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Showing posts from February, 2011

Why I Volunteer to Drive, Alone

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The oldies station also played Loverboy's Working for the Weekend , but that just confused me as they usually save it for Fridays. By the time I got home, I was exhausted from all that car dancing.

Dog Crossing

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Alea Jacta Est. This is what Julius Caesar is reported to have said as he crossed the River Rubicon at the head of his army and began the pursuit of Pompey, his rival in the Roman Senate, into Northern Italy. Literally translated it means, the die has been cast . Practically speaking, it means there is no turning back once this action has been taken. Here, the German artist, Wilhelm Truber , gives his version of Crossing the Rubicon ( 1878/79 ). Painting image found here .  I love how the painting captures the moment within which the dog may actually be considering its options and how the title perfectly reflects the import of that moment.  What kind of dog do you think this is?  It looks a lot line a Cane Corso to me - the cropped ears* particularly.  *This image is slightly different from the one I have in the book, Best in Show: The Dog in Art from the Rennaissance to Today , Yale University Press, 2006.  In that book, the dog is darker, its eyes seem closer to the top o

To Build, Perchance to Dwell –

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Ay, there’s the microhouse. Last year in my daughter’s homeschool co-op, she attempted to help build an 8' Microhouse a la Ken Isaacs (quintessential hippie buildings of the 1970s - you can actually download a copy of his classic book, How to Build Your Own Living Structure here).   From Ken Isaacs' book,  How to Build Your Own Living Structure . Maybe it’s my own experience with having the only custom-made geodesic dome play structure in the neighborhood (Dad’s always been a real Buckminster Fuller fan), or my fascination with small spaces, but I was very excited when she undertook the project with her homeschool friends. Like our dome, except it was made of wood and painted blue. With minimal spatial, geometric, and woodworking skills, a group of ten kids attempted to make the biggest of Isaacs portable structures with his plans.  When it was completed , you couldn't get me to step inside of it, but they did learn how to measure, calculate, cut, carry, and c

Friday Fun: Scattered Historic Slogans

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Found in the ephemera of my daughter's constant doodling, here is a curious list of scattered historic statements and slogans. I thought some of them were random ideas without historical significance, but, as she so gleefully explained, I was wrong. Your task is to put them in chronological order - bonus points for telling me the historic significance of each. For those of you not fluent in reading my homeschooler's lamentable handwriting, here is the list: Eureka! No taxation without representation Let them eat cake! Et tu, Brute? Liberty or death! Blood and iron Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Know thyself HA. H and A spells "HA." Thus, with a kiss, I die. They ride on sticks! The die is cast.

Ms. Bubbles Fined for Threatening to Kill Kids

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And, according to today's Federal Register, has agreed to pay $40,000 for her egregious error in judgment: selling this jacket in children's sizes 7-12. I certainly see the fashion felony for parents who buy this for their 7-10 year olds, but Ms. Bubbles has been fined for not complying with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Drawstring Hazard Guidelines . It’s important to note that no child has been harmed from Ms. Bubbles actions. CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting   www.saferproducts.gov Merely, Ms. Bubbles violated the unwritten law that guidelines issued by bureaucrats are to be obeyed as laws -- particularly those designed to protect us from ourselves.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from

Wicked Witch

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 Subconscious fashion choices lend credence to daughter's claim.

My CrossFit Style: Feisty Old Lady

Adding to the list of OBloggers who have posted on their CrossFit styles ( Jenn and Kelly , Diana Hsieh , Trey Givens ), I am herein exposing the ugly truth about mine. While I am a big weight-lifting fan, and an extreme advocate of my CrossFit gym , I am not above playing the old lady card for personal gain.   Not to be confused with Old Maid, the old lady card allows me to sit on the couch between lifting work sets, wait for an inquiring look, and order the manservants to load up my bar with the appropriate weight.   Okay. That happened only once, but I think I could get used to it. Actually, I am a bar-loading maven – and I can do math – early in the morning , even!   As every weightlifter knows, this is a valuable skill to have when figuring out weight distributions for every person using your weightlifting platform. Occasionally I get it wrong, but such a mistake usually comes to light before the lifter is crushed by the bar or cruises through the lift.   (Also, in the inte

