Posts tagged ‘poop’

Robo-Scooper!

Today Engadget reports on nifty Japanese technology that may revolutionize poop patrol!

The SWITL robotic hand, designed by Furukawakikou can pick up wet, gooey messes and move them without changing their shape. SWITL was developed to speed up and simplify the handling of soft and/or gooey materials at bakeries.

How does it work? According to Engadget it may be the tool of Satan:

Unfortunately, Furukawa Kikou isn’t providing any details about the science behind SWITL so we’ll just assume that it’s Satan’s work until otherwise informed.

When SWITL was first announced back in June of 2009 Japan Tech Niche reported (italics mine):

The “SWITL” was developed base on a need for automated process for lining up bread dough at the factory which was handled manually before. “SWITL” is technology is patent pending and can apply not only in the food industry but also in wide different filed of applications. The company is planning to develop a new products implementing “SWITL” technology in a near future. Interesting idea indeed, I leave it to your imaginative mind to come up with the SWITL new applications.

Evil or not, cross Roomba with SWITL and dog poop littering yards and parks across the country could be, well, eliminated!

March 28, 2011 at 9:25 am 5 comments

Have you evolved?


via The Guardian a dog waste bin in the Swiss canton of Bern.

October 21, 2010 at 8:45 am 3 comments

Around the Web

There appears to be some confusion over at Google about that whole ‘don’t be evil‘ thing…

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Via SFGate – The most depressing news story ever:

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities — more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

Great. Now not only do I have to be depressed about the number of people I know who will apparently never get it… the truly scary news is that I’ll never really know whether or not I’m a clueless dolt.

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Speaking of clueless people, it is not unusual for me to meet clients with unrealistic expectations who expect me to wave a magic wand and make their dog’s problem behavior vanish in a puff of rainbow fairy dust. Because it such a device could be enormously amusing (if not highly lucrative) I have often wished I had one.

And today I thought that wish had come true.While browsing around ThinkGeek I came across this:

According to ThinkGeek The Magic Wand Programmable Remote:

…may not make legions of kobold minions explode into flames, but it will learn up to 13 commands from your existing remote controls and map them to particular magical motions. Flick the wand from side to side to flip the channels, twist the wand to turn up the volume. A beam of light will shoot out the unicorn tail hair and magic will happen! The Wand can learn from any remotes in your house and once you master its 13 movements, you can mastermind a symphony of electronic enjoyment from the comfort of your couch.

A target stick, magic wand and remote control all in one! I was really excited about it until reality crashed in and I remembered that most remote controlled electronic equipment is operated by infrared signals. My remote training collars receive radio signals (the same kind of system used in R/C cars)  so, sadly, my future television career will not be built on this particular magic wand.

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Last, but not least, via thepapierboy’s flickrstream in honor of today’s solstice I bring you – Poophenge!

June 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm 6 comments

It’s a Sh*tty Job

And somebody’s doing it exceptionally well. Here’s the poop via today’s StarTribune:

This is why your mother says to wash your hands after handling money.

An employee of DoodyCalls Pet Waste Removal in St. Louis says he recently found $58 packed in dog poop, then returned the cash to the pooch’s owner.

Steve Wilson retrieved the money when he spotted it encased in poo. Wilson, whose honesty obviously far outweighs his squeamishness, sanitized the bills before returning them.  News reports did not specify whether he used gloves, bags or other means to extricate the funds in question.

According to the Santa Maria Times:

The company said the money was torn, but the serial numbers were identifiable, which means the bills could be returned to a bank and replaced with new money.

Wilson is reportedly the first pooper scooper to provide this kind of above-and-beyond service to his clients. Kudos!

June 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm 5 comments

Dog vs Technology – Round II

nobody wins

January 21, 2009 at 3:04 am 4 comments

It’s Not About Dogs…

I’ve had a nagging suspicion that an increasing number of dog-related laws were being passed across the country.  Apparently (and unfortunately), I’m not crazy.  Last month the HSUS reported that a record number of animal “protection” laws were passed in 2008.  Their website brags that; “The nation’s largest animal protection organization ushered in a whole new era of policies for animals by helping to pass 91 new animal protection laws this year, surpassing the previous record number of 86 new laws enacted in 2007.”

