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Smell a Rat, Then Sponsor One

 Hello there. Last week I forgot to mention a great column by Nicholas Kristof that is a must read… I was reminded of it after spending my day today travelling from various offices in the local government, tracking down the necessary permit applications and stopping to spend some time with our beloved Sheriff Bob Braudis and soon to be successor Joe Disalvo, I realized how important good community is.

Every office I went to, including the pitkin  county library, where Jennifer and Steve laughed and chatted with me over a Shel Silverstein poem and gin tonics. All was well and happy until I stopped in the parking violations office (since I was in the government ‘hood). It was the only place where I was met with an odious and depressing reception. No smiles, no interest in being helpful, no bother that I was about to help pay their salaries and ability to give me more parking tickets. Just pay for my sins and get the hell out.  Perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that people who work in professions that are designed to try to make lives of their comrades easier, they know how to smile. I didn’t leave the parking office so angry as I did with pity  — for these are loathsome folks whether you pay for your parking sins or not. bummer.

Why am i rambling about this? Don’t know. Just wanted to keep you posted on the goings on here, I guess. As always, more to come, but please read Kristof’s piece below, if you haven’t already… Thanks Mr. Kristof!

[H]ow about sponsoring a rat? Specifically, an African giant pouched rat, about 30 inches long including tail. These are he-man rats, the kind that send cats fleeing. What’s more, we’re not talking about just any giant rat, but an educated one with the rodent equivalent of a Ph.D.

A Dutch company, Apopo, has trained these giant rats, which have poor sight but excellent noses, to detect landmines in Africa. The rats are too light to set off the mines, but they can explore a suspected minefield and point with their noses to buried mines. After many months of training, a rat can clear as much land in 20 minutes as a human can in two days.

In addition to earning their stripes as mine detectors, the giant rats are also trained in health work: detecting cases of tuberculosis. Possible TB sufferers provide samples of sputum, which are then handed over to the rats to sniff out. This detection process turns out to be much faster than your typical microscope examination. A technician with a microscope in Tanzania can screen about 40 samples a day, while one giant rat can screen the same amount in seven minutes.

What man wouldn’t pass up a necktie for the chance to be associated with an educated, supermacho giant rat? For just $36, you can buy a year’s supply of bananas to feed one of these rats. Or, for a gift more on the risqué side, $100 will buy a “love nest” for a breeding pair of rats.

– Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes.com

your friend in Woody Creek,

Anita Thompson


p.s. Yes, I need an editor to correct my typos and grammaticos. that too, soon come (smile).  

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