Saturday, February 16, 2013

Controvery stalks annual squirrel slam hunt

I dunno - some people obviously have nothing better to do with their time.

Every year for the past six years, the volunteer Fire Department of Holley, NY, population 1,802, have held a fundraiser as a means to buy new equipment. Nothing wrong with that, right? However - it's always the howevers' in life that cause problems - they're doing it by sponsoring a hunting competition known as a Squirrel Slam, to bring in the fattest squirrel. Really.

Let me state this for the record that I'm not a squirrel lover having planted a number of flower bulbs that fell victim to these cute rats with bushy tales (that's what they are!) voracious appetites. My philosophy in the end, though, is live-and-let-live and enjoy the flowers that do bloom. But I digress.

The word got out about the hunt via the cyber highway in addition to a social media campaign to stop the hunt. According to news reports, those against the hunt include wildlife rehabilitators, animal activists, a state senator(!), gun opponents and a New Age minister in Texas who heals wounded squirrels through Reiki massage. Squirrels receive free massage? In addition Facebook postings and petitions have elicited 3,000 e-mails per day and hundreds of phone calls urging Holley offcials to shelve the slam. The added incentive for hunters is a $200 prize for the person(s) who bring in the fattest squirrel.

Thinking further, one (me) wonders why squirrels? What was the criteria? This fundraiser or the method thereof, rates at the top of the "what were they thinking" columns, along with the Great Python Hunt of the Everglades.

Most questionable, IMHO, is a special prize to young participants aged 14 and under. Say what? Let's teach children how to use a gun as soon as they can hold one.

In any case and for whatever it's worth, the fundraiser is sold out. Boggles the mind.

So whad'ya think, reader? Should the hunt have been stopped? A photo of a live squirrel munching innocently on a nut:,0,5393261.story

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some thoughts about Valentine's Day

The first thing wrong with Valentine's Day is that it falls at the wrong time of the year when a portion of the world is deep in the throes of winter woes. It would be much better if the holiday fell during late Spring or early summer, for example. Here's a thought: why not switch Valentine's Day, with let's say...Mother's Day, for example? Mothers being blessed with extra-understanding qualities wouldn't mind observing their special day in winter. Right moms?

This holiday aimed at romantics came about a long time ago when the Bishop of Spoleto was martyred on February 14, AD 271. Traditionally, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a lover's feast, hence the reason for restaurants offering special gastronomical banquets. Profit has nothing to do with it, of course.

According to, statistically, 110 million Valentine's roses are sold and delivered in a three-day period surrounding February 14th, the vast majority of which are red. Of those 110 million, 73% are purchased by men and a mere 27% are purchased by women. It's intereseting, at least to me that red roses are the number one color choice. Roses do come in other tints including yellow, pink, white and shade mixes. Somehow, the color red is viewed as a passionate hue, implying pasionate undertones, which is probably the reason that men are attracted to this particular tint and stick to giving red roses. Then again, so is black... But I digress.

In as far as the selection of flowers, we look to Debretts once again, "the" guide to social etiquette, for its take blooms.

Be prepared to spend, and don't economise. Never buy bunches from the supermarket or garage.
Garage? People sell flowers from garages? I thought that was the place one stored trash cans that hold dead rose bushes. Ask me about it. I know.

•Don't overlook the importance of the card that accompanies a delivered bouquet - it is an important part of the present.
Really, if you take the time to select a special assortment of flowers - and money - it seems logical that you at the very least, take credit for it. No? I mean, "guess who?" really leaves it open to speculation.

•Make sure the bouquet suits the occasion and the style of the recipient (e.g. classic or contemporary).
In other words, don't give your special friend a Venus Fly Trap for example, in the way of a card and gift. If someone wants to get rid of insects, they can call an exterminator. Really.

•Avoid white flowers for celebratory bunches (they are often associated with funerals and death).

•Mixed bouquets can look cheap if they aren't substantial and well-styled; instead, consider buying a bunch of all one type of bloom or going for just a single colour.
Personally, I believe in using flowers growing in or around one's garden. When one thinks about it, dandelions fit the bill perfectly and they are virtually...everywhere, plus they are free for the asking. Or for that touch of greenery, add some three (four leaf are hard to find) leafed clover.

•Utilize greenery - it can bulk up the bouquet and complement the flowers - and pick seasonal blooms, which will be in better condition.
Perhaps consider adding some dill or chives to make a bouquet look fuller. They serve a double purpose and can also enhance a home-made pot of soup that can be used as an entree for the Valentine's Day supper. Two gifts for the price of one! Can't go wrong!

That Debrett's has the right answers to suit all occasions. Of course they will be consulted for advice on social dilemmas. But I digress...again.

Thinking back, my first encounter with romance was a somewhat painful experience. We were both nine years old and after our school day ended, we enjoyed sitting on my front stairs discussing life as seen through our eyes. One day for no apparent reason and without any prior warning, he leaned over and kissed me square on the cheek. To say I was aghast was an understatement and reacted instantaneously by making a fist and thrusting it square into his stomach. He groaned while doubling over in pain. We stared at each other for what seemed like forever but was probably no more than a few seconds, as tears welled up in his eyes and spilled on to his cheeks. Clutching his stomach, he took off like a bat out of hell and never looked back. Ever. We never spoke again and he refused all overtures of friendship.

