Friday, 30 May 2008

Israel has a national bird

It may not be kosher, but the Hoopoe was chosen Thursday as Israel's national bird.

The Hoopoe, or "Duchifat" in Hebrew, is listed in the Old Testament as unclean and forbidden food for Jews.

President Shimon Peres declared the pink, black and white-crested bird the winner of a competition timed to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary. It beat out rivals such as the Yellow-vented Bulbul and the Palestine Sunbird.

Photo: ilarius

Source: Reuters

Do not try this at home!

Video: Britains Got Talent Semi Final Kate & Gin

Watch video

(via The Poodle (and Dog) Blog)

World's Only Scuba Diving Cat

Meet the world's only scuba diving cat.

Vacuum cleaning our cat

This is a video showing us vacuum cleaning our cat. She is huge and totally deaf from birth. She's almost 14 years... The vacuum itself is on the lowest mode, just enough to get the loose hairs off, so no animal was harmed during the making of this vid ;)

Homemade Helicopter That Works

If you think that flying as a hobby is still a little expensive, these small relatively inexpensive helicopter proves that there is more than one way to fly. Some of the prototypes are presented here.

The Baby-Jumping Festival

We’re not joking, the Baby-jumping Colacho Festival is a real annual event celebrated all over Spain since the 1620s. It consists of grown men dressed as the Devil leaping over helpless babies. Why do they do this? They represent the devils that, when they jump, they take all the evil with them leaving the babies clean of evil. Here is a snapshot of one of the weirdest religious traditions.

Slam dunk

Ren Yong / AP

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Special and unusual felines

We hear about famous and heroic dogs all the time; cats, not so often. I think it's because cats are not braggarts like dogs. Sure, there are many, many exemplary cats out there - they just shun publicity.

Here are the stories of some very unusual kitties:

Oscar a.k.a. "Unsinkable Sam"
The black and white patched cat had been owned by an unknown crewman of the German battleship Bismarck. He was on board the ship on 18 May 1941 when it set sail on Operation Rheinübung, Bismarck's first and only mission.

was sunk after a fierce sea-battle on 27 May, from which only 115 from its crew of over 2,200 survived. Hours later, the cat was found floating on a board and picked from the water, the only survivor to be rescued by the homeward-bound British destroyer HMS Cossack. Unaware of what his name had been on Bismarck, the crew of Cossack named their new mascot "Oscar".

About five months later, Cossack was hit and destroyed by a German submarine, and Oscar was again among the survivors.

The cat was then brought aboard the famous aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, but only three weeks later, this ship, too, was torpedoed by a submarine.

This luckily ended the cat's naval career. He was transferred first to the offices of the Governor in Gibraltar, and then sent back to the UK, where he saw out the remainder of the war living in a seamen's home in Belfast.

Sam died in 1955.

Simon served on the Royal Navy sloop HMS Amethyst 1948 through November 1949.

Simon received the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for gallantry after he protected food stores on the HMS Amethyst from an infestation of rats, despite being badly injured in shelling by Chinese Communist forces during the country’s civil war.

He was later posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery, instituted in 1943 by Maria Dickin CBE, the founder of veterinary charity the PDSA, and was given the rank of "Able Seaman". Simon is the only cat among 62 animals to be awarded the Dickin Medal.

Ms. Ruby LeGato
Ruby patrolled the Alamo in Texas from 1981 through 1985. Ruby was awarded a certificate of completion of the Basic Security Officer Training course from San Antonio College.

In 1988 Ruby was immortalized in Rita Kerr's book, "The Alamo Cat". A bronze plaque marks her final resting place on the grounds of the Alamo.

He came from the streets of Brooklyn, a cool customer on four legs, the perfect bait for a sting on a fake veterinarian. In February 2006, Fred was enlisted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office as an undercover secret agent, posing as a would-be patient to help the NYPD apprehend Steven Vassall, a Brooklyn man suspected of acting as a veterinarian without proper license or training.

On 18 May 2006, Fred was presented with a Law Enforcement Appreciation Award by Brooklyn district attorney Charles J. Hynes. Fred was later honored on July 8, 2006, at "Broadway Barks 8!", the New York City Theater District’s dog and cat adopt-a-thon benefit hosted by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters. He was presented with the Mayor’s Alliance Award, which is given to remarkable animals.

Fred died on 10 August 2006 when he escaped from his home in Queens, New York and was struck and killed by a car. Fred was 15 months old.

Because of budget cuts, the only stationmaster the Kishigawa Train Line in Japan can afford is Tama, a nine-year-old cat.

