A Sunday Chat with Myself—Microplastics

It’s when plastic takes on a life of its own that the food chain will be disrupted.” —Anthony T. Hicks

Sundays are usually a quieter time when I can relax and reflect on the metaphysical things in my life—the moral and spiritual side of living that give value to my being here on earth.

Today, my thoughts turned to the dangerous role microplastics are starting to play in my life. It’s still not quite mainstream media yet, but it’s getting there. One reason, I suspect, why “big media” is still dragging its feet on exposing this problem is because big business—which big media is part of— will be a big looser if we ever start to cut back or replace plastics.

But, I wonder, is all this “ignoring the problem” by media a way of hiding the “wolf in sheep’s clothes?

First, what are microplastics, and why are they dangerous? According to Wikipedia, microplastics “are small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment … the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classifies microplastics as less than 5 mm in diameter.” There are two classifications of microplastics: those that we are purposely creating—Primary Microplastics, like small pellets that are used in packaging and air blasting, or “scrubbers,” used in hand cleansers and facial scrubs.

I’ts when we go fishing for plastic that we wonder where all the fish have gone.” —Anthony T. Hicks

One danger that microplastics pose in their use in air blasting as “scrubbers” on machinery to remove rust and paint is that they are repeatedly reused until they are so small that their cutting power is lost. In that use, they become contaminated with heavy metals that are a health hazard to all living mammals.

Secondary Microplastics are the product of the natural breakdown of plastics in nature—on land and in the sea—as small as 1.6 micrometers (0.00006299 of an inch) in diameter. These microplastics, as they are ingested through our food, are so small that they can easily penetrate stomach or blood vessel linings and enter the body at will, entering our vital organs, where our body can’t control their presence, thus wreaking all manner of havoc.

So, what can I do, personally, to help alleviate this problem? I can start using cloth shopping bags when I go to the grocery store. When I buy a single item in a store, I don’t need the cashier to place it into a plastic bag for me to carry out when I can just as easily carry it holding it in my hand.

When available, I can buy bulk items like cereal, other food mixes and the like, instead of spending a lot of extra money paying for packaged boxes of the product.

Recycling plastics as much as possible is another major way in which we can reduce the amount of plastics in our landfills.

Pick up garbage (that’s mostly made of plastics) irresponsible people discard along pathways, sidewalks or roadways and deposit them in proper garbage disposable units.

Organizations have sprung up that are devoting their time and resources to plastics cleanup, both on land and in our oceans, and my deepest respect and admiration goes out to them for the responsible work of planet-earth stewardship that they have taken upon themselves.

However, just to satisfy our goal to clean up other people’s garbage is not going to save us from extinction! Humanity has to wake up, and each one of us has to take our share of responsibility to restore Gaia to her original, pristine “Garden of Eden” state that we found her in when we first came here.

With a little thought, it’s easy to find more ways to cut back on the use of plastics, but plastics are so engrained in our way of life, it would be almost impossible to completely remove them—at least not in our immediate future.

According to The Independent, global plastic production has increased dramatically. Between 2004 and 2014, the amount of plastic production rose by 38 percent!

The United Nations reports that “[this] is the most dangerous environmental problem facing the world today.”

“Millions of tons of tiny debris from plastic bags, bottles and clothes in the world’s oceans present a serious threat to human health and marine ecosystems,” warns the Independent.

Unless we do something, collectively—and soon— I must ask, who do you think will be the next dominant species on earth after we’ve annihilated ourselves? The Cockroach—again?

Posted in Environment, Microplastics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Freedom of Religion

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”—Albert Einstein

Some people can get quite upset when the topic of religion comes up, claiming it to be the biggest superstition that has ever plagued us. I can’t blame them, because I’ve also had some bad experience with so-call “religious” people, so I know how they feel. But in all fairness to the topic, there is—or can be—a world of difference between religion and spirituality, and the various opinions between the both. An incident in my life where I had a run-in with a “religious” person comes to mind.

