Friday, August 24, 2012

Where Did Dogs Come From?

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.

Domesticated dogs, these creatures that fetch sticks and sit at our command, seem so common and normal that we take them for granted. They are so much a part of human life, both past and present, that it's hard to imagine a world without them.

But dogs haven't always been around. Part of the Canidae family that includes wolves and coyotes and jackals, domesticated dogs are rather new to this planet and what they've accomplished since teaming up with humans is miraculous.

In the space of just a few thousand years, dogs have changed their shape and behaviors to fit into almost every known human environment and endeavor, from Huskies pulling sleds in the Arctic to Border Collies herding sheep in Scotland and Pekinese warming laps in midtown Manhattan.

Continued at... Where Did Dogs Come From?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lightning Strikes

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Tonight the sky is growling. Beneath the blackened heavens a finicky breeze rattles the maple leaves and makes the pine boughs groan. A scent of rain rides the whiffs.

Without warning this darkness is penetrated by fingers of ghostly white. They grasp at the earth, its treetops and its mountainsides, ever so lightly before withdrawing into the night. Moments later, thunder rumbles.

Lightning is one of the most dramatic, uncontrollable and dangerous acts of God. A hundred times each second bolts of lightning connect with the Earth. Where they will strike, no one can say. But aside from floods, no other natural phenomenon claims as many lives or causes as much damage.

Each year about this time we hear the stories of people killed, survivors wounded and fires started by lightning. Like the teenage boy I read about who was struck while watching a baseball game. The lightning shredded his clothing, ruptured his eardrums and burned his skin, but he survived.

A man playing cricket in Kansas City, Missouri, the same week was not so lucky. The 33-year-old victim was standing in an open area far from any trees when the bolt struck him down. At 6 feet 3 inches, he was the tallest person on the field at the time.

Continued at... Lightning Strikes