February 24, 2020 Off

Internet Child Safety Software Options

By Tammy Schneider

Increased access to the internet and social media presents countless opportunities every day for your child to be exposed to mature content, bullying, or inappropriate interaction with others. While threats abound, there are also tools available to help you monitor online activity and block harmful content.

Responsible parents set boundaries, and it's important that safe internet and social media usage behaviors are reinforced early and consistently. These programs and software help you do that.

Parental Controls on Browser Settings

Firefox: Download the FoxFilter add-on , and then adjust your settings under Options. In the sensitivity settings, check off screens for URL address, title, meta content, and body content. After adding keyword filters and sensitivity, navigate over to Settings. In the dropdown menu, select Privacy, and disable website tracking

Internet Explorer: Navigate to Tools/Internet Options/Content and open up Parental Controls. Here, you can set time restrictions so your child isn't using the computer when you're not able to monitor it. There's an extensive content advisor for different categories and slider bars, allowing you to screen which sites get through. Choose which sites and apps are allowable by navigating to the Games section under Windows.

Google Chrome: Chrome doesn't offer any parental controls, but you can download third-party apps in the Chrome store, but you're better off using a different default browser for your child's internet use.

Microsoft Family Safety

While it requires Windows 8+, the Microsoft Family Safety download settings allow parents to monitor and set limits on the time their child spends online, which games, apps and pages they visit, and screen and block specific pages. While Windows 7 includes some parental settings, the Family Safety program provides an extra layer of protection and screening on internet use.

Net Nanny

This paid program offers all of the options available on the free Microsoft Family Safety download,plus SNS message monitoring. Net Nanny settings can screen for chat rooms, blogs, and other social media (including Facebook). Available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android, Net Nanny monitors both home computing and mobile devices. Set screens to block, mask, warn or hide questionable content on web pages and even instant messenger services. One neat feature is the Profanity Mask, which allows you to access pages that have profanity on them without blocking the page entirely. It simply provides a screen for the inappropriate language, an especially handy tool for use on those awful comment sections.

Make sure your child understands the boundaries you set, and don't be afraid to enforce limitations on internet access and use. Even if your own child is responsible and abides by your limits, there's no controlling what others may say and do. When you can't be there to make sure your child is safe, provide an extra level of security.

 …

February 21, 2020 Off

10 Health Risks Men in Their 40s Should Know About

By Tammy Schneider

As a man gets older his body changes. During his 40s certain health risks increase. Changing lifestyle, eating habits and having regular doctor visits can help prevent some health problems before they develop.

  1.  Hypertension
    It's not uncommon for men to have high blood pressure during their 40s. Lifestyle factors that influence blood pressure are obesity, smoking, diet and more. In many cases, it can be treated with medication as well as changes in diet and exercise.
  2.  Erectile Dysfunction
    This is common among men in their 40s. The reasons for it could be anything from stress and depression to disease. Successful treatments are medication and lifestyle changes. This could include quitting smoking, better diet and decreasing stress.
  3.  Heart Disease
    According to the National Institutes of Health, the chance of a man developing heart disease increases once they reach their 40s. In many cases, it can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications.
  4.  Skin Cancer
    Men in their 40s have double the chance of women for developing skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 60 percent of melanoma cases are men. They should spend less time in the sun and use a good sun screen. Regular dermatologist exams can also help lower the risk.
  5.  Depression
    Men in their 40s don't seem to understand how depression can impact their lives. They ignore the warning signs. Depression can be successfully treated with counseling and proper medication.
  6.  Prostate Cancer
    Many men will experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate in their 40s. It is the second most common cancer among men. Regular prostate screenings are essential. There are medications and surgical procedures that can treat this condition.
  7.  Social Isolation
    Many man in their 40s spend too much time avoiding social situations. This can increase risks of depression and dementia. It's important for men at this age to avoid too much social isolation. They need to have more in-person interactions.
  8.  Arthritis
    There are different kinds of arthritis. It can begin to show up with men in their 40s. There is no cure, but focusing on diet with appropriate amounts of calcium is important. Keeping proper weight is also essential.
  9.  Presbyopia
    A man's eyes lose their strength during his 40s. The ability to see close objects diminishes. It could also be a sign of other problems. Getting glasses or adjusting a prescription should fix it.
  10.  Peptic Ulcers
    This condition is increasing among men in their 40s. Depending on the stage, a peptic ulcer can cause gas, vomiting, bloating and more. It can be treated with medication as well as a change in diet.
February 20, 2020 Off