A Blogger After My Own Heart

I added it to my sidebar a while ago, but I wanted to formally introduce the blog  Retrieverman .  It is consistently interesting and enjoyable to read as the writer discusses all kinds of fascinating aspects of dog life from the evolution of the dog to fun dog (and sometimes cat, cat-like, and other animal) pictures and videos. It is alternatively serious and seriously fun, but seldom saucy (as I sometimes get). From About  Retrieverman: I am technically qualified to write about the following things: Western history, especially as it pertains to the international political economy; politics, international politics and political economy; and campaign strategy and current political intrigue. There will be very little of that on this blog. I will mainly write about dogs and their place in our society, the history of that relationship, and how that relationship can be improved. I will also write about nature and ecology. I am full of nature writing and meditations on nature, as well a

Behind the Scenes at the Museum MSG

There and back again. We made it. Here is my first attempt at encapsulating our latest NYC Flash Tour where we attended day 2 of the Westminster Kennel Club 135th Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.  This brief video is a compilation of pictures and videos we took of the benching area under the main floor of the Garden. It was pure chaos. And fun. While three groups were judged on Tuesday, we seem to have missed the terrier group back stage completely, but got up close and personal to a few of the excellent breeds and fabulous individual dogs from the working and sporting groups at the show. I found a few new favorites ( English Springer Spaniel , Curly Coated Retriever ), and my daughters expanded their favorites ( Huskies , Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers ). In person, my youngest even fell for the crated, dreaded,  possessed hassock winner of the toy group, although she later recanted. I would be remiss if I did not mention the effects of listening to Jack London's C

Dogs and Philosophers

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No doubt , Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412-323 BCE), Diogenes the Cynic , or Diogenes the Dog as he was sometimes known, was odd to say the least, preferring to live naturally on the streets emulating a dog, than to succumb to the hypocrisy of living by social norms. From Wikipedia : Many anecdotes of Diogenes refer to his dog-like behavior, and his praise of a dog's virtues. It is not known whether Diogenes was insulted with the epithet "doggish" and made a virtue of it, or whether he first took up the dog theme himself. The modern terms   cynic   and   cynical   derive from the Greek word kynikos, the adjective form of   kyon   (κύων), meaning dog.   Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural bodily functions in public without unease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstrac

Happy Valentine's Day!

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No, I did not forget that today is the start of the Westminster Kennel Club's 135th Dog Show , or that my post today was going to be about Diogenes the Cynic, but not being a cynic myself, I'd like to share this little expression of canine affection. While I realize that this may be a more common expression of canine affection, I find the husky's ability to modulate his howling to mimic human vocal patterns quite fun to watch and listen to (and I really like the extended dog-only howl). WKC results as they come in can be found here by refreshing the page often.

3 Good Things (Fur and Fashion edition)

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Given my delight in wearing fur, it is understandable if you thought that this was about the same – but it isn’t.  T his is about the nexus of two of my interests: fashion and dogs. 1.      Though conspicuously missing the fabulous judge  of last year's working group, this series of photos shows how the handlers at last year’s Big Show put their best fashion foot forward. 2.      This three part series part on flickr gives you the skinny on fashions of the 20s for both women and dogs. 3.      Finally, a little insight into the lifestyle of the fashion icon herself.

Saturday in the Park

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Dog parks seem so cool (only partly because they remind me of the party scene in Go, Dog. Go! ).  They’re a place specifically designed to exercise your dog in the city. I’ve never been to one; my dogs have always been exercised in my back yard, on my street, on in the case of the greyhound, in a giant fenced-in soccer field in the next town (she zoomed across that huge field). So what if there are no dog parks for you and Fido to go to? Here are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy together and possibly get your pooch into tip top shape.  Challenging the dog, both physically and mentally, on a regular basis will keep it happy and might even save a couch, some base molding, or a shoe or two from utter destruction. Dog Agility    Most people have some familiarity with  dog agility trials  – they’re like the anti-fluff exhibited by the Dog Show world.  These trials showcase the individual dog’s ability (and its owner’s ability as a trainer as well) to successfully navigat

