Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Myth Monday - The Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Auroras, sometimes called the northern and southern (polar) lights or aurorae (singular: aurora), are natural light displays in the sky, usually observed at night, particularly in the polar regions. They typically occur in the ionosphere. They are also referred to as polar auroras. In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621.

The aurora borealis is also called the northern polar lights, as it is only visible in the sky from the Northern Hemisphere, the chance of visibility increasing with proximity to the North Magnetic Pole, which is currently in the arctic islands of northern Canada. Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from further away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction. The aurora borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes; from September to October and from March to April.

The northern lights have had a number of names throughout history. The Cree people call this phenomenon the "Dance of the Spirits." In the middle age the auroras has been called by sign of God (see Wilfried Schröder, Das Phänomen des Polarlichts, Darmstadt 1984). Auroras can be spotted throughout the world. It is most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field.

Auroras are the result of the emissions of photons in the Earth's upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down, and accelerated along, the Earth's magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule:

oxygen emissions
Green or brownish-red, depending on the amount of energy absorbed.

nitrogen emissions
Blue or red. Blue if the atom regains an electron after it has been ionized. Red if returning to ground state from an excited state.

Oxygen is a little unusual in terms of its return to ground state, it can take three quarters of a second to emit green light, and up to two minutes to emit red. Collisions with other atoms or molecules will absorb the excitation energy and prevent emission. The very top of the atmosphere is both a higher percentage of oxygen, and so thin that such collisions are rare enough to allow time for oxygen to emit red. Collisions become more frequent progressing down into the atmosphere, so that red emissions do not have time to happen, and eventually even green light emissions are prevented.

This is why there is a colour differential with altitude; at high altitude oxygen red dominates, then oxygen green and nitrogen blue/red, then finally nitrogen blue/red when collisions prevent oxygen from emitting anything.

Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the sun. The Earth's magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward earth. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules causes energy releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles. Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind.

Seen from space, these fiery curtains form a thin ring in the shape of a monks tonsure.

(I wonder why you only see them by North Pole. Now I know.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More people list dogs and cats on Christmas lists

Associated Press A poll shows 52 percent of pet owners plan to buy their animals a holiday gift — up from 43 percent last year.

Gus and Molly, a pair of German shepherds, Rosie the bulldog and Zoe the cat will get treats and playtoys, "the good sturdy stuff," said owner Norm Authier, 50, of Long Beach.

"We have always done this. We don't have any kids so we spoil our dogs," Authier said.

The bounce in pet gifts is expected despite the fact that fully 93 percent of Americans say they'll spend less overall or about the same as last year, according to a separate Associated Press-GfK poll.

The poll found that six in 10 of those who own only dogs planned on shopping for their pet for the holidays. Forty percent of those with only cats planned to pet shop.

Sawyer, a 9-year-old Labrador-border collie mix, will get something special because he was born on Christmas Day, said owner Pat Brown, 74, of Beloit, Wis. He can also look forward to his two favorite homemade snacks—popcorn and ice cubes.

Plush holiday-themed toys are very popular with pet owners, as are candy cane-shaped rawhide chews, said Jessica Douglas, a spokeswoman for the PetSmart pet supply store chain based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Popular clothes at this time of year include a Santa suit, a Mrs. Claus dress and reindeer costumes. A lot of boots are sold to dog owners in cold weather states. Bling-wise, collars and leads are popular.

"Some ID tags are decorated with sparkly embellishments and they can be personalized so it's not just for looks," she said.

According to the poll, 62 percent of female owners said they would probably buy their pet a gift, while just 40 percent of the men said they would.

Janet Rowlands, 53, in Tulsa, Okla., is planning a Christmas celebration for 29 people and pets, including her four dogs. Jack Russell and rat terrier Boodroe, 7, is the only one who steals gifts from under the tree.

"He sees it as part of the fun," Rowlands said.

According to the poll, 59 percent of owners say pets are only a minor consideration when picking out holiday decorations, even though 14 percent reported that their pets have gotten into the decorations before.

There are no cranberries, popcorn or gingerbread men on the tree at Erica Peterson's home in Vass, N.C., because of Logan and the starfish, an ornament she and her husband got on their honeymoon.

On his first Christmas with the family, Logan, a male Labrador-chow, knocked the tree over and everything went flying so he could get to the starfish—apparently because it smelled fishy to him. All edible or scented ornaments were banned.

This year Logan will get a big butcher's bone, while Peterson's female Maltese named Bubbles, 13, will get rawhide sticks made like candy canes. Both will be wrapped and put under the tree.

Last year, Debra Jensen's Labrador named Nightmare and a German shepherd-Siberian Husky named Ticia got stockings with dog treats in them. This year, because her husband recently lost his job, there may not be a stocking, but there will still be treats—they can count on leftover ham.

"The dogs are our only children. I love my babies," said Jensen, 55, of Tulsa, Okla.

