Monday, 3 March 2013

11:04 – We made it up to 72F (22C) yesterday. Right now, it’s windy with a cold rain and the temperature just over freezing. Tonight, we’re to have sleet and freezing drizzle and a low of 14F (-10C). Barbara drove the Trooper this morning, just in case the sleet and ice moves in sooner than expected.

Work on science kits continues. Things are slow this time of year. We’re shipping only one kit or so per day right now, but things should start picking up later in the month and into April. I’m still working on the manual for the earth science kit, which we hope to start shipping this summer.

Following the mauling death of a 3-year-old local girl by a Pit Bull, the lead article in the paper this morning was about Pit Bulls. It was surprisingly even-handed, pointing out that dog-bite fatalities are extremely rare, something like 25 per year in the US. In other words, the probability of being killed by a dog attack is roughly the same as being killed by a lightning strike. Pit Bulls do account for a high percentage of dog-bite fatalities, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Very few fatal Pit Bull attacks are committed by socialized family pets. Unfortunately, Pit Bulls are one of the breeds most likely to be trained to be vicious, and many or most Pit Bull attacks are by dogs that have been intentionally tormented and abused to make them mean. As the article points out, Pit Bulls were formerly considered among the safest breeds with infants and small children, and were known as “nursemaid’s dogs”. I would never leave a small child unsupervised with any dog other than a fully-socialized family pet, but I’d not worry any more about a Pit Bull than any other breed.

Pit Bulls weren’t bred to attack people. The converse, in fact. They were bred to attack other dogs in pit fights but never under any circumstances to attack a person. Otherwise, their handlers wouldn’t have dared risk handling a dog that had been injured in a fight. Of course, that also means that Pit Bulls cannot be trusted around other dogs, particularly in a male-on-male situation. That’s why I’m very cautious about Pit Bulls when I’m out with Colin.


28 thoughts on “Monday, 3 March 2013”

  1. It was 76 F when Pam and I went into the Land of Sugar Costco yesterday about 4pm. It was 49 F when we left about 5pm. The mark your receipt lady already had a portable electric heater up and running.

    We then went to HEB (grocery store) at an ambient temperature of 48 F. It was 38 F when we left HEB. Cold!

    Was 28 F this morning. Kinda close to our all time low of 21 F on this date. We are expecting “ice pellets” tonight. Yummy! Not!

  2. The whole concept of fighting dogs shows why cats are better than dogs. Can you picture someone trying to breed a “pit cat”? The first hurdle would be to breed a cat which sleeps only 22-1/2 hours per day. The second hurdle doesn’t matter because no one will figure out the first.

  3. 0C (32F) with 1″ of snow yesterday. “Some” snow is forecast tonight with up to 3″ by Wednesday. This isn’t unusual, our average during March is -2C. I am getting rather sick of winter.

    Best comment I’ve heard this year in regards to the weather was a guy interviewed on the street in Boston: “Winter this year is like Justin Bieber. Sure, it was cute and exciting at the beginning, but now it’s just obnoxious and needs to stay in Canada.”

  4. “The first hurdle would be to breed a cat which sleeps only 22-1/2 hours per day. ”

    You mean a cat that DOESN’T sleep 22-1/2 hours per day, don’t you? Every cat I’ve ever had slept at least that long. Getting cats to fight isn’t hard, getting cats to fight on command is the difficult part.

  5. I was suggesting getting a cat’s snooze time down to 22-1/2 hours, meaning it’s awake 1-1/2 hours, meaning triple the norm.

  6. Ah, I get it now. My last cat slept only 22-1/2 hours, leaving her 1-1/4 hours to pester me to feed her and 7-1/2 minutes each to eat, then crap it all out. Of course, the pestering time coincided with my sleep schedule.

  7. Our four cats are awake and up and about way more than that around here. I’m guessing they only sleep about 15-16 hours a day. And I hear them be-bopping around at night sometimes, too.

    Minus 2 here right now and dropping. We are evidently keeping the frozen-solid snow we’ve had on the ground here since November, with an occasional dusting to keep it nice and fresh, or melt in midday sunlight to re-freeze at night, which is exciting on the streets and sidewalks. So basically sheets of ice covering the landscape broken up by patches of permafrost mud which will eventually partially liquefy. The bay out to the lake is a sheet of ice strong enough to support large pickup tricks, evidently. Maybe this year some more geniuses will have a few pops and decide to cross to or from the NY side and go right through the ice and to the bottom. Plus the genius snowmobile operators who cruise with a lotta noise through otherwise quiet forests and decide to cross some pond or lake and likewise go right through and to the bottom, on a 700-pound machine with heavy winter clothes now immediately soaked through with ice-water.

