inhaling is lost when we exhale that air. However, a dog has two different air passages, one for breathing and another for smelling. This means that dogs are able to store the smell in their nose even while breathing out the air!

When dogs exhale, they send air out through the slits of their nose, but the manner in which this air is exhaled through their nose helps the dogs to draw in new odor molecules. This also helps dogs capture more smells when sniffing.

You must have noticed that dogs’ noses are always wet, but have you ever wondered why? The mucus on the dog’s nose helps it smell by capturing scent particles. A dog also has the ability to smell independently from each nostril, this helps the dog to understand from which direction the smell is coming.

The passage through which dogs smell the air contains highly specialized olfactory receptor cells, which are responsible for receiving smells. A dog contains about 225-300 million smell receptors, as compared to just 5 million of these receptors being present in a human nose.

Dog Brain vs. Human Brain

By now, we clearly know that dogs have a nose that can smell about 1,000-10,000 times better than a human, but how are dogs able to remember all the different smells that they have sensed throughout their life?

The answer lies in the difference between the brains of dogs and humans. A human brain has a larger visual cortex than dogs, whereas a dog’s brain has a much larger olfactory cortex than humans. The visual cortex is responsible for processing visual information, whereas the olfactory cortex is responsible for processing the sense of smell. A dog’s olfactory cortex is about 40 times larger than that of a human.

Read the full science article here.

All of which makes a slightly longer introduction than normal to a fascinating article over on Mother Nature Network published two days ago.

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5 ways dogs are used for species conservation

May 16, 2017 Jaymi Heimbuch

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

Working dogs are an amazing asset not only for people, but for wildlife, endangered species and even threatened habitats. Expanding on the skills dogs have for tracking down scents and guarding something important, we humans have enlisted their help in many ways for conservation.

Here are five ways dogs are contributing to environmental protection efforts.

Smell for scat

It’s amazing the amount of information that can be sussed out of an animal’s poop. We can determine diet, health, genetics — even whether or not an animal is pregnant. Scat is really important to biologists studying elusive, sensitive or endangered species. Putting dogs on the track is an ideal solution.

Take cheetahs, for example. Scientists in Africa are using dogs and their unparalleled sniffing power to find cheetah poop, all in an effort to get an accurate count on the endangered big cats. (Only 7,000 cheetahs are left in the African wild, according to estimates.) And it’s working. Two trained dogs found 27 scats in an area of 2,400 square kilometers in western Zambia, according to a study published in the Journal of Zoology. Humans, looking for cheetah tracks over the same area, found none.

Groups like Conservation Canines (a handler and dog from the program pictured above), Working Dogs for Conservation and Green Dogs Conservation specialize in this area. Conservation Canines rescues highly energetic, “last chance” dogs from shelters and trains them to track down the scat of dozens of species, from wolves to moose to owl. Even things that are nearly impossible for humans to find — the minuscule scat of endangered pocket mice or orca scat floating on the ocean surface — dogs can track down. They are able to make huge contributions to scientific studies, all without ever bothering the wildlife being studied.

Sniff out problems for wildlife

Whether it’s sniffing out invasive species like giant snails in the Galapagos or detecting disease in beehives, dogs’ noses can be put to work in searching out what shouldn’t be there so that humans can act.

Dogs are able to sniff out particular plant species, pointing ecologists to tiny patches of invasive mustard so that the plants can be removed before they take over an area.

Conversely, dogs can sniff out rare or endangered native plants so that the species can be protected. Rogue is one such dog. The Nature Conservancy writes, “The 4-year-old Belgian sheepdog is part of a Nature Conservancy collaborative project to test the efficacy of using dogs to sniff out the threatened Kincaid’s lupine. The plant is host to the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly, found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.”

Surveying for the plant species is difficult work for people. It can only be done when the plant is in bloom so people can visually identify it. However, dogs like Rogue can sniff out the plant even when not in bloom, which can potentially double the length of the field season.

“More refined regional mapping of Kincaid’s lupine could promote the butterfly’s recovery and delisting — and contribute to larger habitat goals and wildlife impacts.”

Track down poachers

The trade in rare or endangered wildlife is a lot tougher for traffickers thanks to wildlife detector dogs. Trained to smell anything from tiger parts to ivory to South American rosewood, dogs are used in shipping ports, airports, border crossings and other locations to sniff out smuggled products.

It doesn’t stop there. Trained dogs can lead rangers to armed poachers in the wild, tracking down the culprits over long hours through heat and rain. They can catch poachers in the act, rather than just the products.

“Canine sleuths aren’t limited to the plains of East Africa, either,” reports National Geographic. “In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bloodhounds are assisting in the fight against poaching in forested Virunga National Park, where the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas live. In South Africa, Weimaraner and Malinois dogs are helping to find wounded animals and track poachers on foot through the reserves around Kruger National Park.”

Guard endangered species

Dogs are also useful in putting their protective nature to use for endangered species.

Livestock protection dogs are trained to keep predators like cheetahs, lions and leopards safe, which then reduces conflict between ranchers and big cats and minimizes the instances of snaring or retaliatory killing of big cats. Cheetah Conservation Fund has a successful livestock protection dog program, which places Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs with ranchers. That not only has significantly reduced the number of livestock killed by predators but is also improving the attitude of local people toward cheetahs.

Sometimes the dogs are put to work guarding the endangered species themselves. One such successful program uses Maremma shepherd dogs to protect colonies of little penguins from foxes.

