Blue Fin Demand Increases & Supply Fades to Black

tunaIn a recent article “complacent” media was blamed for the lack of concern in Japan over the disappearing blue fin tuna. Apparently the Japanese public does not know that their consumption of blue fin is a major contributor to the species decline. Thus, in an effort to reach the people of Japan, one of the most educated and enduring cultures on the planet, I, a member of the media, am writing to say: Japan currently consumes about 80% of the worlds blue fin tuna, known as “The King of Sushi,” “Toro” or "hon-maguro." It is estimated that... Read Full Article on Celsias

Proud to be Cruelty Free

Cruelty FreeI would venture a guess that the majority of human beings want to use cruelty free cosmetic/beauty products. I don’t think people walk around saying, “I would like my perfume to be worn by a rat first please.” Or “I’m a smart sentient being who would never shove lipstick into my eye, but if you could please put lipstick into a monkey’s eye to be double sure it’s safe, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.” So why does animal testing on beauty products exist?

Animal testing on cosmetics began when the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 in response to manufacturers selling unsafe... Read Full Article on Celsias

Horses to be Slaughtered in the US for Meat

Lorie's HorsesThe U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) is moving toward approving a horsemeat slaughterhouse in New Mexico within the next two months. This will be the first time equine meat slaughtered in the US will be offered for human consumption since 2007. Horses can be consumed in the US, but not slaughtered here so they have been shipped to Canada and Mexico. If you’re like me you might be shocked, and appalled that people could eat horsemeat in the US. And then, like me, maybe you’re also harkening back to those elementary school years (before I gladly became a vegetarian) thinking, “What was in those school hamburgers?!...Read Full Article on Celsias

TheGoodMuse Explains: Beware of Ducks!

What follows is a prime example of why wild animals need their space, why you have to take responsibility for your actions, and why you should beware of ducks.

I love baby animals. I think most people do. (Comedian Dara O’Briain explains this phenomenon so brilliantly here.)

Spring and early summer prove to be the best time for baby anything spotting, so one Easter, many years ago, I grabbed some stale bread in a plastic bag (as is tradition) and headed to the park to feed the ducks. Now this wasn’t just any park this was the fancy park in the nicest area of town. You know, the park that nobody uses because it’s mostly ornamental. The park you have to wear a hat and dress to enter. Everyone has that park in their town. As I was a young whippersnapper and did not want to conform I wore jeans and a white button up oxford to feed the ducks – ohhh radical. Stop. I know.

To continue, I arrive at the park. I’m with my boyfriend at the time, a young man who had grown up in this Sunday park crowd. If they figured out I didn’t belong they would still let me in because of him.

Moms and Dads with Easter baskets, and their 2.5 toe headed kids, dressed in perfect pastels, roamed the park which had sprung from an ornamental creek. The creek was more of a dammed drainage ditch and was notorious for silt and possible alligators (not native to the area in the slightest, more of the fiction sewer dwelling type of alligators).

I found a spot, a bit removed from the crowds, where a mama duck and three baby ducks were swimming. I assumed all the ducklings were hers' and believed I had found the perfect spot to feed nature bread crusts made with artificial preservatives as God intended.

I threw the bread crusts to two of the babies, but the third duckling stayed removed, circling on the periphery. I was not having this inequality. Bread was for all. I pitched some rolled up crusts to the loner baby who immediately dived at them.

What happened next blew my mind and was only much later explained to me by the Internet and my grandfather. The mother duck attacked the third duckling, the one who had purposefully stayed outside the group. She snapped at it viciously over and over at the neck. I didn’t know what I was seeing. Why was this mother duck behaving this way to her own child?

Asking too many questions as usual I hesitated one second too long.

If you had been in the park that day you would have seen spring flowers pushing through perfectly manicured grassed, families on peaceful Easter picnics, and a girl dressed in jeans and an oxford, doing a spontaneous lifeguard dive into the shallow-muddy runoff-algae infested-rumored alligator dumping ground creek to save a duckling.

By the time I made it to the duckling it was too late. Head down in the water, lying lifeless, it’s little neck twisted and broken. I did the rational thing, the only thing I could do – I started crying hysterically, standing in the pond, and began to give the duckling CPR.

