Tag Archives: Life

Ouch! That Hurts!

White and Yellow Rose with Honeybee Postcard postcard
Here’s one of the roses I was photographing  in Texas when I was stung by fire ants. 

Birdwatchers have a life list of birds they want to see. I, unfortunately, am ticking off a list of different type — arthropods that have bitten me. So far, I’ve been bitten or stung by ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, chiggers, a wasp, a bee, a horsefly and now fire ants. Please no more bug bites! When I was a kid, one of the scariest movies I saw was “The Naked Jungle,” about an attack of army ants on a South American plantation.

Recently, I was photographing roses in a Texas rose garden in when my sandal-clad feet started to itch. I looked down and saw tiny ants milling over my feet. I brushed them off, did some scratching and thought that was the end of it. Most ants rush to protect their queen when an invader (me, in this case) appears, but fire ants, an invader to North America, attack.  They inject a toxin when they sting.

Here's where a fire ant stung me on my toe. I have several of these, they hurt, and they haven't improved in ten days.

My brother-in-law, whose legs are peppered with the tiny scars of fire ant bites, told me that fire ant bites produce pustules. I looked at my toes. No sign of any damage. But then three days later, the pustules appeared. They are more ugly than painful, although they do hurt and itch. There goes my career as a foot model.

Now I know why Texans wear cowboy boots, even if they never get near a horse or cow.  About Fire Ants.

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Filed under Entomology, Photography

Hit a Home Run!

"Just like Stan Musial I'm an all star, widely considered to be one of the all time greatest snugglers of all time. I've compiled 3,630 purrs (the most in a career spent with only one team) 475 home runs for watching sporting events with my family, and was named the Most Valuable Pussycat by all my roommates."

Michelle Cour, volunteer at Wayside Waifs, interviews Stan, one of the new stars at the shelter.  Stan is looking for a grand slam into your home! Details on choosing Stan for your team are at the bottom of this post.

Stan the Man here! Just like Stan Musial I’m an all star, widely considered to be one of the all time greatest snugglers of all time. I’ve compiled 3,630 purrs (the most in a career spent with only one team) 475 home runs for watching sporting events with my family, and was named the Most Valuable Pussycat by all my roommates, I’d still be living there but the landlord in our new place allows only two pets and the dogs got to stay. I lived with only one family my whole life and I’m sad I had to go, but I just know I’ll find another family just as terrific. If you’re looking for a Hall of Fame Feline Friend, I’m your man!

You may have noticed I have only one eye. Kind of makes me look kind of rakish, like a pirate, I’m thinking Johnny Depp. Boy, is he hot! I hear the ladies really go for him. They go for me too! I have lots of fans here in the staff and volunteers at Wayside. I’m a people person and love to hang out with you, but do okay with small dogs. I lived with two small dogs for many years but I’m not good with big dogs as I’d been attacked by them in my past. Please don’t take me if you have a big dog. I’m very afraid. I shouldn’t go outside. I can’t defend myself well because I can’t see what’s coming on one side.

Inside I do great! I love to climb and my favorite place to perch is high up on the furniture. I respond well to my name, so please don’t change it when we go home. I’ve lost my people, my home and my dog brothers, so my name is all I have left that’s familiar and comfortable. I need something to hold on to, please. I’ve lived with a family the last 8 years so I’m having a little trouble adjusting to shelter life. I’m a bit shy and not as outgoing and friendly as I’d be with people I know and love. When we go home, I might go hide under a bed or in a closet until I feel comfortable joining the family. I’m affectionate and want to be buddies, but I’ll need a bit of time to adjust.

My family says I enjoy running water so if I can please have a kitty fountain or stick my head under the sink when you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes sometimes, I’d like that. I have great hygiene habits and never have a litter box issue if you keep it clean for me. I eat dry food but shouldn’t have only dry food as it’s hard on my tummy. I need some wet food too. Thank you so much for honoring my requests. And don’t forget in these tough economic times, I’m a bargain, just $25 for a lifetime of friendship and affection. Such a deal I have for you!

I’m looking forward to joining your team and being your MVP. I’ll be at batting practice faithfully learning to swat my toy mice way, way out there… going going gone! Holy cow! See you around the ball park.

Stan

Stan can be found at Wayside Waifs, Inc., Kansas City’s largest no-kill shelter.  Wayside Waifs,  an independent, not-for-profit humane society and animal welfare organization established in 1944, is located at 3901 Martha Truman Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 64137.  The telephone number is 816-761-8151.  The website is Wayside Waifs.

