Friday, November 30, 2012

Good News

Today, there's no reason
for tall tales and fables.

Thank God..

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Crisis: Amputated Penises Eaten By Geese

News of the continuing crisis comes from The Guardian:

Why Thai women cut off their husbands' penises

About once per decade, the medical profession takes a careful look back at Thailand's plethora of penile amputations. The first great reckoning appeared in a 1983 issue of the American Journal of Surgery. Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam, by Kasian Bhanganada and four fellow physicians at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, introduces the subject: "It became fashionable in the decade after 1970 for the humiliated Thai wife to wait until her [philandering] husband fell asleep so that she could quickly sever his penis with a kitchen knife. A traditional Thai home is elevated on pilings and the windows are open to allow for ventilation. The area under the house is the home of the family pigs, chickens, and ducks. Thus, it is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck."

Yes, read that last sentence again: "Thus, it is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck."   That sentence is a keeper!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Schrödinge​r's Dog

My friend Schrödinger is a strange fellow.

He has taken a small dog he recently got at the pound and placed it in a steel box along with a geiger counter and a very, very small bit of radioactive material, so small that in the course of an hour or a day or a week, only one of the atoms might decay, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none will decay.

If an atom decays, then the geiger counter discharges and, through an electronic relay, it releases a small hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrogen cyanide which poisons the dog and kills it dead.

Schrödinger asks me if I think the dog is now alive or dead, but since I cannot see in, how am I to know? I am not even sure if that is the right question.

The right question, I think, is what did that woman mean when she dropped her dog off at the pound and said "her circumstances had changed." 

When she dropped the dog off at the pound, did she think the dog was alive or dead?

The Kids are Alright

My kids at Thanksgiving.  You know when you get to that place where you are pretty sure the kids are going to be O.K.?  I think we're there.  A nice feeling and great kids.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wonders of the Grand Circle

The Grand Circle encompasses parts of five states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada and it contains Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Mesa Verde, Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

If Your Friends Acted Like Your Pets

A couple of years ago
, I wrote an article entitled "The Madness of Dogs".
We call them "Man's Best Friend," but if any other friend pissed and crapped in the house, yelled loudly early in the morning, stole our food, humped our leg, ate poop, and then tried to kiss us, we would brick them in the head in short order.

And yet with dogs we pay good money for veterinary care and fencing. We pay extra money so our houses will have yards that are big enough to accommodate them, and we let the dogs determine not only what time we get up in the morning, but how quickly we return home at night.

If this is not the definition of madness, I don't know what it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

JFK Was Buried On This Day, 1963

Jimmy Breslin writes about the common man and the uncommon man, and the pride we Americans can feel in both of them:

One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

"Keep Calm and Dig On" Coffee Mug:
Order yours hereAlso available as poster, Iphone4 case, and mouse padThis mug can also be paired with American Working Terrier Coffee Mug for the special Christmas gift set.

On Being Right Sized:
JBS Haldane wrote:  “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.”  Discuss.

Perfect Pet:
Do you know someone who wants a dog, but you just aren't sure they are ready for the responsibility of taking care of a living animal? Suggest the Port-A-Pug.

The Fixer's Manifesto:
This country will be great again when we do what we did in the past:  tax the hell out of the rich and embrace the Fixer's Manifesto.

Wild Sex:
I could teach a course in this.  Seriously, I could.

A Letter of Note:
About a dog.  "Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We've lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it's always really been just the two of us."  

Zoo Pathetic:
The life and death of Knut the polar bear.  Moral of the story:  "Rather than raising awareness, zoos might be hindering us from recognising the reality. We humans are not the Ark; we are the flood."  Bingo.

Rat Poison for the Galapagos Islands:Once again we dry to wipe rats off a few islands in order to preserve other species and natural landscapes.  Sometime this is successful, but often not.  Rats are resilient and fecund.

Fenton Remastered

FENTON! The viral hit of 2011 (this blog wrote about it here) has been remastered so that we can all see what really happened.

You're Missing the Upside


The Electronic Dog Nose

The eyes are the window to the soul,
but the nose is the window to the hole.

A new miniature device is said to be inspired by the canine nose, and can sniff out any programmed airborne chemical to the parts per billion level.  The folks at SpectraFluidics, who made the mechanical dog nose see it being used for not just explosive detection, but also for disease diagnosis, narcotics detection, and even spotting spoiled food.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Austin and Lucy

A boy and his dog.

