Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Visit

It would be nice if fortune would gift us with a tracking call in the morning.  The rain stopped this evening.  It's not too cold.  It is a weekend.  The odds are in our favor.

In our control tonight, however, is the opportunity to be a gift to others.

I will not pretend to understand the joy dogs bring to our lives.  Understanding is overrated anyway.

What I am capable of understanding is that hospitalized kids can use all the joy we can give them.

Sparta is happy to do that.  I'm just along to open doors, answer questions, and throw the ball down the hallway.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bad Ideas for the Weekend

Who says I am too old to contemplate three bad ideas in one weekend?


Are all songwriters liars or are all liars just aspiring songwriters?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Calls you can't take

Last night came the first snow, and this morning my first deer call because of a blood trail lost beneath its melting.

A tough 10-year old girl was hunting in the spitting rain and snow with her Dad.  Her shot landed just behind the shoulder and 2/3rd's up.

I can't make it out for the track.  I was asleep by the first time he called.  I woke up to the phone ringing again but by the time I account for the drive, there just isn't enough time before I have to head into work tonight.

All I could tell him is to tell his daughter that the tracker is lucky to meet a lot of hunters, but being out in the rain and the snow, she's probably the toughest hunter I've heard of this year.

I am thinking for that in 2016, the rut would be a good time to spend down any vacation hours I'd be at risk of loosing.

A Really Loyal Dog

Color Cordinated

I suppose my dream job would be that of a tracker, working in conjunction with a group of hunting guides.  I'd have to live somewhere with a long enough season to make the work worth while, but I am pretty fond of this place.

It also doesn't sound like something that would allow a guy to help his kids with college.

Still, when this is how I get dressed in the morning, I know it will be a good day.  My identity and my pay job are not the same, does not mean that I am not living a really, really good life.

Nail Trimming

Among the unintended benefits of adopting a more active lifestyle and active dogs to share it with: I've never trimmed a nail on one of the terriers.

Perhaps when they get older and slower, but not yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Buck Found, Lessons Learned

When I was ten my father lost a hundred dollar bet to my mother.

In 1983, that was a lot of money.

She was going to let him off.  I will let you keep the hundred dollars if you will just say, "Honey, you were right.  I was wrong.  I will try to keep that in mind in the future."

Dad thought for a few seconds, "I think I'd rather give you the hundred bucks."

Out of Sunday's three tracks, the first not-found buck bothered me the most.

Something did not add up.
Something just wasn't right.
The still quiet voice said "It is here if you would see."

I was ready to blame the dog for not being capable.  Maybe.  She's still green.  She's going through a bit of "pup-a-lescence," but I am the big ape with a little bit of poetry in him.  It is my job to bring the value-added problem solving.

Regardless,  I am thrilled to say the buck has been found.

The landowner found the buck and called the game warden.
The game warden called the hunter and asked him to describe the rack.
After passing the description test the warden invited the hunter to come out and collect his deer.

Junior collects his buck

The meat was past saving, but the hunter was still ready to throw his tag on it.

What I got wrong:

  • It was not a brisket shot.  He shot it in the hind quarter and the arrow went out through the belly.  That is why we had such a great blood trail.
  • At one time I walked within 20 yards of clear line of sight of that dead deer.  No brush, no saplings, nothing but mature canopy.  My head was down looking for blood.  He'd bled that much, it was open forest, I should have walked through another time with head up.

What I got right:

  • It had lost enough blood to die.  I doubted myself by the end of the trail but that deer was dead.
  • After we loss the trail, my best guess was that the deer went into the near-by treeline.  To be fair, after one restart, that is where Sparta took me too.  A better handler might have let her lead him farther despite the absence of confirmation.
  • I asked Junior to drop me a note if the deer showed up.  I am so glad he did.

What was awesome:

  • The landowner made an effort to find who had killed the deer.  A lot of people would have just cut off the head, saved the skull, or cut the antlers.
  • That buck went about seventy yards after it stopped bleeding.  Imagine you've lost enough blood that you're no longer bleeding, then walk 70 more yards.  "'Dem deer are tough."

Biggest Lessons:

  • Under similar circumstances, walk through one more time with your head up.
  • Remember how much blood that deer loss.  Next time add another 70 - 100 yards.
  • Remember, there are some awesome people in the world who go beyond fair chase.

Always be ready to say "I was wrong and I will try to keep that in mind in the future."