Here’s a link to Sebastian The Sensitive Soul’s blog post about Bandit, another great cat in need of a home. He will steal your heart.  Bandit was fun to photograph!  Bandit.

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Kansas City, Pets

Glacial Speed

Margerie Glacier, Alaska Postcard postcard

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

We experienced a very hot summer in the Kansas City area with temperatures in the upper 90s and even into the 100s. Now, that it’s September, we’re finally getting some nice weather.  I was lucky enough to escape the heat for a week in July when I visited Alaska, where the locals jokingly complained about a heat wave in the 70s.

To cool myself upon my return to sweltering temperatures, I enjoyed some of my photographs of Alaskan glaciers.  Margerie Glacier (in photo above) is one of several glaciers remaining in what was once a single vast ice sheet covering the Glacier Bay area of Alaska. We often hear of the rapid retreat of glaciers, particularly in the past few decades. I haven’t thought of the rapid advance of glaciers being part of relatively recent history, but Glacier Bay, which is at the top of the Alaskan panhandle, is only about 250 years old. It was carved in the early to mid 1700s when a relatively dormant glacier began to move rapidly. Its movement was described as being “as fast as a dog could run,” according to the National Park Service rangers stationed in Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay is the result of the climate in the Little Ice Age, which reached its maximum extent in 1750.

Click on this map of Glacier Bay National Park to see a larger view.

I’d always thought that glaciers moved slowly and steadily slow. The glacier scours the earth as the massive ice field moves forward inch by inch and then slowly retreats, leaving debris in its wake and in mountainous coastal areas a glacier carves a deep bay or a fjord, such as Glacier Bay.   I won’t be using the cliche “glacial speed” any more now that I know how quickly glaciers can Advance.

Margerie Glacier is stable. Johns Hopkins Glacier is actually advancing. Both are remnants of a much larger glacier.

The Tlingit people who lived in Glacier Bay before it was a bay had to leave the valley as that glacier quickly advanced. According to the National Park Service, the Tlingit’s landscape “is very different from today’s marine bay — it was a grassy valley coursing with salmon-rich streams and scattered forests. Looming in the distance, a great glacier sits dormant, pausing before the cataclysmic advance that will force these people from their homes around 1750.”

This section of a U.S. National Park Service brochure, shows the advance and retreat of the glacier that carved Glacier Bay in Alaska. Click on the photograph to get a larger view.

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Filed under Environment, Life, Science, Travel

Dining Under the Bridge

Tables are beautifully set under the historic 12th Street Bridge for the Food Now Fund-raiser in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 27, 2011.

My multi-talented friend Chris B. invited me and several others to the second annual foodNow local food experience under the 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri, on August 27, 2011. I had no idea what foodNow was, but who wouldn’t want to eat an elegant dinner under an old bridge in one of Kansas City’s most historic areas?  Chefs from many Kansas City restaurants prepared a three-course dinner from produce from the area. The event was a fund-raiser for Beans and Greens –  Nourishing Neighborhoods with Local Produce ,  Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition  and Get Growing KC.

"Haunted Houses" attract thrill-seekers in the fall near the 12th Street Bridge.

The tables were set on the original cobblestone street where farmers brought their produce for sale.  I’m glad I was wearing flat shoes. Some women wearing more fashionable footwear were a little wobbly on the cobblestones.  Nearby the bridge are old warehouses, which now have a new life hosting “haunted houses” that attract thrill-seekers every fall.  Also in the area is Kemper Arena and the site of the American Royal.   Each table had a different menu.  Chef Michael Turner of the Classic Cup prepared the delicious dinner for my table.  There was a silent and a live auction. Unfortunately, my table was far from the auctioneer.  An old bridge may be charming, but the acoustics were not that great.  I could hear my table-mates, though, and that made for a very fascinating evening.

The 12th Street Bridge was built in 1915 and is now undergoing a major rehabilitation. The West Bottoms (official name Central Industrial District) is an industrial area immediately to the west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri at the confluence of the Missouri River and the Kansas River. The area is one of the oldest areas of the city and is home to Kansas City’s early agricultural markets.

