Friday, February 20, 2015

Ethics of Pet Trade

Although I do have serious reservations about the size of bird cages and fish tanks that are provided even in the best of stores and home environments, at least PetSmart and Petco have reframed from selling cats and dogs. It's a step forward but the thought of a bird not being able to fly more than a few feet is quite sad considering what a great gift flight is. Unfortunately, we often think more of ourselves when we purchase such pets that should be free.

As a child, I had a fish tank. Looking back, I feel sorry for fish that have to swim around a million times in circles because there is nowhere else to go. Even the largest tanks don't seem to be adequate these days in my mind for the smallest of tropical fish. Nevertheless, this is the world we live in. We teach kids it's okay to entrap animals for our amusement and confine them to depressing small environments all their lives. But it's alright, as long as we're happy I'm sure that hamster doesn't mind being so bored that it has to ride the wheel ten times a day to break the monotony of its jail cell.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Trouble Extends Beyond Anthem Insurance

After a massive data breach involving the exposure of critical customer information for Anthem Insurance customers, I did a quick search on Google to see if they were affiliated with my insurance company. This is what came up:


Being a Horizon Blue Cross customer, I found this quite troubling. Even more disturbing is the potential number of victims as reported by NBC News - 80 million! That's roughly 26% of the US population. Fortunately, the breach did not affect all their customers. Nevertheless, those that were affected may very well be susceptible to identity theft as social security numbers were among the captured information.

Companies Holding Back Green Movement

The green movement though still alive has hit quite a few snags along the way. Recently I switched to a new healthcare provider that has a website so slow that it is almost impossible to use. When logging in, they try to get you to go paperless by disabling paper mailings. While saving trees may be a great cause, the truth here is that they are trying to save money on postage and reduce their overhead. As much as I would like to oblige, it is paramount that they correct the bottleneck before I will consider releasing them of their burden. Read more here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Less Wasteful Backups

Part of the reason why Internet costs keep going up is because of the incredible wastefulness of the way companies maintain their backups. Theoretically, if you just recorded the common settings of programs installed on a server, there would be no need to actually back up terabytes of data if those programs were available on install disks (such as a recordable CDs, DVDs, etc.). This would reduce ISP costs and even provide a way to restore backups significantly faster.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Important are Product Safety Labels?

Consumer product safety warnings are put on labels and in manuals for a reason but how many of us bother to read them? After all, who doesn't know how to change a light bulb? Unfortunately, that kind of thinking can cause a fire if the light socket cannot handle more than a 60 watt bulb but you installed a 100 watt bulb! Likewise, other common safety precautions are often ignored and some with dire consequences. Read more here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just What the World Needs

Groundhog who has not read
the Robert Haskell blog yet.
A blog dedicated to making the world a less scary place to that oversized rodent on Groundhog's Day. Okay, maybe the world doesn't exactly need another blog but one more won't hurt. For the latest babbling and rants, check out:

roberthaskell.blogspot.com


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ouch, My Dog Bit Me

I was trying to talk my 9 month old Brittany mix into dropping a half rotten green apple when he dropped it and jumped up and bit me in the wrist. I’m not unaware that trying to take something out of a dog’s mouth is risky, but he evidently didn't like my intent and responded as dogs are accustomed to doing even before I actually made my move.  What happened to me is not unusual, as the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 4.5 million dog bites annually from a population of 75 million dogs, with approximately 880,000 visits to the emergency room for this reason. 15-20 people die of dog bites in any given year. So could this have been avoided?

One way to avoid this problem is to teach your dog submissive behaviors like rolling over on its back for a belly rub and not growling when you take away food—oops, I didn't get that far. I did however, have him neutered which is supposed to reduce a male dog’s aggressive behavior. That is definitely overrated. Part of the problem may be tethering. I thought I was doing him a favor by leaving him outside where he could smell the air and bark at cats, squirrels and passing dogs, and in truth he was much better behaved than when left free to roam in the kitchen. Now our kitchen is a safe area for him, at least now that we eliminated the wires to the alarm that he constantly tore up, and learned to ignore the wall paper hanging in softly flapping strips. Being nibbled to death and otherwise annoyed while eating was also disconcerting, and tying him for brief periods outside seemed like a winning idea, especially as he immediately quieted down unless he heard a dog bark or was otherwise interrupted.

Belatedly I discovered that the Humane Society considers this inhumane when done for extended periods, and when it’s reflexive of a lack of care and attention on the part of an owner.  This is decidedly not the case with me or my family, but it may account for some of his hysterical behavior when children are around. Not being able to flee when feeling threatened can cause aggressive behavior in dogs and other animals, and exposes them to possible attack by local critters (raccoons, opossums, other dogs) as well). So tethering will have to go.

Fortunately, I know the medical history of this particular dog, and need not fear rabies or the like, and having had a tetanus shot recently eliminated any fears on that score. So I’ll watch the wound for any signs of infection and treat it quickly if I discern any redness or signs of infection. Also, I’m going to talk to my family about creating an outdoor space where he can have a little more space to roam un-tethered, and maybe figure out a way to get food out of his mouth without getting a mouthful of teeth in return.