Dogs in the Basement, Revisited

Just when I thought my nightmares were under control, I find this: a woman in Glen Burnie, Maryland, named Kelly Schreck (her last name, appropriately, is the German word for “terror,” akin to the Yiddish word שרעק, meaning “fear”), who last Thursday was sentenced in one of the most horrific cases of animal abuse I’ve ever read about.

I have no doubt whatsoever that she was clinically depressed, as she claimed. She suffered two miscarriages, and while she was in jail (I don’t know how she ended up there), her husband served her divorce papers. So she probably flipped out a bit. I know a thing or two about depression, and how devastating it can be, how you can shut down emotionally.

But when you read the details of the case, I think you’ll agree that the punishment—three years in prison plus three years of probation—is more than reasonable. The authorities had intervened with Schreck several times previously for animal regulation infractions, but the scene that greeted an officer last June 13, responding to an anonymous tip, was beyond gut-wrenching. Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Depression | 6 Comments

This Guy Has Been Singing All Night Long

No, this isn’t my video, but this fellow’s song is remarkably similar to the one my little friend has been singing outside my window since 2 a.m.

And he’s still singing, eight hours later!

One of the few real joys of living in Florida.

Categories: Animals, Life in Florida, Nature | 2 Comments

I’ll Be Seeing You

Anyone care for a lovely little duet?

Categories: Animals, Humor | 3 Comments

There Are Not Enough Words

“Green Porno” is a series of very short films conceived, written, co-directed by and featuring Isabella Rossellini. Inspired by the amazing and often bizarre sexual practices of insects and other creatures, these eight films are both comical and insightful studies of the curious ways a variety of earth’s tiny critters “make love.”

Green Porno” premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. View it now on the Sundance Channel website.

Categories: Animals, Humor, Sex and Sexuality | 1 Comment

Dogs in the Basement

One of my recurring nightmares involves a scenario in which there are several dogs in my care, usually one large and several smaller ones, which are kept in my basement. I suddenly realize with horror that I have forgotten to feed or let them out for days and days. (My house doesn’t have a basement in real life, and I currently don’t have any dogs.)

They have never barked or done anything to remind me they’re there; the realization just dawns on me suddenly, and I rush down to find them in various states of neglect. Sometimes they’re just really hungry and anxious (and messy); sometimes they’re doing rather poorly and need medical help; once, I remember, I found a skeleton wearing a dog collar.

Now, I am not a neglectful pet owner. The dogs I’ve had have been very well cared for, very much a part of my daily life. All would have liked go on longer and more frequent walks, but otherwise they were healthy, happy, and loved very much.

I suspect I have these dreams when I’m behind in my client work, or am feeling there are things I’m not paying proper attention to in my life; the basement symbolizes the unconscious. Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Dreams, Psychology | 12 Comments

Eight Reasons Not to Take the Kids to the Zoo

Categories: Animals, Humor | 2 Comments

What’s for Dinner?

You say “central Florida” to most people, and they think of Orlando. Say “Orlando” and people think “Disney.” Fair enough. But most of the fun happens on the two coasts. Well, not that much fun. It’s generally the cultural equivalent of Wal-Mart around here.

I take solace in the abundant bird life. Northern Mockingbirds sing almost year-round, even at night. Black Vultures, those amazingly graceful fliers, soar on warm thermals. A Red-shouldered Hawk comes to visit fairly often. Water birds are everywhere: White Ibis, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, Anhinga, Wood Stork. I’ve even seen a Red-footed Booby or two. They make the nine-month long summer a tad more bearable.

Not all of the wildlife is as much fun, however. Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Life in Florida | 3 Comments

How to Sing Like a Planet

Scientists say the Earth is humming. Not just noise, but a deep, astonishing music. Can you hear it?

By Mark Morford
San Francisco Gate

This is the kind of thing we forget. This is the kind of thing that, given all our distractions, our celeb obsessions and happy drugs and bothersome trifles like family and bills and war and health care and sex and love and porn and breathing and death, tends to fly under the radar of your overspanked consciousness, only to be later rediscovered and brought forth and placed directly in front of your eyeballs, at least for a moment, so you can look, really look, and go, oh my God, I had no idea.

The Earth is humming. Singing. Churning out a tune without the aid of battery or string or wind-up mechanism and its song is ethereal and mystifying and very, very weird, a rather astonishing, newly discovered phenomena that’s not easily analyzed, but which, if you really let it sink into your consciousness, can change the way you look at everything.

Indeed, scientists now say the planet itself is generating a constant, deep thrum of noise. No mere cacophony, but actually a kind of music, huge, swirling loops of sound, a song so strange you can’t really fathom it, so low it can’t be heard by human ears, chthonic roars churning from the very water and wind and rock themselves, countless notes of varying vibration creating all sorts of curious tonal phrases that bounce around the mountains and spin over the oceans and penetrate the tectonic plates and gurgle in the magma and careen off the clouds and smack into trees and bounce off your ribcage and spin over the surface of the planet in strange circular loops, “like dozens of lazy hurricanes,” as one writer put it. Continue reading

Categories: Earth-based Religions, Nature, Spirituality, Worthwhile Reading | 1 Comment


Last night I put Mom to bed, and went off to my office to watch the season finale of Torchwood, a sci-fi TV series I’ve been following. Essentially, Torchwood is about a pseudo-governmental agency dealing with an interstellar rift or wormhole, one end of which is in Cardiff Bay, Wales, while the other end floats freely through timespace and attracts all sorts of unsavory creatures and items. It’s rather like the Hellmouth idea in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In this rather silly episode, the rift has been fully opened, and a gigantic demonic creature has emerged and is wreaking havoc on the populace, as gigantic demonic creatures are wont to do, so the series hero decides to sacrifice himself by zapping the monster with bioelectric energy. The energy is building and building, the hero is getting weaker and weaker, the monster is screaming and flailing, and just as the electricity reaches its peak—

BOOM! The house shakes, the windows rattle, the lights go out, the smoke detectors go off, the computer’s UPS starts beeping, and Mom’s oxygen concentrator starts sounding its high-pitched alarm to indicate a loss of power. Something has exploded outside, very close by.