Originally called the “French Bottoms,” French trappers and Kansas Indians traded here centuries ago. French Bottoms sounds a lot more appealing, doesn’t it?  Steamships traveling upstream on the Missouri river offloaded their goods at the Bottoms to provision those immigrating west and for trade with Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail. The advent of the railroad increased the importance of the area.   Major floods have engulfed the area (1903, 1951 and 1993), which have diminished the area’s commercial and residential importance.  You could say river affluence has lessened the area’s influence.

Les Dames d'Escoffier International (Heart of America Chapter) sponsored the silent and live auction of cooking and food-related items.

Tiny lights illuminate the tables under the 12th Street Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City for the foodNow dinner.

Check out these links:
foodNow.
About the West Bottoms. Official West Bottoms Site.

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Filed under Agriculture, Commerce, Food, Kansas City

Dog Doogity

This is my new favorite song. It rocks! It shows great views of the Seattle area. Plus the message is important, too. I know that I’m just preaching to the choir here, because you all pick up after your pets. But you’ll enjoy the song.

I love dogs. And so that everyone will love dogs, we need to make sure that scofflaws clean up after their dogs so the poop doesn’t wash into the water supply. My daughter and son-in-law’s apartment complex provides poop bags on posts with trash cans around the grounds. It’s a great idea!

Now, for a song about keeping cats safe inside and birds safe outside!

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Filed under Conservation, Dogs, Life, Music

The Bridge to Nowhere

I took this photograph from my bus window as we passed the the airport serving Ketchican, Alaska, which is across a narrow bay. This is where the proposed "Bridge to Nowhere" would have been built to replace the ferry that takes people to and from the airport, which is on a separate island. Sorry for the poor quality, but what can you do, the bus driver is not going to stop! Plus it was raining. Click on the photograph to get a better look.

This summer, I finally visited Alaska, a state I’ve wanted to visit since my aunt lived there many decades ago. What took me so long? It’s incredibly beautiful! While in Alaska, my husband and I toured part of lovely Revillagigedo Island, which is the 12th largest island in the United States and about the same size as the state of Rhode Island. Revilla, as its known by the locals, is known more for its city of Ketchican, Alaska’s fifth most populous city at 7,368 according to the 2010 census. The island population is 13,950. The temporary population swells enormously in the summer with tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. The entire state of Alaska has only 710,231 people.

A sculpture featuring the various professions and residents of Ketchican, Alaska, greets people on the dock. Tourism and fishing are two of the main industries in the Ketchican area. The logging business was shut down during the Clinton Administration.

As we were ending our tour by bus, our bus driver casually pointed to the airport that serves the island. The airport is on nearby Gravina Island, because there isn’t enough flat land on Revilla. “That’s where the bridge to nowhere was to be built,” he said. Now, airline passengers take a ferry, which costs $5. But, the bus driver noted — the parking lot for the ferry is free! The bridge would have eliminated the need for the ferry. I don’t know whether it would have been a toll-free bridge, not that the fees could have come close to paying for the bridge.

Funding for the ulra-expensive bridge was to come from the federal government, which has already funded the road leading to the as-yet-unbuilt bridge. As our country battles over who should pay for what and how many more trillions we should borrow to pay current obligations, saddling our children and their progeny with huge debt, this bridge has been used as a symbol of federal largesse. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was a big advocate of federal funding this bridge. Why not grab some of the federal money? It’s not real money is it? It’s thrown around like confetti. I’m glad there’s a movement to stop the unsustainable federal spending party, although it’s not making much headway because we have real and important obligations to pay for. Who gets cut? Even this Bridge to Nowhere is not really a bridge to nowhere, but is there money to fund such efforts that benefit a relative few?

Another view of the Ketchican Airport from my bus window. The Bridge to Nowhere would have been built here.

Almost all federal money comes from taxing the people in the states. The federal government takes a cut in the form of bureaucracy and upkeep (and many would say massive waste and fraud) and then returns some of the money to the states. Much of this federal funding is the so-called pork. Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was known for his ability to bring home the federal bacon to his state of West Virginia, one of the country’s poorest states.

Here are a few of the totem poles in Totem Bight State Historical Park, a 33-acre state park north of Ketchikan, Alaska. In 1938, the United States Forest Service used Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Native Alaskans to repair or duplicate totem poles that were abandoned when the natives moved to communities where work was available. The CCC project put the community house and 15 totem poles in place. At statehood in 1959, title to the land passed from the federal government to the State of Alaska. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 27, 1970.

