Tag: Technology

Are you grounded?

Or just away with the fairies!

Sorry, just kidding: Couldn’t resist!

I have just finished reading a book with the title of Earthing.


It has been an absolutely fascinating read and one, I’m bound to say, that seems entirely plausible.

That is that our modern lifestyle that has us disconnected from Mother Earth for much of our time is the cause of many ailments. As the associated website explains:


Just as the sun gives us warmth and vitamin D, the Earth underfoot gives us food and water, a surface to walk, sit, stand, play, and build on, and something you never, ever thought about—an eternal, natural, and gentle energy. Think of it perhaps as vitamin G: G for ground. What does that mean to you? Maybe the difference between feeling good and not so good, of having little or a lot of energy, or sleeping well or not so well.

You can’t see the Earth’s energy but some people can feel it as a warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation when they are out walking barefoot along the water’s edge at the beach or on a stretch of dew-moistened grass.

Throughout history humans walked barefoot and slept on the ground. But modern lifestyle, including the widespread use of insulative rubber, or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from the Earth’s energy and, of course, we no longer sleep on the ground. Fascinating new research has raised the possibility that this disconnect may actually contribute to chronic pain, fatigue, and poor sleep that plague so many people.

The remedy for the disconnect is simple. Walk barefoot outdoors whenever possible and/or sleep, work, or relax indoors in contact with conductive sheets or mats that transfer the energy to your body. People who do so on a regular basis say they sleep better, feel better, and have more energy during the day. This simple practice is called Earthing, also known as grounding, and it is both a technology and a movement which is transforming lives across the planet.

Were you aware, for example, that the sole of our foot has more nerve endings per square inch than any other part of our body! And more sweat glands! All from thousands of years of being connected to the Earth.


Then watch Part One of a conference video by Dr. Stephen Sinatra, one of the authors of the book:

(The remaining parts of Dr. Sinatra’s talk will be presented in a post on Monday!)

Jean and I have just ordered the half-sheet and I shall be delighted to write more of our experiences over the coming weeks.

And I don’t need to remind you that dogs have been in bare-foot contact with Planet Earth for some time now!

Stay healthy!


Trust, truth and community, Pt. 3.

How a very ancient concept has modern attributes.

One might be forgiven for thinking that community is an odd bed-fellow with trust and truth.  Many might think that faith would be a more logical third leg, so to speak.

However, I hope to show that in today’s world where trust and truth are beleaguered qualities a rethinking of community is critically vital for the long-term health of mankind.


Can’t resist a third look-up in Roget’s Thesaurus.

community noun

Persons as an organised body: people, public, society.

For me two words jump out from that definition: persons; organised.

The challenge is that the word organised is easily interpreted as an organisation with leaders and followers.  But that’s not how community is regarded in the context of this third essay.

“No man is an island”, John Donne wrote in 1624.

This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes – Meditation XVII, 1624:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Thus for the vast majority of people on the face of this planet, we are linked to others and how we live our lives is fundamentally influenced by those others about us.  In a past life, I lived in the village of Harberton in South Devon.  The population of Harberton was 300 persons.

An E. M. Morison (Totnes) postcard, bearing a 3p stamp, which gives a sending date between Feb 1971 and Sept 1973.
An E. M. Morison (Totnes) postcard, bearing a 3p stamp, which gives a sending date between Feb 1971 and Sept 1973.

Now I was lucky when I moved into Harberton because my two sisters, Rhona and Corinne, had lived in the area for many years and it was easy for me to be positioned as ‘the brother’.  Nevertheless, the way that the village embraced all newcomers was wonderful and within a very short time one felt a settled member of the community.

Same for Jean and me as relative newcomers to our property just 4 miles from Merlin, Oregon. All of our neighbours have embraced us and helped us understand this new rural life that we have embarked on.  We feel part of the local community.

Yet it doesn’t stop there.

Obviously, I’m a WordPress user!  Learning from Dogs is a WordPress blog!  But were you aware of the size of the WordPress community? (As of now!)

How many posts are being published?

Users produce about 44.5 million new posts and 56.7 million new comments each month.

How many people are reading blogs?

Over 409 million people view more than 14.7 billion pages each month.

Even my funny little blog has 959 followers!

What that figure doesn’t reveal is how many of my followers have offered support, openness and real loving friendship. None better demonstrated than by the comments left by readers when I announced the recent death of Dhalia.

Think of the way that untold numbers of internet users rely on that ‘worldwide web’ for referrals, opinions or knowledge about anything ‘under the sun’.

So while there might be many aspects of our new technological world that create unease, the opportunities for having ‘virtual’ friends to complement our social friends make this era unprecedented.