The railway company formally appointed her as "stationmaster" in January 2007. Happy with her successful job as stationmaster, the company promoted Tama to "super-stationmaster" in January this year, making her "the only female in a managerial position" in the company's 36-strong workforce. The company feeds her in lieu of salary.

Fighting the war on rodent infestation, the 95th Mission Support Group is using a "military working cat" to help reduce the amount of damage to equipment caused by rodents living in the supply warehouse.

The cat, named Wizzo, calls the 95th Mission Support Group's supply warehouse his home. The feline lives and works around the clock as a mobility rodent deterrent.

So far, Wizzo has caught a bird, a rat and three mice, which officially makes him an ace. The supply team keeps his kill count posted on a board for him.

Felix , or was it Félicette?
France launched a black and white stray tomcat of the Paris streets on October 18, 1963, on Veronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47 from the Hammaguir test range in Algeria. Was it a male named Felix. Or a female named Félicette?

Whichever, it was the first cat in space as the capsule in the rocket's nose cone separated at 120 miles altitude and descended by parachute. Electrodes in the cat's brain transmitted neurological impulses to a ground station. The cat was recovered.
Photo: Cats in simulated spacesuits [NASA archive]

Thanks to LA Unleashed for tips to the Ruby and Tama stories.


(via Miss Cellania)

Lunch to go

(via Dark Roasted Blend)

I wish I had one in my yard

Jo in England, sent Chris a picture of one of the 13 fox cubs in her garden. There's one more photo.

Dinner's cook'n

Hmmmm... is this an entry for What do your pets do while you're at work?

Photo found at Beagles on the Web The Daily Digital Photo

Bear spotted taking a dip at the Hard Rock pool in Orlando

Orlando police are at Universal Studios, looking for a bear seen taking a dip in the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel.

abcNews reports that officers believe the young black bear is hiding out or sleeping in a wooded area on the Hard Rock Hotel property. Florida Fish and Wildlife is asking anyone who sees the bear to stay away and they're begging people not to go out looking for him.

Photo: HotelChatter

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Compost Condo

Garden Path Japanese Maple
I like my compost bin. I'm amazed by the magic that turns garden clippings and vegetable scraps into rich compost. But a few years ago, things didn't go according to plan.

It was early summer, and each time I removed the lid of the bin, the mound of compost moved ever so slightly. It was like a tiny earthquake that immediately settled. By mid-summer, I heard them, and soon after, saw them. A mouse and her babies had set up house in my bin. I couldn't blame them -- the compost provided food (replenished almost daily), warmth, safety, and a great view of the garden (pictured). Knowing the mice were there, I was afraid to tun the compost with a fork or shovel, fearing I'd injure one of them. I left the door at the bottom of the bin open about an inch, but they seemed to use it only for quick day trips, never taking the hint that I'd served them an eviction notice.

I decided to bodily remove the mice on Labour Day weekend because when I opened the lid, five well-fed mice jumped madly on top of the pile of compost. Perhaps the heap had become too hot, or their tunnels had collapsed and they were unable to escape. Whatever the problem, they appeared to be going nuts.

I grabbed my daughter's flimsy, dollar store butterfly net, and a bucket with a lid. Drawing a deep breath, I scooped the critters out of the bin, one at a time. I was successful in getting four of them into the bucket, but the fifth jumped out and ran into my neighbour's backyard (I hope they don't read this blog). With a parade of kids following me, I carried the bucket into the forest across the street, and deposited the mice deep in a grove of trees. I didn't have much hope for their continued survival -- after all, they'd never had to forage for a meal in the short lives.

Last year, a mole set up home in the compost bin. I spotted his funny, little nose poking out from a tunnel near the bottom of the bin. I don't think he stayed long because I never saw him again. I do have a lot of worms in my bin. When it rains, they all congregate under the rim of the lid, and I'm always afraid that I'll squish them if I put the lid back on. I don't like touching worms, so using a twig, I gingerly place them back into the bin. Although now that I think about it, they may be trying to escape, and I've just thrown them back into their compost jail.

Ah, wildlife. Yes, I have rabbits and birds visiting my yard regularly, but it's really the compost bin where all the action takes place.

Waiting for the Bus Might Be Fun

A selection of funny and creative bus stops from all over the world! I’ve never seen anything like this in reality but I would not mind to wait for my bus in such an extraordinary entourage!

Celebrity Tongues

It’s interesting: no boobs, no butts, no other sexy parts of the body are revealed… But some of these photos do really excite me! Am I the only one here with such a problem?