Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wag the Dog

A recent study illustrates that when dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps.
When the dogs saw their owners, their tails all wagged vigorously with a bias to the right side of their bodies...When the dogs looked at an aggressive, unfamiliar dog, ... their tails all wagged with a bias to the left side of their bodies.

Dogs, the masters of body language.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A warmer California

According to NASA and scientists at Cal State LA The average temperature in California rose nearly two degrees over the last 50 years based on observations from 331 weather stations between 1950 and 2000. Urban areas experienced the fastest warming.
The scientists concluded that small increases measured in many rural areas may reflect the contribution of global warming due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations. Larger changes in and around urban areas are mostly due to growing population and the conversion of natural areas to urban ones.
The greatest warming occurred in southern California’s urbanized areas, including Los Angeles and rapidly growing Palm Springs. Urban areas raise average temperatures mostly by preventing an area from cooling off at night.

The graph shows the temperature in downtown Los Angeles from 1878 through 2005. The drop in temperatures observed at the end of the 20th century are due to the relocation of the station away from the more built-up part of the city to a more natural setting on the campus of the University of Southern California.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

That was then, this is now.

We have seen the future of climate -- and it is Sheep

Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt of the New Zealand Institute of Veterinary Climatology suggests that since most sheep are white, and therefore have a higher albedo than the land on which they typically graze, recent warming in New Zealand can be attributed to the decrease of flocks of grazing sheep. See here.

[T]he Sheep Albedo Index is defined as the New Zealand Sheep population in each year, subtracted from the 2007 population. The index is defined that way because fewer sheep means lower albedo, and thus a positive radiative forcing. It can be seen that the recent warming can be explained entirely by the decline in the New Zealand sheep population, without any need to bring in any mysterious so-called "radiative forcing" from carbon dioxide, which doesn't affect the sunlight (hardly) anyway -- unlike Sheep Albedo. Some researchers have expressed surprise at the large effect from the relatively small radiative forcing attributable to New Zealand Sheep, or indeed to New Zealand as a whole. "This only shows the fallacy of the concept of Radiative Forcing, which is after all only a theory, not a fact," says Noh-Watt. "Evidently there are amplifying feedbacks at work which give the Sheep Albedo Index a disproportionate influence over climate."

Today's Horror

Some people really hate Al Gore. Richard Lindzen, a Professor of Meteorology at MIT, is one of those people. Lindzen isn't in complete denial about global warming;
We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 °C higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds). But--and I cannot stress this enough--we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to CO2 or to forecast what the climate will be in the future.Wall Street Journal; June 26, 2006

[T]here has been no question whatsoever that CO2 is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas — albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in CO2 should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed. San Francisco Examiner; July 12, 2006

But one has to wonder how much is judgment is clouded by his dislike of Al Gore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


This Kiwi is a flightless bird who spends its whole life working towards achieving the dream of flight.

Saw this at the Scratching Post and loved it so much I'm reposting it here. Make sure you watch until the end with the sound up. ;)

Pet Humor

Excerpts from a Dog's Daily Diary:
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary:
Day 683 of my captivity:

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. they dine lavishly on fresh meat while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of allergies. I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow - but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded!

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe ... for now.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Home made pet food

The recent pet food scare got worse this last week with more pet products being added to the list of possibility contaminated products. In response, the pet food manufacturers not affected by the Menu Foods recall have created a Pet Food List to assist in identifying which products are are not affected by the recall.

An alternative seeing a recent growth in popularity, is home made pet food. A number of sites have begun posting simple but healthful recipes. Dogs can be healthy and happy with something as simple as chicken and rice. In addition dogs need additional carbohydrate which can be supplied by adding oats to the food. Certain ingredients such as onions, garlic, grapes, and chocolate should be avoided as they can be dangerous to dogs. The simplest recipe I've found for a dog is

Home Made Simple Dog Food Recipe #1
Basic Chicken, Rice, and Oats
- One whole boiled cooked chicken (don't feed the dog the entire chicken. Just the meat.)
- Half Bag wild brown rice cooked in with the chicken
- One Cup of Oats

Which was found here. This link also includes a cat food recipe and recipes for pet treats. Here is another.

Dog Food Recipe #2 - Slightly More Complicated but Still Simple
What You Need: One Pound Lean Ground Beef, Four large eggs, Eight cups brown rice, Twelve slices of decrusted, crumbled bread (white or wheat)
How to Make It:
- Fully Cook the ground beef
- Drain the Grease from the pan
- Boil the eggs, discard the yellows, and crumble the whites into the beef mix
- Boil rice in unsalted water until tender. Let cool.
- Add rice to beef and egg mixture. Add crumbled white bread to mixture.
- Serve when cool

A number of recipe books are also available such as The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs by Donna Twichell Roberts, reviewed here.

The Easter Squirrel

Kelly's new toy for Easter.

Friday, April 06, 2007

China's kleptocracy

I've been reading Peter Navarro's The coming China wars. I knew things were bad in China, but I had no idea of how bad the rot had gotten. It's ironic that the people's paradise now bans all labor unions, effectively locking workers into sweatshop working conditions where the workers are by any definition slaves. It's as if they've fallen through time into the western industrial age of the late 19th century. The country is facing severe environmental degradation, the shortage of clean water, a crippling AIDS crisis, a collapse of the social services for the poor and the elderly, and growing civil unrest.
And it appears that the government is simply going to continue to stuff its pockets while it hangs on for the ride.

Why should we care, you might ask - well a self-destructing China will most likely become an aggressive world player.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Anza Borrego

Last month we were in California and visited Anza Borrego state park. We drove out to an overlook of the badlands east of Borrego Springs.

We found a trail into this maze and did some exploring.

We discovered a wall filled with these nodules.

Sunset over palm canyon.

More dog humor