My first wife and I were considering divorce. My wife’s local Bishop called us in to see if there was a chance at reconciliation. My wife went first into the Bishop’s office, I was standing in the hallway, waiting for my turn to see him. Oh, I should mention that, at the time, I considered myself a devout atheist, and I certainly was not a member of my wife’s church.

While I was standing in the hallway, waiting my turn to see the Bishop, a member of that congregation approached me and started spouting off the advantages of being a Christian—of his faith, in particular. As I kept showing my increased resistance to his claimed “advantages,” he kept getting more forceful in his demands that I needed to “repent” and follow his Jesus: that his religion was the only true religion, and if I didn’t get baptized and confess all my sins before his God, God would punish me, just like he will punish all the other wicked sinners in the world who don’t get baptized into his faith—by throwing me into a pit of hellish-hot fire to which I would be doomed to  for all eternity!

The guy wasn’t aware that I was still in the military at the time, physically quite fit, and certainly not averse to a good fight! Had not some other members of his congregation come and led him away from me, that little runt was rapidly coming “that close” to receiving a very bloody nose for his “missionary” efforts!

“It is one thing to have a ZEAL for God and another thing to have a SEAL from God” ―George Ifeanyi 

Sadly, it is this kind of religious attitude that too many people with feelings of exclusionist zeal have to anyone who is not of their faith, and it is this kind of zeal that not only separates them from the rest of humanity, but also from the true Gospel that Jesus the Christ tried to bring to the world.

I think Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ question, as to which the greatest commandment is, quite aptly replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God … and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself.” (see Matthew 22:35-39). And as if to finalize his point, Jesus added, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, if what you are doing does not comply with the first two commandments, you’re not teaching,  nor living, the Gospel.

Mankind has been visited by true prophets, under the guise of many names, from very ancient times to more modern understanding that we have towards religion and spirituality. Unfortunately, with the exception of the most historical prophets, they have been stoned, crucified, or burned at the stake!

What is it with people: they refuse to accept happiness—and, in really, that’s what true spirituality is about: happiness. Happiness’ only religion is that physical organization that administers compassion, love, charity and understanding—in other words, joy, to mankind. All other religions are false religions!

“I care how I feel and it is my desire to feel good.” —Abraham Hicks

Happiness is manifested spirituality. When a person finally finds happiness, they instinctively will kneel to its dictates because of their positiveness. Only happiness can grant to its adherents the power to embrace a lonely person and tell them, compassionately, that they are not alone: that they are loved and cherished, like all of God’s creatures are loved.

Hell, and damnation. What a primitive, barbaric concept!

Only those who have found Happiness have the power to lay down their guns and embrace all cultures and beliefs of the world: that all of us are equal in the eyes of God.

What a wonderful world this would be if we would forget our pride and personal grievances, and kneel, in humble submission, to the true Spirituality of the Universe:  Happiness, and make that Spirituality our Religion!

“My path is about joy!” —Abraham-Hicks

Posted in Happiness, Points to Ponder, Religion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Pigeons

“I don’t mind being a symbol but I don’t want to become a monument. There are monuments all over the Parliament Buildings and I’ve seen what pigeons do to them.”  —Tommy Douglas

A few years ago, someone abandoned a pair—one male and one female—Mourning Doves in our neighborhood, and they found their way to my bird feeders. Without even a glance back, they set up shop near my feeders and, today, I have counted an estimate (they move around so much so that I can’t get an accurate count) three dozen Mourning Doves that visit my feeders and their nesting places have spread out to cover most of the area in our small, urban town!

My doves are bluish-grey in color and have a distinct black ring around their neck. Research says that there is a difference between a dove and a pigeon, but they share more in common than differences, and in the case of their intelligence, there is no difference.

Doves and pigeons have been raised as pets by humans for thousands of years and were widely used as subjects of sacrifice to appease the gods and were even employed as message carriers before government postal services replaced them. They are also considered a delicacy in the food isle. If you’re any kind of food connoisseur, you’ve eaten pigeon meat! And who hasn’t gone for a walk in the community park without a bag of popcorn to feed the pigeons?

