Wednesday, November 30, 2022

My Folks

They’re gone, but nothing loved is ever lost.  Darwin, their last dog (a terrier, of course), is asleep at my feet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Looking for Eden

Most people don’t look at soil maps before buying property, but I do. I study the creeks and flood plains, the rises and places that are sprawling woods or pasture because they are too wet or too rocky for crops.

Too wet for crops is too wet for tract houses. That’s a feature!

If you can find a knoll or high hill surrounded by periodically wet ground…. that’s Eden, and it’s land that will probably perc.

Is the property next to a conservation area? Surrounded by land protected in an agricultural reserve? Circle those spots on a map. That’s gold.

Now overlay the stuff you need to survive — grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops, hardware stores, banks. How far away are they? That’s the real world, and trust me you will need it.

This is the Great Tension of our lives. We all want to live in wilderness… but with a T-l computer connection, and a 10 minute drive to Starbucks and Five Guys. 

Does this place exist? Yes. But you have to look hard to find it. You have to hunt. And soil maps help.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Something’s Wrong With American Men

Mass shootings are a daily occurrence in the US, and nowhere else in the world.

Sure, the prevalence of guns is part of the problem, but American women have just as much access to guns as American men, but it’s only men doing the mass shootings. We need to ask what fear, self-loathing, and mind-warping internal pressure is causing men to snap. We talk of “toxic masculinity” but rarely note that the poison is killing men in droves through drink, suicide, pills, and violence.

What’s going on? 

It’s as if the heavy train of long-standing cultural expectations of men as primary bread winners is crossing an old trestle bridge, but half the cross pieces below are now cut. The bridge bends and creaks, shudders, and then the train jumps the track into the black swirling abyss. 

Fucking train. Fucking men. Men? Fuck ‘em. Am I right, or am I right? 

No one talks about the pressures on men. No one talks about the cut, rusted, and bent support trusses on that old bridge. 

And so men jump the track, again and again and again. 

Women tend to have a few close friends and some minimal support network. 

American men do not.

Raised on a non-stop diet of cowboy individualism, protestant self-loathing, and sexual repression with a lot of selfishness masquerading as self-sufficiency thrown in, a lot of American men stew in their own bottled poisons of fear, self-doubt, and dreams reduced to cartoon husks that mock the voyage of their lives.

American men do not share, talk through their problems, or comfort each other. 

Instead we take hostages and anesthetics. 

Do most American men kill themselves or others? No. Of course not. 

But a lot do.

There is something breaking American men, and absolutely no one is asking why is this an AMERICAN phenomenon and why it is a purely MALE problem.

What the hell have we done to American men?

Born This Day: The Namer of Clouds

BORN ON THIS DAY:  The Namer of Clouds.

Real sign, real person.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Saturday, November 26, 2022

This Is What You Shall Do

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. -- Walt Whitman

Friday, November 25, 2022

Talons as Barbs?

These are, I believe, Papuan fishing hooks. I think some of these barbs are raptor talons.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Way Out

Leo McGarry (John Spencer in The West Wing): 

This guy's walking down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up "Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey Joe, it's me, can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out."

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Vexy Does Well

Sunday morning temperature was under 30 with up to 30 mph wind gusts, which made for a cold start.

Met up with Stephanie L ., and we decided to stay inside the tree line to get out of the wind.

I left my wee wolves warm in the truck, and we took Vexy, a dog Steph has had for about a year, out to see the world.

Vexy is a 6-year old who has, up to now, seen no work, but she’s got a little vinegar in her and is not too big. A nice dog who looks good in a Hermes scarf.

The wind was keeping the birds low, but we saw a nice Barred Owl flying overhead like a winged football.

We walked a way with Vexy on leash, as she’s not got too much recall and is an independent thinker. Climbing a creek bank, I spied a leaf-filled depression in the ground, and an open pipe about 12 feet away. A small sign.

I scraped the leaves out of the depression to reveal a leaf-blocked entrance, and Vexy gave a very nice mark. Excellent.

I went back to the creek bottom, picked up the tools, and returned to open up the tight rocky entrance. Reaching in to pull a rock, I thought I felt fur inside. Vexy continued to mark. No doubt now.

