Monday 29 June 2015

Heat and Pressure…

Bertie? I hope you are working on analysing the entries for the Darwin-lite Award contest. Remember, you promised to announce the winner tomorrow. I fear you are falling behind on your schedule.

But Gail, it is impossible to do anything in this extreme heat. It was 24ºC in Aberdeen this afternoon! Now let's think, ((24x(9/5))+32. Wow. 75ºF! No-one can be expected to work in those temperatures, surely?

Bertie dear lad, I think I can hear the guffaws of your readers from distant lands. And even those from England. And I'm not hearing about your compatriot Andy Murray going on strike at Wimbledon just because of a few rays of warm sunshine.

Well OK Gail, I admit I am behind with my analysis. You see the Darwin-lite entries were of such a high standard (and one or two were, frankly, painful to read), so it is going to be VERY DIFFICULT to choose which one gets the prize. In fact I am quite exhausted with the stress.

Dear little Bertie, you are tired after all. Now I'll tell you what. We are travelling down to Nottingham tomorrow to spend a few days with Human Granny. It is a long train journey. Seven hours, and that's if everything goes smoothly. So we will have plenty of time to review thoroughly the stories from your friends and decide which of them best illustrates the failure of natural selection in the human species. 

Hmmm. I suppose we can do that. But what if we get distracted by other passengers telling us the life stories of all the dogs they ever owned? You know that happens quite often when we travel together on the train.

Bertie, we will just have to frown intently at the MacBook and state that we have important scientific data to analyse. I'm sure they'll move on pretty quickly…

Er, I guess so.


Oh Happy Day!

We nearly didn't make it to this year's Grampian Tibet Support Group walk (one of my favourite annual events).

First of all Gail was saying "Bertie, I know your poorly foot is looking much better, but are you really up for an eight mile hill walk?" But of course I told her I was feeling tip top and reminded her that anyway, several of the participants are not as young as they used to be and the pace would not be too demanding.

Then Gail was saying "Oh but look at the weather Bertie, it's bucketing down, maybe we should stay at home today". But I made her check the weather on the BBC website, which forecast the rain would clear by mid-morning.

Then Gail forgot that the drive from Aberdeen to Ballater takes an hour if, and only if, there are no Sunday drivers on the A93. On a Sunday…

So we arrived late. (I will admit that being late is an exceptionally rare occurrence in our household, given a certain person's tendency toward obsessive punctuality, a trait she inherited from Human Grandad).

Oh but I am so pleased I was able to take part in this event once again.

Does it look like I was having fun?

I think it does.
Poorly foot? What poorly foot?
Race you to the top!
Sure I can catch those mountain bikers...
Phew, Gail has remembered my lunch
Oh this is such fun!
Look, I have a rival in the beard department!
It is windy on top of Pannanich Hill
Everyone's furs are in disarray. 
But if I sit here looking cute, some one will surely feed me...
Oh. Gail says I have to show you the view of Lochnagar too.

PS Remember, you have just one more day to enter 'Darwin-lite'.

Friday 26 June 2015

FFHT June: Alternative Realities

I knew I needed a good excuse for not taking part in Murphy and Stanley's FFHT this month. And I have one.

It is that I have been abandoned(1), poorly foot and all(2), by Gail, who is living the high life(3) in London(4) this week(5).

Footnotes by Gail:

(1) "Abandoned" as in being cared for by neighbours Kirsty (a vet), her husband Mike and their two amiable dogs, border terrier Bonnie and miniature poodle Jack. Bertie will be having a blast.
(2) "Poorly foot" as in, thankfully, nearly better foot (although vigilance is still clearly required).
(3) "High life" as in being sequestered in an office besides Gatwick Airport, inspecting data on some Norwegian oilfields for the Kuwaiti Government? You decide.
(4) "London". As I said. Actually an office block next to Gatwick Airport.
(5) "Week" as in two days / one night.

Apologies. We will try to do better next month.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Caring for Jake

It is confirmed that my flat-coated retriever neighbour (and erstwhile foe) Jake has a horrid cancer in his leg and shoulder. He is receiving something called 'palliative' care. That means he needs lots of pals to care for him, right?