But do we really need more laws?  A post on “The Tyranny of Relativism” I read today at Never Yet Melted got me thinking, once again, on the function of culture in society (it’s an excellent piece BTW – go read it).  As I commented there:

It’s that constellation of fixed values otherwise known as culture that gives us the security and cohesiveness that allows us to recognize and accept those whose values are different from ours.

What the relativists seem to have forgotten (or prefer to overlook) is that the unwritten rules and sanctions of culture are fluid and mutable. Allowances are made. Slights are remembered and often forgiven. But in a governmental or relativist system we are forced to endure rigid, compulsory laws and regulations. We can’t make allowances (that wouldn’t be fair, now – would it?) and transgressions are always punished but then supposed to be forgotten.

Though they may seem to be more rigid and restrictive at first glance; culture and ethics are much more fluid and adaptable than relativism and regulation.

Because they are fluid, mutable and forgiving, cultural mores are a much healthier way to guide general group behavior (i.e. things like excess barking, picking up poop and pet limits) than laws and regulations are.  But if we don’t need  more of them, why are increasing numbers of laws and regulations controlling life with our four-legged friends being promulgated?  A thought-provoking answer comes from a piece written by Michael Brandow in today’s New York Yimes about the city’s poop-scooping law:

I believe that many dog “problems” are symptoms of other concerns that have little or nothing to do with dogs. Like rabies paranoia, these fears tend to be culturally based. Why did a large number of cities suddenly decide to get tough on dog owners after 2001? Just as anti-dog sentiment in the 1970s was a way to express anger over the urban crisis, believe it or not, the new wave of canine waste laws seems to be inspired by the threat of global terrorism. New attitudes on how far we have the right to go in dictating personal behavior, and to monitor compliance with laws, are leading to cleaner surfaces — but at what price? People are taking age-old grudges and dressing them as public safety issues. Suddenly the whole world is on orange alert for sidewalk bombs.

We’ve got all this unresolved stress related to abstract, diffuse, on-going pressures like “is there anything left in my 401K?”  “did they really put melamine in Oreos?” and “will Al Queda bomb shopping malls?”  Add in the fact that we have an enemy that is, for the most part, nameless and faceless — and even the Department of Homeland Securityadmits that the potential health risks of unresolved fear and stress may outweigh the benefits of government terrorist threat alerts.  So, we cope by bitching about what a jerk our neighbor is and vote to pass a law that will make the ignorant b***ard get rid of his stoopid barking, crapping dog.

But do these laws regulating general group behavior really accomplish anything?  Referring specifically to New York’s dog poop law Brandow writes:

You are never going to catch one in a thousand people, not even if you live in a police state. Believing otherwise is only going to give you high blood pressure. Worse, every time you dial 311 and complain, you are giving government yet another opportunity to point a finger at those terrible dog owners. This serves a political purpose, just as it did in the ’70s. It distracts from matters weightier than a few stray piles, and gets government off the hook on the real problems that seem beyond its grasp.

Breed specific legislation, limit laws, mandatory spay-neuter and similar regulations don’t really accomplish much — but, compared to important things like campaign finance reform or balanced budgets these kinds of laws are really easy to write, enact and then — conveniently — forget about.  The legislators and lobbyists who “championed” the laws get their sound-bites. The wack-jobs at HSUS get another notch in their Naugahyde belts and life goes on.  Well, that is, except for dogs and dog owners who are now forced to endure yet another set of rigid, compulsory (and often non-sensical) laws and regulations that complicate our lives without solving any problems.

In the current state of things, dog-related legislation mostly affects law-abiding citizens who license their pets, give them regular veterinary care and engage in other activities that put them in the system’s database.  The irresponsible morons whose untrained, uninnoculated, unrestrained, unlicensed, unsocialized animals bark incessantly, have unwanted litters and attack the mailman fly under the radar until after they’ve committed the offenses these laws are designed to prevent.

