Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I Learned from My Dog

What I Learned from My Dog

And What I learned at the dog park
Kathleen Mary Andersen

for Opinion Magazine (Dec 2010)

Your dog has a lesson for you! What can “You?” the highly evolved human species who can read, write, speak and make rational decisions, learn from this creature with a 2 year old mentality? Your dog, whether his name is Fifi, Brutus, Gigs, Rocky, Mr Taterhead, Yogi, Blotto, Pecker, Monkeybrains, Dumpy or Sgt Poopooalot (guess how this dog got his name) can teach you some valuable information on how to behave.

The classroom: Dog Park 101 I adopted an Aussie Shepard “Luke” in Sept 2010. My niece introduced me to the dog park. I have come to the conclusion that the dog park is a classroom not only for dog behavior but a lesson for humans as well. You can observe the behavior of small dogs, big dogs, silly looking dogs but hardly mean dogs. It’s a dog social mecca for your dogs natural instinct and ability.

Dog smelling: “Meet and Greet”

As humans when we meet and greet, we shake hands, hug, kiss or touch in some way. This is to establish a starting point to where the relationship will continue from that point on. Dogs meet and greet by smelling each other (yes their genital parts) and no matter how well they know another dog or even in the middle of playing, they take the time to smell each other during especially rough play. Why? We actually do not know for sure, but we do know it helps reestablish the situation, each other’s position and attitude. Dogs need to smell something when stressed. After all, how do they know that other dog they have been playing with has changed his friendly behavior into something more aggressive. Or that piece of rotten meat someone threw out isn’t really so tasty.

Smell and touch is an electrical stimulation. In the animal kingdom, including humans, it signals a change in sensory perception. We pass smells through our olfactory to “test” whether something is good or not so good for us. Doesn’t our brain feel a sense of “happy” when smelling something good like a perfume or cologne, a whiff of a home baked pie or in contrast something rotten in your refrigerator? The external world is felt on the inside by smell, taste and the use of our cells to create a ground for what we are seeing. I have noticed that my dog does recognizes certain dogs at a distance when they arrive at the park, which questions how far can dogs smell. Smelling, for animals and human animals is primal.

Dog and Owner Bondng Unconditional love. Your dog is happy to see you when you come home, even if you haven't been there for a couple of minutes, a couple of days or a couple of months. They doesn’t question “and just exactly where have you been”, “what the heck did you do with your hair” “you are late and I am hungry” or “my you look simply terrible”! This animal is simply happy to be in the moment and to see you again. For you… matter what you look like, how fat or skinny you are, what your hair color is, nor how short or tall you are. And speaking of moment, dogs and cats for example are excellent at living in the moment. I observe my dog going from “I need to sit with my head on your lap and be pet” to “oh, I think I saw the cat walk by the door and I need to go and verify” and back to “did I hear a fork and plate noise while I was gone?” all in 60 seconds flat.

Why as humans do punish ourselves over our past mistakes, ponder the future, fear things we don’t even know exist while our dog just thinks about what is happening in the here and now. Perhaps they are in the thought process of “all we have is the now” philosophy.

Back to the dog park

I think every dog loves the dog park. They, like humans enjoy the interaction with objects of the same species. Smell, touch and feel are important. Maybe they don’t have hands or arms to reach out and interact the same way we do but their needs are really like our needs. We all need to be touched, loved and appreciated. And the love and touch I am referring to is not necessarily in a marriage, a relationship or even sex. It is just that simple motion of bonding with another person. And we do use all our senses to sum up out own bonding situation.

In a number of species in the animal kingdom, whether it is wolves, cows, birds or elephants, relationships are formed and mostly always, these groups will eat, sleep and play together as a team. Didn’t primal man have the same method? However now we seem to be evolving more into isolation from each other, looking for more ways to separate our primal behavior from our true nature, especially touch and feel.

At the dog park I noticed it is important to watch different dog body part motion and what the activities lead to. Are ears erect, do the tails point or wag, is the nose up in the air? Any dog owner is aware of a tail tucked in between the hind legs. And even a bobbed tail dog like mine, can tuck in his tail. What about the eyes. I have noticed that dogs do not generally look each other straight in the eyes as we humans do. It is a form of aggression. Like horses, they will move their ears independently, one front and one back to cover the entire peripheral area, catching a sound in front and in back.

Dogs do take a square and tall posture when trying to assert dominance. “Humping” is only one method to assert their rank. I have seen dogs who will come up to my dog Luke and put on paw over his shoulder and then move closer in for a dominant position. Dogs use the ancestral gestures of dominance to act as a bully; or to turn off a possible aggression or even when they feel a human might be "attacking" them irrationally (dog thought) versus (human thought) “why did you pee on the carpet”. If you think about it, humans set these guidelines that are not always necessarily “practical” to a dog’s natural instinct nor especially rational thinking. Perhaps rational thinking is detrimental to man’s evolution.

In wolf pack studies, the higher member never demonstrates his position unless he is “uncertain” of himself. Do humans who lack confidence, pretend to be dominate when in reality they have insecurities?

In animal studies and observing at the dog park, a bend on the front legs also known as the play bow, a yip (usually this is dog to human talk), a tail wag or a paw up in the air to another dog means simply “"None of the biting, stalking, or humping I'm about to do is serious, this is just fun, OK?" Humping during play is not a sexual thing, especially with dogs that have been altered or neutered. It is a more complex behavior than simply overcoming the dominant dog in a pack but a feel of "where do I belong in this group of dogs" I don’t really even know but I am having fun playing with.

Dog Smiles

I swear my dog smiles. He does have his “happy” face. Anyone can tell when your dog is happy, with mouth open, relaxed lips. In comparison, a dog who wants to show aggression will pull their lips back, teeth showing and nose crinkled. We’ve all seen “play” dog fighting mode and “real” dog fighting mode. Dogs passing each other on leases will sometimes “bark” to show frustration.

A sniffing dog with his nose to the ground is hardly a dog who is not exhibiting aggression. He is far too in the moment of finding a “treasure”. Likewise nose licking is a calming method a dog will use to bring the situation into a less threatening situation. Playing dogs will often “shake off” after play before they begin another round. Then it’s the ritual of dog butt smelling before another round begins. Dogs that live in the same household as other dogs will periodically smell each other when the other dog will get up for water or food. It’s a reassurance to almost say “what have you been eating, doing, drinking or what have you been into”.

What I learned from the dog (from

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When you see someone you love, always run to greet them.

Set boundaries when others are invading your space.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

Be loyal.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent. sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout…. run right back love your friends and family

Delight in the simple joys of a long walk.

Dog Ownership

Being a dog owner has lots of rewards especially if you pay attention to what these incredible creatures have to share with their owners. You can’t buy loyalty and love but you can buy or adopt a dog. It comes with the territory. “We should look at a creature who has never read a book”. They can change your world and how you see the world around you.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Betrayed By Love

Can There Be Love After Betrayal?

Kathleen Mary Andersen
For “Opinion Magazine”
July, 2010

"We always come back to ourselves,
which is where we must find what we
need to be safe and happy before we
can share love with anyone again."

When we love or care deeply about something or someone -- we have opened the door to betrayal. Relationships are seldom easy and they do not provide a promise of safety, no matter what we imagine in the joyful early stages. In spite of the bruises I have felt, I still remain a romantic at heart. Loving someone forces us to stretch and grow, hurt and heal in a way that no other experience provides. However, taking things at face value will never be the same once that dream has shattered by betrayal.