I saw him in the park today and gave him a goodwill sniff.

I think he appreciated it, but he also indicated he wanted to be left alone, which is OK, 'cos there's a whole world out there to sniff, isn't there pups?

P.S. You still have plenty of time (well, a few days anyway) to submit your entry for the 'Darwin-lite Award' competition. Closing date 30th June. For details, click here.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Continuing on the theme of human stupidity

So first of all she tried to take some 'cute' photos of me sitting in the Duthie Park horse trough.

I ask you. I was not impressed. I suppose I should be grateful, at least, that the trough was empty.

We continued round the park…

...then she decided to take some photos of the recent outbreak of 'guano' by the boat pond.

What fun! For sure my readers would like to see me rolling in it…

Oh. Apparently, judging by all the shrieking, this is not what Gail had in mind.  (It seems she was wanting to make a pictorial point about the unfairness of dogs taking all the blame for fouling the park.)

PS Don't forget to enter the 'Darwin-lite Award' competition. Click here for details.

PPS You may be wondering why I am wearing a wee black boot. It's 'cos I have a horrid interdigital cyst which just won't go away. I've been to the vet three times and have been taking antibiotics for weeks. We are trying hard to keep it clean and dry and covered. It was hurting me, but not so much now the infection seems to have cleared up.  I'm sure Gail would appreciate any sensible and practical (and scientifically based!) advice on how to deal with this problem.

Thursday 18 June 2015

The Blogville Darwin-lite Award Competition

Bouncing Bertie Boffin here. Blogville's Chief Scientific Advisor. It's been too long.

Now I expect many of you have heard of 'The Darwin Awards', which each year honour the human being who has brought about the greatest improvement to the gene pool by eliminating him or herself in the most unusual and unintelligent fashion. (It's usually a him, obviously).

Well us pups hardly need reminding that the evidence for the humans being the most highly evolved species is, well, specious at best. You'll know this, for sure, simply by observing the people with whom you live.

So I have decided to run my own competition, which I am naming the 'Blogville Darwin-lite Award'. It is 'lite' because I am most certainly not looking for stories involving an actual fatality. Rather, I would like  to hear about occasions when your human has acted in a way that can be taken as proof positive against the notion of 'intelligent design'.

Since Gail has decreed that I am banned from entering the contest, I won't bother telling you again about the time she decided to 'calm me down' by squirting Rescue Remedy up my nose on a crowded platform at Aberdeen railway station...

A very special prize will be awarded to the best entry, and the judgement will be made according to a set of rules too complex and abstruse for any human to understand.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post, either (1) describing the episode in sufficient detail for the incredible stupidity of the human involved to be plain for all to see, or (2) referencing an explanatory post on your own blog.

The deadline for entries will be 30th June, and the winner announced on 2nd July, together with an in depth scientific analysis of course...

PS If you write an entry on your own blog, please use the image at the top of this post to indicate your participation in the contest, and include the words 'Darwin-lite' somewhere in the title. You can post any time up to the deadline. Please also feel free to link to the 'blog hop' below. (And a big thank you to  Oz the Terrier for setting it up.)

Tuesday 16 June 2015

That short precious while

You who live in sunny climes
Might think you have the best of times;
I beg to disagree.

If every day the skies are blue,
No clouds obscure the dazzling view,
There’s scant variety.

You’ll never feel the deep delight,
When dour grey turns to dazzling bright
For a short precious while.

The sense that duties, cares and grief
Can be forgot. And to the beach,
To run and bounce and smile!

(Verse inspired by an outing to St Combs, near Fraserburgh in the very far NE of Scotland, last Sunday.)

P.S. Bouncing Bertie Boffin here: Please do look out for my post on Thursday, when I shall be announcing a brand new and exciting science-related competition. Oh. Gail is disputing my description here, saying any connection with science is "tenuous at best". It is rather, (she claims),  "yet another invitation to all your doggie friends to poke fun in public at their human carers". I bet you can't wait...

Friday 12 June 2015

Distractingly Sexy Science?

