Puppies of Jenkintown, Part V: Catching up

I’m catching up with last week’s photos, so I’m afraid I don’t have time for individual entries this time around.

However, I wised up just a bit and I’m now using Flickr. Let’s see how that goes…

(stuff happens)

…ok, it doesn’t go great…the Flickr gallery maker I use stopped functioning after I upgraded to WordPress 2.8. Grrr.

You can see better versions of all these pictures in my Flickr stream. I’ll get around to updating the my Flickr pages with the older photos. Eventually.

I can’t seem to get the gallery to work, but here they are individually.

Dexter is an adorable cocker spaniel, allegedly great with kids, but was shy around Julia. After petting him, Julia described him as soft, very, very soft.


To see the rest, you’ll have to hit the “continue reading” button, just over in the bottom right of this post.

Continue Reading Puppies of Jenkintown, Part V: Catching up“Puppies of Jenkintown, Part V: Catching up”

Puppies of Jenkintown, part IV: Dogs, SNAKES, Dogs!

The ratio of days we remember the camera to days that are rainy have not been in favor of puppy snapshots in Jenkintown. Still, the sun must come out eventually, even during monsoon season.

And when it does, we are sure to see the two sun-worshiping ladies from the apartment down the street, as was the case last week. And when they’re out soaking in the ambient photons — a little too often for the taste of this cancer center employee — so is their dog, Cassie.


Cassie is a compact lab mix, just perfect, I’m sure for hopping in his owners’ jeep and heading to the Jersey shore. He is also as freaked out as you’d imagine an apartment dog in a town full of stray cats. He has no territory to really call his own, yet he must deal with the constant insult of feline intrusion. A nervous wreck, really.

After that, we went a long while before finding any street-walking pups. I don’t like taking pictures of dogs in yards or, worse, yelping out of house windows, for fear somebody will think I’m teaching my daughter how to peep — or, even worser, that I’m teaching her how to peep ineffectively, out in the open, during daylight.

We have our pride, after all.


Just before turning back down Greenwood toward home, we saw this pooch, Pookie, a toy poodle, across the street. Pookie’s daily walks are regular sight in the neighborhood, captured here for the first time. While certainly cute and pup-like, Pookie is a bit of a codger at, I believe, nine.



Last Thursday, the 1811th (d’oh), we saw a bunch of snakes (OK, two big ones and a baby) sunning themselves on the rocks along the Wissahickon in front of Valley Green Inn. A lady there vehemently claimed that they were water moccasins, but I tend to think that they are northern water snakes. (No, I mean vehemently, like, almost angry. Just snakes, lady, chill. You ain’t Ranger Rick.)


Last night we took The Little Girl Across The Street with us on our evening walk. You can never be too sure with those two, either they get along like sisters…or they get along like sisters. They were both fairly well behaved, but grumbled when we took a side trip to the post office to check Aly’s PO box. After a short, albeit heated, discussion on who was, in fact, line leader (me…always), we stopped by to say hello to our neighbor who was gathered with his fellow volunteers out front of the fire department. I have to mention that it was Pioneer, of course, Jenkintown has two about a block apart for historical/religious reasons.

(Have I ever mentioned that Jenkintown is a weird burg?)

Junior Fire Brigade

They plied us with fire-themed coloring books, tattoos and plastic helmets, in an effort to reduce the stockpile some. The fire company must have invested heavily in handouts at one point, since we’ve received a lot of them in recent years. We must have thirty plastic fire helmets rolling around the house from all the community events, pre-school visits and our neighbor’s whims. They are always appreciated, especially since the tattoos feature dalmatians. Julia was sporting one at the time, coincidentally.


As we were trying to keep the girls from strangling Benny with his fire helmet, The Little Girl Across The Street spotted a dog. It was one we’ve seen previously (A.K.A. Molly) , but I had forgotten to record her name. The Little Girl Across The Street snapped the shot of the puppy we now know as Sadie.

Alas The Little Girl Across The Street was getting tired, so we dropped her off at home and kept going. Good thing, too, otherwise we never would have been able to get this extreme closeup of Wilson.


Wilson is a five year-old Shar Pei pup — a little bigger, but not as ugly as most I’ve seen — rescued two years ago by a nice lady named Jane. A sweet pooch, we caught her again on the return trip home. Jane and Aly chatted while Julia and I took turns not scaring Wilson. Tired and unseasonably chilled for June — but seasonably mosquito-bitten — we headed home for the night.

Why I don’t go into the water…Reason #1,768

I could not be in the same ocean as this creature and not be gripped by paralyzing fear (not to mention paralyzing tentacles!). Behold, a great big jelly, the likes of which are not meant to be seen.

As the Discovery News reports, monster jellyfish like this are becoming more common as fish populations dwindle.

They say climate change could also cause jellyfish populations to grow. The team believes that for the first time, water conditions could lead to what they call a “jellyfish stable state,” in which jellyfish rule the oceans.

The combination of overfishing and high levels of nutrients in the water has been linked to jellyfish blooms. Nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off cause red phytoplankton blooms, which create low-oxygen dead zones where jellyfish survive, but fish can’t, researchers said.

