Wild Wednesday – Happy Halloween!

I’d play Name That Mammal, but you already know this one:

Nocona, my sort-of buddy

The wolf.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Halloween without this classic creature of the moon.  Wolves are one of the most wide-spread mammals on the planet, they can be found on every land mass but Antarctica.  The rarest wolf is the Ethiopian wolf, check them out in this great article by National Geographic.

The wolf has been one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet; myth and legend frequently paint them as ravening beasts, bloodthirsty killers.  The supernatural association with werewolves and vampires has only added to the animal’s mystique and fear factor.

Conversely, the wolf has also been revered as a teacher, a pathfinder, and a keeper of wisdom with the admirable qualities of loyalty and strength.  They have been powerful totems for cultures around the globe and through history.

The Cherokee tell the following tale:

 

https://plus.google.com/101936851270775627859/posts/6cogjx9H3DK

 

In honor of Halloween, since it is a time when the Veil thins between the worlds and cycles turn, I’m going to ask you my readers, to feed the good wolf.

 

Blessed Be!

 

Weird Weekend – If Aliens Are Real…

Why don’t they just land on the White House lawn and introduce themselves?

 

Why don’t they let someone get a real picture/video instead of those grainy, jumpy images?

 

I’ve already shared my thoughts on whether or not life exists out there in our galaxy, or even our own solar system.

 

To discuss what might be going on in the head of an intelligent alien being, what might motivate them is something science fiction writers have been doing for decades.  What we are finding as our knowledge base expands is that, more and more often than not, science fiction is becoming science fact.  Want an example?  Just take out your cell phone.  It’s a communicator and minicomputer you can carry in your purse or pocket.  Before my smart phone, my celly had to be the clamshell kind.  Why?  Because flipping that little gizmo open was my own personal Star Trek moment, each and every time.

 

Today, Hub and I were catching up on episodes of The Clone Wars animated series.  In Season 5, Anakin and Obi Wan, with Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka travel to Onderon to aid rebels who are fighting the Separatist controlled government of the system.  The Jedi must keep their assistance hidden from the Separatists so as not to draw the attention of Count Dooku and thus escalate the fighting.  The Jedi are there strictly to train the rebels and stay in the background, not to fight the rebel’s battles for them.

 

 

Why don’t the Jedi simply step up and clean out the Separatists on Onderon?  Anakin, Obi Wan and Ahsoka could have easily wiped up the mess on their own.  Two reasons, first they don’t want the Separatists to know the Jedi council is involved.  But also, the Jedi know the Onderon people must fight their own battles, and win their system back for themselves.  They are willing to provide support and education, but not publicly.

 

So I have to ask the what if question.  What if the reason aliens don’t land and introduce themselves is that they don’t want to have their presence publicly acknowledged?  What do you think?  Could the reasons be benevolent, like the Jedi?  Or, conversely, what if it’s like the movie They Live?

 

What do you think?  Or perhaps the biggest question is, why would they bother to come here at all?

 

I love hearing from you!  Please share your thoughts!

 

 

 

Weird Weekend – Werewolves? For Real?

You’re out hiking in the woods on a late summer evening.  The full moon is rising above the distant hills.  You can’t see it, but its brilliant silver light spills between the boles of the trees and the world around you is moving light and shadow.  The only sound is the rustle of your feet through the small green plants lining the forest floor and the wind sighing through the branches above you.

Off to your left, a bush shakes violently, and with a spray of leaves a massive creature leaps out onto the path in front of you.  It hunches on all fours, before slowly unfolding to a two-legged stance that towers over you.  The last thing you see as it lunges at you are its wolf-like jaws parting.

I confess.  I love the idea of being a shapeshifter.  Seriously, how fun would it be to be able to change into another creature?  Better than being dead, and still walking around.  If I had a choice between becoming a werewolf and becoming a vampire, well, I’d be werewolf all the way.  Frankly I don’t care how lively a vampire is, they’re still just a pretty zombie.  Enamored as I am of the werewolf mythos, I have always relegated it to the world of make-believe, or at least that it exists purely on the spiritual realm.  But what if it wasn’t?

I found this website, The Beast of Bray Road.  Linda Godfrey details on her blog and her websites about large creatures with manlike bodies and wolflike heads in rural Wisconsin and Michigan.  Multiple sightings, encounters, even a movie was made about these beasts, and Animal Planet talks about them.

Another version of Bigfoot, right?  Possibly. But then again, what is Bigfoot?  Lots and lots of theories have been put forth, including that these are dimensional creatures, able to shift back and forth between our reality and others.  I find these reports interesting, but I have no definitive views either way.  I heard Linda on Coast to Coast one night, and the sheer number of sightings was impressive, reported by people from all walks of life.  I do think our world is wider and wilder than most people think, and the idea that these wolf-men might actually exist is absolutely intriguing.