A Happy Dog is a Working Dog

If you get a terrier, you don't have to hunt it, but you better be willing to work it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sparta gets a Win

Artemis: Sometimes a homo sapien just needs to whisper a prayer somewhere.
What does it take to get two men in their forties, who've met just an hour before, to embrace in full scale man-hug?  A hunter finding a deer that he had feared was lost.  A tracker gets to see his dog work.

We are homo sapien.  200,000 years of evolution made us this way.  We are hunters.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Saturday night a neighbor, the father of my oldest son's friend, gave me the number of a gentleman in need of a tracking dog.  A few text messages later and I had arranged to meet the hunter the next morning.  A shot to the lower chest: lots of blood that ended in a clover field, fat found along the trail.

Arriving Sunday morning, I got pretty excited.  I had Sparta start the trail near the beginning because even though the trail started heavy, we were going through some tall grass and a small wetland area.  I prejudged the situation thinking it was a strong possibility that the buck had back tracked from the hunter's point of loss.

I wanted to check and mark any place Sparta wanted to go off the obvious trail to look for smaller bits of sign.

It was a clear trail and Sparta followed it well for close to a mile.  I marked a couple of spots to investigate later but as we exited the cover into a harvested/plowed corn field, I began to doubt by thesis.  The deer continued to bleed as heavily as before.  Unless he stepped in his own footsteps on the way back, it would be difficult to see how he could backtrack without leaving evidence.

About forty yards into the clover field, the blood quickly reduced to nothing.

Sparta led me another 100 yards parallel to the corn field toward some wooded cover, but I never found another bit of evidence to point to.  The hunter had to leave for a confirmation and party.  I spent another hour or two circling the clover field looking for sign.

I began to doubt myself.  If there is any problem with a dog, it is with the owner/trainer.  I was entertaining the idea of pulling her from active service to put more time into training.  The situation did not make sense to me at the moment.

Synthesis: the deer stopped running and had lost a fair amount of blood.  Both worked together to lower its blood pressure.  I am told that a brisket wound can bleed profusely, like when a person gets a cut to the head, but unless the arrow gets to the heart/lungs/artery are often non-fatal.

Another call came in.  The hunter said he honestly could not make out the point of impact.  He described a mile long trail through swamp and field.  I confess I like him, even over the phone.  So I explained it sounded like a bit of a long-shot but I was willing to give it a try and we made arrangements to meet.

The hunter and his tracking party were Amish.  I was impressed at the meager blood trail they had been following.  

They were, hands down, the most patient, most efficient, and most accurate sight trackers I have ever met.  I tip my hat to them and the effort they put forth.

I was able to take them another two hundred yards: though each time is was they who pointed out the visible blood.  The deer went into a tall grassy area and I could only guess about which way he went out.  The area had been so think with deer since the night before that I could almost smell them.

I huddled up the team.  They knew the score.  They practically completed my sentences at every turn.

Daniel: Was the blood that color the entire length of the track?
Hunter: Yes it was.  Yes it was.  I must have hit it in muscle.
D: Did you ever found a wound bed?
H: No, he was able to keep going the entire time.
"Work 'em hard; treat 'em like heroes."
D: It has been a pretty straight track, hasn't it?
H: It has.  We're only, I'd say, 100 yards off of due east from where I shot it.  He is going back to his core area.  He is probably going to live.
D: I think you're right.  You did show me that area where he ran around in circles as if chasing his tail and you haven't found the arrow.  If I had to guess I'd say a shoulder or high neck shot.

I really liked those guys.  Humility kept the hunter from talking about it but I am thinking that must have been some buck to get them to work that hard and then call me in.

Synthesis: I should have done more to dissuade the gentlemen from having me come out.  They had buck fever, I had enough information that, had I thought rationally about it, would have assumed that the deer had been muscle shot and would survive.  Still, I am the better for having met them.

While I'd been out, two more calls had come in.  They arrived at about the same time.  With three hours of daylight left to us, I called the one closest to my current location.

Artemis, I whispered, let it be a gut shot.  We could really use a good, smelly, gut shot.

Gut shot.

I'd never run Sparta on three tracks in one day.  It had been eight hours since we left home, but Sparta needed a win.  Let me be honest, I was projecting.  I needed a win.

We arrive, introduced Sparta to the hunter and his girlfriend (I learned that with the Amish group, Sparta gets distracted if she smells/sees someone she hasn't met) and got to work.  Sparta ran a track about 30 yards out to the hunter's last blood and then forward.

Even as we moved forward I noticed, the hunter and his girlfriend were being more careful at trying to stay out of the scent line than even I would be: props.