I would go so far as to say this. That the way that knowledge and information can be shared around the world in no time at all may be our ultimate protection against those who would seek to harm us and this planet.

How to close these essays? Perhaps no better than as follows:

On Wednesday evening we were joined by neighbours, Dordie and Bill.  My post on truth came up in discussion. Bill mentioned that he had read about a person who had spent many years studying the texts of all the world’s major religions.  What had emerged was that across all those great religions there was a common view as to what the long-term health and survival of societies requires.

It is this: the telling of truth and the keeping of promises!


Trust, truth and community, Pt. One.

Reflections on our present world.

Today, and the next two days, I want to offer you three essays under the theme of Trust, truth and community.

As is so often the case, there was a series of outwardly unconnected experiences that seemed, well to my eyes anyway, to speak to a theme.  You will have to wait until Friday to judge whether or not you agree with me!


This first essay was motivated by two disparate events: One very local and one as far removed from being local as one could imagine.

But first, what do we mean by trust? Roget’s Thesaurus defines the word (in part):

trust noun

Absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of another: belief, confidence, dependence, faith, reliance.

You will recall that just over three weeks ago, we welcomed two horses to our pastures; Ranger and Ben.  Both horses had previously been treated badly by humans, especially Ben who had been starved and beaten by his ex-owners.

In the early days, Ben was very cautious of any sudden movement by me and would back away from any contact from me other than being offered a food treat.

But in just three weeks, Ben has gone a huge way towards trusting Jean and me.

Taken yesterday afternoon.
Taken yesterday afternoon.


My face is closer than three inches to Ben's nose.
My face is closer than three inches to Ben’s nose.


Both Ben and Ranger in the background are now very comfortable with Jean and me.
Both Ben and Ranger in the background are now very comfortable with Jean and me.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my guess is that if a human had experienced the degree of cruelty from the hands of another person that these horses had, it would take very much longer than three weeks for that human victim to regain the same level of trust that Ben and Ranger now offer. Indeed, many persons would harbour anger and distrust forever.

That was the local example of trust

Now to the ‘non-local’ example of trust. It involves PayPal.

Not so long ago, Wolf Richter, he of the Testosterone Pit blogsite, published an essay about PayPal’s recently revised privacy policy.  Or as Wolf called it: I Just Got PayPal’s New Absolutely-No-Privacy-Ever Policy

You must read it in full, especially if you are a PayPal user.  Thanks to Wolf, I can offer you his opening paragraphs:

I Just Got PayPal’s New Absolutely-No-Privacy-Ever Policy

TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2014 AT 1:00AM
Sunday, when people had other things to do and weren’t supposed to pay attention, PayPal sent its account holders an innocuous-sounding email with the artfully bland title, “Notice of Policy Updates.” PayPal didn’t want people to read it – lest they come away thinking that the NSA, which runs the most expansive spying dragnet in history, is by comparison a group of choirboys.

The email started with corporate blah-blah-blah on privacy, that PayPal was “constantly” changing things “to give you more of what you want and improve your experience using us.”

Do read the rest of the essay here. Here’s a comment from a reader of Wolf’s essay, republished with Wolf’s permission:

Concerning: I Just Got PayPal’s New Absolutely-No-Privacy-Ever Policy

I will relate an experience I had regarding Pay Pal that I believe has some relevance to your blog on Pay Pal’s privacy policy.

I am a retired old geezer living in NY State. About 4 years ago I looked at Ebay’s bidding process to place a bid on an item I wanted. However I discovered that I could not make such a bid without subscribing to pay pal. I provided pay pal with the information it required and made my bid. My bid was exceeded by other bids and I did not get the item. My credit card was not used at that time and I never used Ebay or pay pal after that.

Because I did not respond to ongoing emails from the 2 companies I believed that I had no further connection to either of them and that my single failed bid was the end of our relationship.

Then about 2-3 years ago I received a couple of emails from Best Buy: one thanking me for opening a new account, and the other thanking me for purchasing an expensive electronic item.

When I opened up that new Best Buy account I discovered that my address was stated to be in California in care of a person named Pham Pham and that the credit card that was used was one that had recently expired although the number was still in use on a subsequently issued card. I checked all my credit cards online and found that the charge was not pending. I also took some other measures to protect myself. Within hours I received another email from Best Buy cancelling the order because payment was not made by my credit card company.

This incident took a strange turn a couple of days later. Initially I had no idea as to the source of the credit information leak. But then 2-3 days afterwards I received an email from Pay Pal requesting an update of the credit card information in my Pay Pal account. Pay Pal’s email request for updated credit information so soon after the online theft attempt may be just a coincidence, but in my mind there is an undisclosed connection. Of course I have not complied with Pay Pay’s requests. To this day no company has informed me that their accounts were hacked and that my credit information was stolen.