Not long ago, I heard David Paulides on Coast to Coast AM.  He was discussing his book, Missing 411, which describes mysterious disappearances from national parks.  Mr. Paulides has a long history in law enforcement and investigation, and I listened to him detail case after case of people who have gone missing under extremely unusual circumstances.  It was a memorable show, but what really stood out was when he described a little girl who went missing.  When she was found told of being carried away by a ‘big wolf’ who ‘picked her up in his arms.’  He ‘gave her berries to eat’ and ‘ate her hat.’  Many of those recovered described similar encounters with large beasts.  Again, intriguing, compelling but not definitive.  I think I’ll have to pick up Mr. Paulides book and get the full story.

What would you do if you ran into a werewolf?  Would you want to be bitten?  Do you think it possible that some form of this creature could exist in our world?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wild Wednesday – Did You Know?

A little public service announcement here:

 

 

I found it on this Facebook webpage.  I don’t know this group and don’t belong to it, but I felt this was important information to pass along.

 

Feral or abandoned cats are a growing issue for communities, and require a community response.  More and more animals are abandoned as families are forced to move, or downsize due to economic pressures.  Often animals are not altered because the surgery is just one more expense a family cannot afford.  Fortunately there are groups out there that will spay/neuter and perform this valuable service of trapping, altering and releasing these wild cats.

 

The Humane Society of the United States has issued this statement regarding TNR.  Wikipedia’s entry describes the pro’s and con’s of this feral cat management strategy.

 

TNR is controversial.  Wildlife advocates say it is damaging to local species of birds, reptiles, mammals, etc.  Studies regarding population management are divided; some show it works, others argue it doesn’t.

 

I am not on the fence about this.  I think TNR is a viable start to management options, because this is not a problem that is going away any time soon.  It’s not a perfect solution, but better the cat be spayed/neutered and released than killed outright.

 

And, enough soapbox.  How about some funny?

 

 
Enjoy your Wild Wednesday!  Thanks for stopping by!

Weird Weekend – Ancient Megalithic Cultures

Sure, you know about the Egyptian pyramids.

http://www.travlang.com/blog/pyramids-of-giza-a-landmark-in-the-history-of-architecture/

And you know about Stonehenge.

We marvel at these giant structures and wonder at the mystery of their construction.  There is controversy regarding when they were built.  Have you ever been to an ancient site?  I’ve been to Stonehenge, and even amidst the touristy trappings you can still feel the mystery and energy of the place.  It’s been called a calendar, an observatory and even a pen for sheep.

We wonder who built these places, and how?  How were such giant blocks moved by people whose only power source was their own muscle?  In the case of the pyramids, the blocks are so finely shaped and fitted that for the most part you still cannot fit a knife between.  Are these sites anomalies?  Did the local population just get really lucky and sort of figure it out and throw it together?

Most people have heard of the pyramids and Stonehenge, but have you heard of Puma Punku in Bolivia?  It is part of the Tiwanaku complex, for which there is limited data.  Dating for this site places it anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 to 36,000 years old.

Do those precise corners and perfect circles look like they were cut by hand with stone tools?  Local legends about Puma Punku say it is the place where the world was created.

Or how about Malta?  The temples on these little islands in the Mediterranean are dated by mainstream archeologists to 5,000 years ago and are considered the oldest free-standing megalithic sites on the planet.

What do these sites, located around the globe, have in common?  They’re all built with really big rocks.  Big rocks that have been shaped and fitted with a precision that is difficult to achieve today.  These blocks are so huge that modern cranes would have difficulty picking them up.

The other commonality is their amazingly accurate orientation, to the cardinal points as well as aligning with astronomical events.  Solstice markers are generally found at the temple sites.  Monitoring the skies is a long and painstaking endeavor.  To be able to monitor celestial events, and then translate that knowledge into gigantic stone buildings is not a feat of a hunter/gather level of development.  It requires precision in observation as well as construction.  It requires an advanced knowledge base and level of development.

But the question of when these places were built remains controversial.  Increasing evidence though is surfacing to show that they are much, much older than is commonly thought.   Accepted theories on the progress of civilization have us in a fairly steady upward march, placing us at the pinnacle of everything that has ever been known.  To suggest an advanced technological civilization in ancient history was dismissed as fantasy.  Yet the anomalies of these mysterious sites continue to confound us.