I barred to locate the pipe, took off a few inches of dirt that had tree roots, and then popped past the rocks with the posthole digger — a typically shallow dig.

Vexy slid in and latched on.

Long story short, I was quite surprised to find this was not a possum, but a rather quiet raccoon. Excellent.

Vexy scrapped with the raccoon a bit, and then we pulled the dog from the hole before the dog or the raccoon suffered any damage.

Steph blocked the left side of the pipe with the post hole digger, and used the back of the machete to encourage the raccoon to bolt right, where I snared it as it exited the hole.

A quick picture, and the raccoon was released no worse for the experience, and we repaired the sette with the raccoon back inside, timbering over the hole we’d dug and putting leaves back in the exit hole that had been previously blocked. “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.”

Vexy did a magnificent job for her first dig which was a text-book affair all around. Full applause for her and Stephanie!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Eight Pointer on First Day of Rifle Season

Stalking an 8-pointer on open ground on the first day of full rifle season. I only shoot with a camera. 

Coming from behind helped, and the wind direction was OK, but two does flanked me left and right, and Job One was to not spook them. It worked until it didn’t.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Smell of Fireplace Smoke

For most of human history, most people smelled of fireplace smoke.
How long he stood he did not know, but there was a foolish and yet delicious sense of knowing himself as an animal come from the forest, drawn by the fire. He was a thing of brush and liquid eye, of fur and muzzle and hoof, he was a thing of horn and blood that would smell like autumn if you bled it out on the ground. He stood a long long time, listening to the warm crackel of the flames. - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Starbucks Coffee and November in the Soul

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” ― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

ON THIS DAY IN 1820, an 80-ton sperm whale rammed & sank a Nantucket whaleship named Essex.  

Twenty of the crew escaped in open boats, but only five survived the three months adrift, while three others were rescued off an island. 

Herman Melville based his novel Moby Dick on these real events, but changed the name of the ship from the Essex to the Pequod.

One hundred and fifty one years later, a Seattle English teacher, a History teacher, and a writer approached a bank about a loan to start a coffee house.  They wanted to call the place “The Pequod,” but the bank would not lend them money on that strange name, so they changed it to “Starbucks” — the name of the first mate in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick tale.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

How Many Critters Are There on Earth?

Life in Earth is about dubious success and anonymous failure.

Let’s start with anonymous failure: more than 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species that have ever lived on Earth, are estimated to be extinct.

What about the dubious success? That’s the estimated 8 billion people now on earth. Humans alone represent about 33 percent of all the biomass of land-based mammal. The next most common primate, crab-eating macaques with a population of about 2.5 million, is not even close in terms of numbers.

Livestock, excluding chickens and other poultry, represent 65 percent of land-based mammal biomass. Of this livestock there are an estimated 1.5 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep, and 1 billion pigs.

What about wild animals?

Wild animals represent only 2 percent of mammal biomass. White-tailed deer are the most common large wild mammal species, with a population of about 35 million. What about rats, mice, and squirrels? The numbers here are unknown, but are clearly in the scores of billions.

Of the carnivora, domestic cats and domestic dogs are far and away the most populous, with populations of 600 million and 900 million, respectively.

What about birds?

It’s estimated there are about 90 billion adult birds in the world, with the population of domesticated chickens at about 24 billion, which makes them far and away the most common bird in the world. The most common wild bird is the sparrow-sized Red-billed Quelea, a type of African weaver bird, with an estimated population of about 1.5 billion.

What about fish?

There are a lot of fish in the ocean. How many is difficult to say, but the most common fish, far and away, are the 32 species of minnow-sized deep water bristlemouths (pictured at top), of which there are estimated to be several quadrillion (one quadrillion is one million billion). The Cyclothone genus of bristlemouths is the most abundant vertebrate on Earth, with an estimated one quadrillion individuals in that 13-species genera alone.

What about insects?

It’s been estimated that there 1.4 billion insects for each human on the planet — over 3,000 pounds of insects for every person.

Read that last sentence again. Wow!

Ants alone are estimated to have a population of 20 quadrillion (20 million billion) and to represent more stored carbon than all wild birds and mammals combined.

