Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Allah Works in Mysterious Ways

I always wondered if this ever happened. Now I know.

Birds Using Tools to Hunt

A Green Heron does a little bait fishing. An amazing bird. If no bread is around, they will us insects. Another example is below.

In summer, this bird is found everywhere in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River, and it winters in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.


Home production and the frugal mindset

Years ago, when I sat alone on my front veranda, thinking about how I could change my life to become the person I wanted to be, the thing that I knew above everything else was that I would have to develop a frugal mindset. Nothing could be achieved without that vital change. It was difficult at first because I too had that attitude that I worked hard and I deserved everything that was available

You Think You Went to a Tough School?

This is a tough school!

The GOP Health Care Plan

Congressman Alan Grayson puts a point on it. Nice!

Hunting Ethics and Terriers

A repost from June 2005.

The hunting community has given a LOT of serious thought to ethical hunting and perhaps this is a topic over-due for discussion in the arena of working terriers.

As the folks at Boone and Crockett note:

"We live in a democracy where in the rules by which we live are determined by majority vote. For those who value hunting, it is fortunate that the majority of the population who do not hunt tolerate or accept hunting. If hunting is to survive to be practiced by future generations, we must preserve, enhance, and protect the image of hunting, hunters, and land stewards as a positive force in wildlife conservation."

Every person will come to their own place when it comes to ethical hunting. I do not like canned bird shoots, for example, while others may find nothing wrong with them. Each to his own.

I broach the topic of ethical hunting, not so we reach the same place, but so people will think about this topic a bit more. How do we represent our sport? How do we do right by the dogs and by the quarry?

As stewards for a type of hunting that is hundreds of years old, how do we make sure terrier work is passed down, intact, to the next generation?

There should always be respect for honest differences of opinion, of course, but opinion should be grounded in thought and information.

I am always amazed that so few people in the U.S. know the history of hunting and wildlife management in this country. A small start at education can be had by visiting the "Fair Chase" web site which notes that:

"As hunters and land managers, we are in the 'image business' - even more so now than at the turn of the century when 'fair chase' was proposed as the underlying foundation for hunter ethics. For sportsmen to continue to be the dominant force in setting wildlife resource policies we must, and foremost understand our role as conservationists. We should take pride in accomplishments and recognize, and assume the responsibilities that have been passed to us by our hunting forefathers. If we don't stand up for wildlife and its habitats, who will? We are, in the end, a 'band of brothers and sisters' in that what we do individually affects us all."

Standing up for wildlife and habitats is not something we hear much about in the terrier world for some reason. Perhaps knowledge of quarry and habitats is what is missing.

Perhaps it is what should be added.

I am always amazed to find hunters
who have never taken the time to learn about the animals they hunt. For these people, terrier work is not a commune with nature, but a proxy for dog fighting or a paper certificate. A deer is nothing but a target and a trophy. A duck is just a feathered clay pigeon.

The true hunter knows the difference between a rat and a raccoon, a squirrel and a fox, a groundhog and a possum. They know what each animal eats, how often they breed, their population densities in various habitats, and their natural mortality rates.

A true hunter knows that you cannot hunt out all the rats on a dairy farm or shoot out all the squirrels in a 200-acre oak woods, but that you can knock all the raccoon or fox off a farm in a single weekend.

An ethical hunter does not bleed the land white.

A smart hunter thinks twice before dispatching a fox or a raccoon. Is it really necessary to terminate this animal? What harm is this animal really doing? If it is a nuisance animal for some reason, make dispatch swift and offer no apologies. But think it through. A released raccoon and fox can be hunted again. If the animal is not a true pest, releasing it is more than good ethics -- it is also good hunting.

A lot of ethical hunting is just good manners -- close fences you open, don't trespass, fill holes you dig in the fields, park out of the way, don't rut the fields, and keep a low profile.

Ethical hunting is mostly about respect -- respect for the farm and the farmers, respect for the crops and the livestock, and even respect for people that do not hunt (waving a bloody shirt is no way to preserve hunting).

Respect extends to dogs and quarry. Respect for the dogs means that you work to reduce the incidence of injury to the animal. Once you get down to the quarry and it can be reached, you pull the terrier and do the job YOU are supposed to do which is swift dispatch or quick release.

A seriously injured dog is not treated as a "red badge of courage" but as a failure of either the dog or the digger to work in a sustainable manner. Routine injury is not a sustainable way to hunt -- and the goal of the serious digger is to hunt next week as well as this.

Respect for the quarry means you dispatch it as quickly and humanely as possible, and if pictures are taken for posterity, they are tasteful. Remember that killing the enemy is part of war, but displaying disrespectful pictures of the dead and wounded is a war crime. There is a lesson there, and the ethical hunter gets it.

An ethical hunter is the opposite of the slob hunter. The slob hunter drives his truck down the middle of the field and mows down the hedgerow. He leaves gates open and drives into the 7-Eleven with a bleeding doe in full view in the back of his pickup truck. The slob hunter does not know the difference between a gray fox and a red fox, and does not spend more than 30 minutes tracking his gut-shot deer.

Ethical hunters tend to be better hunters than slob hunters for the same reason that people who handicap themselves in golf tend to be better players than people who want a "gimme" at every hole.

I am happy to report that ethical hunting is on the ascendancy in the U.S. As wildlife has roared back from the edge of extinction and finding game has become easier, more and more people are affirming the hunting experience by turning to black powder and bow. When Colorado decided to ban hunting bear over bait (steel drums filled with jelly donuts and pizza), bear hunting increased because it was no longer seen as "slob shooting" but real hunting that required wood craft and skill.

Those that fish will understand. When we were five years old our fathers or grandfathers took us to a stocked trout pond and we were guaranteed a catch (paid per pound). A few years later we were mad fishermen killing everything we caught. As over-enthusiastic youth, we used live bait, tail-snagged fish during Spring runs, and bought packages of hooks with multiple barbs.