Boomers, Computers and Progress

By Tammy Schneider

My first job was at McDonalds when I was 15 years old. We had no computers or cash registers. We were armed with a pencil and an order pad with a cash drawer under the counter. We wrote out the order and the amounts, then calculated the total with the sales tax. Yes, without a calculator or a computer we could add, subtract, and multiply. Good thing we had to memorize all of those “multiplication tables!”

We also did the impossible, we counted back the change! The kids that work at McDonalds now don’t need any of this. They look at the picture on the keys and the computerized register does all of the work. They don’t even need to read, just know what each item looks like. The computer even counts the change! Have you ever handed the cashier a penny after he/she has entered the cash tendered amount? If you have, then you have probably noticed the confused dazed look of fright that comes over the cashier. You have also most likely had to tell them how much change to give you.

Remember how exciting it was when VCRs came out and we no longer needed to miss those movies or shows we wanted to see? Remember the flashing light on the front that the instruction manual failed to clearly tell us how to correct? Most of us were so threatened by new technology that we enlisted our teenagers to resolve those flashing light issues. Isn’t it amazing how quickly they were able to just instinctively know how to handle the things that stumped us!

Speaking of finding information, remember those encyclopedias that took up half the room? When we didn’t know the answer to something, we looked it up in books or asked our parents and grandparents. Even during our adolescent rebellions when we knew our parents were clueless, they sometimes had answers we could accept. Now every piece of information known to man is at our fingertips on the internet. Our entire problem solving process transitioned to computers and all but eliminated jobs for those encyclopedia sales people. Have we kept up? When you have a question or need information is the computer the first thing you think of? Chances are if you are a “boomer” it isn’t, we still tend to go to the familiar books first.

I even remember that we watched television without a remote control. We had to get up, walk to the TV, and actually turn the knob to change the channel or volume. Can you believe that? I still don’t know what all of those remote buttons do. Think of all of the things that we have once depended upon and later watched them become extinct. Things like carbon paper for example were once a staple item and now have very little value or usefulness.

I remember back in the early 1990s when the typewriter on my desk was replaced with a computer. I was warned that our company was going to start issuing computers to everyone and then it happened. I came in the next morning and stared at that big monstrosity and trembled as I thought about pushing the on button. What if I pushed the wrong button and it exploded on my desk! I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and then I did the un-thinkable, I joined the tech savvy crowd and turned on my first computer. That was easy enough but what was I supposed to do next? I had no idea how to even type up a memo or send an email. I didn’t even know how to use the “help” feature. I was in luck though because I had a teenager at home! She had already solved the VCR issues so I knew what I needed to do.

I went to the store and bought a computer. My daughter came to my rescue and hooked it all up for me and then started teaching me how to use it. It was actually a good bonding time and fed her beliefs that she knew more than I did. Little by little she helped me learn to use my computer and now I can’t imagine working without one. I don’t know how we managed. In workplaces today, there are untold numbers of people that use the computer 100% of their day. We don’t even need filing cabinets any longer! When a storm knocks out the power, there is nothing to do except maybe dust our keyboards.

My 30 year old daughter helps individuals with computer issues as a side job. She is still amazed at how many of us are so threatened and/or clueless about computers. I still find myself going to her for answers impulsively rather than just using google. I thought the process of finding answers to questions was more difficult than it actually is. Then I watched her open google and then type in “how do you get red Kool-aid out of carpet?” She had the answer in seconds. I would have likely tried something like “carpet care” and had to wade through pages and pages of search results.

Recently I received an email from another boomer friend warning of a deadly computer virus that would wipe out our hard drives and send the same virus to everyone in our address book. Being the good friend that I am I sent the warning to everyone I know, including my computer geek daughter. I was fearful that I would lose tremendous amounts of information that I have stored on my computer. Immediately my geek kid sent me a response informing that the virus warning was an old hoax and that there was nothing to fear. She attached a link to a website that can help us discern what is truth or fiction. The website is 1)www.truthorfiction.com. Imagine that, we can even discern truth or fiction by going on-line. This is yet another example of how I think like a boomer instead of a technologically evolved person. This was also another opportunity for my daughter to laugh at how “old” I am.