There is no deeper fulfillment than love; and, therefore, betrayal can drop us to our knees and make us believe that we will never trust again. So what is “betrayal”? Could it be the life script we have produced, does not have the endings or emotions we thought we wrote? We want to make sure we do not have another miserable relationship ending. When the real ending happens, we are crushed. We cry, we hurt, we are in pain. The hero – “yourself” faces defeat and anguish. This is not the way I envisioned it.Then suddenly what emerges is the reality of what the relationship really was. The areas we glossed over, covered with sand to hide the flaws -- suddenly comes to light and is clear. Ok, maybe things were not so perfect. We can write our part in the play of life but we cannot write another person’s character lines, nor take responsibility for the change of script.

Any one of us can experience betrayal in our personal relationships. No one is immune. Whether we have been hurt in our family relationships, our marriage, our business or our friendships, we can emerge from the pain with greater self-worth, reclaim our lives, and learn to love and trust again. We begin a new “play” of love but maybe leave openings for the “improv” from the other person. Unfortunately, many people try to shield themselves in ultimately destructive ways especially testing everyone they meet.

Trust is built in stages. We start out trusting cautiously. Over time, if our experiences and instincts allow it, we may begin to trust unconditionally. We are likely to trust someone who meets our deepest emotional needs. If there is a sexual relationship, the bond may become very deep. We feel safe and therefore allow ourselves to become vulnerable. If we discover suddenly that what we thought was true is not true (for example, that someone was dependable when he or she proves not to be) we experience emotional chaos. Trust is often the most difficult element to recover. It can be a vicious cycle.

We may feel betrayed when an "unspoken contract" is broken. Sexual, physical or emotional disappointments feel like betrayals because we have the unspoken belief that our partner will keep us safe in all ways. We assume that we won't be misled or deceived; therefore, if someone keeps important information from us because it might be upsetting, it is betrayal. If your partner withholds his or her true feelings about their emotions or we are not loved for who we really are, it is a betrayal. But this is the “script” we wrote, not the script with interaction from someone else who is the author of their own play or life drama.

Reactions to betrayal are similar to reactions to death. These reactions might include shock and denial, shame and self-blame, hostility, anger, vengeance, jealousy, or seeking refuge in judgments and interpretations. There are no wrong reactions in this grieving process, but some people get stuck. Sticking in “stuck mode” of hate may allow you to avoid feeling pain. Anger becomes an armor from a loss of feeling and the death of our spirit. It is amazing that our feelings or directly our “ego” feels more pain that perhaps a cut on your hand.

If you are hanging on to one of these reactions long after the betrayal and seem to be obsessing about it, stuck in the grief process, you may need help to begin healing. Getting unstuck allows you to explore your inner experience and discover the cause of your reactions. What are we really grieving? Someone we knew was wrong for us? Was this opinion the one that that led to this end. Did we have unrealistic expectations, romantic fantasies, fear of failing, fear of being alone. Childhood fears do carry over to our adult life. Did we grow up being told “do not to be a failure”. It is unrealistic to think that a relationship doesn't require a lifetime of work. And the win and lose in relationship isn’t always up to just us.

So, you have been betrayed! Felt that your life has fallen apart. Carry around what feels like a big hole in the middle of our body. A hole where our heart used to be. We can use this devastating experience to increase our self-worth, reclaim our life, and learn to love and trust again. Begin by admitting and accepting that what happened is only the opinion of another person, not necessarily how things are. Did the other person have a ditty bag full of personal issues and “baggage”?

In the end, we always come back to ourselves. This is where we must find what we need to be safe and happy before we can share love with anyone. The popular musician Sting said that his best writing was born of pain. Creativity can teach us about ourselves and re-engage us with life.
Develop a support system that is independent of any future primary love relationship. One of the criteria for a healthy relationship is that both of you can live without it. Your relationship cannot be all that sustains you. Next, examine any possible role that you played in the betrayal. This deepens your understanding of yourself and helps insure that you won't repeat your mistakes. Did you not recognize the warning signs? You may have to explore childhood experiences that have conditioned you to behave in ways that prevent you from getting your adult needs met. Finally, commit to improving communication and dialogue in all your relationships. This is skill building. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is irresponsible to assume that if you are not good at communication, others will make allowances. It is your responsibility to know yourself, your feelings, your desires, your needs, and be able to communicate them. We are all capable of increasing our emotional intelligence and our ability to communicate it. Communication isn’t always verbal, it can be in writing as well. Say or write what is on your mind.

The human heart can survive many things but when someone we love and trust betrays us, it can painfully shake the very foundation of our faith in humanity. Sometimes it can cause us to loose our sense of “self”, we may spiral into a deep depression or even become withdrawn from others and possibly suicidal. Loss of love hurts! Painful experiences help us learn about ourselves. If you are in the process of self-discovery, your best relationships are yet to come. Choose them wisely and trust again. As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds”.
Kathleen Mary Andersen is a free lance writer living in Seattle. She is the author of “Myth and Mystery of the Pacific Northwest” and “The Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. She has written for “Beyond” and “Quest” magazines in England and has been a free lance writer with Opinion since 2004.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The EDate Revisited 2010

The EDate Revisited
An insight to online dating

Rewind: 2004, I wrote an article called The EDate after working as a relationship coach for author John Gray, “Men are from Mars”. I was an Edate back then but never thought that 6 years later, 2010 I would be an Edate again. Sad but true. Had my heart broken?

Flash Forward: April 2010. I am back into the dating pool wondering if things have changed over the past 6 years. Light bulb, no, not much has changed except everyone I am looking at is “older”. Wiser? No, it’s just that more birthdays have come and gone.

What is different? I think it’s the same game for men, although women are gaining an edge. It’s still the preverbal box of chocolates with men and women looking for the ever elusive chocolate “truffle” in a swarm of maple crème, caramel and nuts. Disappointing? Definitely yes. Demoralizing? Often times yes. Women wanting younger men, yes. Men wanting younger women? Not so much. They tried that and some seem back to finding someone who they can relate to.

Enter the 2000’s. So what makes this unique dating system of the millennium different than meeting someone at a friend’s house or at a single’s group? The first thing would be you get to know someone by their thoughts and written words. That can be a good thing and that can also be deceiving. People do not always speak or write in the words that correlate to their thoughts. Pictures often represent who we might be or want to think people might like, when in reality you need that personality to link both the physical and mental. A photo can be doctored, can be old, and can be someone else’s photo. Do you look the same as you did when you were 20 or 30 or even a year ago. Probably not.

It’s a sad state when we must gauge our needs and wants by a photo.
There are many what is called “handsome” or “beautiful” people who you might never guess without knowing who they are or what comes out of their month. Take for example, Jeff Goldblum. His photos say nothing about his charming and witty personality that makes everything fit in. True for woman as well. Heidi Montague, beautiful before and after plastic surgery but I don’t quite see the “inner” Heidi when she speaks. Flat liner. So we stoop to being judged by our photos and we in turn judge by the photos of probably a lot of nice and sweet men who might never be heard.

Expectations: As a relationship coach listening to people’s problems, I learned that many of us if not all of us put on high expectations of who we think the person we see in the photo really is. Instead of tackling the meeting as just “a meeting” we think that we might find Prince Charming, Cinderella, the perfect girl or boy next door. Is anyone really perfect and can we really know someone by talking with them over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? Actually have a couple of glasses of wine and your opinion might change!

