Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

September 17, 2008

For the Love of Pugs

Filed under: LIFE,Pugs — Valorie Hoye @ 2:39 pm

With a blog name like spacepug you would expect that I am a pug owner.  I don’t own a dog, simply because my urban living situation doesn’t allow it.  I grew up in a house full of dogs, since my mother was a purebred dog breeder.  It was a wonderful experience to watch puppies be born, learn to walk and find homes, but the more time I spent around dog shows and dog breeders, the more jaded I got.

A recent story on the BBC brings that back…it seems someone has finally spoken out about how many of the breed standards cause the selection of aesthetic traits that may compromise the health of the dogs.    Some breeds are selectively engineered for such large skulls and shoulders that the puppies cannot be born naturally, but only by caesarean section.  Other breeds have skulls too small for their brains, or spines so elongated they are vulnerable to injury.   Years of selective breeding can produce beautiful animals, but the cost of unnatural selection seems to be disease.  My mother had to abandon her own breed line after two decades due to recurrent hip problems that could not be corrected even by new blood.

Pugs are one of the problem breeds.   We love them for their bulging eyes and the snorting sounds they make, but these traits make them prone to vision and respiratory problems.  If you want one, you have to know that going in.

The BBC story states that “Scientists at Imperial College, London, recently found that pugs in the UK are so inbred that although there are 10,000 of them, it is the equivalent of just 50 distinct individuals.”

If we love our pets, why do we do this to them?


May 27, 2008

Lucky Strike

Filed under: LIFE,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 7:51 pm

Plane hit by lightning in JapanI’m wondering if I should buy a lottery ticket.

I read a fact online that every plane in service will be struck by lightning once per year. I’ve flown a fair amount in my time, but my most recent trip was the first time I’ve been on a plane that was struck by lightning in the air. We were ascending out of Vancouver at about 24,000ft when it hit. I was reading a book and didn’t see the flash, but I certainly heard and felt the impact even though the plane did not physically move. It felt like something had happened to the bottom of the plane and my first thought was that the landing gear had malfunctioned or we’d lost some poor guy’s luggage.

My second assessment was that the plane still had power and the engines were still on, so I cautiously went back to my book. About a minute and a half later, the pilot came on and informed us that the aircraft had been hit by lightning but that all systems had been checked and the flight would proceed as planned across the country. As he put it, the Boeing 737 was designed to take just such a hit. And, he added, since the strike hit his side of the cockpit, he figured he got the worst of it.

It was all too much for one passenger, who was quite overcome and had to be given oxygen and TLC for the remainder of the flight. I’ve got to hand it to the Westjet crew, they did a very good job of caring for that person and the rest of us still got our normal beverage service.

If I’m ever going to be within 10 feet of a lightning strike again, I hope I’m in an aircraft.

I just hope I haven’t used up all my luck….a lottery win would be nice!

December 7, 2007

Pondering 40

Filed under: Family,LIFE — Valorie Hoye @ 11:47 am

FortyI’ve really enjoyed being thirty-something. Much more than I enjoyed my twenties. But in a couple of days I get to move into a new set of numbers and I say “Bring it On!” Cliched, yes. But I’m glad to finally get there.

I’m not someone who would lie about my age or be coy and not answer when asked how old I am. I know I don’t look forty, and I’ve been told both encouragingly and disparagingly that I don’t act it. But I feel forty. I feel confident and happy. I know without a doubt who I am, even into the darkest shadows of my reluctant psyche. I like that person, flaws and all. I have enthusiasm but I now also have enough experience to feel prepared for whatever Life throws at me.

Forty is good.

Then, of course, my knees just creaked when I sat down and I’ll probably grunt when I get up out of the chair to go and colour my hair so my sister won’t bug me when I see her over Christmas about how much more gray I have than she does.

Getting older sucks, but the numbers are cool.

November 14, 2007

Time to cut my hair?

Filed under: LIFE — Valorie Hoye @ 11:37 am

I have long hair.  It’s healthy, shiny, kinda curly and red.  It goes down to the middle of my back.  But a few days ago when I was standing in a lineup at a cafe, waiting for my food order, someone behind me ran their fingers through my hair.  When I turned around to glare at him, he quickly walked out the door.

Did he think I wouldn’t notice?   Just because it is there, doesn’t mean you can touch it.  If you haven’t been invited to touch any other part of my body, chances are I don’t want you stroking my hair.

I haven’t had my hair this long in more than a decade and the last time I cut it off was for exactly the same reason.  I just haven’t decided if cutting it gives the slimeballs of the world one more victory they don’t deserve.