    OFD fell through the ice at Walden Pond, Maffachufetts when I was fourteen and I will remember how that felt until I breathe my last breath. You are immediately soaked; your winter clothes will weigh you down like a boat anchor; you will feel the iciest possible cold you have ever felt before to your bone marrow; and your breath will be sucked right out of you instantly. I kept trying to climb back out onto the ice and it kept breaking under me, sending me down for another dive each time. I was on my last attempt and some guy came outta nowhere with a rake and pulled me out.

    To this day, when we’re out x-c skiing or snowshoeing on a lake or pond, I am never more then ten feet or so from the shore even if I think the ice is six feet thick.

  8. OFD fell through the ice at Walden Pond, Maffachufetts

    Having experienced a similar event I can attest to the effects that OFD describes. After 5 minutes (that seem like 30), your muscles severely begin to cease functioning. If not for the help of a friend who spent a few of those precious minutes laughing, I was extracted by using my friend and a low hanging branch. I don’t blame him for laughing as I probably would have done the same. But after experiencing the shock to the body I would never laugh at anyone in such a situation again. Except for perhaps the redneck in the loud pickup that is doing doughnuts on the ice and falls through. That is still funny.

  9. In the late 70s, I was part of a maritime search and rescue team based in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. In reality we were a search and recovery team, for if your boat sinks during even the hottest summer, you probably won’t last longer than 45 minutes before hypothermia sets in without special gear. With special gear, you can double that. During the winter, you have less than 15 minutes. We never really had a chance of getting to anyone on time. The only people we ever rescued were either out of gas or had a mechanical breakdown and needed a tow.

    As part of the training, we took turns being the person being rescued from the water. I joined in September when the ocean temperature would be in the 40-45F range, and can vividly remember all the symptoms described by Davy. I can’t imagine how cold falling through ice would be. You guys are seriously lucky to be alive!

  10. your breath will be sucked right out of you instantly

    Not to mention that your testicles will retract and never be found for the next couple of days and you have to pee sitting down as there is nothing left exposed to grasp.

    You guys are seriously lucky to be alive!

    Never again walked out on the ice with fewer than three people with someone carrying some sort of retrieval gear such as a rope or long branch or board or the water was less than two feet deep.

  11. Yep, been there too. I’d say it’s a shocking experience, but that doesn’t seem emphatic enough.

  12. Just saw two trucks racing each other across the bay here; I’m told the ice is two feet thick but I ain’t going out there, at least not more than a few feet from shore. Been there, done that, as described. Yep, damn lucky to be alive, and not just from that one incident, either.

    Parents rushed me home to a tub full of warm wottuh and I was fit as a fiddle in no time; glad that Ray eventually got his testicles back; mine froze and dropped off. Lucky I can still pee at all.

    Four years later I was working for Uncle in central Maine during the dead of wintuh, and despite big white bunny boots, Inuit mittens, long johns, insulated flight pants, jacket and parka, I got permanent frostbite in all fingers, toes and tips of my ears. And was threatened with an Article 15 for ‘damaging government property’ to boot. Nothing quite like patrolling a fenced-with-chain-link-and-razor-wire nuke weapons compound in a forest, with said warheads underground in alarmed concrete bunkers, while toting an M16 and keeping a shahp eye out for Charlie in his black jammies and B.F. Goodrich sandals snaking outta the woods in five feet of snow and ice.

    Or running behind a fighter-interceptor jet armed with nuke warheads as it taxied from the alert hangar to the runway, ’cause we hadda stay within fifty feet of the fucker, and certain ass-hat pilots would go just fast enough so you hadda sprint with all that gear and the rifle. But what goes around, comes around, and sooner or later, you or one of yer buds would catch Lt. Ass-Hat coming into the area without his line badge. At which point he’d be slammed into the chain-link face-first and then dumped on the asphalt and cuffed, and our senior NCOs and commanders would back us up on that.

  13. And was threatened with an Article 15 for ‘damaging government property’ to boot.

    Had that little piece of advice shoved down my throat. Only it was for sunburn, really bad on my face, from being ordered to stand outside, at ease for a couple of hours. Ordered to do something then threatened with article 15 for the side effects.

    At which point he’d be slammed into the chain-link face-first and then dumped on the asphalt and cuffed, and our senior NCOs and commanders would back us up on that.