If, when you have read Wolf’s report in full, you feel, as I do, that the time has come to cut the relationship with PayPal then go for it.  Because only a customer base that is ‘voting with their feet’ will deliver the message.

What is that message?

Simply, if organisations want to be trusted by their customers, those organisations must behave with integrity.  Now I am not accusing PayPal of a lack of integrity but it goes beyond that.  It goes to operating with a genuine sensitivity for what is correct. PayPal’s privacy policy is anything but that.  There are parts of their ‘new’ policy that stink of gross insensitivity to their feelings for their customers. Read it in full courtesy of Wolf Richter

Oh, want to know how to close a PayPal account?

To close your Payflow account:

If your partner is PayPal, VeriSign or CyberCash contact PayPal Merchant support at 1-888-883-9770 or via email at payflow-support@paypal.com. Be sure to include your login ID.

If your partner is with a Payflow partner, reseller, or merchant bank you will need to contact the partner, reseller, or bank directly to close your Payflow account.

For additional information, contact PayPal Merchant support at 1-888-883-9770 or via email at payflow-support@paypal.com.

Note: Once your Payflow account is terminated, you cannot access the PayPal Manager or any account data. If you need access to this data, you will be charged a fee.

If you are trying to close your PayPal account and not a Payflow account do the following:
Log in to your PayPal account.
Click Profile at the top of the page.
Click Close Account in the Account Information column and follow the steps listed.

My PayPal account was closed at 15:10 PDT yesterday.

Perhaps PayPal should take note of how humans witness trust offered by our dear animals!

Real democracy.

This news really brightened my day!

Or, perhaps I should have written that sub-heading, “Adding a gloss to what are mostly bright days!”.

What on earth am I rabbeting on about?

From time to time on Learning from Dogs I have touched on the topic of democracy.  The most recent post of any relevance was on the 27th January this year in a post called Unconditional love.  In essence that blog post was recording an email exchange between Martin Lack, Chris Snuggs and Patrice Ayme. Let me reproduce a part of that ‘discussion’:

Paul: Chris/Martin, To my way of thinking, there is a more fundamental issue at work. That is the corrupting effect of power. I’m certain you know the famous saying. Thus whatever fine motives propel a person to enter politics, that person seems unable to avoid the call of power and its corrupting effect. The only hope is that key countries, and none so key as the USA, evolve a better, more representative, political process. Otherwise, I fear for the coming years.

Patrice: I agree with Paul 100%. I saw the call of power. Unimaginable. People just get insane. There are also filtering systems to insure they get that way (it starts right away with one week retreats in extremely posh resorts; does not matter if you are capitalist, socialist, blueist, reddist, ecologist, independentist, etc.).

Chris: Agreed. It has been clear time and time again throughout history. Well, so much is obvious, but WHAT TO DO about it?

A) We must end the practice of having career politicians: you serve a maximum of TEN years, at the end of which you go.

B) Inherited wealth allowing the building up of immensely powerful family dynasties over generations must be ended. It is simply untenable. The rich-poor gap is getting obscene everywhere, and money is of course power. My “Abolish inheritance” idea will be wildly unpopular because we are naturally acquisitive and “greedy” and of course would hit those with most to lose who also therefore have the most power.

Patrice:  With all due respect, Chris and Martin sound rather naïve… Huge wealth and power is where it’s at. And it attracts to politics first, foremost, and soon uniquely, those it attracts most, namely the basest sort.

Without in any way of knowing in a reliable manner, as in statistically reliable, the attitudes of folk, nonetheless there is no question that a huge number of the ordinary folk that live around us here in Merlin, Joesephine County, Oregon and others that one meets in the course of being ‘out and about’ are worried; frequently deeply worried.

Worried about the “Huge wealth and power ..” and the gross inequalities that flow from that.

So with that in mind, consider the pleasant surprise offered me when I read the day’s roundup from the Permaculture Research Institute email distribution and it included:

The Missing Part of the Internet – Collaborative Decision-Making Made Easy with Loomio

The world needs a better way to make decisions together

“The new era of digital democracy is one source of hope. New formats for web-based participation, like Loomio, and enablers of grassroots engagement… are flourishing.” —The Huffington Post

Democracy isn’t just about politics — it’s people getting together and deciding how things should be. It’s a skill we can practice with people wherever we are: in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities.

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone. We’re a small team in New Zealand, and we’ve built a prototype that people are already doing great things with. Now we’re crowdfunding so we can build the real thing: a new tool for truly inclusive decision-making.

It was but a hop and a skip to go to the Loomio website and read:

The world needs a better way to make decisions together.