Just great. We’re doomed.

Massive Bat Die-off in NJ? Maybe…and another fungus to blame!

The Star-Ledger reports that 95% of NJ bats died off this winter from a fungal infection known as “white-nose syndrome.” That sounds pretty damned scary, until you read the article and find that the headline was taken from a single reported hibernaculum (cool word meaning place where critters hibernate), the Hibernia Mine in Rockaway Township. Still, that doesn’t mean this isn’t serious. While Hibernia Mine might be an exceptional case, who knows (yet) how often this is repeating?


Hibernia Mine doesn’t appear to be an active spelunking site, but you never know what desperate cavers might do in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger report fails to mention that the Fish and Wildlife Service has asked for a voluntary moratorium in the northeast to prevent the further spread of the disease.

So, like the frogs and bees, we have another fungal infection at the root of an animal die-off. With the bats, however, it seems decidedly linked to human activity, but there still could be a climate connection. (After all, why are people suddenly carrying fungi?) This press release from Cardiff University suggests climate change is causing fungi to grow more rapidly and “fruit” more frequently.

So, if you are doing math at home, is it:

warmer/wetter climate = more fungi + disease + accelerated decay (fungi hasten wood rot) = more CO2 = climate change


Kim Stanley Robinson’s Top 10 Mars Novels

Personally, I abhor top 10 lists as gimmicky click bait (for shame Newsweek, that trick works for Cracked, but it is unseemly for you), but I’ll forgive IEEE Spectrum for this list of Kim Stanley Robinson favorite Mars-related SF novels. There are at least three novels on this list I’ve never heard of, let alone read. Hunting them down might be a challenge.

I’m still in awe of Robinson, and deeply regret not being able to string two sentences together when I met him while interning at NSF.

He is in the top two of the all-time list of great SF writers named Robinson.

Keep Libel Laws out of Science

There’s a petition online in support of Simon Singh, the UK science writer being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for, essentially, using the word “bogus” in the same article as “chiropractic.” You can get the full scoop at Jack of Kent, a blog that has really nailed the issue from the start.

Here’s the article (originally posted on the Guardian’s site). And here’s an occurrence of the horrid word:

The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.

Is he wrong? I don’t think so. (In case you stumble across this, feel free to point me to the literature that shows chiro can treat children for the problems described above, Damien. Sorry, bro. I’ve always loved ya, man, but it seems implausible given the method of action.)

We don’t have the same libel laws in the US, of course, but chiropractic doesn’t really need the “protection” — few in the mainstream press ever call into question the effectiveness of chiropractic. Like many alternative medical practices, they tend to be accepted uncritically in the press. I think it might have something to do with the illusion of “balance” in reporting and the reluctance of the American press to tackle complicated issues surrounding science and medicine.

The Puppies of Jenkintown, part III

Through a combination of illness (Julia’s, better now, thanks) and forgetfulness (you need the camera to take pictures) we missed a week or two in our quest to document the puppies of Jenkintown. Last night we made it out with a healthy kid and camera (although a sick dad), and harvested a bumper crop of pooch pictures.


We had to race across the street to catch Daisy, whose owner was chatting with a friend. Daisy is a four year-old sheepdog/German shepherd mix who eyed us warily as we approached. We had Ben sitting in the stroller, Julia standing on the back and I, croaky with Julia’s transferred chest cold, pushing the whole thing forward. Judging by the reaction of the dog and its humans, I presented something of an odd, disturbing figure as I shambled toward them.


At this point, I realized I’d forgotten my notebook, so I recorded everything on the palm of my hand, which didn’t help appearances. We took our leave and, from Greenwood, we marched up Florence where we met Sherwood and his owner. Sherwood was a big fuzzy retriever mix and, eventually, sat patient for Julia’s photo.

Pepe, deluxe

While looping around Mather, we met Pepe, a 10 year-old German shepherd/border collie mix. Pepe sat patiently as Julia took her sweet time getting near. We were having a large-dog day, and the anxiety was building. Julia’s a little dog kind of girl, and the near-licking from Sherwood had put her on guard. Pepe was a good boy, and tolerated us.

Cat interlude.
Nice kitty.


Then we met a puppy NOT of Jenkintown, Callie, a lovely Korean Jindo visiting from West Virginia. Although Callie was Julia-scale, his owner warned that she was a rescue dog from not-so-pleasant circumstances. So we practiced using the zoom feature of Julia’s camera. Then we had a nice talk about shelter dogs.


At last we met Charlie, a bichon pup of indeterminate age. But by that time, I was running out of palm, so that’s all the detail I have.

Pictures courtesy of Julia Rose Lester.

Why I don’t go into the water Britain …Reason #1,767

The Telegraph reports finding a 600ft jellyfish crop circle found in an Oxfordshire field.

Kill it!!! Oh, wait…

At the end of the article, the writer oddly refers to an entirely different crop circle from last year, and reuses the quotes from a retired astrophysicist on how THAT crop circle encodes pi.

I had to re-read it to figure out the this reference really had nothing to do with the jellyfish. Bizarre.