November 29, 2009

Link Liberation

Via my fave Logcabineer, a photo essay by The Selby on a home I could move into THIS MINUTE.

Rinalia over at For the Pit Bulls has a great post on "rehabilitating" fighting dogs. Go read it. Right now. Please. I love that Rinalia doesn't just talk the talk, as they say. She actually has a rescued pit bull, the most excellent Mina [and a terrific blog].


Ranching, recreation collide in the great outdoors. If you're guessing the rancher loses, and his dogs [and many of his sheep] die as a result, you probably saw this item already over at Brent's blog. The story's a tragedy from any angle.


I'm so envious of Daniel Hernandez I could just scream.


Way cool tape art in NYC, from Indian by Design.


Nina of the Nature Remains blog is in Indiana, photographing Sandhill Cranes. Photos here, here and here. So beautiful.


How to fight. "Continue to shake it as much as you possibly can" LOLOL. H/T: Logcabineer.


The Gray Lady has 1) an article on "the urban deerslayer" [see comments here], and 2) a gear test slide show featuring shotguns. Will wonders never cease.


Last, but far from least: check out the fall colors at Indigo Hill. The joys of a 42' high birding tower...!

More coyotes: dog snatched off porch; "kid fends off pack attack with backpack"

Coyote of the First Snows, by David Cartier on Flickr.

Coyote grabs Boston Terrier from front porch as shocked owner looks on! 70-year-old sister off-roads to the rescue! Dog is saved! And the kid with the backpack is OK, too. [I swiped the post's title from commenter Mike in that same thread, because it was irresistible.]

But note: neither the Big Bear Discovery Center nor the Big Bear Lake Animal Hospital report any uptick in coyote attacks. It's the forest, for crissakes: if cats and small dogs look available, coyotes will take 'em. The local paper hasn't published any articles on coyote attacks, and the only mention I've seen of the backpack-wielding youngster was in that forum post. Not that I'm cavalier about taking the dogs outside at night, up in Big Bear. I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile, "Don't Feed the Wildlife" signs are installed in Griffith Park:
In a ceremony Monday, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge installed the first of these signs. LaBonge told those assembled that he often sees coyotes on his daily hikes through the park but never feeds them. "We just say hi to each other."
It occurs to me that while LaBonge and Br'er Coyote are enjoying their Dr. Dolittle moment, we've hit Level 6 on the Risk to Human Health and Safety scale:
According to Baker and Timm (1998), there are several signs that indicate a human health and safety risk between coyotes and humans. The following, in order of occurrence, are signs that coyotes pose a risk to human health and safety:

1. Increase in taking of pets at night.
2. Increase in observance of coyotes on streets and yards at night.
3. Observance of coyotes on streets and in parks and yards during daylight hours, in early morning and late afternoon.
4. Observance of coyotes chasing or taking pets during daylight hours.
5. Taking pets on leashes and chasing joggers, bikers, etc.
6. Observance of coyotes in and around children’s play areas and parks during mid-day.
[Source (pdf): Management of Urban Coyotes and Attacks in Green Valley, Pima County, Arizona, by C. D. Carrillo, J. Schmidt, D. Bergman, and G. Paz.]
So, is chucking a rock [or worse] at every too-close coyote the best way to keep them wild? According to two studies, once coyotes have moved onto your porch, what gets rid of them isn't guns and such — what scares them off [in SoCal, at least] is trapping:
Baker and Timm (1998) and Timm et al. (2004) noted that of all techniques used in controlling problem coyotes in southern California, trapping had the greatest observed effect of re-instilling a fear of humans into the local coyote population. When 2 to 5 coyotes were trapped in a problem locality, the remaining coyotes would often disperse. [Source (pdf).]
I love wild coyotes. I love hearing them, and I love knowing that they're playing their part in forest and foothill ecosystems. But I don't want coyotes standing outside the front door and waiting for a handout or a pet dog to grab, and I don't think anyone else in Southern California does, either.

