Amazing Intelligence in Animals (some animal facts)

“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care can we help. Only if we help can they be saved!” — Jane Goodall

Looking at the diversity of Nature, I wonder. Just because we have speech and animals don’t, does that make us superior to them? Vanity would like to think so! We may have speech, but other animals have far better–unique—communication skills that we can only dream of. For example, we need our cell phones to talk to someone more than a few hundred meters from us. Using sound signals, wales can communicate—remember, we’re talking about communication skills— with each other over a distance of many miles. Using these same sound skills, they can even identify objects in the water at great distances. We need binoculars to come even close to what they can do!

A cat’s field of vision is 200 degrees; human’s field of vision is only 180 degrees, plus a cat can see 6 to 8 times better at night than humans can.

A camel’s hump is mainly stored fat. During winter months in the Sahara Desert, camels can use that stored fat to go without water for up to six months! Humans can only go three to five days without water.

Bears can smell food from 29 kilometers away, while humans can only smell a strong odor, like skunk spray, for no more than 2.5 kilometres away (phew!).Bees are those tiny winged little insects I love to talk about and advocate for. Our overuse of pesticides is rapidly destroying their habitat, and governments are so reluctant to do anything about it, but did you know, that if our thoughtless greed eradicates that humble little bee, within a very few years, mankind would be in dire straights for a food source: bees pollinate the flowers that bear the fruit, berries, grains and vegetables that we eat. Also, did you know that bees can find the most efficient route between flowers and their home-hive faster than a supercomputer can.

Have you ever gone to your doctor and s/he told you, you need more sleep? If you have, be glad that you’re not a giraffe and can sleep more. A giraffe sleeps for only about 20 minutes a day. Humans need lots of sleep.

Makes me wonder. Do animals often feel themselves superior to humans?

It makes me sad when I see so many people abuse animals, and nature in general. As Theodor W. Adorno said, “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterouse and thinks: they’re only animals.” 

A Sunday Chat with Myself (How Big is God?)

Don’t tell God that you have a big problem. Tell your problem that you have a big God!

The question of how big is God, is still a growing one with me, where I learn something new on the topic almost daily.  When I was a child and went to Sunday School, I imagined (was taught?) God to be a man, not much taller than my grandpa, who had a long white beard and walked around on clouds all day dressed in a long white robe, muttering and grumbling about this thing not being right, or that thing not acting like it should. To me, in my childhood, God was an angry god who constantly threatened that if we didn’t attend church regularly and give Him a lot of money, then when I died, He’d throw me into hell where I’d burn forever. At the time, that was more than enough for me to mind my parents—well, most of the time—and never, ever miss Sunday School. I knew that getting burnt by fire was a really painful experience—and to burn forever in a lake of brimstone and fire?I was really scared of God!

However, as I grew older and began to learn more about what constituted life, creation in general, and the cosmos as something larger than the clouds above me where God dwelt, my views of God started to change. I still saw God as a grouchy old man with a short fuse, but now He had elevated himself. He lived somewhere in the heavens a little higher up than the clouds, and He was a bit larger and more powerful than my grandpa.

“Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” — Job 26:14

My evolutionary understanding of what God is, has come a lo-o-o-ng  way that changed direction several times from childhood to my present. There was even a time when, as I saw the universe as an infinite, expanding place, I could not fit a physical God into it, for where would He reside in this universe? Where could his home be? I became a devout atheist! I rationalized that it was physically impossible for a god to rule infinity—and, from where would He rule, to begin with? Also, as a near infinite tiny speck in this creation, how could any god even know that I existed? Relative in size to the universe, how could God even see me, let alone hear any of my prayers?

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” — Psalm 8:4

My vision of what I thought God is, really fast tracked for me when, fairly recently, I was introduced to Zecharia Sitchin’s books, in particular, “The 12th planet,” and “There were giants upon the earth.” Suddenly, I saw humanity’s—including my own—version of (now Gods) suddenly  becoming plural: see Genesis 3:22) as giant extraterrestrials who had genetically modified us, first, as servants to the Anunnaki, then, thanks to Enki (now called Jesus, the Christ), we were engineered to “fall,” and become self-conscious, thinking beings: the Adapa (Adam) species were created on earth! This even explained why anthropology never had an answer as to where we came (evolved) from. They couldn’t find that missing link, and, that is most likely because we didn’t evolve from lower species, like anthropology claimed, but were created—not in a Biblical version by a grumpy old man, but by giant extraterrestrials who did, in all reality, come to earth “from the heavens,” and had their home “in the heavens.”

