Want loyalty? Get a dog


Imagine there’s been a shake-up at your job and you’ve inherited a new boss.

Let’s say your job is one where you advise the boss on communication matters: everything from relationships with your consumer publics, to relationships with the mass media.

In the weeks since his hiring, your new boss schedules talks with all employees, one-on-one, and it turns out he expects a pledge of loyalty from each individual.

You sit down with your boss and the conversation goes something like this, with your boss asking:

Will you pledge your loyalty to me?

You think carefully about your response.

Your job requires you to be honest with your publics, your administration, and with those who put their trust in you.

You don’t want to upset your boss or lose your job, but you figure your job can’t exist without honest relationships.

So, instead, you reassure your boss that you will always be honest with him.

Your boss replies:

But I need your loyalty.

And you repeat your promise:

I will always be honest with you.

This week The New York Times ran a story that described a similar encounter between the US President and James Comey, then-head of the FBI. Continue reading

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Romeo sybylla

Photo by Romeo by Sybylla Lindert

Our pup, Romeo, would creep downstairs in the morning just before 5 a.m. and lay on our bed, waiting for breakfast.

He wasn’t allowed to sleep with us but we couldn’t prevent him from snuggling next to me while I was recovering from lung surgery a few months ago.

I spent a day or two in bed, sleeping, and Romeo appointed himself my guardian.

Although he wasn’t a cuddler, he would nudge his small frame right next to mine, listening to me breathe while my lungs mended.

When we walked in our neighborhood he would run into a fence post or curb from time to time, because he could hardly see, a result of greyhound aging.

He’d stumble, then yip, and carry on in search of a pee-worthy patch of grass.

Passersby wondered if I was dragging my poor pooch who could barely keep up with my stride.

We took him to the veterinarian when he began to shun his food and she figured that, with more than 15 years under his collar, Romeo was, like Hamlet, ready to shuffle off his mortal coil.

We took him home, where Romeo would take a drink from a glass of water I’d hold under his snout and nibble on a piece of bacon.

Mostly he slept.

His heart slowed ever so gently and his departure was full of grace.

I kept his toys and bedding in the house for days—then weeks—not ready to confront his absence.

I miss him most when I arrive home from work and when I rise before the sun.


Sincere thanks to Portland-based Compassionate Care, which offers in-home care for dying pets, and to our superlative veterinarian, Irvington Veterinary Clinic.

6 May 2017








Posted in american indian, death, dying | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

You can lead them to water…


But can you make them think?

I’m delighted speak to the folks at US Fish & Wildlife Service today (April 25, 2017) on the topic of science communication.

Truth is, I’m honored to be invited.

Most people’s eyes glaze over when they learn that I teach, study and talk about…science.

So it’s a real treat to speak with folks who have already tasted the Kool-Aid.

I’ve learned that, in order to engage someone’s attention, I need to trick them by camouflaging science.

I know that sounds weird, and you may be thinking:

My expertise is science, and you’re telling me not to talk about science?

I hope this isn’t an awful betrayal, so let me give you five lessons that you may find useful when approaching audiences about the scientific side of life.

Lesson 1. We often misunderstand what someone else is asking and sometimes we hear what we want to hear.

Lesson 2. When we contrast scientific views against anti-scientific views, we have nowhere to go: the conversation reaches a dead-end.

Lesson 3. Sometimes it’s not about science.

Lesson 4. We all suffer from cognitive bias and we don’t see the full picture when we make decisions.

Lesson 5. Tell a story.

Today I will flesh in the details of the lessons at the keynote talk.


Stay tuned.

24 April 2017




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Muggles for Science

march for science

Portland’s March for Science (Photo by C Coleman Emery)

Why we need politicians who are vigilant

We took to the streets Saturday (April 21, 2017) to join the March for Science.

Thousands met in downtown Portland at the waterfront to hear speakers try to raise our emotions about science before our orderly walk began through four usually-busy-streets now safely cordoned from traffic and free of onlookers.

The light rain in the early hours yielded to bursts of sunshine, revealing a range of signs carried by marchers: some hand-written and messy, and others professionally printed on shiny placards.

One group sported a school of salmon executed with mesh, fabric, paint and carved Styrofoam.