I of course explained to her that we boomers are just fearful of all things computer that we don’t fully understand. Although it is no longer terrifying to turn on my pc and I have learned how to use the “help” function and the wonderful “undo” button, I am still easily rattled when I get these “a virus is coming” emails or need to do something new. I know of CEOs that still don’t have computers at their desks. They are not keeping up with the times as much as they think they are. According to the article 2) “Diagnosis: Internet Phobia” in the April 25, 2005 issue of Newsweek on page 74 Nadine Joseph and Brad Stone reported that “fewer than 31% of seniors older than 65 have ventured online, compared with more than two thirds of the younger baby boomers, 50 to 64. Of seniors older than 65 whose annual household income is less than $20,000 a year, an even slighter 15% have gone online.” According to the website 3)www.clickz.com 63% of boomers aged 55 – 64 have computers in their homes and of those over 65 years old only 34% do. These statistics taken from the 2005 US Census Bureau also report that 62% of all households have computers. I imagine future statistics will show the numbers are still growing in boomer households. Progress is “booming” and boomers need to embrace it!

Sources:
1) www.truthorfiction.com
2) Diagnosis: Internet Phobia in the April 25, 2005 issue of Newsweek on page 74 written by Nadine Joseph and Brad Stone
3) www.clickz.com…

January 31, 2020 Off

UTC – Internet and World Wide Web Time System: UTC has Replaced GMT as the Universal Time Standard

By Tammy Schneider

UTC – Internet and World Wide Web Time System: UTC has Replaced GMT as the Universal Time Standard

Many people around the world wonder when the “Message Detail” of their email shows the time in UTC, and not in GMT. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is widely considered as the international time system, but “UTC” is still largely unclear in the minds of many, and causes confusion.

In a casual sense, UTC and GMT are not different from each other. Therefore, a casual observer may assume “GMT” wherever “UTC” time is mentioned. But it may help to understand UTC more precisely because in technical terms, UTC has already replaced GMT as a standard time system. In fact, UTC replaced GMT as the basis of the primary reference time scale in most time zones way back in 1972. In the United States, UTC has been adopted as legal time in the Title 15 of the U.S. Code.

In technical terms, UTC is more advanced than GMT because it takes into account the gradual slowdown in the rotational speed of earth. UTC or “Coordinated Universal Time” is based on International Atomic Time. The technical difference between UTC and GMT may not be more than a small fraction of a second. Therefore, to a casual user it does not make a real difference. But in a technical context, where very high precision timings are required, UTC is the preferred alternative.

Internet and the World Wide Web

Most Internet and World Wide Web standards use the UTC time system. The Network Time Protocol that synchronizes the computer clocks over the Internet with that of the atomic clock makes use of UTC.

International Broadcasters

International Broadcasters, such as the BBC World Service, or even the amateur radio bands make use of UTC when they have to declare their broadcast timings and schedules.

 

Aviation

Aviation industry also clocks its timings in UTC. It is used for making weather forecasts, preparing flight plans, managing air traffic control clearances, and maps. UTC helps to eliminate confusion about time zones and Daylight Saving Time.

Military and Space Systems

Advanced military and space systems also use UTC for their time and date records. For defence equipment and communications equipment that requires very high degree of timings precision, UTC is the timing system of choice.

UTC makes use of high precision atomic clocks, shortwave time signals, and satellites to maintain its stringent levels of accuracy for a variety of scientific, navigational and communication purposes. That makes it the most advanced and dependable time system in the world today from a scientific perspective.…

January 9, 2020 Off

Flemish Horses & Cydesdales: Flemish Draft Horses are the Forebears of Shire Horses

By Tammy Schneider

Bred initially as the heavy horses of Medieval knights, Flemish draft horses are large and strong, but capable of some degree of agility and grace as well. There is a little Arabian blood in the Flemish draft horse, but is a mostly cold blooded breed native to Northern Europe. Large boned powerful horses have been known to be native to Northern Europe since the time of Caesar. Belgian draft horses are a related later breed, but the Flemish breed was the peak of Medieval military breeding, also commonly referred to as the “Great Horse.” They were highly prized in the 15th Century, and were known for their black color. At the height of chivalry and jousting English Kings were known to have a preference for Black Flemish Great Horses, and they imported them in large enough numbers that they became the basis for The British “Shire” draft horse breed. When crossbows and gunpowder combined to make the armored knight obsolete these large strong impressive animals were put to work pulling wagons and ploughs.