Let Us Give Thanks for Wild Turkey and Uncle Sam

Wild Turkey Feathers. This is a repost from Nov. 2008.

Let us give thanks to the Wild Turkey, America's largest ground-nesting bird.

Back when my grandfather was born, the Wild Turkey was teetering on the edge of extinction. Today we have more Wild Turkeys in America's woods than existed in pre-Columbian times.

How is that possible?

Good question. But before we get there, let's dwell a little bit longer on the miracle.

You see, it generally requires a lot of forest -- 2,000 acres or more -- to maintain the kind of food crop and cover that Wild Turkey need to thrive.

The reason for this is that in the dead of winter, Wild Turkey depend on acorns and other nuts and seed for survival. This food is only produced in abundance by mature hardwood trees -- oak, beech, dogwood, cherry and gum.

So what's the big deal? We have a lot of forest in America.

True enough now, but not as true a century ago in the Eastern U.S. and much of the Midwest. Back around 1900, virtually all the big stands of large trees had been logged out in the Eastern U.S. and across much of the Midwest as well. As the trees vanished, Wild Turkey populations plummeted.

Wild Turkey populations were further pushed to oblivion by rapid improvements in gun accuracy, and weak game laws that had yet to catch up to the changing dynamics of landscape and technology.

By 1910, there were fewer than 30,000 Wild Turkeys left in America.

Then, an amazing turnaround occurred. That turnaround started with passage of the Lacey Act in 1900. The Lacey Act ended commercial hunting of wild animals.

Commercial hunting is not sport or recreational hunting -- it is the opposite of that. In commercial hunting, the goal is not having a fun day in the field to fill your own freezer with wild meat, but a full year in the field to fill the freezers of 10,000 people whose primary concern is the price per pound.

To put it simply, commercial hunting is to sport hunting what gill-netting is to fly fishing. One comes with a factory ship attached; the other a simple wicker creel.

No single action has done more to improve the status of American wildlife than passage of the Lacey Act. Prior to its passage, commercial hunters bled the land white, shooting everything that moved. Wild game merchants sold pigeons for a penny apiece, and ducks for only a little more.

Hunters, using cannons loaded with shrapnel, would shoot 400 ducks in a day in Maryland's Eastern Shore marshes, while market deer hunters would set up bait stations near roads and shoot 20 deer in a night.

The Lacey Act helped put an end to this kind of unrestricted slaughter of American wildlife, but it did nothing to restore badly degraded habitat.

Wildlife without habitat is a zoo.

Habitat without wildlife is scenery.

America -- still a young nation -- remembered when it had both, and it wanted it all back.

The second steps on the road to wildlife recovery occurred between 1905 and 1911. It was during this period that Theodore Roosevelt set aside 42 million acres as National Forest and created an additional 53 National Wildlife Refuges as well.

It was also during this period that Congress passed the Weeks Act authorizing the U.S. government to buy up millions of acres of mountain land in the East that had been chopped clean of its forest in order to obtain wood for railroad ties, paper, firewood and timber.

With the Depression of the 1930s, and rapid migration of millions of people from the rural countryside to the city, more and more marginal farmland began to revert back to woody plots.

Spontaneous forest regeneration in Appalachia, along with tree-planting by the U.S. Government-funded Civilian Conservation Corps, helped restore more than 6 million acres of hardwood forests on denuded land purchased under the Weeks Act.

In 1937, the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka, the Pittman-Robertson Act) initiated a new tax on rifles, shotguns and ammunition, with this dedicated revenue going to help fund wildlife conservation.

Pittman-Robertson Act funds were used to purchase millions of acres of public hunting lands and to fund wildlife reintroduction efforts for Whitetail Deer, Canada Geese, Elk, Beaver, Wood Duck, Black Bear, and Wild Turkey.

In the case of Wild Turkey, initial restocking efforts were not successful. Turkey eggs were collected from wild birds, and the poults that were hatched were released into the wild. Unfortunately, these pen-raised birds were quickly decimated by predation and starvation.

New tactics were tried. A few adult Wild Turkeys were caught in wooden box traps intended for deer (picture of deer trap at right). These Wild Turkey were then moved to suitable habitat, but these adults birds also perished under the onslaught of predation.

The reintroduction of Wild Turkeys was beginning to look hopeless.

After World War II, game managers began to experiment again. This time, cannon nets -- large nets propelled by black powder rocket charges -- were used. These nets enveloped entire turkey flocks at once.