It is horribly difficult to date these sites.  Radiocarbon dating does not work unless you have something organic.  Other radiometric dating done on the stones themselves would only tell us when the rock was formed, not when it was dressed or placed.  So to date the temples we have to look at what surrounds the rocks, or what is under them, which would tell you when the stone was laid down.  So far as I know, no one has tried to move one of these megaliths to get to what’s directly under.

But how do you know if the organic material you’re sampling is really the oldest?  This question is not always satisfactorily answered, and yet it is still the main source of dating of these ancient megalithic structures.  So mainstream theory remained that humans didn’t start to organize into cities until about 6,500 years ago, in Sumer.

Enter Gobekli Tepi, and the modern archeological world is stunned.  Gobekli Tepe is located in Anatolia, Turkey, and it is dated to 9,000 to 12,000 years ago.  That date was reached by radiocarbon dating, so why is it more acceptable than others?  Because Gobekli Tepi was not discovered until 1964, up until then it was thought to be just a hill, until a survey showed otherwise.  So any organic material left at the bottom of the structures uncovered so far had to have been buried when Gobekli Tepe was.  I find it humorous that the Wikipedia article says it was built by hunter/gathers.

 

Other megalithic sites around the world.

Easter Island
Baalbeck, Lebanon. Estimated to weigh 1,200 tons. Just for comparison, average weight of the blocks making up the pyramids, 50 tons.
Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi

Somewhere along the way, we lost part of our history.  A big part.  These ancient sites that circle the globe offer us only an enigmatic snapshot of the ancient world, a distant past more than 10,000 years ago.  In light of the evidence uncovered at Gobekli Tepe, it is time to revise our historical timeline.  Some time in the past, a civilization existed that was capable of picking up and moving huge stone blocks with ease.  A civilization that was global in scope, or multiple civilizations with similar skill sets.

What’s missing?  The development of this civilization.  Currently there is no archeological data that demonstrates the rise of these cities, or the skills to build on such a grand scale.  It is as if these sites appeared suddenly on the earth, and this only adds to their mystery.  Recently, an underground chamber was discovered at Puma Punku using ground penetrating radar.  Could we be close to getting some of the questions surrounding this site answered?

Have you been to one of these mysterious places?  What was your experience?

I really love to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts.

Wild Wednesday – Nature In Action

One of the more enjoyable parts of working at the Zoo was that I had the opportunity to educate people; not just about the individual animals, but about habitats, ecosystems, and how species are interdependent upon each other.  Including us.

One of the most common questions was, “What does it eat?”  Since most of our education animals were predators, the answer was generally some other animal.  I got many, many cringes and sad faces, sometimes in a hushed whisper they’d ask “Bambi?”  From the same people who were about to sit down to a steak dinner prepared by a five star chef.  If I was feeling flippant, I would ask, “where do you think meat comes from?”  The answer I got quite often was, “the store, on those little styrofoam rectangles.”  Some of them were even quite serious.

Sometimes, whether we like it or not, we get a reminder that everything eats something else.  If you watch Tosh.O then you saw the video of the snow leopard and the squirrel.

***** Fair warning, this video shows squirrel death*****

Frankly, that squirrel was destined to be dinner.  Did you see how it stopped and practically waited for the snow leopard to catch it?  The truth is, on this planet, animals eat other animals and we are another link in that chain.  When we forget or ignore that we are forgetting who we really are; a part of the life cycle.

As I listen to that dad’s reaction I can’t decide if he is truly horrified, or trying to cover his laughter and somehow reassure his child by saying “Oh no!”  However, I see that as an opportunity to teach the child that what happened is not wrong, or sad or bad, but part of life.  Kitty was hungry for a snack, are you hungry for a hot dog?  It’s the Circle of Life.

 

 

I once knew a gal who couldn’t stand to look at raw meat.  Loved her steak, just don’t, for the love of pete, show it to her in its bloody, uncooked state.  Well done and on her plate, no problem.  She didn’t cook much.  Another friend was a vegetarian because she’d raised so many baby pigs and cows she couldn’t stand the thought of eating one of them any more.  What I loved about both these women was that they acknowledged their dining habits were dependent on others, and made their choices accordingly.

Where do you fall in the spectrum?  What would you do if that was you and your kid watching the snow leopard?  Have you ever had to hunt for your dinner?  Raised livestock?  Which are You, dear reader?

Weird Weekend – Reiki, Is It For Real?

Two years ago I completed my Reiki Master Teacher training.  Reiki has been a journey that has quite literally transformed my life.  I am a better person because of it; I view people with far more compassion, I am kinder to myself, and I have level of contentment that I had not thought possible.  Yeah, really, it’s that good.