Who is that person in the photo or list of likes and dislikes? It takes years to find out who anyone is because we are always changing. In science, we and our world, galaxy, solar system are in the state of perpetual change. We as molecules of life are always growing, dying, and changing our state. How can we expect to be the same today as we were yesterday, or 10 years ago?

It could takes years of loving someone before you find out that they have a dark side, a hidden secret. Some kinky fantasy world that goes unnoticed by your state of love and acceptance. I know, you shot a humming bird because it was fighting over your feeder? I had to think about that one. On the other hand, someone you might think is just cold, is tough might be underneath a helpless little puppy just looking for love but putting on a brave front to fool the world.

List of Likes and Dislikes. Our likes and dislikes change. If you are not open to new things, how can you possibly know what you might be missing? Perhaps I didn’t like sailboats or getting over my fear of water but once I started to sail, I loved it. It was a whole new world I was introduced to. If I had not spent 6 years with someone who owned a tree plantation I might never be in my current occupation of working on a degree in natural resources. No matter how old you are, I do believe as in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, everyone we cross paths with has a part in who we are.

I am basically an A Type personality being slowed down a bit by age.
But not just age, by learning from a relationship to appreciate the NOW. Life is today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Plain and simple is good. It’s a calming to your soul when you do not let a moment go by without opening your eyes to the world around you.
Can we get this from one or two meetings with someone we talked to online? The answer is no. Things take time. It took someone who almost died to get me to understand that this moment is all we have in life.

The Time Factor. Maybe that is the problem with our lives today or in online dating. We want it now. Fast, quick, magically have the best relationship of your life happen this minute. The older we get, the more we try pushing that urgency.

Right Choice: In our time criteria, do we expect to find someone who will be just another relationship or do we approach each photo with “is he or she the one”? No one wants to say I was married for x amount of years to the most wonderful person on the planet and I find you who will do….for now. Would you want to date someone who compares you with their happily ever after past that did not happen?

Temporary Princes and Princesses. How many times do daters stick with someone for a couple of weeks while continue seeking online for the “perfect” match? Are we wasting time, your time and their time in putting up or are we giving that person a chance. Will we settle for just “something” any “port in the storm” or will be honest to ourselves that something is missing. Does hope try to win in this game?

Value systems. I took a class from Prof. Morris Massey, a leading expert in human value systems. Massey’s theory basically says that our value systems are formed in the following:
Imprint – Birth to 7 years old
Modeling – 8 to 14 years old
Socialization – 15-21 years old
It’s true. You can understand and relate to almost anyone if you understand their core value system, where they grew up, and the family they grew up in, the world events at that time. It is our value system that makes us who we are and how we act. My mother stored a year of food, a product of a child who grew up in the depression. “We” grew up in the throw it away, replace it generation. It does work, get a new one. Does that influence apply to our relationships in comparison to our parents who hung on until they wanted to kill each other? A divorce was a no no in a lot of families?

What do we want? I have come to the conclusion, whatever you write on your profile, that we are all alike as human beings. We want to love and be loved. We can deny it, hide it, or pretend it doesn’t exist but in the end we need and want love. A mighty lion can even be tamed by the affection of a lioness. Touch, smell and feel will exist no matter how old you are.

It’s obvious in each profile no matter how you phrase it. We want someone and someone special to ask us how we feel, what did you do today, to have someone tell you they love, want, desire and need you. And “needing” is not to be mistaken with helpless need but a desirable need to be with and next to that person, sharing a common bond of language and touch, experiences and fun.

My grandfather was 86 when he died. My family never understood he needed to feel love; he needed a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Just because he was in his 80s did not mean he lost all feelings of love. I saw him sitting with my own son who was age 3, on the couch holding hands and watching cartoons together. I realized just being near a young soul made him feel alive. I never left him without giving him a hug and a kiss. I know he appreciated it.

Where do we go? Admitting we want love and to be loved is a start. We can talk sex, carnal knowledge, etc. but we do need that mental connection as well. I am probably disqualifying anyone in their 20’s right now, that’s a whole different dynamics in dating!

Find out who someone really is. Do not put anticipations, motivations, expectations, and demands on another individual. Take the time to spend quality time with that person. How will you ever know if you can’t make the time to try? So you may have to kiss a lot of frogs or try to find which foot fits the glass slipper. Either way, you might gain not only an insight to yourself but also experience some new things in life. Especially interests.

I like fairy tales, have had my fairy tales cut off by reality bites but I am not giving up on my hopes and dreams. I have had to adjust that things might not be “happily ever after”, maybe its only one chapter at a time in the book of life. Whatever way it ends up, I believe that it’s all good and it’s all part of being in love no matter how many times you have to try.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vampires in America