Clearly all that electrical zapping on television had rather far-reaching effects. Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Fun | 9 Comments

Surfer Dude Stuns Physicists with Theory of Everything

An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists.

by Roger Highfield, Science Editor
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt).

In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. “Being poor sucks,” Lisi says. “It’s hard to figure out the secrets of the universe when you’re trying to figure out where you and your girlfriend are going to sleep next month.”

The E8 pattern (click to enlarge), Garrett Lisi surfing (middle), and out of the water (right)

Despite this unusual career path, his proposal is remarkable because, by the arcane standards of particle physics, it does not require highly complex mathematics. Continue reading

Categories: Nature, The Medicine Wheel, Time and Space | 9 Comments

“It’s Raining Cows Out Here, Man”

By now, you probably know that I have a thing for cows. I don’t know why I find them so endearing, or funny, or amazing, but I do. I love cow mythology. I love cow photos. I especially love cow jokes.

My favorite cow joke, from my friend Tim (at right, in all his glory):

A man is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. “I can talk!” shouts the voice on the other end of the line.

“How nice for you,” says the man. “It’s three o’clock in the morning, you jerk,” and slams down the receiver.

Five minutes later, the phone rings again. “I can talk!” says the gleeful voice.

“Seriously, I’m exhausted, I just want to sleep,” the man says. “Please don’t call back here again.” Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Humor | 9 Comments

Queen of the Night

On the third of November, autumn finally came to central Florida. We’ve had a break in the great summer heat for a month or so, but not so great as to be able to dispense with air conditioning. Just enough so that the air conditioner is actually able to maintain the setting we choose, instead of fighting the heat and losing by several degrees all day long. I have actually begun to use the oven again, something that is unthinkable much of the summer.

When I lived in Maryland, my birthday in late October was pleasantly cool, and Halloween a week later was frequently cold enough that I could see my breath when I went out trick-or-treating. When I lived in Vermont, October 1 was generally peak leaf-peeping season, and Halloween was often very chilly indeed. Here in Florida, my birthday was warm and humid. And quite dull.

This morning the air was cool and dry, and I was able to open all the doors and windows and allow the house to breathe a bit. What joy! It stayed in the mid-70s all day, and as I write this (at 9:30, the night before Daylight Saving Time ends), it’s down to 64 degrees.

More wonderful yet, the Night-blooming Jasmine suddenly came into bloom, and the fragrance is intoxicating. I just went out and plucked off a few stems so that Mom could enjoy it (she’s on oxygen therapy, which dulls her sense of smell a bit, but up close and personal, these blooms are so amazingly fragrant that they’re a tad overwhelming for me).

Cestrum nocturnum, also known as Night-blooming Cestrum, Lady of the Night, Night-blooming Jessamine, and Raat ki Rani (“princess of the night”) in Urdu and Hindi. Its aroma is sweet, heady, powerful. The flowers are widely used throughout South Asia for use in perfumes, medicinal preparations, and religious ceremonies. Continue reading

Categories: Nature | 5 Comments

Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work

Published: October 13, 2007

OSLO, Oct. 12 — The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Al Gore, the former vice president, and to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its work to alert the world to the threat of global warming.

The award is likely to renew calls by some of Mr. Gore’s supporters for him to run for president in 2008, joining an already crowed field of Democrats. Mr. Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, has said he is not interesting in running but has not flatly rejected the notion.

Mr. Gore “is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted,” the Nobel citation said. The United Nations committee, a network of 2,000 scientists, has produced two decades of scientific reports that have “created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” the citation said. Continue reading

Categories: Environment, Politics | 1 Comment

Existential Wonder

A couple of weeks ago, Adamus told me he had gotten a dog at the pound, a Lab mix named Dusty. He said I should definitely meet her. Cool with me, I adore dogs.

Yesterday he brought her over. I gasped when she walked through the front door. It was my Goldie (that’s her in the picture).

Yes, my dog who died last year.

This is Goldie in a new body. Slightly smaller, but very similar build. Identical face and smile. Darker coat. Same tail.

OK, I can cope with outward similarities and chalk it up to the breed, though Lab-Whippet mixes are surely not too common.

But when she got in, she immediately jumped up and started kissing me insistently on the mouth. Then she stopped and rolled at my feet, the way Goldie did. Then, when I was sitting down, she stood and put her paws on my shoulders and kept staring into my eyes, then nuzzled me and kissed me more. As if to say, “You remember me, don’t you?” Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Buddhism, Death, Time and Space | 9 Comments

Abandoned Monkey Finds Love with a Pigeon

From the London Daily Mail:

They’re an odd couple in every sense, but a monkey and a pigeon have become inseparable at an animal sanctuary in China. The 12-week-old macaque — who was abandoned by his mother — was close to death when it was rescued on Neilingding Island, in Guangdong Province.

After being taken to an animal hospital his health began to improve but he seemed spiritless — until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon.

The blossoming relationship helped to revive the macaque who has developed a new lease of life, say staff at the sanctuary. Continue reading

Categories: Animals | 6 Comments

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