Now that the clocks have gone back, the nights truly are drawing in. Here in Somerset, the sun sets well before 5pm now and it’s pretty much dark by six. Which means that, for the days when I’m working at home, we’ve had to switch to our ‘winter’ evening schedule. But, to be honest, I’m struggling. Continue reading
Anyone who has a dog will know that their sense of smell is far superior to our own. But how does their nose work? What is it capable of? And what can we learn from our dogs about the world around us?
In ‘Being a dog: Following the dog into a world of smell’, psychologist and animal behaviourist Alexandra Horowitz sets out to answer these questions.
She learns from experts in all things scent and scentwork, from perfume creators to truffle dog trainers. And she observes her own dogs in their scent-based world.
Horowitz also works to improve her own sense of smell, engaging with ‘scent tours’ around the city, participating in experiments and training herself to be more aware of the smells around her.
I really like this book, with its fusion of scientific investigation and personal experiences. Sure, it does go off on a bit of a tangent at times, but overall it’s a highly enjoyable read.
It also provides an excellent overview of the different ways in which dogs can be trained to use their sense of smell, from search and rescue to the detection of explosives, cancer and (my personal favourite) Orca scat (yes, that’s Killer Whale poo).
There are lots of books about how the sense of smell works. And there are plenty about the different ways in which dogs use their sense of smell to help us. But there are very few that explore both. And I have yet to find one that does it as well as this one.
In the last day or so, I’ve read a couple of things that have got me thinking. Just little phrases, no more than snippets of a bigger idea, that have been churning around in my brain ever since. They’ve started a train of thought. And I think they’re worth sharing. Continue reading
Having been away for a couple of days during the week, I started the day today with a long list of things I wanted to get done. A bit of work, some projects in the garden, a good long walk or two with the dogs, perhaps lunch out somewhere, catching up with some reading, and a training session or two with Ozzy*. But I think we all know, of course, that was never really going to happen. Continue reading
While tax isn’t everyone’s first choice of topic for dinner party discussions, it really should be. Because tax is important. And paying tax is important. It is how we fund the things that our society needs. Like healthcare, roads, defence and environmental protection. And so, with this week just gone being Fair Tax Week, I thought I’d take a few moments to talk about my own company, Sockmonkey Consulting’s, approach to paying tax fairly.
I don’t really have a favourite time of the year. Because every one of the seasons is special to me in its own way. Summer is about spending quality time in the outdoors. Autumn is about enjoying the changing colours of the trees and getting ready for winter. Winter itself is about hunkering down and staying indoors with a good book and a nice cup of tea. Continue reading
It’s just over six weeks until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Whether our Government will manage to agree a deal on our departure, though, or whether we’ll just ‘crash out’ without a deal (or, indeed, whether we’ll decide to not leave at all, or to not leave quite yet, or to have a second referendum, or perhaps to have another general election) remains to be seen. It’s all a bit of a mess. And it’s making me quite cross. But what angers me most is not the act of leaving, but rather the mess that this whole sorry affair has made of our country. Continue reading
One of the many inevitabilities of higher education policy discussion is that, sooner or later, someone will raise the question of what universities are actually for. So inevitable is this phenomenon, in fact, that I’ve seen it mooted that it be named Newman’s Law, after John Henry Newman, who famously asked this question back in 1852. But in trying to give a definitive answer, I think we’re missing a trick. Because there is no single answer. Rather, there are many. And they are all equally valid. Continue reading
As the nights draw in and the leaves tumble from the trees, our thoughts turn to those who have themselves fallen in the service of our country. We remember the sacrifice they have made. And we honour their memory.
We just don’t do it very well. Continue reading
There’s a lot of talk going on about the value of universities and the value for money that a degree course represents for students, taxpayers and society as a whole. Indeed, I’ve been doing a fair bit of the talking. But I’d also like to take a moment to reflect on what my own time at university did for me. Because there’s all too much focus at the moment on graduate jobs and salaries, which are – in my view – only a very small part of the story. Continue reading