Vampires in America -
Have you been bitten?
By Kathleen Mary Andersen

reprinted from Opinion Magazine, 2004

Vampires are alive and well in America. Believe it. They are here. You could be one of them and not even know it. They could be your co worker, your boss; they could be your in law, your neighbor or, yes the worst you can imagine - you could be in love with one. Don’t laugh, I am not kidding. Before you conjure up images of Bella Lagosi or you run out in your yard looking for a wooden stake, let’s take a look at the vampires I am referring to. Vampires exist in corporate America. Vampires have always existed in business, but lately, it seems that business cannot survive in the millennium unless it hires vampires. Unfortunately, for us, vampires make wonderful bosses. They feed and are motivated by one goal - company profit. They never look in the mirror because as you know a vampire will never see a reflection of who they really are. You might remember how it starts. At first your job is enjoyable. You are new, you don’t have many obligations.
Ground work. This is the ground work that is needed to take you in. Gradually your enthusiasm is converted into the pressure called "company loyalty". Do it for the company so they say. "Hey", I ask, what about for the pay!" In today’s weakened economy and high jobless rate, fueled by global competition most companies are forced into one purpose and one purpose alone -- to make money and make money now. The dark foreboding castle on the cliff of yesterday where Dracula lived has been replaced with a store front. After all, this modern day vampire has to survive and it does with your hard work. The corporate vampire boss is caught up in titles, promises of future promotions and power and so they don’t mind selling your soul "to the company store" as Tennessee Ernie Ford sang in "Sixteen Tons". Vampires in corporate America are an epidemic. If you don’t take the bite, you are in today’s terms, "history".
Circle of Victims. Now let’s go home circle and family vampire. Yes, each time you move, you risk living right next door to a vampire. In all the years I moved around the country, I canremember a few times my neighbor turned out to be a vampire. Who knew? It’s only after you are bitten that you realize what has happened. The neighborhood vampire is the kind person and often times the first person to greet you to their social circle. They welcome you with open arms, introduce you to everyone on the block, and entice you by bringing over a plant, some home-baked cookies or even a wonderful casserole. You see, vampires really do have charm and panache. It always starts with kindness. Once you have your defenses down, they pry on every detail of your life and your background so they can focus in for the kill.
When I was younger, I had a beautiful woman who became my neighbor. She was charming, funny, and couldn’t do enough to help me feel at home in the neighborhood. Her husband was always out of town on business. She must have seen me coming. I was a trusting soul. Little did I know I was being courted by a vampire. For this she-devil didn’t really want my friendship; she wanted what I had, and what I had was a husband who was home all the time. Hers was out of the country, so mine would do in the meantime. It took me about six months to finally catch on, and I eventually did. It was a painful lesson of the bite from a neighborhood vampire. I later found out she ran off with another neighbor’s husband. Perhaps I was the lucky one to escape her clutches.
Neighbors who are vampires are not always promiscuous women looking for love with your spouse. They can be the vampire of words. The queen of the neighborhood gossip mill. These are insecure people who live in your neighborhood and get their sustenance for survival on "gossip". In order for them to get it, they must inch their way into your life and find out every small detail, so they can collate the information to their priority and pass it along to others in the neighborhood. Gossip is power, and those who know the most about the personal lives of others hold the audience in the palms of their hands. We trust these people, for often these vampires are friendly, willing to offer you help when you need it, making us drop our guard, and going along for the ride. It’s when you laugh at something they might have told you about someone else in the neighborhood that it becomes a horror of realization that "you" are the brunt of her jokes when your back is turned.
Gossip vampires don’t take pity on you. Talking about others is their drug. If someone talks incessantly about others, the odds are they are talking about you as well. If you know someone like this, think again. You may have a mark on the side of your neck! The guidelines of the neighbor vampire are synonymous with those of the co worker vampire. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows that those friendly, smiling souls who seem so concerned with how you are each day may just be a vampire in disguise. It gives them power to keep a bag of tidbits about everyone and offer you one when you need it, those days when it’s more enjoyable to hear about someone's else’s problems than deal with your own. After all, it makes us feel just a little better when you know someone else’s life is more screwed up than yours.
Other neighborhood vampires, but sometimes called the "not so dangerous" vampires, could be the down to earth - guy next door. It might start out that Charlie wants to shoot the breeze about the recent baseball game or talk about his recent tune-up. With all vampires, it always starts out as subtle and easy. That is part of the ritual, and that is usually why we cannot see them coming. Maybe there is some common sense that to the idea that fictional vampires first flutter into your life as small bats. Chatting over the fence becomes borrowing a hammer or a screw driver, minor things that aren’t an inconvenience. And they return them so that you keep your guard down at all times. It all appears harmless. The next thing you know, they come over one day and ask if they can borrow your lawn mower, skill saw but, hopefully, not your car or your wife. Maybe this is all starting to make sense.
Home Circle of Vampires. Let’s come a little closer into our home circle and family. The rules of neighborhood vampires apply also to in-law vampires. Family gossip and relatives who borrow things fall into the same category, and we all have them in our life at one time or another. Unfortunately, in-law vampires we inherit so are harder to get rid of than our neighbor. They come with the territory called love. They can attach themselves into your personal life as painfully as a carbuncle on the side of your neck. It’s the material for mother-in- law jokes. Your vulnerability to protect yourself from these vampires isonly weakened by your mate’s attachment to their advice. When anything in your relationship goes wrong, they run to this vampire and feed the fire with more information that the vampire needs to use against you. You in exchange become a victim.
Dating Vampires. I was inspired to write this article as I had a friend who had an encounter with the worst vampire in not just America, but the entire universe! He is what is called the "love" vampire. It is a bite that you might not recover from. In coming to understand the persona of the vampire of famous novels, they don’t necessarily fly in the window and bite their victims on the neck. Vampires are charming, good looking creatures that smolder with sexuality. In real life, that is what happened to her. Her vampire didn’t flutter his wings and land at the foot of her bed. This one knocked on the door and waltzed into her life and before she knew it, he captured her soul. She knew her life would never be the same no matter how long he is gone. The bite of a love vampire can be terminal.
When she first saw this vampire, she looked into his eyes and was mesmerized by a lucid, azure pool. It was the eyes of a tormented soul who she thought was crying for love and affection. She fell right in. She was hypnotized. That is what vampires sometimes do. Little did she know that some vampires can present themselves as Prince Charming one moment and turn into Ivan the Terrible when they get you. Emotional vampires are skilled and educated. They are charismatic, and know you better than you might know yourself. These vampires are born with the ability to look over a situation quickly and summarize the weakness right at the beginning. Membership in Mensa does not qualify someone from recognizing a vampire. Think I’m kidding? Love vampires are also known as emotional vampires, and they are the subject of many studies and analysis of psychologists. They can be male or female and once they steal your heart, the rest is history. This vampire whisked her off my feet within weeks, he succeeded in killing her off from her friends and relatives and she was his. This was after, of course, he got rid of the last victim…his wife.
She was there at the castle, stunned like a deer in the headlights, she threw away any practicality. Vampires are like chameleons because they can change quicker than you can say abracadabra. Either way, once she was there wrapped in the cape it is not easy to escape. It’s a game and the vampire then moves on to the next victim, sometimes before the body is even cold. This story just doesn’t apply to female victims. It can happen to a man as well. Do you know anyone who has met a sweet woman, only to find out later that Snow White and the wicked witch are really one in the same once they have you? Those first little things they do for you because they "love" you vanish faster than a rabbit in a magic act. Not only that, you find the situation reversed, and you are doing double the duty to keep them happy. The comments of "I love your shirt, your dress, how you look" changes into "you aren’t going out of the house dressed like that, are you"?
The emotional vampire lives on what they can take from your emotions. It’s about control; and vampires, whether it is in real life or in that fictional account of Count Dracula, live on control. Control over you. They are people who have no self esteem or control over their own life, so they must feed on yours. In reality, we are all emotional vampires in one way or another. To fall victim, do we have be insecure to fall into this trap, or was are we sometimes just not educated to recognize human psychology when it bites you in the neck? Love vampires play on our emotions but capture our essence and sometimes our soul. Isn’t that what the underlying theme of all the vampire movies are about?
The lesson here is not just to recognize a vampire in your life but to stop yourself from being a vampire. It’s a chain of creation from one bite to another. It’s easy to become bitter, lose your self esteem, become like them after you’ve had the very life sucked out of you. Perhaps vampires are children of vampires. Their childhood forces them to go through life looking for what is missing in themselves. Don’t despair, there is hope. Understanding that this is what human nature is about is one step to a healthier future. Protecting yourself by not taking part intheir activities can be more potent than a necklace of garlic around your neck.
No matter how old we are, we must get to the stage that we can laugh at the lessons we have learned when dealing with vampires. The evil Count Dracula of the past can be replaced in the future by the funny George Hamilton Dracula as in the movie First Bite. Make no mistake, take a look around you, vampires are alive and well in America.

Steps to Finding the Best Interest Rate

How to Get the Best Interest Rate
(Or should that be the best “program”
for your home mortgage)
by: Kathleen Mary Andersen

Mortgage lenders. You can’t escape them. Whether you turn on your television, your radio, get a call from a telemarketer and just about every website, you are promised the best deal in town.
Claims about the lowest interest rate, no closing costs or hidden fees, can confuse the best of us. The question remains, how do you find the right one? More importantly, how do you find not just the best rate but the best program to meet your financial needs?

Shopping for a mortgage can be confusing. We must first understand that a home mortgage is simply a tool in your financial future. Your home needs a financial plan. How long do you plan on keeping your home? What much can you afford a month? There are easily over 50 different mortgage programs available on the market today and interest rates do begin at 1.25% . But is this for you? Is there a catch? How do you choose?

After you determine your goal, the rest is easy. Is a 30 year fixed rate best for you if you plan on selling the home within 5 years? Is this your first home or your last home? Will your house need to grow with your future family and your future income? The American Realtor Association survey has shown that 90% of all homeowners sell within the first 7 years.

The lowest or best interest rate today can be either 1.25% or it can be 9% depending on what type of program, your credit worthiness or simply what your financials goals may be. If you do not see yourself living in your home in the year 2037, then a 30 year fixed rate might not make sense to your plan. If your credit is not so hot, then 9% might look terrific if you are set on owning a home of your own. There are many right rates for many people.