Help us build it.

Loomio is free and open software for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect them

and then with a further mouse-click on the Crowdfunding link to read:


Democracy isn’t just about politics – it’s people getting together and deciding how things should be. It’s a skill we can practice with people wherever we are: in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities.

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone. We’re a small team in New Zealand, and we’ve built a prototype that people are already doing great things with. Now we’re crowdfunding so we can build the real thing: a new tool for truly inclusive decision-making.

At this point, I should declare an involvement.  Jean and I decided to donate a modest amount.  Thus it is not from an impartial position that I close today’s post with the following video.  Bet you will be impressed!

If you enjoyed that video then do watch the following TED Talk.

Published on Aug 4, 2013

Ben Knight is part of a cooperative social enterprise building Loomio, an online tool for collaborative decision-making being used by thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Ben will be picking through ideas around how technology can enable everyday democracy.

This could be a most interesting development!

A village called Rescue.

Never a day where there isn’t something new to learn; and an opportunity to make a difference.

What prompted the heading and sub-heading of today’s post?

Well, I’ll tell you (you knew I was going to, didn’t you!)

I have mentioned Melinda Roth before on Learning from Dogs, most recently on February, 20th in a post called Oregon wolves, and book writing.

I have also previously mentioned Strawberry Mountain Mustangs back on the 18th February, in a post called The lone Ranger. That was where we spoke of visiting Darla and Troy who own Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, near Roseburg in Oregon and coming to the decision, the very happy decision, to adopt Ranger; whom we hope to welcome to our home in Merlin in about 10 days time.


Anyway, Darla was made aware of Melinda’s blog, Anyone Seen My (BLEEP)ing Horse? and left the following comment to one of Melinda’s posts, that comment from Darla being reproduced in full.  Please read and absorb Darla’s comments because of the power of her words in relation to saving horses.  Plus, later on there’s a plea from me for a competent web-programmer who could help Darla.  But, please read on:

Hello Melinda!

What a wonderful blog… there are no words, but sometimes I guess when a mutual passion is shared, you don’t necessarily need them, do you? Thank you for sharing this.

It’s been a great honor to meet Paul & Jean, and we are working toward getting Ranger delivered to them in the coming weeks. While he is not a “mustang” in the common sense of the word, he is a rescue, once abandoned in the Ochoco National Forest, brought here for rehabilitation and care. He’s a sweet, kind gentle soul whose eyes will sometimes give you the hint of the abuse he suffered some time during his past. Now, more often than not, he lets his guard down and will melt into you for the treats and scratches that used to be so foreign to him.

By adopting Ranger, Paul & Jean open up a space for a more critical rescue to come in. Maybe a wild one, they seem to find their way here – often after being abused or mishandled by their first adopter – as you have seen. Those animals are not the clean slate that comes from the desert and they have often learned what it takes to survive against the humans who don’t understand them. Other times, we will get a wild one who’s heart will always be wild, who was never meant to survive in captivity, and we work hard to find a suitable sanctuary for those animals to live out there days. And… we also get those amazing beings who seem to forgive us all for our actions, and seem to meld into what we expect of them – and except for that glimmer in the eye – they seem to forget the wide open spaces. My boy Buddy was that way. (Read about him on our sadly outdated website… http://www.strawberrymountainmustangs.com;)

If it’s not a wild one, it will surely then be a starving creature at death’s door, sent to us by one of the law enforcement agencies we work with. Regardless of breed, we’ll take them in. Make them well, learn “who” they are, and try to find them their human. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years. We’re in no rush.

I look forward to some day meeting you. I sent Paul some links to information about the Sheldon wild herds, a group that is very near and dear to me. Maybe he can share them with you? Sadly, Fish & Wildlife plans to have them completely eliminated this year I believe.

Take care,


Melinda replied:

What an honor to have you comment here. And what beautiful words. I wish I could do what you do… I will visiting your site and hope to speak with you soon.

That reply from Melinda prompting this further comment from Darla (my emphasis, by the way).

I get the feeling you DO, do what I do. It takes a village. You may not be “hands on” – but you know horses. You spread the word. You encourage rescue. All of that IS what rescue IS. Don’t discount a bit of it just because you aren’t hanging out your shingle as a rescue organization. I appreciate the thought, but we’re all in this together.

Hope you found Buddy’s story – The Reason – and enjoyed it. The rest of the website is out of date since our web designer became ill. I’m not tech savvy, and prefer to be in the barn anyway…so there it sits. :)

That short sentence from Darla inspired me to write today’s post – hence the post title.

So with no further ado, here is Buddy’s Story.


Buddy’s Story


Because not all mustangs are created equal…


On August 28, 2007, we lost a legend.

