Noel is ready for trips Abroad

Janet and I love kids and we love it when the 4H comes-out to help us groom the ponies and when neighborhood kids come to visit.

We even have made it clear to our daughter that it would not be the end of the world if she got knocked up. We assured her that Janet and I would raise it while she finishes grad school, but hey, Kid’s . . . they never listen.

Noel was Janet’s Birthday/Christmas present last year (she was born on Christmas day, so for a combined holiday, I make sure that she always gets something special) and Noel has done a great job in filling the baby void.

Noel is as needy as any human baby, and she goes almost everywhere with us. She is one of the most well-traveled puppies anywhere, and she has already visited every major city in America.

We have even changed our hotels, choosing doggy-friendly hotels where they cater to pampered pups. Noel is now old enough to travel abroad, and I haven’t seen Janet so excited in ages. We are planning an overseas resort trip for some downtime, and Janet has Noel well-prepared for her adventures abroad:

It’s a real pain that we can’t take Noel through Hawaii because of their strict quarantine laws, but Hong Kong is more liberal for traveling pets. Even the United Kingdom has pet laws, and here is the British Airways Scheme for pet travel. You know, I’ve never gotten used to the British term “scheme” since in the USA the word “scheme” has sinister connotations!

Anyway, Noel has these special ”doggles” to shade her eyes, and she seems to like wearing them. She also has a custom-made swim jacket for visits to the beach:

Janet even bought her a stroller, just for dogs:


Janet even has built-in air conditioning, using some of those frozen gel packs, to keep her cool in the tropics.

Yeah, it’s a bit over-the-top, but Noel is our official surrogate baby, and she seems to enjoy her new stuff:

I can’t wait until we get to the resort and people notice the baby carriage and approach us to see junior. . . That should be good for a few laughs anyway. . . .

Numbering people

We have a real problem with non-unique names around here and much of it is due to parents choosing “common” names for their children. We have multiple Terry’s, Robert’s John’s and Jen’s, and at first we tried to give each of them “descriptive” names, but it didn’t seem fair to label people that way, so we started numbering them.

I got the idea from Dr. Seuss’ book “The Cat in the Hat” and his mention of “Thing 1 and Thing 2

We now have John 1 through John 3, and at the top of the list are Jens, with four so far.

Here is Jen1 and Jen3 with Noel:

The Jens have been a great asset in helping us keep our horses show ready, and they love to hang-out on the ranch and play with Bear and the sundry farm critters:

It’s weird having to refer to people by number, but it’s the only fair way to keep from hurting peoples feelings.

Dog Roasters arrested and jailed

The public needs to know about people like this

This is a horrific story of a burglary where some sicko burglars thought that it would be fun to roast the pet dog in the oven:

She was able to find one of her dogs, a 6-year-old shi tzu named Pepper. But she was unable to find her other dog, a 1-year-old rat terrier. Police later found the dog burned to death in the oven, which had been set to 400 degrees.

The real sick part is that there are no laws keeping these people in prison for life, and the $9k bond is a joke. I think that anyone would tortures small animals should be imprisoned before they escalate into killing people:

Alexander Davis, 19 and Evelyn Jeanette Williams, 24, were arrested after police received an anonymous tip. Authorities suspect Davis also has burglarized another home in the area.

Davis is charged with two counts of burglary and one count of cruelty to animals, which is a felony. No bond has been set in his case. Williams has not been charged in the burglaries but was charged with theft by receiving stolen property. Her bond was set at $8,300.

Let’s start a psychopath and sociopath registry

We have public reporting facilities for sex offenders and I wonder if we should encourage laws to warn the public about people who exhibit minor offenses that are recognized precursors to more serious crimes.

In this article, we see a clear correlation between animal abuse, insensitivity about the feelings of others, and violent criminal behavior. The act of deriving pleasure from exercising power over the weak and helpless (i.e. mocking sick or disabled people, torturing children and pets), appear to be classic signs of serious illness and a potential threat to society.

Cruelty to animals has been identified as a symptom of disease. It’s usually one of the earliest reported signs of conduct disorder, appearing as early as 6 and a half, and is also one of the better diagnostic indicators of a psychopathic personality. Animal cruelty is associated with increasingly violent behavior and is an indicator of the potential threat of escalating violence, abuse and criminal activity. . .

