How do dogs recognize each other?
You know what I’m talking about: dogs will ignore other species, but bark at and interact with each other. Now that doesn’t sound like an impressive recognition task, but consider that dogs have been bred over the last few thousand years into a staggering variety of subspecies, with radically different features, sizes, and proportions. How does a Great Dane know that a Chihuahua is a dog? (And vice versa; the chihuahua essentially has the brain of a wolf in the body the size of a rodent. That must be confusing.)
The first explanation that comes to mind is smell: dogs smell the same, and they have great noses, so it’s easy to tell if another animal is a dog. But I’ve seen many dogs bark at others – from behind a closed car window. So it’s something more sophisticated.
More possibilities: smell is first, sight is second, dogs only bark at similar-looking dogs if they can’t smell, etc.
Google didn’t come up with much. The best I could find is “Dogs too have their own scent and smell to establish who is who, sniffing around each other’s bodies. Dogs also use sight to first look and decide if it is a dog they are looking at and then sniff to find out if they know each other.”
I don’t have a dog (though I think they are awesome), so if you do I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Shopping by calories
I don’t know what the deal is with my metabolism, but I have to eat a ton of food each day. If I don’t eat breakfast, I won’t survive till lunch, and even after a big lunch I’m hungry by 4pm. When I go to a convenience store to grab some snacks, I often find myself shopping by calories: which item will give me the most calories per dollar? This sounds perverse, but I can’t help it. And I’ve found lately that I do this subconsciously even when I’m shopping in a grocery store! Weird. Does anyone else do this? Kent?
Obama’s Egypt speech
A thing of beauty. Read the transcript (it’s easy and pretty short). It’s nuanced, bold, and inspiring. Some people have been complaining that it’s all words, no action. But the speech itself – just words – is a huge step forward. I can’t imagine Bush even attempting this. Progress has to start somewhere.
An A-Z Music Project update
Earlier this year I started listening to all my music in alphabetical order. I had the ambitious goal of finishing by the end of the year. Well, there’s no way that’s going to happen. True, I had a very busy semester, one that didn’t leave much time for listening to music, but I’m now only halfway through the Bs (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, to be exact, and 70 hours done of 90 total in the Bs). My new projected end date: Jan 2012. Really?