Archive for January 24, 2008

Weather Report

The batteries in the outdoor transmitter for my weather station quit functioning at 10 o’clock last night shortly after it registered a temperature of -10 oF.  Zorro woke me up at 5 this morning and managed to convince me that he really did need to go out and pee.  While we were out I checked the thermometer at the training center and it read -21 oF.  We’ve had more cold weather (i.e. below zero) this year than we’ve seen in a while.  Rumor has it that we’ll see much warmer temperatures for the rest of the week, so I’d like to celebrate what I hope is the worst of the cold with this bit of below zero trivia:

  • Packed snow begins to squeak underfoot at about 5° F. At about -5° F, it squeaks with a distinct hollow sound.
  • At below zero temperatures the air is condensed and sounds are amplified.  This makes them carry farther than they normally do.  Last night I could hear my neighbor – a quarter mile away across the creek and through dense hardwood forest – softly talking to his dogs as they took their last break of the evening.
  • When temperatures fall below zero, the inside of your nose freezes as you breathe in.  If its not too far below zero, it thaws again as you exhale.  The resulting feeling is oddly invigorating.
  • Cold sinks. The dogs and I walked two hundred yards down to the creek last night (about an 80 foot drop in elevation).  It was quite noticeably colder there, maybe partly due to the fact that that part of the creek sits in a small, confined hollow surrounded by hills on all sides.
  • Batteries are affected by cold.  According to information provided by AAA, at -20° F, battery power is reduced by 50%.  This explains why my weather station quit working.
  • Once temperatures drop below 10° F, road salt doesn’t work.  If icing is a problem, MinnDOT adds calcium chloride or beet juice to the salt.  Those mixtures quit working at temperatures of 10 to 15 below zero.  We avoid this problem in our long driveway by using sand or ash spread on top of the snow to add traction.  They work at any temperature.
  • Ice fog forms when air temperatures drop into the double digit below zero range.  The air is so cold that any vapor present condenses almost immediately.  Ice fog is most common in and around urban areas where moisture from heating systems, auto exhaust and breath provide moisture.  We’re in a rural area a few miles outside a small town.  We don’t see it much here.

January 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm Leave a comment

Foreclosures a Threat to Pets – or Donations?

Bankruptcy and foreclosure rates are up across the country.  The number of homes in the U.S. that are in some stage of foreclosure in 2007 is more than twice the number seen last year according to RealtyTrac, a company that tracks mortgage data.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, in recent months authorities around the country have reported numerous findings of cats, dogs, birds, horses and other animals at foreclosed houses and farms.  

With this potentially high profile issue in mind, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) issued a public statement this month that it’s “worried about the situation.” 

HSUS must be worried that with increasing bankruptcy rates, donations will be down this year. They’re certainly not worried about the pets or pet owners affected by the situation. Here’s a quote from Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS: “One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” 

We got this from the folks at Activist Cash: 

Despite the words “humane society” on its letterhead, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. Despite the omnipresent dogs and cats in its fundraising materials, it’s not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets. And despite the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth.

HSUS is big, rich, and powerful, a “humane society” in name only. And while most local animal shelters are under-funded and unsung, HSUS has accumulated $113 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.

Yes, the HSUS, is not, despite what you might think, in the business of operating animal shelters.  This multi-million dollar organization spends much of its vast amounts of cash on warm, fuzzy, heart-rending ads encouraging you to give them even more money.  They spend the rest on political lobbying efforts to pass state, local and federal laws that would force us all to be non-pet owning vegans.

January 24, 2008 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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January 2008