Trouble is, the concept of "re-instilling a fear of humans into the local coyote population" is offensive to many people in SoCal cities and suburbs, no matter how much it benefits coyotes. Trapping is anathema. Putting food outside [for feral cats, in particular] won't stop anytime soon. So the problems escalate, from coyotes taking pets at night to coyotes attacking pets on leashes in broad daylight, until a child is hurt or a neighborhood's cats disappear or a pet dog is snatched from an elderly owner and killed. Then something has to be done. I don't envy the biologists charged with keeping silly people and wily coyotes safe from each other.

Coyote news [from this blog]
Coyotes at home and away [from this blog]
More on coyote bounties in Saskatchewan
Special Report: On Coyote Attacks and the Death of Canadian Folk Singer Taylor Mitchell
Urban Coyote Symposium: Papers from the Proceedings of the 12th Wildlife Damage Management Conference
Information on Urban Coyotes — both from CoyoteBytes [website last updated 1/09 (?)]

November 28, 2009

I am thankful for Chet Baker

Puppy Chet wears his lucky [GIMPshopped] Lady of Guadalupe sock. Get your own pair here.

So I spent most of my Thanksgiving vacation with a 103F fever, wondering whether I would diiiiiieee, but actually I was more worried about Chet Baker. I worry about Chet a lot, partly because I'm a worry-wart border collie person but mainly because Chet Baker is the most terrific, handsome, charming, gentlemanly and doggish Boston Terrier in the history of the planet. [I rest my case. It doesn't hurt that his human is the most excellent writer/artist/photographer/birder/blogger Julie Zickefoose.] Chet Baker is, as Julie would say, totally ossum. Who wouldn't worry if he fell off a cliff or some such terrifying thing?

Chet, like your faithful blogger, was born on December 12 — a miraculous date any way you look at it, and I'm not even going to touch that impressive risen-from-the-dead business. Just let me say that I couldn't love and worry about Chet more if he were my very own, and here is proof, or at any rate proof of what certain border collie people mean by love: a tangentially related abstract from PubMed. I also worry something awful about coyotes, which snatch innocent Boston Terriers off porches; and when Julie didn't post a word for two days after his fall and recovery, I was curled up in knots [the fever didn't help], sure that Something Had Gone Terribly Wrong.

It hadn't. Chet is fine. And Julie loves him exactly the way she should. In fact, speaking of dog people who love dogs the way they should, here's a link to the best dog story ever written. [There's some white-man's-burden stuff in there, but dog people will push it off to the side for the story's sake. Also: Garm is what people today would call a pit bull.]

In a few weeks I'll be driving to San Juan Bautista for the Shepherd's Play performed in the old mission. It's wonderful. I will light candles in the mission church for Chet and for Lily who belongs to my sis and for all the dogs I love now and have loved over the years, and I'll think about how wonderful it is to have a great dog [several, in fact] waiting for me at home. Happy Late Thanksgiving and Happy Early Birthday, Chet Baker! May you have many more, and may each be happier than the last. And Chet? Watch out for coyotes, shorty. Also, did I mention you have more faithful admirers than you'll ever know? Because you do. You totally, totally do.

November 23, 2009

1913 Craftsman, restored

This old house: saved from demolition in 1989, moved to a new site, rewired, replumbed, repainted and refinished to perfection. Photos by Christine Cotter for the L.A. Times. Read the article here.

"In the living room, plywood once covered the stained-glass windows on the fireplace wall. In this family photo, homeowner Wendy Harn's father, Don Harn, uncovers the beauty underneath."

And after:

"Since 1913, it's had many different lives," Harn says. " The windows were covered with plywood. Wainscoting was plastered over. All the bookcases and cabinetry were painted white." Warms my heart, this most excellent transformation restoration.

Leopard seal wonders WTH is wrong with puny camera-wielding creature

Click here to watch the video in all its large, HD glory. H/T: Odious and Peculiar.

November 17, 2009

Coyote news

Coyote at Canyon, by jrtchris on Flickr.

From prairie naturalist Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes comes word that the government of Saskatchewan is offering a $20 bounty on coyotes. An excerpt from Trevor's post:

The provincial Environment department has ecologists who know that this kind of measure does not stop coyotes from eating livestock. Our universities have biologists and ecologists who could explain what happens when bounty hunters start killing a predator like the coyote. As a “k-selected” species, the coyote regulates its population according to food supply and mortality rates.

