Aug 19, 2008


I have decided to return to the world of blogging after taking a four-month hiatus.

In addition, I have decided to focus even more on random animal stories -- hopefully posting a new story a day.

We will see how this goes ...

Apr 14, 2008

Doggie discrimination

An urban legend from long ago states that if a black cat crosses your path, you're in for some bad luck. And according to this Web site, black cats in Egypt were believed to be "demons in disguise."

Having a black cat myself I know this is silly. (Although now that I think about it, Pause is a little monster at times ...)

Interestingly though, many people unconsciously carry this superstition to black dogs and as a result, according to this article on MSNBC, black puppies are often the last ones adopted.

Many animal shelters and rescue clinics have dubbed this doggie discrimination as ""black dog syndrome" and Kim Intino, the director of animal sheltering issues for the Human Society told MSNBC:
I think that every person that has worked in a shelter can attest that in shelters animals with black coats can be somewhat harder to adopt out — or to even get noticed.
The black-cat urban legend is not the only cause of this.

Some say that black dogs older because often even puppies have white or grey hair. However others argue that black dogs are just not as noticeable in animal shelters.

Regardless the cause, this is a pretty random trend. I did a quick Google search to see if any other news site or bloggers had mentioned this before but I didn't find anything. However, I bet in a few days there will be a "save the black-coat puppies" fund.

I feel like I'm doing my part to help these little pooches out by spreading the word on the problem. (Plus I get to include this adorable puppy picture in my post.)

The image above is by Kevin Tostado(cc) and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Apr 11, 2008

Interesting tidbit about another rodent

Last month I learned squirrels are picky about who they hang out with (Blogpost here).

This month I learn yet another surprising tidbit about rodents -- this time about rats.

Apparently, before making a decision rats consider the amount of effort a task requires and if said effort is worth the reward.

In other words, according to this Animal Planet article:
A person buying a new car, for example, must weigh the cost and the effort needed to make payments versus the value of the car. Rats, and likely all rodents, do something similar, only under a lot more pressure.
How did scientists determine this?

They basically created a maze with several endings -- one ending had a lot of pellets while another one had only one pellet. In order to get to the high amount of food, the rat had to go through a difficult, exhausting trail. The low amount of food was a straight shot.

According to the findings:
At first the rats went for the easy pickings, but when they determined more sweets were available on the other side of the maze, they exerted additional effort, but only after a certain point. When the pain yielded too little gain, they stuck with the tiny treat.
In addition, as a result of having to make these high-stressed decisions, rats sometimes suffer from depression.

(Side note: I don't eve know why I read the mainstream media anymore. All the interesting and relevant news is on Animal Planet. Clearly)

The image above is by Socar Myles (cc) and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Newseum opens its doors

The national museum of journalism, the Newseum, opens its doors today in Washington DC -- and I'm extremely excited.

The Newseum, "where the news comes to life," is the most interactive museum in the world according to its Web site. Visitors can star in their own TV newscast in addition to learning about the impact new technology is having on the business, and the challenges journalists faced covering 9/11. There is also a Great Hall of News with live breaking news from around the world.It only makes sense for the landmark, pictured above, to be in a city with such a rich journalism history where journalism royalty like Woodward and Bernstein reined. The building is located on Pennsylvania Avenue and has a balcony that allows visitors to get a panoramic view of DC. From the picture, I see that the first amendment is printed on the outside of the building -- pretty awesome.

According to this New York Times review, the museum can be seen from the capital building.

It's all pretty symbolic if you think about it -- journalism is constantly overlooking the capital.

It probably is just me and my nerdy love for journalism -- and Washington DC -- but I think this is one of the coolest museums ever created.

The museum is free today. Here is ticket information for all other visits.

Apr 9, 2008

Gourmet dining halls

Some of my fondest memories of freshmen year involve sitting at the dining hall and eating with my friends.

Cheese fries, pizza, hamburgers, fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies, cherry cokes -- we ate and drank it all.

Sure healthy options were available -- a salad bar, sandwiches, fresh fruit -- but for better or for worse, we usually opted for the crap.