On the other hand, they are also famous for ‘disgracing’ statues and other public monuments by pooping all over them and are referred to by many as “flying poop machines!” Some folk who really hate pigeons have even gone so far as to accuse them of being dirty and spreading disease. However, this has proven to be untrue. No evidence has been found where pigeons have been responsible for spreading disease, no worse than in any other clean, animal species, but, on the other hand, pigeons have been listed among the top ten species as having super intelligence!

“Pigeons are among the most maligned urban wildlife despite the fact that human beings brought them to our shores and turned them loose in our cities – not something that they chose.”  —Ingrid Newkirk

According to Dr. Becker, in her Healthy Pets, states, “In a classic test of basic intelligence known as the “string task,” pigeons selected the correct string (the one attached to food treats) up to 90 percent of the time. Even more remarkable? The pigeons aced the test “virtually” using a computer touch screen.” In other studies, pigeons have shown remarkable skills in being able to learn abstract mathematical rules. In fact, according to Dr. Becker, “[pigeons] are the only non-humans other than rhesus monkeys with [that] ability.”

In other studies, as reported in Science Daily, “Pigeons can remember large numbers of individual images for a long time, e.g. hundreds of images for periods of several years.” And “Pigeons can be taught relatively complex actions and response sequences and can learn to make responses in different sequences.”

And, who hasn’t heard of the Homing Pigeon with their unique ability to learn routes back to their home from long distances? This homing behavior is different from migratory birds that recall fixed routes at fixed times of the year, although there is some belief that the same mechanisms may be involved. So, salute the pigeon, and the next time you take a walk through your community’s park, armed with a bag of popcorn to feed the pigeons, think of them as being more than just “flying poop machines!”

“My father fought in World War 1 and single-handedly destroyed the German’s line of communication. He ate their pigeon!” —Frank Carson

Posted in Animals, Birds, Intelligence, Thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Me and Mortimer, Chapter five—”My Wife is Still My Boss!”

“Sheesh! What a week!”  I had to work ‘till nearly seven o’clock last Friday night to get all those files put away, and my wife would come and check periodically to make sure I was filin’ them right! When I finally was done, and could go home, I was so tired I didn’t even want supper, nor watch any television. I just went straight to bed. Workin’ overtime—and especially not gettin’ paid for workin’ overtime, is downright torture on a fella’s constitution!

When I have times like last week, I think my wife can be a worse boss than ol’ Jason, my Straw Boss. Sometimes she can be sweeter than a Baskin-Robbin ice cream—’specially to the kids, but when she sets her mind on something, she can demand more respect that her will be done than a muleskinner’s bullwhip on a long haul! And on top of her bein’ my temporary boss, she gives me a warning that I gotta get every piece of that filing done before five every night or no supper and no television!

At first, I tried to convince my wife on my view of things regarding filin’ all those files, and why I wasn’t filin’ them all the time. Like, I sez to her, “what’s the use of filin’ all them files when, in the mornin,’ someone’s gonna come down from the office and take back one or two of them files ‘cause they needs them again that day. I know it don’t happen often, but I remember it has happened,” I tells her, “so I figure, “why bother filin’ any of them in the first place?”

My wife just scowls at me. “Very funny, but no cigar!” I don’t see her laughin’ so why’d she say it was funny? Then snaps, “Get ‘er done, or no supper!” Then turns her back to me and goes over to chat some more with Mortimer.

Oh, and I also gotta tell you, she’s been comin’ in to my office here in the Maintenance Shed real early every day—about three in the afternoon, to make sure I get all the filing done. Sheesh! As if I need someone to tell me how to do my work. Who’s she think I am? Still a kid?

She’s also been getting’ friendly with ol’ Mortimer. When she’s not watching me file, she’s chattin’ away with ol’ Mort about all kinds of things. Last Tuesday Mort even took the time to show her how to properly—at least that’s the way he calls it— sharpen a lawn mower blade. Hmph! As if my sharpenin’ wasn’t good enough for her. Mind you, the way I figures it, a lawn mower blade don’t need sharpenin’ more than once every five years—and we’ve only had our new mower for not even four years, so why’s she taking Mort’s advice instead of mine?