Moving an entire flock of Wild Turkeys seemed to work. The first few flocks that were relocated out of the Ozarks (the last stronghold of the Wild Turkey) began to thrive, in part because regrown forest provided more food stock for the birds to live on. The millions of acres of mountain land purchased in 1911 under the Weeks Act had, by now, become large stands of maturing hardwoods in the National Forest system.

Turkeys caught in a cannon net.

Systematic restocking of Wild Turkey continued through the 1950s and 60s,

With the creation of the National Wild Turkey Federation, more sportsmen and private land owners were recruited for habitat protection and Wild Turkey reintroduction.

Today, the range of the American Wild Turkey is more extensive than ever, and the total Wild Turkey population has climbed to 5.5 million birds.

Wild turkey hunting is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with 2.6 million hunters harvesting about 700,000 birds a year.

And so, when we are giving Thanksgiving this Thursday, let us remember not only the Wild Turkey and America's hunting heritage, but also such "big government" programs as the Weeks Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Pittman-Robertson Act, the National Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Clean Water Act.

Without Uncle Sam -- and your tax dollars -- much of America's wildlife would now be gone.

It was Uncle Sam -- and Mother Nature's natural fecundity -- that brought back the Wild Turkey, the Beaver, the Elk, the Whitetail Deer, the Black Bear, and the Bald Eagle. Ted Nugent and the National Rifle Association were nowhere to be seen, and neither were Bass Pro Shops or salesmen pushing Yamaha ATVs.

So next time you are in forest or field, remember Uncle Sam, and thank God for Mother Nature. Whether you know it or not, your hunting and fishing has always depended on both of them.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Swimming Dog Faces Killer Whales

A free diver was on his way back to shore when he found himself surrounded by four Orcas.  The man quickly got out onto the rocks, but a Labrador Retriever that was retrieving sticks from the water was not quite as quick.

The dog eventually saw the whale and turned around and swam back to shore with the Orca following in as far as it could go.

It should be said that this may look a little more dangerous for the dog than it actually was.

Orcas in New Zealand are fish-eaters, and mostly seem to feed on bottom-dwelling rays and skates.

While some Orcas in other parts of the world feed on seals, sea lions and even small whales, the New Zealand Orcas appear to be pure fish-eaters.

Life Is Like a Box of Chocolate


We're Here to Help


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mitt Romney, Twinkies and the AKC

Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, Wonderbread, and Ho Hos, is going out of business.

What brought Hostess down is that no one we know has bought their crappy foods in years.

We buy bread, but do not hate ourselves or our children enough to serve them Wonderbread.

We buy donuts and cupcakes, but do not hate ourselves or our children enough to serve them Twinkies and Ho Hos.

Hostess made poison and foods that made you dumber.

Their food was so crappy that no one would buy it, and so they could not pay a decent wage or benefits.

What killed this company is what killed all companies -- bad management that made a bad product suited for another time, and consumers that would not continue to buy crap.

For the record, this same set of circumstances is why the Republican party and the unions and the American Kennel Club are all going south -- people march with their feet and their pocketbooks.

Stupid leadership making a product with low benefit and high cost is fatal if carried out long enough.

Ask the "Romney transition team" if you can find them!

Lines at Georgetown Cupcake -- a better product at a higher price.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

Live Animals You Can Buy from Amazon: 
Nothing too serious, but yes they do sell live earthworms (not cheap at $15 a pound + $10.50 shipping!) crickets, pond snails (more than $2 apiece!), mealworms, cockroaches, shrimp, and Live Lobsters.)

If You Believe in Homeopathy:
If you believe in homeopathy and are opposed to all vaccines, then you should also practice the deep thinking behind this book full of holistic and natural cures which offers a renewable way of healing yourself.  Nature's elixir for good health.  "Contains effective treatments for acne, asthma, hair loss, indigestion, infections, migraines, warts, wrinkles, and many other common ailments."

Maybe They Should Just Feed Them Dog Food?
Killing seven members of a wolf pack that repeatedly attacked a Northeast Washington rancher’s cattle cost about $76,500, according to preliminary state figures.  Their crime?  Killing or injuring 16 calfs.  You do the math.

Black-footed Ferrets Found Again:
A wild colony of black-footed ferrets has been discovered in South Dakota -- the first wild (not stocked) colony found in 30 years.