In the late 17th Century a Scottish nobleman in the Clyde Valley imported new Flemish stock, and bred them with Shires and other local stock to produce the distinctive Clydesdale breed. The combination of these horses produced two great stallions the offspring of which were then interbred to cement this distinctive breed. Like many of their predecessors Clydesdales are known for their amiability and willingness to work. Scottish Clydesdales were of a variety of colors and included dapples and other random colorings, but they all had the large hoof and the “feather” of hair above the hoof that the breed is so well known for.

The uniform color and four white “socks” and white facial blaze of the American Clydesdale is a later breeding preference, and is American in origin. Besides being an American ideal imposed on several breeds, this adaptation results also from their use as advertising promotional tools by several companies that had a preference for a uniform appearance in their teams. In the age of mechanization when they were no longer as highly prized for their horsepower Clydesdales survived and continued to be refined because of their grace, beauty, and style.

In many places draft horse breeds which had been in decline are now in resurgence, even the Clydesdale was listed as an “at risk” breed in the mid 20th century, but organic farming, and hobby breeding have given this and other breeds new life. Besides their days of military glory these breeds also hold an important place in transportation history as the pullers of heavy wagons, barges on canals, mine rail wagons, and numerous other tasks.…

December 9, 2019 Off

Four Tips for Hockey Defensemen to Improve Their Skills

By Tammy Schneider

Playing the position of hockey defenseman is a challenging task, but when you're good and solid, you'll always be an integral part of any team's success. Additionally, hockey defensemen are especially known, when they're good, for being captains of their teams and respected among all their fellow players. So how do you play the position effectively? What separates flimsy defense from solid defense? Simply put, the first and fundamental rule dictating the play of a hockey defenseman should always be, of course, don't allow goals.

Your number one role, it goes without saying, is to defend. So keep your head up, awareness is the hockey defenseman's most important attribute. Always watch the puck and what's happening in play.

Listen to your goalie. Your goalie will often see things you don't, and your goalie knows what he needs to succeed and knows what's not quite working. If your goalie thinks the opposing team is rushing a certain way, hear him out, and plug that hole.

Going hand in hand with listening to your goalie, another thing you have to do is protect your goalie. As a hockey defenseman, if the opposing team is crashing your goalie or getting in his face, it's your job to crash them, and get in their face. Be mindful of penalties obviously, you never want to be sent to the box when you're this crucial a part of your team, but protecting your goalie is vital. Get in the opposing team's forward's faces, always hassle them with stick checking and muscle them away from the net with your hips, keep your goalie's vision clear exactly this way.

Practice your passing. Oftentimes you'll gain possession of the puck after the opposing team takes a shot and your goalie deflects it. Your forwards will, then, be racing forward. If you can make the perfect touch pass in between opposing players and to your blitzing forward, it many times will result in a goal for your side. Learn to pass effectively, and when you're on a power play, or otherwise pressing into the other teams zone, and you've crept up past the other team's blue line, learn to pass effectively and you'll be the man always finding his forwards with the perfect one-timer right next to the opponent's goal.

Sources:

USA Hockey
Ice Hockey Helmet

 …

October 13, 2019 Off

Red Wolf Facts

By Tammy Schneider

Red wolves, canis rufus, are one of two species of wolves in the whole world with the other being the grey wolf. They are 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) in length and stand about 26 inches (66 centimeters) tall at the shoulders. They are more slender than their grey wolf relatives and weigh about 40 to 90 pounds (18 to 41 kilograms). They have large ears for the size of their head, which they use to cool down whenever it is hot and/or humid. Red wolves got their name because of the red fur found behind their ears as well as along their neck and legs.