Let’s go shopping. Three phone calls can determine what company and product can work for you. Every company has a variety of different mortgage products. A loan representative can show you an amortization of different plans and different rates.

Do adjustable rates make you dizzy? Over 65% of all home mortgages held by banks are adjustable rate mortgages. And there are many adjustable rate programs. Some are based on fast moving indexes, some carry teaser rates and some based on the slower indexes such as savings. There are also lower rates fixed at a shorter term such as a 5 year note or 7 year note.
If this is your first home, your job will be on the upswing over the next 5 years, an alternative is to look at three options.

A 30 Year Fixed Rate at 5.75%. Payments are $ 567.00 without taxes and insurance. In 5 years you will have paid the bank 12,560.00 in interest and earned $4,500 in equity. It’s called the “banker’s secret”. Is this enough equity to buy a new home considering the market appreciation in 5 years.

A 5 Year Fixed Adjustable Rate Mortgage: Payments are fixed for 5 years at 4.50%. A lower rate but you felt comfortable making that 30 year fixed rate payment above and you do plan to move up in the housing market. Take advantage of a lower rate but make payments as if it was that 30 year program above. The overage goes to your principle and you have earned a whopping 10,000 in equity over 5 years.

A Savings adjustable (COFI) has an option rate beginning at 1.95% or an actual rate of 5.50%. You can make a payment of either 450.00 per month on a 150,000 loan or the actual payment of 650.00 Why would someone want this program? Savings rates are not as volatile as other index. The rate may go up but what goes up also comes down over a 5 year period. Secondly, this program allows you to make a payment in between the 1.95 and the 5.50. The major benefit is that any principle you add each year is credited every 12 month period. It is automatically deducted from the balance you owe. That alone can bring your equity up almost to 3 times the amount of a fixed mortgage.

Bankers sell many types of programs because they know that there are many types of home owners and that each home owner has a particular plan in mind. ‘No’ closing costs usually means a higher rate. The costs are built into the rate. Over a 5 year period, you pay more than if you have taken the closing costs up front. Lower interest rates with some closing costs added to the loan might be a better option for paying less interest. If you pay points or origination, can you recover that over the time you will keep the house?

The goal is to find not only someone who can show you different options but someone that you can feel comfortable with handling the biggest investment we make in our lives: our home. Trust, product knowledge and making it your choice is important. After all, the key is that when the transaction closes, it is you, the homeowner that must be happy in making the payment each month.

The Real Cowboys

The Real Cowboys

by: Kathleen Mary Andersen

Reprinted from Western Chronicles Magazine, 2004

Their heyday was only a small piece of history, but their folklore and spirit has lasted many generations. The myth and mystery lasted from around 1850 to the early 1880s and created a hero that was larger in our memories than in the actual life he had lead. They had a dream and a vision.
These are the cowboys.

In September of 2003, I went to the Idaho Panhandlers Cowboy Action Shoot at Faragutt State Park. I am always in awe of the outfits and the spirit at these events. As I sat on this clear Saturday watching the mounted shoorting event, I thought back to my childhood at the Saturday afternoon matinee. I was mesmerized with the dashing men, singing their way down the trail, fighting for truth and justice in the old west. They came to the rescue of a fair damsel, forever upholding the code of the west. I wanted to leap onto that screen and ride off into the sunset with them. But here I was in the reality of this modern affair complaining about my frozen toes and fingers wondering how these brave souls of the past carried on without all the comforts we now have..

The miles I had traveled in my car to get here as hardly a “spit in the bucket” in comparison to the long and arduous journey that the real cowboy had to take. While I traveled I-90 the American cowboy traveled routes called “The Chisholm Trail” The Goodnight Loving Trail” and “The Western Trail”. All leading from the Texas coast into Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Montana they roamed the limitless land, earning a couple of hundred dollars to take this property that was not even something they owned to its final market place in cities like Cheyenne and Dodge City. I thought that the true American cowboy was the epitome of masculinity. I imagined him riding the rugged countryside, yodeling as the sun went over the horizon and his name would be Gus or Woodrow McCall as in the movie Lonesome Dove. His life was carefree, adventurous and happy. He carried his bedroll, sat by a campfire drinking his coffee and pondered life under the stars. Could life be any better?

Anyway, this is how I saw it. In reality, who was the real American cowboy? Fact or fiction suddenly starts to merge into a portrait of a unique hero of our culture. The “cowboy” was truly just a boy; his average age was only 24 years old. The term “cowboy” came about during the Revolutionary War when the Tories would tinkle a cow’s bell to lure the unsuspecting Patriots into an ambush. It was only later that it became a popular name for Texas rustlers who stole cattle from the Mexicans and after the Civil War it came to signify anyone who tended cattle in the West. I guess that would include rounding up horses as well.

One out of 3 cowboys was actually either black or Mexican. Most were uneducatedorphans, slaves and immigrants who came to seek a living in the west. If they worked an average of 7 years with hopes and some good financial management, they could have enough for their own ranch and their own herd. Most only worked during the warmer months taking handyman jobs in town during the winter months. Some of these adventurous young men never even knew how to ride before signing on as a cowhand.

"In person the cowboys were mostly medium-sized men... quick and wiry, and as a rule very good-natured; in fact, it did not pay to be anything else. In character, their like never was or will be again." Teddy Blue Abbott. “They Pointed Them North”

Exit John Wayne, Gene Audrey and all those romantic figures on the saddle. The average cowboy didn’t sit on his horse, totting his gun, playing his guitar down the range. Even the rough and tumble photos portraying the cowboy covered up a self conscience young man trying to earn a living. Life was not easy on the prairie. The cowboys would have to endure the extreme Texas heat, the bitter winds of spring in Colorado and the early snows of Wyoming and Montana to get their cattle to its final destination. Contrary to popular depiction, guns were not encouragedby the ranchers nor city officials in the in the towns the cowboys passed. Guns were only used to protect and to ensure the safe passage up the trails that became the focal point of many cowboy songs. It was in those songs, and the Old West shows that gave the cowboys a bit of romance.

The model for the American cowboy was the “vaqueros”, a professional breed of horseman who set the style, had mastered the equipment and technique of horses and even set the vocabulary that would later become the trademark of the cowboy. The came with the Spaniards to settle the west. The early cowboy wore typically wool paints, often times with buckskin sown in the seat and inner legs to prevent chaffing and wear from the saddle, no belt, a large wool hat usually with the brim held in place with thorns, no suspenders but tight fitting pants that could stay up while he worked in the saddle all day. Vests with long pockets became an asset for carrying items like tobacco or a small tally book. Northern cowboys often wore long fur lined coats to protect them from the weather. Gloves were a matter of choice. “Chaparreras”, the thick pants the Spanish wore was later simplified to “chaps”. The term “vaqueros”, “vaca” meaning cow later was simplifed to “buckaroos” during cowboy times.

Unlike the flashy and professional vaqueros, the cowboys were generally good natured, striving to save some money for something of their own. Early boots were actually those that soldiers brought home from the Civil War and were with a traditional flat heel. The Spaniards brought with them the mastery of the saddle. A cowboy usually owned his own and the horse was often the possession of the cattle baron. or rancher that the cowboy worked for. The Western saddle is actually a descendant of the 16th Century Spanish saddle that the conquistadorsrode into Mexico. The Spanish saddle being copied from the Moors.