In 1996, Drs. D. S. Hellman and Nathan Blackman published their formal study on the link between human violence and animal abuse. Their analysis of 84 prison inmates’ life histories showed that three fourths of these violent criminals had early records of cruelty to animals.

Many serial killers began their careers by torturing or murdering animals. Ted Bundy, executed in 1989 for 50 murders, spent much of his youth torturing animals. The Boston Strangler, Albert DiSalvo, who killed 13 women in the early 1960s, spent his youth trapping dogs and cats in orange crates and shooting arrows into them. And the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer tortured animals before he turned to young men.”

Studies show that these unspeakable acts, while not serious in and of themselves, can indicate a presidposition to excalating violence and that society has a right to be warned about these people. Convicted criminals loose their civil rights everyday, and I sometimes wonder if public identification of those with predatory sexual disorders and psychopathological behaviors might be appropriate.

The failure of the sex offenders registry

If the goal is to protect the public then the sex offender should be readily identifiable. This MSNBC article notes that over 15,000 registered sex offenders have gone missing because of Hurricane Katrina, and the existing regulations are falling short and even the new proposals are wanting:

“Last week in Washington, the House approved the Children’s Safety Act, which would create a national Web site for child sex offenders and stipulates the sex felons face up to 20 years in prison for failing to comply with registration requirements.”

The scarlet letter of the 21st Century

If the goal is to warn people about those predisposed to commit certain crimes, a more active identification system is required. I don’t like the registered sex offenders program because it is passive and you have to check to see the sex offenders in your area. The SexOffender.com database provides access to registered sex offenders, and it’s scary to find out how many potential predators live in my NC area. There are six registered sex offenders within a few miles of my house, but I’m more concerned about people who have a history of torturing the weak.

I firmly believe the statistics that show that people who are convicted of tormenting animals, children and sick or disabled people should also be in some sort of registry, and I’m far more concerned about the threats of these types of sicko’s than from the sex offenders.

We require identification and warning for convicted sex offenders, why not a public registry for anyone caught displaying sociapathic apathetic behaviors? Hey, the scarlet letters worked great for the Puritans and allowed them to identify a hussey, why not the same for these deviants? Charles Manson has a great idea, maybe forehead tattoo’s:

The Persistence of American Slang

I was watching the hit show Family Guy last night and I noted a scene where Peter helps Kevin Federline appear as a douche bag. Peter defines a “douche bag” as a person with an unkempt appearance, body odor and “an unwarranted sense of accomplishment”.

So, why is the term “douche bag” still being used while other slang terms bit-the-dust decades ago? I’m suprized to hear my kids college friends use “douche bag” as a common term since it dates to the 1960’s era of “far out” and “right on”.

Because everything on the web is the Gospel Truth, a quick search reveals a 17th century letter titled, “Verily, Thou Art A Douchebag” in the hilarious USCD MQ Magazine where we see this comment that reminds me of a well-known database theorist:

“Thy ignorance of affairs financial so obviously makes itself known that I need not illustrate it further, and yet by the idiocy of your readers I am compelled to do so.”

A more reasonable origin appears here, where this site notes the origin of the common usage for douche bag at about 1963:

By 1967, according to the OED, the term came into its more prominent contemporary usage: “Douche bag, an unattractive co-ed. By extension, any individual whom the speaker desires to deprecate.”

Lord DoucheBag

One of the all time funniest SNL skits was Lord and Lady DoucheBag. SML made them a snooty British couple, and here is the transcript from this hilarious master comedy.

Garrett Morris starts the skit by announcing in a formal English accent ”Lord and Lady DoucheBag”. The rest of the skit is a platform for all of the possible usage of the word “douche bag”, a very informative lesson in grammar:

“Where the devil are those Douchebags?”

“Parliament has always had its share of Douchebags, and it always will.”


SNL douche bag skit

Most of the SNL audience was not aware that this skit was based on the popular use of douche bag amongst some factions of society and the term may be centuries old.

As a teen in the 1960’s we would never consider using our parent’s lingo like “23 skidoo”, “the cat’s meow” or my favorite “root hog or die”. So why do kids today continue to use terms like douche bag which were coined by their parents generation?