Red Wolves are only found in North America, specifically North Carolina (United States). They live in dens that are usually located in stream banks, sand knolls and hollow trees. They are active during the night and will rest during the day. Red wolves will either hunt alone or in packs, which usually consists of a breeding adult pair and their offspring. They are able to communicate with one another through body posture, scent marking, vocalizations (which includes howling) and even facial expressions.

The diet of red wolves consists primarily of small mammals like hares, raccoons, birds, rats, and other rodents. They will also eat things like insects and berries should the opportunity present itself. When hunting in a pack, Red wolves have even been known to take down and eat a deer. They do this by carefully using the members of the pack to confuse and put the prey in a corner where they take the deer down.

Red Wolves begin to breed during the late winter months of February and March. Females have a gestation period of around 60 to 63 days. They give birth to anywhere from 1 to 10 pups. Red wolf pups are blind at birth and are nursed by the pack until they are able to hunt for themselves. When they get old enough, they will either remain with their parents or leave to start their own pack.

Not too long ago, red wolves were once labeled extinct in the wild with all known individuals (about 17) put in captivity to try and repopulate the species. Thankfully, such measures have been somewhat successful and in 1987, some individuals were reintroduced into the wild. As of 2007, there are more than 100 red wolves in the wild and around 207 captive ones in breeding facilities across the United States. The wild ones roam an area of more than 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina. Hopefully, continued effort can bring the red wolf back from the brink of extinction. After all, such a unique creature deserves to live for many years to come.

Works Cited

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf Facts" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010…

August 28, 2019 Off

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

By Tammy Schneider

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

Thankfully, The Killers are back. After the ambitious but awkward foray into experimentation and taking themselves too seriously that was Sam’s Town, Day & Age blasts like a rocket through its hazy leftovers into star-studded clarity and brilliance.

Maybe that was the intention, because there’s definitely a running metaphor itching to be described here. With track names like ‘Human’, ‘Spaceman’ and ‘The World We Live In’, this record swiftly announces that it’s here to self-observe humanity like a curious, rock music loving ET. It gives it a peculiar extra-terrestrial feel that allows it to soar to its pop synth melodic heights without falling foul of its self-conscious 80s roots.

And whats more, it’s fun. With wry, ridiculous peacock strutting bravado, silly glam trousers and heavily spangled arrangements, Brandon Flowers and Co are pure indie rock bling.

Pet Shop Boys, New Order and 80s Roots

‘Losing Touch’ sees Brandon’s lazy, wistful vocal harmonised over a moderately synthed arrangement with a repeatedly building percussive line, anthemic rock guitars and an injection of bold brass. The melody flicks between strains like a switch, nodding first to Pet Shop Boys 80s pop style origins, then to good old-fashioned rock. Like an overture, the atmosphere is set.

Next, lead single ‘Human’ takes the Pet Shop Boys and New Order influences, and runs with them, sailing straight past good grammar, but waving at Hunter S. Thompson (Are we human? / Or are we dancer? – supposedly a reference to Thompson’s comment that America was “raising a generation of dancers’), and finally arriving like a post-punk John Travolta on an emotional dancefloor.

 

The surreal ‘Spaceman’, about Flowers’ imagined abduction by aliens, has a mosh-pit-rousing chorus, heavily synthed with some vintage Killers guitars driving a rushing pace.

Bowie Funk and Swaggering Orchestra

‘Joyride’ is an interesting expedition into funk territory. Flowers’ tremulous Bowie-style vocals preside over a funkier rhythm spritzed with saxophone. Hell, there’s even a little bit of Abba in there, though there’s still a big synth + guitar Killers signature scrawled neatly and plausibly all over the track.

‘A Dustland Fairytale’ has an orchestral quality, with subtle strings and bold timpani complementing an unusual and swift percussive line. It has an arrogant swagger to it, beginning from a simple melody but growing into a thrashing epic where a white trash love story turns into castles in the clouds.

World Music Influences

And that’s where the band launches a global assault. ‘This is Your Life’ has a military style, snare drum beat introduced by an African inspired chant. Meanwhile, close your eyes on ‘I Can’t Stay’ and you can feel the vibes of a tropical island, complete with steel drums, coconuts and chicks/guys (delete as appropriate) in grass skirts. All these global influences are firmly grounded in the album through that classic Killers tone, and anchored by inspiring and melodic songwriting.