The prommel at the front was curved to prevent the rider from sliding off. The saddle changed when it came to cattle country. The curved was tilted well backward for the rider’s comfort. If the saddle fit properly, not only to the horse but to the horseman, he could easily travel 70 miles a day. Modifications throughout the years were made to the riggings but the major design used in the mission saddle is still prevalent today. Later when chaps and a different style of hats emerged, a large belt buckle had a purpose to protect the cowboy during the rough interaction with the cow. It was easy to lose his balance and the buckle served to save him from busting a gut on the horn.

The cowboy’s canvas was the open and unsettled land of the west. The lush green pastures rose to the Rockies. But along with this magnificent scenery came the extreme weather conditions of hot and cold. Texas was dry and dusty while the Montana territory could be chilling and windy. These elements shaped the character of the cowboy. Writers such as Teddy Blue Abbott wrote stories of the cowboy adventure. His most famous tale “They Pointed Them North” brings to life the saga of the cattle drive from Texas to Montana. The artist Charlie Russell immortalized the cowboy on many of his western paintings. It was thru these men that we catch a glimpse of the real American cowboy.

The cowboy’s horse was his equipment. Most cow ponies were normally a crossbetween a Cavalry horse and a mustang. The cowboys thought it was best to leave the horse to roam for the first 4 years of his life before he would be trained. Then the poor animal went thru a 4 day breaking process to prepare him for his new task. These horses were much shorter than today’s stock, standing about 12 to 14 hands. The lariat was introduced to the cowboy by the vaqueros who used braided rawhide but the cowboys evolved this into a grass rope usually about 40 feet long.

A cowboy’s work was never done. He saddled up at daybreak and tended his herd until sunset. On the open range, predators such as wolves and bear prevented the cowboys from a peaceful nights sleep. While he was on a drive he could hope for a chuck wagon and some decent food to help compensate for the many hours in the saddle. But most of the time as the song goes “eat bacon and beans most every day” was the common food fare along with coffee and a fresh loaf of bread.

The long cattle drives drove boys into men. Four or five months in the saddle, wearing the same clothes, no companionship other than your fellow cowboys and a whole lot of cattle built character. Friendships were important. When the cowboy did get into town he allowed himself the comforts of a hot bath, a shave, a woman, a deck of cards and a good bottle of whiskey. Towns catering to the cattle industry thrived.

The cowboy lived by the golden rule of the Code of the West. Good behavior might entail rules such as never borrowing a horse without permission, never grabbing another horseman’s bridle as it was considered an intrusion on the other man’s control of his horse, never waving at a passing horseman but simple giving a simple node or verbal greeting as not to spook the other man’s horse. A wave was considered bad form. If one man dismounted, another would as dismount as a courtesy. Cowboys were expected to respect the property of the ranch. The cowboy’s code was one of honesty. But like all good things, times were about to change.

Along with good times, the arrival of the cattle drives meant more settlers and of course arguments about land rights. The open range now had limitations and those limitations were protected. There were the fencers and the fence cutters. Barb wire was the downfall of the freedom of the west. With one man’s possessions came another man’s envy. Cattle rustling made its way into the open prairie. Confrontations erupted over fencing, water rights and land boundaries. Gunplay and gunfights became the most popular symbol of the cowboy. Mythology paints a portrait where a man would ultimately have to face life or death for his good name in a dual. The reality was that most gunfights were not between cowboys but the underground of professional gamblers and criminals that followed the money west.

The romance of the cowboy was boosted when a businessman realized he could capitalize the lore of the west. The entrepreneur Buffalo Bill Cody in the 1870s began his Wild West Show featuring prizes for events of skill such as cow roping, target shooting, bronc riding, and a program built around the cowboys. He hoped to attract 100 cowboys to enter but he received over 1,000 participants. It fueled the myth that made headlines around the world.

Riding your horse under the stars, a gentle breeze blowing in your hair. Thinking about the American cowboy brings out something in me that is magical. It was the era of no computers, no phones, no traffic, and no pollution. Whether it is watching the sunset over the mountains or sitting by a campfire singing a song, the cowboys brought to us that romantic lore of the good and honest hero who lended his support to the powerless and weak. Brave, honest and true the American cowboy will forever remain in our hearts and the symbol of America’s past. Although he is gone, in my mind he will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hail Caesar! And Hold the Anchovies

The Real Caesar Salad

Hail Caesar But Hold the Anchovies!

Originally written by Kathleen Mary Anderse after an interview in 1987 with Rosa Cardini for Mailpac Magazine, Los Angeles

Eighty-three years ago, over a hot Fourth of July weekend, a legendary salad was born. And an Italian immigrant nams Caesar Cardini tossed his way to immortality.
The setting: Caesar's hotel in Tijuana. The year. 1923. The Salad: Caesar, of course. In a dramatic salute to the holiday festivities, Cardini presented a house salad unlike any other that his guest had tasted. He came "right to the table with the cart and tossed each ingredient in the correct order," says his daughter Rosa Cardini of Caesar Cardini Foods, a line of salad dressing her father established less than 10 years before his death in 1956.
Her hotelier dad knew exactly how to play to the fun-seekers who gave Prohibition the slip the minute they crossed the Mexican border for drinking, gambling and dining in style. Make that high style: Cardini's romain salad, which he prepared for such Hollywood luminaries as Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was nothing if not pure showmanship.
"It's what we call a "now" food -- It should be done right in fro"There were never any anchovies, by the way," says Cardini, who thinks she knows how the pungent fish ended up in the imitations of the salad.
My father always used Lea and Perrins Worcheshire sauce, and anchovies are one of its ingredietns. He meant this to be a subtle salad, and anchovies can be overwhelming". At the age of 10, Rosa helped to bottle her father's famous recipe, which the family sold from their station wagon at Los Angeles' Farmers Market after moving from San Diego. After her father's death in 1956, Cardini rdini took control of the business, Caesar Cardini Foods Inc. and obtained a patented the Caesar recipe and 17 others.

Here's Rosa's rules for making great Caesar Salad:

1) Use the best of everything, fresh romaine, juicy lemons, good quality Italian olive oil and real imported Parmesan cheese --no immitations.
2) Keep the romaine leaves completely dry, crisp and cold.
3) Assemble all the ingredients at the table. Toss gently, do not bruise your leaves!

Garlic flavored oil: Marinate 4 garlic cloves in olive oil.

Post Note: This interview with Rosa Cardini was done in 1987. Ms. Cardini passed away in 2003 at the age of 75 from kidney failure. She parlayed the family recipe into a multi million dollar business before selling to a food distributor in Chicago. The Cardini Lable of Salad Dressings still remain popular on the market.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Earth Who Cares Anyway

Our Earth
Who Cares Anyway?

The Importance of Biodiversity

Kathleen Mary Andersen

Science Thesis - June, 2011


Why should we worry about biodiversity: the diversity of life? Why does it matter? Historical records have shown species have always gone extinct over millions of years. When the human population of the world suffers from starvation and poverty, why do we want to spend time and money on protecting the animal and plant species on this planet? What about us, the human species, do we have priority? We share this planet with over 1.7 million known species and possibly more. If we don’t understand them how do we know how our lives as human not only impact us but how we might impact them nor how important their survival means to the future survival of us as a species. Does it matter that there aren’t so many species? What is “biodiversity”? Biodiversity is a variability and genetic diversity within a species population and the variety of ecosystems over a geographical area. We, as humans, depend on a sustainable environment that is healthy but we continue to damage our environment. Issues have included nature and animal conservation, the impact of our increasing population, climate change, development and genetically altered food.