More Bad Taxidermy: 
Yes, there are worse taxidermy jobs than New Gingrich's current wife.
Best Opening Sentence This Week:
"In 1964, a geologist in the Nevada wilderness discovered the oldest living thing on earth, after he killed it."  Read the rest here.
Nut Job Given Power:
A woman by the name of  Donna Giustizia, who chairs the school’s allergy committee (There's your problem; you've appointed a committee to deal with a personal health problem!) has decided that all of the oak trees surrounding the public elementary school have to be cut to the ground in case someone, somewhere, might have an allergy problem.  No, the oak trees and their acorns have never created a problem before, but Ms. Giustizia thinks they should be cut down now to make sure there are no future problems.  Seriously?  If this is the level of stupid they are breeding in Canada, it's time to seal the borders! 

I Dare You to Order this Drink in New York City:
It's called a Sandy.... It's a watered down Manhattan.

Ancient Spear Throwers:
It now appears hafting stone points on to spear shafts was being done by Homo heidelbergensis 500,000 years ago, 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Never Bet a Scotsman

I made $100 bucks on the election, and my much wealthier friend made $200. The lunch place across the street from where I work bet us. Word to the wise: never bet two Scotsmen. My numbers (banked in August) were also closer than Nate Silver's, but that's just gravy. Now my winnings go to charity.  I blame my parents for that side of me...


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Harris Hawk Bites Off Jack Russell's Tongue

From The Daily Record comes this horror story:

A HORRIFIED dog owner has told how a hawk attacked his Jack Russell and ripped out its tongue.

Ian Farquhar, 47, was walking Ollie when the female Harris hawk swooped. It clamped its talons on the dog’s head before going for its tongue.

The four-year-old may now have to be put down because it will have to be hand-fed.

Gardener Ian said: “Ollie was screaming and I was crying. I was covered in blood.

“The bird grabbed on to his head and you could see its beak in Ollie’s mouth. It was yanking at the tongue.”

The hawk’s owner Colin Kirk ran over and got the bird off Ollie. He drove Ian and his dog to the vet.

But Ian added: “The vet said Ollie will never be the same again. He had to get a lump in his mouth sewed to stop him choking and half his tonsils taken out. I don’t know what his quality of life will be. I might have to have him put down.

Farquhar has asked that the hawk be destroyed, and the owner has agreed.  

Oddly enough, this is not the first Harris Hawk attack in the U.K. -- a small boy was ripped up around the face in November

I suspect the problem in the U.K. is that they do not have the same falconry apprenticeship programs that we have (and are required) in the U.S.  Anyone can buy a hawk, eagle, or owl in the U.K., without any training or apprenticeship at all.  The only requirement is that the bird be captive-bred.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Is It Time to Start My Own Meth Lab?

I’m ready to start my own meth lab. I think this place would be perfect for that.Description below.


PREPARE FOR AN EXPEDITION. EVERY TRIP AN ADVENTURE Winchester, VA, Lost Horizon, beyond civilization. At end of the notorious Outback Trail, Real Hole in the Wall hunting retreat; too tough for lawmen to reach. Deep in the mountains, yet still part of the D.C. Metro area. Eye popping views across the eastern seaboard. So remote and difficult to reach that the sheriff used a Humvee and helicopter to track down drug smugglers. Unmapped location in 5,000-acre gated wilderness area, off limits to the public and swarming with wild animals, including deer, bear, coyotes, foxes, wild turkey and wildcat. Carry a side arm or big stick. Hunt, shoot, camp, hike, ride ATVs. Do your own thing. Afghanistan-type roads. Premier site of Shenandoah Valley Outdoors TV episodes. 4WD vehicles required, preferably with locked axles. Some make better time on horseback, Perfect training grounds for special forces. 600 sq. ft. 2-story cabin; tin roof, cedar trim, hardyboard siding; one bath, shower stall. 2 rooms. Wood stove. bed, cots, table, chairs; porch overlooking valley. GROUNDS INCLUDE 28 TRAILER W/ BATH, 3 BEDS, KITCHEN BREAKFAST AREA AND ATV. Spring fed water hole with stream. Mostly hilly terrain with some flat spots. Linked to Blue Trail of the PATC from Maine to Georgia. Advised only for serious off-road adventurers. No elec. Use generator or solar. With 50 acres; below appraisal at $165,000. Up to 90 acres available. 90% fin. poss. Taxes per year, $735.74

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

  • Dogs That Chase Their Tail
    They may have OCD.

  • My Dog Totally Sucks at Slacklining
    Apparently, other dogs have more talent.

