Wednesday, May 31, 2006

By the lake in Killarney

After the last two days, I wanted to minimise the amount of driving, so decided to just have a day around Killarney and the lakes. Spent a couple of hours at an internet cafe uploading the last two blogs, dealing with email and looking for pet-friendly accommodation around Dublin. Grabbed coffee and a sandwich and then hunted down one of the two benches in Killarney town centre - the other had been commandeered by a large family, each member of which was slack-jawedly working their way through a shovelful of potato chips.

The weather had been a bit iffy all morning, but I wanted to just sit by a lake, finish my book and give Bondi a wash. Malamutes don't have a natural odour, but after a few days of dipping into saltwater he had a distinct marine air.

On the way to the lakes, we stopped at Torc waterfall, which has an easily accessible lower section and then a steep half kilometre hike or thereabouts up past some wonderful lake panoramas before rejoining the the falls.

The rest of the afternoon was spent by the side of a lake. I had a bit of a struggle getting Bondi into the water for a proper rinse out. He was happy enough going in to wade and scoop water but he doesn't like cold water baths. After he'd settled down on some rocks to dry and sulk, I discovered that he still had shampoo on the top of his head, so emptied a bucket of water over it. Double sulks for the next hour.

Meanwhile, on the next rock over, I finished reading "Animals in Translation". Temple Grandin touches on some recent Australian work on co-evolution of man and dog. Evidence from several sources suggests that man & wolf may have started working together around the time of Homo erectus, much earlier than hitherto suspected. These early humans learnt wolf social skills and the pairing of the two species conferred an advantage over contemperaneous Neanderthals. An additional point made is that domestication reduces the brain-size of species since certain survival skills are forgone. After the time at which man and wolf/dog got together, the brain-size of humans reduced by about 10%, in particular the areas related to certain sensory perceptions, begging for treats and chasing cars. Interesting stuff if it's true.

There's also a great little section on music & language skills, particularly in relation to birds. The book is definitely one of the best things I've read recently. I commend it to anyone interested in cognition, language or animals.

We got back into the town about 7 and settled down outside the Lir Cafe (which does REAL coffee). I chatted a while with the head porter from the hotel next door about our travels and plans for the area over the week. He said that David Lean's film "Ryan's Daughter" had been filmed in one part of the Dingle peninsula - which I'll be exploring in a couple of days.

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