Monday, September 24, 2007

Fair Trade Products

At my vending events, I will be featuring Fair Trade Products from the Purple Rhino.

From Go Green Giraffe (which wholesales Purple Rhino products)

Indigenous Handmade Art is what you’re buying. No matter what size value, you will purchase a "one of kind" product made by dedicated third-world artisan. This art is passed on from generation to generation and is their main source of income. The art is an integral part of their culture. When you take indigenous art and have it copied in China you are eliminating needed jobs, culture and a chance to break the chain poverty in third-world countries.

Our Community of Artisans need these jobs to break the chain of poverty and sustain their families. Your purchase provides them with jobs and gives them hope and dignity. If at all possible, we avoid the "middle man". This helps us standardize what the artisans are making and avoids mark-ups incurred through third-parties. We can than pass the savings onto our US customers and provide better wages for the artisans.


From the Fair Trade Federation

FTF members link low-income producers with consumer markets and educate consumers about the importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and safe and healthy conditions for workers in the developing world. By adhering to social criteria and environmental principles, fair trade organizations foster a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade that benefits people and their communities.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More on Dolphin Statue at Gas Station

I wrote about the Dolphin Statue at the Sunoco Gas Station near my home in August. It is a sparkly blue statue. Today, they put up a sign saying that it is for the Lance Armstrong Foundation: Live Strong.

Dolphins are being enlisted in the fight against Cancer!

Workshops and Classes In October - December 2007

Spiral Grove Witches' Faire: October 27, 2007
Harvey L. Pearson National Guard Armory,
692 Waterloo Road, Warrenton VA.

Workshop: 11AM

Whispering Bear,
310-C Mill Street, Occoquan, VA
$15 at the door.

Classes: Thursdays, 7-9PM

November 1: "Finding Your Animal Teachers"
November 8: "Working with Your Animal Allies, Teachers, and Totems"
November 15: "Animal Divination"
December 6: "Dragons!"
December 13: "Magickal, Mystical Animals"

More info can be found at my website: Animal Teachers Services:

See You There!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alex, the Grey Parrot has Passed Over the Rainbow Bridge

For those who do not know who Alex was - he was an African grey parrot who could use human language to converse with people.

Here is the release from The Alex Foundation:

WALTHAM, MA (SEPTEMBER 10, 2007)—Alex, the world renowned African Grey parrot made famous by the ground-breaking cognition and communication research conducted by Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., died at the age of 31 on September 6, 2007. Dr. Pepperberg’s pioneering research resulted in Alex learning elements of English speech to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept. He used phrases such as “I want X” and “Wanna go Y”, where X and Y were appropriate object and location labels. He acquired concepts of categories, bigger and smaller, same-different, and absence. Alex combined his labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 100 different items demonstrating a level and scope of cognitive abilities never expected in an avian species. Pepperberg says that Alex showed the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old. Her research with Alex shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry.

In 1973, Dr. Pepperberg was working on her doctoral thesis in theoretical chemistry at Harvard University when she watched Nova programs on signing chimps, dolphin communication and, most notably, on why birds sing. She realized that the fields of avian cognition and communication were not only of personal interest to her but relatively uncharted territory. When she finished her thesis, she left the field of chemistry to pursue a new direction—to explore the depths of the avian mind. She decided to conduct her research with an African Grey parrot. In order to assure she was working with a bird representative of its species, she asked the shop owner to randomly choose any African Grey from his collection. It was Alex. And so the 1-year old Alex, his name an acronym for the research project, Avian Learning EXperiment, became an integral part of Pepperberg’s life and the pioneering studies she was about to embark upon.

Over the course of 30 years of research, Dr. Pepperberg and Alex revolutionized the notions of how birds think and communicate. What Alex taught Dr. Pepperberg about cognition and communication has been applied to therapies to help children with learning disabilities. Alex’s learning process is based on the rival-model technique in which two humans demonstrate to the bird what is to be learned. Alex and Dr. Pepperberg have been affiliated with Purdue University, Northwestern University, the University of Arizona, the MIT Media Lab, the Radcliffe Institute, and most recently, Harvard University and Brandeis University.Alex has been featured worldwide on numerous science programs including the BBC, NHK, Discovery and PBS. He is well known for his interactions with Alan Alda in an episode of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS and from an episode of the famed PBS Nature series called “Look Who’s Talking.” Reports on Alex’s accomplishments have appeared in the popular press and international news from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Science Times section of the New York Times featured Alex in a front-page story in 1999. That same year, Dr. Pepperberg published The Alex Studies, a comprehensive review of her decades of learning about learning from Alex. Many other television appearances and newspaper articles followed.

