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Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

Mystery Pig

File this story under “stranger than fiction.”

One recent Saturday, Jake and I went walking at Jefferson Middle School, where he could go off-leash and perform zoomies. Before long, we came upon an unoccupied pickup truck parked on the grass. Next to it was a wire pet cage, empty, door open.

And under the truck, cowering next to a wheel, was a piglet. It was a tiny thing, about six inches high and a foot long. A rope around its neck secured it to the truck.

Jake danced around and snuffled the piglet with great excitement, but didn’t hurt it, because, well, Jake loves all living things. The piglet seemed confused about being licked by a large animal.

Did the truck and the pig belong to someone working inside the school? Was the pig left outside because it wasn’t housebroken? A baffling scenario.

I tried to get Jake to continue our walk, but he wasn’t going anywhere. I allowed him a minute more of snuffling, then hooked up his leash and led him away. Poor Jake. So disappointed.

Why a piglet was tied to a truck next to an open pet cage on the lawn of the middle school that Saturday, I’ll never know.

Tuaregs

The Tuareg people of North Africa, nomads of the Sahara Desert since the 4th Century, are unique among Islamic ethnic groups.

Unlike in most Muslim societies, Tuareg women have high status. They control most of the property, and the lineage of families and clans is traced through the women.

Further, Tuareg men, not women, wear veils. When Tuareg men reach adulthood, they wear the tagelmust, a veil that reveals only the eyes, for the rest of their lives.

The Tuaregs believe the veils protect them from being possessed by evil spirits that enter through the nose and mouth. Why women don’t need the protection, I can’t say.

The concept of evil spirits and veils is, of course, preposterous nonsense. I rank it right up there with belief in a God who is omnipotent and benevolent, yet is okay with widespread starvation, disease, war, and suffering. That should strain anyone’s credulity.

Greek to Me

A while back, on a lark, I bought a copy of Georgia Outdoor News (GON), a monthly magazine about guns, hunting, fishing, and guns. I wanted some reading matter that was different, and GON certainly is that.

Frankly, I detest guns, and I strongly object to hunting and fishing. Guns are an abomination, and stalking and killing animals is making a special effort to be cruel. The articles and ads in GON confirm how callous and sadistic people can be toward other living things.

One particular tip that made me wince was a suggestion to fishermen: slice open your live bait so the blood in the water will attract fish.

But I digress. It was fascinating to get a peek at the world of hunters and fishermen as they talked to each other. For example, a “Fishing Reports” article gave tips on when and where to fish on various Georgia lakes. This is what one guide reported about West Point Lake near Columbus:

The herring population seems to have exploded this year. Try fishing riprap around bridges with spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and Zoom Super Flukes. Try an unweighted merthiolate Zoom Trick Worm or an unweighted Zlinky.

One other pattern is to look for fresh blowdowns with the leaves still on them. Try a Jerkbait or Zoom Super Fluke worked around the outer limbs. Lots of spotted bass are caught by casting Spot Remover heads loaded with Ultravibe Speed Craws.”

I know what riprap and blowdowns are, but otherwise, that’s just word salad. An experienced fisherman probably would get the message loud and clear.

I hope so. Better to use a Jerkbait or Zoom Super Fluke than to slice open your live bait.

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The Toyota Corporation was founded in 1937 by Japanese inventor Sakichi Toyoda to manufacture automatic looms to weave cloth.

● The smallest bones in the human body are the malleus, incus, and stapes bones located in the middle ear. They carry external sounds to your brain.

● The people of Turkey drink the most tea annually, consuming about seven pounds of tea leaves per person. Ireland is in second place with about five pounds per person.

● A cria (Spanish for baby) is a young llama, alpaca, vicuña, or guanaco, all of which are Latin American relatives of the camel. Llamas and alpacas are domesticated, whereas vicuñas and guanacos are wild, but are protected as endangered species.

● Wayne Allwine, a sound effects specialist for Disney Studios, was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years — from 1977 until his death in 2009. In 1991, he married co-worker Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse.

● Sweden has not been involved in a war since 1814.