  • Biodiversity can be classified in three groups:
  • Genetic diversity - the genetic variability within a species. Species diversity - the variety of species within a community
  • Ecosystem diversity - species in an area into distinctive plant and animal communities

Biodirsity is the part of nature which includes the difference in genes among the individuals of a species, the variety and richness of all the plant and animal species at different scales in space, locally in a region, in the country and the world and various types of ecosystems, both terrestrial and aquatic within a defined area. Biodiversity deals with the degree of nature’s variety in the biosphere. Unlike the 5 mass extinction events that have occurred in our geological history, the current extinction appears to be almost entirely responsible by a single species: humans. We do not actually know how many species actually exist on this planet, but we have discovered that we are losing species between 1,000 and 10,000 higher than the natural extinction rate. The IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature), the world’s oldest and largest conservation agency calculates that 0.01 to 0.1% of species will become extinct each year. Mass extinctions have contributed to an acceleration of evolution of life here on earth. The passing of dominance of one species passes to another. But it is rarely because the new dominant group is "superior" to the old. Gymnosperms, the plant group that including conifers are the most threatened plants on Earth. Over all, the report reveals that plants are more threatened than birds, and just as vulnerable as the planet's mammals. We are currently undergoing extinctions at an alarming rate.

Washington’s diverse topography, exposure to Pacific Ocean currents and weather patterns, and location on the migratory path of many wildlife species make it one of the most biologically diverse states in the nation, encompassing seacoast, shrub-steppe, native prairie, parts of four major forested mountain ranges, and Puget Sound. In fact, Washington has two ecosystems that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: the Olympic rainforest and the channeled scablands of eastern Washington.

These ecosystems and the biological diversity they support range across a landscape that extends from the Pacific Northwest Coast and Puget Sound in the west to the Columbia Plateau and Northern Rocky Mountains in the east. Consequently, Washington is home to a remarkable variety of fish and wildlife species--a natural heritage important to the long-term health and economic security of every resident of the state. However, changes to the landscape and native habitat, primarily as a result of human activity, have put many of these species at risk.

There is a great need to be proactive, to protect what we already have, and to keep common species common before they become endangered or at risk. Washington is one of the most biologically diverse states in the nation, but the health of its native plant communities and wildlife is declining due to factors, including changes in land use, invasive species, pollution and climate change. Biological diversity provides Washington with economic, health and cultural benefits. These include the economic returns of agriculture, forestry and fishing, which generate roughly $3.5 billion in income in Washington annually. Healthy ecosystems provide services, such as the flood protection, valued at up to $51,000 per acre. Is Washington State living up to its promise to protect eco-systems and biodiversity? This report discusses the history, background and current state of biodiversity and their eco-systems.

The Importance of Biodiversity


Although we may think that ecology and the concern for the biodiversity of species on our planet is new, it actually dates back to perhaps the first ecologist, Aristotle in 244 B.C. In his Politics, Book 1, Chapter 8, he wrote, “nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man”. He continued that the value of nonhuman things in nature is merely instrumental. His young student, Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC) wrote “Enquiry into Plants” and “On the Causes of Plants” which changed our biological world of identifying and cataloguing all the species that live on earth. Everything alive on this planet is categorized by Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. However, officially, Alexander von Humboldt is often referred to the father of ecology. He was the first to take on the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment.

Theophrastus exposed the existing relationships between observed plant species and climate and described vegetation zones using longitude and latitude, a discipline now known as geobotany, the geographic distribution of plant species. Many would follow such as Wallace, Mobius and Darwin whose extensive research made us aware of the relationship between species and their environment. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth and the essential interdependence of all living things. Scientists have identified more than 2 million species. Tens of millions remain unknown. Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops; greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms; and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.

Arthur Tansley the 19th century, botanical geography and zoogeography combined to form the basis of biodeography science, which deals with habitats of species and seeks to explain the reasons for the presence of certain species in a given location. It was in 1935 that Tansley coined the term “ecosystem”, the interactive system established between the biocoenosis (the group of living creatures), and their biotope, the environment in which they live. Ecology thus became the science of ecosystems. The early ecologist noted and warned about the effects of deforestation, the industrial revolution and what could happen, as well as what the effect may be from homesteading pioneers forging out the west. It became the science of concerns about the impact of human activity on the environment.

The term ecology has been in use since the end of the 19th century. Anyone who studies U.S. history willremember the conditions that lead to the “dirty thirties” or the dust bowl era. Over working of the soil added to drought conditions producing a major disaster in this country. The effects amounted to over 3 million people leaving middle America and over 150,000 square miles of crops were destroyed. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies conducted a simulation of the conditions surrounding the 1930’s dust bowl. Over 70 years later, there has been no conclusive evidence of what really happened however the Goddard Institute stated in their report “First changes in tropical sea surface temperatures created a drought. Poor land use practices then led to exposure of bare soil followed by wind erosion and dust storms. The dust storms interacted with radiation to make the drought worse and move it northward increasing the potential for further wind erosion.”

The most influential person in recent times was Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) an American marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Carson began her career as a biologist in the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries, but became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us and her follow up books brought her financial security. In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation and the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. Silent Spring (1962) was the result that brought environmental attention and concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. Silent Spring, while met with fierce denial from chemical companies, spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy—leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides—and the environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.

Our World, Our Concern

There are a large variety of different ecosystems on earth, which have their own complement of distinctive inter linked species based on the differences in the habitat. Ecosystem diversity can be described for a specific geographical region, or a political entity such as a country, a State or just a neighborhood. Distinctive ecosystems include landscapes such as forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, as well as aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, and the sea.
Each region also has man-modified areas such as farmland or grazing pastures. An ecosystem is referred to as ‘natural’ when it is relatively undisturbed by human activities or ‘modified’ when it is changed to other types of uses, such as farmland or urban areas. Ecosystems are most natural in wilderness areas. If natural ecosystems are overused or misused their productivity eventually decreases and they are then said to be degraded. India, for example, is exceptionally rich in ecosystem diversity. tury. “Biodiversity makes important contributions to human well-being, but many of the actions needed to promote economic development and reduce hunger and poverty are likely to reduce biodiversity.”
The balance of nature is a theory that says that ecological systems are usually in a stable equilibrium. This fine balance can be affected by the smallest change in some parameters such as population. It may apply where populations depend on each other, for example in predator/prey systems, or relationships between herbivores and their food source. It is also sometimes applies to the relationship between the Earth's ecosystem, the composition of the atmosphere, and the world's weather.

The Gaia hypothesis is a balance of nature-based theory that suggests that the Earth and its ecology may act as co-ordinated systems in order to maintain the balance of nature. Whether nature is can ever be permanently in balance has been largely discredited. In the marine world, widespread damage to diverse species of corals has been documented around the world. The phenomenon is known as coral "bleaching," involves the corals expelling their symbiotic algae often resulting in death of the coral. Coral bleaching is thought to possibly related to climate warming, although it can be caused by both unusually high or low water temperatures, changes in salinity, and other environmental stresses.
Another unexplained case of an ecological disease appears to be afflicting species of amphibians in many parts of the world. Chytridiomycosis is an infectious fungus disease. Chytrid as it is also known has been linked to dramatic population declines or even extinctions of amphibian species in western North America, Central America, South America, Eastern Australia, and the Caribbean. There are sporadic deaths in some amphibian populations and 100% mortality in others. There is no effective measure for control of the disease in wild populations. The disease is contributing to a global decline in the amphibian populations has affected 30% of the amphibian species of the world.
The benefits of frogs, for example, is that they filter the water they live in while providing bug control within their environment.