October 2, 2007

Pedestrian Adventures on the Drip Line

Filed under: LIFE,Vancouver — Valorie Hoye @ 9:57 am

West Coasters know what the drip line is. Even during the dry season, the telltale signs remain, etched into the pavement. Look down and you will see a line in the pavement where the power of many raindrops has eaten away at the concrete below. Where the overhang of a roof or an awning ends and the rain pours off in anything from a slow trickle to a waterfall. The drip line is the worst place to walk on a sidewalk. The drops are bigger than anywhere else, usually dirtier, and they can fall for hours after the rain itself stops.

Of course, the drip line is almost always in the middle of the sidewalk. Only rarely is it a straight line, as each building has a different overhang. In the busy downtown core, people huddle under the shelter, out of the rain. If you’re moving, you have no choice but to walk in the danger zone. Whatever you do, don’t look up. You might make it a few feet without getting dripped on. Or when you get caught, it might be a small drip, barely distinguishable from a regular raindrop. But, if the wind catches the awning just right, you might get a dousing comparable to football’s traditional touchdown celebration.

Welcome to wet season.

August 15, 2007

Marco Polar Bear

Filed under: LIFE,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 10:06 am

Polar Bear LostSome people actually say that this Polar Bear captured recently more than three hundred kilometers south of the usual hunting grounds in the Arctic was just out for a walk, feeling the need to expand her horizons. She wandered along a well-used highway and into a populated area. Luckily, she was captured and transported back to the shore of the Beaufort Sea.

I  don’t think this bear got lost. I seriously doubt she felt the need to go where no polar bear has gone before. She was hungry and changes to the ice conditions meant she couldn’t get out onto the ice to hunt for seals. Global warming is having a devastating effect on the Far North. It is such a shame that these magnificent creatures are among the first to suffer thanks to world leaders who have taken far too long to accept that change is necessary.

Sadly, political inertia could doom these bears. If more of them develop the Marco Polo instinct, they might be capable of adapting to a warmer climate further south, but further south means more contact with humans and we don’t have a good track record when it comes to bears. We admire them without respecting their wild nature, so we get too close. Then they become a threat and someone has to kill them.

If only we could keep them safe, in a frozen North. Wishful thinking, I know.

March 24, 2007

A Chilling Change of Perspective

Filed under: LIFE — Valorie Hoye @ 10:27 am

coronervan2Yesterday I was driving home during rush hour, listening to the traffic report on the radio telling me there was an accident up ahead on the highway where a car had flipped over. You hear that kind of thing every day. It’s a routine navigation issue. Avoid such-and-such an intersection. But then I noticed exactly who I was driving behind and it changed my perspective. A routine traffic blurb became a family tragedy. Somebody was gone. Somebody who had a family who loved them. It disgusts me how routine deaths on our roads have become. We panic when a dozen people are claimed by SARS or Avian Flu, or when roadside bombs kill our soldiers in Afghanistan, but we routinely ignore the thousands of people who die in traffic accidents every year. Most of these accidents are caused by driver errors; going too fast, driving under the influence, not paying attention….the list is a very long one. And yes, I do realize the irony that “taking a photo with your phone while driving in order to jazz up a blog entry” fits nicely into the list of stupid driver tricks.

I believe that what we need is a change of perspective towards our driving. Take human arrogance out of the equation. Stop promoting driving as sexy. Any vehicle can be a moving weapon. We don’t let just anybody fly a fighter jet or do brain surgery. When lack of skill endangers ourselves and others, it is time to let robots drive. I would love to see a future where self-drive is no longer an option for most of us. But as long as driving is seen as a right and not a privilege, the carnage will continue.

February 22, 2007

That Little Voice

Filed under: LIFE,Money — Valorie Hoye @ 4:48 pm

You know that voice–the one that keeps telling you to put your fingers in the shape of an L and put it to your forehead. Usually happens when you stop moving/browsing/flipping channels long enough to contrast who you really are with who you thought you would be at this age, when you spent so much time thinking about it at 20 or 25. When the dreamer in you hadn’t yet grasped the concept of failure. Or compromise.

Visits from a Financial Planner also bring out “that voice.” Nothing like being told to get your financial house in order to make you feel like a failure. Not that we’re in bad shape. I just wish that someday I could show a financial planner a statement with > $1,000,000 Cdn on it, and say “have fun.”

That would be a way to tell that little voice to shut the frak up. Not that it would…

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