Born in the Nevada desert with a pedigree written in the sands, he was as pure as the air he breathed.

From the inside out, he was pure gold; soft and gentle, yet tough enough to survive the brutality that would have faced him in the wild. He belonged to Mother Nature & no one else, but he CHOSE me.

His amber eyes shone and melted the toughest of souls. If the eyes didn’t do the trick, a persistant lick would. He won over the heart of even the toughest cowboy.

Towering at 16.2 hands, some would call him a giant. I called him my friend.

He won no races, no ribbons, no trophies. Instead he won hearts. He never competed in a halter class. Instead he spent his time visiting elderly at assisted living centers. That was where he chose to stand at attention, perfectly still, for those in the wheelchairs to judge him.

He wasn’t a reining champion. He did no fancy rollbacks, sliding stops or quick turn arounds. Instead he chose to move carefully, cautiously and slowly so that he didn’t dislodge the rider from his back. Whether they were 2, or 62, Buddy took care of them. I think he earned more high points this way than any national champion ever could have.

Saddles and bridles didn’t fit. Maybe they were never meant to? After all, he had much more important things to do with his short life. Instead we went bareback and with a halter and lead. We didn’t need anything more. We had each other.

Buddy was a wild horse from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. His heritage was cavalry, old stock run by ranchers for our military. It was in his blood to serve, to protect. He did just that.

The lives he saved are countless. Mine was just the first. He showed me what true passion is, that there was more to life than a paycheck and that even a small town girl could make a difference.

Buddy went on to save hundreds of equine lives as well, many of them the wild horses on Sheldon. Lawmakers and the media have learned about the inadequacies of a poorly run adoption program there and the danger our wild horses are in. He also brought us the quiet survivors of abuse and neglect cases. The malnourished, the broken, the beaten and the forgotten. He stood back and watched them all come in, for us to care for and mend, and he waited patiently for his turn to shine.

Webster’s dictionary defines legend as: a person or thing that inspires. I struggled with the term I wanted to use when writing this. Was Buddy an icon? An idol? A legend? After reading the definition, it became clear. He was my dream, my hope, my love, my reason and my inspiration. He is, and will forever be, my legend.

Darla Clark September 8th, 2007

Buddy: The legacy

 Buddy’s legacy lives on at Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, the rescue founded because of him and so many like him. Wild horses who roam on Fish & Wildlife, Forest Service, National Park or reservation lands have no federal protection under the Wild Horse and Burro act of 1971. Please help us save a part of American History. These are OUR living legends. Now we must honor them, and Buddy, by protecting them.

In Buddy’s memory, we are erecting a much needed hay storage barn. We’ve lost several ton of hay to mold already this year. The hay barn will protect the hay and keep our rescue horses safe from any illness caused by hay affected by inclimate weather. Will you help continue Buddy’s work? Please, give whatever you can to help carry on Buddy’s legacy. Buddy made a difference; you can, too.


So here’s another great way you can really help.

Did you pick up what Darla wrote in her subsequent reply to Melinda?  Here it is again:

The rest of the website is out of date since our web designer became ill. I’m not tech savvy, and prefer to be in the barn anyway…so there it sits. :)

The Strawberry Mountain website is not a complex one. Darla deserves support in so many ways.  OK, are you a web programmer or do you know one?  If not, could you share this post as widely as you can. Because there must be someone out there who could offer Darla some pro-bono help so that her website is updated.  The many horses under Darla’s care deserve the best ‘voice’ in the universe.

So please help in any way possible. Thank you.

The engine under the hood!

A reflection on WordPress that powers so many blogs.

All too often in life, it’s very easy to take things for granted.  Such as the software that powers Learning from Dogs and so many other blogs right across the world, namely WordPress.  What prompted this?  Reading the February WordPress report.


WordPress.com by the Numbers: The February Hot List

Ben Huberman, Editor at WordPress.com
Ben Huberman, Editor at WordPress.com

February was another eventful month at WordPress.com. Here’s the lowdown on what we’ve all been up to.

It might be the shortest month of the year, but that certainly didn’t stop WordPress.com users from making February another month to remember. Frigid weather, suspenseful curling matches, The Lego Movie: nothing could keep you away from your sites. Enjoy this winter tale of blogging success.

The blog’s the thing

We were joined this month by no fewer than 1,670,000 new sites and blogs — that’s almost three times the population of Wyoming. Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Old bloggers or new, you set to work with zeal: you wrote nearly 40,000,000 posts this month (if each stood for an hour, it would be enough time to walk to the sun — and back). You made sure not to miss a beat by tapping away on your devices: 2,230,000 posts were published on iPhones and iPads, about a million on your Android devices, and nearly 200,000 came from the BlackBerry crowd.