My emotions were a mixture of hope and doubt.  We were surrounded by wooded housing development.  You could only see one set of neighbors but the sounds were everywhere: four-wheelers, joggers, kids enjoying the last evening of a weekend, it was distracting to me.  Sparta must have been overwhelmed.  Then she was spooked by a neighbor's 3-D deer target.  This environment was way outside our training rubric and it showed.

Then, for the first time that day I got to yell it, "Blood!" ~80 yards past the hunter's loss of track, with the hunter and his girlfriend still 40 yards behind me.  A small pool of blood, but a lot more than we'd seen so far.  Sparta led me on, more blood, more blood, and then nothing.

I restarted her again.  I knew she was growing irritated.  She hates being re-started.  She was tired of this game.  She began to grab at the tracking leash, growling and tugging.  I pulled her aside for some play.  I put her on her walking leash.  Five minutes and nothing was working.  I was afraid she was going to go "the union rules state" on me with half of the most probable track we'd had all day only half-finished.

Out of desperation I pulled out the best idea I had left.  I picked her up and cradled her on her back like a baby.  I scratched.  I baby-talked.  I nuzzled.  I did everything I could to communicate love, trust, and authority without a care in the world what any observer might think.

She started to lick my face.  I put her down and we got back to work.

Giving me strong indication that she was on the trail we went forward and then it happened: blood, blood, blood: a  blood trail as obvious as the one earlier in the morning into pine saplings about eight foot tall.  The hunter and I were agreed that he should get his bow, noc an arrow, and track forward alone for a short-time.

The deer ought to be dead, but it is possible the buck hadn't read that book.

He got to a point where the cover was too thick to shoot so he motioned us forward.  With Sparta in the lead, we crept forward.  "Deer!" I shouted.  Hugs ensued.  Pictures were taken.  Sparta got some bit of liver, heart, and a bony piece of leg for the drive home.

The hunter got his deer.

I got to put away some of that nagging doubt.  Sparta and I are bringing value to hunters.  We can continue to train and hone our craft in the knowledge that while we might not yet be the A-team, we are a team, and this is what we do.

Synthesis: I do love me a good smelly gut shot and a hunter with enough foresight to back out and let us do our thing.  The deer was angling away.  He nicked the liver and one lung.  Deer bled to death internally, from the combination of internal wounds.

Happy Hunter, Happy Dog, Happy Tracker


Dog-Person Privilege:

I can use the descriptor  "bitch problems" without being sexist.

Methane Belching Hydro

Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions? 
Scientists are searching for answers to that question, as they study how much methane is emitted into the atmosphere from man-made reservoirs built for hydropower and other purposes. Until recently, it was believed that about 20 percent of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs. 
New research suggests that figure may be much higher than 20 percent, but it’s unclear how much higher because too little data is available to estimate. Methane is about 35 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide over the span of a century.

Read it here:

The world is complex.  Everything you do to the environment sets off a cascade of unintended consequences.  When you create big pools of water, some plants live and other plants die.  When you change the course of rivers, some species will thrive, others will suffer.  When you dam a river, you create the circumstances where silt will collect.

When you change the visible environment, you change the invisible environment.
You can either refuse to do anything, and suffer the consequences or you can do, learn, and understand you'll need to respond to the unintended consequences.

Global warming is probably a reality.  It probably will not bring the apocalypse.  Acting as if we can live in a technologically advanced world without having an impact on the world is a fantasy born of naivety and ideology.

Best we begin to discuss the achievable: responding to the changes we can expect and building the infrastructure which improves economic and social flexibility to respond to what we can not predict. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bear Fat Potatoes for Breakfast

I can discern a small difference cooking with bear lard, as opposed to the sheep lard I have used for years.  Cooking in bear fat, however sound cooler.

I don't hunt bear, at least not yet.  A friend does, however, and only a couple members of his party make use of the fat.  He brings me fat, I give him a cut of the lard, bingo, you have an example of emergent order.  We are an economy.

The potatoes were purchased a year ago and have done well in our root cellar.  Monday I'll make the trip out to Nuto Farm in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, to pick up 500 pounds for the next year.

According to Northern Plains Potato Growers, that makes my family above average.

We also pick up a year's worth of onions and six months worth of sweet potatoes.  We'd buy them for the whole year but, despite trying a couple of different storage options, I can't yet get them to keep beyond six months.

Then, a Miracle

Saturday, October 24, 2015


From an early age she learned how to keep the boys mesmerized.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Man of the Hour

Really Honey, this might be an example of false choice in action.