The American farmers love their chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and apply them liberally to their crops. Unfortunately, these chemicals – along with nitrogen-rich livestock waste – seeps from farmlands along the Mississippi River into the water and eventually, down into the Gulf of Mexico, where they have led to an oxygen-starved
“dead zone” the size of New Jersey. Ocean dead zones cannot support sea life. Nitrogen in the chemicals and animal waste spur the growth of algae, which is eaten by zooplankton. Those microscopic creatures then excrete pellets that sink to the bottom of the ocean and decay, a process that depletes the water of oxygen. Researchers set out last July to study the dead zone, taking water samples and measuring the total affected area. Some water samples showed no oxygen at all, and smelled of hydrogen sulfide, a rotten egg smell that indicates organic sediments on the sea floor.
The dead zone has grown steadily over the past few decades. Though it tends to disappear in October, once cold weather sets in, there’s a “legacy” left behind due to the fact that not all organic matter on the bottom decays in any given year. This means that even if the same amount of nitrogen is released into the Gulf year after year, the dead zone will get larger. A recent study identified many of the species of the nitrogen runoff along the Mississippi River, and the government plans to help states focus their pollution-reduction efforts to prevent some of the runoff from ending up in the river. This ecology disaster became even more critical when the recent BP oil spill incident added to the already suffering ecological area.

On March 06, 2008, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, signed an executive order to protect the state’s threat to species and critical ecosystems that have resulted in endangered species. Her council produced goals in the “Biodiversity Conservation Strategic Comprehensive Guide” and put programs in place to protect conservation areas. The strategy of this program was initiated at a meeting of legislative bodies in December of 2007. The minutes of this meeting included items such as the importance of biodiversity at the highest levels of our quality of life and economy, the importance of population growth, reinforcement of biodiversity goals, strategy and the creation of maps to carry the message to the people. In April of 2011, the Washington State Biodiversity Project which governs the State of Washington’s effort in biodiversity has stated on their website

“The Washington Biodiversity Council reached its sunset date on June 30, 2011 and will no longer meet.”
In April, 2010, legislature passes a budget that would provide funding for the Council’s fiscal year. However in May of 2010, Governor Gregoire vetoed the provision and made a statement “while I strongly support of the work of the Biodiversity Council, I am asking the Natural Resource Cabinet to absorb the Council’s oversight role”. This has meant that the projects and work involved over the past two years will be either dropped or continued until June 30, 2011. After this month, the website and most projects will be dismantled.

An interview with Jodie Saltz, the stewardship program director of the Washington Biodiversity Project which is the effort put forth by the Washington Biodiversity Council explains “projects that were on the table or future projects will now be either dropped or absorbed by other non-profit foundations such as Cascade Land Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, Puget Sound Near Shore Organization and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources”. LandScope, America, ( is a new collaborative effort by Natureserv and National Geographic Society to cover biodiversity and conservation efforts across the country. They will be reporting and taking information about the State of Washington’s efforts to carry on the biodiversity projects and is a grass roots, interactive reporting service and mapping agency (GIS) that will allow users to be a part of biodiversity efforts not just in Washington state but across the country.

Eco-system protection still look promising for King County. Jennifer Vanderhoff, Senior Ecology for the county explained “Reports of King County Biodiversity is measured by species, habitat and eco-regions. Biodiversity can be vague in genetics due to a lack of information gathering.” Challenges that arise in Washington State has been private property changes, large and long established ownership in a checkerboard pattern in forest protection areas, expanding population growth along the urban boundaries, climate change pressure on certain species ranges. Climate, whether identified as climate change by human or natural causes, does affect the future of animal species. In ecology, a cline represents a term used to identify ecotypes of habitat that contribute to the genetics and survival of a species.

Isolated areas for migration can contribute to inbreeding of the herd or group which can affect not only immune system defenses but the health of the group. Decreasing glaciers for example play a role in expanded migration and a new gene pool for animals such as mountain goats, bear, elk, wolves as well as many others. Other privately funded organizations are taking up the slack of government funding cutbacks is the Seattle Environmental Science Center. Founded in 2000, offers environmental education programs at our local beaches, streams, forests, and classrooms in South King County. Miriam Castor, Director of ESC said that the programs promote environmental stewardship to thousands of people through collaborations with a growing number of school districts and community-based organizations as well as speaking engagements, festivals and workshops. During the past ten years, the center feels it is important to promote foster environmental stewardship and conservation early, and their focus is grades K – high school. During the inquiry-based field portion of the program, students learn to analyze what they are seeing, develop a deeper understanding of ecological systems, see how environmental quality is impacted by human decisions, and reach informed conclusions about how to make responsible choices as citizens.


Does biodiversity matter?

Does eradication of one small organism matter? An example that many of us are familiar with is the case of the mosquito. Out of the 3,500 named species of mosquitoes, only a couple hundred bother to bite humans. They have been on earth more than 100 million years and they can be found all over the planet. Some feel, an ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as this niche would be replaced by another organism.
A Nature Magazine, July 2010 issue, a number of entomologists explained the ecological importance of the tiny mosquito. Prime areas affected would be the tundra where the caribou herd select paths that are facing the winds to escape the swarm. A small change in path could have a major consequence in the Arctic valley where the herd migrates, trample the ground, transport nutrients, feeding wolves and generally altering the ecology. Fish, spiders, many species of insects, members of the amphibian family rely on eating mosquitos. Since it is the male mosquito who is the pollinator, many plants would be affected.
:a science that deals with the geographical distribution of animals and plants” (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary) is a growing field that aims to reveal where organisms live, at what abundance, and why they are (or are not) found in a certain geographical area. Biogeography, with the assistance of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) help in not only the mapping of ecology zones, but the biodiversity of the community within each zone as well as serve as a model to predict future trends in the organisms that reside there. Scientist can better understand a species adaptability when isolated from the mainstream, such as island ecology.
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Fragmentation of the landscape due to farming and development impacts potential gene flow and long term-persistence of a species population. Logging may temporarily increase subsidies of nutrients to adjacent streams while invasive species introduction and carried by either human or mechanical means prevent native species of not just plants but fish to establish and exist within their protected area.
Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) an American author, scientist, forester, ecologist and environmentalist was influential in the development of today’s environmental ethics and the movement for wilderness conservation. His belief in nature and wildlife preservation major impact on the environmental movement. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology. In his book “A Sand County Almanac”, he wrote, "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

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Works Cited

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “What is Biodiversity and why it is important.” April, 2011. <>
King County Washington. “Animals, Plants and Habitat, Biodiversity in King County, Washington”. April, 11. < >
Withgott, Jay H.; Brennan, Scott R. “Foundations of Environmental Science”. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. 4th Ed. 2011 Page 18, Table 1.1

Millenium Ecosystem Assessment Report. “Ecosystems and Human Well–being: Biodiversity Synthesis.” May 02, 2011. Page 77.

Richard T. Wright. “Wild Species and Biodiversity”. Environmental Science: Toward a Sustainable Future. (11th Edition). Pages 261 – 283
Janet Fang. “Ecology: A World Without Mosquitos”. Nature Magazine. July, 2010. 432-434 (2010) | doi:10.1038/466432a
Aldo Leopold,.“A Sand County Almanac”. Oxford University Press, Inc. 1949.