From Wikipedia: Byrd was called the “King of Pork” by Citizens Against Government Waste. After becoming chair of the Appropriations Committee in 1989, Byrd set a goal securing a total of $1 billion for public works in the state. He passed that mark in 1991, and funds for highways, dams, educational institutions and federal agency offices flowed unabated over the course of his membership. More than 30 existing or pending federal projects bear his name. He commented on his reputation for attaining funds for projects in West Virginia in August 2006, when he called himself “Big Daddy” at the dedication for the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center. Examples of this ability to claim funds and projects for his state include the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s repository for computerized fingerprint records as well as several United States Coast Guard computing and office facilities.

Some states don’t get back as much as they send in, and feel cheated. Other states like West Virginia fatten up. We could spill lots of digital ink discussing the fairness of this system. Why should the rest of the country pay for the bridge to Gravina so that a relatively small number of people wouldn’t have to take a ferry but could drive over a bridge that was said would be as long as the Golden Gate Bridge? Another federally funded project in Alaska in the 1930s was restoring and replicating totem poles, which can be seen in Totem Bight Park. In this case, the federal funding saved the totem poles that were sure to be lost with no other funding in sight.

Ketchican, Alaska, is the Salmon Capital of the World.

From Wikipedia: According to USA Today, the bridge was to have been nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge would cross the Tongass Narrows, part of Alaska’s Inside Passage, so the bridge was designed to be tall enough to accommodate ship traffic, including the Alaska Marine Highway and the cruise ships which frequent Alaskan waters during the summer.
Ketchikan’s airport is the second largest in Southeast Alaska, after Juneau International Airport, handles over 200,000 passengers a year, while the ferry shuttled 350,000 people in the same time period (as of December 2006).In comparison, the Golden Gate Bridge carried more than 43,000,000 vehicles in 2006, or about 118,000 vehicles each day.

End of lecture! Now for some more facts about Ketchican:

Ketchican is the Rain Capital of Alaska. In 1949, the city experienced a record rainfall of 202.55 inches.

— Ketchikan’s secondary post office zip code, 99950, is the highest ZIP code ever assigned in the United States.

—  Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles.

—  Ketchican is known as the Salmon Capital of the World.

— Ketchican is the Rain Capital of Alaska.

About Ketchican, Alaska.

About the “Bridge to Nowhere”

Bald Eagles Postcard postcard
Bald Eagles in Totem Bight Park near Ketchican, Alaska.

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Filed under Birds, Nature, Travel

Pure Water

People are always attracted to water. We hiked up the mountain to this cascade in Le Tigre National Park, Honduras.

(This post has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of years.  Now, that we’re on a “boil” order in my county in northeast Kansas in July 2011, I thought again of how we take our clean water for granted.  I wrote this about a visit to Honduras, where you can’t drink the water from the tap.)

It’s early on a February morning in 2007, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and already hot.  I don’t mind.  Back home in Kansas City it’s freezing.

Behind the courtyard wall, I wait at the gate, listening.  I’m an early riser so I volunteered to make the water bottle exchange.

“You’ll know when they’re coming,” my friend Michael told me the night before.  “They call out “Agua Azul, Agua Azul.”  He likes the sound of it.  “It’s like a call to prayer.”

Most societies and religions find spiritual and cleansing properties in water, so Michael is right about that.

Three large empty bottles sit on the driveway near the gate.  I hear the faint call, and I lean out to look.

I see a truck slowly rumbling down the steep incline of street in this affluent neighborhood in the capital city of Honduras.  The back of the truck is stacked with large water bottles.

“Agua Azul.  Agua Azul.

I wave my hand at the truck. A man darts to the gate, grabs the empty bottles and replaces them with full ones.  He hops back on the truck and continues his call.  “Agua Azul.  Agua Azul.”

Now we’ll have purified water for the next couple of days.  We go through it quickly, using it for everything that passes our lips. The water truck comes three mornings a week.  It saves the trouble of taking the bottles to the store. The house has running water, but it’s not purified.  We have to be careful not to drink it or even use it for brushing our teeth.  I keep a small bottle of purified water in the bathroom during my visit.

You can’t be careful everywhere, and on a trip to see the Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras, some of us come down with horrible gastrointestinal distress.  I’ll spare you the details (worst diarrhea of my life!), but it was touch and go on the drive home.  Michael and Anita knew the roads and the rest stops, and thankfully, my husband is an Eagle Scout, prepared with supplies at all times, including a roll of toilet paper.