Friday Fun: Furry Friend Flash Quizzes

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This is the last furry set for Friday Fun quizzes (for humans - tomorrow I'll have some dog challenges). We’ll be heading out to the second day of the WKC Dog Show on Tuesday morning, returning Wednesday afternoon, and, except for a follow-up Flash Tour post, my dog days are over —for a little while, at least. First, there is the Dogs Around the World  quiz from PBS. Like Jeopardy, there are hints in the questions, but it provides only a picture and some facts about the dog. Here's a dog breed in the quiz that I had never heard of before:  Dogo Argentino anyone?  Now that you know its name, you should get this one right. Then there is this series of Animal Planet/Eukanuba – Be the Judge tests.  Really, that’s all I've ever wanted to be is a judge, and happily I get to do that many, many thousands of times a day. In fact, it is essential to life. But here, you get to answer questions that Dog Show judges would need to know, such as which breed belongs to which group,

The Nose Knows

But I didn’t – know how successfully dogs were being trained to sniff out cancer! As reported last month in the online version of GUT , an International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology:  Results   33 and 37 groups of breath and watery stool samples, respectively, were tested. Among patients with CRC and controls, the sensitivity of canine scent detection of breath samples compared with conventional diagnosis by colonoscopy was 0.91 and the specificity was 0.99. The sensitivity of canine scent detection of stool samples was 0.97 and the specificity was 0.99. The accuracy of canine scent detection was high even for early cancer. Canine scent detection was not confounded by current smoking, benign colorectal disease or inflammatory disease.   This is amazing! In no way am I suggesting that cancer sniffing dogs replace advanced medical technologies – what I’m excited about is the potential to develop less invasive and less costly tests based on what appears to be a signature

My Dolittle Moment

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I'm excited. Months ago, I had the foresight to purchase tickets to a now sold-out lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see a cooking personality talk about food. While my husband liked his matter-of-fact style immediately, it took me a bit longer to warm up to him.  Eventually, through his own  minimalist approach to cooking what seemed like delicious meals, I warmed up.  When I heard he was coming to Boston, I bought the tickets thinking it would be a fun and informative night out for us to share. Sadly, since the time I purchased the tickets, this cooking personality has started to proselytize for the expansion of government from his New York Times pulpit so loudly that I could no longer disregard his extracurricular activities. In his new column he states not only that veganism is a pie-in-the-sky approach to eating (perfect, merely impractical for this world of imperfect people), but further that government should take a  very active  role in structuring our f

Time-Lapse Tuesday: Drinking Dog

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I had no idea the motion of its tongue was so complicated! It’s no wonder that when I tried to imitate the action as a little kid pretending to be a dog, my forward lapping thing seemed so inadequate. What I thought was a simple roll of the tongue to scoop the water into its mouth is really a shallow front roll and big back of the tongue curled lift motion. Two scoops! I’m not sure it’s any more efficient than my earlier efforts, however, it certainly explains the splash range around the water bowl. Since I’m guessing that some of you are trying to mimic that motion right now, I’ll tell you while all mammals may have the same set of tongue muscles, I don’t think we can make that shape .  If you want to test your ability to identify the name and placement of Canine Tongue Muscles – and who wouldn’t—here’s a little quiz for you.  I got a 28%.  Go me. See other fun PurposeGames and test your knowledge.

Leash, Collar, and Red Tape.

If you plan on bringing your dog to the Big Apple for the Big Show, you’d best have its health records in hand or you’ll be in violation of the NYC health code. And don’t get them too early – you’ll be in violation. According the WKC CITY LAWS   The Director of the Bureau of Animal Affairs of New York City requires all dogs entering the City of New York to be accompanied by a Health Certificate issued by a licensed Veterinarian no more than seven days prior to arrival in the City. That seven days seemed pretty arbitrary to me, so I wanted to know more about the requirements for this capital H , capital C,  Health Certificate. If you need to see the specific regulations, or find the right form, however, don’t bother look under the Bureau of Animal Affairs, it’s not there.  §4-01. Definitions.  The following changes have been made to this section:   “Bureau of Animal Affairs” – deleted; replaced by successor program at the Department, Office of Veterinary Public Health Services. Oka

Bad Penny?