‘Neon Tiger’ starts as a belting 80s inspired power track, with lyrics that are almost as indie glam rock as Flowers himself. ‘The World We Live In’ meanwhile, sees a loop round back to vintage Killers.

Gothic Disappointment, Brave Ending and Sell Out Tour 2009

Is the album perfect? Well, no. Closing track ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ is dire, put simply. It’s pointlessly heavy, dull, droning and repetitive. It aims for a dark, moody, almost gothic vibe, which just makes you want to shake it until it begrudgingly returns blinking into the radiance of the rest of the album. Talk about ending on a bum note.

Good job then, that there’s an attitude filled, stomping bonus track to finish things off properly. ‘A Crippling Blow’ has a total melodic shift between its racing angry fire-fuelled verses and its sweetly playful chorus, giving the unnervingly brilliant sensation of musical manic depressiveness. It’s edgy, and brave. That’s more like it…

This album needs no further comment. It’s unusual, ambitious, and deserves a close encounter…

Day & Age has made it onto a number of 2008’s ‘best’ lists, ahead of the band’s eagerly awaited sell out UK tour in February 2009. The album is out now.…

August 6, 2019 Off

How to Create Horse Arts

By Tammy Schneider

Most children love horses. You can turn this fascination with horses into craft projects for the entire family. Children can learn how to make horse jewelry, stuffed animals or clothespin horses. Most of these crafts are inexpensive and easy to learn. Pick a project that is appropriate for your child’s age.

Horse Pin

Create horse pins by using the thin, colored foam or cork material available at most craft stores. Purchase either stencils or cookie cutters in the shape of horses. Try to get a variety with some showing galloping horses or horses in a jumping position. This will give your child more to choose from.

Purchase decorative items like sequins, buttons or jewels to glue onto the foam, along with a pin back. Using the stencils or the cookie cutter, allow your child to trace the image onto the foam. When done, cut out the horse. Let your child decorate her horse with markers or the decorative items. When she is finished, allow it to dry. Glue the pin back onto the foam.

Clothespin Horse

This craft is recommended for older children, preferably age 6 and up. Paint three clothespins. Two sections will be the legs so your child may want to add hooves to the feet. Let dry. Glue the two clothespins with the hooves sections on the bottom together so that the leg sections are pointed downward. Glue the other pin to the front of the horse’s body, so that it faces in the opposite direction of the other two pins. This will give it a little distinction from the rest of the body and make it look like ears.

Let dry. Add yarn as hair, wiggle eyes and felt for the nose. Your child can also add additional decorations if he wishes. Just a warning with this craft, the ears will be as long as the clothespin. Parents may want to cut down the size of the ears if they feel like they do not look right.

Horse Stuffed Animal

This project is recommended for older children since there will be sewing involved. Either buy a pattern or use a coloring book page as a guide. Lightly punch holes through the page until it creates a light marks on the material. Using a cloth marker or pen, connect the marks until they re-create the pattern. Cut out the pattern. You will have to do this twice to create either side of the horse.

Line up your pattern and use pins to hold it together. Either hand-sew or use a sewing machine to sew the two pieces together. Match up the pattern so that the sections correspond, i.e. ears to ears, hooves to hooves, etc. Whatever section will eventually become the outside will be on inside. Sew the material together, but leave one 4- to 5-inch side open. Flip the material inside out. Allow your child to decorate the outside of the horse with markers or jewels. Once done, stuff it with some filling cotton. Sew the rest of the horse together.…

August 5, 2019 Off

The Gray Wolf

By Tammy Schneider

The wolf. Canis lupis. Oftentimes the center of legends and myths as the 'big bad', wolves have gotten a bad rap, which they do not deserve at all. But no matter your opinion on the wolf, everyone has heard of them and many of us live with their descendents: the domesticated dog, the closest resemblance of which is shared between German shepherds and malamutes.

After being hunted nearly to extinction on false claims and completely inaccurate portrayals, the gray wolf is making a comeback in the Great Lakes area, the Northern Rockies and southwestern United States, to name a few places.

And let's not forget to mention that they have also survived the ice age. The wolf is a tough, intelligent predator that can be found all over the world.