Pat McCauley figures his 4-year-old Shih Tzu named Crystal can survive the holidays without a present.

"I'm not going to buy the pet anything," said McCauley, 54, of Princeton, Ill., "I have a daughter who is 17 and she will buy the pets something but I surely wouldn't in any way, shape or form buy my pet a Christmas toy."

McCauley may sound like a Grinch, but he concedes buying pet gifts is not the most ridiculous idea he's heard.

"If I just had a pet by myself and my daughter wasn't around, I'd buy it one or two things a year, like a ball or a tug," he said.

The poll was conducted Oct. 1-5, 2009, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. It involved telephone interviews on landline and cell phones with 1,166 pet owners nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for all pet owners.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

24 Yorkie, Maltese dogs seized from Lehigh Acres puppy mill adopted

Fort Myers News Press

All 24 of the Yorkie and Maltese dogs who were seized from a Lehigh Acres puppy mill have been adopted from Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

People started lining up for hours before the shelter opened at 11:30 a.m., said animal services spokeswoman Ria Brown, and within 40 minutes they had all found homes.

Most of nearly 30 animals seized from a puppy mill in Lehigh Acres this week are available for adoption now from Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

The animals – 25 dogs and four cats – were found living in squalor in a shed at 1606 Monroe Ave., according to spokeswoman Ria Brown. The discovery was made after the division received an anonymous call on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The property is owned by Jess and Kathleen Holden, who were not charged, according to Brown.

They agreed to surrender the animals due to their inability to provided proper care and housing as required by county and state laws. Rather than petition the courts for custody and file charges Animal Services determined that it was in the animals’ best interest to accept their surrender so they could be properly vaccinated, de-wormed and treated for any other problems immediately and placed into appropriate permanent homes without delay. LCDAS will conduct regular checks to ensure that the owners never attempt to house animals in these conditions again. Charges will be filed for any future violations.

The Holdens told authorities they have been breeding and selling dogs for 25 years and moved to Lehigh in April of 2009.

The animals were found in cages inside a 200-square-foot shed. Conditions included poor ventilation, feces and urine on the floor and in the cages, flies and maggots on some of the food and feces.

The animals included 24 Yorkies and Maltese, one German Shepherd, and four cats. They have been examined, received veterinary care and were bathed.

Animal Services’ kennels open are open from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Saturday for adoptions. The shelter is at 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers, next to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office off of Six Mile Cypress Parkway. View all animals available for adoption at or call 239-533-7387 (LEE-PETS) for further information.

Cape Coral police dog retires after nearly decade of service

Zuke steps down over arthritis

Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Zuke the Police Dog A senior member of the Cape Coral Police Department retired Wednesday, but the officer is a little different from his fellow co-workers: He stands on all fours.

German shepherd "Zuke," a trusted member of the K-9 Unit, is settling down to a normal life after nine years of service due to arthritis in his hips.

Zuke went out in grand fashion, though, getting a send off at City Hall from dignitaries including Mayor John Sullivan and Police Chief Rob Petrovich.

"This is an impressive record," Sullivan said. "He has a long history of battling crimes on many different levels."

Among Zuke's accomplishments:

- 461 narcotic searches.

- 273 narcotic arrests resulting from the searches.

- 224 tracks for criminals and missing or endangered persons.

- 67 apprehensions.

- 139 public demonstrations.

- Four stops in one month resulting in the seizure of more than 600 grams of marijuana.

- Tracked a suspect which led to the capture of a child rapist.

Born in 1999 in Czechoslovakia, Zuke's registered name is Vicko Z. Krkonossko.

Zuke has had two handlers during his time at the CCPD.

His current handler, Officer Jason Matyas, said the much loved and highly trained dog will spend retirement at his home with his 3-year-old son, Aiden.

"He gets to hang out with his new handler now," Matyas said. "He'll hang out and watch the house when I'm not there."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feline Fun Fair draws cat lovers to the Cape

Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The first Feline Fun Fair was held at Four Freedoms Park this past weekend attracting cat lovers to the information and adoption-packed afternoon.

The event was hosted by Cape Dog Bakery & Cat House owners Lou and Anita Simmons and Cape Coral Parks & Recreation.

The Simmons recently added the Cape Coral's Cat House addition to their shop, which jump started a foster program with Lee County Domestic Animal Services at the Cape Dog Bakery.

"We always have kittens for adoption with Lee County Domestic Animal Services at the bakery," Anita said.

The Feline Fun Fair was held this year to help the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers Association get the word out about their group and ultimately let individuals know about their Breeder Assist Program, along with the annual cat show that is held in July.

The association had long hair exotic cats, which are similar to persian cats, at the fair that were up for adoption.

The Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers Association, a local club, is apart of the Cat Fanciers' Association, which began in 1906 as the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats.

The local club currently has 13 members. They meet every fourth Wednesday at Mel's Diner in Fort Myers. The club encourages anyone who loves cats to join and attend the meetings.