● English is the native language of 350 million people. English is the second language of two billion people.

● The first know automobile accident occurred in 1891 in Ohio City, Ohio, when John William Lambert lost control of his vehicle and hit a hitching post. Lambert was driving a Lambert, a gasoline-powered, three-wheeled vehicle of his own design. He went on to hold over 600 automotive patents, but the Lambert brand couldn’t keep up with Ford et al and fizzled.

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The Questions…

1. What is the world’s largest known living organism?

2. What online service has the most users?

3. The term living room surfaced in the late 1800s. What were living rooms called before then?

4. When sea otters sleep, how do they keep from drifting away from each other?

5. Fireflies (Lampyridae), known for emitting light through the chemical process of bioluminescence, are classified as what type of insect?

The Answers…

1. The largest known organism is a massive network of honey mushroom fungus (Armillaria ostoyae) that occupies about 3.4 square miles in eastern Oregon. It is thought to be 2,400 years old. Locals call it the “humongous fungus.”

2. Facebook, which has an astounding 2.9 billion users. That’s more than the populations of China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) combined.

3. Mostly, they were called parlors, from the French verb parler (to speak) because that’s where people sat and talked. In the 1500s and 1600s, they sometimes were called drawing roomsshort for withdrawing, in the sense of withdrawing there for privacy.

4. They hold hands.

5. Fireflies are a variety of soft-bodied beetle.

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AUSTIN, TEXAS — A marble bust purchased at a Goodwill store for $35 turned out to be a 2,000-year-old Roman carving.

Antique dealer Laura Young purchased the bust and thought it might be a Victorian garden decoration. She kept it on display in her home while friends at a London auction house tried to trace it.

After several years of research, they identified the bust as depicting Nero Drusus Germanicus, a Roman soldier and politician. The bust had been on display in a German museum prior to World War II. They think a soldier brought it to the US after the war, either having stolen it or purchased it from a looter.

The bust currently is on display at the San Antonia Museum of Art and next year will be returned to Germany. “He needs to go home,” Young said. “he wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Young had a replica of the bust made on a 3D printer to keep for herself.

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — The official news outlet of North Korea claims that burritos and hamburgers were invented by Kim Jong-il, the father of current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

A North Korean newspaper said Jong-il came up with the idea of “wheat wraps” in 2011, shortly before his death from a heart attack. Some years before that, the newspaper said, Jong-il invented a type of hot sandwich, described as “double bread with meat,” that was the forerunner of the hamburger.

The newspaper described the “wheat wrap” burrito as sort of like a gyro with grated cabbage and carrots — more of a spring roll than a burrito.

Despite North Korea’s claims, the burrito probably originated with vaqueros in northern Mexico in the 1800s. Both Germany and the US say they invented the hamburger, also in the 1800s.

FYI, three generations of Kims have ruled North Korea since it was created after World War II. The first dictator was Kim Il-sung, who ran the country from 1945 until his death in 1994. His son Kim Jong-il took over, died in 2011, and was succeeded by the current wacko Kim Jong-un.

LUBBOCK, TEXAS — When told their luggage was overweight, a couple at Lubbock Airport opened the bag and found their pet chihuahua hiding in a cowboy boot.

The couple was boarding a Southwest flight to Las Vegas when a gate agent told them the bag was five pounds overweight. They had the option of paying a fee or transferring items to their carry-ons. To avoid the fee, they opened the suitcase and discovered their five-pound chihuahua Icky inside.

The gate agent offered to keep Icky until the couple returned from vacation, but they contacted a relative who rushed to the airport and took Icky where she was supposed to be, with the couple’s children and babysitter.

Five years ago, the couple found Icky on a remote Texas road, weak and malnourished. When they took her home, their children said the dog was dirty and “icky,” and the name stuck.

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More favorite photos I’ve taken over the years.

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● Russia is massive, extending across eight time zones and bordering 14 other countries. But its economy is puny — roughly equivalent to the combined GDPs of Belgium and the Netherlands.

● The average automobile contains 30,000 parts, counting bolts and screws.