At the time I complained about the dining hall and it's food (probably while stuffing a grilled cheese in my mouth). Looking back now I realize I had so many choices I did not bother exploring.

I know they're not gourmet but for cafeterias Northeastern's two dining halls are pretty damn good. Business Week even gave the food an A- in 2006. So Northeastern students are pretty lucky.

Or that's what I thought until I saw this article in the New York Times.

Apparently, at several schools stir fry is out and lobster and sushi are in. Some high seniors are not even applying to certain universities because cafeteria isn't to their liking. In addition, florescent lights and your average caf seatings are no longer acceptable.

So what, where and how are these top-tier dining halls serving?

Here's an example from the article:
Stanford offers “spa waters,” mineral water with cucumber, watermelon, mint and other flavors. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst shares guest chefs with eight colleges. Yale has an organic cafe. Brown has a farmers’ market. At Wheaton College in Illinois, low-carbon meals use local and organic food; students can choose Thursday dinners illuminated only by the lights outside.

Also, if you're interested, here's a list of the top 20 Best Campus Foods in 2008 -- and a list of the worst -- according to The Princeton Review. (Northeastern didn't make it on either one.)

While granted the schools with the most lavish menus also receive some of the highest endowments, I think they're going a bit too far to attract students. What's next? Formal attire to the dining hall dinner table?

I could just be bitter filet mignon was not on the menu my first year but I think even if it were, I probably still would've chosen the greasy fries. ... Maybe?

At least I don't have to deal with the transition of having a gourmet chef prepare my meals one year to having to eat my own cooking the next.


The image above is by Paul Watson (cc) and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Apr 1, 2008

Spreading 'trust'worthy news

I begin the day with the following four tabs on my Firefox browser: G-mail, Google Reader, The New York Times, and MSNBC. (After reading my G-mail there often is a fifth tab: Facebook.)

While these all lead to important and interesting stories, I need more variety in my daily news intake. Sometimes I'm linked to other news Web sites through E-mail but for the most part I'm in a rut and it's time for me to expand my news sources.

That's why, NewsTrust may become my new best friend. The site, which prides itself on being "Your Guide to Good Journalism," allows readers to submit and rate the top stories of the day from all over the web. While it's similar to Digg, the rating system is more complex and NewsTrust bases the top stories on quality, not just popularity. According to the site:
NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each article against core journalistic principles such as fairness, evidence, sourcing and context.
In addition, reviewers can write comments about the story and explain why they gave it a certain rating. They can also link to similar stories that were done better or that provide context to their ratings.

What's even more interesting about the rating system is that the site takes into account the person doing the rating. In order to comment on a story, you have to register for the site and provide certain information like occupation and political views (not all this has to be made public in your site profile). The more information a person provides, the more "transparent" NewsTrust finds them and this influences their overall rating of a story. Additionally, the more stories a person rates, the more they are trusted.

I like that the site is broken down into different sections like World, Politics, and Health in addition to a more general Today's Top Pick on the homepage. It looks like there also is a weekly topic for readers/submitters to focus on if they like.

Overall, the site is very user-friendly and easy to figure out. My only complaint is it runs a bit slow sometimes.

While I admit I'm still a bit intimidated to start submitting my own stories, I'm starting to make more comments and I find critiquing other articles is a good way for me to work on my journalism skills.

Plus I now have something more diverse to read with my cup of morning coffee.

Mar 25, 2008

Putting things into perspective

It seems that for most people the war in Iraq has become a routine part of everyday life -- not something they truly think about and let affect them. I admit I too am guilty of this.

But the fact remains this country is at war and Americans are dying on a daily basis. This past weekend, the Associated Press reported at least 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq since the start of the war.

It's important to stop and remember the lives of these men and women who have died and to think about their families. On Monday, NPR's Talk of the Nation had people call in and talk about loved ones they lost in the war. Listen to it here.

I highly recommend listening to the show. It's an extremely moving segment and humanizes the numbers. It really puts things into perspective.