Situational Awareness

On one of our regular walks through Minneapolis/St. Paul, we came across this site: a busted bait station with spilled poison beside it.

What did the busting?  I would guess raccoon.  Did they consume enough to kill them?  It depends upon how many bandits were involved and how much poison was there when they opened it.

If their carcass was eaten by a raptor?  A fox?

I saw it before the dogs.  What if it had been found by the food focused cur of some graduate student using a retractable leash while staring at their phone?

We were in one of those "empty" urban areas, the kind of place where you sometimes see dogs off-lead.

Boom: a dead dog or, at least, a heft vet bill.

Anyway, I disposed of the poison and will walk that way again next week.  If we find the scene again, we'll pitch the whole thing in the trash.

Rats are a problem, but if you can not handle the problem responsibly, maybe you better pay someone to do it for you?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Winter is Coming

Winter is coming and I get an evolutionary urge, but I never seem to go.

Keep Calm

Hunters: Police Thyselves!

I get the sentiment.  I share the sentiment that motivates this kind of thinking, but this kind of thinking has some important faults.

The fact is we who know about hunting are the best informed to police hunting.

There are people who will, under the guise of hunting, who will engage in objectionable practices: the abuse of game animals or hunting dogs, damage relationships with landowners or others who use our public lands, or otherwise tread upon the best traditions of the American hunter.

Most hunters want to do what is best for the sport and the environment.  A few are assholes.

Mistakes can be made through ignorance, and we need to educate one another.  Assholes need to find themselves confronted and, if necessary, ostracized or, if the law has been violated, turned into the proper authorities.

I don't coon hunt, but I stand with the ethical coon hunter.

I don't predator hunt, but I stand with ethical predator hunters.

I don't trophy hunt, but I stand with ethical trophy hunters

You get the idea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

That still quiet voice

One part of my youth that was not mis-spent was the hours spent watching Magnum PI.

It taught me to listen to that still quiet voice that tells you something does not add up, that the first answer should be rejected, that a life hangs in the balance of listening to the subconscious which sees what you can not quite yet articulate.

The life at risk might not be your own.

Just Joe being Joe

After Jim Webb, Joe Biden was the Donk most likely to get my vote in 2016.

Over the course of two days I discover I won't be able to cast a primary ballot for either one.

It doesn't mean I'll default for the Pachyderm candidate.  I can always go Libertarian, Green, just write in "Charlie Brown," but it does mean I am kindof waiting to see if the Republicans, through their nomination process, shoot themselves in the head or just the foot.

What you can get away with so long as you're not a Republican.

Moving Plants

Is there anything more human than propagating plants?
Dog is my co-pilot.
As we have been establishing some pasture near the house we'd used the front yard as pasture for the sheep.  Early this spring, however, it became evident that this was no longer necessary and i would be able to make the front yard look much more like a front yard.

The oldest child is more than old enough to start using a lawn mower come next year and I am anxious to see some blooms from the front window.

Thankfully our friends over at Lostview Farm had some perennials that needed to be thinned and split.  

Other people in the area, thanks to Facebook, are going to allow me to drive over and dig up suckers from their Elderberry patch. 

Giant Hyssop to cover a retaining wall.
Along with hunting, moving and planting are one of the times that I feel the most human.  Long before the cultivation of annual grains, we acted in agricultural ways.  We burned prairie, we sowed seeds, for future generations, thinned out trees to help the plants we found useful.  

I confess I favor aggressive plants, mostly because I hate weeding.  I am also not that good at nursing along ailing plants.  

Sedum in front of the wood shed
Plant it, forget it, use a lawn mower to keep it from taking over too much of the yard, that is my plan.  

That is why I will be putting sunchokes in the ground later this week, as well as some walking onions.  

All in all, it will be a great adventure.  Hopefully I'll have some blooms to show in the spring and a regular cornucopia of blossoms in two years time.

Asters, Giant Hyssop, and Coneflower right next to the deck.

Train a child

More mornings than not my bride gets the kids off to school.  About eight mornings a month, I get the privilege.

After chores, breakfast, and piano practice we have about five minutes before the bus shows up.  I try to put that five minutes to good use.

Last year we spent time talking about the classical virtues and what it means to be "an excellent student, an excellent friend, and an excellent citizen."

This year we're talking about logical fallacies or, as we talk about it around the table, thinking mistakes.  I found a poster to help guide our discussion.  Print the free handout or buy your poster here.

