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Filed in:Noteworthy

Alex the Parrot

October 9th, 2007  · stk

Alex died a month ago. NO! Not our Alex ... an African Grey Parrot. NO! Not just any parrot. A very special bird that could THINK! See the video proof. Amazing.

Alex the African Grey Parrot Dies at Thirty One

A month ago, on September 6th, Alex, an African Grey parrot, died. It was surprising - because African Grey parrots generally have a lifespan of 50 to 60 years in captivity. It was devastating - because Alex wasn't your normal, run-of-the-mill African Grey parrot. Alex was special - he demonstrated he could THINK.

Purchased by Dr. Irene Pepperberg in 1976 at 13 months of age, Alex (short for "Avian Language EXperiment") became part of a scientific team. For the past 30 years, Alex has been the focus of research into the cognitive abilities of African Grey parrots. The goal was to see if Alex could "think".

The hypothesis was simple. Humans have developed complex brains and language, partly because they live complex social groups. Primates, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, who also live in complex social groups, are generally thought to be the only non-human animals having brains with the ability to perform complex tasks. If "thinking" and language are tied to animals living in complex social groups, then perhaps parrots, which are much further removed from humans on the evolutionary chain, have the ability to think and communicate? (On the plus side, they can mimic human speech!)

The results from the experiments with Alex were both amazing and controversial, partly because it challenged the notion of human-centric intelligence. Regardless, I invite you to read on and see what Alex had accomplished. Some claim it's simply a very adroit form of mimicry, while others believe that Alex could actually think. Watch the videos on the next page and do some thinking of your own. Was Alex actually thinking? They might even challenge you to change how you view mankind's place in the world. ;)

alex african grey pepperberg alex african grey parrot pepperberg

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Updated: 11-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 40060 viewsLast Web Update: 11-Oct-2007

Four Chicks for City Slicks

October 7th, 2007  · stk

The Kimler's add four fuzzy new members to their growing country clan. Read about the four baby (five-day-old) chicks that are living in a cardboard box, in the dining room

Four Fluffy New Chicks Arrive at the Hutton House

Things came in fours this week. Maybe it's because Alex turned four and we're sensitive to the number? It shouldn't have been a surprise that we were given, not half-a-dozen, not two ... but FOUR, four-day-old chicks, by our neighbors.

(Actually, I'm making up the 'four-day-old' part. I have no idea HOW old these chicks are. They could be 8 days old, for all we know about chickens). We're city-slickers, not chicken ranchers!

All that changed, yesterday, when we carted home four fuzzy (loudly chirping) chicks, in a cardboard box. Even our kitty is from the city. He barely glanced up from his favorite napping spot, when the brood of chicks arrived. We held one to his nose and he was more interested in the hand, than what was in the hand.

"Is that hand, holding that fuzzy thing, going to pet me?" he probably thought to himself.

For more pics of fuzzy chicks ... carry on.

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Updated: 7-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 28437 viewsLast Web Update: 7-Oct-2007
Filed in:Alexandra

"The Oop" Turns Four

October 5th, 2007  · stk

Our little girl celebrated her 4th birthday, on Wednesday. According to her, she's now a "big girl". Read about her birthday celebration. (Oh yeah, and see the great birthday cake Scott made!)

A Low-Key Family Birthday Celebration!

On Wednesday, Alex had her fourth birthday. Rachel and I were a little apprehensive about the event, because Alex kept asking the same question, in the day's preceeding her birthday:

"Is [so-and-so] coming to my birthday party?"

Besides the fact that Alex's birthday was mid-week and all of her school-age friends would be away, we weren't planning a party for Alex. She seemed so intent on a party that we began to feel guilty and were worried that her birthday, instead of being fun, would be a big disappointment.

We needn't have worried. If there's one thing about the Oop - she takes it as it comes! Her family-only birthday was a huge success and she was so tuckered out from all her excitement that she even went to bed an hour earlier than normal, at 7 PM, instead of 8 PM.

Our little girl is FOUR! What's next, University? Geez! :roll:

Continue on to read about the Oop celebration.


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Updated: 5-Oct-2007
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Loonie Takes Flight

September 21st, 2007  · stk

For the first time in 31 years, the Canadian Loonie opened today, on par against the U.S. dollar. The Loonie has gained 17% in value this year! Find out why and what it means for both Canadians and Americans.

Canadian Dollar at Par with a U.S. Buck

For the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar opened today's trading valued on par with the United States dollar. One Canadian dollar is equivalent to one U.S. dollar.


The Canadian dollar has been soaring against the U.S. dollar in recent years and more dramatically so, in recent months. A decline in the U.S. currency is cited as the main reason for the recent and dramatic rise of the loonie's value.

The loonie has steadily gained ground against the U.S. dollar, starting from its all-time low of $0.62, which it hit in early 2002.

For more about the flight of the loonie ... read on.

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Updated: 27-Jan-2008
Web View Count: 104135 viewsLast Web Update: 27-Jan-2008
Filed in:Book Reviews

Can You Keep A Secret?

September 20th, 2007  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "Can You Keep a Secret?", a novel written by Sophie Kinsella.

(Fiction)Review of "Can You Keep A Secret?" a novel by Sophie Kinsella

Emma Corrigan of Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep a Secret?" has lots of secrets. Some are big, some are small, some are more private thoughts censored from selected people, and some are absolute whoppers that nobody should know. But, in a state of panic, thinking that she is going to die as her plane violently plummets and jerks in turbulence, Emma reveals her secrets, big and small, to the man sitting in the seat next to her. " at work is the most disgusting stuff you've ever drunk, absolute poison"; "... [I] put 'Maths GCSE grade A on my CV, when I really got a C "; "... took me to all these jazz concerts and I pretended to enjoy them to be polite, so now he thinks I love jazz ...".

Fifty minutes later, when the plane is safely landed on the tarmac, Emma has revealed all her secrets about her colleagues, family, friends, love-life and dreams. While she is embarrassed that she has been blabbering nonstop about her knickers, G-spot and such, the following Monday she is mortified when she is confronted by the stranger from the plane: Jack Harper, the CEO and multi-millionaire of the company for which she works. As Jack spends the week working out of the office, Emma's disclosed secrets resurface into an assortment of awkward predicaments, as he has an excellent memory for the details.

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Updated: 20-Sep-2007
Web View Count: 17636 viewsLast Web Update: 20-Sep-2007