If there is abundant food but adults are being killed, the survivors, who are also the more successful and wise, immediately increase the brood size and numbers of pregnant females within the pack. Trying to control coyote populations by killing them has been compared to bailing a boat with a sieve.
Then why the bounty? Trevor again:
An interesting sidelight on the coyote bounty: I have heard via the grapevine that some of the loudest complaints have come from sheep farmers north of the Qu’Appelle in the Cupar/Lipton area, where British farmers have moved in recent decades to set up farming [...] They are undoubtedly a welcome addition to the local farm community, but if they come from Scotland or England they arrive with a certain set of expectations and experiences — about wildlife and about the government’s role in making the land safe for farming.
Trevor's post reminds me of the well-known [to border collie people, anyway] description of the shepherd's dog in England, written by Johannes Caius 400 years ago:
Our shepherdes dogge is not huge, vaste, and bigge, but of an indifferent stature and growth, because it hath not to deale with the bloudthyrsty wolf, sythence there be none in England, which happy and fortunate benefite is to be ascribed to the puisaunt Prince Edgar, who to thintent ye the whole countrey myght be evacuated and quite clered from wolfes, charged & commaunded the welshemë (who were pestered with these butcherly beastes above measure) to paye him yearely tribute which was (note the wisedome of the King) three hundred Wolfes. Some there be which write that Ludwall Prince of Wales paide yeerly to King Edgar three hundred wolves in the name of an exaction (as we have sayd before.) And that by the meanes hereof, within the compasse and tearme of foure yeares none of those noysome, and pestilent Beastes were left in the coastes of England and Wales. This Edgar wore the Crown royall, and bare the Scepter imperiall of this kingdome, about the yeare of our Lorde nyne hundred fifty, nyne. Synce which time we reede that no Wolfe hath bene seene in England, bred within the bounds and borders of this countrey, mary there have bene divers brought over from beyonde the seas, for greedynesse of gaine and to make money, for gasing and gaping, staring, and standing to see them, being a straunge beast, rare, and seldom seene in England.
"... about the yeare of our Lorde nyne hundred fifty, nyne. Synce which time we reede that no Wolfe hath bene seene in England." All killed.

It gives me a certain satisfaction to know [with as much certainty as I know anything] that the coyote will escape that fate and dance on Man's grave at the end, bounty or no. Check out Camera Trap Codger's photo of the trickster: Coyote beautiful.

Coyotes at home and away

Oreo: There oughtta be a law!

Animal activists protest the barbaric murder of Oreo. Oops, my bad — had a Fox News moment there. This photo is from a larger, yet remarkably similar protest.

That's the solution, people! A law that saves dogs like Oreo from murdering murders like bloodthirsty Ed Sayres and from people like you — yes, you, and don't be showing me your kid's stitches and weeping about mental-lapse aggression because I've seen Fluffy's darling picture and I know perfectly well that Cesar Millan could have fixed your dog, no problemo! How dare you order your vet to murder Fluffy! People, Fluffy could have gone to a sanctuary to enjoy a long and happy life at the end of a catchpole, in his little kennel run! We need a law! Start a petition! Call your congressmen! Damn you murdering murderers and your Culture of Death!

[Never spent any time with Oreo, but think the fate of dogs that attack their owners/caretakers should be determined by owners/caretakers and their vets, not by popular vote. Also: there is such a thing as a life not worth living; and if I am ever in a permanent vegetative state, for doG's sake, pull the damn plug.]

November 15, 2009

While you were birding [with some link goodness]

Underwhelmed: landshark Lu [the cop-charger], Bounce, Smoke, Twig [curled up in Smoky's crate] and Gray try to curb their enthusiasm.

"It's the first weekend of Project FeederWatch! This is so totally cool and exciting! OMG, I think that's a Towhee! Guys, check it out! Guys...?"

Seriously, I'm very jazzed about Project FeederWatch and the whole citizen scientist experience. My count days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Coolest bird so far: the male American Kestrel — blue-gray, brick-red, indistinct as a watercolor — that plummeted out of nowhere and banked hard around the feeders. "The death rocket came blasting past..." There was a giant explosion of goldfinches, and I went "Oh, no!" and "OMG, where's the camera -"

The goldfinches were back within twenty minutes.