In this post, I wrote about what Reiki is, but the bigger question people want to know is, does it really work?  Ask someone who’s had Reiki, and you’ll probably get an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’  The most commonly reported effect of Reiki is relaxation; which everyone needs more of!  Our western society today is one that is driven by stress…we speak of needing caffeine (to speed us up), deadlines, gym, angry customers or bosses, after school stuff for the kids, not to mention paying the bills, keeping a roof over our heads and, especially in today’s economy, getting and keeping a good job.  We go, go, go, nonstop from the moment we crawl out from under the covers bounce out of bed till we drop our heads back onto our pillows late at night.

This is not normal.  This is not healthy.  If you think differently, you’re fooling yourself.  The whole body needs to be cared for; not only the physical, but the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our life require tending and nurturing.  We all need ‘down time’ or ‘me time.’  That is, we all need time to recharge and re-energize ourselves; we need to de-stress, to relax and to connect with the divine within.  There are many, many paths to this, Reiki is only one.

But does it work?  This is what most people want to know before they shell out hard earned cash for someone to lay hands on and say that healing energy is channeled through them.  I mean, can you think of any more woo-woo statement than that?

So, can its effects be measured?  In this study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Reiki was found to improve outcomes in patients after a heart attack.  This article discusses how Reiki produced measurable physiologic changes associated with relaxation and stress reduction.  This last article is not Reiki focused, but discusses how distant healing techniques produced statistically significant improvement in outcomes for AIDS patients.

In case you don’t follow the links, I’ll let you know that these are not blog posts, or opinion pieces in popular literature.  These are clinical trials published in peer reviewed journals.  Do they “prove” Reiki works?  Absolutely and conclusively?  No.  Do they demonstrate that Reiki, and other complementary spiritual healing techniques are worthy of further study?  Unequivocally, yes.

Reiki is not a magic bullet, it is an adjunct therapy.  It does not ‘heal’ or ‘cure’ the recipient, but it is doing something to facilitate improved health in those who receive it.  For those who are looking for a gentle, non-drug alternative to increasing their well-being, Reiki is a sound choice.

Here’s hoping you find that which helps you heal.

I really love hearing from you!  Drop me a comment, tell me of your Reiki experiences, let me know what you think.

P.S.  All pictures are under copyright to me.  Please ask permission before use.  Thank you!

Wild Wednesday – Name That Mammal!

It all started when Hub began teaching me about music, and musicians.  You see when we first met, I was pretty musically stupid; although I liked music I had never paid much attention to the names of the bands, or the songs, that I liked.  Any of you out there who are musicians are sure to sympathize with Hub.

A typical conversation went like this:

Awesome song comes on the radio while we’re driving.

Me:  Oh, I love this song!  Cue off-tempo tapping on my leg.

Hub:  Oh yeah?  Who’s singing it?  Then, with rolled eyes.  And you’re off.  Hub then demonstrates the ‘proper’ way to tap in time with the beat.

Me:  What do you mean I’m on the one and the three?  That matters?  And I don’t know who this is.  Or the name of the song.  See, I know that’s going to be Hub’s next question.

Thus began my musical education.  Now I can tell Led Zepplin from Rush, name which Beatle is singing which song, name the artist AND title of my favorite songs, and I have finally (somewhat) mastered the fine art of keeping time ‘appropriately.’  Who knew counting to four could be so difficult?

But, why should Hub have all the teaching fun with Name That Tune?  So I started Name That Mammal.  He’s getting pretty good, too.  What’s that?  You say you can’t wait to learn fun facts about some cool creatures?

Then let’s play….

Name That Mammal!

You may never have seen this particular coat variation on this big cat before:

This cat is usually spotted, but has tell-tale tear marks that positively identify it.

The spots on this cat are solid, and irregularly shaped.  Again you see the distinctive tear marks.  These act like the dark marks football players will put under their eyes; they help reduce the glare of the bright African sun.  At one time, you could find these cats throughout southern Asia, India, and Africa.  Today they have lost more than 3/4 of their former range.

Their extraordinarily flexible spine allows them an incredible reach and drive when they run, making them the fastest land mammal, able to reach speeds of up to 70 mph.

I worked with Kubali for a brief time before I left the Zoo.  She was the last big cat I worked with but she is still there today meeting and educating Zoo visitors.  Like their tiny cousins, these cats purr.  They are the only big cat to do so.

She was purring when this picture was taken.

Bonus points if you can name the coat type in Picture 1.

To give credit where credit is due.  Pictures 1, 2 and 3 were found at the following websites.  Picture 4 is all mine!

http://nickaa.deviantart.com/art/King-Cheetah-36499424

http://karook.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/cheetah-life-cycle/

http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.com/2011/10/cheetah.html