Day 288 – Today I learned….

Look, I didn’t want or need to learn this, but what has been seen can never be unseen and now, this story from this very day in 2014 is going to reside in my brain for ever more.


First and foremost, why do we need to know? Why?

Sure. It’s very interesting and the method they used was wonderful:

Alignment of the body (along the thoracic spine) in direction towards the head (heading) was measured in freely moving dogs (i.e., not on the leash) in “open field” (on meadows, fields, in the wood etc., i.e., unconstrained, and uninfluenced by linear structures, such as walls and fences) away from the road traffic, high voltage power lines, and conspicuous steel constructions during defecation and urination, by a hand-held compass.

…but they never needed to do this study in the first place.

At no point in the future is this going to assist anyone. And don’t come with your “well, what if I’m lost in the Karoo with my beagle?” reasoning, because 1. just use the sun, 2. the research shows that dogs only “prefer” to align themselves to do their thing, and 3. it’s a beagle and won’t obey normal rules (or anything else) anyway.

Additionally, these observations were made under “calm conditions”.

Beagles don’t do “calm”. Beagles only have three modes: sleeping, snorfing or being mental. 95% of their time is spent in mode 1, during which time (you hope) there will be no urination or defecation events. When they are snorfing, they’re too caught up with doing that to worry about magnetoreception and magnetosensitivity. And being mental is not being calm.

But aside from anything else, I’m going to constantly be checking the alignment of my canine during its lavatorial commitments from now on. And that’s just not pleasant for either of us.


Does your dog face North-South when having a shit?
Feel very free not to let me know in the comments. Really. Just don’t. Thank you.

Here’s the full study. (Yes, I know they used two beagles – idiots.)

French unlucky to lose rugby game

News in from our rugby correspondent, who was at a wet and windy Moses Mabhida Stadium over the weekend to watch the Sharks play a friendly against a visiting French side from Bordeaux:

The Durban side edged a tight game 19-17 leaving the French coach, Entraîneur de Chiens, disappointed at the result of a game he thought they could have won if only his side had listened to him and followed basic instructions.

Instead, his fifteen players scattered across the pitch, chasing each other and the boerewors rolls sellers in the stands. One was seen having a really good scratch in the tunnel, while two others were found snoozing in the dug out.

It’s been the same since we went with this stupid name change

de Chiens complained.

We used to be a tight, organised, disciplined squad. Now I can’t get them to even sit, stay or listen to me. The only time they feign any interest in what I have to say is when I’m holding some food. It’s been a disaster and we need to think of calling ourselves something far more obedient.

he said, before shouting at the left winger, who was in the changing room, chewing a sock.

Powder of Sympathy

I’m going to try some experimental stuff on the photography front this weekend – weather permitting. And that will result in experimental photographs. However, I obviously haven’t taken them just yet, so here’s a photograph of an experiment – or at least a photograph of a description of an hypothesis. Tenuous.

These days, one can simply glance at one’s smartphone to obtain an accurate reading of one’s latitude and longitude. And thanks to the position of the sun and the stars, sailors have long been able to gauge their latitude fairly accurately. Longitude was an entirely different kettle of fish though – the biggest limiting factor being that in order to calculate one’s longitude, one needs to know the time accurately. When a hefty prize was announced for anyone who could solve this problem, it attracted a lot of interest – not all of it entirely helpful. The Powder of Sympathy was one of the less successful ideas. I love the final sentence: as if we really needed telling.

Interesting fact about Cape Agulhas – it lies right on the 20° Meridian. And I mean pretty much exactly, right down to 6 decimal points. Given that we generally divide the world up into segments of 15°, this isn’t hugely important, but I have noted that if you poke the beagle at noon while standing on right on that imaginary line (I use my phone’s GPS to get it just right), it will let out a small bark, before glaring at you.

Now superseded by modern technology, back in the days of Diaz and van Riebeeck, every ship passing the Southern Tip would have had a beagle on board to poke as they rounded Cape Agulhas. This act wouldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, but it’s always good to poke a beagle whenever possible. Keeps them on their toes, see?