Deb Kuchler, cat consultant and director of the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers Association said the club participated in the Feline Fun Fair because they wanted to get information about the Breeder Assist Program out to the public.

The Cape Dog Bakery & Cat House hosts a Breeder Assist Program once a month for the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers Association.

The Breeder Assist Program was started to help breeders seek help in situations that may be out of their control. The program helps by providing advice, food, physical assistance and placement of cats for those in need.

She explained that they also attended the fair because they did not have enough money to put on a cat show this year in Fort Myers, which they hope to start up again in 2010.

"Even though we do pedigree cats, we have rescue cats in the show," cat fanciers association member Becky Shields.

"We are not just pure breed people. We are feline people," Shields said.

Pine Island Animal Rescue had seven kittens between the ages of eight to eleven weeks old and some adult cats for adoption during the Feline Fun Fair.

Kathryn Markham said she wanted to attend the event to find homes for all the kittens she brought.

"We are hoping all these kittens will go today, so we can take more animals in," she said, since the shelter is currently at their capacity with the number of animals they can accept.

She said the Pine Island Animal Rescue has been in existence since Hurricane Charley hit Lee County. The shelter rescues animals that have no home and takes in animals that people drop off at their facility.

Markham said they are currently in desperate need of food donations for the animals.

For more information call 239-826-8093.

CatNap Manager Daryl Davis also had a table set up full of information for the Coral CatNap Inn and Coral Veterinary Clinic, P.A. during the fair.

The Coral CatNap Inn opened their doors in 2001 to provide a cat boarding facility for those who leave town and need someone to look after their animal.

She explained that they have enough room in their Coral CatNap Inn for 24 cats at one time. The Inn is $15.50 per day.

Davis said all cats that are boarded at the facility are required to have up-to-date rabies vaccination, a FVRCP vaccination and a bordatella vaccination.

Grooming services are also available, he said.

The services they offer include a bath, nail trim by clipping, comb out, ear cleaning, blow dry, sanitary clip, neat feet, belly clip, shave down, lion cut, which leaves the head and tail hair long, and a Santa clip, which is a body thinning and shaping cut.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services volunteer Vicki Conn also had a table set up at the festival to encouraged people to donate food for their animal food pantry.

"We supply food for those who would otherwise surrender their pets," Conn said. "We try to keep pets in their homes."

She said the food pantry is in desperate need of cat food, dog food, canned foods for both cats and dogs and cat litter.

"The basics is what we really need," she explained.

Cape Coral resident Barbara Hagan said she heard about the first Feline Fun Fair by reading the list of events in the newspaper. She said the festival sparked her attention because she is a cat lover.

Hagan said she currently owns one cat who is 14 years old.

"Cats are wonderful and when you get older they are the least demanding," she said.

Hagan strolled from one table to the next, checking out all the cats and gathering information that sparked her interest during the festival.

"For the first year, it is very nice," she said.

Hagan said she would "absolutely come next year" if the festival is held again.

"It got me out to discover something new," she explained. Hagan said she had recently moved from Fort Myers to Cape Coral.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sticky the cat found wrapped in duct tape

Humans are very twisted. However, I can assure you this twisted story have a happy ending ...

A cat that was wrapped in duct tape and then dumped in a north Philadelphia woman's yard was later discovered covered so tightly from paw to tail in industrial-strength duct tape that she could not even walk.

Law enforcement officers brought the cat to the local Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) shelter, where it took an hour to sedate the cat and then cut the tape off of her fur. They were able to successfully remove the duct tape and the cat, nicknamed "Sticky," is now doing well.

"She's doing great. She is really happy and playful, which leads us to believe she came from a household. 'Sticky' didn't even lose much fur when vets removed the duct tape," said Liz Williamson of the PSPCA.

"Sticky" is not available for adoption yet because the PSPCA is giving the owners some time to step forward and claim her.

The PSPCA wants to get to the bottom of this and find out who would do such a sick thing to an innocent animal - and I'm sure all pet lovers feel that way, too. They are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible. No arrests have been made and so far authorities don't have any useful leads. If you have any information about who may have done this, please call the animal cruelty hotline at 866.601.7722.

Hopefully, those responsible for harming this loving animal will be punished for their cruel actions.

If you want to see " Sticky the Cat," check out the video below. It shows how she looked when she was found and how great she looks now. Bravo to the woman who found her and to the rescuers who saved her!

Sticky the Cat

Believe me when I say, I do not know why anyone do such a thing to nice tabby cat like this. It is very sad. Who every do this should be wrapped in duct tape, neck to toe and thrown in holding cell for 48-hours, no food or water. See how they like it. Then we take half their skins off when we remove tape. Serve them right. Also need to be neutered so they do not breed more stupid humans.

Pet abuse is way too common. Do you know what to do if you suspect animal abuse?