Photo of the day

From a National Geographic collection of space photographs:

A picture of polar clouds in darkness

Night-Shining Clouds

Photograph courtesy NASA

These luminous blue clouds at the edge of space are called polar mesosphericclouds, or noctilucent clouds. Formed between 47 to 53 miles (76 to 85 kilometers) up in the atmosphere, they’re most visible during late spring and early summer in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

They get their blue glow when the sun dips below the horizon, shrouding the ground in darkness but giving off enough illumination to light up the clouds. The yellow-orange band at the bottom of the blue layer is the stratosphere.

This picture, released January 21, was taken by the crew of the International Space Station as they passed over the Pacific Ocean south of French Polynesia (map).

Man walks into a supermarket…

carrying an assault weapon and everybody flees in panic.  This being America, he didn’t actually break any laws:

A man who witnesses say walked into a Kroger grocery store in Charlottesville armed with a loaded semi-automatic rifle will not face any criminal charges.  Police say he did nothing illegal, but it created quite a scare.

Police responded to the call at the Kroger store on Emmet Street and Hydraulic Road shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses and Kroger employees called 911 after a man walked into the store with a loaded AR-15. Police say a 22-year-old man had initially walked into the Kroger store unarmed, and then went back to his car to grab his rifle. He then briefly entered the store again before turning around and walking back out.

Monica Green, a witness, said she thought something was wrong when she saw people crowding at the front of the store. When she heard there was a man with a gun in the store, she ran out the door and called 911…

Police restrained the man to ask him questions. They released him after they confirmed he is not a convicted felon, owned the gun legally and it was not concealed. Police say he was cooperative and did not break any laws.

As far as why the man brought the rifle into the store, Charlottesville police say they believe he was demonstrating his 2nd amendment rights based on his behavior.

Now, call me crazy, but how’s this for a rule of thumb… if your actions are going to induce mass panic, they probably shouldn’t be legal.  Who is seriously going to just sit there comparison shopping the pasta sauce when a young male with an AR-15 walks in the door.  Sometimes what’s crazy is what we allow to be legal.  I would argue that this is a fairly dramatic case in point.

Of dogs, people, and SES

So, I’ve been a little dog-obsessed since Tuesday.  Both in sadness in Sasha’s passing and in concern/anticipation in finding a new dog.  I’ve actually been somewhat surprised just how hard I’ve been taking the loss of Sasha and I’ve got to say, there’s really something to be emotionally prepared for a death rather than it happening all of a sudden.  I’ve truly been sad and depressed.   When Sasha’s predecessor, Lira, died back in 2009, I wrote the following:

I’ll also mention that I’m so glad we got Sasha before she died because I think it would be extra sad to all of a sudden just not be a dog-owner any more.

Very true.  Part of it is that I’ve been a dog owner every day since August 1998 and all of a suddenly I’m not.  I do hate that.  So, not that we can “replace” Sasha, but we are looking to be a dog family again as soon as possible and I’ve been spending lots of time on breed rescue websites and a little bit looking at shelters.  A few observations…

1) What the hell is wrong with people?!  Why the hell do so many people make a commitment to a sweet, loyal, and sentient being and totally renege?  So sad.

2) Who are those people?  I’ve never actually known anybody to give up a dog that didn’t personally find a good home for it.  I suspect that the rate of dog abandonment/surrender is substantially higher for those of lower SES.  And, I’m also thinking it’s also much higher for those in rural areas.  I doubt there’s any data on this, but I’d love to see some.

3) Related to point #2, I really wonder about how SES and urban/rural relates to breed ownership.  The Durham and Wake County shelters seemed to be almost half pit bulls (though I love how the Wake shelter always referred to them as American Staffordshire mixed).  The shelters in rural counties had a much broader mix.  I also wonder how much of that is Raleigh-area rescue groups taking many of  the most adoptable dogs and disproportionately leaving pit bulls behind (and I imagine there’s many fewer rescue groups in rural areas).  Obviously, richer people are more likely to own purebreds, but I’d also love to see some information on breed ownership and other demographics.

Alright, hopefully next dog-related post will be to announce a new one.

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