General Description
The gray wolf is a large, highly intelligent carnivore (meaning that they are meat-eating predators) that lives in a pack society. They, contrary to their name, can come in many colors, including solid white, black, cinnamon, brown, gray and combinations of those. At the shoulder wolves generally range from 26-32 inches tall or .7-.8 meters, and from nose tip to the end of the tall, they average 4.5-6.5 feet or 1.4-2 meters. In terms of weight, most wolves fall somewhere between 55-130 pounds or 25-59 kilograms. In general, male wolves are bigger than the females in terms of weight and height.

But that doesn't mean they can't be larger than that. The biggest gray wolf ever recorded in North America weighed in at a 170 pounds or 79 kilograms and was killed in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939. The heaviest wolf recorded in Eurasia was killed in the Kobelyakski Area of the Poltavskij Region, Ukrainian SSR. It weighed 190 pounds or 86 kilograms.

The farther north a wolf pack is, the larger the members tend to be, and reversely so in the south (the farther south, the smaller), as is true of most animals.

Lifespan
In the wild, wolves typically live between eight and ten years of age. However, it is not unusual for wolves of around thirteen years of age to be seen in the wild.

In captivity, the oldest wolf lived to be seventeen years old.

Diet
Wolves are primarily carnivores, which means that they eat meat and are hunters. Although, they never pass up a free meal, making them scavengers. If another animal has died of sickness, old age, or for some other reason, a wolf won't hesitate to eat it.

Their usual diet consists generally of ungulates (animals with hooves), such as deer, elk, caribou, etc. These animals are hard to kill, however, and wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill, including beavers, squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, and even fish.

In the truest sense of labeling a wolf's diet, one should call them an omnivore, as most wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill or find. This includes vegetables and fruit, particularly berries.

Unlike some animals, wolves never cannibalize their own young; however, they have been known to eat adults of their species in harsh winters and times of starvation, generally those that have died or are too weak to live. It should be noted that should they eat a wolf, it is generally a wolf not belonging to their pack.

Wolves hunt in groups (their packs) and generally hunt cooperatively to bring down large animals, which are dangerous to the wolves. They have been known, however, to kill animals such as bull moose and elk in an one wolf hunt. This not the norm though.

Gray wolves rarely attack anything that they do not intend to eat, which is why there are so few incidences of wolf attacks on humans. However, wolves are wild animals and are known to attack out of fear or self-defense. They should never be treated as one would treat their pet dog.

Habitat
Gray wolves can survive in many different places as long as there is sufficient food and the climate is closer to cold than warm. An example of one of the habitats best suited to wolves is the Siberian Taiga, a boreal forest with long, (very) cold winters and shorter summers. It is located in Russia where wolves have the greatest numbers.

In addition to this, all wolf packs defend a territory, which varies greatly in size due to many factors. These include pack size, number of wolves in the area, the density of prey in the territory, etc.

Once common throughout North America, most were killed off in the mid-1930s, resulting in a much reduced range that includes: Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced to the United States, and Yellowstone National Park is now one of the most favored places to see a wolf in its natural, wild habitat.

Classification
All animals have a classification and wolves are no different. They are classified in the following way:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canida
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Canis
Species: lupus

And all that basically means that wolves are animals who also happen to have a spine, are warmblooded, eat meat, and are mammals of the canine family.

Gestation and Pups
A wolf reaches sexually maturity at the age of one for females (though they never mate in the wild until the age of two) and the age of two for males. Usually the alpha male and female are the mating pair.

Wolves mate once a year between the months of January and March. The female has a gestation (or is pregnant for) approximately 60-63 days. The average litter is around four to six pups, but it can be smaller or much larger, depending on how harsh the winter is and how available food is. Litters of up to seventeen pups have been recorded. These are rare.

Pups are born in a den and are completely reliant on their mother and their pack. They are born defenseless, deaf, and blind, and weigh about one pound. They stay in the den for about two months, leaving occasionally to play outside after about the first month, and the mother takes care of them. She is brought food by other members of the pack, usually the father. During this time, the puppies eyes change from the blue of pups to the golden yellow-brown color of an adult and they gain sight and hearing. Their eyesight begins to develop around nine to twelve days after birth. They begin the process of eating solid food about one month after birth.

Most of puppies growth occurs in the first fourth months. During this time they may grow up to thirty times their birth weight.