As we got better at fishing, most of us turned to catch-and-release and artificial lures. The best of us crushed the barbs off our hooks. We may have turned to fly fishing. No one bought a fish finder.

There is nothing wrong with killing -- it part of hunting, but as we get older and better at wood-craft we realize that killing is not hunting in and of itself. We do not say a slaughterhouse worker is hunting, though we say a man who returns without a buck has been out hunting hard and "better luck tomorrow".

Those of us who love this land and the creatures on it recognize that hunting is a necessary part of game management and an important economic and political engine protecting America's wild places and farms. That said, we also need to recognize that just as it is important to protect the land and the streams, so too is it important to instill in the next generation a sense of hunting history and hunting ethics, and a sense of decorum when dealing with the non-hunting public.

It is sad, but true, that honorable minority communities are often scandalized and victimized by ugly and criminal elements within their midst. That is true for immigrant communities and racial minorities, but it also true for hunters.

It has been said that a minority community knows it has come of age when the worst acts of a few can no longer be used to characterize the larger whole. The good news is that we may be there with hunting in general. It remains to be seen as to whether we will get there with terrier work in particular.


Galton's Dog Whistle

Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, invented the inadudible dog whistle.

The original whistle was made of a brass tube with an internal diameter of approximately 2 millimetres. By moving a small plunger, the size of the resonanting cavity in the whistle could be changed, enabling the pitch of the whistle to be altered from audible up into the ultrasonic range, which humans cannot hear but which dogs can. Galton was able to determine that the normal upper limit of human hearing was about 18kHz.

Galton, of course, also invented the field of eugenics, fingerprint indentification, and mathematical correlation and regression.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


When you make several dozen of your famous chocolate chip cookies and mail them all to your kids....when you scooped out the last of the mint chocolate chip ice cream a week ago....when there are no bags of chocolate chips, because of the afore mentioned cookies..when you have searched both fridges and found cheeses and baked ham and veggies but NOTHING even remotely grab a soup spoon and twist off the top of a perfectly smooth, brand new jar of nutella and aahhhh...
c'mon, like you've never done it! It's a nutella and spoon kind of evening.

Don't Change a Thing!


The best of Spring

Even if I covered my eyes and wandered around my backyard I would know it was Spring. The warm air on my skin and the unmistakable aroma of native frangipani flowers give it away every time. Spring has arrived here and it's brought with it new life, flowers, tiny new shoots, bright green leaves and the promise of healthy food over the coming months.Lately, Hanno has been working most days in the

Nice Little Box Turtle Book for Free

A red eye and a concave plastron signal this is a male.

Chris Wemmer (aka Camera Trap Codger) was down this way to see his daughter, and we went out on Sunday to do a little digging on the dogs, and never mind the 2 inches of rain the night before.

The dogs found soon enough, but we spent about 3 and half hours trying to pound through solid rock to get at what they found.

In the end, we were vanquished (sometimes the critter wins one), but on the upside, on the way home we rescued not one, but TWO box turtles from the road.

For those interested in teaching kids about box turtles, check out this nice little PDF of a book (FREE!) for information and lesson plans. Excellent stuff and a special shout out to Valerie Hayes for recommending it.

By the way, Chris Wemmer is a really interesting person. He was director, for 30 years or so, of the U.S. National Zoo's Conservation and Research Centre at Front Royal, Virginia.

During Chris's tenure, the Research Center's staff grew from 12 to over 100, and the facility became a major venue for graduate student studies, endangered species research, and international training.

It is, in fact, a real jewel in the crown of the U.S. conservation movement, and an example of the very best kind of work done by zoos today.


A Field Guide to Posthole Diggers

In the U.S. our digs tend to be shallow -- in the 2-3 foot range is very normal. Many settes are also located in the tight confines of crowded hedgerows where rocks and roots may make digging with a shovel difficult. As a consequence, many folks find a posthole digger a useful tool to quickly break into a den pipe -- a feat that is speeded up even further if it is possible to take the first foot or two of soil off with a shovel.

Used in a conventional fashion, the hole made by a posthole digger is too small to give the dog enough room to enter properly. In order to get a hole big enough to enter a dog or pull quarry, you need to bore several over-lapping holes with the posthole digger.

A traditional posthole digger can be found in most good hardware stores and will cost $40 to $60. You want a "Hercules-style " posthole digger that has big and deep jaws, not the smaller and lighter "Atlas" type which is close to useless. Protruding bolt threads should be epoxied so that the nuts cannot come loose and rattle off while working in the field.

To read an illustrated Field Guide to Posthole Diggers >> click here.


Mule vs Cougar?

The story as given here turns out to be a lie:

A couple living in Montana were outside with a mule and 2 dogs. He with a gun (he is a hunter), she with a camera. A cougar that was nearby decided that he would have a dog for dinner.

The hunter saw the animal so he wanted to shoot in the air to scare the beast but did not even have time to do that -- the cougar was already approaching a dog. Here is the incredible part of the story: the mule snatched the cougar up by the tail and started whirling him around banging its head on the ground repeatedly. Then the mule dropped it on the ground, stomped on it and held it by the throat. The mule got down on his knees and began to bite the creature a dozen times. The poor animal could not do anything ...

The hunter did not even need to shoot and the woman was able to take these 4 exceptional pictures.
It seems the lion was already dead when the mule tossed it around. The real story is supposed to be this one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Death by Deer :: The Map of Impact

Click on map to make bigger.

What's the chance your car will slam into a deer this year?

Click on the map, above, to see the likelihood of any one vehicle in your state colliding with a deer over the next 12 months.

The average in the U.S. is 1 in 208. In West Virginia, however, it's one in 39!

For more information from State Farm, click here.