Before you assume I put my mouth over the duckling’s beak you should know that in animal CPR you just cup the muzzle with your hand (seriously), forming a tunnel, and blow air into the lungs. But no air was passing into the lungs.

The baby was gone and only through my companions calm pleading did I manage to walk back to the side of the pond, sit on a wall, holding the tiny body, and cry.

The duckling was buried in a nearby yard and I continued to cry for days. I had interfered where I did not belong and caused the painful death of a lovely little creature.

Nature is a vicious and beautiful thing. It’s not to be trifled with, or polluted, or disturbed in any way. It should be respected.

As a species, humans have disrupted much of nature. We’ve messed up the delicate balance so terribly how can we judge where to get involved? How can we make up for the damage we’ve done without causing more harm?

One of the only clear cases of needed human intervention lies in our involvement with domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Many people still argue that they are animals, descended from wild creatures, so their place is in the wild outside. In layman’s terms we should leave dogs and cats outside and not worry so much about strays. I flatly disagree.

We had our way with wild cats, and to a greater extent wolves for thousands of years. Breeding enough speed, agility, and instinct out of them so that we could feel superior, comfortable, and unthreatened. We created an animal for ourselves, to our liking, to be protectors for us. And then we want to turn a shoulder and say it should fend for itself. There are few stances as blatantly hypocritical as this one.

Be careful with nature. Help where you can. Be kind using your best judgment. Beware of ducks. Please don’t feed the wild animals. If you want to feed an animal go adopt a cat.

Hugh’s Fish Fight

Between 40 to 60 percent of the fish that are caught in the North Sea are thrown back dead. In 2011 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall went on a mission to find out why and ended up starting a grass routes movement that is rewriting government policy called Hugh’s Fish Fight .

The fish are discarded because fishermen generally target one species, but they catch fish in mixed fisheries (i.e. different species of fish swim around in the ocean together, they don’t discriminate, they love each other.) Fisherman don’t want to bring in fish they can’t sell because they’ve fallen out of fashion with modern palates, and fish like cod, and haddock have to be thrown back because they are over-quota. Quotas were established to protect certain species of fish from over fishing. Quotas back fire because... Read full article at Celsias

TGM Explains: Why You Must Polygraph 2 Adopt a Pet?

You do not have to submit to a polygraph to adopt a pet.

Clearly, I have not been doing a good job as thegoodmuse.

My only job is to offer a first person account of volunteering or all thing non-profit so you, my adoring public, might know what to expect when doing goodness.  But I haven’t been covering all bases.  Case in point…

Lucky, the cat from Volunteer Episode 69, was almost adopted after my post about him was published. However, I neglected to discuss what would be required during the adoption process by the rescue organization and the potential adopter was scared off.

So let me clarify the adoption process…

When adopting a pet you will not be asked to run a 40 yard dash. Your vertical will not be measured.  Your DNA will not be tested.  They shouldn’t ask to microchip you. They will not ask where you like to go on first dates. If they do, you should leave.

A responsible animal rescue group will ask you to fill out an application.

This is what a standard application looks like:

http://www.heavenlypets.org/images/HESA_Adopt_App.pdf

They will ask you questions about your accommodations because they need to make sure that you are allowed to have an animal.  Unfortunately, there are irresponsible people in this world who decide to adopt pets while living in a dorm room, a lean-to, a hotel, or apartment with no pet policy. If the pet is discovered the person is usually forced to give them up.  And there are worse stories... Stories about kids who adopted animals while in college dorms.  Deciding to leave the animal in the dorm when they graduate. Then, the housekeepers show up, sometimes weeks later, to clean the dorm and find the animal expired.

Hate to be dark, but I'm trying to explain why you might have to answer a few personal questions. Honestly, if you want to adopt an animal, suck it up and answer the questions.  They're worth it.

Volunteer Journal #69 – Lucky

It took a long time to write this one, as I’m still a little sad about it:

I was driving across country over the holidays and had the… distinct pleasure… of stopping in Hooks, Arkansas.  The town is made up of a few trailers and two gas stations - one station apparently only takes gold bullion.  I stopped at the other station.