To date the most interesting discussion surrounded the idea of "appeal to authority."  It brought up how a Christian might find the Bible personally authoritative, but it does no good to appeal to that authority to someone who does not share that personal commitment.  We also discussed that when Mom or Dad are handing out chores, we're not making a logical argument.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Colonial Thinking

Let us thank the laws of physics and economics that it would be expensive to ship midwestern water to other parts of the country.  Otherwise, we'd have a fight on our hands.
Some scientists call the Great Lakes the United States’ greatest natural resource.
So why can’t the Southwest, the most water-depleted part of the country, tap into that immense supply?

How about we're not your go-rham colony?  How about you drain the pool and let the green mid-western lawn revert to sand?

Apparently a Phoenix newspaper is interested in a Milwaulkee suburb's attempt to find a loophole in the Great Lakes Compact because it would give them a glimmer of a legal hope for some future expatriation of our fresh water.

So what does that mean for Phoenix’s chances to extract water from the Great Lakes? Well, if Waukesha’s diversion is approved, that would provide a glimmer of hope for many water-starved areas out west.
"It would give the Southwest hope to maneuver around the Great Lakes Compact,” Rowen said. “Who is to say somebody farther southwest couldn’t do the same thing? It’s a lot more complicated and an engineering impossibility, but who knows what solutions could arise in future?”
But Kehl feels even entertaining that possibility provides a serious danger to the Great Lakes.
“Regional cities are dangerous enough,” she said. “They would deplete the lakes. It’s a large system, but a fragile one. If we disrupt it, it would become unuseful to us.”
I don't expect to live to see the export of our fresh water to the American Southwest become even a remote possibility.  I'm skeptical it ever will.

The question is interesting because it is an example of Anthropocene hubris at its worst.  It is an example of preferring large scale disruption of multiple biomes instead of adapting to local conditions.

In the north, we accommodate cold and wet.  In the south, they accommodate heat.  In the southwest they need to accommodate dry.  At least until the day that global climate change deals them something different.  Then we'll all accommodate.  It is how humans role.  It is how we live with Anthropocene humility.

If that means fewer pools and water conservation, let it be done.
If that means a smaller population, so let it be done.
If that means you don't get to live like people elsewhere, welcome to the limits of life in the real world.

Mid-Western Dreaming

Ram and Steer are Friends

Old Tom went to the processor.  Young Tom made friends with our alpha ram.  He's been following the old ram around ever since.

I was watching him for any signs of distress.  I don't want to get another calf until next spring, when the grass is fresh and free but I was considering it if he appeared upset or distraught at being alone.

Luckily, that does not seem to be the case.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The More Things Change...

Among my main assertions: humanity might change the environment, but we do not fundamentally change; at least no quicker than any other species.

Add to the evidence a new study regarding the sleep patterns of hunter/gatherers compared to those of us enjoying the benefits of "progress."

From the Economist:

In total, the researchers collected 1,165 days’ worth of data. They found that people from all three groups slept for between 5.7 and 7.1 hours a day, with an average that hovered around 6.5 hours. Far from exceeding those of a modern city-dweller, these values are near the low end of the range found in industrial societies. An average 7.5 hours a night is the norm there. 
Nor did the Hadza, the Ju/’hoansi San or the Tsimané retire shortly after the sun went down. Rather, they stayed awake for an average of 3.3 hours after nightfall, much as people in the developed world do. Their bedtimes appeared to be regulated by the temperature, rather than by daylight, and it takes several hours after the sun has set for things to cool down. 
The study also calls into question the idea that siestas are a feature of human behaviour that has been suppressed by modern ways of life. The volunteers rarely napped in summer (doing so on about one day in five), and almost never in winter.

One difference they did find was that the pre-industrial people studied rarely suffered from insomnia.

So much for progress.

Urban Planning and Emergent Order

"Dogs only allowed on paved trails" 
Last week (October 15th) I took the terriers for a walk around Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul, MN.  The park had been touted to me for years, mostly by joggers, but I'd never taken the time to head out there.  The park could benefit from a nice bar and grill with a dog friendly patio, but I digress.

I parked at the head of a spur trail that while it shows up on Google Maps, does not appear to be an official part of the park.  It is well used by cyclists and walkers.  Where there is a chance for the novice to be confused about the best way forward, someone used surveyors tape to mark the way.

Emergent order: what's not to love?

About a mile in, crows tipped me off that there was something to be seen on the other side of some bushes and what did I find but:

Now this park is surrounded by urban neighborhoods.  The site of a gut pile blew my mind.  It would take more than arrogance to poach in such an area but it would be hard to imagine how the combination of technical competence and absence of judgement could reside in the same cranium.