And speakin’ of lawn mowers, I gotta tell you what Mort did last Wednesday. That absolutely took the cake and made me so mad! Mort’s been brownnosin’ to the boss for quite a while already to let him take every Wednesday off so he can go over to some of the senior’s homes in town and cut their lawns for them. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to get an extra day off of work every week. Anyway, what he does on his day off is his business, but what really got me mad is that he offered to come over and also cut our lawn on Wednesdays! Sure, maybe I don’t cut our lawn as often as it should be cut, and sometimes I have to bribe my oldest kid to cut the lawn for me, but as head of the house I demand that I don’t need no welfare—’specially from Mort! And to make my point even more clear, I like dandelions in the lawn. They’s pretty little yellow spots of sunshine, that add color to my lawn.

Of course, as usual, my wife wouldn’t listen to my superior reasoning, so I just gotta swallow my pride and let ol’ Mort come over every Wednesday and cut our lawn! Sheesh! What an insult!

… Oh gosh! I see by the clock that it’s after two already, and my wife will be here any minute, so I gotta take a few minutes off from talkin’ to you and do some filin.

Be back in a minute.


There! That’s all done for another day—I mean, the filin.’ There weren’t many files—only about a dozen, so I finished early. My wife even complimented me on the good job that I did. I feel proud of myself!

Because I finished early, and she had some shoppin’ for groceries to do so she could make supper, she didn’t stay around ‘till five like usual, but left early. that gave me a few minutes to myself here in the office to just catch my breath and relax before I can go home. Mort’s still outside replacing some light bulbs in the lamp posts on the company’s parking lot. He uses the company’s cherry-picker to lift him himself up high so he can reach the light fixtures, always careful to strap himself in to the bucket with a safety harness.

Chicken! Thinks he’s gonna fall or something. He tells me he straps himself in all the time ‘cause it’s the company’s safety policy to do so. I still think he does it ‘cause he’s clumsy and scared of falling.

Anyway, I got these few minutes all to myself … sure quiet with nobody else around … Did I tell you that I got a week’s holiday comin’ due me next week. It should be two weeks holiday with pay, but ‘cause I’ve only been with the company for six months, all they’ll give me is a week. I’d like to go campin’ during the holidays up at Pine Lake—maybe get some fishin’ in, but my wife wants to take the kids to Marine Land on Vancouver Island. Should I put my foot down and insist, as head of my house, that what I say, goes? Sometimes I think I should be more of a man and insist on things be done my way!

I can’t get over a feelin’ there’s something I forgot to tell you about what happened between me and Mortimer last week … Let me think …

… Oh, gosh darn, now I remember what it is that I almost forgot to tell you about. It’s the reason why that little runt—straw buss, Jason, couldn’t fire me last week. It’s all really quite simple. You see, my wife’s best friend’s sister, Gertrude, is married to the CEO of this company, and between the three of them women, they convinced the CEO—Arnold, to hire me—and to keep me employed as long as I behaves myself and don’t do nothin’ really bad.

Personally, I think ol’ Arnold’s a bit of a whimp, knuckling under to his wife like that, but that’s his business. Of course, my wife also had to agree to make sure I don’t do nothin’ that would get me fired, so that’s why, this week, she’s sure put her foot down on me, and that’s why the CEO overruled the Straw Boss’s decision to fire me.

All I can say is, this business of my wife bein’ my boss better end soon!

“Sheesh! What a life!”



Posted in Fiction, Humour, Short Stories, Thoughts | Leave a comment

A Sunday Chat with Myself—responsibility

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” — Winston S. Churchill

On the 22nd of March, 2018, I watched a Dr. Oz TV show where he and his guests were discussing the problem of so many doctors committing suicide due to being overstressed by trying to keep healthy an increasing sick society. Of course, Dr. Oz is an American show, was dealing with American issues. However, I doubt that it’s much different here in Canada.

