Bits 'n Pieces ...

Bits ‘n Pieces …

How’s your inner compass?

We all knew birds, whales and many other animals have a sixth sense that allows them to orient themselves in relation to the Earth’s magnetic poles. Then an unusual development came when Czech researchers, looking through Google Earth photos of herds of cows in 308 locations worldwide, concluded cows have it too.

Their studies revealed most cows in the field align themselves along the north-south axis of the globe. And the kicker is, we have it too. Well, that’s a supposition at the moment, from biologist John Phillips of Virginia Tech U, who has concluded “the ability to detect Earth’s magnetic field is “virtually ubiquitous to the animal kingdom” and he includes us folks.

Does that mean all our GPSs will soon become obsolete?

The New York Times followed, warning us that “The crows are watching you.”

Apparently, scientists bagging and tagging crows for studies, noticed that other crows began making scolding shrieks warning the others every time they saw a “bad” human.

The scientific “let’s find out” gene kicked in and volunteers were sent out wearing realistic masks, one a “dangerous” human, the other a “neutral” face. There was no fuss at all when the neutral masked people walked among them, but raucous screeching broke loose when the dangerous-masked person walked with them. Study author John Marzluff believes the crow’s remarkable ability to recognize humans is a protective evolutionary mechanism helping them adapt in human-dominated habitats.

Aha! Now we know why ravens wander along Main Street among us. They probably also know they’re special, being our territorial bird, a fact which still annoys our neighbours to the east.

And then there’s my friend Neil, bantering with his sister. Last week, he told us, “We were sitting around and I said to her, ‘I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle to keep me alive. That would be no quality of life at all. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’”

She got up, unplugged the TV, and threw out my beer!

Besides sisters, the world is full of other perils, including bureaucratic jargon. A Canadian report issued in 2008, titled Emergency Preparedness in Canada: How the Fine Arts of Procrastination and Bafflegab Hobble the People Who Will Be Trying to Save You When Things Get Really Bad, said little had been learned from past disasters.

“Bafflegab is a peculiar kind of language that is unique to public servants who are trying very hard to justify their existence,” said Senator Colin Kenny, one of the authors. In many cases, he said, the agencies’ jargon serves merely to mask the fact that nothing has been done.

Not the kind of people you’d pick as buddies, from the sound of things. Oh, did you miss Buddies’ Day too? It was on May 8, according to an e-mail from Paul. It included a short poem:

Trials keep you strong,

Sorrows keep you human,

Failures keep you humble,

Success keeps you glowing,

Only buddies keep you going,

While Revenue Canada keeps you broke.

A tip of the hat to buddies, and one who sent this final bit of wisdom from Edmonton. It’s attributed to Charles Banning: “If all the gold in the world were melted down into a solid cube, it would be about the size of an eight-room house. If a man got possession of all that gold—billions of dollars’ worth—he could not buy a friend, character, peace of mind, a clear conscience or a sense of eternity.”

Thanks, buddy. And other buddies sent tips too: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the internet and they won’t bother you for weeks. Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. And, finally, one that may help … to keep mosquitoes away put one of those little dryer anti-static sheets in your shirt pocket.

Have a good summer with your buddies.