My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Minute Gift Follow Up



As Alycia mentioned in Looking for that last minute gift, posted before Christmas, we enjoy sponsoring animals through the Best Friends Animal Society or otherwise including charitable donations made in the names of recipients as part of gift giving.  For the past several years we’ve sponsored dogs, printed a picture of the dog from the Best Friends website and included it with their care package in the mail.

This year though Alycia and I realized that there are animals other than dogs at Best Friends that you can sponsor, including rescued farm animals.  Did we sponsor a jackass in my Dad’s name?  Well technically no since jackasses are only male, asses are female, this ass/donkey was named Jenny, so she wasn't a jackass.
But from a big picture perspective, did we sponsor a jackass in my Dad’s name this Christmas?  Yes. Yes we did. Merry Christmas Dad!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Break

Good Morning Awesome Readers.

As you can tell by the lack of posts this week, we've taken a little Christmas break here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes.  Over the last week or so we've had a visit to the historic Cummings Family estate in bucolic Cavalier, North Dakota, played with new Christmas presents, spent some time playing with the dogs, chatted with friends and family members across the country, shoveled some snow (not too much...yet), and generally been slackers. 

I guess having a couple of weeks off over Christmas break is the norm now that we're a house full of academics, professional gadabouts preaching from our ivory tower and then retreating away from any real work. But it's not for us to discuss the merits of our profession is it?  We hope you have also had some time to relax and enjoy the season with some warm cookies, a good book, or some quality family time. 

We do have some exciting things on the horizon!  The Deaf Dog of the Year contest (see the 2011 Deaf Dog of the Year Contest and Contest Results) is scheduled to start this coming week, we might finally post the pictures of our vacation to England over Labor Day, and there are rumors of a Sasquatch related article in the mix.  Stay tuned...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.  Since the holiday season is jam packed with stuff to do and you don't have a lot of time to spend frittering around on the Internet, I'll leave you with just one picture to express holiday joy.  The purest expression of happiness, the look of joy on a child's face, in this case my super awesome nephew. 
And this isn't even him opening presents, just being fascinated with a snow globe.  I can't imagine how happy he'll be on Christmas morning. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking for that last minute gift

If you're a procrastinator (and I'm sure there are a few of you out there in our readership circles), then perhaps you're still looking for that perfect Christmas gift for someone. If so, read on. If you're "all done shopping" good for you, but still read on - you can never have too many good ideas for gifts.

Since my family really doesn't need anything, and my parents' garage is bulging at the seams, a few years ago I was looking for some other kind of gift for them and I thought of doing a donation to a charity. Nearly all charities will let you make a donation in the name of someone, but sometimes you don't really "get" anything that you could package up as a "gift". Please don't let that stop you from donating, but one charity that I've gone back to a few times is the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah.

Again, you can just make a plain donation to Best Friends and they will eventually send you a nice letter thanking you for your donation. But another option that Best Friends has come up with, and I wish other animal-related charities would also do, is their sponsor an animal program. Here you can pick the dog, cat, barnyard animal, wildlife creature, etc. that you can "sponsor". The animals that are up for sponsorship all have a nice picture and a great/sad backstory of their life prior to coming to the Best Friends Sanctuary.  I like to copy and paste the picture and story onto a homemade card and give that to my gift recipients.

So, if you're like most people, looking for that "perfect" gift for the person who has everything, think about a charitable donation to Best Friends or any other charity of your choice. Think outside of the box in this world full of wastefulness. Does Aunt Suzie really need another pair of slippers? Do your parents really need another holiday salt and pepper shaker combo set? Non-profits never have enough money and charitable donations are always appreciated. So spend your money somewhere where it will truly be appreciated. And who knows, if you get other people thinking about charitable giving, maybe they will start doing it, too.

National Parks Map

Alycia here - I found this Sierra Club map of the National Park system and thought it was neat. If you're looking for a way to plan a National Park vacation, this could be one way to plan it.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gun Control

Sorry for getting all political on you. We usually try to stay away from these types of topics here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, but I just had too much to say...

The recent mass killing at an elementary school in Connecticut is the latest heinous crime in 2012.  News coverage has been so widespread that I won't get into the details of this event, since information and the gory facts we so secretly crave are readily available on other sites.  I simply want to ask when is it enough?  Which mass killing is finally going to makes us say ENOUGH!

Many people, including gun rights advocates, contend that such tragedies are not a time for advancing political agendas.  I agree, but this isn't a political agenda.  It's a human rights agenda, a decency agenda, a common sense thing, an opportunity to change this tragic course we're on.  This horrible event should absolutely spur conversation and debate about gun control. 

This is the second public mass killing THIS WEEK, after a shooting in an Oregon shopping mall.  How many more will happen this year?  How many more next year?  Mother Jones recently published an article about all the Mass Shootings in America. The fact that we have a substantial list of recent mass shootings in America should disgust and appall every American citizen, regardless of your views on guns.  There have been so many mass shootings over the last several years, that it is hard to remember them all. That's why this incident should spark a discussion about gun control, we can't let this incident fade into the past like the others. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snow Crystal Pictures and Snow Science

We got a few inches of snow overnight, followed by some serious cold and wind here in Eastern North Dakota.  Temperatures topped out around 0 on Sunday and with the wind chills, it's in the -20 to -25 range.  Not the coldest it'll be this winter, but the the coldest thus far and cold enough to warrant a Wind Chill Warning Sunday night and Monday from the National Weather Service.
  
On weather related topics....One of my favorite blogs is the Updraft Blog by Minnesota Public Radio, which is about Minneapolis, MN, but has some really cool technical/science/weather stuff on a regular basis.  Recently they posted some cool pictures of snow crystals and a graph of how different snow crystals form at different temperatures and water/air saturation levels. 

The following images are from the awesome Updraft Blog, which got the images courtesy of Caltech and snowcrystals.com
1 snow 1.jpg
1 snow 4.jpg
1 snow 8.jpg
It turns out different snow crystal types form at different temperature and humidity levels.
1 1 1 1 morphologydiagram.jpg

From the Updraft Blog:
The morphology diagram tells us a great deal about what kinds of snow crystals form under what conditions. For example, we see that thin plates and stars grow around -2 C (28 F), while columns and slender needles appear near -5 C (23 F). Plates and stars again form near -15 C (5 F), and a combination of plates and columns are made around -30 C (-22 F). 
Furthermore, we see from the diagram that snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities. The most extreme shapes -- long needles around -5C and large, thin plates around -15C -- form when the humidity is especially high.
Why snow crystal shapes change so much with temperature remains something of a scientific mystery. The growth depends on exactly how water vapor molecules are incorporated into the growing ice crystal, and the physics behind this is complex and not well understood. It is the subject of current research in my lab and elsewhere.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's Happening in our Cornfields

Alycia here - Here is a very interesting NPR article/book review talking about the diversity of plant, animal, and insect life in different parts of the world, e.g., Cape Town, South Africa; Costa Rica; and Iowa. Basically, due to the pesticides that are sprayed on the cornfields, the plant and animal/insect life in an Iowa cornfield is virtually nonexistent - no bees, ants, birds, etc. A very sad and telling sign of how harmful these pesticides are.

NPR article: Cornstalks everywhere...


Monday, December 3, 2012

Radio Interview - Listen Now

As promised, here is the audio file of my radio interview on Pioneer 90.1 radio on Monday, November 26, 2012.  But since I can't upload just an audio file, I decided to add some pictures to the audio to make an interview/photo montage!

Northland Spotlight - November 26, 2012 Interview

If you prefer to just listen to the audio file, you can choose the option below which has no pictures.  It's the same audio in either version.