It looks like folks like my favorite Pol Jon Stewart love to use douchebag in his fun and informative The Daily Show

douchebaggery. These terms can mean a variety of different insults, and have become popular in the comedic media (for instance, comic and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart once named conservative columnist and television pundit Robert Novak a “douche bag of liberty”): An insult is a statement or action which affronts or demeans someone. …

– Someone who is annoying, bossy or embarrassing.
– Someone who is stupid, intellectually challenged or mentally deranged but less than clinically insane.
– Someone who is unintelligently lying or scamming.
– Someone who is arrogant, elitist or snobby.

So, what does a douche bag look like?

Now, I’ve never seen a douche bag, and I’m not real sure that I want to see one. I’m sorry, but there are some things that men don’t talk to women about, and this intimate hygiene item is one of them. C’mon guys, the ladies hide that stuff from us for a reason. My guess is that a douche bag has just got to be really, really gross.

Seriously, if you don’t want to see what a real douche bag looks like, do not click this link. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

More on word origns

If you like word origins, make sure to gat Dr. Cerutti’s new book “The Words of the Day”, a fascinating exploration of the origins of common English vernacular:

The Great Litigator

Every Arabian horse breeder has their favorite bloodlines, and we are huge fans of Excelsjor and his offspring.

Here is Excelsjor, a pure Polish stallion whose life was cut short when he was kicked to death while trying to breed a mare:

Janet was honored to have owned one of Excelsjor’s most stunning sons, Vaalor, a national champion stallion with amazing beauty and athletic ability. In his day, people shipped their mares to North Carolina from all over the world to breed to him.

After his death in 1998, Janet has been collecting as many Vaalor babies as she can find, a daunting task since there are hundreds of them still alive.

The Great Litigator

There were a few other Excelsjor son’s, and another of our favorites was Litigator, a stunning national champion stallion. Here is a close-up of the immortal Litigator:

We have a Litigator daughter Litianne Bey, and she has an exceptional pedigree with her dam being by a Bey Shah and out of a Raffon daughter.

We bred Litianne to BaskAfire, a *Bask son and produced Praetor, an athletic dressage prospect:

Liti loves babies and two years ago she stole a foal from another mare, bagged-up and started nursing her. Janet and I were at a resort in California and we got a panicked call from the grooms that Dance had given birth a month early and that Liti had “stolen” her foal. Dance was screaming bloody murder and Liti was not about to give-up “her” new baby. Sigh, it took them hours to reunite the proper Mom and baby. . . .

Arabians love babies and whenever a mare goes into labor, all the horses line-up and peek through the cracks in the walls, hoping to catch a glimpse of the newest herd member. We are hoping to breed Liti this years and we have two prospects lined up, Noble Express and GHF Hallmark, 5 time world champion Hackney Stallion.

This is Noble Express, all action, high action:

And of course, Hallmark, who can break-over-level without breaking a sweat. . .

The Terminal Velocity of Cats

Falling Cats in the city, an unavoidable cost of pet ownership, and it’s inyteresting that there is a Terminal Velocity for Cats,

Cats have evolved with a innate instinct to land on their feet, a trait that suggests that cats are susceptible to falling in nature. Cats are especially vulnerable to falling when they are stalking prey and they lock-in on their target and I’ve seen several cats meet an untimely end by darting into traffic in pursuit of a bunny.

Cats also love to be outside, which is a special problem for cat owners in the city with balconies, verandas or penthouses. Just a momentary lapse in security and you might witness kitty do a half-Nelson off of your 40th floor veranda, in pursuit of a pigeon.

Falling cats happen and I saw a fascinating article recently about the terminal velocity of falling cats, whose terminal velocity is 60 MPH.

“Cats have a nonfatal terminal velocity (sounds like a contradiction in terms, but most small animals have this advantage). Once they orient themselves, they spread out like a parachute. There are cats on record that have fallen 20 stories or more without ill effects.

As long as the cat doesn’t land on something pointy, it’s likely to walk away.”

It appears that this was a legitimate real-world study by the American Veterinary Association, scientific research where you observe the real-world and develop a heueristic model:

“But the believers trot out a 1987 study from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Two vets examined 132 cases of cats that had fallen out of high-rise windows and were brought to the Animal Medical Center, a New York veterinary hospital, for treatment. On average the cats fell 5.5 stories, yet 90 percent survived.”