If I hadn't seen the gut pile

I walked on, first imagining how such a thing would be done and then profiling the type of person who would do such a thing.  Two miles down the trail, I realized that I had a dog trained to track wounded game right beside me and all the equipment three miles back in the car.  I didn't know where she might take me but all of the suddenly I was curious to see if she would trail the drag scent away from the gut pile.

With the planned walk well abandoned and half-way back to the gut pile, I saw a sign I had been out of my line of sight when I passed through the first time.

Then I felt like an idiot: Occam's Razor and all that.

Special Permit hunting relies on pre-selected, pre-qualified hunters to remove deer from urban areas.  Volunteers, they work to promote a positive view of hunting to their neighbors and serve urban parks by keeping the deer population at a sustainable level.

The spur trail I walked and the special permit hunt both demonstrate how public and populace work best when they work together.

I would guess that spur trail is primarily used by urban cyclist for recreation and for their regular commute.  If you live in that east side neighborhood, that spur leads to a paved path that is a pretty straight off street bike path into Downtown St. Paul.

A city can build trails, but those trails will be most effective if they look at the transportation patterns people are already utilizing.  I frequently think to myself as I walk along the Mississippi river in Minneapolis and St. Paul, "There is no way a city planner would want a public trail on this steep bank.  I bet they realized that they could not keep people out so they best put up a railing, no matter how inadequate, and post some rules."

Deer hunters willing to undergo the additional certification to hunt in an urban park, counter-act the unintended consequences of substantive urban parks: the over population of prey species.

In the first case, the city succeeds by imitating what people are already doing.  In the second case, private citizens are tasked with cleaning up the unintended consequences of public policy because even the best public policies will have unintended consequences.

One thing surprised me though, you'd think the park authorities would have asked the special permit hunters to remove their gut piles.

Now if we could just provide for an urban raccoon hunt.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dogs dig football

Well trained dogs get to go where all dogs wish they could.

Router Cover

Earlier this summer I stumbled upon a snapping turtle carcass and, with some work, fashioned the shell to act as a cover for our aging router.  Those flashing lights at night are a pain.

The shell turned out to be a lot more difficult to clean than the skulls I have completed to date.  The organic material was difficult to remove and, due to the larger area, the drying process causes the bones to shrink away from one another.

When I find another, I can leverage what I have learned.  For now, a little clear glue covers some of my inexperience.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Impulse Control

Maybelle eats while everyone else remains on a stay: after watching their breakfast being placed on the floor.  Musket is in his crate; Sparta and Stoic are on their rugs.

Every meal is an opportunity to train. 

That's how we roll. 
That's how we gain the skills and confidence to to be welcome where ever we go.

Only thinks of you as a friend

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You Can Always tell a City Kid,

The conservation movement has been so successful that city kids are no starting to experience problems that rural problems are starting to creep into the city.

In September, two dogs were killed by coyotes in western Wauwatosa. The first dog was killed by a coyote during the early morning hours while the dog and its owner were jogging. The dog had just been taken off its leash, according to police. The second attack also occurred in the morning, after a woman let her dog out of the house. There have been other suspected attacks.

Old Story, Still Relevant
Rest assured, there is going to be a meeting.  I suspect joggers will be told that not to let their dogs off lead in the woods and everyone will be told that coyotes eat dogs.  Welcome to earth: third rock from the sun.

As a rural kid whose lived with city kids much of his life, the rural/urban divide has been a chronic cultural hassle.

Homo Sapiens are great at discounting what we do not understand.  Rural kids can not escape some knowledge of the culture of the city.  City kids write our television programming, our movies, and most of our teachers and other leaders spent at least four years in a city.  Even when it is misunderstood, misapplied, and misconstrued, we have some knowledge of the urban experience.  We can't escape it.

The city kids understanding of the rural kid culture comes from shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and  our political concerns are usually understood through the lens of Daily Show Snark.  While the rural kid has some basis to understand the city kid point of view, even when we don't agree with it, the city kid lacks the resources to think rural kid concerns as anything short of irrational.

You can always tell a city kid, but you can't tell him much.

We're treated as foreigners and subjects to be approached with xenophobia rather than as fellow citizens in a heterogeneous culture.  Our President will say we're nothing but Bible and gun clingers.  We're objects of ridicule and if you live or work in the city you quickly learn to conform, shut up, or at the very least pick your battles.