Increased respect for and adherence to (gasp!) mainstream cultural mores would greatly reduce problems caused by things like noise and dog poop.  The very un-sexy options of education and increased enforcement of existing laws could significantly mitigate issues related to animal suffering, but these kinds of actions don’t generally lead to newspaper and TV interviews.  Unfortunately, increased enforcement results in media reports that arrests have gone up — which will, of course, be spun by the press to say that problems have gotten worse.  And no politician wants to be associated with that kind of publicity.

So instead of dealing with our pet-related problems within a flexible, forgiving system of common-sense cultural mores – we regulate them in a completely rigid legal system.  The politicians win. The lobbyists win.  And dogs lose.

January 10, 2009 at 3:47 am 6 comments

Another Calendar Recommendation

The amusing, professionally published and somewhat politically incorrect Monthly Doo’s Calendar.

Don’t ask me why, but last year we hung this in our kitchen. It was a big hit with our friends (though some of the family didn’t appreciate our scatological sense of humor.)

Check it out. Order the calendar — and always pick up your dog’s poop.

doo

Order HERE. Poop-themed cards, stuffed toys, candles, treats and more available as well.

December 5, 2008 at 6:09 am Leave a comment

Don’t Poo-Poo Stool Transplants!

From yesterday’s StarTribune:

The patient in his Duluth clinic was not responding to antibiotics, and now the stubborn infection in his intestines threatened to kill him. Then Aas found a similar case written up in a 1950s Norwegian medical journal.

The cure? Replace all the bacteria in the patient’s gut with a tiny dose of someone else’s stool.

A stool transplant?  Was Dr. Aas serious?  Yes, he most certainly was.

The “microbiome,” as it is known, is now the focus of a $115 million federal research project to investigate the symbiotic bond between humans and their bacteria.

Well, we’ve reported before that bugs can be good for us and that it’s possible to be too clean – but this puts a whole new perspective on things.  From the National Institute of Health:

Within the body of a healthy adult, microbial cells are estimated to outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one. These communities, however, remain largely unstudied, leaving almost entirely unknown their influence upon human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition.

While the term “microbiome” may be relatively new in biomedical research, most people are familiar with some of the effects — both good and bad — that microbes can have on our health. Consider the example of the biggest reservoir of microbes in humans: the digestive tract. The human gut harbors many beneficial microorganisms, including certain bacteria called probiotics. There is evidence these probiotics, found in dietary supplements, yogurt and other dairy products as well as various soy products, can stimulate the immune system and improve digestive functions. In contrast, previous research suggests that variations in the composition of microbial communities may contribute to chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, obesity and digestive disorders.

We need microorganisms to survive.  It appears that the key is not so much to eliminate microogranisms from our bodies, but to keep them in the proper balance.  Again from the Star Tribune story:

Aas’ patient 10 years ago had a common intestinal infection caused by a bacterium called C. difficile. It sometimes takes hold when patients get a dose of antibiotics for some other reason. These can destroy the population of beneficial intestinal bacteria, or flora, that digest food and provide nutrients to the body. Then the spores of C. difficile, which can lurk in the gut, flower and take over, producing a toxin that causes severe diarrhea and, in time, destroys the colon lining.

Often, a dose of a different antibiotic will suppress the infection. But sometimes C. difficile just keeps coming back.

C. difficile is one of a growing number of micro-organisms that have become resistant to antibiotics, while at the same time becoming more common and more virulent.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

Healthcare associated infections — illnesses you acquire during a stay in a hospital or longterm care facility — aren’t new. But in recent years, the infections have reached epidemic proportions in hospitals and nursing homes around the world. One of the most widespread and potentially serious of these illnesses is caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, often simply called C. diff or C. difficile.