    I have seen that happen to a young louie that thought he was king of the world. I was in Hawaii working with the cargo manifesting computer system. Young buck thought he knew it all and wandered into a zone that he was not allowed. I watched the guard confront him. The louie gave him some flack, the guard dropped the louie to the ground, stood on him and called for backup. The louie was led away in handcuffs, the guard was praised. I suspect the louie never made captain.

    I also entered an area I was not supposed to enter on the flight line. Jumped a roped off area around a C5 that I was getting ready to board as a passenger. I took a shortcut rather than use the entrance. Bad idea. The guard knew me and stopped me and informed me of my transgression. I apologized and the guard understood. But he had to do his job and called it in. Within seconds half a dozen vehicles were approaching on the ramp. I was not thrown to the ground but was told to get on the ground which I eagerly complied. There were a couple of M-16s pointed at my head, at least the ones I could see. After my ID was checked I was allowed to get up and got a good ass chewing. I also got an ass chewing from my boss and the squadron commander. When I saw the guard a couple of days later he apologized. I told him I understood as it was his job and he did his job. I was the idiot.

  14. “Ordered to do something then threatened with article 15 for the side effects.”

    Same kind of stuff they did in the Soviet gulag (I’m re-reading the trilogy now; jack people up for doing what they were told and then throwing another “tenner” at them (for ten more years in the prison camp, usually in the Arctic regions.))

    Some of us had a little saying, esp. those of us who’d worked for Uncle on his plantations in SEA; “What can they do, send me to ‘Nam?” Haha, LOL. (some of us went twice or more.)

    ” I told him I understood as it was his job and he did his job.”

    Do. Not. Fuck. With. Military. Police.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

  15. Fuck the MPs. One at Ft Monmouth (mostly an electronic warfare post in New Jersey, not exactly front line in a combat zone) put his hand on his .45 because I refused to follow his “order” — an illegal “order”, by the way. He was very upset when I took it from him. He was more upset when I called the sergeant of the guard (?), who also became upset. The officer of the day was initially upset when he showed up, with retinue, after I told the sergeant of the guard to call him, but emitted what sounded suspiciously like “Oh, fuck” when I managed to tell my side of the confrontation, and everything kind of petered out and I went on my way. If I’d been a bit more savvy, I’d have demanded names and reported everything up through proper channels. At my current level of savvyness (which I do not claim is the ultimate), I wouldn’t bother, as the report would disappear or be turned somehow to cause trouble for me. This was the same post where I broke into a SCIF, by the way, but that incident was a civilian security guy who was asleep, whereas this was an Army MP who was a tyrannical little pissant.

  16. Well of course there are dipshit MPs out there, but again, my rule holds, for the most paht; in my experience to diss or piss off one MP eventually brings a horde of others, real fast, just like in civvie life only with the UCMJ instead of civvie law and “civil rights.”

    I remember bar brawls overseas where the first responding MPs got their asses kicked on arrival, but within minutes a wave of others showed up and there was no mercy in them, and sometimes they brought the dawgs. Bad scene. Not many years later I was involved in the same sorta chit back home in MA; again, massive bar brawl with hundreds involved out in the parking lots, usually weekend nights in the summuh. Initial officers would show up, call for backup, and a half-dozen area towns would send their guys, and we’d wade right in with clubs and PR-24s and Mace and tear gas and have us some batting practice for a few minutes. Then the State Police would arrive, with German shepherds, and all the chit ended real fast. MSP guys back then were usually big tall dudes and their uniforms looked remarkably like Nazi styles, complete with polished jackboots and visored hats.

    My general rule of thumb is that if you screw with a cop, it will redound upon your head, if not immediately, eventually. And nowadays it apparently redounds on peoples’ heads regardless and immediately,

  17. RE: Pit Bulls

    I was getting a quote from USAA for an Umbrella Policy and when they asked if I owned a dog they wanted to know if it was one of the following breeds: Akita, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, or Wolf Hybrid. So, I guess that explains the breeds of which the insurance industry is wary. I’m surprised Doberman Pinscher isn’t on there as that was the popular dog to fear in the 1980s.

  18. I’m surprised they didn’t list Chows.

    Dobermans are sweeties. I suspect most or all of their bad rep comes from movies that showed Nazi concentration camp guards using them. If properly trained, they are good police dogs.

  19. You can blame “The Omen” for the fear of Rottweilers. Before that they were used to pull farm produce carts driven by children, and/or herd cattle. The breed actually dates back to the Romans. The full German name is “Rottweiler Metzgerhund” (Rottweiler Butcher’s Dog).