A contribution to The Daily Post’s recent photo challenge, Threes, by rodocarda.
A contribution to The Daily Post’s recent photo challenge, Threes, by rodocarda.

In case you were curious — we know you were! — you collectively wrote 9.4 billion words. That would roughly be the word count in Shakespeare’s collected plays — if the Bard had the stamina to write them 10,000 times.

As always, you weren’t exactly shy engaging with your fellow bloggers. You liked their posts 7,300,000 times, and left more than 48,000,000 comments.

Is that a widget that I see before me?

Your sidebars got some serious love this month, with 1,360,000 widgets added. The most popular ones? Text Widgets with 145,000, followed by 94,000 Image Widgets.

You also made your posts come alive, embedding 11,600,000 YouTube videos, 3,000,000 image galleries, and 265,000 SoundCloud tracks.

Now Is the Winter of Our Disco Tent

Yes, for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, February was cold (please don’t gloat, Floridians). Which might explain the 24,659 posts tagged with winter and the 942 with polar vortex. The daydreamers among us wrote 4,861 posts about the sun, and 416 about Barbados (rumor has it the piña coladas are better in the latter).

Of course, winter is always coming for Game of Thrones fans, who, as loyal as direwolves, wrote 1,553 posts about a show that isn’t starting until April.

A contribution to The Daily Post’s recent photo challenge, Treasure, by theweeklyminute.
A contribution to The Daily Post’s recent photo challenge, Treasure, by theweeklyminute.

February was dominated by talk of Sochi (10,587 posts) and the Olympics (16,283). For some unfathomable reason, more bloggers published about hockey (a stunning 77,218 posts) than about curling (1,117). Then again, more posts were written about Lego (1,972) than about curling, probably because it’s harder to blog while vigorously brushing ice.

We can’t omit what’s possibly the most anticipated stat of all: in February, dogs (10,060 posts) still beat cats (5,729).

What else kept us warm last month? Laughter — 24,720 posts were added to the humor topic. Unsurprisingly, the month that gave us Valentine’s (6,988 posts) let itself be swept off its feet by love, with 103,147 posts. Please note that this is an odd number — isn’t it ironic? (Alanis Morissette: 40 posts.)

What feats we did last month

February was a hectic month behind the scenes, too, with Automatticians — including four new ones — working hard to make WordPress.com the best it can be (if that sounds like fun, join us!).

We redesigned our sharing and reblogging functions for a smoother, more streamlined look. We added two more blogging ebooks to our collection. And we just introduced ecommerce plugins to our WordPress.com Business users, making it possible, for the first time, to turn your sites into complete online storefronts.

Singl, one of ten new themes added in February.
Singl, one of ten new themes added in February.

Finally, if you’re looking to update the look of your site, there’s no better time to try out some of our new themes. In the past month we introduced ten themes (four of them free!) to our Theme Showcase. Take a look at Axon,MayerTuned BalloonYumblogLensHexaSinglMH MagazineCirca, and Quadra — you won’t regret it.

Spring Equinox is right around the corner — we can’t wait to see what you accomplish this month!


Now if all that isn’t amazing then take a look at the number of people who, like me, are ‘followers’ of WordPress.

You are following this blog

You are following this blog, along with 14,195,761 other amazing people

Gob-smacking is the term that comes to mind!

Dogs and fences.

Yet another guest post; about dog fences!

It’s fair to say that today’s guest author writes about a topic as far removed from yesterday’s eloquent post as one could imagine.  Readers will recall that yesterday’s post from Georgiana was on the subject of Man’s best Friend.  It was called Just love.

Today’s guest post is all about dog fences!  As I said very different from Georgiana’s essay.  Yet there is a link. Both guest posts are about dogs.

About a month ago, I received an email from a Rohit Agarwal offering to write “a well written and resourceful article on topic related to dogs.”  When I discovered that the article was about underground fences, I was sceptical about the value of such an essay.  Then when I read the essay it struck me as a very sensible topic; the one of keeping dogs safely within their own property.

I had no foreknowledge of Rohit, who described himself thus:

Author Bio: Rohit is a dog lover and pet enthusiast; he owns two adorable and wonderful dogs that include a German shepherd and a Labrador retriever. As work keeps him away from home, concerns arise about the safety and comfort of his pet friends, which made him try out various products that facilitate the same. Recently he was worried about leaving his dogs in the yard of his house and tried the underground fence for dogs, which worked great.

Rohit also made clear that he is a contributor to Petstek.com, the company behind the link in the last sentence of his bio.   So here is the article.



Five Reasons Why an Underground Fence is Right for Your Dog.