"Too bad about Fred."

"Yeah, sucks to be a passerine. You gonna finish that seed?"

My dogs ignore the feeder birds here at home, possibly because they are so used to seeing birds carrying on around feeders at the cabin. The birds in both places treat the dogs as if they were garden furniture, without actually perching on them. Thank heaven for that.

Meanwhile, some favorite links:

Photographer Monte Stinnett takes great photos of birds.

Ta-Nehisi Coates keeps getting better and better, and he was a terrific writer to start with. Check out this post on The Wilderness.

Much love and appreciation to the essential KC Dog Blog. I can't praise Brent's work enough.

For the Pit Bulls is most excellent, and now in the blogroll.

And a couple articles:

"In the last year, the French bulldog population has reached an unofficial count of 32 in the Ditmars section of Astoria, Queens."

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be. I laugh to keep from crying. H/T: Dissenting Justice.

November 13, 2009

Birds in the rain

Goldfinches gotta chow down. Note to self: do not fill feeders in the afternoon if it looks as if it might rain tonight/tomorrow. Also: get a couple of those dome thingys.

First real rain of the season. Awesome. Check out my garden:

Oh, who am I kidding [weeps]. I took that photo last weekend at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, after making out like a bandit at their annual native plant sale. I want my backyard to look like this. OK, only a bit smaller. Just give me a year or two.

November 11, 2009

Find out where the flu shots are... or aren't, as the case may be

How cool: now I know where I won't be able to get that H1N1 shot. Oh, well... it's not as if I spend every weekday in a room with dozens of kids coughing on me, or anything.

Find Nearby Flu Shots with Google Maps. H/T: Lifehack... haaack... [falls to ground coughing]

Click to embiggen:

Bad Rap celebrates double digits!

At a sake factory! I love CA.

The actual anniversary was back in April, but the party is December 5, repeat, December 5, 2009. Should be a rockin' good time. ["And we hear tell Vick dogs are busy autographing copies of Sports Illustrated mags for you to grab up"!!!] See this link for all the details, and while you're at it, grab a virtual toolbox and do your part to get the barn finished. There's a new matching challenge...!

"Recognizing Excellence in Photography through the Microscope"

John Hart: recrystallized melt mix of carbon tetra-bromide and resorcinal (33X). [Source]

The Nikon International Small World Competition first began in 1974 as a means to recognize and applaud the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope. Since then, Small World has become a leading showcase for photomicrographers from the widest array of scientific disciplines.

A photomicrograph is a technical document that can be of great significance to science or industry. But a good photomicrograph is also an image whose structure, color, composition, and content is an object of beauty, open to several levels of comprehension and appreciation.

Here are all the 2009 winners.

Below: "Patterned expression of wild-type and transgenic Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) embryos (200x)" by Alistair Boettiger of the Levine Lab at UC Berkeley.

Fruit. Fly. Embryos.

Related post:
Small, smaller, really darn small, so small it's like totally unreal

My clock's running a bit fast

The talented designers at Diamantini & Domeniconi create the coolest clocks ever. Here are three I covet:

Uomino Wall by Juan Carlos Viso.

Giove by Pascal Tarabay + Rafaelle Darra.

Arcoiris by Rafaelle Darra.

Room with a view: lookout cabins and towers

"View from the lookout cabin," Mendocino National Forest, California. Photograph by sf eyes, from Flickr.

God's country, all right.

"View to south from Kendrick Mountain Fire Lookout Tower," Arizona. Photograph by Al HikesAZ, from Flickr.

Hidden Lake Lookout, Washington. Click to embiggen. Photograph by Bmaas [see him resting above the clouds here], from Flickr.

Not a fire lookout — this is a lakeside home in Finland. I totally adore this photo. See more at Arch Daily.

BBC profiles Staffie breeder

BBC image grabbed from the Cold Wet Nose Blog.

For those who get BBC2, this Thursday you might want to check out a documentary on a litter of Staffie pups, their breeder, and their new owners:

Seven puppies are born to a first-time mother called Uggs in a cramped front room in East London. These aren't just cute and cuddly puppies - they are Staffordshire bull terrier crosses, the dogs the tabloids sometimes call 'devil dogs'. They are both one of the most sought-after breeds in the country, and perversely the most frequently abandoned. This film follows the fate of Uggs' puppies as her owner tries to find new homes for them at 300 pounds a pup.
Here's a link.