Our health clinic where you go to see your doctor is located next to the post office. When I go to pick up our mail, I often can’t find a parking spot in front of the post office, because most of the stalls are taken up by overflow parking at the health clinic. I drive around to the back of the post office to our Town’s public parking area, searching  for a parking stall in the public parking lot—same thing: most of the “up close” stalls are occupied by clinic patients. Frustrated, I often feel that the worst thing our Canadian federal government ever offered its citizens was free health care. Hear me out before you start sending me hate mail.

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” —Herophilus

On occasion when I need to go to a drug store, usually to buy my health supplements, I often have to stand in line. This wouldn’t be a significant point to ponder, except that, in a town of not much over 3,000 people, we have four drug stores! Doesn’t that raise an alarm bell that we’re not taking proper care of our health?

I know there is a need for hospitals, doctors, nurses and drug stores in a modern society, and Canada should be very grateful for these fine institutions. For example, one can fall and break a limb, come down with a contagious virus, be in a traffic accident, or have some other physical health issue that is beyond one’s control, and we are so blessed to have these medical facilities nearby. But shouldn’t we be taking at least some responsibility for our general good health?

Unless we have some other serious health issue, pain is generally a sign our body is telling us something is wrong. Wouldn’t we be better off if, when visiting a doctor, we talked to her or him to find out what could possibly be causing that pain in our body, rather than demanding a pill to just mask the pain?

Smoking, excess drinking, unwarranted drug use, improper eating habits are lifestyles well within our personal control. It shouldn’t be up to the doctor to “cure” your bad health practices with a pill—nor should it be the taxpayer’s responsibility to fund such a wrong mindset!

Society has turned teaching moral values to their children over to the school system. I’m not for religion being taught in school, nor moral values. That’s a parent’s responsibility, and if there is a diverse opinion as a result, all the better. It makes for a rich, colorful community, and that’s good! In fact, it’s healthy! Schools are for teaching students the so-called “Three Rs”—reading, writing, and arithmetic, plus social skills to prepare them for adult life.

To further our abandonment of responsibility, we’ve now left it up to law enforcement  to manage our behavioral patterns that make us a safe society. What’s next? … Oh yes, now we’re totally turning over our responsibility for our health to the medical profession and drug companies.

“Doc, gimme a pill. I need a fix!—Oh, and send the bill it to the taxpayer, eh?” We’re so wrapped up in our own self-gratification and irresponsibility we can’t see our possible annihilation as a species that we’re heading for.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” —Hippocrates


Posted in Drugs, Health, Indifference, Points to Ponder, Responsibility | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Me and Mortimer, “My Wife is now My Boss” Chapter Four

Do you remember, last week me tellin’ you all about my sunburn that I got from going to the beach with my wife’s sister’s kids? Well, after ol’ Mort left in a huff ‘cause I didn’t tell him right away that the boss wanted to see him, I poured myself another cup of coffee and started readin’ the mornin’ paper, plannin’ to have a restful day and heal my sunburn.

Well, I suddenly got the urge to go and relieve myself, and the only bathroom close by was in the company’s main building, ‘top of the hill. I didn’t want to put on my shirt ‘cause my sunburn still hurt, so I went to use the company washroom without my shirt on. No problem, I thought, ‘cause I ain’t exposing myself—got my pants on, haven’t I? —and what the heck, who ain’t seen a guy without his shirt on before?

A bit later, as I was just comin’ out of the washroom—it’s on the second floor where all the brass and their uppity lady secretaries have their offices, when one of the ladies—Actually, hag is a better description of her, comes out her office door and into the hallway where I am waiting for an elevator. When she sees me she stops, sudden like, and with the most horrible surprised look on her face, like, as if she’s just seen the end of the world, points her gnarled, witch-like finger at me and yells, “Sir, what are you doing here with no shirt on? That’s indecent exposure!”

This lady looked mean, I tell ya, so I wasn’t about to stand there and explain all about my sunburn and how I couldn’t wear a shirt, so I forgets about waitin’ for the elevator and ducked into the stairway, hopin’ she wouldn’t follow me.