As I walked inside to pay I saw a friendly black cat approach a woman and meow.  The woman kicked the cat.  I literally saw red and ran into the station, "Someone’s black cat just got kicked in the parking lot!" I gritted my teeth knowing what I was going to hear. It's a good thing I'm fluent in southern hick (being one myself) because the answer came back so thick a foreigner would have been baffled.  I'll translate to save time,

"Oh lady.  Someone pulled up to the station two days ago and threw that cat out of the car window. It's been begging ever since. I like cats, use to work at the shelter here, but that one's not even smart enough to wander onto the freeway and get hit.  It won't leave. We've been calling it Obama."

What the f&$%!!!!  Oh My God.

"The cat's coming with me," I blurted out. Then I internally slapped my face. I was driving to California, a three-day road trip, with no cat supplies. Oh well.

The station worker helped me collect the cat in minutes and handed me some old hotdogs for him. Great. Thanks.

Upon being placed in the car, the cat I called "Lucky," licked my hand and calmly stepped into the back seat. He curled up, and went to sleep.  He slept all the way to Dallas where I acquired a litter box, food and a carrier.

On the two consecutive 14-hour days of driving that followed Lucky would sleep calmly in his carrier and chow down during our regular food stops.  He gained two pounds in days.  He was silent, only meowing when he had to use the litter box. I would pull over, and put the box outside the car. Lucky would calmly step out of his carrier; use the box and then hop back in his carrier.  I've rescued dozens of cats.  I've never seen anything like it.

Sometimes we talked.  I asked him about his broken ribs and the bite out of his ear.  He said he didn’t want to talk about it. Cool.

Lucky got strong on the road trip, but upon returning to CA I had to leave town again. I found a foster and told them he seemed to like indoors and outdoors, but because he wasn't fixed yet keep an eye on him outside.  I kept calling to check on him.  He seemed to be doing great.  But on my return to LA I found that Lucky, left outside to his own devices, had been taken to a shelter by a well-meaning neighbor. AAAAaaahhhhh! After a few panicked hours on the phone I located him at the West LA Animal Shelter.

Back in town I raced into the shelter and as soon as I walked into the room with a dozen or more cages I was greeted by Lucky. He stood up in his cage, meowed, and reached through the bars. The volunteer in the room was awe struck.  He remembered me.  I was so relieved I started to cry.  Now, I had to get him out.

It is not easy to negotiate with a city employee. Lucky would be on mandatory hold for a few days, then have basic medical work done, the only way I could bust him out was by adopting.

I would have to adopt him and then re-donate him to Heaven on Earth who had agreed to keep him in their no kill facility. Because they are saints and I love them. The shelter refused to tell me medical schedules or euthanasia schedules - and the yelp reviews of the shelter were awful as far as last minute euthanasia decisions. I was forced to stalk them for days.  My dumb mistake had gotten him in the clink. I was busting him out.

Finally, on the exact date, at the exact hour he could be adopted I ran in and adopted him.  He had lost all his weight again and contracted a serious sinus infection, but he was in one piece.  I nursed him a few days.  He slept on the end of my bed and greeted me when I came home.  He needed a bath but seemed too weak to have one in my care.

A few days later I had to drop Lucky off at Heaven on Earth Sanctuary with a donation for his continued up-keep and his blanket.

He was the best cat and even though we had such a short time together I miss him.  I hope someone finds my calm, smart lap cat - he's the best.  To that person I want to say – please take care of my traveling companion.

I’m waiting for updates.  I’ll post them when I have them.

Update 3/16/12:

I just received the following email from Heaven on Earth -

Hi Raagan –

 

No, Lucky hasn’t been adopted. He is a really great guy, but 7-year-old black cats aren’t in great demand, unfortunately. He’s on our website, which uploads to other adoption sites, and I’ve taken him to adoption events quite a few times where he gets a lot of attention but still no takers. As you probably know, black cats are in shelters in disproportionate amounts.

 

 

Volunteer Journal #67 –Take a Shower with PETA

Ladies and Gentleman, the following is an account of my weirdest volunteer activity as TheGoodMuse- yet.