As the story above suggests, however, rural kids have an important voice that should be heard.  We've been dealing with coyotes killing our dogs since the beginning.  We understand why Africans need to be given a reason to preserve the lion population.  In the Anthropocene hunting is an important part of conservation.

If we are to find a way forward together, if we are to overcome political deadlock, if we are to find effective solutions to real problems that account for regional differences in subjective culture as well as objective circumstances, then the abuse of the rural voice must stop.  City kids need to put at least as much effort in understanding and accommodating the country kid as they do the Islamic kid, the Latina kid, the homosexual kid.

That means you don't get everything you want.  Welcome to life in a republic.  Welcome to life in a diverse nation.  Homo Sapiens are by nature tribal.  I refuse to pretend any different.  The Anthropocene began, however, when tribes bound themselves together into nations.  A nation, however, we make account for a diversity of tribes to receive just treatment either by forcing subjugation to the most powerful of the tribes or inclusion.

The answer to "convert or die" is come sit among us as equals.  Right now the city kid's position is closer to "convert or die."  Welcome to the Anthropocene.

Job Maker

Private equity dog is ready to invest in tennis balls; the rate of return is amazing.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Rapid Adaptation

Human pressures have left no ecosystem untouched.  Catastrophists look at the trends and assume they will continue unchecked.  Of course nothing continues unchecked, except maybe black holes and even they are influenced by one another.

One scientists (momentary) inability to repeat his own experiment in coral bleaching serves as an example,

Rosenberg had come to a different conclusion. He’d noticed clumps of rod-shaped bacteria amassed at the borders of bleached regions of corals, suggesting infection. If he first treated the seawater with antibiotics, killing the resident bacteria, and then raised the temperature on corals in tanks, the corals never bleached. Heat alone didn’t drive disease, it seemed. Bacteria somehow contributed. 
He isolated one bacterium called Vibrio shiloi—a distant relative of cholera—that prompted coral disease. It was an opportunist: harmless at normal temperatures, but pathogenic when conditions grew warmer.In 1996, he published his findings in Nature. But now, a decade later, he and his graduate students tried to replicate the experiment, and failed—twice. The vibrio bacterium no longer seemed to cause disease.“The coral had become resistant,” Rosenberg told me. “This was a blow.” 
He began brainstorming possible explanations. Humans and other vertebrates have adaptive immune systems. With exposure to pathogens, our immune systems can learn and remember. When we encounter a pathogen we’ve seen before, we can repel it before it harms us. That’s the principle underlying vaccines. But corals lack an adaptive immune system. They couldn’t gain immunity from prior exposure the same way.

It turns out that just as a disease can move through a population like wildfire, so can a probiotic answer to that infection.  Moreover,the same human cargo ships that transport infections across vast oceans can't also transport probiotic responses to that infection.

Yep, invasive species can be your friend.

Creatures can adapt to changes in their environment not only through the multi-generational result of selection according to our genetic fitness to the environment but in the relatively short amount of time our symbiotic microbes.
Extinction and Evolution
Some researchers make a strong argument that the American microbiom has changed since the 1980's and is one of the forces driving the current obesity epidemic.  Right now it must remain at the level of hypothesis, you could fill hard drives with what we do not know about the microbes living within our digestive tracts.  I can only hope some future oriented surgeon at a research hospital is storing samples for future analysis of change over time.

Life is adaptive.  Yes, mass extinction is a pragmatic concern to those of us who want to see our species succeed over time, but extinction is not the only story at work.  Evolution is the yang to its yin.  From every mass extinction comes a new diversity.  Concern over the loss of the most present equilibrium is, at worst, a pragmatic concern, the equilibrium of the most recent past was good to our species.

Even our attempts to "think globally" are anthropocentric to the core.

But the earth doesn't care if our species succeeds over time.  The universe doesn't care and, ultimately, extinction is unavoidable.  By all means, examine your life and live a life of virtue, but virtue is a good part temperance.  In this case that means not thinking too highly of either yourself or our species.  Even if we make the planet inhabitable for homo sapiens, it has been before and it will be again.

You, the species, even the existence of any form of life on this globe is "only for now."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Youth Hunt

I am a bit of an agnostic about the social value of the youth mentored hunt, but if my kid wants to participate, I have no objection I am game for taking him out.

We didn't see a thing this morning but this evening three does were seen.  If they'd been broadside, I'd have let the man-cub shoot but they were walking straight away from us.  It was a hard call to make.  I could've made the shot easily but him, well, it would be too much "trying to hit this deer" and too little "going to kill this deer."

