Tag: Valentine’s Day


A Valentine Day reflection.

Yesterday was, of course, Valentine’s Day.

Rather than copy something from somewhere else I wanted to be original in my thoughts about love.

Jean was happy that this be published.


February 14th, 2022

In a world where new gizmos are coming onto the scene with what seems like ever increasing rapidity there is one thing that remains constant. It is love.

To my mind, love is a great deal more than the emotional and romantic connection between a man and a woman. Of course, that love, the romantic connection, is the one that is the subject of countless songs, poems, plays, books, and many other forms of communication, and one that goes back to almost the origins of warm-blooded life.

If one opens one’s mind, however, love can cover so much more. Love for the land; love for the distant stars in a dark sky; love for the sea; love for nature; and on and on. Too many times for me to count, and why would I want to count them anyway, each day I look out to the north-east and towards Sexton Mountain. My fondness for that sight is, I think, a form of love.

But this is Valentine’s Day. Despite the history of the day being an ancient Christian feast, as in Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyr, it has long become an important cultural and commercial celebration of romance. I sense you and me wanting to kick back against the commercial imperatives although, as you can see, I offer you a Valentine’s card.

With this card, I celebrate our love.

With this card, I celebrate that you and I found true love back in 2007; the first time this had happened to me.

With this card, I celebrate all that we have.

Dear Jeannie, I Love You!


Here is the card:

Card and Brandy!

Picture Parade Three Hundred and Seventy-Five

It’s Valentine’s Day and yet more dogs!

Yes, they are from Nimbushopper and you can go across to his Flickr account here.







And the last one for today is a non-doggy one but is still a beautiful photograph.

So on to next Sunday and, hopefully, more photographs.

You all take great care of yourselves.

Finally, a Happy Valentine’s Day!

The scent of danger.

A reflection on our reptilian brains.

Now of all the things I am not, I am neither a biologist nor a scientist of any description.  However, general knowledge told me years ago that the human brain is composed of three areas, as the following diagram shows.

The constituents of the human brain.
The constituents of the human brain.

A quick web search brings up THE EVOLUTIONARY LAYERS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN, from which I quote:

The first time you observe the anatomy of the human brain, its many folds and overlapping structures can seem very confusing, and you may wonder what they all mean. But just like the anatomy of any other organ or organism, the anatomy of the brain becomes much clearer and more meaningful when you examine it in light of the evolutionary processes that created it.

The most efficient model for understanding the brain in terms of its evolutionary history is the famous triune brain theory developed by Paul MacLean. According to this theory, the following three distinct brains emerged successively in the course of evolution and now co-inhabit the human skull:

The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals. It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings. The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

The neocortex first assumed importance in primates and culminated in the human brain with its two large cerebral hemispheres that play such a dominant role. These hemispheres have been responsible for the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. The neocortex is flexible and has almost infinite learning abilities. The neocortex is also what has enabled human cultures to develop.

These three parts of the brain do not operate independently of one another. They have established numerous interconnections through which they influence one another. The neural pathways from the limbic system to the cortex, for example, are especially well developed.

I’m well into reading the book Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma authored by Peter A. Levine.  As early as Chapter One, Peter Levine explains [my emphasis]:

The involuntary and instinctual portions of the human brain and nervous system are virtually identical to those of mammals and even reptiles. Our brain, often called the ‘triune brain,’ consists of three integral systems. The three parts are commonly known as the ‘reptilian brain’ (instinctual), the ‘mammalian or limbic brain (emotional), and the ‘human brain or neo-cortex’ (rational). Since the parts of the brain that are activated by a perceived life threatening situation are the parts we share with animals, much can be learned by studying how certain animals, like the impala, avoid traumatization. To take this one step further, I believe that the key to healing traumatic symptoms in humans lies in our being able to mirror the fluid adaptation of wild animals as they ‘shake out’ and pass through the immobility response and become fully mobile and functional.

Unlike wild animals, when threatened, we humans have never found it easy to resolve the dilemma of whether to fight or flee. This dilemma stems, at least in part, from the fact that our species has played the role of both predator and prey. Prehistoric peoples, though many were hunters, spent long hours each day huddled together in cold caves with the certain knowledge that they could be snatched up at any moment and torn to shreds.

Anyway, to get back to what triggered today’s post.

If you read yesterday’s post you will recall me chatting with Jon Lavin and Jon reminding me that humans are drawn to positive messages.  But in stark contrast, the news media industry excels in promoting ‘doom and gloom’.  Why is this?  Why are we so fascinated by danger?

Well here’s my theory.

That is our evolution would not have succeeded if early man didn’t become pretty smart at identifying animal behaviours and plants and fruits that had the capacity to harm or even kill.  For example, what parent hasn’t made it a priority to teach their children the difference between harmful fungi and edible mushrooms.  Indeed to the extent that most of us would think long and hard before eating any fungi found in the wild unless we were 150% certain it was edible.  Look at the following picture.  Your instinct tells you if it’s safe to eat or not – it’s not!

Amanita muscaria photo © Michael Wood
Amanita muscaria photo © Michael Wood

So early man became over-sensitised to dangers to his health for his own good and continued existence. While modern man functions in ways almost unrecognisable from early man, that good old reptilian brain still is doing it’s best to protect us (flight, fight or freeze).  Think how we all respond to a sudden alarming sound, such as a gun shot or a scream, to know that the old reptilian brain is still alive and well.

Thus while all of us hate negativity we all seem to have this fascination with doom and gloom – just in case it helps us and our loved ones survive.

Back to Jon Lavin.  He makes it very clear that anything more than a small amount of ‘doom and gloom’ speaking to our consciousness increases the odds of depression and introversion.

Thus the message is that we humans should allow our Neocortex to tell our Reptilian ‘neighbour’ to go easy on the bad news, go and open a beer and watch the world go by! Whoops! Watch the world go by with a smile!

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.

Here’s to a good laugh.

Forwarded to me by Cynthia – a very brave lady indeed.

It seems to have been a tough week in various ways so why not open a bottle of your favourite vintage and raise a glass to all the brave persons in the world.






























Let me close with a quotation reputed to be from the lips of Joan Collins:

Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course,

you happen to be a bottle of wine.

People power

A lovely postscript to a recent campaign.

On the 9th February, there was a Post on Learning from Dogs about the flower industry.  Here’s a small extract.

At flower farms in Ecuador and Colombia — the countries that export the most to the U.S. — two-thirds of the workers are women. These women are routinely subjected to harassment and even rape from their male supervisors. They suffer eye infections and miscarriages from consistent contact with dangerous pesticides.

In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, they’re routinely forced to work 80-hour weeks with no overtime pay. Attempts to form a union are met with opposition by police and armed forces.

Apparently some 40% of annual purchases of flowers are purchased for Valentine’s Day in the USA.  Anyway, in today’s in-box is this lovely update from Change.org

Dear Paul,

We are blown away by the incredible impact Change.org members have made around the world by starting, joining, and winning dozens of meaningful campaigns over the past few weeks. So we wanted to drop you a quick note to say thank you. And congratulations. And let’s keep fighting.

Here are a few of the top victories and successes we’ve had together:

  • Late last week, the largest florist in the world, 1-800-Flowers, responded to 54,000 Change.org members and agreed to begin selling Fair Trade flowers and insist on a strong code of conduct for all their suppliers to counteract the deplorable working conditions that thousands of female flower workers face in South America. They’ve promised to offer Fair Trade flowers in time for Mother’s Day, making 1-800-Flowers a leader in the industry. (Click here to write a thank you message on 1-800-Flowers’ Facebook wall.)

Nice one!  The website Change.org can be found here.

Flowers for your Valentine

This opened my eyes; thought I would share it with you.

I know that many of the several hundred readers of Learning from Dogs are not in the USA.  But many are.  Hence me deciding, after mulling it over, to publish in full the contents of an email that came in a short while ago from the organisation Change.

Here’s that email.

Dear Paul,

Valentine’s Day, which accounts for 40% of fresh flower sales annually, is fast approaching.

Not always a sweet smell.


If you’re planning to order a bouquet from 1-800-Flowers — the world’s largest florist — you should know where most of those flowers really come from.

At flower farms in Ecuador and Colombia — the countries that export the most to the U.S. — two-thirds of the workers are women. These women are routinely subjected to harassment and even rape from their male supervisors. They suffer eye infections and miscarriages from consistent contact with dangerous pesticides.

In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, they’re routinely forced to work 80-hour weeks with no overtime pay. Attempts to form a union are met with opposition by police and armed forces.

Many retailers — such as Whole Foods and Stop & Shop — have taken the important first step of offering Fair Trade flowers to consumers who want no part of these abuses. Fair Trade certified farms must adhere to strict standards for workers’ rights, which prevents the abuses described above.

1-800-Flowers is the largest florist in the world. Yet they offer no Fair Trade flowers at all.

Tell 1-800-Flowers to join other major retailers in offering Fair Trade flowers.

1-800-Flowers uses a certifying agency called Florverde, which ensures that its flower farms measure up to certain environmental standards — this is a good thing. But Florverde has almost no labor standards: A farm can be certified even if it uses forced labor.Indeed, Florverde is owned by the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, so it has a financial incentive to keep wages low and suppress workers’ rights.

This is the week before Valentine’s Day — more people will purchase flowers during the next seven days than any other week this year. This is our best opportunity to demand a promise from 1-800-Flowers to join its competitors in offering Fair Trade flowers. So after you sign the petition, please share this email widely and post on Facebook — do everything you can to pressure 1-800-Flowers to show a little respect for the women who toil in unbearable circumstances. The women without whom they’d have no flowers to sell.

Click the link below to tell 1-800-Flowers to make a promise this Valentine’s Day to sell Fair Trade flowers:


Since this campaign began, the company has emailed to tell us that it will post more information on its website about the farms that supply their flowers. But this is a far cry from selling fair trade products — and we have much more to do to make sure workers are protected. This is the week to do it.

Thanks for taking action,

Patrick and the Change.org team

If you feel so minded to sign the petition, which can be done by people outside the USA, then that may be done here.