Came accross this quotation, which sums up love and Valentine's Day:
"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. (Unknown Author)

Aint't that the truth.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Python Challenge update and other unusual but interesting maybe not so thought-provoking pieces

Chances are people reading this blog have already read about this undertaking but it bears further scrutiny. For whatever reason, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission decided to host a first-ever, “Python Challenge” in the Florida Everglades. Over the years and due to human stupidity, the python population in the Everglades has grown to enormous proportions. Former pet python owners most likely dumped their pythons in perfect reproductive conditions and the rest, as they say, is history.

The hunt was open to anybody who felt the urge or need to hunt pythons using any methods that hit their fancy including guns, machetes…whatever. To date more than 1,500 “hunters” or wanna-be python slayers have registered and made their way in a section of the Everglades set out by the Commission and to date – count 'em – a mere fifty  pythons have fallen victim to the slayers. Let’s be realistic: pythons will not/do not come out of their python dwellings to become a python belt or boots/fashion accessory. The purpose of the event, according to the FWC, was to raise awareness about the Burmese python. Like, Floridians didn’t know about the situation given the publicity in the media! Pythons will be used for study purposes.

As an incentive to hunt down the slither-ers, $1500 will be awarded to the person who brings in the most pythons and $1000 for the longest snake caught, plus $750 for runners-up. Given the low number of pythons captured so far, one questions the logic and rationale of the hunt and the end result.

Here's the latest python update:,0,1282073.story

Speaking or writing of pythons - not your ordinary baby sitter

 Is it just my imagination or are inhabitants of planet earth losing their marbles. This story really takes the proverbial cake.

There are babysitters and then there are babysitters with a difference, accent on the latter. A Chinese family uses - can't believe I'm writing this - a pet snake to babysit their 13-year old son. Not just any old specie like your common garden snake but a 15 foot Burmese python. Really!

According to the article, the snake was introduced to the family as an egg that hatched into the python. The son took to the 220 lb. snake in a big way and a friendship was established. Over time, the snake acquired the role of pseudo-nanny.

According to the boy, she - presumably the snake is a female...not that it makes any difference - is very gentle when the pair are together and doesn't squeeze too hard. Key words here: too hard.

So I'm thinking here, is this not a disaster in the making? I mean, true it's very surprising that the snake hasn't made its move, yet, but then again and most likely, he's being fed well to stave off the pangs of hunger.

According to National Geographic: "Burmese pythons are carnivores, surviving primarily on small mammals and birds. They have poor eyesight, and stalk prey using chemical receptors in their tongues and heat-sensors along the jaws. They kill by constriction, grasping a victim with their sharp teeth, coiling their bodies around the animal, and squeezing until it suffocates. They have stretchy ligaments in their jaws that allow them to swallow all their food whole."

Need one say or write more? Here is a photo of the young boy and his "baby-sitter":

The women in France can now wear pants

Unbelievable as it may seem and read, for the last 200 years there had been a old ban on women wearing pants. Having visited France a few times, can’t say that I noticed whether or not French females wore the pants in the family (weak attempt at humor…very weak). Moving on …
In any case, for whatever reason the French government has decided to overturn the ban and now French women can legally wear pants. Why it took them so long is puzzling. Thinking further, there is no mention of the definition of “pants.” Would it include capris that reach below the knee or shorts?
According to Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights, the ban which came into being on November 17, 1800, was incompatible with modern French values and laws. To say the least! The law stated that females required the permission of local police should they want to “dress like a man” and wear pants.  The original law according to Ms Vallaud-Belkacem, had been intended to prevent females doing certain jobs. Modified in 1892 and 1909, it allowed women to wear pants if they were “holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”

Actually, thinking further, I wore pants during my visits and wasn’t arrested or anything. Had I ended up in jail, think of the media headlines: "Une touriste de France who wore de pants ends up in de prison." No mention in the story about the fine for this brazen act.
Seems that during the French Revolution, Parisian women had requested the right to wear pants and working-class revolutionaries became known as "sans-culottes" for wearing trousers instead of the silk-knee breeches preferred by the bourgeoisie. Given the reality that some French beaches allow topless bathing makes the change sensible.

There's no bones about it - parking lot reveals more than wheels

Not a regal end for a king but then nobody ever conceived the creation of parking lots centuries ago. Maybe it’s my warped sense of humor but it did cause a chuckle upon reading that the skeleton of King Richard III was found buried beneath a council parking lot in Leicester, England. Also, go figure that there had been a search by archeologists to discover his bones. In any case, now that it has been confirmed that this is indeed King Richard and for whatever reason –curiosity springs to mind – scientists have gone one step further and revealed a 3D reconstruction of his face. I mean, according to the image, he was a good look king but do we really care? Obviously, some people and according to Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society (they even have a society dedicated to him?) who led a 4-year hunt to find the king’s remains, “I hope you can see this face what I see in this face and that’s a man who is three-dimensional in every sense.” Different strokes for different folks…

So how is your world?