Wolves are monogamous, meaning that they mate for life. If one half of the pair dies, the wolf will find a new partner. They are not incestuous.

Older females will generally give birth in the den they gave birth to their last litter in while younger females will tend to make their dens near their own birthplace.

Behavior
Wolf behavior is so complex that it could take several articles just to explain. For brevity's sake, it can be condensed into the basics.

Wolves are very similar to dogs in their behavior. They live in pack structures (compare this to your family) headed up by the alpha male and female (mom and dad). It consists of their current litter, pups and younger members of previous litters (siblings), and other subordinates (grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) Depending on territory size and food availability, the pack size varies. A pack averagely consists of four to seven members, but packs of up to thirty-six animals have been recorded.

They develop intense bonds with each other and are very family-oriented. The entire family pitches in to feed and protect pups, and they are known to help provide for their elderly members who are unable to hunt as well as they used to.

After a kill, the alpha male and female eat first, and then the rest of the pack, depending on rank. They will eat the same kill until it is gone.

Wolves spend their entire lives working – and playing – together. This results in a tight-knit family who follows orders very effectively. Wolves enjoy such games as you might see your pets playing, including 'tag', 'fetch' and wrestling with one another, even as adults. As pups, this is an important part of growing up. It teaches coordination, strengthens the muscles, and helps them when they are old enough to hunt.

They are highly territorial, clearly marking their boundaries and challenging any trespassers. They are often very dangerous and aggressive toward members that are not part of their pack and other animals, such as bears or foxes, that encroach upon their kill or pups.

Communication
Wolves have a complex communication system comprised of many vocals and a lot of body language. While it is true that wolves howl, they do not howl at the moon; however, on a lighter night, they will howl more often, giving the impression of howling at the moon. They also bark, whine, whimper, growl, and make other vocal communications.

Body language is perhaps more communicative than their vocals. They use it to coordinate hunts, show affection, and to show respect, as well as communicate in general. A subordinate wolf will fold its ears back and tuck its tail in between its legs to show submission. They may even lay down and roll over, exposing their stomach to their alpha, whereas alphas carry their tail high and keep their ears up to show their dominance.

An aggressive wolf will also have its tail raised and its fur standing on end to make it look bigger than it is with its teeth bared.

A wolf that wants to play will act just like your dog when it wants to play: by thumping its front paws on the ground and wriggling its rump in the air, bouncing around you excitedly.

Wolf communications can be very much so correlated to that of the domesticated dog.

Domestication
Wolves have been domesticated. They are called dogs now. Or canis lupus familiaris.

The dog was domesticated 15,000 years ago, though some studies suggest that they branched away from wolves even sooner than that.

Domesticated wolves, unlike dogs, respond much better to hand signals and positive reinforcement rather than voice commands and the threat of punishment if they misbehave.

Status as a Species
Wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout the United States, excluding Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. In Minnesota, they are only listed as threatened, and in Alaska, they are not listed at all.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the northern Rockies gray wolf on May 4, 2009, from the endangered list. That means up to two-thirds of the wolf population in that region can be killed. Of the approximately 1600 wolves there that would leave only 450 wolves approximately. Many are against this. For instance, the Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups are actively taking part against it. For more information, see this website.

Threats
The biggest threat to wolves is humans. In the wild, they have no real natural predators and more often killed by their pray or starvation than other predators – except humans.

One of the biggest problems is humans lack of understanding of these creatures and a deep, misguided fear of them.

Another problem is human encroachment into their territory, which leads to even more fear and the possibility of wolves eating livestock. This occurs because, a)humans take or scare their food off; b)livestock is easy prey and is often improperly guarded against wolves; and c)wolves only understand their own territorial boundaries and if the livestock is on their territory, it is, in their minds, free game. There are solutions to keeping wolves from attacking livestock that do not involve shooting the animals, such as proper fencing, dogs of the shepherd variety, and keeping dead, sick and dying animals away from the others.

SOURCES
"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus – Defenders of Wildlife." Defenders of Wildlife – Protection of Endangered Species, Imperiled Species, Habitats. Web. 06 July 2010. http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/wolf,_gray.php>.

"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus." Blue Planet Biomes. Web. 06 July 2010. .

"Gray Wolf." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 July 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Wolf>.…