A Dog named Dally

Our street, it seems, every one has a dog, which says much about what great neighbors we have. And sometimes the chorus becomes hysterical— a gathering crescendo of barking started by one — the Metallica equivalent of a canine concert.  Then adding to the biophony, their care givers open their back doors and the barks begin to wane under the whistling, clapping of hands or a holler from humans.  I’m not sure which is more amusing.  

Often I am asked if I have a dog?  My answer is — I love dogs, yes but no. sort of…..

May I present to you, “Dally” my dog. Dally the Dalmatian (Steiff) is responsible for my second, long term, memory at the age of two, I can still see myself, holding my mother’s hand and walking up the steps to FAO Schwarz in NYC, my French mother in a white hat and sunglasses, a Polka Dot dress and a throw coat over her shoulders. Me… I was in an itchy wool brown outfit, “bumpy1” socks in brown shoes but I didn’t care. It was my birthday and I was going to FAO Schwarz! Once inside, my mother let go of my hand and followed me trough the stands of towering stuffed horses and giant teddy bears while battery-powered kid driven Stutz Bearcats meandered the isles under the displays that reached to the ceiling. I was oblivious to all that and zeroed in on Dally the Dalmatian (by Steiff). There was something about the tilt of Dally’s head, the wagging mouth and the texture of his fur. That was all I saw that day, somehow knowing Dally would follow me throughout life. Dally is still with me and a little worn for wear, but aren’t we all. Friendship is forever.

I joke with my wife that if the house were to ever catch fire, I promised her I would make sure she was safely outside, first, but after that I was going back in for Dally and my titanium crypto pass phrase hardware wallet, in that order.

1Bumpy: I would drive my mother crazy after she manhandled me into that brown itchy wool outfit and socks, then wedging my feet into the stiff leather brown shoes and tying the laces as if to batten down the hatches before a storm she would look me over from head to tow, satisfied of her work. But her smile would not last very long as I proceeded to tell her that my socks were bumpy. With an exhale of,”Mais Mon Dieu!” under her breath (My first long term memory) she would untie my laces, slip off the shoes, smooth out my socks and repeat. Whenever my wife sees me shifting around in a suit these days she asks if my socks are bumpy? But I know she has no intention of untying my shoes.

FOREST 404

Biophony [bi oph ony] : A term coined by Dr. Bernie Krause, referring to the collective sound in Ecology of vocalizing species (sans humans). A good example would be the different species of insects, frogs, birds, monkeys, etc., in a rain forest, vocalizing at one time, but not talking over each other.

I was reading a post on LinkedIn by Elsa Sotiriadis, PhD (*BioFuturist*) about a BBC Podcast/Sounds/Experiment called, Forest 404, which is an eco-thriller starring Pearl Mackie with theme music by Bonobo.

I find the title quite clever, being that 404 refers to the HTTP error code: “Not Found” (therefore, Forest Not Found). The story takes place well into the future, where a young girl (Pan) has a vocation of sifting through sound bytes of the past (aka, the slow times) and must decide what to delete and what to keep (hint: they are rewarded for deleting and Pan is quite good at freeing up terabytes of space.).  She comes across a SoundScape of a rainforest; now extinct in the fast times, and becomes curious about the origin of these sounds. But curious is not what those in charge want.

To get started, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/forest (I recommend registering an account and logging in before you start listening).  It took me a bit to figure out what was going on and what to listen to in what order. I will save you this. Start with EP0.

  • All Episodes begin with Ep*
  • All accompanied talks begin with T*
  • All accompanied SoundScapes begin with S*

Each episode has an associated talk and SoundScape.  For example, Ep1 (episode 1) has an associated talk (T1) as well as an associated SoundScape (S1).  There are nine episodes in all. The episodes are the actual eco-thriller.  The talks are like a mini TED talks about the sounds explained through experts in their field (do not skip these), and finally, the SoundScapes are just that, the pure sounds of the episode (insight enhanced after the talks).

Each episode is about twenty minutes in length and the talks and SoundScapes range from four to eight minutes.  Take on one episode set per night (E, T & S), before bed, and I highly suggest the use of headphones, ear buds, etc. to get the full impact of how beautiful this truly is.

This entire production is an experiment to educate the listener and receive feedback to see if the needle has moved toward the understanding of Ecology (the slow times) and how good humanity (the fast times) is at interrupting the natural order of Ecology.  There is a survey you can take to add in your data set to this project. I would recommend you listen to at least two episodes and their associated talks and SoundScapes before taking the survey.

I have studied Ecology at length; it made up the bulk of my learning toward my degree in Marine Sciences and remains a major influencer in how I look at life around me. The rewards of the concepts, knowledge and observation have been the focus of my writings in Science Fiction.

I hope you take the time to experience this project, but it will require you to step away from the fast times.  This production is a beautiful blend of science, art, and the eco-responsibility of us all.