But, all this raised another. If the giants—the Anunnaki—created us—and out of their own gene pool—where is the god of my childhood?

Gregg Braden, in his “Missing Links” series on Gaia TV, claims that we could well be living in a giant, holographic universe, and stated: “our act, the act of us looking with the expectation that we will see something, is an act of creation within our simulated universe.” In other words, what we are looking for, and think we’ve found, we create it!

It seems like, in my quest to find and understand God, my search first went out to explore the clouds above me, then the infinite universe. Then, like a well balanced boomerang, my crusade came right back to me and showed me: I am my own God! I am the conscious creator of my world. Collectively, consciousness created the universe and its infinite possibilities. And I am part of that collective, conscious creation!

How cool is that, eh?

 

Amazing intelligence in animals—Elephants journey to pay their respects


This short story was first published in the Temple City Star on 22 February, 2018

“Perhaps measuring animal intelligence by comparing it to human intelligence isn’t the best litmus test” — Ingrid Newkirk

We’ve learned, even as children, that elephants are supposed to have a good memory, but that’s not the only attribute they possess. Elephants are also very respectful, and they can show gratitude for kindness offered them.

For example, Lawrence Anthony, born 17 September, 1950 in Johannesburg, is a legend in Africa. Author of three books, he’s also known as The Elephant Whisperer because of his many charitable deeds in rescuing animals, including elephants. Although no elephants were involved in this particular rescue, he played an influential role in the rescue of the Baghdad Zoo animals during the United State’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Anthony died on March 7th, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Now for the interesting part! The African elephants sensed Anthony’s passing, so two days after his death, led by two large matriarchs, a total of 31 elephants patiently, solemnly, walked slowly, reverently, in single file, over 12 hours, to get to his house to pay their respects. They stayed 2 days and 2 nights without eating (fasting), then made their long journey back to their home territories.

Yes, Virginia, “Something in the universe is greater and deeper than what we’re superficially led to believe!”

A Sunday Chat with Myself (Abandonment)

If you leave someone at least tell them why, because what’s more painful than being abandoned, is knowing you’re not worth any explanation.

Earlier today I read an article in a pet magazine dealing with the subject of how cruel it is to abandon one’s pet. The author headed his article with a photo showing a recently abandoned dog left in the middle of the road by his owner. The dog was anxiously glancing down the road, painfully watching his former owner disappearing out of sight. Dogs are social animals and will usually form a very close bond with anyone who calls himself the dog’s owner. That was a cruel act!

The longer I looked at the photo of that abandoned dog, the more aware I became of the dog’s feeling of just having been abandoned. I finally had to turn the page of that magazine. If that dog’s heart didn’t break at that moment, mine almost did! I wished that I could have run up to that dog, embraced it, and assured it that it was not abandoned: that it was loved! But, a greater tragedy is, how common abandonment is in our world today, and how negatively indelible such an experience is upon the soul … examples: a father abandons his wife and children often without explanation or forewarning; a student, having difficulty with a school assignment, finds the teacher disinterested in his problem—go figure it out for yourself;  a young girl, madly in love with a young man is left stranded on the dance floor; or, probably worst case of all, praying to God for help and find that He has seemingly left you to face your problem alone. This happened to me once.

Many years ago when I was still in the military. We had just come home after spending six weeks in intensive military exercises. I missed my wife and children and, as I walked down the few remaining sidewalk steps to my front door, I had visions of being greeted by a loving wife and children. Also, I was tired and was looking forward to a restful night in my own, comfortable bed. However, as I entered my house, instead of finding the love and warmth of a family that I was anticipating, I found a note that my wife, along with my children, had left me for the arms of another man! My world crashed!

Because our unit had arrived back in camp from field exercises late in the afternoon, and we were all quite tired, our Captain said that we might as well just take our weapons home with us, and we could hand them back in to Ordnance Stores in the morning, so I still had my sten gun with me, our unit’s assigned weapon. I recall sitting down on our couch trying to make sense of a world that had just collapsed around me. What had I done to deserve this?