They were headed to a nearby alfalfa field where they are seen almost nightly.  There is another day left in this youth hunt weekend.

The plan is to let him sleep in tomorrow while I run to a neighbor's and help them split some of their perennials.  In the afternoon we'll take the same circuitous route we did today, but plant ourselves closer to their trail.  Hopefully by this time tomorrow we will have both experienced a little bit more of what it means to be homo sapiens: him now a big game hunter and me as one who trained a boy up in the way he should go. 

He sits well for eleven.

The Anthropocene, a Stoic, and Identity Politics

We're a tribal species, more or less developed in order to interact with 150 others.  We grew up only interacting positively with members of the same tribe.  Others were to be shunned, resisted, or subjugated.

Today we live in a globalized world and a radically different worldview is no farther away than the next cubicle.  The farthest corner of the world is less than an hour away by submarine base ICBM.

Welcome to the Anthropocene.

I bought a tee-shirt thinking it would be great to wear on one of our average 8, monthly 16, or annual 26 mile walks with the terriers.  The day it came I ran it through the wash and without thinking about it started my day.

Driving to the school for flag football practice and a parent/teacher conference, I remembered that the teacher in question is a Creationist.

Now I like this teacher well enough.  She runs a tight ship.  It is elementary school so the science is pretty simple.  I'm glad my child is in her classroom.  She is a good fit for the kind of kid he is.  Ironically, she's doing more for science than my other two kids' teachers are currently.

I'm not above the odd bit of trolling, at least when I think it might have some positive purpose, but I try not to troll in my hometown, or anywhere it is hard to conceive any good resulting.  What is the saying, "don't poop where you eat" or "A prophet is without honor in his hometown."  Luckily the evening was cold and I had a vest in the back seat of the car.

Funny thing is, how it might be perceived never occurred to me when I was buying it.  

I admire those who can take on the Cynic style of life, throwing a culture's subjectivity into its face.  The Stoic difference, however, is that while acknowledging the subjectivity, realizing that meaning is something we create and our creations are by necessity subjective, we see homo sapiens as a tribal species.

We do not exist only as individuals.  We live life together. We have more in common with the dog and her pack than the cat and her solitude.

Consequently, the Stoic view of virtue values, or at least accounts for the social as well as the individual.

I am not ashamed of my shirt.  I will happily wear it around town, or on the trail, or even when doing therapy dog visits but Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice are restraints as much as direction. 

The Stoic sees the excellent life as one lived in community.  The individual and the social live together.  I have no problem being myself.  I have no compulsion to throw who I am in the face of others.

Hello, my name is Daniel.  I am an atheist.  I understand some find Darwinian Evolution threatening.  I find it enlightening and sometimes humorous.  I don't understand why is should be conceived as a threat to anyone's worldview since prior to Darwin Christians and Jews widely believed the first few chapters of Genesis were allegory, but I don't feel a need to have an argument over it either.

I can not help it if some find me offensive, but I can control if I am needlessly and sometimes if I am incidentally offensive.  That is, perhaps, more difficult than it has been at other times in our history.  In an age of identity politics, many have been trained to of "know thyself" less as a way less of finding a way toward a satisfying life and more towards knowing whom to embrace or reject.

I am not afraid of being seen as, gossiped about, or treated as if I am an asshole.  Been there, done that, and it didn't matter.

I am not, however, compelled to act like an asshole, even incidentally.  If it is just about expressing myself, that too doesn't matter.

What is prudent?  Will good result?
What is temperate?  Am I sailing between the extremes the social and individual good?
What is courageous?  Am I avoiding folly as much as cowardice?
What is just? Am I treating the other as they ought to be treated?

In this case that is the crux of the matter.  How do our fellow citizens, how does the alien in our midst, deserve to be treated?

Anyhow, it is a nice shirt.  The quality is good and maybe you want to get yours here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

First Friends Forever

You're the homo sapiens.

For the good of the canis familiaris, act like it.

Got Walkin' Left to Do

Guy Clark,
a song about walking men:


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dove Retrieving Teckel

Grätsche, whose bloodlines are as German as her name, is a tracking dog. Dachshunds, of course, were bred with those comically short legs so they could fit into holes and burrows and root out badgers, a job which requires a lot of ferocity and determination in a small package.  Dachshunds were also used to track wounded game and even run wild boars. So, picking up dead doves is pretty tame duty by comparison.
It is nice, in these days of increasingly small, useless dogs that people carry everywhere, to see a small dog out in the field earning its dog food.