the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Archive for the tag “animals”

Book Review – Breed by Chase Novak

imagesThis book seemed to hold some promise as I read the blurb on the back, an interesting plot that had me chomping (excuse the pun, somewhat) to read it (even despite the second book I got from the library which really looked to be the one to tickle my fancy)  however despite good descriptive writing it failed to excite me.

This is a shame as there were bits here and there that really got the pages turning, but then as it reached a crescendo it hit like only an anticlimax could.

Alex and Leslie have everything; a huge house in New York, he a partner in a law firm, she a publisher. Money, old money, from his side keep them in a lifestyle they become (and who wouldn’t?) accustomed to except for one glaringly obvious hole. They can’t have kids. And while medically, and fertility-wise they are in full working order producing an ‘heir’ to the Twisden roll of honour is a pipe dream despite all the money and experts in the world…

…until a chance meeting in a park where they catch up with a couple from the same infertility support group, she fit to burst with child. As men do, negotiation takes place and Alex and Les get details of the doctor involved so he can work in the same law firm. Seems reasonable…

Flying to some bum-fuck town in Slovenia they meet someone who appears to be a cross of Dr Krippen and Dr WHo, a strange man with a fool-proof fertility plan, and after he basically rapes them with his syringes it has miraculously worked…

But all is not rosy in the upper-class reaches of parenthood – sure, there are twins (with a third ‘killed’ at birth) – the second book takes us ten years later where the kids are locked in their rooms at night, free from harm, but not of fear…

…what is it they fear? The one thing they shouldn’t.


Again, good premise, badly executed. Worth a read if the theory of fucking around with DNA is your kind of thing but if you are like me and run to the safety of your bed after you flick the hallway light off, then even this isn’t going to have you checking under the mattress tonight.


Book Review; The Digger’s Menagerie…

the-diggers-menagerie-mates-mascots-and-marvels-true-stories-of-animals-who-went-to-warBefore heading away on holiday to spend some quality time with the wife and kids I got a bunch of books out of the library to read…so pretty much sealed the fate of the holiday. Well, no, not really, I just love to read and also (before you start flaying me alive) had plenty of fun with the family.

So this was the first book I read while away which I wasn’t sure if I would get into; I love animals, no doubt being some sort of Dr Doolittle myself, and I love books on war too. However combining the two didn’t grab me, but this book is a very good read.

While the title (in full, “The Digger’s Menagerie – Mates, Mascots, and Marvels – True Stories of Animals Who Went to War) suggests it is a historical account of Aussie fauna doing its bit against evil and tyranny it does also drop the odd tale of famous animals from other nations, amongst them an American dog famous for sniffing out a German soldier and then chasing him down on the run, Napoleon’s Poodles (yep, you heard right), ‘Unsinkable Sam’, the survivor of no less than three sinkings at sea and so on.

Starting with the Boer War this is a very good record of the cost that our four-legged and winged friends also paid in the theatre of war – the stats of Aussie’s sought after horses in Sth Africa and WWI are shocking to say the least, the life expectancy (if they survived the trip) was less than six weeks alone. And those that did survive were left abroad due to Australia’s tough quarantine laws.

Pigeons had it tough too, used extensively in WWI and II it seems that both sides not only had a Pigeon Corps, but an anti-Pigeon Corps ranging from a barrage of rifles to trained falcons to bring them down in flight. The humble pigeon, the bane of town councils the world over is actually a remarkable bird. Second fastest in flight, it is also able to navigate its way by following actual roads and junctions!

The book continues into Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and finally into Afghanistan and Iraq where the horses and pigeons have moved aside for the most adaptable combat animal – the dog. As an owner of two dogs I am well aware of just how clever they can be, and trained right we see them as disposal experts, drug sniffers, guards, and rescue animals, but the thought of them actually being faced with enemy fire, being blown apart by mines or shells, or shot as spies can be beyond belief – we make a conscious decision to fight war, what choice do they have? However, unlike with previous wars, of late Aussie restrictions on overseas travel has allowed dogs of war to return home, to be repatriated with families after retirement. The anguish as handler and mutt are separated is traumatic, if necessary, and it is this bond between man and beast which makes this book…

A good, easy read, a recommendation for any animal lover.

Great Story…and good on ya mate! You deserve an Honour’s Mention.

Good job – take note Mr. Brownlie – as long as someone is prepared to give a shit about our city, we will be fine. Now if you could just stop worrying about the rebuilding of McDonalds restaurants and focus on the task at hand, show a bit of empathy and support, we can rebuild and move on.

Fish keeper breached cordon to save his charges

For almost a week after the Christchurch earthquake, a fish keeper breached the city cordon every six hours to save hundreds of animals from a quake-hit aquarium.

The Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House employee returned to the Cathedral Square tourist attraction to help the fish and animals, including geckos and tuatara, trapped after the quake.

For six days he kept the backup generator fuelled to keep tanks and other equipment operating, said Lynn Anderson, chief executive of the Orana Wildlife Trust which owns the aquarium.

The man, who has declined to be named, progressively evacuated about 500 animals.

The “brave staff member continued to go back in there every six hours and feed the backup generators and on every trip he got more out”, Anderson said.

“We are incredibly proud of what was achieved but I must admit we were extremely worried. The end result is absolutely outstanding, but I still could not condone it with the risk”.

She would not go into details of how the man breached the cordon, but said: “If you’ve got fish transporters on the back of a trailer you’re towing and you’re off to save living things I guess there are ways around it.”

Anderson said 53 of the 700 animals, including seahorses whose tank was knocked over, were killed as a direct result of the quake.

The combination of a failing generator, Civil Defence preventing access and unclean water in the tanks meant another 150 animals – including stingrays – had to be put down.

The loss of the aquarium and some of its animals was still a sensitive issue for staff.

“Many of those large creatures in the marine tank had been there for years. They had names. They were cared about … so it’s very sad.”

No visitors or staff were injured when the quake hit. Staff evacuated the aquarium and transferred them to Orana Wildlife Park that afternoon.

Other animals have been released around Canterbury. The giant eels were put into the Waimakariri River, the Canterbury mudfish into the Travis Wetland, the porcupine fish off the Canterbury coast, and the octopus to Lyttelton.

Since the quake, the seven staff employed at the aquarium have been made redundant, while 10 employees have also left Orana Wildlife Park.

They have either resigned, been made redundant or have not been replaced, Anderson said.



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