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  — Matthew 27:46

My sten gun held approximately 30 rounds of .9mm bullets in its magazine. I held the gun to my head. The trigger pull was about one quarter of an inch, then it would fire … in a moment, I would be able to ask my Maker, personally, why He had abandoned me, and what I had done to deserve such an unwelcome homecoming from military exercises!

But even in my grief, my trigger finger froze and refused to “pull.”  Try as I might, I could not pull that trigger! In frustration, I threw the gun onto the floor and covered my face with my hands and began to sob. Then I heard it: that almost imperceptible voice in my head that quietly, calmly, lovingly said: “Is she worth you taking your life like this?” They were only nine simple words, but in that brief, calming moment, a volume of understanding unfolded inside of me.

My God had not abandoned me!

In time, my failed marriage began to heal and my life started taking on new meaning. I found that the experience with my failed marriage greatly strengthened my spirit, and as a result, was able to better handle many of the future challenges that life was about to bless me with. I learned that, when one door closes, God opens another, often a better one, just to the right of the closed door!

I found that life was really an adventure, and it was all the good times, mixed in with the bad,  that made my soul blossom into the great person that I am today!

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy”       — 2 Nephi 2:25

A Sunday Chat with Myself (Experience)

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” –julius Caesar

It seems curious to me that, when we talk about what living the perfect life might be like, we think of life lived as we see in a Lotto 649 ad: exciting!–like diving off high cliffs into azure pools below, relaxing with invited friends on deck of our own personal luxury cruise yacht, laughing and partying with not a care in the world. Yet, when one hears years later about these lotto winners who’ve tried this type of life,  the majority of them–or anyone, for that matter, who tries to live the good life as advertised by these get-rich-quick companies as the perfect dream-life, we see total disaster.

From all this I gather that such an artificial life–unearned luxuries–isn’t what we came here on earth to experience. Yes, dreaming big is part of our purpose, and it’s a noble purpose, but dreaming big involves effort and personal involvement on our part in order to accomplish those dreams. Then we can say to the Universe, “I’ve earned my accomplishments!

I can clearly remember, many, many years ago when I was still a kid living my innocence on a farm in central Saskatchewan. It was the middle of the 1930s. The whole country was still agonizing itself through the Great Depression, and effects of that terrible time were present everywhere. But, still, we considered ourselves to be among the lucky ones: we lived on a farm where we raised chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cows and had two teams of work horses that we used in working the grain fields, so if we had nothing else, we always had plenty to eat. Yes, our mother often had to sew patches over already worn out or torn patches on our clothes, but that was life in those days. Everyone was in the same boat.

Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the Canadian National Railway that linked Canada from east to west, we saw a lot of out-of-work Eastern “Railroad Bums”  riding the rails  to Alberta in search of a better chance at employment. Often thirsty and hungry, many would jump off the moving rail cars and stop at our farm to ask for a handout. Money, of course, was out of the question, since we never had any money ourselves, so we were unable to help anyone else, financially.

But mother always made sure that she had a pot of something on the stove so that our “temporary guests” didn’t leave on an empty stomach, and that usually included  packing a tick, double-sliced beef sandwich on fresh, homemade bread to take with them for their remaining journey to a better future.

It’s funny … not  like today, in those days, we never treated these “Railroad Bums” with suspicion: that they might want to rob us, or were perverts running from the law. We knew that they were someone’s husband, father, or son, who had the misfortune of being caught up in the Great Depression, and were looking for work–somewhere, anywhere, as long as it provided an income so that they could feed their families. It was our Christian duty to show compassion to those men who were less fortunate than we were.

It was exactly these hard, depressive times that taught our community compassion. But, it was a youthful experience during this depressive hard time that taught me, personally, the difference between showing compassion, and letting a person work out their own destiny in their own time, in their own way, without my interference.

As I said, we had chickens on our farm and it was usually us children’s job to go around to all the chicken’s hiding places around the yard and stables to collect the eggs for the day. Occasionally, the chickens were smarter than we were, and hid their laying nests so well that we didn’t always find them–that is, not until many days later when the hens had brooded their eggs to the point where they began to hatch, and we’d only spot the nests after little chicks were running everywhere.

