Friday, June 15, 2018

Hilarious Birthday

It was that day again when my birthday was coming up. And yesterday I threw together my own birthday cake. And while it had been raining all day yesterday, today was the most beautiful day one could imagine. So we invited some neighbours over for coffee and cake. 
                   Havin' fun with the birthday cake

And while three of them are dog owners, only 2 brought their dogs along. So we had 2 standard poodles, (Summer and Scarlet) a miniature poodle (Rosy) and of course Dixie. I have to admit I was wondering how this get-together would go as both Standard poodles and Dixie are still puppies and can get pretty wild. But it all turned out in the most amazing way. Before we knew it, the dogs started to entertain us people with their funny interactions. 
                                The crew is arriving

Finding safety with daddy

But it all topped out when one of the dogs kicked over a flowerpot and everybody in our group reacted with a scream. That led to Summer being scared so much that she leaped up and across the armrest landing right into her owner's lap. Now we were all bursting into laughter.
Of course a group picture was taken before they all left with their dogs. 
The day ended with a wonderful dinner at Campobello's newest restaurant, the PIER WATERFRONT, which has great food and a dream-like location right on the Passamaquoddy Bay.
                   At "The PIER WATERFRONT"

And when we returned I had a great evening walk admiring all the beautiful lupines, glowing in the setting sun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

An American Apology

Below apology for the behaviour of Trump shows us that most Americans do not agree with their president's behaviour. This man comes late for his meetings, leaves early, is being wined, dined and entertained by Cirque du Soleil and then insults his host, our Prime Minister - and all Canadians - after leaving. Without going back too much in history, he does not seem to remember that it was Canadians who gave 6000 Americans shelter when their planes were diverted on 9/11, that it was Canadian Hydro to help them restore power during several ice storms, hurricanes and Canadian fire crews help them fight their large forest fires in California.

Dear Canada, you deserve better from
President Trump. 
Here's an apology from me.
Ross K. Baker, Opinion columnistPublished 3:15 a.m. ET June 11, 2018 | Updated 6:18 p.m. ET June 11, 2018

I'm sorry, Canada. I have no explanation for Donald Trump's rudeness at the G7 summit. There could be no better ally or neighbor than you.

(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

Dear Canada, I know that it’s presumptuous of me to apologize to you for the crude and unmannerly behavior of our president, but even as a private citizen I feel that you deserve better than to have your prime minister treated harshly and disrespectfully. The minimum of simple courtesy, not just diplomatic protocol, entitles him to be addressed respectfully by his title and not by the condescending use of his first name.

But that’s just one bit of human decency that the president forgot to have his valet pack for him when he left for Quebec. He also neglected to include a briefing book on the sturdy bonds of history that have marked us among the nations of the world as the best of neighbors.

Our president who purports to revere the military has forgotten that we and the Canadians have been comrades in arms since World War I. Maybe it slipped his mind —or perhaps he never learned — about the blood of Americans and Canadians mixing on the stony beaches at Dieppe in 1942 or our joint sacrifices on D-Day in Normandybeaches and across Northern Europe in 1944 and 1945.

Americans fought and died together in Korea, and after the attacks on the United States in September 2001, Canadians didn’t even need to be asked to be part of the NATO effort against the fanatics who had murdered our people. A friend like you deserves better from a president of the United States, and a dispute over tariffs just isn’t an important enough matter to call forth his disrespect.

But it is more than our military partnership over the years that brings us together. We also share the joys and beauty of our respective countries. Canadians are our guests at Old Orchard Beach in Maine in the summer and in Florida in winter. Americans visit Banff and Whistler. They go hunting in the woods of northern Ontario and sail in Nova Scotia. We are bound together both in sacrifice and joy. We have made Canadians into baseball fans and they have given us hockey including a Stanley Cup for a team in our own capital city.

We enjoy a peaceful border with you, and along the frontier the American and Canadian towns are indistinguishable and in many places our currencies are interchangeable. We poke gentle fun at you for being “Canadian nice” but any U.S citizen who has visited your country knows the underlying reality of that stereotype. You are the best neighbors an American can have.

There is no satisfactory explanation for our president’s rudeness. He was a bad guest: he arrived late and left early and never said thanks. Worse than that, he petulantly refused to sign the joint communique and pouted because Russia hadn’t been included and suggested that the reason for Moscow’s absence was because of some vague minor incident rather than its armed invasion of an adjacent country. How sad it would be if President Trump’s understanding of neighborliness was patterned after Vladimir Putin’s.

I hope that our friends in Canada will overlook this singular act of rudeness and disrespect to their leader. Canadians, being who they are, probably will. I also hope that Americans will continue to recognize the rare privilege we enjoy in having Canada as our neighbor.

For our part, my wife and I are looking forward to visiting Quebec with our grandchildren in August and if the occasion arises, we will offer some words of apology although, knowing the Canadians, they’ll probably just politely dismiss it as a minor incident.

I am less charitable. Our president behaved badly and although atonement does not come easily to him, it is owed to our good friends north of the border.

Most sincerely,

A grateful American citizen.

Ross K. Baker is a distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers University and a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter: @Rosbake1

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dogs can understand human speech, scientists discover

 Brain scans discover evidence that dogs process language in a similar way to humans and are only truly happy if a praising tone of voice is matched by the actual words spoken

Ian Johnston Science Correspondent
Tuesday 30 August 2016 14:27

Dogs, seen here around an MRI scanner, appear to having an understanding of some human words ( Eniko Kubinyi )

Dogs understand what some human words mean, according to a study published in the
prestigious journal Science.

In a world-first experiment, academics in Hungary trained 13 dogs to voluntarily lie in an MRI scanner to monitor what happened in their brain when the researchers spoke to them.

They discovered that dogs’ brains process language in a similar way to humans, with the right side dealing with emotion and the left processing meaning.

It was only when both sides of the brain agreed they were hearing praise that the dog was truly happy.

While this was only the dogs’ “word-meaning representation”, it still shows they had an idea of what message the specific sound of an individual human word was designed to convey.

Lead researcher Dr Attila Andics, of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, said: “During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labour in the human brain.

“It is mainly the left hemisphere’s job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere’s job to process intonation. The human brain not only separately analyses what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning.

“Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms.”

During the brain scans, the researchers spoke words like “good boy” and “well done” spoken with a praising intonation, the same words in a neutral voice and also words that were meaningless to them, like “however”, in both intonations.

The scans showed the dogs left brain tended to be activated when they heard words that were meaningful to them. This did not happen when they heard words they did not understand. The right hemisphere activated when they heard a praising intonation.

But the reward centre of their brains – which responds to pleasurable sensations like being petted, having sex and eating nice food – was only activated when they heard praising words spoken in a praising intonation.

“It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” Dr Andics said.

“So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.

“This is very similar to what human brains do.”

This appears to contradict the idea that dogs only understand tone of voice and do not have an idea of the words actual meaning.

While they might respond tentatively to a praising tone using words they do not understand – or even insults – they are only genuinely happy when they understand the praise they are receiving.

The researchers described their work as a first step towards understanding how dogs interpret human speech.

A statement about the study said the researchers believed their results could “help to make communication and cooperation between dogs and humans even more efficient”.