Hawaii Five-O Gets a Big Zero for Dog Tickets

From Hawaii comes this story of police with too much time on their hands:

Police Cite Dog Walkers Along Kapiolani Park

Dan Falardeau walks his dog, Joey, seven days a week. On Friday, two police officers stopped Falardeau.

"The officers told me that I was being ticketed for having my dog in a city park, and I tried to explain to them that I am on the sidewalk because I walk through here every single day, and couldn't I get a warning and they said, 'This was on the order of the mayor's office,'" Falardeau said.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann's office said there was no directive from it to ticket dog owners.

Waikiki police said they are ticketing because of many complaints about dogs in Kapiolani Park. They said they warned some dog owners on Thursday.

The pathway where Falardeau was walking his dog is actually part of Kapiolani Park and different from a regular sidewalk. There are signs warning no animals allowed. Police ticketed three other women walking their dogs on leashes on the same sidewalk along the park Friday.

The citation is for a criminal offense, a petty misdemeanor prohibiting animals in parks. It requires a court appearance.

"I keep him on a leash. I pick up his poop. He's got a license and I don't quite understand this and now he's a criminal," Falardeau said.

Regular beachgoer Patrice Scott said she was surprised by the crackdown on leashed dogs.

"I just think it is crazy. How could you get a ticket for walking your dog? I don't understand," she said. "Seems like there are a lot of better things to be writing people up for like speeding."

Other dog walkers KITV spoke with called the ticketing "ridiculous.

Fresh Food Porn With Camera Phone

A little fresh food porn taken at Whole Foods with my camera phone.

Pumpkin risotto tutorial

I love risotto. It's one of those easy to modify recipes that almost everyone likes - including vegetarians, and I'm sure you could modify this recipe to suit vegans as well. My two favourite risottos are pumpkin and mushroom. There is something about those two vegetables that make this dish something really special. Here is my version of pumpkin risotto, the ingredients are enough for two

Protecting Box Turtles Memories

A repost from July 2005

Very rarely the dogs and I will come across a box turtle
as we hunt along hedgerow and field.

When I was a kid, box turtles were fairly common -- we would find them under the hedges and under the grape arbor at my grandparents place in Kansas -- or in the woods along the river closer to home here in Virginia.

Now they are very rare.

The decline of box turtles is largely due to the tremendous rise of roads in the U.S., and the increasing habitat fragmentation these roads have produced.

A turtle's hard shell can withstand examination by a dog, but not the crushing load of a car.

Kids collect a lot of turtles as well. Invariably these animals die in salmonella-soaked aquariums, or else they escape from the confines of a backyard and are run over by a car.

Box turtles live longer than any other wild species in the United States -- 100 years or more is certainly in the cards.

The box turtle is not like the sea turtle or the snapping turtle -- this is an animal that lays only four or five eggs a year, and these eggs -- and whatever young actually hatch out -- must survive the onslaught of raccoon and possums, fox and dogs, disease and the ever-present gauntlet of cars and kids.

Turtles have a high degree of fidelity to relatively small areas, living out their long lives in a few dozen acres of woods. This little patch of woods will supply the box turtle with all the worms, insects, leaves, berries, mushrooms and slugs it needs to survive.

The trouble is that very few other turtle-ranges may overlap this little patch of woods. The result is that if even a single male or female box turtle is removed from a parcel of woods, that loss may effectively kill off all reproductive capacity of other turtles in the area.

Unfortunately, transporting a turtle to a new patch of woods generally dooms it. Turtles may not be brilliant animals, but they are dogged, and if moved to a new patch of woods they will spend years wandering about fruitlessly looking for their ancestral homes. The long-distance excursions these animals invariably take result in turtles crossing roads and being killed by oncoming traffic.

The bottom line: if you know of a child that has removed a box turtle from forest or farm, find out exactly where the turtle was collected, and release it back to the wild in the same location.

The precipitous decline of box turtles in the United States was finally recognized in the early 1990s, and in 1995 all U.S box turtles were formally protected from collection and trade under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

CITES does not save turtles from cars or kids, however -- only education can do that. If you have kids or have access to a classroom of kids, please pass on the fact that box turtles are an endangered species and should NEVER be collected from the wild or transported out of the woods of their birth.

The box turtle is a tough animal, but a fragile species. For those of us who grew up playing in the woods, it is an icon of our youth -- a great treasure found rummaging through the leaves.

Like so much of what we treasure about this great country, however, it is on the verge of being destroyed by human population growth and the development that such population growth invariably engenders.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How do you manage your time?

Hanno bought me this lovely bunch of flowers for our wedding anniversary today. We were married in Hamburg, Germany, 30 years ago.One of the most important subjects I should be concerned about is one I don't write much about but we've had a couple of requests for a posts about daily routines and organisation, so here goes. I guess the reason it doesn't jump into my head like other subjects do


This is the right side of the "before" this morning. I never did get the left, and there are five stuffed to the gills tables inside the garage. We are very happy, very tired and very glad it is OVER!

Hound and Oranguntan :: Watch This One!


Fox and Raccoon in the Yard Last Night


Numbing Number :: Since 2000 ...

Since 2000, the world's population has increased by 700 million, which is equivalent to the entire population increase during all of the 19th century.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Preview Sale

HOLY COW! We are a third of the way toward my HOPEFUL, (not even my expected tally for the whole sale) just from the preview sale! We are so thankful to those of you who came out to support us this evening and we know many treasures found wonderful new homes. Hopefully we'll see the rest of you tomorrow bright and early. 5:30 is SO early........

Special thanks to Ann and her Mom, whose name has slipped my mind, it was a long day:-(, Stephanie, Carol, Heather, Lynn, Margaret and Sue. Thanks to Heather and Margaret for helping us price.