Alex was found to be in good health at his most recent annual physical about two weeks ago. According to the vet who conducted the necropsy, there was no obvious cause of death. Dr. Pepperberg will continue her innovative research program at Harvard and Brandeis University with Griffin and Arthur, two other young African Grey parrots who have been a part of the ongoing research program.

Alex has left a significant legacy—not only have he and Dr. Pepperberg and their landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology changed our views of the capabilities of avian minds, but they have forever changed our perception of the term “bird brains.”

For press contacts: The Alex Foundation and Dr. Pepperberg can be reached by e-mail at the or by phone at 781-736-2195.

If you choose to help support this research, please consider making a donation in Alex's memory to The Alex Foundation, c/o Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Department of Psychology/MS-062, 415 South Street, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454.


The goal of The Alex Foundation is to support research that will expand the base of knowledge establishing the cognitive and communicative abilities of parrots as intelligent beings. These findings will be used to encourage the responsible ownership of parrots, conservation and preservation of parrots in the wild, and veterinary research into the psychological diseases and care of these birds. Through these efforts, The Alex Foundation will accomplish its mission to improve the lives of parrots.

Friday, September 07, 2007

National Zoo: Anteater

In July, the Washington D.C. National Zoo was surprised when they found that their giant anteater had a little baby. This baby looked like the Mom in every way. They found her clinging on her mom's back. However, since the two were inseparable, it took awhile before anyone knew the baby's sex. So every one called the baby, "Little Snozzie" because of her long nose. Her official name is Aurora.

"The giant anteater may be five to seven feet long, from nose to tail, and weigh 40 to 86 pounds. It has a narrow head, long nose, small eyes, and round ears. Its coarse hair may be gray or brown, with a white-banded black stripe running along the body to mid-torso, and a long, bushy tail, which can be two to three feet long. Its front feet have large claws, which are curled under when it walks. It has poor vision but a keen sense of smell. "

"The giant anteater detects termite mounds and anthills with its keen sense of smell and tears them open with its strong claws. Its long nose, which contains a bone tube formed by the fusion of the upper and lower jaws, functions as a vacuum, sucking in the insects. The anteater's sticky tongue—up to two feet long—collects more insects. An anteater may eat as many as 30,000 ants in a day."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Meanings of Water: Fresh water

Freshwater regions include ponds, lakes, and rivers. Each has been endowed by people with their own particular meanings. People are purified in the River Jordan (Jordan) and the River Ganges (India). Springs have healing properties that people seek. Monsters live at the bottom of lakes ready to frighten people.

Rivers are water in motion. They start in mountains and flow to the seas. Since human commerce moves with rivers, people’s lives are closely tied to them. Human civilizations first rose along the banks of rivers.

In literature, rivers stood for the flow of time, ebbing, and flowing, but constantly moving. An animal metaphor for the river would be salmon. These fish swim from small pools to their rivers to the seas. When it comes time for salmon to spawn, they fight the river current to return to their home pools upstream.

Deep in many lakes are cold-loving fish that took refuge in the cold waters, when the glaciers receded. Birds may live on the banks and fish for the many frogs and insects, but refugees from previous ice ages live near the bottoms. The subjects of legends, prehistoric monsters are reputed to be dwelling in the bottom of deep water lakes.

Lakes are mirrors into the other world. Ladies of Lakes beckon people to dive deeper for enlightenment. A lake may seem inert, but power lies just underneath the still waters. Dive in and encounter a magical world.

Life is lived small in ponds. They provide breeding spots for small animals like salamanders and frogs. Ponds attract a unique collection of animals to their shallow fresh waters from dragonflies and water snakes. Ponds are friendly places for people to enjoy nature.
If you want to know more about your nature guides, I can help you.
Inner Journeys: Nature Journeys:
("Jackson Creek" by Mary Ann Sterling)