The seven story threshold and terminal velocity

Could it be true that in falls above seven stories that cats become aerodynamic? There is some compelling evidence for this:

“When the vets analyzed the data they found that, as one would expect, the number of broken bones and other injuries increased with the number of stories the cat had fallen–up to seven stories.

Above seven stories, however, the number of injuries per cat sharply declined. In other words, the farther the cat fell, the better its chances of escaping serious injury.

The authors explained this seemingly miraculous result by saying that after falling five stories or so the cats reached a terminal velocity–that is, maximum downward speed–of 60 miles per hour. Thereafter, they hypothesized, the cats relaxed and spread themselves out like flying squirrels, minimizing injuries.”

The “dumpster” skew?

Of course, we must always consider those clearly deceased cats who were never brought in for medical attention:

“The potential flaw is this: the study was based only on cats that were brought into the hospital. Clearly dead cats, your basic fell-20-stories-and-looks-like-it-came-out-of-a-can-of-Spam cats, go to the Dumpster, not the emergency room. This may skew the statistics and make falls from great distances look safer than they are.”

However some researchers believe that the “flying cat” effect is real and that there is no dumpster skew:

“Dr. Garvey was adamant that the omission of nonreported fatalities didn’t skew the statistics. He pointed out that cats that had fallen from great heights typically had injuries suggesting they’d landed on their chests, which supports the “flying squirrel” hypothesis.”

Who’s right, well there is not enough data yet. However, it does appear that dead cats are now being considered in Germany as an alternative fuel source.

Real scientists in the real-world

Distinguished scientists know that the real path to knowledge is by observing interactions in the real world. Whether you are researching drug interactions or software behavior, the only way to get valid results is by eschewing artificial experiments.

Janet and I combine our varied backgrounds in scientific animal research and real-world experience in our Guide Horse experiment, as noted by these great cartoons in “Non Sequitur” by our favorite cartoonist, Wiley Miller:

We also greaty admire empirical researcher Jane Goodall, who believes that the best way to understand social systems is to observe them in the real world. Eschewing contrived experiments with artificial populations, Dr. Goodall performs her research by observing interactions in the real-world and publishes her experiences and observations.

In her book “The chimpanzee: a model for the behaviour of early man?”, Dr. Goodall generalizes her real-world observations and suggests how early man may have shared some of the rules of social behavior that she notes with Chimpanzees. Dr. Goodall’s observations provide important rules-of-thumb for understanding complex systems of social interaction.

Jane Goodall with Janet Burleson and Don Burleson

Other Oracle database researchers are using Oracle tools to help save lives, such as Tim Wu, MD OCP, a good friend and a brilliant Oracle scientist who is using Oracle tools to help save lives.

Using tools such as Oracle Discoverer and Oracle Data Mining, scientists like Dr. Wu are observing the real-world as captured inside Oracle databases and using Oracle’s powerful tools to perform heuristic modeling. With tools such as Oracle Data Mining, heuristic techniques can reveal hidden patterns that are impossible to simulate in labs.

More than ever before, Oracle scientists believe that there is very little to gain from lab testing and that valid research is experiential, not experimental.

In this tip titled “Oracle Software Saving Lives” we see the limitations of clinical trials and the valuable research being conducted by Oracle scientists to improve the quality of health care for millions of people worldwide.

In an era marked by selfish corporations, it’s pleasing to see companies like Oracle Corporation who are dedicated to making tools that have a direct impact on improving people’s lives. I’m proud to be an Oracle stockholder and to have a part, however miniscule, in helping Oracle develop these powerful tools that improve that quality of our lives.

Scuba diving horses & dogs & cats

Our prize-winning filly Abby amazed me this week when she stuck her whole head into the water bucket and opened her eyes underwater!

Abby is a daughter of Vaaldance, sired by the legendary Arabian Park horse IXL Noble Express and she loves to stick her head ubnderwater.


Abby – The underwater Arabian horse!

But it got me to wondering, do animals scuba dive?

Horses love to swim and the old diving horses from Carnival shows were a staple in the late 1800’s and even more recently at some parks. It’s a testament to the extreme ability of horses to learn and overcome their fear, but this practice is considered both dangerous and cruel:

“Imagine you are a horse, and, after unbelievably difficult training, you have to spend your life diving 60 feet into 10 feet of water – four times a day, seven days a week (pictured on cover).