We'll be back at it at 7am tomorrow and I promise to post a "before" of the madness. Everyone who attended tonight went home with boxes and boxes and BOXES of stuff, and it still doesn't look like we made a dent!

I also lined up a couple more October clients after they realized what could be accomplished with their "stuff ". I'm thrilled and cannot wait to get started. As my niece reminded me tonight, it is odd that I get almost giddy with excitement to do something that most people despise doing almost more than anything else. Yeah well, maybe odd, but organized!

Happy Weekend everyone and Sarah, did you know it is going to be 73 on Wednesday? (hehe)

Should I mention the soft porn, I mean Romance novels? Ha! GOTCHA!

Eggs for breakfast

Hanno and I will be busy bees this morning. I was out watering the vegetables before the sun came up; it's going to be very warm here again today with the possibility of another dust storm. I did some work in the bush house too, planting more seeds for follow up crops. I asked Hanno to cut our bay tree back to the stump because it's covered with scale and it's too much of a hassle to spray the

Graveyard Groundhogs

I have stumbled on rural graveyards with the dogs, but I never dig anywhere near them for obvious reasons.


Labrador with Terrier-Sized Tumor

Surgeons at Boston's Angell Animal Medical Center removed a 21-pound tumor from a 13-year-old Labrador retriever, the largest tumor veterinarians there had ever seen. A picture of tumor is show, above. The dog has been doing well post-surgery. The complete story is here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A family day

It is such a good idea to take time out every so often and do something out of the ordinary. Yesterday, Hanno and I set off for a day in Brisbane. It was an easy prep for the trip - just a bottle of water for us both and the lemon pie, because we knew we had a delicious lunch being cooked for us. We arrived just before lunch so we had a chance to sit and talk for a while and enjoy a cold drink


The SALE ( capitals necessary): Well, you see that is where I have been the past three weeks (and why no White Wednesday) and where I hope a lot of you will be this Saturday.

This project is a labor of love and friendship. Anne, a feisty, redheaded Texas broad with a heart of gold loved and adored her only child, a daughter. Playing alone for most of her childhood, the little girl treasured her toys and dolls while Anne collected vintage treasures of her own. She saved every piece of schoolwork that her daughter brought home, every precious plastic pony she played with. She rescued broken pieces of furniture, and planned to repair them some day. Political buttons, and pop memorabilia were tucked away because they would be "worth money." Anne collected dolls and supervised her own doll hospital. Opening trunks of beheaded and maimed doll parts was a little weird and sad. Everything was to be saved, "I might need it some day"..."my daughter loved this so."

Anne was so beloved by her daughter that upon her passing everything was put into storage, too painful to deal with at the time. Many years later, sadness continues but the time has come to deal. With overwhelming, leaning towers of boxes and bins, we have waded through the memories and the memorabilia and decided what is to stay, what is to go. It is not as simple as deciding what Tupperware is past it's prime, or tossing unworn clothing, though we have done that too. It has been a combined generational purge from Great Grandma to Great Grandson. Saving what is precious and pricing what is profitable.

This process has dominoed into an epiphany for my client. "It stops here." Piggybacked onto the former purge is a clean sweep of the clients archives and storage of her own. As drawers began to de-clutter, and closets were swept clean, hearts were no longer burdened with what "we should deal with." We've dealt with most of it, (a bit remains) and the culmination is the SALE. I've been inspired to clear out some cobwebs in my domain and I have added some bits of my own.

Have these same or similar issues? I am currently booking fall dates, would love to assist, and I am working at economy driven rates.

Bruce Springsteen :: Thunder Road

Bruce Springsteen and Melissa Etheridge. Bruce just turned 60. Long may he run. And long may she run too!.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barack Obama Salutes Hunting and Fishing

Barack Obama fishing the East Gallatin in Montana.

Barack Obama isssued a proclamation today, that Saturday, September 26, will be National Hunting and Fishing Day.

I will be celebrating it one day late, hopefully in the field with Camera Trap Codger who is down this way to visit his relations.

So what does the Proclamation say? Here goes:




From atop Pikes Peak to the shores of the James River, Americans celebrate the great abundance and utility of our natural resources. Since our Nation's founding, hunters and anglers have cherished these unparalleled natural gifts and marveled at their untamed beauty. National Hunting and Fishing Day recognizes the contributions of millions of Americans who continue to engage in these ageless pursuits.

Following in the centuries-old footsteps of the pioneers who walked before them, hunters and anglers have played a key role in the conservation and restoration of numerous species and their natural habitats. They not only understand their pivotal role as stewards of the land, but also seek to pass on this honored tradition to future generations.

As our citizens continue to enjoy our Nation's natural resources, we must remember that this privilege brings great responsibility. Not long ago, hunting threatened the extinction of the American Bison, an enduring symbol of the American West. Today, their population has recovered because of the cooperative efforts of conservationists and hunters. Many species, however, still require our protection. We can no longer look to our wilderness, as some once did, as land full of unlimited bounty and surplus. Recognizing the need for conservation, our hunters and anglers have worked hard to manage local ecosystems where wildlife remain, as well as to protect those areas where they are slowly re-establishing viable populations.

Our national character, always evolving, finds its foundation in those timeless American ideals of freedom, fairness, and self-sustainability. Today's hunters and anglers bring this spirit to life in the forests and streams they visit. If not for America's great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our Nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sports. On National Hunting and Fishing Day, we celebrate their contributions to our natural environment and our national heritage.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Drill here? Drill now? How about we fish trout instead?

Terrierman in Dutch!

Various bits from the blog or web site have been translated into other languages before, but I think this is the first time we've been translated into Dutch. Check it out!

