Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

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


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.


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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PASADENA, CALIFORNIA — A 36-year-old woman wearing only a t-shirt was arrested for breaking into the home of an 80-year-old Pasadena man and attacking him with a coffee cup. Firefighters treated the man for cuts on his face and knuckles.

Police initially responded to a report of a partially-clad woman lying in the street. By the time officers arrived, the woman had run into the elderly man’s back yard. Hearing noises outside, the man opened the back door. The woman burst in, ran to a bathroom, and locked herself in.

Minutes later, she ran out of the bathroom and attacked the man with a coffee cup. He fought her off with his cane and forced her out of the house, where police arrested her.

The unidentified suspect was remanded to a detention facility in lieu of $30,000 bail. A court date is pending. Police gave no explanation for the women’s behavior.

DALTON, GEORGIA — A missing German Shepherd was found and reunited with its Chicago family after being lost in the North Georgia woods for over four months.

On October 30, the family was visiting Dalton when their dog Leo, age 10, slipped out of a motel room and vanished. The owners remained in Dalton for two weeks searching for Leo, but finally had to return to Chicago.

According to the Atlanta-based Lost Pet Recovery Team, Leo was spotted on a residential security camera in December and was seen again in early February in the same general area. Recovery Teams put out food and installed a series of trail cameras and traps.

In early March, a trap finally snared Leo, who was in good condition. Family members have since returned to Dalton and taken Leo home.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND — An Irish pub in Nottingham has placed a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the urinal in the men’s room and invited its customers to do the right thing.

Ged Dowling, owner of Raglan Road Irish Bar, said the action was a direct response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “People come in just to use the toilet,” Dowling said.

Putin’s photo replaces one of Donald Trump, which had been in the urinal for several years.

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More favorite photos I’ve taken over the years.

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This hillside behind the Jefferson Civic Center is home to a sizable colony of groundhogs. Now that spring is here, I’m beginning to see the little guys peeking out of their hidey-holes.

In the photo above, the brownish spots are entrances to their burrow. Sentries are posted here and there to keep an eye out for perils such as me, Jake, cats, hawks, etc.

The critters are Marmota monax, aka groundhogs, aka woodchucks, which are burrowing rodents of the marmot family. They are said to be quite intelligent and have a complex social order that includes whistling to warn the colony of threats.

The hillside is about 15 feet high, providing an excellent view of the area, and some 200 yards long, almost all of it pocked with holes. A sizable colony, it seems.

I’m certainly not a threat to them, and Jake is on a leash, but they don’t know that.

The Rio Grande Rift

You may be aware that the Rio Grande flows down the center of New Mexico, dividing the state neatly in half. But did you know that the river follows a fault that began forming about 30 million years ago when the Colorado Plateau uplifted itself from the rest of the continent?

The Rio Grande Rift runs from southern Colorado to northern Mexico. Below El Paso, the rift continues south into Mexico, but the river turns east there and flows to the Gulf of Mexico as the border between Mexico and the US.

Although classified as a “narrow” rift, the fault averages about 180 miles wide. Geologists say it is expanding at a rate of about two millimeters per year.

Out of Sight

On weekends, Jake and I usually take our morning walk at one of the local schools. No people, no traffic, and Jake can go off-leash.

He doesn’t stray far, but occasionally he disappears from view for a moment, which can be worrisome. One Saturday recently at Jefferson Academy, when he was 30-40 feet ahead of me, he turned a corner, and I lost sight of him. I walked faster to catch up.

A few seconds later, I found him — surrounded by, and being petted by, a group of kids whose basketball game he had interrupted. Jake was gloriously happy.

If reincarnation turns out to be real, I want to come back as a dog.

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The first novel depicting time travel was “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain, 1889.

● Alexander the Great had a favorite horse, Bucephalus, which meant “ox-head” because of a branding mark depicting the head of an ox. Bucephalus died in battle in 326 BC. Alexander buried him with full honors and founded the city of Bucephala in Pakistan as a memorial.

● All nine species of the flowering plant Datura are poisonous if eaten and can cause fever, hallucinations, psychosis, and even death. Datura also is known as thornapple, jimsonweed, devil’s weed, and hell’s bells.

● In October 1961, the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened an exhibit featuring works by Henri Matisse, and they managed to hang one of them upside down. It remained that way for 47 days until an observant visitor informed MOMA of the error. To be fair, the work in question, “Le Bateau” (the boat) is a simple paper cutout depicting a sailboat and its reflection, so…

● The Akita dog breed originated in Japan in the 1500s. In the past, Akitas were used to hunt elk, bear, and wild boar and often were the companions of samurai warriors.

● In informal use, a jiffy is a rough measure of time that means “real quick” or “right away.” Technically, however, a jiffy is a precise unit of time: how long it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum. The answer, as determined by chemist Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875-1946) in the early 1900s, is one-trillionth of a second.

● C. S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, and John F. Kennedy all died on November 22, 1963.

● The KattenKabinet is an art museum in Amsterdam dedicated to works that depicts cats. On display are paintings, sketches, sculptures, etc. by Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rembrandt, and others. The museum was founded in 1990 by Bob Meijer in honor of his cat J. P. Morgan.

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The Questions…

1. What are the technical differences between the bodies of insects and the bodies of arachnids (spiders, scorpions, etc.)?

2. Who were Time Magazine’s first Man of the Year and Woman of the Year?

3. What two mammal species spend their entire lives in water?

4. In what country do people consume the most chocolate per capita?

5. Heineken beer was first brewed in 1873, and today, the company operates 165 breweries around the world. Where is Heineken headquartered?

The Answers…

1. Most insects have six legs, three body parts, two antennae, and sometimes wings. Arachnids have eight legs and two body parts, but neither antennae nor wings.

2. Aviator Charles Lindbergh was named the first Man of the Year in 1927, and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, was named Woman of the Year in 1936. As you may know, the award now is called Person of the Year.

3. Whales and manatees.

4. Switzerland.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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This Just In

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA — Responding to a call about a disturbance in a residential neighborhood, Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies surprised three male teenagers, who fled in different directions.

One of the teens climbed onto the roof of a house, took out a pistol, and began firing at passersby. A SWAT team cordoned off the area and kept the shooter pinned down.

After a six-hour standoff, the teen accidentally shot himself in the leg. As the SWAT team prepared to move in, a 28-year-old woman arrived on the scene in a golf cart, drunk and completely nude. She initially refused orders to leave the area, but eventually complied.

The shooter was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, felony possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest, loitering, and prowling. The naked drunk woman was charged with resisting arrest.

HAVANT, ENGLAND — A runaway dog afraid to leave a wetland area with the tide coming in was lured back to safety by a drone dangling a sausage.

Millie, a Jack Russell terrier mix, slipped out of her collar and was missing for several hours. Searchers located her on a mudflat that is submerged at high tide, but she ran from the would-be rescuers and would not leave the wetland area.

Eventually, they decided to lure Millie with food. A cooked sausage was suspended from a drone and dangled next to Millie on the mudflat. Millie followed the sausage to safety and the arms of her owner.

Members of the search and rescue team said the incident taught them an important lesson about how to approach recalcitrant canines.

SALINAS, CALIFORNIA — Fraternal twins Alfredo and Aylin Trujillo came into the world 15 minutes apart, but will celebrate their birthdays on different days, in different months, and in different years.

The twins were born at the Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. Alfredo arrived on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2021, at 11:45 PM. His sister Aylin was born on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2022, at midnight.

Nationally, about 120,000 sets of twins are born in the US each year, which is three percent of births. The odds of twins born on different days, however, is about one in two million.

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