Here’s a little morality tale called Frank and His Dog (Prelinger Achives) from 1952. The moral of the story:  Cats are bad. Maybe that’s what I get out of this video because it strikes a little too close to home.  Maybe I have a distinct dislike of cats coming onto my property and my having to pay for an operation on that trespassing cat because my beautiful and sweet greyhound rescue dog – who was trained in Ireland with live bait – was minding her own business on her own property when live BAIT came into her yard! But I'm not too bitter about it anymore. I've learned from the experience. I've learned that even if your house is cat-free and your yard is fenced in, cats are everywhere! Here are some tips for making your greyhound rescue cat-friendly . Learn from my mistake; even if you don't have a cat, your greyhound needs to be cat-friendly.  They're too damn fast for the cat to get away and for you to intervene in time. While I don’t think I’ll get

Tough to Remain Neutral

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photos from the WKC There are four very cool breeds of Swiss Mountain dogs.  Two, the Bernese Mountain Dog  (Berner, left) and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Swissy, right), have long been accepted by the AKC and shown at Westminster in the working group.  I have always admired the appearance of these dogs, particularly the Greater Swiss because I can see its musculature better than its teddy bear-like cousin, the Bernese. But there are two similar breeds in the herding group that I had never seen before: the Entlebucher and the Appenzeller Sennenhunde .    photo from the AKC The Entlebucher, first known as the Entlebucherhund, was accepted by the AKC in December of 2010 and is eligible to show in January 2011 (none are registered for the WKC show this year). It is the smallest of the four breeds at heights varying between 16-21 inches. Unlike the Berner and Swissy, it looks longish to me rather than square.  photo from the AKC Because the two breeds are all so similar

Friday Fun: Fluffing

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If additional stimulation is needed to get you all in the proper Dog Show state of mind, I offer you this challenge: Identify as many dog breeds (1-12) represented in this year’s WKC poster as you can without looking them up.  Just for reference, I was pretty confident that I could correctly identify 10 of the 12, until @WKCDOGS informed me otherwise! But I think I have some excellent guesses in any case.  By way of contrast, Stephen identified four of them (one of whom he trips on every morning – but color me impressed: 4 is 2 more than I thought he would be able to identify).   By the way, sheepdog will only earn you a half-point provided it’s attached to the right dog(s), Mop and Mop’s Brother , though perhaps clever, will not earn you any points, and finally, while Aikido is a type of Japanese martial arts, and CBGB was a punk club in New York City, neither is a breed of dog (and neither the Akita , nor the PBGV are on this

A Sputnik Moment

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President Obama used the phrase “our generation’s Sputnik moment” in his State of the Union speech last week.   By referring to a time when this country was filled with fear and uncertainty because it appeared that the USSR was more technologically advanced, he meant to incite the feelings necessary to rise to a challenge – to lay down the gauntlet, a butt-kick moment, if you will – to this generation of innovators. He promised to invest in their projects provided, of course, that they meet with the approval of his progressive clean energy ideals in the hopes of spurring them toward greater advancement. Because this is dog month , I’m going to leave the President’s spurious incentive program to be dismantled by those better equipped to do so , and herein discuss another Sputnik moment: that of Laika , the Russian space dog. I first became aware of Laika while watching the movie, My Life as a Dog .   (I remember liking the movie, particularly the part about the kid having a drinki

Dog Sung Blue

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Mr. Bojangles I know that it’s not about a dog, but it is one of the songs I think of when I think of dog songs.  In my mind, this song will forever be enmeshed with this movie . No reason other than I was probably introduced to them around the same time, and the dog up and dies .  It’s true that in the story, the boy also dies, but did I mention the DOG up and dies?   Shannon Ew. Hippie. Well, it was 1970. The was THE sad dog song of my youth ( WildFire , THE sad horse song). Imagine my horror to find out only this morning that this song was written for not one, but two Irish Setters named Shannon!  To see the story of Henry Gross’ inspiration for writing this song here (half way down the page).  Somehow, it is less sad to me now on both counts – hippiness and dopey-dog ness . Echo Mountain It’s the old tale of the much loved, but wronged hound dog. If you listen/watch and need help figurin’ out them ol’ cowboy lyrics, see here . Better With You There I don’t like coun

We All Have Our Standards

And our faults.   But have you ever read dog breed standards?   Height, weight, color, markings – I understand those. But take for example, America’s most popular dog, the Labrador Retriever:   we know what they look like, but to be a member in good keeping with the American Kennel Club, this is what a Labrador Retriever ought to look like: The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes and of approximately equal length. There should be a moderate stop--the brow slightly pronounced so that the skull is not absolutely in a straight line with the nose. The brow ridges aid in defining the stop.   The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks.   Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Dew claws may be removed. These are just a few sentences from the mult