At home, we take pure water for granted.  But civilization has long been plagued, literally, with contaminated water.  Cholera is one disease spread by water fouled by bacteria.  People would often drink alcoholic beverages, rather than water, because they were less likely to get sick. Steven Johnson writes about a cholera epidemic in “The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.”

Hacienda San Lucas overlooks the Copan River Valley, where the early Mayans settled more than a thousand years ago. Maintaining pure water is always a problem wherever people gather in cities.

In Copan, we visited Flavia Cueva, who owns the Hacienda San Lucas.  Anita, who is with the U.S. State Department, had met with Flavia before on an official visit.  Local people and members of the International Rotary were working to improve the water quality. International Rotary is providing water distribution and health education to six remote villages in the area.

My water district at home, WaterOne, sends out an annual water quality report, summarizing what’s in the water and provides lots of facts, which are also available on the website.  WaterOne was one of seven utilities worldwide selected as a finalist for a global water award for its Wolcott Treatment Plant. We’re very lucky we don’t need to buy bottled water, regularly, although there is a run on bottled water now because of the boil order.

Here’s a copy of the story in the Kansas City Star about our boil order:


Raccoon Believed Culprit in John County Boil Order

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

Posted on Fri, Jul. 01, 2011 03:57 PM

A raccoon appears be to the culprit in a water pipe rupture that led to a boil advisory for more than 400,000 water customers in Johnson County.
Officials of Water District No. 1 found the animal dead inside an electrical unit at the Hansen treatment plant on Holiday Drive in Kansas City, Kan.
Eric Arner, a spokesman for WaterOne, said the animal may have chewed into wires or just brushed by the equipment, triggering an event that will affect customers at least until 5 p.m. Saturday during one of the hottest spells of the year so far.
People in the WaterOne service area — which includes most of Johnson County but excludes most of Olathe — are advised to use bottled water or to boil their tap water at least two minutes before consuming it. Unboiled water is safe for washing and bathing.
Retail stores in Johnson County are reporting brisk sales of bottled water. People are buying shopping baskets full of it at the Lenexa Sam’s Club, 12200 W. 95th St.
“We’ve got plenty for today and two more semis were dispatched when we heard about this,” said club manager Eric Rector. “We should have more in stock tonight.”
The Price Chopper at 8686 Antioch Road in Overland Park was sold out by mid-afternoon. A new shipment was expected over the weekend but store management did not know when it would arrive.
The boil precaution is necessary because the pipe rupture led to a drop in water pressure, which may have drawn contaminants into the system. Officials are testing tap samples from across the 275-square-mile water district for safety. That process, and flushing any contaminants out of the system, takes at least 18 hours.
Arner said water officials noticed a sudden drop in system pressure at 7:20 a.m., which they later attributed to a raccoon that got inside the housing of one of the huge electrical switches that run the pumps. The animal apparently shorted out the switch.
“The pumps themselves are designed to trip off when there is any fluctuation in power so they don’t fry their circuits,” Arner said. “So when the power was restored in a matter of seconds or even milliseconds the pumps turned back on and created a water surge.”
Officials believe that surge caused a 54-inch pipe near the Hansen plant to rupture at a joint. Arner said the pipe should not have failed even with a surge and WaterOne is investigating whether there were any other factors involved.
Water officials were able to restore pressure throughout the system shortly after the pipe break but some areas may have less pressure than normal.
While most of Olathe is outside WaterOne, between 6,000 and 7,000 people in northwestern and southwestern areas of the city are affected, said city spokesman Tim Danneberg.

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Filed under Biology, Drink, Health, Life, Personal, Random, Travel

Animal Rescue in Joplin, Missouri, after the May 22nd Tornado.

This is a slideshow of cats at the emergency tornado shelter annex in the care of the Joplin, Missouri, Humane Society.  As of  June 3, 2011,  nearly 1,000 pets had been rescued and almost 300 had been reunited with their families. The shelter is caring for animals whose families are currently unable to house them along with those  animals who are missing  from or have lost their families.

In Joplin on May 22, a powerful EF5 tornado killed at least 138 people and injured more than 900 people, some critically.  It also destroyed or damaged about 18,000 vehicles, more than 8,000 homes and 500 commercial properties, which was about 30 percent of the town. Among the buildings damaged was a hospital that employed 1,700 people.  The tornado was the deadliest single tornado in more than sixty years in the United States.