I recall one particular incident when my younger brother and I were on an egg-gathering mission. We came across a hidden nest where some chicks were already hatched, but other chicks were still in various stages of breaking through their eggshells. My brother and I decided to give these partially hatched chicks a hand by breaking the shells for them, saving them the effort. Unfortunately, this proved a disaster! To our dismay, all the chicks that we tried to help, died while still in their shell! What went wrong? Weren’t we showing compassion?

It wasn’t until many, many years later, and weathering many of the bumps and bruises life has to offer , before I learned that God has a reason for giving us challenges: to break out of our own eggshells on our own, without outside help. He has a reason for making us apply effort to achieve anything worthwhile in life. We need challenges and setbacks in life in order for us to grow, spiritually!

I know of persons where, when everything is just handed to a person born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, that person became lazy and self-centred. They often just frit away the business worth that their father had built through his hard work.  They often become selfish and uncaring, and before long, they’re spiritually dead, much like those chicks that we tried to help years ago, became physically dead because we tried to give them something for nothing.

There is a reason for trials and shortcomings. They are not punishments from a wrathful or uncaring God. They are there to help one grow: to learn to love: to show compassion, so that I can, eventually, become the god I am meant to become!

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—the Crafty Crow

“God loved birds so he invented trees. Man loved birds and invented cages.” — Jacques Deval

This story was first published in my column in the Temple City Star, 10th of August, 2017

♥♥

Most everyone that I’ve talked to can tell me at least one story of how smart dogs are and the intelligence that they display. But, do you know that birds are also very intelligent, especially the crow?

Crows are crafty little critters, ask anyone who’s tried to catch one or shoo it away from a fruit tree. A crow’s brain is about the size of a human thumb, putting it on relative par with primates.

A PBS series “Nature” showed an experiment where a crow figured out how to use a small stick to retrieve a larger stick, then use that larger stick to get at some food that had been placed out of its reach. Crows can also recognize individual people that are important to its survival, and can distinguish between who’s a danger or a friend to them.

Crows are born with tool-making abilities, and hone that ability by watching their elders, a sign of higher intelligence.

A lady in Seattle, Washington reported that her backyard crows have left over 70 trinkets in her bird feeder, including ear rings, a heart and “best friend” charm, all with an enticing reminder to “keep the food coming, lady.!”

If God created it, love it!

A Sunday Chat with Myself (charity)

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” — Luke 10:30

Many years ago our family had the  experience of having to request charity from our Church to survive the winter. This was, at the time, a very humbling experience, especially since, prior to our family moving to Cardston from Calgary, where I held a well-paying job with an oil company. However, when it was all over and I was back on my feet again, upon looking back at the experience, it was, in the truest sense, a positive, learning experience, and I’m thankful for it. It was a time when I experienced, to use the old movie title—”The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:” the true nature of people. Let me explain.

Of course, it was no secret in town that we were on Church assistance, so—and this is where it becomes interesting—many Ward members did their small part in helping us. I classified our givers into three types. First, there were the “well-if-you-weren’t-so-lazy-and-get-off-your-ass-and-get-yourself-a-job-you-wouldn’t-be-in-this-mess” type. One lady that I put in this category, brought us a few oranges that were so old and dried up that we couldn’t even peel them, had we even tried to eat them. Furthermore, the lady emphasized the fact that she brought these oranges to us as a charitable donation, given out of the goodness of her heart, and that we (the lazy bum) had better appreciate her generous gift!

“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:31

Then there was the second type. These I placed in the “political” category. You know, the politician always looking for a photo-op chance? The reason I say, political, it that they wanted everyone in the neighborhood to know that they were being charitable to us. They did no research to see that, what they brought to us was actually something that we might need: their point was that they were publicly demonstrating that they were charitable!

“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:32

Then there were those that I placed into the third category. They were, in every definition of the word, charity—charitable. They made certain that what they  brought, or left on our doorstep for us to find, items that we could really use, and with almost without exception, items of superior quality. There are many of these wonderful donors who, to this day, I don’t know who they were. It was to remain their secret!

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” — Luke 10:33

Life has improved considerably for us since those early trying days, but they were impressive days that have given me many hours of serious thought. What is charity? When is it time to administer “tough love,” and when is it time to give physical aid: money, a helping hand in a project, or even just a kind, encouraging word?

In return for my humbling experiences, life has taught me that the most honourable job that I can aspire to is to be a compassionate altruist!