The translation is by A. Santing of the Ravenheights kennel in the Netherlands, and is a translation of >> The Real Jack Russell Terrier: A Complete History


A day off

Hanno and I are having a day off today. We're going into Brisbane to have a combined birthday lunch for Hanno and Sarndra. Hanno's birthday was last week, Sarndra's birthday is next week so it's a good chance for us to catch up and to celebrate two important events. Someone asked the other day for a photo of Shane and Sarndra's flat. I'm taking my camera and I'll ask them but they have to be

Holland: Shaped by Population Growth

With 400 inhabitants per square mile, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe.

Clearly, in a country so densely populated, land is at a premium -- and it has been at a premium for a very long time.

The Roman historian Pliny noted that the people living in what is now Holland were "a miserable people living at the highest known level of the tides. They have built their huts and live like sailors when their land is covered-over, and like the shipwrecked when the tides have gone out."

In short, even with a very small population, life in the Netherlands was pretty grim 2000 years ago.

As the population of Holland grew, the need for land -- already in short supply -- increased. The Romans were the first to set about reclaiming arable land, and they did so by cutting canals and draining swamps. In the absence of family planning, however, the population of Holland continued to slowly grow, and by 1000 AD it had risen to well over 1 million and more aggressive land reclamation efforts were needed.

Since Roman times, increasing numbers of people in Holland had been building earthen berms around their lands in order to help keep water out and speed the drying of otherwise marshy land.

As increasing numbers of berms and dikes began to be linked to each other, the integrity of regional dike systems grew dependent upon each other. A "social contract" was needed, and it was soon created with neighboring farmers getting together to formally acknowledge their community dike-maintenance obligations.

By the 12th Century every Dutch farmer was required to maintain his portion of a dike, and this obligation was enforced by elected "water guardians" headed by a "dike reeve" or Dike Lord who could levy fines and subject miscreants to physical branding. In extreme cases, the "Law of the Spade" was evoked, in which dike-maintenance scofflaws were required to put their spade in the ground and leave their own lands forever. Neighbors of the offending farmer would then appoint someone else to take over the land and maintain the dike that the previous owner had so studiously ignored.

In short, the end result of a land shortage in the Netherlands was the OPPOSITE of what you might expect in a resource-scarcity situation. Instead of a war over farm land, the shortage of terra firma forged a culture in which working together towards a common good was not only expected, it was required.

In the absence of family planning, of course, the population of Holland continued to grow.

By 1300, it had risen to about 2.2 million people and the demand for land was as high as ever.

Around 1400 AD the first windmills showed up in Holland -- a new energy source that was quickly put to use pumping marshy land dry.

Population growth did not stop, of course.

The population that was 2.2 million in 1300 rose to 3.2 million by 1824 and then took off like a rocket as knowledge of basic hygiene resulted in a rapid decline in childhood mortality.

Holland's population rose to 4.2 million by 1855, 5.2 million by 1872, 6.2 million by 1884, 7.2 million by 1894, 8.2 million by 1904, and 9.2 million by 1915.

In 1921 the population of the Netherlands was 10.2 million and it continued to grow by leaps and bounds, hitting 11.2 million by 1929, 12.2 million by 1935, 13.2 million by 1942, 14.2 million by 1951, 15.2 million by 1963, 16.2 million by 1975, and 17.2 million by 1987.

Of course, as Holland's population continued to grow, so too did its need for land. Colossal dikes, canals, barrages, dams, pumping mechanisms, storm surge barriers and locks were constructed to reclaim more and more land from inland lakes, bays and coastal flats. As these marshy areas were "put under the plow," millions of acres of bird habitat were lost.

Today, more than half of Holland is composed of land wrestled from the sea, and more than three-quarters of its population lives on land that was once underwater at least part of the year.

Holland's reclamation of farm land has been terribly expensive, of course, but it has (surprisingly) not been so expensive that it has harmed Holland's economic development. As Johan Van Vern, the "father" of Holland's enormous post-WWII Delta Plan, has noted,

"The whole of the Delta Works can be had for one year's army budget, a mere trifle in the state economy of centuries."

In fact, Holland's GNI is not only higher than average for Europe, it is also higher than average for Western Europe and Northern Europe.

Nor has Holland's Delta Plan ever failed to hold back the sea. While the history of Netherlands is littered with stories of flood and ruin caused by dike failure, the history of the last 40 years is quite different thanks to modern engineering methods (concrete is a good thing) and much higher construction standards.

Today Holland's dikes are required to be built to a "Delta Safe" standard capable of withstanding a storm of a magnitude that might occur only once in 10,000 years. The result of such massive construction is that no one under age 40 in Holland has ever seen a dike breached by the sea.

The best news, of course, is that Holland has addressed its core underlying problem: rapid population growth.

Thanks to modern contraception, the Netherlands now has a total fertility rate (TFR) of just 1.7, and its population is expected to grow by less than a million people over the next 50 years (most of it due to demographic momentum).

Another bit of good news, is that with Holland's dramatic slowing of population growth, the government has stopped building new dikes and has made the rather momentous decision to return some of its reclaimed land back to the sea.

The current plan is for one tenth of all Dutch farmland to eventually be returned to marsh, wetland, or flood plain forest.

An area of 600,000 acres of dry land is already in the process of being returning to seasonal or permanent flooding, and wild birds such as cormorants, spoonbills and marsh harriers are beginning to return to Holland after being driven from the land by drainage during the last Century.

Most Influential Blog???

I was really surprised to be nominated for the Most Influential Blog in the first Asia Pacific Blog Awards. I am now one of five finalists for this award. Yikes! I can't believe it. Now it's over to you. I've put the voting button on the right side of the blog so if you feel you'd like to vote for me, please do. You have to place a vote in every category, not just the one I'm in. And, you

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Charles (Darwin) In Charge

They have professional gun safety classes for a reason. From St. Louis:

Imperial man shoots himself in the head while teaching firearms safety

KSDK -- An Imperial man is dead after accidentally shooting himself in the head while teaching his girlfriend firearms safety.

