The Cry Baby is on sabbatical ....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Smoke the Donkey becomes an American after traveling 7,000 miles from Iraq

War certainly makes for strange friends.  A group of U.S. Marines living in Iraq's Anbar Province three years ago, befriended a  donkey who wandered into their camp.  They named him "Smoke the Donkey" and made him their mascot. When the marines departed in 2009 they left Smoke in the care of a local sheik. 

One of the marines,  retired Col. John Folsom, couldn't forget about Smoke. He used to walk Smoke daily and it didn't seem right to him that the donkey was left behind in Iraq. He decided to bring Smoke to the U.S., which proved to be a difficult task. First, the sheik who was looking after Smoke demanded $30,000 for the donkey, but later drop his demand. Then there was the predictable bureaucracy, paperwork and logistics involved with transporting a donkey 7,000 miles. Next there was the cost. Bringing Smoke to the U.S. cost between $30,000 to $40,000, which was covered by donations.  
After 37 days, Smoke finally arrived in the United States, where he will begin his new job as a therapy animal. Folsom met Smoke in New York, to transport him to his new life in Omaha. "He's an American donkey now," Folsom said.

Here's an except from the Smoke the Donkey Facebook page:

Operation Smoke – Day 1Date: Tuesday - April 5, 2011Time: 9:46 a.m. (Iraqi time)Location: Erbil, Kurdistan 
We are about an hour away from beginning our journey with Smoke to Istanbul, Turkey. It poured rain all night so we have our fingers crossed the truck that we hired to transport Smoke to the border will not get stuck in the mud leading to the farm. If we decide it is too risky we will walk Smoke to where we can load him. This is tricky since the truck does not have a ramp. 
The drive to Zakho, which is where we will cross into Turkey, is about a three hour drive from Erbil. We have been told once we get there to prepare to spend up to 5 hours actually getting processed to cross. Hopefully, it will not take this long because that extends Smoke’s trip in the back of a truck for even longer. We are hoping to have no delays, but in this part of the world you have to prepare for that. As far as we can tell though we have all the documents in order to satisfy the Turkey agriculture officials. This week we got Smoke tested for a number of things by the main Veterinary Lab in Erbil and the blood work came back negative, which was a relief – yet what we expected. This morning we got the Kurdistan Ministry of Agriculture to sign off on all the necessary documents too, so I think we are good to good – hopefully!  
Smoke has been taking it easy the last few days in preparation for his journey to his forever home. Attached is a photo taken of him playing with one of the puppies at the farm. I also attached pictures of him getting his blood work done. Not a fun thing for Smoke, but he was fairly cooperative. Will send more pictures that we’ll take throughout the day.


First Twitter posts by celebrities

Twitter was launched in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey and asked one very simple question: “What are you doing?” Since then, virtually every celebrity has felt compelled to answer that question. Who can forget Charlie Sheen's record breaking entry into the Twitter universe, setting a world record for reaching one million followers in 25 hours and 17 minutes, only to become a Twitter train wreck. News about the death of Osama bin Laden was broken on Twitter, demonstrating the communications powerhouse Twitter has become.  

Here's a roundup, compiled by Mashable, of some of the more notable first tweets by celebs.

Visualization of how the Urbahn tweet – which broke the news of Osama's death – spread on Twitter

Most people know the story about Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff to Donald Rumsfeld, being the very first person in the world to break the news about the U.S. had killing Osama Bin Laden. He did this with via Twitter, starting a cascading flow of information. The tweet instantly went  viral, causing the one of the largest traffic flows that Twitter has ever seen.

Social Flow, a social media optimization company, created this visualization of how the Urbahn tweet spread. From SocialFlow:
"At SocialFlow we’ve analyzed the effects of timing and topicality within social streams. In this study we looked at 14.8 million tweets and bitly links with the goal of reaching an understanding on how timing, along with other core dynamics can amplify the reach of a single tweet to a massive scale. Below is a visualization of the network graph showing the spread of Keith Urbahn’s single speculative tweet across users on Twitter."