The YouTube slideshow above includes photos published by Joplin Humane Society on June 1 to give the public an inside view of the facility’s cattery section.  Thanks to Life With Cats TV for the information.  For links on how you can donate click on Joplin Tornado Cats.

Wayside Waifs volunteer Scott Cotter talks about his experience with animal rescue in Joplin:   After the disaster: Notes from Joplin.

Wayside Waifs is a Kansas City, Missouri, no-kill animal shelter. Staff members and volunteers from Wayside Waifs helped with the animal rescue and brought some of the animals who had already awaited homes in Joplin before the tornado to the Wayside Waifs shelter.

On June 1, the Joplin Humane Society director detailed the massive operation that took place. Below are excerpts from that letter.  Many of  the people helping were also dealing with the loss of family members and their homes and businesses.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for their offers to help and words of
encouragement. Many of you have offered assistance and asked what you can
do. Here’s an update:

Our shelter was not hit and we are intact. The ASPCA (I will refer them
here on out as the A) had their emergency response team on the ground THE
NEXT MORNING! One of JHS’s benefactors owns the property next door and
there are three empty warehouses. I called them and they were more than
willing to allow the use of those warehouses…

We just put the third warehouse into use to house the animals. There are pictures up on our facebook page which can be found by going to our website:

www.joplinhumane.org

At my and the A’s request, American Humane Association (AHA) deployed a team to help us out at the emergency shelter and at JHS so my staff can rotate a
day off. HSUS teams are also here at our request. PETPOINT sent a team out
immediately and they are taking care of all of the documentation of the
almost 600 animals we have received since Monday. We are at real time in
putting pictures up on our website. I’m guessing it will hit 600 today. We
have reunited more than 150 pets with their families.

Petsmart Charities sent two tractor trailer loads of supplies and equipment
so the emergency shelter could be set up and we are prepared to handle up to
1200 animals. We have everything from goldfish, hermit crabs, birds, boas,
33 chickens, rabbits, you name it!

We called regional shelters to empty the JHS (Joplin Humane Society) shelter
of adoptable animals so we could use ours for tornado victims. The triage
center is at JHS and we have had an army of volunteer vets taking care of
injured animals. JHS is also the hospital ward.

We are contracted with 17 municipalities and already intake about 12,000
animals each year so the surrounding areas keep bringing in more animals who
are not tornado animals. We are continuing to send them out to other
shelters as their stray hold expires.

We are so grateful to all of the national groups that have responded, all
the local groups who have helped, the food and supply companies that have
equipped the operations and all of the wonderful people who have offered and
actually come in to help. We are humbled and so appreciative.

I think we have enough supplies at the moment. Truckloads of food have
arrived along with sheltering supplies and droves of volunteers. We are
opening a food and supply bank for families affected by the tornado. What
we need now is money for medical supplies and equipment.

Some wonderful, anonymous person sent a swamp cooler for the warehouse.
That was met with applause as the warehouses are heating up.  We have lots of
industrial fans but warm air is warm air.”

The director, who lost a step-daughter to the tornado, asked  “So many in Joplin have lost so much. If you pray, please
pray for them.”

Video and story: Veterinarian Tells Own Joplin Tornado Firsthand Account.

Video of some of the dogs rescued and their injuries and treatment.

June 17, 2011, update on status of animals at the Joplin Humane Society, from the AP:

900 pets still homeless after Joplin tornado

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER and JIM SALTER

The Associated Press, June 17, 2011

JOPLIN, Mo. | Hundreds of dogs and cats peer out from their cages at the Joplin Humane Society, some with cuts, infections and broken bones from the deadly tornado that turned their lives, like those of their owners, upside down.

Since the tornado, the Humane Society has found itself overflowing with animals, with about 900 now calling the shelter home — three times its usual inventory. One way or another, the pets became separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the May 22 twister that tore through this town, killing 153 people. In some cases, the owners — scrambling to find housing for themselves after 7,000 homes were destroyed, leaving nearly one-third of the city’s 50,000 residents homeless — have simply given up their pets.

But the Joplin Humane Society is determined to find a home for every cat and dog. To that end, it plans an “Adopt-a-thon” the weekend of June 25-26, when animals that haven’t been claimed by their owners will be given away free to good homes, after being spayed and neutered.