So, I barely gets back to my office here in the Maintenance Shed, out of breath ‘cause I was runin’ all the way, when the shed door bursts open and my straw boss, Jason, bursts in with his wicked witch of the north secretary tailin’ him like a devoted lap dog.

Just as a side note, neither of them likes me, and especially that secretary. She’s had it in for me right from the start.

Jason ain’t the CEO of the company. Jason’s the guy who was told by the boss to hire me, but he’s been trying to find an excuse ever since to fire me. Figures I’m not good enough for the company … Hah! At least I ain’t no brownnoser like he is!

As I said, this little runt—and I calls him that ‘cause he really is little more than four feet tall, comes burstin’ into the shed, completely ignores Mortimer who’s standin’ quietly over there by the lawn mower and he comes to face me where I’m sitting at my desk.

“What were you doing in the main office without your shirt on?” He sorta half yells at me. He’s sure upset, and that secretary-hag tailin’ him gives me a look that would melt the armor off a battle ship. “We’ve got strict dress codes in our office,” he continues. “Besides, I told you before that the main office is off limits to you!”

I started explaining to him that all this was ‘cause of my sunburn, and I had to relieve myself, but he wasn’t listening, and I think quite on purpose. Looks to me like that witch-secretary of his did her job of makin’ him hate me on their way over here.

“I’ve had it with you and your crazy antics! You’re nothing but a screw-up! You’re fired!” Then he and that secretary-hag of his turn, and like they was one in mind and intent, start for the door. He stops long enough to look back to tell me, “you can pick up your paycheck just before five this afternoon, and I don’ want to see you on this property again! Is that clear?”

It was actually a bit surprisin’ … I mean, the way that little runt was actin’ so angry all of a sudden. I know he don’t like me, but normally, he’s usually a quiet guy, so I think he was usin’ this whole incident about me not wearin’ a shirt as final excuse to fire me—and, of course, that skinny secretary of his backin’ his hate for me, made his anger for me even worse!

“Sheesh!” I shake my head and mutters to myself. A lot’s happened in just one minute and I gotta sit down to think things over. Maybe me bein’ fired ain’t such a bad thing after all! I’ve been with the company long enough now where I can draw employment benefits, so I don’t need to work for a few months … and with today’s pay cheque I can go buy that fishin’ pole I’ve always wanted, and relax, and do some fishin’ on the lake instead of wastin’ my time here in this stupid office! … that’ll teach the company not to be so hasty in firing a good employee like me!

In all this commotion, I forgot about Mortimer. Suddenly I hear him move in the shadows somewhere by his work bench. He starts whistlin’

Yankee Doodle came to town

A-riding on his pony

He stuck a feather in his cap

And called it Macaroni.

For a moment, I was so dumstruck—I didn’t expect him to make fun of me. That whistlin’ of his obviously was a victory whistle tellin’ me he was glad I was fired and no longer be in his maintenance shed! I jumped up— Ouch!—too sudden like. I wanted to go over and punch him in the nose, but my sunburn hurt more than my for Mortimer, so I sat down again. Just then the door again opens and the Straw Boss, Jason, comes back in, only this time he ain’t got his hag-secretary with him: he’s got my wife with him! I was so surprised I even forgot about my sunburn!

Jason doesn’t look me in the eyes—just sorta looks down, then mutters, “Looks like you’re not fired after all.” He half turns his back to me, and I can see that it’s hard for him to say this, then blurts out, “The boss called me in and—uh, we talked … and—uh,  looks like you’re not fired.”

“And you can thank me—and Gertrude—for your boss changing his mind about firing you,” my wife butted in.

“Your wife’s going to be your new boss for a while,” Jason added. Then, without further explanation, he just up and leaves without further explanation.

My wife don’t look happy—much like a mad hen that’s been disturbed off her nest. I move to behind my desk. Not out of fear or anything like that, but thinkin’ it safer if I put some distance between her and me right now. My wife looks at the heap of files on my desk.

“You have some filing to do, mister!” she tells me, and I got a feelin’ she means it! “You don’t leave here until all those files are put away!”