Keep bears wild

Karelian bear dogs are trained to keep bears from becoming too comfortable around people. A program by Wind River Bear Institute named Partners-in-Life uses a technique called bear shepherding. This specialized breed of hunting dog is used to scare bears away, and are an important part of the “adverse conditioning” work that keeps bears from becoming habituated. The ultimate goal is to protect bears from becoming habituated, a problem that leads to their being relocated or euthanized.

“Our Wind River Bear Institute mission, with the effective training and use of Karelian Bear Dogs, is to reduce human-caused bear mortality and conflicts worldwide to ensure the continued survival of all species of bears for future generations,” states the program.

This list is only a handful of ways that dogs help us with environmental conservation every day. More and more, we are figuring out new ways to put their skills to work, and more and more the dogs are proving they’re ready for the task!

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated with more recent information.

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Closing words from that Science ABC piece:

A dog does not care how you look or dress, but if he gets good vibes from your smell, then a dog will love you. The world is truly a better place because of these wonderful creatures that we are lucky enough to welcome into our lives.

Why not make the world smell a bit more beautiful for them?

Belay that!

Closing picture taken from the OregonLive website. A stunning picture of the “Fender’s blue butterfly, found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.”

Contrasts!

It has been a bit of a week weather-wise!

During the heavy rains this last week we had an oak tree come down in front of the house. Luckily not doing any collateral damage.

But cutting it up into rounds and then splitting them ready for the wood tent took up most of yesterday (and Michael and Stanley many thanks for your help).

For today’s post I wanted to share two photographs with you. Two very different views of the world as seen from our property.

p1160860The first photograph above is of Bummer Creek that runs through our property. The view is upstream and the picture was taken last Sunday from our driveway bridge that crosses the creek. The flood waters were as high as we have ever seen them.

p1160867Please accept the slight fuzziness of the second photograph. But it is a shot of the full moon just as it appeared above the line of hills to the North-East. I dashed out to our deck and took the shot. Moments later the moon had been hidden by clouds. This was Thursday evening.

The picture doesn’t even get close to recording the magic of the dark night sky, stars shining so brightly, and the glorious full moon. Apparently a moon in orbit closer to planet Earth than is usual.

Nonetheless, the two photographs represent two very different and contrasting faces of our natural world.

You all have a very relaxing weekend.

Marbles, by Anne Schroeder

Introducing Anne Schroeder – a local Oregon author.

This week presents a number of interesting challenges.

The first is that while I am getting along reasonably well with the draft of my second book, Four Dogs On My Bed, I am still about 3,000 words (as of yesterday) behind where I wanted to be on November 7th. (There’s NaNoWriMo pressing in against me!)

The second challenge is that tomorrow is a special day. No, I’m not referring to the circus that has come to town, to everybody’s towns, but to my birthday. It is my birthday on the 8th and I’m trying hard to stay away from my computer.

The third and final challenge is that there are too many things going on for the balance of the week, even without me needing to keep my writing nose to the grindstone, for me to properly put together the blog posts otherwise required.

anne-croppedBut then along comes Anne Schroeder. I met Anne when I joined our local authors group, AIM, and, like all the other members of AIM, Anne was supportive and helpful towards me.

A week ago, Anne emailed me a short story that was perfect for all you dear readers.

That story is in three parts and I shall be continuing with Part Two and Part Three on Wednesday and Thursday. (I have something else for the 8th!)

Before the story, here is an introduction to Anne.

mariainesfrontAnne Schroeder writes memoir and historical fiction set in the West. She has won awards for her short stories published in print and on-line markets. She was 2015 President of Women Writing the West and lives with her husband and new Lab puppy in Southern Oregon where they explore old ruins and out-of-the-way places. Her new release, Maria Ines, is a novel about an Indian girl who grows up under Padre Junipero’s cross and endures life under the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquest of California. http://www.anneschroederauthor.com

Here, then, is Part One of Anne’s tale.

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MY SEASON FOR MARBLES

I have a confession: Dogs and I have never gotten along. Well, okay, there was Happy, our black, floppy-eared Cocker Spaniel who died in front of me, under the wheel of my father’s truck when I was seven. After that, it seemed easier not to get attached.

On our sheep farm, dogs ate table scraps and slept under the tank house. We had a pair of Australian Shepherds, trained by Basque herders in their native language that guarded the flock at night against coyotes and neighbors pets. We weren’t allowed to distract the Aussies from their work.

My attitude regarding dogs could be described as cautious regard. I carry memories of being chased onto a John Deere tractor by a snarling stray. I have vivid memories of my uncle’s Doberman sinking its fangs into my calf because I was swinging hands with my cousin, a six-year-old like myself, as we walked up her driveway after school. I can still see that dog, loping toward us in slow-motion, slobber spraying off his jowls, his eyes keenly fixed on the enemy—which was me. All I could do was drop my little cousin’s hand, stand still, and hope that the dog would be merciful. No such luck.

I learned later that he was a watchdog, trained to protect his family. My aunt and uncle worked at a mental hospital and had received death threats from patients who escaped on a fairly regular basis.

Even when it was not my fault, I managed to annoy dogs. When I was seven my grandmother’s hound nipped me in the fleshy part of my palm as I dumped dinner into his bowl. My scream of pain was mostly indignant fury, but the memory scarred my soul. Another time a cousin’s cattle dog crawled out from under the porch where her new litter was sleeping. No bite this time; she just snarled with bared teeth until I hopped back on my bicycle and rode home. It was probably a bluff on her part, but I didn’t wait around to find out.

Eventually, dogs and fear became synonymous.

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Whoa! Where does it go from here? I do hope that you will return on Wednesday to find out! (That’s assuming that we all survive tomorrow’s circus!)