I had never volunteered with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), but then I got this email, which said something like...

Come take a shower in the middle of the LA Convention Center to promote water conservation by eating less meat.

Sold. You had me at public nudity.

In all seriousness, I’m a vegetarian. I have been since I was a teen.  It's one of the best decisions I ever made for my health.  I also think it's important for everyone to eat less meat (or no meat/fish) for the environment's sake. Meat production pollutes more than all the vehicles on the road combined and our lust for fish is stripping the ocean bare. To say the least - I was game to support this cause.

And... the PETA shower campaign is mad genius.  People taking a shower in public wrapped in a curtain printed with the factoid: 1 lb. of meat = 6 months of showers. It stops traffic - it literally has stopped traffic on Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles. As soon as I climbed into the shower, in a little white bikini that no one could see, foot traffic in front of the PETA booth stopped and the other volunteers were able to distribute info.  It was a riot, and I would do this activity again but...

That being said lets break down the problems.

I was on a raised platform and the bar to the top of the shower was about five and a half feet off the ground.  I was told you couldn't see over it.

You couldn't see over it unless you were a male who was... oh... let's say... about six feet tall, slightly perverted, not at all slick, shameless, and you stepped right up to the shower to ask me (with a head tilt and eyes down) why I had become a vegetarian. Lots of men meet all of these requirements.

Sir, I know what your doing. Not cool.

Also not appreciated… The guys who held their cameras aloft, arm fully extended up, to get the full shot.

I'm in a bikini you desperate, sad...

I would have preferred to do this volunteer activity with a male friend in the shower as well.  They could have acted as a bull sh*& shield.  Someone who could give creepy men scary looks.  I tried, but I've been told my "I will kick your ass" look is easily misinterpreted and not at all scary.

PETA should also make sure that there is a volunteer on hand big enough, and forceful enough, to bounce perverts.  I can't believe this is needed, but I felt it was.

Now lets talk temp. The first 30 minutes I was fine, I knew the water was cold but it was like being a little kid at the ocean - too much fun to care about hypothermia. After 30 minutes - goose bumps. By the end of the hour I’m pretty sure the US Geological Survey was registering my body tremors. Oh it was sooooo cold. Ohhhh! I had to take a 45 minute hot shower at home to even begin to thaw. Maybe I get cold too easy.  I know volunteers have done this campaign in the snow. But I feel that both a volunteer's health and safety should be the first priority of any organization.  They are volunteers. They are not being compensated in any other way besides happy feelings. Protect happy feelings.

All that being said I would recommend this volunteer experience to anyone of like mind.  It's one of those once in a lifetime deals you definitely want to tell your grandkids about. You will walk away with killer stories. And I also highly recommend becoming a vegetarian. If not for the environment, or the animals, then do it for your health.

Volunteer Journal #64 – Kitten Rehab

There are advantages and disadvantages to being thegoodmuse.

Advantage – people come and ask you to help them like you are a superhero.

Disadvantage – people come and ask you to help them like you are a superhero.

Couple thegoodmuse reputation with the fact that I’ve gained a certain notoriety, in my circle of friends, for fixing minor animal maladies and the result is when an animal in distress is found within a 10 mile radius I get the call.

Often, I think I should just open my own zoo.

I got one of those infamous distress calls a week ago. My friend’s high school class had just rescued a scraggly kitten who was being messed* with by some evil students (totally seeing red).

Could I make the kitten better while a student or two checks with their parents to see if they can keep him? Oh well. Let’s try.

Kitten was handed to me in a Frito Lays box. She was shaking, covered in dirt, gunk oozed from one eye, and she clearly had never had a decent meal. Ewww gunk.

Anyway… four washes, bottle-feeding, and a few days of cuddling and the Kitten is as good as new. Better than new actually, she’s a master of manipulation – rubbing against legs, purring, and giving kisses (at 5 weeks - impressive).

However, as with most of these cases, the people that said they might want her in her state of absolute desperation have faded away.

So if anyone needs a bouncy kitten write me at raegan@thegoodmuse.com. No doubt she’ll find a good home so I’m not stressing my “superhero” self.