Sheriff Glenn Boyer said that on Friday, deputies responded to 4307 Rock Valley Court in Imperial for a shooting. Investigators found 40-year-old James Looney with a gunshot wound to the head.

According to witnesses, Looney was demonstrating how to use the different safety mechanisms on several guns to his girlfriend. The witnesses said Looney would put the guns to his head, and before pulling the trigger, would ask her if she thought the gun would go off. With the first two guns, the safety mechanisms worked. The third gun fired.

Looney was transported to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next morning.

According to witnesses, Looney was going to take his girlfriend to the shooting range the next day, but insisted on the lesson on firearm safety the day before.

Deputies believe alcohol was involved.

His name was Looney? Of course it was ...

Remember: The tree of life is self-pruning. Try not to be part of the dead wood.

Staying away from booze and drugs really helps in that regard.

A word to the wise is sufficient. .


From the stockpile to the pantry

You all know by now I love my stockpile. It has helped us save a lot of money over the years but it's also helped me organise myself and it's stopped us wasting time at the supermarket every week. Now we shop monthly, but we could easily go a lot longer than that without shopping. Most of my stockpile is kept in a cupboard right next to my kitchen. It's convenient and easy to check and clean.

Animals With Casts

Animals With Casts. Just what it says. Bad things happen, and sometimes good people show up.

Salvador Dali Walks His Anteater


Monday, September 21, 2009

Gale Norton :: Guilty of Payola Politics?

Did Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior in the Bush Administration, sell out the environment for a cushy job with Big Oil?

That's what it looks like, and the Justice Department is investigating.

Norton works right now as an in-house lawyer in Denver for Royal Dutch Shell. In 2006, while she was still in office, her department granted three tracts in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary for shale exploration.

Also while in office, she had conversations with Royal Dutch Shell about future employment -- a clear ethical lapse.

Of course, nothing about Gale Norton was ever quite square.

This is a woman who used to be employed as a lobbyist for the National Lead Company.

A lead company?

Who suits up to work as a lawyer for a company than manufactures poison?

And what kind of Administration puts that kind of person in charge of our trout streams, our National Parks, our National Forests, and our wildlife?

Consider Norton's list of "accomplishments" as head of the Department of Interior:

  • Norton saluted the gutting of the roadless forest protection initiative.

  • Norton announced that the Interior Department was suspending any new designations of critical habitat for endangered and threatened species.

  • Norton fast-tracked oil leases in Alaska and Wyoming and mining claims in Idaho and Nevada.

  • Norton ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to speed up new oil and gas leases in roadless areas of the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, home to more than 20 endangered species, including the condor and steelhead trout.

  • Norton opened up BLM lands to ATVs and Yellowstone National Park to more snowmobile traffic.

  • Norton was a fierce advocate for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Norton moved to rescind critical habitat designations and protections for 19 species of salmon and steelhead in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, opening up more than 150 different watersheds for timber sales, construction and water diversion projects.

Gale Norton was not just toxic to the enironment -- she also seems to have surrounded herself with people who were "ethically challenged."

So am I surprised that Gale Norton is now under investigation for corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice?

Am I surprised that she sold out your public lands for her personal benefit?

Am I surprised to learn she is working for Big Oil?

No, no, and no. I would expect nothing less from Gale Norton.

Roadkill Blues

Roadkill is a 20th Century phenomenon, which is to say that we did not have it in the 19th Century when the roads were populated by horses and carriages.

Oh sure, we had some train kills -- deer and moose and cows and buffalo, but that's trackkill, not roadkill. And, of course, some horses died on the road from exhaustion or being shot, but they too were not roadkill as we define it here -- animals dying from vehicle impact on the road.

In fact, roadkill is probably the wrong term, even if it is the one we use. Carkill is what this really is; the road, after all, is simply a passive observer.

The problem with the term "carkill," is that it puts us in the picture. Roadkill, however, is a term that conveniently assigns millions of drive-by deaths to an inanimate object. It is a comforting term that obsolves us of guilt.

Today, the Mercury Cougar (Automobilus detroitus) does some of the pruning work once done by the wolf (Canus lupus). Which is not to say Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Volvo, Mack Truck, and all the rest are not doing their part as well. They are.

Roadkill is not a small biological phenomenon, it is a big one. In my small state of Virginia, there are over 35,000 deer-car impacts a year. In Michigan, deer impacts are so pervasive (over 55,000 a year), that they use deer roadkill data to determine the deer population in the woods. In Pennsylvania, another 40,000 deer a year fall under the wheel. What's the national tally? Who know? The number 350,000 is tossed around, but that seems low. That said, not all states have as many deer as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, or as many drivers on dark or twising roads. So who knows? Whatever the number, it's clear that it is a lot.

Though I have no doubt that Darwinian forces are slowly playing out between animals and cars, the time-frame is still far too short. As a result, as brilliant as a squirrel is at figuring how to get to, and jimmy open, a bird feeder, it is still completely flummoxed by squealing tires and 4-cylinders. As a result, squirrels die in droves from vehicle impacts -- perhaps 40 million a year according to one back-of-the-napkin bean counter.

A few more sobering roadkills numbers, and some descriptive reasons as to why some animals are more likely to die on our highways than others:

  • Dogs: 1.2 million dogs are killed on U.S. roads every year. Most of these dogs are killed in the daylight while chasing a ball, child, cat, or squirrel. Fences and leashes keep dog alive. No fence and no leash, and the result is predictable.

  • Cats: Cars kill about 5.4 million cats per year -- more cats than are killed in all U.S. animal shelters. Most cats are hit by cars at night.

  • Snakes: Snakes are cold-blooded and will warm themselves on asphalt, especially on poorly-traveled rural roads. Because snakes are small and easily obliterated by tires, there are no good numbers, but they are huge.