Most of us love the company of a cuddly and playful dog, as dogs are the considered to be the best pets since their very existence. While it’s great to keep the friendly and loyal canines in your house, one often needs to take care of the dog and protect them from their surroundings while still making sure that the dog gets adequate freedom within your house’s boundaries without it feeling like it has been incarcerated in a concrete prison. We all have tried using leashes, chains and cages, but we know that those methods to contain are not only old fashioned but also to a certain degree, inhuman, especially for the dog that is so friendly and loyal to you. Modern technology today has brought forth a new revolutionary technology called in-ground or underground fence for dogs.

The underground dog fence is a virtual fence which is installed using a special wire that is buried according to the perimeter you want to set for your pet. The wire is coded with signals, and a special collar is worn by the dog, as soon as the dog approaches the buried wire, the collar around its neck makes a warning signal, and as soon as the dog gets too close to the virtual fence, it receives a minor electric shock via the collar which is technically harmless to the pet. Let’s discuss the advantages of installing this system.

1. Freedom To The Dog

Well, we like to have our pets without leashes or chain bound, and we’re sure that no one gets a dog to keep it chained all the time, the underground fence not only provides the dogs adequate freedom of movement but also is more effective and ‘humane’ than chains and leashes. It’s a great solution for the busy pet owners who get a little less time to take their dogs for a walk, but one cannot keep the dog on a leash or in a cage all the time, making it an effective solution.

2. Cost Effective As Compared To Real Fencing

The underground fence for dogs is certainly more cost effective than installing a real fence, which in turn requires really expensive maintenance. Not to mention its increase in cost depending on the material you choose and the installation cost is just a cherry on top of the icing that can totally topple your budget into smithereens. To make sure your pocket doesn’t come between the relationship that you share with your dog, the underground fence is a great option to save you from the regret of ever adopting a pet.

3. A Perfect Solution For Zoning Laws

In many cities or townships there are zoning laws that prohibit you from building fences around your house. If not the laws, then many a times your beloved neighbour might not like you building huge fences around your house and is often backed by the neighbourhood associations. An underground fence for dogs is a great option to keep your loyal guard away from them nosey neighbours.

4. Protection For The Dog And The Environment

It not only keeps your dog protected from straying into places you wouldn’t want it to go, but also is a great solution to keep certain areas of the house such as pools and your wife’s kitchen garden protected and out of reach of the ever curious dogs. Especially from that trash can you don’t want your dog snooping around and creating a litter you might have to clean up. It’s also a great way to keep your neighbours who often complain about the dog strolling and littering their yard.

5. Well Hidden To Maintain The Look Of Your House

While fences might work great for some, most of the time they look ugly, especially when none of the houses in your neighbourhood have fences. The underground fence is a great solution to such a problem. It works as a virtual barrier to not only keep your pet protected from straying in the hostile outside world, but also maintain that great look of your beloved abode.

The underground pet fence with the aforementioned advantages is a great option to keep your pet safe and well contained while giving it freedom of movement which is entirely unhindered and free from any leashes, cages or visible boundaries as we all know that ‘happy pets make happy owners’.


Thoughts from readers?

The Sun to our Rescue

Possibly the start of the end of traditional means of generating electricity

A recent item by David Roberts on the Grist website/Blog caught my eye,

Solar is getting cheap fast—pay attention, Very Serious People

That was the headline to the opening, thus,

I hope everyone has read Kees Van Der Leun’s post about the rapidly falling cost of solar PV. I want to draw out one quick point that Kees leaves implicit.

He argues that PV will be the cheapest source of electricity for most of the world some time around 2018, and for the rest of the world soon after. That could be off by a few years in either direction. It depends on whether the cost curve for silicon solar cells continues as it has the past and, as Alan says in his comment, whether the cost curve for “balance of system” costs (steel, glass, installation, etc.) declines as well. Let’s say it could be off by five years either way. Let’s just assume it’s 2023 before solar PV crosses grid parity and becomes cheaper than coal.

The Kees Van Der Leun post, referred to, points out that,

For a long time, the holy grail of solar photovoltaics (PV) has been “grid parity,” the point at which it would be as cheap to generate one’s own solar electricity as it is to buy electricity from the grid. And that is indeed an important market milestone, being achieved now in many places around the world. But recently it has become clear that PV is set to go beyond grid parity and become the cheapest way to generate electricity.

A hundred solar cells, good for 380 watts of solar PV power. Photo: Ariane van Dijk

Whenever I say this I encounter incredulity, even vehement opposition, from friends and foes of renewable energy alike. Apparently, knowledge of the rapid developments of the last few years has not been widely disseminated. But it’s happening, right under our noses! It is essential to understand this so that we can leverage it to rapidly switch to a global energy system fully based on renewable energy.