*I’m not going to describe what was being done to the little one but some people should be hung by their toes, etc. etc. etc…

Fish Fight: Update on the Battle to Save the Bluefin

Hope may be on the horizon for the endangered bluefin tuna as a worldwide ban on trade gains momentum.  A number of countries including France, Italy and Australia are considering or implementing bans in the catch and trade of the sushi staple approaching a critical vote during the Convention on International Trade in Endanger Species (CITES) in March. Without limitations or even elimination of bluefin fishing many biologist and environmentalist believe the bluefin population will not recover and could become extinct as early as next year. “Atlantic and Southern bluefin tuna are both listed as endangered by IUCN, with populations of the former reduced 80% since the 1970s. At current fishing rates, which far exceed the official quotas due to rampant illegal fishing, Atlantic bluefin...Read Full Article on Celsias

Vegan Wednesdays-Like Meatless Mondays, Only Better

Meatless Mondays, otherwise known as the one day a week omnivores pat themselves on the back and say, “look how eco-friendly I am,” has always made me jealous.  It’s like a special occasion or holiday.  Omnivores get to call work and say “I’m sorry I can’t write that report today, it’s Meatless Monday, my parents are coming from out of town to help us make the lentil roast.” I want a weekly holiday too! Vegetarians I propose once a week we have Vegan Day – we can even call it Vegan Wednesdays, and if you have a German or Russian accent it will sound like Vegan Vednesday which will make it totally perfect.

On Vegan Day (not to be confused with...Read Full Article on Celsias

Volunteer Journal #57 – Star Eco Station

On the phone Tuesday night: “I got to go to bed.  I’m cleaning snake cages early tomorrow morning.”

“Why!?”

“Because they sh*! in them Mom.”

“This is another one of those volunteer things isn’t it?”

“No, this is for fun.”

“Really!?”

“Mom...”

“Okay.  Just be careful.  Don’t get bitten.”

“I’ll try.”

8:30 am Wednesday. Being a sloppy reptiles interior designer = the punishment you have to endure when you’re sarcastic with your mother. When all is said and done though, I will talk about my morning with Star Eco Station forever…

Star Eco Station in Culver City, CA exists because people try to smuggle exotic animals into the US (via LAX) because they’re desperate for money (the people not the animals) or out of their freaking minds. If the animals survive the journey - stuffed into cardboard tubes, taped against sweaty humans, crammed into suitcases, or mislabeled in an innocuous looking Fed Ex box - they can look forward to being skinned for accessories, fought for money, kept in some moron’s trophy room, or paraded down a red carpet on Paris Hilton’s arm.

Customs or other very shocked airport employees find the lucky ones. Often the animal is so traumatized and injured officials have no choice but to put the animal down.  Star Eco Station is a haven of last resort for some of these tortured animals. Currently, Star Eco Station houses over 200 kidnapped animals from around the world.

I attended a very brief volunteer orientation Saturday morning so I could come back on Wednesday and do whatever menial task the Star Eco Station staff may ask for. All with the understanding that I will probably never get to touch an animal for my safety and theirs.  I’m introduced to Devon, animal husbandry expert (Look it up teenagers it’s not what it sounds like), and he puts me to work chopping old fruits and vegetables donated by Trader Joes for the herbivores.

Devon and I talked about the animals while we chopped. He tells me about the parrots which outlived a succession of masters (parrots aren’t good pets they can live over 100 years!), the alligators found in a Fed Ex box, the mockingbirds found in a tube. We talk about how volunteers and employees of Star Eco Station go on to work at zoos and animal sanctuaries.  Then he’s asked by an anxious employee to step out of the room.  He leaves for a few minutes and when he walks back in he shouts over his shoulder, “Could someone clean up the blood? Thanks.”

“What blood?” I ask before I can stop myself.

“Do you really want to know?”

“No, but now that you’ve said that I kinda have to know.”

“We breed our own rats.”

“You can stop there.”

I get the picture.  There are carnivores here: alligators, caimans, bobcats, lynx, - they have to be fed too. Well that and as Devon explains they just had an angry snake on their hands.

