Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Elk banished from 100 Mile Ranch B.C. after falling in love with Cow -

Elk banished from 100 Mile Ranch B.C. after falling in love with Cow - 

Somewhere east of this Cariboo community wanders an enormous bull elk, stripped of its six-point antlers and a misplaced attraction for one of Greg Messner’s cows.

The elk, a loner that had been turning up at the century-old 100 Mile Ranch to check out Messner’s herd for three years, was relocated earlier this month for its own safety and for the probity of the cow.

“He stuck around for a couple of days the first year,” said Messner, whose wife has had the ranch in her family for its entire history.

“Then last year, he was just hanging around again for a couple of weeks and not really doing anything, just hanging around and looking at the cows. This year, he decided to go for it.”

Messner said the elk’s visits have been a curiosity. Elk are so rare in the area that Messner and anyone else who stopped by to have a look at the impressive creature in the pasture simply call it The Elk.

“It’s kind of like the Queen,” Messner explained. “There’s only one of them.”

This year, the beast decided to stay a while and ended up mingling in the herd for about two months during its rutting season.

One of Messner’s cows was also in heat and the pair became a freakish but constant spectacle.

“If you were there watching, it would be an X-rated movie. Several times a day,” Messner said through a chuckle.

“He was pretty aggressive. He’d put his head down with his great big antlers and poke the little calves and push them away and send them for a little ride once in a while and flick them around.”

Messner estimated the elk at about six feet tall and four feet wide and weighing about half a tonne.

He said he finally called a biologist at the University of Northern British Columbia after inquiries from neighbours about whether his cow could have been impregnated by the elk.

“He had a huge rack, but he was too well-endowed by chromosomes,” Messner said.

Messner was told an elk has eight more chromosomes than a cow, making the likelihood of a hybrid calf a near impossibility.

But it wasn’t the amorous nature of the elk that finally prompted Messner to break up what he called “the harem” in his pasture.

The ranch is bordered by the highway and cars were stopping as passengers tried to get a look at the amorous ungulate, which from time to time would hop from one side of the pasture fence to the other.

Messner said the final straw was when hunters turned up, the lure of a six-point rack potentially dangerously enticing.

“Trucks were pulling over and people were watching this poor elk through the scope of their gun and people were doing U-turns on the highway. It was becoming a real dangerous situation.”

Messner called in the conservation officer. He, the officer and two RCMP officers sedated the elk and removed its antlers to make it less appealing to hunters and less of a threat to the cows should it decide to return.

The elk was then loaded into a truck and taken about 20 kilometres out of town, towards the mountains.

“I kind of think he will be back next year,” said Messner.


Shedding Pounds Could Ease ‘Pain At The Pump’ - losing weight could save you money at the gas pump -

Shedding Pounds Could Ease ‘Pain At The Pump’ - losing weight could save you money at the gas pump - 

Are you looking for another good reason to shed a few pounds? According to a new study, losing weight could save you money at the gas pump.

The study, conducted by Allstate Insurance and the Cars.com website, shows that for every 50 pounds inside a vehicle fuel efficiency decreases by one-percent.

Researchers say eventually manufacturers will get rid of CD players, which weigh five pounds, and replace them with MP 3 players. Cars.com editor in chief Patrick Olsen said the issue of spare tires, in a vehicle and around your waist, should also be considered.

“Well every American spare tire is adding to their cost. So they need to find ways to get rid of the one in the trunk and the one on them,” he said. “So that’s why it’s important whether just for yourself and health reasons, but also it’s gonna have an impact on how much it costs you to fill your car up for the entire year.”

In relation to vehicles, Olsen said in the future he sees manufacturers reducing vehicle weight by replacing the spare tire with an air pump or quick patch solution.

It’s also predicted that booklet forms of vehicle owner’s manuals will be replaced with flash drives.

With more than one-third of U.S. adults considered obese, passenger weight has only been growing. According to the study, between 1960 and 2002, an extra one billion gallons of gasoline were used due to the weight gain of motorists.


Celebrity sperm donor service gears up for launch... -

Celebrity sperm donor service gears up for launch... - 

A sperm donor service aimed at matching women with anonymous celebrity dads – such as rock stars and famous athletes – will launch next year, its owners have claimed.

Fame Daddy will offer would-be-mothers “top quality celebrity surrogate fathers” when it launches next February, according to Dan Richards, its chief executive.
Prices will start at £15,000 for a premium sperm service from the clinic.
The company’s website, which launched last week, claims that women can pick from a range of celebrated high-achievers when picking a prospective father for their offspring. The identities of each high-flying father will kept secret as the donors have been guaranteed anonymity. The men will also be required to sign a legal waiver of their rights to access to the child.
However would-be mothers using the Fame Daddy clinic will be able to identify their area of achievement and other personal attributes.
They can choose from donor dads who have excelled in a range of fields including sport, entertainment and business. The website lists a range of “sample profiles” of typical sperm donors, including an Oscar-winning actor, a member of the House of Lords and an ex-Premiership footballer.


Earth's magnetic field overdue a flip -

Earth's magnetic field overdue a flip - 

The discovery by NASA rover Curiosity of evidence that water once flowed on Mars - the most Earth-like planet in the solar system - should intensify interest in what the future could hold for mankind.

The only thing stopping Earth having a lifeless environment like Mars is the magnetic field that shields us from deadly solar radiation and helps some animals migrate, and it may be a lot more fragile and febrile than one might think.

Scientists say earth's magnetic field is weakening and could all but disappear in as little as 500 years as a precursor to flipping upside down.

It has happened before - the geological record suggests the magnetic field has reversed every 250,000 years, meaning that, with the last event 800,000 years ago, another would seem to be overdue.

"Magnetic north has migrated more than 1,500 kilometres over the past century," said Conall Mac Niocaill, an earth scientist at Oxford University. "In the past 150 years, the strength of the magnetic field has lessened by 10 percent, which could indicate a reversal is on the cards."

While the effects are hard to predict, the consequences may be enormous. The loss of the magnetic field on Mars billions of years ago put paid to life on the planet if there ever was any, scientists say.

Mac Niocaill said Mars probably lost its magnetic field 3.5-4.0 billion years ago, based on observations that rocks in the planet's southern hemisphere have magnetisation.

The northern half of Mars looks younger because it has fewer impact craters, and has no magnetic structure to speak of, so the field must have shut down before the rocks there were formed, which would have been about 3.8 billion years ago.

"With the field dying away, the solar wind was then able to strip the atmosphere away, and you would also have an increase in the cosmic radiation making it to the surface," he said.

"Both of these things would be bad news for any life that might have formed on the surface - either wiping it out, or forcing it to migrate into the interior of the planet."


Earth's magnetic field has always restored itself but, as it continues to shift and weaken, it will present challenges - satellites could be more exposed to solar wind and the oil industry uses readings from the field to guide drills.

In nature, animals which use the field could be mightily confused - birds, bees, and some fish all use the field for navigation. So do sea turtles whose long lives, which can easily exceed a hundred years, means a single generation could feel the effects.

Birds may be able to cope because studies have shown they have back-up systems that rely on stars and landmarks, including roads and power lines, to find their way around.

The European Space Agency is taking the issue seriously. In November, it plans to launch three satellites to improve our fairly blurry understanding of the magnetosphere.

The project - Swarm - will send two satellites into a 450 kilometre high polar orbit to measure changes in the magnetic field, while a third satellite 530 kilometres high will look at the influence of the sun.

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