  • The NRA Burned Money for Nothing
    The NRA got less than 1% return on it's $12 million election investments. Talk about a waste! Remember that $12 million spent in campaign cash represents well over $120 million given by NRA members in the mail, as almost all of the money that comes in through direct mail goes back out again in the form of postage, paper and printing for even more begging direct mail.

  • Roaring Back 
    They're finding more and more mountain lions in Missouri.

  • Hot Roast
    Rising temperatures due to climate change could mean wild arabica coffee is extinct in 70 years.

  • Hell Freezes Over
    Jemima Harrison says the Kennel Club may be seeing the light after feeling the heat.  Good things may be afoot.

  • Teach Your Children Well
    Fairy wrens teach their chicks a song while they are still in the shell.

  • Stupid Africans
    What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoomtablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.  Awesome!

  • White Men Can Too Think!
    The other Mark Kleiman writes:  "If you’re a white person, and especially a white male, reading the polls gets more than a bit depressing: it appears that people like you and me tend to have no brains, no morals, and no self-respect, as indicated by their intention to vote for Slinky. But it turns out this is a gross slander. It’s not all of us who are crazy: just the Southerners. And if you’re a Southern white male voting for Obama, stand tall! You’re a credit to your race, gender, and region, and my hat’s off to you."   Well gee, thanks Mark!

  • Bad Karma and Dead Falcons
    There's wholesale killing of Amur falcons going on in northeastern India. As many as 15,000 a day are being killed for food by people who are using mist nets to catch them (video at link).

  • The 51st State?
    A majority of Puerto Ricans have said they want to change their ties with the U.S. and become the 51st state.  The non-binding referendum that took place on election day, would require final approval from Congress.  A new American flag, with 51 stars, will also be required.

  • Voter Suppression
    Never forget or forgive the people or the party that engaged in widespread voter suppression in the last election.  Never forgive.  Never forget.  Don't let anyone fuck with the building blocks of participatory democracy.


Most Awesome Taxidermy Evah

Black Timber Rattlesnake & Squirrel taxidermy, being sold on Ebay.

This would look awesome in my office!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Ants Will Survive the A Bomb

The number of animals that den underground is phenomenal, and some of the den architecture is fantastic. A special thanks to Anton W. for sending this along!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bagging and Tagging at the Owl Palace

This is how you do it!  Go Steve!  There's a just-captured Saw-whet owl in each one of those bags.  Wow!  42 netted in one night.  It's Owl-a-palooza.

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Click to enlarge.
The polls are now open.

Monday, November 05, 2012

In Service to America's Future

The most amazing part of owl banding is not the owls themselves, but the people who climb the mountains, enter the woods, wire up the owl callers, raise the nets, and stay up all night in order to add a few more small bits of information to science.
These are the people that make American wildlife science, conservation, and management the very best in the world.

Steve Huy, my host for a couple of nights on a mountain overlooking Frederick, Maryland, is one of those people.  He has been banding owls for 17 years and has, in fact, been netting and banding birds of one kind or another since he was 7 years old.  His daughter Rowan, now age eight, started helping her father when she was just four years old!

Across America there are unsung heroes like this who band owls,  who track ravens, who participate in nesting bird surveys. 

Postmen are recruited to count squirrels and chipmunks, and retirees sample and test waters along a thousand streams. 

Sportsmen and women agree to pay more in taxes so that fish can be stocked and millions of acres of public lands can be set aside. 

Traps are set to capture and relocate mink and fishers.  Trucks move elk from Utah to Kentucky, and from Kentucky to North Carolina and Virginia.  Dedicated wildlife biologists count bear scat and monitor winter dens.

Transponders are inserted in rattlesnakes, and attached to deer and wolves, butterflies and turtles.

And from it all, we gather more data and more information. 

We map it, run it through statistical analysis software, develop theories and test those theories.  

None of this is romantic.  A lot of times, it is suspiciously like hard work, and only rarely is anyone thanked.

And yet, what a poor place America would be were it not for the unsung heroes like Steve Huy! 

You see, we once shot out almost all the deer and most of the bear on the East Coast. 

The beaver are all reintroductions from Canada, the turkeys all reintroductions from Arkansas. 

We poisoned most of the great rivers like the Potomac and the Hudson, and we watched dumbfounded as bald eagles, osprey, Canadian geese, and peregrine falcons disappeared to the point they were barely a memory.

And yet today, we are neck deep in geese and deer.  We have more turkeys in America than we did in pre-Columbian times.  Largemouth and striped bass can be hauled from the Potomac below my house, along with shad, perch, pickerel and catfish.  I pass by a bald eagle nest every morning on my way to work.