Attentive readers may have noticed that there have not been many Bouncing Bertie Boffin posts recently. In fact, some might have concluded I have rather lost interest in scientific matters. Please be reassured that this could not be further from the truth!

However, I will admit I have of late been been remiss in my duties as Scientific Advisor to Blogville, and a news story this week suggests a reason for this.

It is - I kid you not - because I have the misfortune to share my life with a female scientist (albeit one of a different species).

Yes really! It totally must be true because the very famous Nobel prize winner Tim Hunt has said as much. More precisely, this professor of biochemistry from University College London, one of our most elite institutions of Higher Education, opined a few days ago that male scientists should not work alongside female scientists because the latter are a distraction. To quote Prof Hunt verbatim: "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab …You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry."

So that must be it. Therein lies my productivity gap. As for sure I love Gail and she loves me. And it is true too that she dislikes being criticised although I will concede her reaction does not normally involve tears, at least not that I have noticed.

Oh. And now Gail is criticising me for writing "utter twaddle".

She also tells me that female scientists are using 'Twitter' to take humorous revenge on the hapless Mr Hunt by posting distinctly unalluring photos of themselves conducting their lab or fieldwork under the hashtag #distractinglysexy.

Hmmm. So Gail has gone upstairs in search of a photo from one of her old albums, to contribute to the 'debate'.

Meanwhile, I shall try to focus my thoughts on some new science posts to sex up your summer...

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Sunday 7 June 2015

That is NOT a jacuzzi!

Does she think I’m stupid or what?

So, at the end of a walk along the shore of Loch Torridon we are fast approaching our cottage and what do I hear?

“OK Bertie, time for you to jump in the jacuzzi. Won’t that be fun?”

There is so much so wrong with this statement it is hard to know where to begin.

1. That is not a jacuzzi, nor any other sort of a hot tub. It is a Scottish mountain stream in full spate. June temperature circa 8ºC.
2. Anyway, it is never, ever the right time for a hydrophobic fox terrier to jump into any sort of water.
3. If it is really such fun to go splashing about in an icy torrent, then why does Gail not step in and join me?

I wouldn’t mind so much if she just told it like it is:

“OK Bertie, your paws and undercarriage are muddy, as is inevitable at the end of a walk in these parts, because I was mad enough to buy a cottage in a notoriously sodden region of the UK, so I am going to rinse you off in this conveniently situated stream, no matter how cold the water is and how much you object, because I am a lazy, uncaring and selfish human who does not want you traipsing round my precious cottage shedding bits of Highland peat bog here, there and everywhere…”

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Bright and Happy? Or just rather Fluffy?

Did someone confuse me with an oilfield?

Gail came home from work yesterday, looking a bit more ragged than usual.

Something about a near-interminable video conference with a Kuwaiti oil company,  seven hours if you include the prayer breaks.

I could see she needed to let off steam about it, so I lent her a flappy but attentive little ear.

Apparently at this meeting there had been some difficulties with language and understanding, and this even before the Arabic speakers got involved.

Now even a dog, living in Aberdeen Scotland, the so-called 'Oil Capital of Europe', will absorb some of the industry jargon. For example, I find it fascinating how many words are animal related. We know that giant oilfields are 'elephants' whereas regions devoid of oil will be dismissed as 'cow pasture' (or 'moose pasture' to those from Canada). When drilling a 'wildcat' well, one might work in a 'dog house' and place drill pipe in a 'rat hole'. Should one wish to inspect a pipeline, one will probably use an 'intelligent pig'. Yes really!

Given all this colourful vocabulary, perhaps it should come as no surprise to learn that Gail was asked* at one point in this long meeting to distinguish between the 'bright and happy' areas and the 'rather fluffier' areas on her map of an oil field.

But Gail admits she was surprised, and a bit distracted, by this unconventional use of adjectives. Adjectives more commonly associated with, for example, a bouncing wire-haired fox terrier.

Next thing they'll be asking her which parts of the oil map are 'too cute' and which might be 'a tad boisterous'…

*Gail says: Need I add that this unusually phrased question came from an American oilman with an accent indicating origins somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line?