Then imagine that, when the job folded, you’re sent to an auction and sold to anyone who could get something more out of you before eventual slaughter.”

Personally, Abby’s dunking behavior makes me wonder if it is possible to train a horse to scuba dive, and Twinkie helped by modeled a scuba outfit prototype. We had great fun posing her, and Twinkie is a real sweetheart.

Scuba diiving has already been done with dogs and it appears that water-oriented dog breeds might actually enjoy scuba diving, like this amazing photo:

The web site Cha-Cha-Cha also has an amazing photo of a scuba diving dog! I love the doggie fins! Anf this scuba diving cat:

This web page shows “Shadow” the diving dog, but it’s not clear if Shadow is enjoying the experience:

The Pets helping kids web site has a outstanding design for a doggie scuba set:

The site Gothamist.com shows a dry suit, made just for dogs:

I just love this picture, and being a cat owner, I’m sure that a lot of trouble went into getting this superb photo. Jason Cross notes that cat dive too, most likely for fish, no doubt:

FEMA, Mike Brown and Arabian Horses

As a member of IAHA (Now AHA), I have been disturbed by the flood of litigation in the Arabian horse industry over the past few years.

Showing Arabian horses is a high-stakes endeavor. We own numerous IAHA champions, including Successor, a stunning Bask Grandson:

Our whole family participated in IAHA shows for many yares. Here is John Lavender showing Praetor at an IAHA show in 2002. John has been a champion Arabian horse rider since he was seven years old, and Janet had him Riding Arabians while he was still in diapers. John is an amazing equistrian and a very polished rider, especially in English classes:

Mike Brown and IAHA

From 1991 to 2001, Mike Brown was the Commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, an international subsidiary of the national governing organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee. This Bridle and Bit article notes a lawsuit settlement offer:

“Fernando Santibanes, the owner of the Arabian stallion Magnum Psyche, and Darlene and Harold Orr, the owners of the Arabian stallion Dark Victory, have advised me that they intend to file suits against IAHA for defamation, and other claims, based upon the statements made by Commissioner Brown during his investigation of mine, and I would agree to use my best efforts to convince Mr. Santibanes and the Orrs not to proceed with litigation over these matters.”

According to the Boston Herald, Mike Brown, after 11 years as president of the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA), Mike Brown was forced to resign:

“Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders’ and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

“We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,” explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner’s office. “This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,” she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.”

Mike Brown was involved in high-dollar lawsuits against the IAHA. Most notably the controversial suspension of David Boggs, allegedly for having plastic surgery done on the National Champion Stallion, Magnum Psyche, a stunning grandson of Padron, one of my favorite all-time halter stallions. This is Magnum, an amazing stallion:

This is *Padron, Magnum’s grandpa, one of my favorite halter stallions. I went to his ranch to meet *Padron in-person recently and his photos don’t do him justice. *Padron was well-mannered and absolutely gorgeous, with the best neck I’ve ever seen. He is still available at stud by private treaty, but I was told that breeding must be live cover. Gorgeous, isn’t he?

Guess what Mike Brown did after we tossed him from IAHA?

Mike Brown is now in-charge of FEMA!

Treating oaks for tree boars

We have a gorgeous 80 foot-tall white Oak tree in our back area and the tree is in-decline so we have the tree surgeon out for a visit:

Like many other things in North Carolina, you can call yourself a tree surgeon without having attended tree medical school or ever having operated on a tree, so we had to do quite a bit of digging to find a qualified tree surgeon.

Our Oak tree is just a baby at 140 years old, but it was infested to tree boars and some type of fungus. We are getting emergency tree-age for it, and we will also re-stimulate the root system by successive fertilization. The cost is just under $3,000 but it’s worth it because buying a replacement tree costs over $20,000 and moving a huge tree in to replace it costs $120,000.

The tree surgeon says that resorts and places like Disney World move super-huge trees all-the-time, so there technology is there. The root system spreads hundreds of feet from the trunk, so we have to divert a road so that it does not damage the roots.

The prognosis is dodgy and the tree surgeon says that we could spend all of the cash and the poor tree could still die. But he recommended it, and this tree still has 200+ years to live if it makes it, so off we go, it’s part of our “no tree left behind” program!