How did it come to pass? 

It was not a miracle.  It was due to men and women who studied wildlife and wild lands, and who worked tirelessly to find the sweet spot where all sides could live together. 

Mountains of data were gathered and carefully boiled down to PowerPoint slides and a few pages of testimony so sparse and clean than even a brain-dead politician could understand the conclusion. 

Select pesticides were banned.  Riparian areas were protected.  Contour ploughing became the norm, and forests were planted, expanded, and protected.

As a consequence, things have slowly turned around.  Thing have gotten better. 

And still we gather data.  We try to fit the pieces together and understand the larger tapestry of nature, and our place in it. 

And behind it all are thousands of unsung wildlife stewards like Steve Huy, who go up the mountain to trap the owls, count the crows, test the water, track the snakes, monitor the bobcats, and reintroduce what has been lost.

For that, we should all be eternally grateful.  This is why America is great.  It is not an accident; it takes effort.


Mighty Hunters in Small Packages

The is the business end of a tiny Saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus).

The owls themselves tip in at around 90 grams, while a Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) weighs in at 33 to 60 grams.

So, assuming a 90-gram Owl and and 40-gram vole, the human equivalent would be a 180-pound man doing hand-to-hand combat, on a nightly basis, with an 80-pound wolf. 

Of course, in the case of the owl, the "hands" are outrageously over-sized feet, clad in soft feathers, and tipped with extremely sharp and deeply hooked talons.

The owls themselves are not terribly fierce as far as we humans are concerned.  No surprise.  My 200-pounds outweighs a Saw-whet owl by a factor of more than 800 to 1.  

But I have no illusion; if the odds were reduced to as little as 10 to 1, and a Saw-whet owl were given half a chance, they could open me up like a can of tuna.  The saw-whet is a mighty hunter, even if it does come in a small package.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Alien Abduction Caught on Film

You're flying along innocently enough, and then you hear the siren call of love. You come in to investigate, and -- BAM -- you are caught in an invisible force field. That's how it starts. That's how they get you.

Then the Grays come. They are huge, and they have soft hands, and they pluck you from the force field. You struggle, but they are stronger, and on the mountain, who is there to help you? No one!

They take you to their space ship, which is bathed in dazzling light. And then -- BAM -- you are head down in The Metal Tube which says "Donald Duck Orange Juice" on the side. Is this some kind of cosmic joke?

Then you are pulled back out into the light again, and they poke you and prod you. They measure your stuff. 

Then the lights are off, and they have you spread-eagle under a weird light, and now you are glowing purple. You have a sense of impeding doom. It is impending doom.

Then you are upside down again in the Metal Tube.  You can feel their warm soft tentacles playing with your feet. Suddenly, you realize they have put a metal ring around your foot. You are manacled.  Now you know you will never leave the space ship.  It is over. You are being sold into inter-galactic slavery.

And then you are pulled out again.  The light is blinding.  They are measuring your mouth. You have heard of this; they are checking your teeth prior to the slave auction.  

They they flip you over and smooth you out.  They write down your price tag.  What can you do, but look on; helpless in their grasp.
And then it is over, and the door of the space ship is opened, and you are outside in the mountain air again. You can feel the wind and smell the forest, but still you are in the warm clutches of the Gray. He hands you over to the ugliest and most useless of his henchmen. You have been sold. This is your new master. 
And then, miraculously, you are free. You blink twice. Can it be? But yes, they have let you go, and you are free. High you fly, into the astral oaks, the metal manacle gently ratting on your ankle.  You are free, but always branded.  You are one of the abducted.

Want to know more? 
This Alien Abduction was done under the auspices of Project Owlnet, which has been trapping and banding migrating Northern Saw-whet Owls in Maryland and Pennsylvania since 1994. 
This is sound science at its most granular -- developing the core data sets that tell us more about the natural world and how it is connected to everything else. 
Project Owlnet was the brainchild of Dave Brinker, an ecologist with Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and is managed by Brinker; Steve Huy in Maryland (Lambs Knoll Owl Banding Project); and Scott Weidensaul in Pennsylvania.  
Steve was kind enough to let me come up, and that's him in the pictures at the nets, and also weighing and gathering data on the owls.   
For more on the mechanics of owl netting, see this page on the Project Owlnet web site.  
And a very special THANKS to Steve.  Fun past midnight?  Imagine!