“The reality is, a lot of these people aren’t in a position to come get these animals,” said Joplin native Tim Rickey, a field investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “They’ve lost everything.”

Executive director Karen Aquino said it’s not that the Humane Society hasn’t tried to find the owners.

“We feel we’ve exhausted every avenue to get the word out,” Aquino said. “We’ve placed 250 yard signs. We have posters at food and donation distribution points, public service announcements on radio and TV, ads in the newspaper — everything we could think of to let people know their pets might be here if they’re missing.”

To handle the additional cats and dogs, the organization fixed up two vacant warehouses next to the shelter into air-conditioned kennels. A gravel parking lot outside a former used appliance store has been converted into an owner’s waiting room, with plastic chairs and Polaroid snapshots of unnamed animals stuffed into thick three-ring binders.

Aquino said none of the pets left homeless by the tornado will be euthanized.

“If all of them aren’t adopted, we’ll start looking to rescue organizations and ways to get some of them to larger cities, where they have a better chance at adoption,” she said.

More than 100 volunteers from across the country, many from other shelters, are in Joplin helping out — cleaning cages, providing veterinary care and exercising the animals. On most days, a half-dozen veterinarians are at the shelter tending to the wounded.

The work is exhausting, the plight of the animals sad. But spirits are buoyed by good news, such as the recent story of a cat found alive by its owner 16 days after the tornado.

“We’ve heard some amazing stories,” Aquino said. “Animals are pretty resilient.”

When Steven and Debbie Leatherman found their lost dog, Sugar, at the shelter, her back legs were paralyzed. Someone had apparently dropped off the 10-year-old cocker spaniel after finding her in a drainage ditch and about to drown. The University of Missouri said the Leathermans’ son, Daniel, drove the dog to its veterinary hospital in Columbia, where veterinarians performed spinal surgery that gave Sugar back the use of her legs.

But some owners, such as 47-year-old Linda Head, still haven’t been able to find their pets. Since the storm, Head has been looking for 2-year-old Isabel, a Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix, and 5-year-old Puddles, a cockapoo.

Both dogs hunkered down with Head, her 23-year-old son and a third dog, Max, in and around a bathtub in their home that was obliterated by the tornado. Head lost Puddles when the dog jumped through the shattered window of a car as Head’s son was driven to seek medical care. Max also jumped out in the tumult, but he turned up nearly two weeks later at a Kansas veterinarian’s office. Isabel hasn’t been seen since the tornado, though Head’s hopes were briefly buoyed when a neighbor thought he saw the dog running loose. He was mistaken.

Head visits the shelter twice a week, hoping her dogs will turn up.

“Honey, when I left here the first time, I bawled all the way home,” Head said during a recent visit to the shelter. “I’ll bawl all the way home today, because I don’t have my buddies.”

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/06/17/2956304/900-pets-still-homeless-after.html#ixzz1PXujAKM2

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Dogs, Life, Pets

Procrastination and Perseverence

In January of this year, I declared on this blog that I’d complete a book by the end of this year. I’d like to report that I’m making great progress — in my mind. Few words have made it onto my virtual pages, alas.

We read so many grim books in my book club that we were delighted to read this hilarious, perceptive, heart-felt book in which we actually cared about the characters.

I was inspired recently to get back to work when I went to a fund-raiser for a local hospital.  (Thanks to my great friend Joy for inviting me!)  One of the speakers was Helen Simonson, an author whose first book I’d read and really enjoyed. “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” was a delightful, touching and very funny book. I could easily picture this well-drawn English village and its characters, so different from my own neighborhood in many ways, but very similar in others. My book club read the book, and it’s been one of the few that we all liked. It’s a tough crowd.

From Simonson’s website:
When Major Pettigrew, a retired British army major in a small English village, embarks on an unexpected friendship with the widowed Mrs. Ali, who runs the local shop, trouble erupts to disturb the bucolic serenity of the village and of the Major’s carefully regimented life.

Helen Simonson.

The title of Simonson’s speech was “Perseverence. ” Simonson said that it took her five years to write the book, “The first four and a half I didn’t do very much.” I’ve got the procrastination part of the equation pretty much taken care of.