Working on solar PV energy at Ecofys since 1986, I have seen steady progression: efficiency goes up, cost goes down. But it was only on a 2004 visit to Q-Cells‘ solar cell factory in Thalheim, Germany, that it dawned on me that PV could become very cheap indeed. They gave me a stack of 100 silicon solar cells, each capable of producing 3.8 watts of power in full sunshine. I still have it in the office; it’s only an inch high!

That’s when I realized how little silicon was needed to supply the annual electricity consumption of an average European family (4,000 kWh). Under European solar radiation, it would take 1,400 cells, totaling less than 30 pounds of silicon.

Of course, you need to cover the cells with some glass and add a frame, a support structure, some cables, and an inverter. But the fact that 30 pounds of silicon, an amount that costs $700 to produce, is enough to generate a lifetime of household electricity baffled me. Over 25 years, the family would pay at least $25,000 for the same 100,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity from fossil fuels — and its generation cost alone would total over $6,000!

Back to the David Roberts article,

He argues that PV will be the cheapest source of electricity for most of the world some time around 2018, and for the rest of the world soon after. That could be off by a few years in either direction. It depends on whether the cost curve for silicon solar cells continues as it has the past and, as Alan says in his comment, whether the cost curve for “balance of system” costs (steel, glass, installation, etc.) declines as well. Let’s say it could be off by five years either way. Let’s just assume it’s 2023 before solar PV crosses grid parity and becomes cheaper than coal.

Here’s the thing: 2023 isn’t that far off. It feels distant to us in a lot of ways. My kids will be out of college. Fifty versions of the iPhone will have come and gone. We might finally have the jetpacks we were promised.

But in terms of energy infrastructure, 12 years is nothing. It can take half that long or longer to permit and build big coal and nuclear plants, and they are meant to last a long-ass time. The Perry K Steam Plant, which serves downtown Indianapolis, was built in 1938. They didn’t have color TV then. Thirty-six coal plants in the U.S. were built before 1950. If a coal plant built today lasts that long, it will still be belching all over the atmosphere in 2072. My kids will be in their 60s.

This is also true of nuclear plants (the oldest is 42 years) and to a lesser extent natural-gas plants. It’s even true of transmission lines. These are large, long-term investments.

So if solar PV is going to be cheaper than coal in the next decade or so, that seems like the kind of thing utilities, regulators, investors, and political leaders would want to, I don’t know, talk over. Grapple with. Mull. It certainly seems relevant to the investment thesis for large, centralized power infrastructure. Yet it’s all but invisible in the elite U.S. energy conversation, outside of a few voices like FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff. Very Serious People still see solar PV as an affectation, a kind of charity project.

Hope you are still with me, because this is really an incredibly positive message.  By the time children born today are becoming teenagers, the means of harnessing the sun to deliver clean energy cheaper than carbon-based and nuclear generation will be a reality.  In a little over a decade from now!

It is so easy to see doom and gloom wherever we look.  For good reasons; these are very difficult times as societies pull back from the greed and materialism of recent times to a better, sustainable relationship with our planet, the only one we have.  But technology and innovation are quietly creating the opportunities for a new future for humanity.

Let me finish with an email received recently from good friend, John H., up here in Payson, Arizona.

Greetings from a Mountain Top,

It has been another bright and peaceful day of Indian summer in the Ponderosa pine forests of the Arizona Rocky Mountains. Our annual state-wide church convention last weekend was a metaphorical breath of fresh air.  It was an opportunity to realize where we’ve been and consider how far we have to go.

From the early evening vantage point of an upper porch with a vista of forest, mountains and sky, it appears that we’re facing spiritual, environmental, human and economic bankruptcy caused by top down idolatry, arrogance and ignorance.

It’s deeply disturbing to watch our human heritage destroyed by a corporate-government-military-industrial-intelligence complex with a clear plan to control the world through oppression. This systemic machine continues to increase the drain on the earth’s severely depleted resources.

Our present energy sources can no longer sustain exponential human population growth.  The industrial use of fossil fuels is destroying the earth which sustains us.  It’s time for us to wake up and read the book of life.  It’s time to lighten the human footprint upon the earth while we still have a choice.  Nature doesn’t care about human ambition.

Peace and love, an old lamplighter

Be entranced

Our beautiful planet home; the only one we have.

With great thanks to Dan G. for sending me the link.

Science educator James Drake built this amazing timelapse video from the perspective of the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America. He created this video by downloading a series of 600 photographs that were available online at theGateway to Astronomy Photograph of Earth, and then stitching them together into a complete video. You can see more of James work at his blog: infinity imagined.