  • Opossums: Opossums feast on roadkill, a habit that results in about 19 million opossums a year getting squashed. Possums are naturally slow, come out at night, and will often freeze in the headlights of a car.

  • Skunks: When threatened, a skunk's natural defense is to turn its back and spray -- a technique that does not work too well with cars. Most skunks are hit at night.

  • Groundhogs: An estimated 5 million groundhogs or woodchucks get hit by cars every year. Groundhogs are diurnal, but because so many den along roadside embankments in order to take advantage of soft dirt, good drainage, fewer predators, and good forage, they are often living just yards from traffic. Sure this is maladaptive, but groundhogs have not been programmed with cars in mind.

  • Raccoons: Raccoons frequently scavenge in roadside water ditches, are not too fast, are fairly belligerent, sometimes travel in trailing family groups, and hunt at night. Which is a nice way to say their are a lot of vehicle-raccoon impacts -- perhaps 10 million a year, maybe more.

  • Fox: Red fox are field-and-edge creatures, and are much more likely to be hit be a vehicle than a Gray fox which will generally be found in deeper woods and rocky areas. That said, both Red and Gray fox are night time scavengers, and as such are prone to being struck on the road while feeding on the carcass of a snake, possum, rabbit or squirrel previously struck by traffic. The saving grace of a fox is that they are very fast and extremely wary -- the two chief reasons you see fewer dead fox and coyote than you do dead raccoons and possums.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Work in progresss

Thank you so much for the thought and consideration you put into yesterday's post. The young lady in question emailed overnight to say she was quite overwhelmed with the response. She doesn't live in Australia or the US and asked that I not say where she is from. She said both she and her husband read every comment and they had a good talk about their situation. Things aren't looking so grim

A Short History of Vaccines

The idea of vaccinations to prevent disease dates back to 1796. In that year Edward Jenner, a British physician, noted that dairymaids who had caught cowpox (a minor disease), could not catch smallpox (an often fatal disease in humans).

Jenner took infected matter from the hand of Sarah Nelmes, a local dairymaid who had become infected with cowpox, and inserted this ooze into the cut arm of James Phipps, a healthy eight-year-old boy. The boy then caught cowpox.

Forty-eight days later Jenner injected smallpox matter into the boy. Miraculously, it had no effect. This was the first recorded vaccination.

The term "vaccine" is a reference to the origin of vaccination. "Vacca" is the Latin word for cow.

The term "vaccination" is now generalized to refer to any germ, disease, or injection given to people to prevent a more serious disease from striking the individual.

A few key dates in the history of vaccination:
  • 1798 Smallpox
  • 1885 Rabies
  • 1897 Plague
  • 1923 Diphtheria
  • 1926 Pertussis
  • 1927 Tuberculosis (BCG)
  • 1927 Tetanus
  • 1935 Yellow Fever
  • 1950-1962 Distemper vaccine created and improved upon
  • 1955 Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV)
  • 1962 Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)
  • 1964 Measles
  • 1967 Mumps
  • 1970 Rubella
  • 1978 - Parvovirus vaccine for dogs using feline panleukopenia vaccine, later improved on with dedicated canine vaccine.
  • 1981 Hepatitis B
It was not until after World War II that a reliable vaccine for distemper was developed and made available to the public. Prior to this time, distemper would sweep through breeding kennels and wipe out litter after litter of puppies.

Ironically, one way distemper got into the kennels was through dog shows, where judges and spectators would transmit the virus from one dog to another as they moved through the show petting puppies and adult dogs alike.

Losing a job - the transition from two wages to one

Hanno asked me to thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes sent his way on the weekend. He is 69 now, the last year of his boyhood. Next year he'll have to start acting more sensibly. ; - 0 We drove down to the beach to have lunch with our friend Diane and god-daughter Casey. For those of you who remember Casey's accident (she was in a bus hit by a drunk driver two years ago), she is

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brain Surgery on My Father

My father had brain surgery early Wednesday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The procedure involved drilling a hole in the top of his skull until it hit the third ventricle, and then cutting a drain hole in the bottom of the third ventricle so that it would drain out spinal fluid.

The operation was a complete success, and by early afternoon on Friday, my father was back at home making a cheese sandwich for himself, talking on the phone, feeling much improved, and trying to catch up with the news.

Not bad for man past 80! Actually, pretty damn good for an 18-year old!

A Sleeping Giant That is Too Angry to Scrap Book

Parody is what occurs when you move only two degrees past what is actually presented.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Exclude Corrupt Companies from Federal Money

The black-helicopter crowd is banging the gong to make sure ACORN, a community organizing group for the poor, never gets any Federal money for anything ever again, and never mind that ACORN has not been found guilty, and is a small-potatoes recipient of Federal money.

The right-wingers want to exclude ACORN?

Fine with me. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

If you are going to start excluding companies for improprieties, you might want to start with companies that have actually PLEAD GUILTY to lying, stealing and cheating.

But heads up: It's not just defense contractors like Haliburton, Kellog Brown & Root, and Boeing that fall into that folder.

And it's not just oil companies like Shell, Chevron, and Exxon.

It's also heath care companies like these 10, each of which has plead guilty to criminal, as well as civil, fraud charges in recent years:

  1. Pfizer paid $2.3 billion, of which $1.3 billion was a criminal fine for kickbacks and off-label marketing of various drugs.

  2. Lilly Pharmaceuticals paid $1.4 billion to resolve Federal, state and criminal charges related to the off-label marketing of Zyprexa

  3. Columbia HCA paid $840 million in criminal fines, civil penalties and damages for billing for lab tests that were not medically necessary, "upcoding" medical problems in order to get higher reimbursements, billing the government for advertising, and billing the government for non-reimbursable costs.

