Saturday, February 23, 2008

Make a Fresh Start

On February 7th the Chinese celebrate the start of a brand new year in it's traditional cycle, the Year of the Rat.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2008 is a Year of the Rat (Earth), which begins on February 7, 2008 and ends on January 25, 2009. First in the cycle of 12 Animal Signs, Rat Year begins the sequence and recurs every twelfth year. It is a time of renewal in so many ways. From New Year to Valentine's Day, to the arrival of spring, may all the blessings and delights of the New Year be yours!
A Rat Year is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal. This is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start. Ventures begun now may not yield fast returns, but opportunities will come for people who are well prepared and resourceful. The best way for you to succeed is to be patient, let things develop slowly, and make the most of every opening you can find. People born in an Earth Rat are said to be logical realists, shrewd, charming, ambitious, and inventive.

I have always thought them interesting animals-after all my first personal pet was a mouse!
Laughter in Rats
It was discovered that rats emit short, high frequency, ultrasonic, socially induced vocalization during rough and tumble play, and when tickled. The vocalization is described as a distinct "chirping." Humans cannot hear the "chirping" without special equipment. It was also discovered that, like humans, rats have "tickle skin": certain areas of the body that generate more laughter response than other areas. The laughter is associated with positive emotional feelings, and social bonding occurs with the human tickler, resulting in the rats becoming conditioned to seek the tickling. Additional responses to the tickling included: those that laughed the most also played the most, and those that laughed the most preferred to spend more time with other laughing rats. This suggests a social preference to other rats exhibiting similar responses. However, as the rats age, there does appear to be a decline in the tendency to laugh and in the response to tickle skin. The initial goal of Jaak Panksepp and Jeff Burgdorf’s research was to track the biological origins of joyful and social processes of the brain by comparing rats and their relationship to the joy and laughter commonly experienced by children in social play. Although the research was unable to prove rats have a sense of humor, it did indicate rats can laugh and express joy. Panksepp & Burgdorf 2003 Chirping by rats is also reported in additional studies by Brian Knutson of the National Institutes of Health. Rats chirp when wrestling one another, and before receiving morphine or having sex. The sound has been interpreted as an expectation of something rewarding. Science News 2001
Talk to you soon fellow ratties!

No comments: