Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 19

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.   Here's our question.

A bicycle belonging to an associate math professor at Iowa Lakes Community College was repeatedly vandalized.  Who did it?

A disgruntled colleague?
Hostmaster: incorrect.
A disgruntled student?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
A spurned lover?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
A squirrel?
Hostmaster:  Correct.  Some other professor came forward with a photo of the squirrel "attacking" the bike tires.
Another professor "came forward" with a photo? 
Sounds fishy.  I think Fluffy and I got it right.
  It was a disgruntled person.
The squirrel was hired to vandalize the bike,
 then was thrown under the bus, so to speak. 

Yeah!  But I still think it was a spurned lover!
  We all know who ugly failed relationships can get!

On the other hand, photos can be doctored.
  Perhaps the photo implicating the squirrel is a cover-up
for something even more nefarious.
Could be the real culprit was a
 former student/colleague/lover of the math professor,
further embittered because this associate
 animal behaviorist professor's
 life work has been foiled by uncooperative animals.
Darn elegant solution employing a squirrel for the hit!

Haha!  I can sort of relate to wanting
 revenge against uncooperative animals!

Is that a dig?
Perhaps it was a random attack.
This math professor guy was simply unlucky.

Or maybe the math professor is a dork and
 nobody likes him.  People can be cruel.
Maybe he was the only dork who rides his
bike to school.

It's probably a "hate" crime.
  Lots of people hate math!

Was the squirrel allowed to make a statement
 or did they convict solely on a photograph? 
The squirrel does not appear to have been
 given an opportunity to offer his side of the story.
 Meanwhile the math professor now
 parks his bicycle inside the building.
Round 19
Fluffy/Molly  9
Bryan/Cyndi   9

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not all Dog Walkers are the Same

Obviously.  Not all dog walkers are the same.  Not all grocery store clerks are the same either.  Nor are all plumbers or accountants.

Now, what brought on this tirade, you ask? 

Dogs are always on my mind.
Halloween is coming.
An old customer rehired me to walk her dog.

All this brought to mind something that happened a few weeks ago.
I was shopping at my local Farmer's Market, as I do on most Saturday mornings during the growing season.  From across the cavernous room I heard a voice, "hey Lynn!"  There, on the other side of the building, stood my hairdresser. I made my way over there and learned that that morning she was standing in for her sister who sells grape leaves and hummus and other delicious things at the Farmer's Market. (I must confess, I'd never noticed that booth before - probably because I'm always focused on lettuce and whatever berry is in season.)  After we exchanged greetings, my hairdresser turned to acknowledge a woman standing just behind her.  She said, "Poopsie is a dog walker too."  

I smiled at Poopsie and said hello.

Poopsie narrowed her eyes at me and said nothing. 

She then thrust a binder under our noses.  Poopsie pointed to photos displayed on the pages of the binder.  The photos featured dogs wearing reindeer antlers, clown outfits, stuffed pumpkin suits, pirate ensembles and assorted other clothing and accessories.

Poopsie squealed about the cuteness of it all.

My hairdresser and I muttered in unison, "poor dogs."

And now for an important announcement.

When hiring a dog walker, after you've checked references and compared rates and whatnot, please check the Cuteness Factor of that dog walker.   Therein lies a big clue regarding compatibility.

This message brought to by the management of Bad Dog Ranch.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 18

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Since actual Pop Culture often bores me, our question is shall we say, anthropological.  Well, it serves nicely anthropological in our weird little anthropomorphic world.  Anyway, I find it mildly interesting, and our contestants might too- not that that matters to me, of course.

Now, our question.  Why do dogs walk in circles before they lay down?

To flatten a spot in the grass- it's
 an innate response..

Hostmaster:  that's a popular theory which I deem incorrect.

They're twerking!
Sigh.  Our pop culture hiatus
 lasted all of 5 seconds.
Hostmaster:  Too true, Bryan.  That is incorrect, Cyndi.
To smush down or fluff up the area
  to make it more comfortable to sleep on.
Hostmaster:  sounds reasonable but is incorrect.
You're a bird, how do you know how a dog
 gets comfortable, for crying out loud!
Hostmaster:  don't get snippy with me, sister.  I don't have to know.  I'm running this show.  What I say goes.  Now, back to it.
They turn in a circle to check
 for danger on all sides. 
Hostmaster:  very sensible.  Incorrect.
Preferring to sleep with their
nose to the wind, they circle
 to determine wind direction.
Hostmaster:  interesting.  Incorrect.
They turn around to orient
themselves to curl up to sleep.
Hostmaster:  that is an intelligent answer.  I'm proud of you Cyndi.  Still, I say it's incorrect.
They do it to dig a hole.  A hole is cooler when
 the weather is hot and warmer when it's cold. 
Hostmaster: makes sense but incorrect.
Why don't you just admit that you
 don't know the answer!  Such adaptive behaviors
might remain in a species indefinitely
 and begin from a source we can never determine.
 This isn't something that can be studied to produce hard data.
  It's all theory.  

Hostmaster:  correct.
So ends this round of Pop Culture Frenzy.

Round 18
Fluffy/Molly   8
Bryan/Cyndi   9

Friday, October 11, 2013

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of the North American woodpeckers.  Due to his size, he is able to access food in places a larger bird cannot.  For example, from the stalk of a Yucca plant, as seen below.

This Downy Woodpecker is using his straight chisel-like bill to penetrate and probe into holes, galls and other soft areas of the stalk, plucking out insects and insect larvae.
Downy Woodpeckers also eat berries, acorns, seeds and grains.  They enjoy suet and black sunflower seeds that people put out for them.
About the size of a sparrow, Downy Woodpeckers are 6-7 inches long.  (Fun fact!  The black and white feather pattern of each individual bird is unique, sort of like fingerprints.)  The male has a red mark on the back of his head.  
Habitat:  open woodlands, among deciduous trees, orchards, weedy areas, parks, backyards, found in most of the US and Canada.
Though usually year round residents of their territory,  occasionally the Downy Woodpecker will migrate.  Sometimes one of a pair will migrate and the other will not.  The pairs aren't close during non breeding times.  In winter, many Downy Woodpeckers join a mixed species flock. 
In spring, the birds pair up.  You'll hear drumming on trees and a whinnying call.  These sounds are the pair communicating with each other.  Indeed, the drumming is not about pecking for food -they don't make much noise doing that- they drum to make noise.  Other courtship activity involves flying between trees together in butterfly fashion.
The nest is a cavity in dead trees or in dead sections of live trees.  (It's easier to carve out a nest in soft or fungus-infected wood.) 
clutch size:  3-8 eggs
incubation:  12 days
nestling:  18-21 days
fledgling:  up to 21 days
Number of broods:  1  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Breed Profile: Border Collie

Sometime during the 1800's, in the area between Scotland and England, they say a sheepdog named Hemp sired the first litter of what would become the Border Collie breed.

Unlike other sheepdogs who move a herd with barking or nipping, the Border Collie "gives eye".  Through the power of staring, the dog intimidates the sheep into moving.

In addition to the eye, the Border Collie has another distinctive feature:  the crouch.  The dog moves low to the ground in somewhat cartoon sneaking up fashion.  The crouch and the stare and the work ethic of the Border Collie make him very good at his job.

The Border Collie of today maintains that serious work ethic.  Thus, he is still used to herd animals.  For those who don't have any sheep or ducks to herd, the Border Collie's talents translate elsewhere, such as flyball, Frisbee, agility and obedience competitions.

Failure to give a Border Collie plenty to keep his athleticism and intelligence challenged may result in him taking matters into his own hands, so to speak.  He might decide to rearrange the furniture in the living room including moving around the stuffing from the couch cushions.  He might figure out how to open a kitchen cupboard and help himself to a box of mac and cheese.  Worse case, he may take up a neurotic repetitive past time such as pulling all the hair off his tail or pacing till he wears a groove into the floor.

Some Border Collie Facts

-  weight:  42-52 pounds

-  height:  18-22 inches

-  life span:  12-15 years

- coat:  double, yearly shedding.  Brushing a couple times a week keeps the coat in good shape

- coat colors:  pretty much all colors, solid, bi color, tricolor, merle

Border Collie Manifesto

if you want a blithe extrovert, get a Golden Retriever

-  if you need some critters moved or a ball caught, I'm always ready.  Now.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 17

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Let's get on with it.

Curious about what the people of Easter Island ate for dinner, researchers examined the dental records of some 41 skeletons that had been dug up and stored.  Isotopes in the dentin of dead people's teeth reveal what the people ate before they died.  Accepted speculation regarding the skeletons' diet includes sweet potatoes and bananas.   
What did the folks on Easter Island eat for protein?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
Hostmaster:  that's sick.  And happily, incorrect.  
Each other?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.  
Correct.  Well, close enough.  It seems they mainly ate rats.  Researchers theorize that early inhabitants may have brought rats with them from other places and then raised them for food, like pigs or cows. 
So ends another round of Pop Culture Frenzy.  Who's up for a plate of Rat Tartare?
Round 17
Fluffy/Molly  8
Bryan/Cyndi   8