  4. Serono paid $704 million to settle a fraud involving kickbacks paid to doctors and specialist pharmacies for prescribing Serostim, a human growth hormone.

  5. Taketa-Abbott Pharmaceuticals paid $875 million to resolve criminal and civil liabilities in connection with fraudulent drug pricing and marketing of Lupron, a drug to treat prostate cancer.

  6. Schering Plough paid $435 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities in related to the sales and marketing programs of three drugs (Temodar, Claritin, and K-Dur).

  7. Abbott Labs paid $400 million and pleaded guilty to obstructing a criminal investigation and defrauding the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

  8. Cephalon agreed to pay $375 million to setttle a case involving the off-label marketing of two drugs.

  9. Gambro Healthcare agreed to pay $310.5 million to resolve charges alleging kickbacks paid to physicians, unnecessary tests and services, and payments made to a sham durable medical equipment company.

  10. Bayer Corporation paid $257 million to settle Medicaid fraud charges involving a scheme in which Bayer sold re-labeled products to an HMO at deeply discounted prices, and then concealed this price discount in order to avoid paying additional rebates to the government.

David Cameron on the Ban

David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, has suggested he will vote to repeal the Ban:

"My own view is the hunting ban is a bad piece of legislation, it hasn't worked, it has made a mockery of the law, a lot of time was wasted on it, and I think we would be better off without it. That gives you a clue to how I will vote."


Happy birthday Hanno

Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. ~ Mark TwainHappy birthday Hanno!

Peter, Paul and Mary :: If I Had a Hammer

Rest in Peace Mary Travers. This song, by the way, was written by Pete Seeger.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear Friend

My dear friend Paula is going through a difficult patch this weekend. Please hold her and her family in your thoughts and prayers, even if you don't personally know her sweet and giving heart. Please send all those good thoughts out into the universe, and they will find their way.

Skeletons Explained

I have had several inquiries this morning about the skeleton's in yesterday's post. I thought it would be faster to just repeat this post from 10/4/08 to explain where they came from. I do miss polished. I loved contributing my ideas there, because Beth challenged me every month, and that is great for the energy and creative flow. SO many good things ended because of this drat economy.


Just walked to the mailbox and this was waiting for me. October's cover of polished features my Skeleton couple and I am thrilled! I guess all three Stoddards are having a good month. I am very grateful to Managing Editor Beth Schwartz and Contributing Photographer Jim Decker who make every shoot so much fun and offer encouragement and valuable advice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Towards Organic and Local

I read this at Jenna's blog yesterday and it galvanised my thoughts for today's post. This is actually a continuation of yesterday post, it's about food security, making better choices, convenience, freshness and nutrition.When we look back 20 or 30 years we usually think things have always been the same as they are today. Yes, 30 years ago, in the 1970s, supermarkets were starting to sell meat

Raising open pollinated seeds

It seems that quite a few people have problems germinating seeds and getting seeds to seedling stage which grow strong and healthy enough to plant out. The lovely Rose said the other day that she was having problem so I thought I'd write about my take on growing vegetables from seeds.Food seeds are valuable items. They have the potential to feed the people of the world and without seeds, we

White Wednesday rolls around AGAIN?

funny thing:

Most of my house is primitive white, yet I am beginning to have difficulty finding things for White Wednesday. Maybe that is not the issue, maybe it is that White Wednesday rolls around every three days. No really, that is what it feels like. It comes two days after the weekend, and my weekends are insane and go by in a blur and Fridays aren't much better. It seems like there is Wednesday, then Thursday, then its Monday again, and Tuesday night I try to take pics cause there is that $#@%^ Wednesday again! Now I love White Wednesday, and thank our creator Kathleen over at Faded Charm, but until it gets at least to late October....

or late November

and I can post pics like those, it may be slim pickin' around here.
Please stop by over there at White Wednesday to see all the great participants.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Family meals from the pantry

I love having a variety of meals I can make quickly using what I have in the pantry and garden. This is an old standby that I make every month or so - salmon mornay. I grew up eating this, although in those days it was considered a sophisticated and fairly expensive meal, even though it's made on tinned salmon. I remember loving this when I was a child, so I think it might be a good meal to

Old and New Border Terriers?

Reposted from February 2005

Border terriers owners go to extraordinary lengths to claim that their dogs are an ancient breed, despite all evidence to the contrary -- they point to indistinct dogs tucked into the corners of oil paintings, and talk of everyone from Caius to Walter Scott.

In fact, there is little evidence to suggest the Border Terrier existed before the start of the Kennel Club era which began in the 1860s, and it was not until 1920 that the border terrier made it into the formal Kennel Club roles in the U.K. -- a late entry due to the fact that, up until then, it was not very distinct from the non-pedigree fell terrier which had previously been incorporated into the Kennel Club as the "Welsh Terrier" after an attempt to claim it as an "English Black and Tan Terrier" failed. See here for more on this tale.

One of the more bizarre examples of reaching for history can be seen on pages four and five of Walter Gardner's book "About the Border Terrier." This book is notable -- as are all border terrier books -- for not having a single picture of a border terrier working a fox.

Gardner does, however, devote two full pages to two pictures of "The Old" and "The New." The picture on the left ["The Old (1879)"] shows "The Dandie Dinmont 'Doctor' with Dr. Hemmings' Bedlington Terrier 'Geordie'" The picture on the right ["The New (1973)"] shows "John Jardine of Dandie Dinmont Fame with one of his terriers and Miss M. Edgar with her Border Terrier."

The Old and the New? What? The dogs being compared are not even the same breed!

What is amazing here is the suggestion that the Border Terrier is nothing more than an 1879 Bedlington. This is patent nonsense.

The origins of the border terrier are not complex or deeply hidden -- they are a type of modified fell terrier -- a breed with which they are routinely crossed in working circles to this day.