C. difficile bacteria are everywhere — in soil, air, water, human and animal feces, and on most surfaces. The bacteria don’t create problems until they grow in abnormally large numbers in the intestinal tract of people taking antibiotics or other antimicrobial drugs. Then, C. difficile can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammations of the colon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States C. difficile is responsible for tens of thousands of cases of diarrhea and at least 5,000 deaths. And the problem is getting worse. The number of C. difficile infections doubled between 1993 and 2003, with most of the increase coming after 2000.

C. difficile isn’t confined exclusively to hospitals. It’s also a growing problem among otherwise healthy people. And although the infection can usually be controlled with antibiotics, virulent strains of C. difficile are now appearing that resist treatment with common medications.

Clostridium Difficilis Spores

Clostridium Difficilis Spores

Hence the need for a new cure.

Now, Rubin and Aas are researching which bacteria are the critical players in the hidden war inside the gut. If they can answer that, patients might one day get a pill with the right bacteria instead of a tube in their nose.

In a refreshing bit of candor:

Aas says he doesn’t know exactly why the stool transplant works. He presumes that the infusion of donated flora resets the bacterial balance in the gut and somehow keeps the C. difficile in check. Whatever the mechanism, it works 95 percent of the time.

Neither group of researchers expects that finding the answer would result in a new, blockbuster drug. There are probably not enough severe cases for that kind of payoff. They are after different stakes — a better understanding of the relationship between humans and their bacteria.

In an interview in the Washington Post, Aas stated that he views stool as an organ:

It is normally considered waste product, but it is in a way an independent organ, like the kidney, and it contains thousands of different bacteria living in symbiosis. These bacteria are needed for normal health. When you use some antibiotics, some of this bacteria population gets destroyed. If you later get infected with Clostridium difficile colitis, there is this competitive battlefield in the colon, and without the necessary bacteria, Clostridium has the upper hand. So what we do is take normal stool from a normal person, make an extract of it, put it in a blender with water, take two tablespoons of that cocktail, and introduce it into the patient’s body.

Fascinating stuff.  We hope their research leads to a better understanding of the ecosystems inside and outside our bodies.

It’s not just humans who are afflicted with this disease.  Dogs and other animals also suffer from c. difficile.  In June, 2006 the CDC reported that a toxin-variant strain of C. difficile was diagnosed in a healthy, 4-year-old toy poodle that was visiting patients in Ontario hospitals on a weekly basis. The canine isolate was indistinguishable from the major strain implicated in outbreaks of highly virulent c. difficile found in humans around the world. Although this was reportedly the first report of a human strain of c. difficile detected in a dog, many strains of the disease isolated from animals are indistinguishable from those associated with this disease in humans.

Want to know more about c. difficile?  Check out this great summary on the disease from from our friends over at Worms and Germs

And in the meantime – wash your hands, avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics – and don’t keep your house too clean.

October 19, 2008 at 6:27 pm 2 comments

Doody Calls

There is, apparently, a lot of money to be made in dog poop.  Yesterday we reported on spendy, trendy poop bags from a fashion house in Germany – today we’ve got the poop on a new product for socially responsible dog owners who are afraid of getting their hands dirty.

 The Doody Duffle, by Sly Innovations LLC is a cloth bag you attach to the handle of your leash.  The stylish cloth bag is lined with a disposable plastic bag.  The cloth bag and liner both close with drawstrings in what looks (at least to my dyslexic eyes) – to be a confusingly complex way.  Check out the product demo below:

The duffle is large enough to get in the way when held (as shown) on the loop of one’s leash – but looks too small to pick up piles left by most large or giant dogs.  I won’t be rushing out to buy one, but if it turns more people into responsible poop picker uppers – I’m all for it.

August 7, 2008 at 2:20 am Leave a comment

What’s New in Poo

From DVICE.com:

For those who are thinking it’s not worth it to have a dog because of all that poop you have to bag up and carry around, here’s your salvation. Each biodegradable Dog Poo Bag in the $30 pack of 16 has its own self-contained scooper, letting you scoop up that crap, dispose of the scooper, and seal it all up in one smooth motion.

German design firm JungeSchactel believes that dog poop should be carried in style.  We agree – these are marvelous!

August 6, 2008 at 4:29 am 2 comments

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