A day of thanksgiving

I’ve always been a big fan of Thanksgiving, which is celebrated today by our friends and neighbours ‘across the pond’. And while I’ve failed again this year to get my act together sufficiently to prepare a proper ‘Thanksgiving’ meal – or even just some pumpkin pie – I feel a deep kinship with the festival itself. With this celebration of the bonds between us. Of our deep ties to each other and to the planet that we call home. Continue reading

Changing the rules

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our existing economic order is no longer working. It promotes the needs of capital above those of people. It relies on an outdated notion of unlimited and unfettered growth. And it fails singularly to address the deep-seated social and environmental challenges that we face as a society. Thankfully, there are creative and enthusiastic people working tirelessly to create a more democratic and sustainable economy. And a new project from the New Economics Foundation helps us to find them. Continue reading

A special day

Twenty years ago today, I made some vows, signed some paperwork and became married to Natalie, my amazing wife. Scientist, sailor, partner, puppy parent and partner-in-crime extraordinaire. And an all round very nice person, to boot.

Natalie

Obviously it’s a pity I only realised we’d reached this momentous milestone when I found the card she’d left for me before she headed off for work this morning.

And it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to find a photo of her that doesn’t have one or both of the dogs in centre frame.

But if marriages are a work in progress, at least I have plenty to keep me occupied for the next 20 years.

Here’s to the journey… with the best travelling companion I could ever hope to have.

Support for the awesome

I read an article a while back in which the author described how she’d explained the UK’s ‘999’ emergency phone number to someone she was interviewing in (if I remember correctly) central Africa. The interviewee couldn’t believe that we have a number we can call and help gets dispatched to us, for free, straight away. It’s something we take for granted. But I think it’s time we gave a little back. Continue reading

Dark days and the black dog

At this time of year, when the days are short and the weather is almost uniformly grey, like many people I can succumb all too easily to a touch of the black dog. Not full-on depression, because I’ve been there and I know what that’s like. More a slight listlessness. A difficulty in finding my usual motivation. A certain lack of, for want of a better word, va-va-voom. Continue reading

Everything travels down the lead

There’s a saying among dog trainers and handlers: Everything travels down the lead. Because working with a dog is about much more than the commands that we give them. It’s about the way in which we give them. About our tone of voice. Our body language. Even the mood we’re in. To work effectively with a dog, we need to be in the right frame of mind. And we need to put everything else aside. Continue reading

Why it’s good to be mortal

Whenever Natalie reads something in a magazine that she thinks I’ll find interesting, she leaves it out somewhere obvious for me to find. And so I stumbled this morning upon a review in the Guardian of Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund’s book ‘Why mortality makes us free‘. It’s “a sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics”, apparently (the book, not the review), which argues that it is not believing in the glorious afterlife promised by many religions that makes our lives on Earth so full of meaning. To be honest, though, this benefit of what Hagglund calls “secular faith” is far from news to me. Or to my fellow humanists around the world. Continue reading

The control subject

While we had Molly out with us for Ozzy’s training yesterday, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. After we’d finished Ozzy’s searches, Ozzy and I wandered off to hide in a pre-agreed area and Natalie unleashed Molly to come and look for us. Would she find us? Would she find us before it got dark? Would an untrained but energetic and highly enthusiastic Labrador be able to do what Ozzy (with all of her three months of training so far) does seemingly without a second thought? Or would it all go terribly wrong? Continue reading

Training time

It was a lovely sunny day today, and I’d managed to get my various chores done by lunchtime, which left time for a nice lunch and a trip to nearby Leigh Woods for some search dog training with Ozzy. It was the first sunny weekend day for some time, though, so we were far from the only people who had chosen this particular destination. Which made for some odd looks as Ozzy and I charged through the undergrowth. Continue reading