H/T to Beverley Cuddy, blogger at Cold Wet Nose and editor and publisher of Dogs Today Magazine [UK].

Veterans Day

From the poem At a Calvary Near The Ancre by Wilfred Owen, who was "killed in action at the Battle of the Sambre just a week before the war ended, causing news of his death to reach home as the town's church bells declared peace."
The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.

[Hat tip: The Edge of the American West.]

And from Andrew, though I know you've all seen it:

November 6, 2009

Paging Jonathan Safran Foer

Maybe the authors of the study should get back to us once they've given everything they own to the poor and have subsisted on nothing but fallen fruit for a few years. I keed. But the suggestion that pariah dogs are "better for the planet" than companion dogs? That's just messed up. Click to embiggen.

Are dogs really worse for the environment than SUVs?

I keep a bunch of them [dogs, not Land Cruisers] and I beg to differ. Children are worse for the environment than SUVs, not that I'm advocating shipping all kids to Mars, because then I'd be out of a job. Companion dogs make the world a better place. We need more of them.

Stray and feral cats, though, are another story. And no, I'm not just saying this because neighborhood strays are busy hunting wild birds in my backyard [or would be, if it weren't for my dogs]. I'm saying this because of a bug that kills sea otters and other marine mammals. I'm saying this because outdoor and feral cats generally have short lives marked by contagious disease and infection, and miserable deaths.

Inside cats: wonderful! My Gus [formerly feral, from the local pound] was a super terrific cat [an inside-only, non-declawed cat, for the record].

Outside cats: bad news. Feral cat colonies: don't even get me started. Best solution: trap, neuter, and adopt them out or send 'em to a sanctuary. And let me make this as clear as I can: feral cats themselves are not to blame for the problems they cause and the countless ills they suffer. That blame falls squarely on people who believe that feral cat colonies must be maintained at any cost, environmental and public health concerns be damned.

Also: if Jonathan Safran Foer ever saw what a combine does to wildlife [I've seen it], he'd never eat wheat or oats or barley again. Eating fallen fruit from native plants is the only way to go. That, and hunting.

November 5, 2009

Hen Heaven

Photo grabbed from the most excellent Design*Sponge.

Ye gods check out this Design*Sponge post on chicken coops. The green roof...! [swoon]

November 4, 2009

Irony deficiency

Can't wait for their anti-spay/neuter campaign.

There is a law pending here in California that will prevent cities and counties from passing ordinances banning medical procedures. This law goes into effect on January 1. You'd figure that politicians who let kids die on their watch would so not give a damn, right?

You would be wrong.

County Supervisors in Los Angeles have put on their righteous faces, rolled up their sleeves and drafted an ordinance reforming and streamlining child protective services once and for all opposing elective veterinary procedures that cause “unnecessary pain, anguish and permanent disability” to pets.

Elective procedures like neutering, right? No, silly.

The L.A. Supes think neutering dogs should be mandatory. Opposition to mandatory spay/neuter would require, let's see... a heightened sense of irony, under the circumstances, and a certain amount of, gosh, I dunno, research, maybe. And a degree of... literacy, reading comprehension, that kind of thing. Don't take my word for it: if you want the straight dope on spay/neuter, ask your vet. She'll take a good look at you, and if she figures you're sane, she'll pull the door closed and lower her voice and say, "Based on all the science we have, most male dogs are probably healthiest if they're not neutered."

Hear that, Villaraigosa et al? Whoops! Sorry, dudes, didn't mean to interrupt the photo op.

When you remember that Ed Boks and Judie Mancuso were able to lead the L.A. County Supervisors around by their noses, you'll understand why the Department of Children and Family Services, among other county agencies, is in such sad shape. But hey, we wrote that cat bill! Countywide epidemic of declawing stopped cold, yay us Supes!

[What's Judie Mancuso up to these days? Given the nature of her hubby's blog, I suspect she's not busy fostering abandoned pit bull puppies. Yeeesh.]