I will leave out microbes even though they exist in jaw dropping numbers and weights -- 39 trillion bacteria, viruses, and fungi inside every human being alone.

All of these numbers are, of course, little more than rough estimates. Animal populations rise and fall with season, disease, food stocks, and harvest. Even the best human census of any one country is little more than a very good approximation.

A story…

Back in 1986, I was the organizer of a session on census adjustment at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The topic of the panel had to do with census reapportionment for congressional seats.

Before we got too far into the thicket, I wanted to prick a few balloons.

I began the panel by noting that in 1980 the U.S. Census Bureau had counted exactly 226,545,805 people, but that the margin of error that the Census Bureau freely admitted to was 2.5 percent.

In short, I observed, the one thing we had some confidence in was ... wait for it ... wait for it .... that only the *first* digit of that big official number was probably right. All of the other digits in the apparently precise official count were subject to change based on the Census Bureau’s freely admitted margin of error.

I told this story then, and now, to stress that folks who do not work with numbers, day in and day out, tend to fall in love with false specificity.

We don't have an exact count on a lot of things. The good news is that even if we do not have a precise count, we have direction and velocity data, and some ballpark numbers which, it turns out, are good enough for most policy purposes.

For wild animals, almost all of the numbers are in decline.

For humans, and human-adjacent species like chickens, dogs, and rats, the numbers are up.

In both cases, the direction and velocity is of considerable concern.

We cannot go on — and grow on — like this less we too will fail and fall into abyss of anonymous extinction.  

Will that happen?  Most assuredly.  

What's unclear is whether that happens 100 years from now or 200,000 years into the future.

Reverend Jack and the Ten Commandments

I got to thinking about dogs in general and the Jack Russell Terrier in particular.

Where did we go wrong with dogs? What was our Original Sin?

I am not a religious man, and I do not naturally think in terms of sin. But then then it came to me in flash. 

Of course. 

The Reverend John Russell was not just a man of DOG, he was also a man of GOD. 

If asked about Original Sin, Jack Russell would not have hesitated. After all, he had seen the Devil himself, up close and personal when he judged the first Kennel Club dog show at the Crystal Palace in 1873. The Reverend Jack Russell had shaken his head, mourned, the loss of "true terriers," and vowed that he himself would never register his own dogs. 

And he never did.

The Original Sin -- the fist bite of the poisonous tree for dogs -- was putting appearance above work, temperament, and health. 

Jack Russell got the whole story in a stroke. 

He was a man with a primary purpose, and knew that no man, and no dog, could serve two masters (Mathew 6:24). Go down that road, and something wicked this way walks.

The Mother Church of working terriers knew this too. 

When Ailsa Crawford founded the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, she made sure it had had but ONE clear purpose: to protect and preserve the Jack Russell as a WORKING terrier. There was never any confusion on the matter.

Crawford and the JRTCA did not spend too much time detailing the catechism of deformity, disease, and dysfunction that make up the world of failed and failing breeds. 

Instead they focused on a new code for living. 

If Jack Russell Terriers were to be saved, what would the Ten Commandments look like?  

So far as I know, it was never actually spelled out on a stone tablet, but this is the delivered wisdom as I understand it.

▪️The best judge operates in the dark and in a den pipe.
▪️Incest is not best.
▪️Dogs are not blank slates; there is a code inside the dogs.
▪️Dogs are individuals and should be evaluated and registered as such.
▪️The "one drop" theory is evil and wrong.
▪️Function is not form.
▪️Different jobs require different tools.
▪️Your highest award reflects your highest value.
▪️Dogs First; all other bullshit can take the hindmost.
▪️When in doubt, bark a lot and put in the teeth.

And has that worked?  

I would say it has. 

Not for nothing is the JRTCA the largest Jack Russell registry in the world and no, it is NOT an accident that JRTCA Jack Russells still work.  

Work defines the dog.

So endeth the sermon.  Let us prey.

It’s Not Critical Race Theory, It’s History of Racism

It's not even history -- it's still a reality at every real estate office, church, bank, school, and police station.

The #1 Health Problem in Dogs

Obesity is the #1 health problem in dogs and people. 