We divide the food (chopped zucchini, sugar snap peas, apples, bananas, etc.) into bowls for the birds and Devon asks me to go ahead into the parrot room and open the automatic skylights.

Standing in the humid room, among bird smell, aiming a remote control at the ceiling I hear a slimy, “Hey Baby.”

“Okay, who said that? Not cool.” I turn around.  No one.

“Hey Baby.”

Oh good. I’m just getting cat called by a bird.  What a relief. “Hey yourself.  Which one of you said that?”

“Hey Baby.”

“Oh it’s you. Oh my God.” I say to a beautiful white parrot.

“Oh my God!” Shouts someone and I spin.

“Oh my God, which one of you said that?”

“Oh my God!” says a mischievous green parrot.

“There you are. Hahahahahaha.”

“Hahahahahaha.” – An exact replica of my laugh.

“Okay stop laughing that’s creepy.”

“Oh my God!”

“You can say that again.”

Devon comes in and suggests that there is nothing else I can do in the birdcages.  I beg to differ I’m of a simple mind and can keep this game up forever. He points me to the reptile room where I am put to work by Manny redecorating some gecko cages with fake shrubbery. He then asks me the thing I’ve been dreading all morning “Can you clean that reptile cage?”

“Sure.” I say through my teeth.  I arrange my supplies for cleaning, open the cage, and then shut the door lightning fast. “Ummm Manny… There is still a creature in this cage.”

“Oh yeah! Sorry about that.” He removes said creature and I get back to work.

Because I’m press…kinda, and was very sweet and worked without complaint I got to hold one lizard which no beginner volunteer is ever allowed to do.  I held Crayola the chameleon [pictured above].  Crayola, like women from New Mexico, likes the color turquoise.  Crayola has amazing feet that wrapped around my fingers so that if my hand had turned over he would not have moved.  I wanted to keep him, and the geckos, and the angelfish, and one of the black mockingbird and... this is the problem.  No one should have these animals.  They’re wild and like most wild animals make lousy pets because they are a pain in the ass to take care of – trust me. But they are pretty to look at so if you want to interact with them just come volunteer at or visit Star Eco Station.

Star Eco Station rehabilitate’s animals, but their central mission is prevention through education.  If they can teach children not to treat animals like possessions and to respect wild animals in their habitats then the cycle of animal cruelty will end.

Anyone can volunteer at Star Eco Station.  You simply need to attend a volunteer orientation, and then you’re free to come in, and help prep the animals food, clean cages, walk the tortoises, and various other chores that the staff needs.

Star Eco Station is fun, educational, and honestly an adventure.  I guarantee one visit will give you stories to tell for the next month - at least.

Diatribe Against A Leather Couch

200552612-001Attention Bachelors: Stop Buying Leather Couches! Actually check that. I’m talking to anyone who purchases leather furniture. Put your VHS tape of “Coming to America” away, and let’s talk about why leather couches are the most unpleasant piece of furniture that can be purchased. 1. Is your furniture cold or is it just you? One feature of leather that isn’t discussed often on the sales room floor is it’s uncanny ability to absorb and magnify the temperature of the surrounding room. This temperature issue is particularly grating as any man with an air conditioning unit in his apartment or house will jack it down to 60 degrees (I can almost guarantee this. How they expect to get a woman naked in a polar environment can be saved for another discussion, but perhaps they are thinking to apply the “Can I warm you up?” technique. I digress. )

Since his apartment/house is guaranteed to be 60 degrees you can bet your frozen bottom that his premium Italian leather couch will feel like...Read full article on Celsias

Promoting the Veg Lifestyle

vegan-mainstream-logo“Environmentally, meat amazingly causes more emissions than all of transportation combined. Cars, trains, planes, buses, boats – all of them.” –Graham Hill Founder of Treehugger.com No doubt that being a vegetarian or vegan is one of the best environmental moves you can make, but it’s a choice not always glamorized in the press. Vegetarianism is often lauded as the dietary choice of…excuse me…pussies, with vegetarians regularly depicted as skinny, geeky, weak and extremely pale.

Enter Vegan Mainstream ...Read Full Article on Celsias