The three-foot fishes swam above the crowd, hoisted on backpack frames sported by the puppeteers.

Their message: Keep salmon safe

Other messages read:

Science not silence

Fund the EPA

Got polio? Me neither. Thanks, science

Some slogans were political and hammered at poor decisions fraught with opinion rather than fact. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Climate change, communication, salmon, science, science communication, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pets for Supper?


Ready-to-eat grasshoppers in Bangkok

Feasting on Bugs, Bunnies & Dogs

Some folks dine on dog-meat.

In Indonesia, raising dogs (and cats) is practical, according to a recent New York Times article.

Dogs and cats “require far less space and feed resources than growing cows,” says a researcher in the article.

The story gave me pause as I recently returned from a trip to Asia.

I’m pretty sure I avoided dog and cat meat during my visit, but I found plentiful fried insects in the Chinatown section of Bangkok.

Eating insects, dogs, pigs, cows, rabbits—the practice shouldn’t seem odd to travelers of the world.

When I visited China several years ago our youthful tour guide was keen on the prospect of capitalism, and described himself as an entrepreneur.

He explained that he was going to start a new venture, raising dogs for food, and I asked him what type of dogs.

Without a trace of irony, he replied, “Chow dogs.”

My Lakota relatives face jokesters because of their custom of eating dogs. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Bangkok, Francis Parkman, Lakota, writing | 2 Comments

When Honor Meets Disrespect

blog pic

Cultural Mores & Travel

I gasped when I spotted a bloke on the river boat in Thailand.

His baggy sleeveless top–sometimes called a muscle shirt–revealed a black-inked Buddha covering the whole expanse of the left side of his front torso, from shoulder to his (I think) hip.

He was youngish Anglo-man–maybe late twenties or early thirties–from an indeterminate country: US? France? England? Australia? Germany?

My surprise arose because Buddhist countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma and others, consider wearing of the Buddha–on clothing or bodies–disrespectful.

Of the highest order.

Buddhist temples in Bangkok, for example, display signs that warn about body tattoos,  bare shoulders, uncovered legs, shoes, hats, and poor behavior, such as climbing on statues. 

At the most popular temples, workers will hand you a cotton robe to cover your body if your clothing is indiscreet.  Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, Bangkok, family values, immigration, Indian, native press, Native Science, nativescience, Vacation, writing, zen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Krabi is a mecca for tourists from all over: we’ve heard Dutch and German, Japanese and Mandarin, French and Slavic, and British-Canadian-Australian English.

Thailand’s beach communities feel like similar world hot-spots: Miami in Florida and Antalya in Turkey.

Vendors bark their wares: cold drinks and massages in the markets, and, on the sea side, long-tailed boats sell coconut water, coca-cola and smoothies.

People of all girths and tattoos parade on the beach: grandmas in bikinis and children with ballooned swim-fins.

We slather on 50-plus sun block and, from time to time, sympathize with the pink-hued sunburned newcomers. 

Some of the women sport belly-button art and others are adorned with false eyelashes.

You can tell the long-timers by their bronzed skin, but we found suntans don’t necessarily make you more attractive, just more chargrilled.

We discover fruits galore to munch: pineapples, papaya, mango, dragon fruit, apples, oranges and bananas.

Fish is ubiquitous: more shrimp than we’ve ever eaten, and sea bass, sea snakes and squid. 

So meals are a combination of noodles and rice with seafood, chicken or pork.

But even the Thai beaches can’t get away from hamburgers and pizza.

Our hotel staff folk are sweet and kind, unlike the beach-staff who face rude foreigners daily.

In contrast, our getaway–the farthest from the beach yet only a 15-minute walk–is peaceful and bucolic, perhaps because wine at dinner is the only alcohol sold.

But plentiful bars dot the landscape, encouraging folks to par-tay

Hip-hop and reggae tunes entice the land-lubbers, who can take advantage of Happy Hour starting at 2 p.m.

Tucked under our mosquito net, we rise at 6 a.m. when birds begin their arias and the long-tailed boats rev their engines. 

We sit on the deck with hot drinks and watch the sun rise from the sea while the boats cut through the waves, making a picture-perfect postcard. 
19 March 2017

Krabi, Thailand




Posted in american indian | 2 Comments