  20. On the cat pestering front, Jeri already had 2 cats when we hooked up for good. For their entire lives, they woke her up for feeding about 5am. I put a stop to that by feeding them myself. They got 2 meals: one at noon (if I were there); one at suppertime with an eighth of a wedge of canned cat food mixed in with the dry kibble. After about 2 months of complaining, they accepted it for the rest of their lives — which was another 6 years. They were fat cats when I took over, but I left the food out for only 20 minutes (we were below ground level and had ant problems in summer, and they trimmed down within a few months, and stayed that way — even in winter, when I left the food out 24/7.

  21. Back when my mom had a rottweiler (before the dog decided she was my dog, at which point I had a dog and my mom no longer did) she looked at her house insurance statement one day and was surprised to see a discount for a home security device, which came as a surprise because a security system on a century-and-a-half farmhouse is like a security device on a bum’s disadvantaged person’s cardboard box. On investigation, she found that the dog was the security device.

  22. I have a friend/former colleague IT drone who lives in Greater Boston and who raises Rottweilers for fancy shows around the continent. He’s worked as a bookie and enforcer and had/has a BIL on the BPD and wife worked/works for a Boston lawyers’ office. He sits on his front porch with the Rotties and an UZI and whiles away the summuh afternoons and no one ever messes with him or his house. For some reason.

    One of my brothers and I once raised a litter of APBTs and he’s always had one. I got stuck with a series of golden retrievers.

    Security devices here are classified.

  23. I’m no breeding expert, but we had a Doberman when I was a kid, and that dog was both dumb and mean. He performed no useful purpose whatsoever to the family, except bark super-excessively. Thank God my dad put him down immediately when he went after my mom one day. As a 5th grader, I told my dad that dog was worthless and mean, but my dad was one of those super-defender types, like some of you, and would hear no wrong against his damned stupid dog he bought as a pup and raised for ‘protection’.

    One thing I did learn from that dog, is that animals need to be fed by everyone in the family to be content when their alpha ‘master’ is not around to feed them. Even Jeri’s cats had trouble understanding that *I* would be feeding them. Had to have her stop feeding them altogether for about 6 months, before they would eat from either of us.

    I’ll take the Goldens we had in Berlin and my Irish. At least they love people and do something useful in life. My Irish used to point at rabbits and ducks. I did not train her and got her when she was 7 from a situation where the previous owner had whipped her.because she was born with bad form (she had little control over her tail: she could not hold it up or stick it straight when pointing). She used to cower if I raised either of my hands over my head for any reason. She understood an incredible amount of English, and responded to verbal commands with no body gesticulation. Miss that dog terribly.

  24. Dogs are usually what they are trained like. Treat it as dumb and mean, and it is dumb and mean. Treat it nice and it is nice. IMHO, your father trained it to attack people (protection, as some call it) and reaped what he sowed. My experience is any dog treated with love and respect will automatically protect it’s family. It doesn’t need to be trained to do so.

    Your point about the whole family taking turns feeding is a good one. I will add that everyone must also be able to take food from the pet without recourse from the pet.

    I’ve had both Irish Setters and currently have a Golden. Labs of any color are very similar, though not quite as smart. Amber responds to an amazing vocabulary and has also learned many hand signals.

  25. Yeah, I want to be reasonably safe, but having an attack-trained Doberman is not smart around a young family. Actually, I saw many Dobermans in Berlin, and they were totally unlike ours. There really is different instinct breeding that goes on in different countries. Never had a dog in Germany punch my private parts while getting a whiff of me, but that happens often here in the US. On the whole, dogs do not bark in Germany, and they will walk down the street with their masters, completely ignoring passersby — which never happens here in Tiny Town. They all want to punch my private parts, and the neighborhood dogs all bark their heads off. Sometimes, 8 to 10 of them go at it all at once, egging each other on.

    Dogs begin obedience training very early in Germany — usually just as soon as they are house-broken. There were obedience classes all over Berlin, and I really have to believe that very early start makes a real difference in the dog.

    As a kid, my dad had a smaller than ‘big’ dog and it got into a fight right before my dad’s eyes and was crippled and had to be put down. I am sure that influenced my dad in his breed selection as a grown-up. Strange thing is that my dad carried an S&W .38 all of his life, so having a dog as additional protection seemed a little bit over the top to me, even with my kid reasoning.

  26. They all want to punch my private parts

    Maybe you should quit pissing on fire hydrants as they are obviously recognizing your smell from somewhere. 🙂

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