Most veterinarians can go a month without seeing a single well-conditioned dog, but cannot go an hour with seeing two morbidly obese patients.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Incompetents Don’t Own All the Tools

This is an official White House picture. 

Look in Joe Biden’s left hand — that’s an E-Collar Technologies remote.   Terrific!

Joe Biden and the dog trainers he’s hired knows E-Collar Technologies collars work, and are a gentle way to train a dog faster and with less confusion. It’s a tap, not a zap.

I also advise staying away from fools and incompetents, and the world of dog training is full of them. 

  • If a dog trainer does not know what a clicker is, or how and why they work, they are incompetent. Stay away from them, and put them on mute.

  • If a dog trainer doesn’t own a treat bag, or know how to put on a slip collar, they are incompetent. Stay away from them, and put them on mute.

  • If a dog trainer doesn’t own a 20-foot leash and a set of muzzles to fit any dog, they are incompetent. Stay away from them, and put them on mute.

  • If a dog trainer doesn’t own a cot to teach place or know how to fit a pinch collar, they are incompetent. Stay away from them, and put them on mute.

  • If a dog trainer doesn’t own a modern e-collar and know how they work (and how gentle they are), they are incompetent. Stay away from them, and put them on mute. 

To be clear, no dog trainer has to use ANY tool, but they should own and know how to use ALL of them. 

If a putative carpenter shows up at your house and doesn’t own a power saw or know how to change a blade, she’s not a real carpenter, no matter what set of tools she may prefer.

If a putative house painter shows up at your house and doesn’t own a paint sprayer or know how to clear the nozzle, he’s not a real house painter, no matter what set of tools he may prefer. 

In the world of dog training, all the tools are cheap and any competent dog trainer should own all of them, and know how to use all of them. If you think a modern e-collar causes pain, you’ve just told me you’re incompetent, and you’ve told the world to stay away and put you on mute. 

Nothing good starts with a lie.

Republican Political Operatives After the Election

Normalizing Deformity

Bukowski Takes Inventory

“I needed a vacation. I needed 5 women. I needed to get the wax out of my ears. My car needed an oil change. I'd failed to file my damned income tax. One of the stems had broken off of my reading glasses. There were ants in my apartment. I needed to get my teeth cleaned. My shoes were run down at the heels. I had insomnia. My auto insurance had expired. I cut myself every time i shaved. I hadn't laughed in 6 years. I tended to worry when there was nothing to worry about. And when there was something to worry about, i got drunk.” -- Charles Bukowski

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A Message for Men

Isn’t it time we men shouldered all the contraception responsibility, and did it in a permanent way?

Haven’t women done enough?

Haven’t women spent too many millennia struggling with involuntary pregnancy, and the poverty and lost life opportunity that comes from that?

Why should women alone have to endure the pain, illness, discomfort, unintended pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, and nonsense of pills, IUDs, diaphragms, spermicides, and condom failure?

Talk is cheap. You want to show support for women’s rights?  Get a vasectomy 

Concerned about global warming?  That’s a direct consequence of too many people. Do your part and get a vasectomy.

No amount of recycle, reuse, repurpose, or reduce will save resources as much as a simple vasectomy.

No stock market or housing investment will pay the financial returns of a vasectomy.

No amount of vegetarianism or veganism will save as many animal lives as a vasectomy.

Are you concerned about industrial farming, chemicals, pollution, sprawl, and forest loss and fragmentation?  All are driven by the need to boost production to treat the cancer of human population growth.  Do your part and get a vasectomy.

Vasectomies are simple, safe, effective, cheap, and not painful in any meaningful way.

You and your partner deserve this freedom, and so too does the planet and every other living thing on it.

The world’s population was 3 billion when I was born.  Now it’s 8 billion and climbing.  We can’t grow on like this.  Please get a vasectomy.  For yourself, for your partner, for the planet.

A Mascot Dreamed Up By Al Qaeda?

The bow-legged bulldog is a morphological mess that cannot mate on its own, whelp on its own, or run a mile without passing out from oxygen loss. 

If Al Qaeda was selecting mascots for the US military and Britain, it could not have come up with a better choice.p

If Kids Were Raped by Clowns…