● The main ingredients of the spread Nutella are sugar, cocoa, and hazelnuts. A medium-size jar of Nutella (26 oz.) contains about 97 hazelnuts. Annually, 25 percent of the world’s hazelnut crop is used to manufacture Nutella.

● Europa, the fourth-largest of Jupiter’s 80 known moons, is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon. Its surface is believed to be largely a crust of ice. Beneath it, scientists now think, is a liquid ocean that holds more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.

● The first sharks evolved about 400 million years ago, which makes them 50 million years older than the earliest known trees.

● In the card game of whist, and in the game of bridge that evolved from it, a yarborough is a hand of 13 cards with none higher than a nine. The term is named for the 2nd Earl of Yarborough (1809-1897), who regularly bet 1000-1 against being dealt such a hand. He usually won; the probability of being dealt a yarborough is 1 in 1,828.

● The rubber band was invented in 1845 by Stephen Perry of the rubber manufacturer Messers Perry and Co., London.

● Polar bears have two layers of fur: a dense undercoat for insulation and a coarse, protective outer coat. Both layers are colorless. The bears appear white because the hairs are transparent, and they reflect all wavelengths of light instead of absorbing some and manifesting color. Polar bear skin is black, which absorbs sunlight for warmth. Mother Nature is a smart cookie.

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BRINNON, WASHINGTON — A woman was rescued uninjured, but shaken, after she dropped her cell phone into a pit toilet and fell in headfirst while trying to retrieve it.

The 40-year-old woman was using a toilet in the Olympic National Forest when her phone fell into the underground tank. She removed the toilet seat and tried to reach the phone with a dog leash.

When that failed, she secured herself with the leash and reached into the pit, but slipped and fell in. She was unable to climb out and called 911. When firefighters arrived, they handed down blocks of wood for the woman to stand on, allowing the team to reach her and pull her to safety.

The rescuers hosed off the woman, gave her clean clothes, and told her to seek medical attention because of the exposure to human waste. However, they said she “only wanted to leave” and drove away to an unspecified destination in California.

CORNVILLE, ARIZONA — A javelina that hopped into a station wagon to get a bag of Cheetos became trapped inside, trashed the interior, and caused the vehicle to roll away out of control.

Yavapai County deputies said the vehicle’s hatchback had been left open, and the closing mechanism was triggered when the javelina jumped in. In a panic to get out, the animal ripped off door panels and part of the dashboard.

It also knocked the vehicle into neutral, allowing it to roll down a driveway and across the street.

The next morning, the vehicle owners discovered what had happened and called the sheriff’s office. A deputy opened the hatch, and the javelina ran into the undergrowth.

Javelinas, also called peccaries, are a species of wild pig native to Central and South America and the southwest US. The animals live in herds of six to eight. Adults can weigh up to 80 pounds.

ZABOW, POLAND — Volunteer firefighters in Zabow twice had to remove a raccoon that was taking a nap in a precarious position atop a streetlamp.

Crews responded after the animal was spotted asleep while clinging to a horizontal section of conduit high above the ground. The electricity was disconnected, and crew members used a lift to reach the raccoon.

The animal was released on the ground, but immediately climbed back to the top of the streetlamp.

The crew removed the raccoon a second time and released it in a remote wooded area.

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● When King James V of Scotland died in 1542, his daughter Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland — at the age of six days old.

● Cheese is the world’s most commonly shoplifted food item.

● Every year, scientists discover about 18,000 new species of plants and animals, half of which are insects.

● In 1887, a partial skeleton of the three-horned dinosaur Triceratops was unearthed by geologist George L. Cannon near Denver. Dinosaurs being a bit of a new concept in those days, Cannon thought the bones were those of an especially large and unusual bison. Only after a third and more complete skeleton was found did Cannon see his mistake.

● The National Park System consists of 423 sites, 63 of which are full-blown National Parks.

Bonasa umbellus, the ruffed grouse, is a game bird native to Canada and the eastern US. Umbellus is Latin for umbrella or sunshade, referring to the bird’s showy neck plumage. Bonasa comes from the Latin words bonus (good)and assum (roasted).