I looks at the clock. It’s quarter-to-five! My heart sank. “But I don’t got time to put all them files away before five!” I protest. Out of the corner of my eye I see Mortimer put on his cap and silently sneak out.

“You should have thought about that earlier in the day when you did have time!” she informs me!   I was thinkin’ of objecting, but the look on her face made me think otherwise.

“And no supper, no television tonight, until those files are all filed away!”

My sunburn ain’t nothin’ compared to the stare I get from my wife. Slowly, painfully, I pick up some files and start filing.


Posted in Fiction, Humour | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Rats.

“Rats survived so well because they were rats. They knew when to keep quiet and they knew when to squeal.” —Danielle Bennett

Society loathes the rat! Like its close counterpart for being loathed—or feared– is the wolf who, even in fairy tales is always pictured as “the bad guy,” and so, also, is the rat always the creature to be loathed, hated and shunned. It is considered the harbinger of disease. In addition, in modern times, as well as in ancient times, the rat was viewed as a pest that destroyed stored grain.

Rats were even blamed as the main culprits for spreading the Black Plague that decimated Europe during the 13th century. The nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosie,” although today it’s sung by children playfully dancing in a circle, singing “Ring around the Rosie, A pocket full of Posies, Ashes Ashes, we all fall down,” it has its morbid origin in the Black Plague period. The “rosie” referred to the black, pussy sores that would appear on the infected bodies. “Posies” is reference to people who would carry posies (flowers) around to help them cope with the smell of dead bodies everywhere.” “Ashes signified the piles of ashes from the bodies being burned on pyres.

Although rats have been intertwined in our history, they were especially not welcome guests during the Black Plague period, and probably even today, our loathing for these little critters has its roots in the part they played in he assumed spreading of diseases and destroying our stored grains of our ancestors. However, after all this has been said, the rat is considered one of the ten smartest animals in the animal kingdom! Maybe that’s one reason why it managed to survive in close proximity with man for all these millennia.

“I wouldn’t mind the Rat Race-if the rats would lose once in a while.” —Tom Wilson

But, in all fairness, before we talk more about the rat’s intelligence, we have to first acknowledge the rat’s redeeming qualities for being our historic “bad guy,” and examine the service it plays as an important positive subject, namely, in our lab experiments. The rat is the fall guy in all the laboratory’s “oopses on their road to success, that otherwise, we’d have to suffer ourselves.  It is estimated (drum roll, please, for our little heroes) that over 10 million rats and mice are “experimented on” each year to help bring us better health!

Furthermore, in all fairness, it should be noted that rats are not the disease-spreaders that they have been accused of being. Even during the Bubonic plague period, humans, themselves, were the greatest spreaders of the disease, not rats. Rats keep themselves very clean and, similar to cats, spend a lot of time in grooming themselves. It is usually the fleas on rats, not the rats, themselves, that spread disease.

Rats are social animals and communicate with each other using high frequency sounds that are above our hearing capacity. In fact, both rats and mice have been recorded as “singing,” like birds at ultrasonic frequencies! According to a PETA article, “They play together, wrestle, and love sleeping curled up together, much like us, and if they do not have companionship, they can become lonely, anxious, depressed and stressed.”

Rats can show empathy. In one study, “rats experiment, [rats] chose to help another rat who was being forced to tread water.”

PETA also states that, “if not forced to live in a dirty cage, a rat’s skin has a very pleasant perfume-like scent. After engaging in sex, male rats sing at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing, around 20 to 22 kHz.”

A rat’s lifespan is from two to three years, and they make excellent alternative pets, especially in apartments that don’t allow tenants to have cats or dogs. They do require specialized care and need time outside of their cage to be exercised and “loved.” Just like a cat or a dog, rats appreciate being loved, and are very capable of showing affection in return.

“I will not join the rat race because I’m not a rat. And I will not blindly follow a specific faith because I’m not a bat. The only race I’ll take part in is for humans being humane. It’s called the human race, and sadly it’s got the least participants.” —Suzy Kassem

Posted in Animals, Rats | Tagged , , | Leave a comment