Simonson was in a graduate program, and her novel was her thesis. As the deadline neared, she really got into gear. I hope I don’t wait until November to get moving. Is there anyone out there who needs an online writing partner? We can grant each other master’s degrees when we finish!  I’ll just be happy to finish. Simonson got a book deal through an agent within a week of finishing her book!

After the luncheon, I got a chance to meet Simonson, but I didn’t tell her that I was a wanna-be novelist. We’re a dime a dozen, I’m sure.

Helen Simonson’s Website.  You can find Simonson on Facebook, too.

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Filed under Authors, Books, Entertainment, Europe

Intellectual Property Rights

Classic Books postcard

As a writer and photographer, I’m often territorial about my words and images, so I can understand any creative person getting huffy or even litigious when their intellectual property is used without permission. If I want some pithy quotes, I use the words of a long-dead people, always crediting them, of course.

I designed a greeting card using a photograph I took of old books my mother has collected. I added some quotes from five long-dead authors and philosophers about books and then posted the card on a Print on Demand (POD) site where I have many products. The card is to be a small gift for my fellow book club members (Shhh, don’t tell them.)

A few days later, I received an email from the POD site informing me that my “design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual
property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from …’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims.”

There was no clue which element might have offended, so I pressed the POD site to find out. Was it one of the publishers listed on the book spines in the photograph? I couldn’t imagine that it would be any of the people I quoted. They’d all been dead at least seventy-five years, when copyrights expire. I realize that copyright issues are much more complicated than that (after all, lawyers are involved) and some copyrights can be renewed. I’ve recently learned that even many versions of the Bible are copyrighted. The King James version, however, is in the public domain.

A plaque featuring Mark Twain's words about Australia is on Writers Walk on Circular Quay of Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia. Somehow I must have known I'd meet up with Mark Twain again when I took this photograph.

This was the advice I’d been given about Fair Use. “Public domain works are works whose copyrights were issued before 1923. Many authors choose to use quotes only from people who have been dead more than seventy-five years because their quotes are now considered “Fair Use” under the public domain. Copyrights are good for the duration of the author’s life and for seventy-five years beyond their death. It is generally safe to use quotes from authors who died 1936 or before.”

The POD site fingered the complainer: Mark Twain, or, more accurately, the representatives of Mark Twain. “We have been contacted by the licensing company (I won’t name them) who represent Mark Twain, and at their request, have removed the product from the …  Marketplace.”

I went to the Mark Twain Rep site where I read: “We work with companies around the world who wish to use the name or likeness of Mark Twain in any commercial fashion. The words and the signature “Mark Twain” are trademarks owned and protected by the Estate of Mark Twain. In addition, the image, name, and voice of Mark Twain is a protectable property right owned by the Estate of Mark Twain. Any use of the above, without the express written consent of the Estate of Mark Twain is strictly prohibited.”

Since I make no money from this blog, I hope Twain’s representatives don’t hunt me down here. I’m not even putting Mark Twain or his real name Samuel Clemons in the tags.

Mark Twain was very concerned about protecting his work from pirates, even though he also fussed over nitpicking copyright laws. He wanted the profits from his works — and he was sure there would be plenty of them — to continue to go to his daughters after his death. In Twain’s day, copyright protection expired after 42 years.

Twain is one of the most widely known authors in the world and is still kicking up a fuss today. A publisher recently republished  a politically correct version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by substituting the word slave for the N word, which provoked a lot of discussion — and more sales.

In November 2010, the first of three volumes of Twain’s autobiography were published complete and unexpurgated for the first time by the Mark Twain Project a hundred years after Twain’s death. Twain had said that he wanted to suppress the publication of some of his more biting comments for a hundred years, but Twain shrewdly also knew that this new version would start the clock ticking on new copyright protection.

Here are two discussions about Twain and copyright:
Mark Twain’s plans to compete with copyright “pirates” (in 1906)

The Mark Twain Project’s Discussion of Copyright and Permissions.

About the Politically Correct Version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Here’s a link to the revised greeting card minus the Mark Twain quote.   I did use a quote from Abraham Lincoln and another from Kenkō Yoshida (or Yoshida Kenkō), a Japanese Buddhist monk, who died around 1350.  I think I’m safe there, but you never know.

Love of Books Card.

“A day is coming, when, in the eye of the law, literary property will be as sacred as whisky, or any other of the necessaries of life.” ~ Mark Twain ~

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Australia, Authors, Books, History, Humor, Life, Novels, Presidents, Travel