● An ant can lift about 50 times its own weight.

● The word orangutan comes from the Malaysian words orang, meaning “person,” and hutan, meaning “forest.” It usually is translated as “man of the forest.”

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Thoughts du Jour

Nope

Recently, just for something different, I bought a copy of Mother Earth News, a how-to magazine about sustainable farming, natural gardening, simple living, etc. Among the articles was a story by a woman who raises Guinea Hogs, a breed of small black pigs.

The author described the animals as intelligent, friendly, and gentle. She said one of her females, Louise, enjoys belly rubs, ear scratches, and going to the park on Saturday to listen to banjo music. Guinea Hogs are “full of personality,” she wrote. “They’re easy to love and easy to handle.”

She then added, “They also provide delicious pork and lard.”

People, I am as carnivorous as the next guy, but killing and eating animals that literally live as pets — that’s just wrong. Don’t lovingly raise animals you plan to murder and consume. Don’t name your pig Louise and take her to the park and then execute her for bacon. Jeez Louise.

The Miracle

In 1954, I was a 12-year-old 7th-grader living in Panama City, Florida. On one memorable spring Saturday, Mom and Dad took us kids to the Bay County Fair, which, incidentally, dates back to 1945 and still operates today.

In those days, children rarely were supervised. If you were old enough to take care of yourself, you were chased from the house and told to “go play” and stay out of trouble until suppertime. Thus, when we got to the fair, I was given a dollar and set loose to have fun, stay out of trouble, and return at a specified time.

Rides at the fair cost about 25 cents, drinks and snacks about 10 cents. I was delighted to have that dollar, but I knew it wouldn’t go far. I would need to spend it wisely.

Then, a miracle happened.

Something on the ground a few steps ahead caught my eye. I approached. To my utter astonishment, it was — gasp — a federal reserve note — the beautiful, unmistakable green of cash money. I picked it up, heart pounding.

Holy mother of God, it was a five-dollar bill!

Five dollars! I was rich! In my sheer ecstasy, I nearly fainted.

How I spent my riches at the fair that day, I don’t recall. But I spent every glorious penny of it.

For the record, I did not tell Mom and Dad about my good fortune. They would have made me save some of it or share it with my brothers.

As if.

Hoarding

We common folk justifiably get steamed at how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And usually, most of the ire is aimed at billionaires — Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates — because it gives you a face you despise and want to punch.

But there are institutional targets that deserve the vitriol even more. Take, for example, the obscenely wealthy churches of the world. Organized religion is, after all, simply a type of business enterprise — exempt from taxation, mind you — designed to make a profit.

The Mormon Church is worth a whopping $100 billion, which is amazing for its relatively small size. The Catholic Church no doubt has a net worth of many times that, but its wealth is off the scale to such a degree — vast gold deposits, extensive physical assets, webs of investments, priceless works of art — that the Holy See itself likely doesn’t know its own value.

Speaking of value, you may not be aware that the British royal family is worth $88 billion. And that the Kuwaiti royal family is worth $360 billion. And that the Saudi royal family is worth $1.4 trillion.

All that wealth, hoarded to no real purpose, when a small percentage of it would lift all eight billion souls on this planet out of poverty.

As if.

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The Questions…

1. What animal has the largest eyeballs?

2. In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown’s father was never seen, but his occupation was mentioned. What was it?

3. Apple seeds contain trace amounts of what deadly poison?

4. How long does it take to hard-boil an egg?

5. What is Earth’s largest single structure made by living organisms?

The Answers…

1. The giant squid. Its eyeballs are about the size of your head.

2. Mr. Brown was a barber, as was the father of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz.

3. Cyanide. You would have to eat about 140 seeds to ingest a lethal dose.

4. Seven minutes.

5. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is a system of reefs and islands made up of billions of living coral polyps growing atop the remains of deceased polyps. The Reef is a delicate ecosystem that supports a wide variety of marine life and, no surprise, is steadily succumbing to pollution.

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